Newsflash: your marriage is not about you!
It’s not about procreation, although that happens. It’s not about happily ever after, as you well know if you’ve been married more than a couple of weeks. It’s not even about having a life partner who will take care of you when you’re old.
Marriage is an allegory, an illustration of something greater. It’s a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church, His bride. Does your marriage display good news?
- Does it show forgiveness, perseverance and grace?
- Does your marriage represent faithfulness and commitment?
- What are your children learning about Christ and the Church by watching your marriage?
- Is your marriage an example of selfless service to each other?
Marriage is hard. It’s not the end of a search for Prince Charming or Mrs. Right; it’s the beginning of a committed relationship that reveals the gospel in a world that couldn’t care less. It’s not about your happiness but about His Glory.
I can hear the defensiveness already: “Wait a second, Tiffany! You’re single. What makes you think you can speak to the topic of marriage? Where do you get off…?”
That’s a valid question and one I’m happy to address. As someone who watches marriages very closely, I can tell you that I’m not the only person looking for better examples of Christ’s relationship with His Bride. Your marriage affects more than just you… because it’s not about you. Here’s what I read about marriage in Scripture.
Look at the prophet Hosea, for example. There is no marriage counselor that would advise this man to marry and re-purchase a prostitute over and over again. Pop psychology says, “You deserve to be happy. You don’t have to put up with this!” But God uses the marriage to teach Hosea and those who would listen to him about God’s faithfulness despite the faithlessness of Israel. The marriage wasn’t about Hosea’s pleasure or comfort; it was about God’s glory, His redemption and His covenant with His people.
Joseph and Mary
Despite the unlikelihood of Mary’s explanation about how she became pregnant, Joseph stayed engaged to her. According to the Old Testament law, if she had sex with another man during their engagement, he had grounds for divorce. God sent a messenger to Joseph to maintain the integrity of their covenant.
The first miracle of Jesus recorded in Scripture is at a wedding. All the wine was gone so He made more. And He made good wine, indicating that marriage is something to be celebrated and honored. It’s a joyous occasion.
Sermon on the Mount
In the most recognized of Jesus’ sermons, He addresses divorce by saying, “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32) His very next point in the sermon is about the importance of your yes being yes and your no being no. In other words, don’t make vows you won’t keep.
As Paul addresses how wives and husbands should treat each other, he blatantly says that the mystery of this relationship refers to Christ and the church (vs. 32). There is something spiritually significant when two become one flesh.
How did Jesus show His commitment? He was obedient to the point of death in order to reconcile God and humanity. He gave up the glory of heaven to put on skin and live among sinners. In Philippians 2, Paul says Christ “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant…” Does your marriage reflect that kind of humility? Does it exemplify the opportunities for repentance and reconciliation Christ died for?
Why does it matter?
It matters because marriage is God’s idea. It matters because He made every effort to reconcile our relationship with Him. It matters because the world is watching. Jesus told His disciples that their love for each other would point to Him. (John 13:35) If those who claim to follow Christ cannot love those they vowed to be with until death, what does that point to? “As I have loved you, so you should love one another.”
Divorce communicates more than a broken relationship between two people. It testifies to hopelessness, saying that God can’t fix what we’ve broken. It misrepresents God’s covenant with His people.
In a capitalistic society like America, we value options. We have hundreds of television stations, dozens of cereal choices and thousands of shoes. The Israelites wanted options, too. They wanted to worship foreign gods and still have the One True God listen to their prayers. God will not be just another option. He will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8).
Marriage reflects that covenant relationship. There should be no other options, only faithfulness. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:9) Consider your marriage an act of worship to God, not because of your effort but because of His grace.
** What about me? The divorce wasn’t my idea/desire. Didn’t Jesus make exceptions?
His grace is big enough to cover your failed marriage. That being said, have you considered the possibility that He might want to mend what was broken? Never underestimate His ability to redeem and reconcile seemingly hopeless situations.
A Timely Resource
For those living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who are in the midst of a troubled marriage, I’d like to point you to a resource that’s, admittedly, more intentional and practical than this post. This marriage conference is SOON, so don’t wait! http://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-did-you-expect-marriage-conference-with-dr-paul-tripp-tickets-11847432991