Marriage is Not About Me, or Us
Five years ago, my wife and I stood in front of hundreds of people, with our pastor between us, and made promises that we could not keep. We were making promises on behalf of ourselves, some fifty or sixty years from then, based on pleasure, pain, trials, and triumphs we did not yet know or understand. Our new, joint identity as husband and wife was initiated that day, but the full understanding and capability to uphold such a promise are yet to be fully realized. To be completely frank, neither of us could fully understand the depth of one another’s depravity, nor did we truly grasp the lengths to which we had gone, as single adults, to rationalize and hide our own sins, before our life together began. It was only through the context of a new life, where we would begin the process of dying to our old selves, that we initiated a bond that was to be propagated by mutually investigating one another and the Word. This was so we could be fully known, and yet submit our sinful ambitions, appetites, and approval needs before Christ. It was through this process (showing the love of Christ to one another, in spite of our depravity) that we could begin to display being fully loved.
Almost two thousand years ago, Paul wrote about a very similar process, to the church at Colossae. This passage was written for the purpose of contextualizing Christ’s love for His people so that they could understand that their new freedom and responsibility informed the way they both walked with Christ and with one another. In verse seventeen, Paul prescribes walking in the name of Christ, which provides us with a very crucial diagnostic question: would a friend of yours be convinced of the love of Christ’s effect on your life if their only evidence was the way in which you loved (your neighbor) your spouse? I ask, not to condemn, but to call us all to question the intention of marriage.
The institutions of marriage and the Church were both given to us as vehicles for our unified sanctification (that is, our being conformed into the image of Christ), and as vehicles for the advancement of the Gospel, into the nations; which begins in our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces. In a western-society that is so culturally contentious, I ask for you to consider this: could it be that the most visibly countercultural expression of our faith is our ability to love through a very fixed view of marriage? If this is true, then our marriages cannot be primarily about us, but rather, must be about displaying God’s goodness, through an incredibly tangible expression of the Gospel. Although none of us are capable of making promises that we can keep on our own, we are joined in this covenant with an all-knowing and all-loving God, who is faithful to equip and empower those whom He calls to share in and show His Gospel message. In marriage, just as it is so with our relationship with our Good Father, we receive a new identity and spend the rest of our lives conforming to the image of it.
- Have the desires for your own family been based primarily on your old selves (self-centered needs, former family-traditions, or your expectations of marriage) or your new selves (who you are in Christ, displaying the Gospel, Biblical expectations)?
- Verses five through nine provide a list of sinful temptations against our brothers and sisters in Christ. Which of these do you need to intentionally “put off”, for the sake of your (future) spouse and the Gospel?
- Have you been spending your time waiting for God to give you the spouse you want/think you deserve; or have you been chasing after a relationship with Christ, wherein, you are conforming to His image in preparation for whatever He may be preparing you for, in His timing?
In Christ with Love,
Kairos Ministry Resident