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
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
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?