Marriage has almost become taboo in our day and age. The true meaning and purpose of marriage has been obliterated by our culture. It seems as though most people treat marriage like going to college; it’s just the next thing in life to do. As my husband and I approach our eighth wedding anniversary, I want to discuss some lessons we have learned along the way and ultimately how Christians should aim to glorify God in their marriage.
The first lesson I’d like to discuss is that marriage is not about you or me. Marriage is about glorifying God, not ourselves. Too often people think they want to get married to fill their own loneliness or satisfy some desire within themselves. This idea is contrary to Scripture. I am not saying it is wrong to desire to be married. God tells us in Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone and gives Adam a helper, Eve (Genesis 2:18). However, I am saying that one should understand that your spouse is not going to satisfy your deepest desires; only Christ can do that. Now, with that being said, the purpose of marriage is to glorify Christ by representing Christ’s love for the church. Ephesians 5:22-32 commands wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord and commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her. Paul commands husbands to love their wives as they love their own bodies. No one has to be reminded to love his or herself; we all do this naturally. The love of a husband towards his wife is meant to look like the sacrificial love of Christ, who forfeited his very own life on the cross to make a people for Himself. This is a great and high calling for husbands. Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands as the husbands submit to Christ. The goal of a Christian marriage is for people to see the submission of a wife, the love of a husband, and the gospel on full display. It does not matter whether I think my spouse is “worthy” of my love or submission because my ultimate commitment is to Christ, who commands me to love and submit to my spouse. It is through obedience to this command that God makes us more like Christ.
Secondly, clear communication is necessary. It is the bedrock of any relationship. God reveals himself to humanity through His Word (Hebrews 1:1-2). Similarly, all the way from the first date through death, married couples need and should communicate. There shouldn’t be any secrets between married couples. For couples to be on the same team, they need to be on the same page of music. They need a shared mental model. What I am not saying is that couples need to agree on every iota of thought. What I am saying is that couples need to be driven by the same motivation, a mutual love for Christ and thus each other. Communication is the means by which couples can get on the same page, provide a united front, and work through disagreements in a God-honoring way. In a more practical sense, this means the husband and wife clearly communicate expectations. So often within marriage, fights arise because expectations are not communicated clearly and our expectations may be unrealistic or unbiblical. When either one asks the other to do something not sinful, the member should acquiesce to the request out of love for the other.
Thirdly, love must be defined by the Scriptures. Love does not mean always getting or hearing what you want. Unfortunately, our society has redefined what love is. They have stripped love down to mean that someone who loves you will accept and approve of what you do regardless of whether that thing is sinful or not. This is unbiblical. True love does not tolerate sin. True love exposes sin, fights sin, and removes it. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). This is one of the many things I love and appreciate about my husband. He does not let me go on in my sin; instead he exposes it lovingly. He does not tell me what I want to hear, he tells me what I need to hear. He is a safeguard for me. If I have allowed my sin to come out externally, he is my next level of defense. Real love is not letting your spouse go on sinning.
As I stated earlier, Christian marriages should be a reflection of Christs’ love for the church. Our aim in marriage should be to glorify God by dying to ourselves daily as Christ did in submission to the Father’s will. Likewise, we must put aside our own self-interests and selfish desires to love our spouses as Christ did for us. Paul said it best in Philippians 2:3-8, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” May the Lord help us have this same attitude which is ours in Christ Jesus.
Rachel is a wife and mother of four young children. She has a love for listening to expository preaching, theology, and doctrine. She desires to make Christ known through her marriage, parenting, and in every word and deed.