As a church pastor, I regularly have the privilege to sit, listen and counsel with couples who are planning to get married, as well as with couples who have been married for some time. Their marriages are as different from each other as are the individuals who come into my office. But even with the diversity in marriages, there are a handful of common themes that I often end up sharing and praying with them to help them build a stronger covenant relationship.
I am learning that there is one principle that is rarely talked about with young couples planning to marry. This principle, which I believe to be vital to a successful and fulfilling Christian marriage, is that the purpose of Christian matrimony is more than a demonstration of love and commitment between two people. The relationship between husband and wife is, in fact, supposed to say something about the character and nature of God himself.
discovering purpose in marriage
The ultimate purpose of marriage is to reflect and tell the truth about the God whose image we bear! – Dr. Crawford Lorritts*, pastor, speaker, and author.
The Apostle Paul writes, ‘“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-21).
For my wife and I, this has indeed been a journey throughout our 21 years of married life. We have had to discover how we allow our marriage to communicate a purpose greater than and beyond ourselves.
It didn’t take long for me to discover that being married revealed my own selfishness more acutely than anything has ever done. The reality of marriage uncovers the lie that marriage is all about discovering my own happiness and getting my own needs met. Before the nay-sayers chime in, I want to positively confess that marriage and happiness are not mutually exclusive! But, marriage is not primarily about my own happiness. In fact, the primary commitment in marriage is to mutually submit, love, and honor your spouse (Ephesians 5:15-33). It is “other”-focused not “me”-focused.
But I’d like to take this a step further. In the same way that my focus as a husband is on my wife and not on myself, a married couple’s focus should actually be upward to God rather than inward on themselves. If we, as Christians, profess that marriage is an institution ordained by God (and goodness knows, enough Christians have shouted that belief loudly enough over the past few years), then it behooves us to ask the following question: How does the way we practice this sacred institution reveal the character of the God who instituted it?
glorifying god in your marriage
Our marriages are already proclaiming something about God to the culture around us. The question is really whether they are saying something truthful or not. Where there is unresolved conflict in a marriage, the nature of our Creator is not reflected. Where there is mis-trust and dis-honor in our marriages, then God is not being glorified.
I recently read the story of Joseph, and was struck by the particular incident of him refusing to sleep with Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:6-10). Joseph gave two reasons for refusing to acquiesce to her advances that stood out to me by modern day standards (Genesis 39:8-9). They both had to do with not dishonoring the two people who had shown favor to him: Potiphar and God! While many people might think of the effect of their actions on their spouse, how many of us consider the impact of our actions on God’s reputation and name?
Healthy marriages don’t just happen. The love and infatuation that leads two people to want to share their lives together will not keep them together. Marriage requires intentionality. And like most things that require effort, a little bit of effort every day usually produces better lasting fruit than a frantic dose of intense activity on an infrequent basis.
Whether you are already married, or are considering marriage, I’d like to invite you to consider how marriage speaks the truth about who God is. If you are married, ask: Does your relationship reflect His nature and character truthfully? Will people who look at your marriage see the reflection of a loyal God who is loving, self-giving, merciful, and holy, or will they see something else? As you take inventory, ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you need to change (note: where you need to change…. not where your spouse needs to change!).
May our marriages speak truthfully about the God who created us in His image.
the art of marriage seminar at hrock church
The Art of Marriage seminar, February 24th-25th, at Ambassador Auditorium is a two-day event that delves deeper into the topic of God’s perspective on marriage, and equips you with practical skills that will help strengthen and grow your relationship in love, communication, and fruitfulness. My wife and I have gone through the seminar and found it to be a transformative time that helped to strengthen our marriage and take it to new levels of love, purpose, and effective, healthy communication. I encourage singles, dating couples, and married couples to attend! Register online before Monday, February 20th.
*Dr. Crawford Lorritts is one of the contributors to “The Art of Marriage” seminar.