I said a few weeks back we were going to address some areas I felt like were being passed over in the wake of the pandemic. We talked about sexual ethics then. Today we are going to talk about marriage.
As a single guy I was the shyest guy on the block. I didn’t know it then but I had a huge fear of commitment. I was looking for what I thought was the perfect girl. (Of course this assumes I was the perfect guy, which is absolutely not the case!) There were so many problems with this model! Unfortunately it is the plan many guys adopt. In their case perfect = makes me happy. I like the way she looks, acts, talks… The problem with this is no one is perfect. Every single person on the planet will disappoint. Aside from that, we all change. So if she was “perfect” once, she will never be again.
When I heard these words all this mess began to change in my mind. The guy who married Laura and me said this at our ceremony: “Marriage is primarily about your holiness, not your happiness.” That shook me. It moved me out of the incredibly selfish position of thinking of all the non-perfect things about my wife and elevating all of the flaws in me to perfection. That statement put me in a position to think about my relationship with my wife in a whole new light. What does God want from me? How does our relationship most please Him? How will we keep this up over the long haul? Because there is no way we can run out the perfection model for life. That wears down so quickly. If we expect perfection in either party we will quickly start to look for it in other areas. If an affair or divorce doesn’t happen, the couple will find some other way to distance themselves from each other. They will just get tired of the other. There has to be a better way.
When I began to think about how Laura is designed to make me more of what God made me to be and vice versa, my whole demeanor changed. I began to look for beauty in her rather than expecting her to look beautiful. Instead of jumping to an argument every time we disagreed, I started to ask what God’s heart was on the matter. When she is tired I see it as a chance to serve. When she is happy I’m full of joy. I see every aspect of our marriage as I see my relationship with the Lord, as holy.
This kind of viewpoint is life changing. I tell couples in counseling all of the time “If you stick it out in your marriage at the end of your life it will be the thing you are most proud of. If you walk away, it will be the one thing you are most ashamed of.” I stand by this statement. A healthy marriage is one of the most God honoring images in our world. We have more opportunity to share the Gospel based on this single relationship than any other thing we do. On the flip side, a broken marriage does more damage to the Gospel than just about any other single think I can think of. When two faithful people take another track it becomes very hard for the world to see Christ in them. The damage is repairable but it is there. If our lives are designed to shape us for Heaven, marriage is one of the best tools around for the job.
So where is grace in all of this? If you’ve divorced or had an affair or just spent the last 20 years looking everywhere else for joy except in your spouse, is all lost? Not at all! God is the One who can restore the most desolate landscape and bring something beautiful out of it. Those stories of restoration are next in line for those who bring most glory to God and opportunities for the Gospel. If brokenness has defined your marriage up until now, don’t give up! Seek the Lord and trust that something beautiful can happen! I promise if He can change my old crusty heart, He can certainly change yours.
One of the most beautiful analogies of the Church is when God calls us His Bride. We find this language all throughout the Bible. There is no doubt about his feelings for us. His love for us finds no limits and is never stopped by wrongs. He went all the way to the cross and defeated death so that we could experience the day to day presence of the Father. He has already fought for your marriage and He fights for it still. If your relationship with your spouse is anything less than joy, trust me when I say all hope is not lost. Your marriage can be the sweetest, most fulfilling relationship you will ever have. Don’t fix your eyes on the person, looking for every flaw and expecting a miracle. Fix your eyes on Jesus and expect Him to make both of you like Him. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.