Marriage and Following Christ

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You may have seen the cartoon that showed a father walking his daughter down the
aisle to be married.  They are arm in
arm, and he is holding on to her hand. 
He leaned over and whispered to her: “Okay, I’ll fake a heart attack and
then you run for your life!”  I don’t know
if that is what she had in mind for that moment.  A lot of you probably understand that
cartoon.  It is not that this the
daughter was about to get into something bad.  In fact, marriage is a good thing! 
But—it is a big thing!  Marriage
is something that requires a lot of grace, much forgiveness, and solid
commitment.   It can be very, very difficult. 

 
The great Christian writer Francis de Sales (17th century) was answering a question from
a woman who was contemplating marriage. 
He told her that marriage might be the most difficult ministry she could
undertake.

 
The state of marriage is one that requires more virtue and constancy than any other.  It is a perpetual exercise of mortification….  From this thyme plant,
in spite of the bitter nature of its juice, you may be able to draw and make
the honey of a holy life.
(Quoted in Sacred
Marriage
, Gary Thomas, p. 13)

 
Why is marriage difficult?  There are many reasons that we could
give.  Fundamentally, however, marriage
is difficult for us because every married person has married a sinner.  You married a
sinner, and your spouse did as well.  At the
heart of that truth is the implication that we have a tendency to look after
ourselves and depend on other things instead of God.  There is something in us as broken people who have a tendency to pursue self-interests.

 
This is true no matter how great the person I married is.  No matter how
committed I am.  No matter how much I
love him or her, Yet, God has a way of redeeming our marriages and helping us move toward
Him.  God has a way of redeeming these marriages so that they become relationships characterized by self-giving, service, and love.

 
Let me suggest a few complications for many people today who are Christian people and married.

 

  • Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, many people in churches never had the opportunity to see a healthy marriage up close.  As children, they just never had
    that opportunity.  Fortunately for many, they did have the opportunity to see such a marriage in their church or other family members.
     

  • Some of us are moving so fast and are so busy and overloaded
    that our marriages and families suffer.  I think many people will tell you that marriages erode not because of some dramatic event that occurs at a point in
    time but from months and months of neglect.
  • Some of us see ourselves as spiritual people. 
    Yet, there seems to be a disconnect between our faith and the way
    we behave in these relationships. The husband who loves to hear preaching,
    teach Bible classes or sing hymns but neglects his wife or mistreats her with
    his harshness.

In our own marriage, it took me some years to see that my behavior and attitude toward Charlotte were a part of my ministry as a Christian.  I think I can honestly say that from the time we were first married that I wanted to do the right thing (though of course falling short).  However, it took awhile before I began to see that this was a relationship in which God was forming me to be like Jesus.  (The best book I have read on this is Gary Thomas’ Sacred Marriage.  I’ve read through it several times).

 
Does this connect with you?  If you are married, in what ways has God used your marriage to help you become more like Jesus?  What about the "complications" that were listed.  Do you relate to one or more of these? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “Marriage and Following Christ

  1. Marriage is difficult because it involves learning to really love another person for the long-term.  And love is always difficult eventually in some way.  The following from a meditation I receive from the Merton Institute describes it pretty well: 
     
    "To love you have to climb out of the cradle, where everything is "getting," and grow up to the maturity of giving, without concern for getting anything special in return."

  2. I have found that I cannot be a god or the holy spirit to my husband, anymore than I can be my own god.  Allowing God to be God, both in my own walk and in my relationship with my husband, allows Him the space to work in both.  It is an issue of who is in control.  
    As I learn to follow Jesus better, I am a kinder, more loving wife.  I give up my need to be right or to protect my rights, as I learn to surrender to God’s control in my life.  It is more important to be loving, than to be right.  In that place, true communication can happen.

  3. Jim, my entire blog is on the subject of marriage and married believers. Using my own experience as a husband and Scripture, I’m journalling my stumbling pursuit of Christlikeness in my marriage. Hope you and yours might find it helpful! 
    Blessings to you, Kim

  4. Kelly,I like the connection you make between following Jesus and being a "…kinder, more loving wife."  You are right.  My walk with Jesus should very much impact the way I function in my marriage and other relationships.I also like the point you make about your husband not being God.  It seems like we often put a lot of pressure on one another to be what only God can be.Thanks— I hope you will comment again. 

  5. Kim,Thanks.  Why don’t you leave another comment and put in a link to your blog?  I look forward to looking to visiting your blog. 

  6. Sorry, I thought I did! Here it is: Preparation 4 Eternity My blog is directed mostly towards Christian men (husbands). Women (wives) are welcome too! I am a Believing husband and will be married 30 years this year. I almost didn’t make it past 24 years. My blog is about how I’m making it. Here’s a couple of teaser ideas that have made their way onto my blog:
    The major source of problems between men and women is that they don’t recognize the spiritual differences between them, that those differences were put there by God and that He put them there for His glory.
    Most counselling (both secular and "Christian") is based on the idea that marriage is a 50-50 proposition. That marriage should be "fair." The trouble is, that’s not a Scriptural model and on top of that, it’s not working!
    Jesus said that marriage will not exist in heaven. That means that the purpose of marriage is to be accomplished here on earth. Scripture says that "All things work together for good to those who love God…" So, even the problems we experience in marriage are part of the "All things" God uses our marriages as Preparation 4 Eternity.
    One final interesting note: All of the other comments left on this subject have been left by women. This is very common and one of the differences between men and women that I wrote about above…
    Blessings! Kim