Marriage: Where Jesus Shapes Our Lives

In a recent post, I asked the question, "What is so difficult about marriage?"

I combed through the comments and now want to give a summary of what many people said:


  • Some have found marriage to be very difficult.  Still others have found marriage to be difficult at different times or seasons.  Some have not found marriage to be very difficult at all.
  • Self-centeredness contributes to the difficulties of marriage.
  • Determination to stay in the marriage was helpful.  A few said they refused to bring up the possibility of divorce when in an argument.
  • Some have struggled with resolving their conflicts and then moving on.
  • Many cite unrealistic expectations as a contributor to difficulties.
  • There are difficulties in which a contributing factor was the family of origin.  In particular, some have come from homes that were dysfunctional and even abusive.
  • One person noted that a particular challenge was to learn to accept her spouse just the way he was. 
  • Finally, one noted that marriages that are non-functional or dysfunctional are often that way for a variety of reasons.


(Yes, I realize many other very good things were said in these comments but I just want to highlight these in particular today.)


There are often difficult moments or seasons in marriage.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I do not want to necessarily equate all difficulty or struggle as a negative.  Can marriage be a negative experience?  Sure.  But that is not what I am talking about right now.


What I want to think about right now is how Jesus uses the ordinary, everyday marriages of men and women to create a Christlike people.  How does he use this relationship to shape us as Christians?  I first began to give this some thought after reading Gary Thomas’ fine book Sacred Marriage a few years ago.  As he notes in his book, marriage is not simply about happiness but holiness.  That is, in marriage there is something going on that is even greater than personal happiness (as wonderful as that might be).  In marriage, God desires to shape a Christlike people.


Marriage gives us plenty of opportunities to pursue self-centeredness.  I may see myself as the center of life and measure everything by whether or not I am pleased or if it makes me happy.  Yet, marriage also gives us much opportunity to express love to one another in a thousand different ways.  In loving another, with faithful covenant love, we are behaving in a way that is more Christlike.  God can also use the frustrations of ordinary married life to make us Christlike as well.


As a Christ-follower, I want to pray that I will yield myself everyday to the one who can use the ordinary settings of my life, my job, my role as parent, and yes, my marriage to create a Christlike person.


How has your marriage helped you to move toward Christlikeness?


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

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11 thoughts on “Marriage: Where Jesus Shapes Our Lives

  1. Each person in every marriage believes they are doing their best and that it is for the most part the "other" person who needs the help.  But the Bible tells me that marriage is a representation of the relationship between Christ and His church.What I finally got from that was: [1] Christ is perfect and none of us are…so I probably have more "fault" in the bad times than I realized. [2] Culture aside, I as the husband have a greater responsibility to bring contentment in the relationship. [3] There isn’t anything I cannot do or should not do for the family.Now,  all of that has helped me to understand the commitment, love, faithfulness of Christ toward me. 

  2. It has been a process involving normal kinds of issues as well as working through the more difficult issues. But I agree fully here, that what is needed is the view that God is at work in our relationship to make us more like Christ, and more holy.
    To answer the question, I believe it has been a wake-up call for me to realize needs I had, that otherwise I would have much more easily missed. This certainly includes self-centeredness, but also some deep things in me that needed (and I haven’t yet arrived) to be brought to my awareness and then, by faith, worked through. I wish that I would have realized this early on. It could have helped immensely.
    Thanks Jim.
    I have read that book also. An excellent book, and really a good wedding gift, I would think.

  3. Don,I especially liked the last line in your comment.  To go through marriage can help us see just how much patience and mercy God has shown toward us as his "bride." 

  4. Ted,Thanks.  I do think it is encouraging to know that in some way, God is able to take what is happening in our marriages to shape us into a Christlike people. 

  5. Jim,
    I have been greatly blessed by Thomas’ book and have since viewed marriage as a great proving ground for discipleship. If I can be a disicple in this relationship where I am most unguarded, then I am more consistently a true disciple in other settings. 

  6. I like the idea of seeing marriage as discipleship training ground – but I also like seeing it as sacrament.  That is, marriage is not only where I am made more like Christ, it is one place where I commune with Christ and receive his presence. 

  7. The consistency of my husband’s love has broken through walls I had built when I was hurt/betrayed in the past.  I believe this is a picutre of God’s unfailing love for me.  People may disappoint me, but God will always love me and act in my best interest.  

  8. Julie,I am glad for you in regard to both your husband’s consistent love and for your awareness of God’s unfailing love.