Seeking Jesus First - July 10, 2023

Seeking Jesus First - July 10, 2023
Photo by Rod Long / Unsplash

Marriage - Part Two

What is marriage? Marriage is a voluntary lifelong covenant between a man and a woman who have recognized their own desire to love and honor each other above all others.

The Bible says, “Marriage is honorable among all.” All cultures honored marriage.

Husband, love your wife as you love your own self. Wife, reverence your husband. These are basic needs for each spouse. For a marriage to flourish, a wife needs love and a husband needs respect.

Understanding the Biblical model for marriage does not ensure a happy marriage. A successful marriage is the result of sacrificially loving and honoring each other. We forgive each other when we make our vows. Forgiveness is freely given in advance of mistakes and missteps. We know when we get married our spouse is not perfect or complete yet. So, we promise to love and honor and cherish each other. Love covers a multitude of sins. We are told by Christ Jesus to forgive a brother 490 times a day. How much more are we to forgive our own flesh? Our spouse? We are told to love our sister as Christ loved us. How much more are we to love our spouse?

A Christian testifies of his relationship with Christ Jesus by how he loves other Christians. A Christian husband testifies of the relationship between Christ and the church by how he loves his wife. A Christian wife testifies of how the church honors Christ by how she honors her husband.

The Christian husband does not judge his wife and the Christian wife does not judge her husband.

One may ask, “What if I am the only one honoring Christ in my marriage?” The answer is simple but difficult at times; “keep honoring Christ in your marriage.”

If we apply focus to the place where our spouse is not living up to our expectations, we magnify a problem and make it worse. Apply the focus to where the spouse is doing well. Keep loving and praying for them. Keep forgiving and serving them.

It is appropriate now to take a little detour. I support drawing the line against physical violence. The Scripture tells believers not to associate with people, even believers, who are given to violence. If you are in a violent relationship, call the police. It is against the law to commit violence against another person - even against a spouse (I say, especially against a spouse.) Violence against a spouse is the ultimate abandonment and betrayal of the marriage covenant. The Scripture gives abandonment and adultery as valid reasons for ending the marriage. There are many consequences to consider so seek counseling with a beloved pastor or Christian leader.

Detour over. When we are discerning what is wrong with our spouse, we will be disappointed by that area of our relationship. It is only natural to do this. But we are not merely natural. We are spiritual. The true growth in our marriage takes place when we love and honor each other and magnify what they are doing well. However, when we discern that our spouse has a need and do not serve them, where is the love and honor?

If we set up rules for our spouse, it is similar to creating religious duties. In order to be loved by me, you have to... . Love becomes conditional. This allows the "rule setter" to justify unloving responses to "rule breaking". The law was the ministration of death.

On the other hand, if we serve one another by love, we are looking for ways to meet each others needs instead of looking for rules, mistakes or omissions. In this way we are freely giving ourselves to each other through our love and respect for each other as unto The Lord.

Because this is "as unto The LORD", we are not looking for repayment from our spouse. We are simply paying our debt of love to our spouse at a higher and more physically intimate level than to the rest of the body of Christ. We are one flesh with our spouse and we have committed to the honorable relationship of marriage.

In Marriage, the husband and the wife each voluntarily give love and respect to each other without requiring love and respect from the other. Each voluntarily promises in their marriage vows to serve the other. It is a legal contract that and the world makes the case that it can be annulled when one partner doesn't fulfill their vows. The only problem with that is that the commitment is, "til death do us part."

How does one keep promises when the other doesn't? There has to be faith in God and faith in each other. I will love and serve my spouse as I will love and serve God. When they fail, I will prevail in loving faith as I serve them and I will trust God to correct them as they need it. When I determine that it is my job to make them comply or I will walk away, I become the judge, jury and executioner and I am walking away from my vow - making myself just as guilty under that vow.