My wife, Esther, and I are continuously blessed by our marriage. Like many Christian marriages we have experienced an array of seasons filled with joy as well as seasons that have required healing, self-sacrifice, long suffering, love, compassion, grace, necessary change, adjustments, and consistent repentance. All of the many seasons require faithful prayer. Our God is so faithful and by His grace we’ve come to know Him personally as Father, Lord, and Savior.
Our faith has dramatically changed how we view our marriage and God’s purpose for it. God provides ALL that we need for all of our marriages perfectly. He provides us everything in order to magnify His glory and maximize our enjoyment of Him. For a lot of us it doesn’t seem that way. Has God failed us in our marriages? Why so many divorces? Why are so many of us lacking contentment in our marriages?
Lets start with this: No. God hasn’t failed His children nor will He ever fail us. God doesn’t fail in anything. In fact, the opposite is true: We fail Him constantly. We fail Him daily. As believers we fully understand that our life is reconciled to Him through Christ and Christ’s perfect sinless life. Our existence is ONLY because of Him and we owe Him our devotion and worship.
We are ALL born sinful and by His grace He convicts us of our sin and causes us to respond to the gospel. We put our faith in Him in this life now and rest in the hope of securing an eternal resting place for our souls with Him in heaven. Our eternal security is sealed in our union with God.
We receive salvation and live as adopted sons and daughters, and we begin the road of growing in spiritual maturity. We are now free from being a slave to sin and become a slave to righteousness. This is the new reality of the Christian.
If you are not saved, you don’t have the ability to fulfill what you are called to in marriage. Sounds like a prideful statement; I have to be pointed and direct in order to expose the contrast.
Unbelievers, in their own defense, would quickly offer up ‘my marriage is fine; we’ve been together for over twenty years and are completely happy.’ If you were to dig just below the surface you will find two people who have been able to love their sin without any interruption. Both people love their sin, they pursue their sin daily, and allow or facilitate for their spouse to do the same.
They are able to fulfill the lusts of the flesh and as they pursue sin what you have are two autonomous people who have decided to coexist. Their love is rooted in themselves and they worship false idols (which can be anything). Whatever is lacking in their affections or love for their spouse is filled by pursuing other things.
Perhaps it’s watching ESPN, the pursuit of money, hobbies, alcohol, pornography, drugs, career advancement, adultery, inappropriate relationships, movies, etc. Granted, every marriage lacks something but an unbelieving marriage is void of God.
The divorce rate in our country is extremely high and has always been high. People want what they want when they want. Once the other person no longer fits their mold they are easily discarded and the marriage dissolved.
The human heart covets immediate justice for being wronged because the fallen heart is arrogant and prideful. Pride supersedes forgiveness so the divorce is completely ‘justified’ in their opinion.
Unfortunately for many christians this has been a terrible reality as well. Divorce within the church for reasons unbibilical remains a constant concern and battleground for pastors and elders.
I want to lay out some basic truths about marriage. It is my feeling that in order to be a great steward of a Christ-centered marriage you have to grow in becoming a great student of Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ is the creator of all things to include the institution of marriage.
It is a necessity for believing couples to accept and understand from the beginning that marriage was created, designed, institutionalized, and owned by God. That’s right, it is owned. You are a participant in something that is owned.
This is truly an amazing gift from God. He designed man and woman to exist in an intimate union of physical and emotional love and fellowship.
God gave Adam a helper, and the helper in return received a provider. A God-fearing man and a God-fearing woman are submitting themselves to the Lordship of Christ individually in their own life while simultaneously submitting themselves to the Lordship of Christ in their marriage as one flesh.
Here is the bottom line up front: Christ is the Lord of your union. Some of us should pause here and dwell on that fact. Everyone wants a Savior but few want to abide in the Living God. He is Lord.
An autonomous existence in the realm of marriage is sin and should be repented of today. Your marriage isn’t about whether or not you are getting what ‘you want’. Instead it is designed for christians to be guided by the Spirit of God, learning to cooperate with God’s grace, and fulfill the Lord’s will in your marriage.
God’s will for your life is your sanctification, meaning you are constantly growing in holiness and godliness. God’s will for your marriage is your sanctification. Our spouses serve as incredible sanctifying agents in our life that ought to be bringing about genuine holiness and authentic godliness.
It is a necessity that we put forth the effort to obey the Lord joyfully which will result in honoring each other, loving each other, and serving each other. We know of course we are all still stained with sin. This is why privately and individually, a relationship with Christ is at the forefront of our hearts and minds.
We need to aggressively and brutally be putting sin to death. The reality of our salvation and new life in Christ ought to manifest in our behavior and everyday living. All corporate relationships in Christ are doomed if your individual relationship with Jesus is suffering or lacking.
We all will have seasons of brokenness or battling sin. However, the overall pattern of a true Christian is God-given growth. If you aren’t reading scripture, communing with God regularly, worshipping Christ alone and with others, praying, fellowshipping with believers, killing sin, experiencing some sort of discipleship, confessing sin to God, serving the church, etc., then how can you possibly begin to mirror the reality of the gospel in the most important human relationship you have?
That’s like going off to be an Army Ranger at war and watching a military film as your only reference. No, in order to be a ranger it takes discipline, self-control, training, studying, practicing, trial and error, weapons qualification, exercising, learning your unit, developing leadership traits, learning to follow, boldness, courage etc. It takes a lot of work!
You want a successful marriage? We all do. Christ must be the source of your joy. He must be at the center of your heart and the rock in your life.
Mark this saint: everything else will fail and lead to a lack of contentment, a sinful attitude, and the wrong response to the truth of the Gospel. Newsflash at eleven: this life isn’t about you or me.
Your marriage isn’t about your best life now, memorable family vacations, time shares, a comfortable retirement, investments, real estate, hobbies, knocking out your bucket list, living life like a single person in your marriage, fulfilled sexual desires, etc. Some of these things are a natural manifestation of sharing life with someone else.
Some of these things are merely a reflection of good stewardship and can be God honoring. However, we have the intrinsic propensity to make anything an idol to include our happiness, survival, security, and even our spouses.
We would like to think because this teaching is so clear in scripture that marriage would be relatively easy. Biblically, all a man or woman has to do to be ‘successful’ is to obey the Lord.
Everything in a God-fearing marriage remarkably goes well when the couple understands their biblical roles in marriage.
Because of sin, we tend to cultivate unrealistic expectations of our spouse, a distorted desire for control, wrong views of our roles, and become completely obsessed with our happiness meter.
Our happiness constantly shifts with circumstances, conversations, challenges, issues, problems, work requirements, concern for children, and family. We can expect our happiness to yoyo while living in a fallen world.
This too is a reality. Unfortunately, when our happy meters are down we use that as a measuring rod to gauge our life and marriage. This is because foolishly we have emotionally invested in our spouse, careers, stuff, money, and ‘good’ circumstances being the source of our joy.
You have placed your hope, love, and happiness in everything that fades and is ultimately fallen.
What is the solution? It is actually simple: our rock is Christ. Our joy is in Christ. Our life is abiding in Christ. Not a reality yet? Well perhaps you are still living in unrepentant sin or perhaps you have never been genuinely born again.
If that’s the case repent of those sins, confess it to God, or meet God for the first time through repentance unto salvation. Cast yourself on the throne of grace. There is no other way, you must talk to Christ. You must submit yourself to the Lordship of Christ in order to begin the process to a healthy Christ-centered marriage.
At its core, arguments in our marriages happen because someone wants something they are not receiving or receiving something they don’t want. You quarrel because you want something that you can’t have. You can fill in the blank of what that ‘something’ is. It could be money, clothes, control, time, desires, attention, etc.
The truth is when we make ourselves the focus of our existence than we will fail. You must examine your marriage and your role through the lens of God in order to honor Him. You want a man who is responsible, loving, kind, thoughtful, consistent, honest, kind, and compassionate? Than encourage your husband. Encourage your husband to pursue the Lord. Encourage him to make Christ a priority because Jesus is all of those things.
We can discuss so many things when it comes to marriage. I am not a counselor nor am I presenting myself or my marriage as the standard. We have the scriptures and even great books published by amazing counselors & pastors that highlight those bible passages that focus on marriage.
But we can’t talk about a ‘game plan’ if you are not even in the game. How can we discuss practical things if we have yet to understand foundational truth of what you have signed up for? Marriage done the Lord’s way is the only way.
Christ at the centerof your marriage is the only way. So…first things first: do you know the Lord, and, if you do, is He at the center of your marriage?
To be continued…..