My wife Linda and I will be celebrating our 46th wedding anniversary in June. As I reflect over our married life together, I’m eternally grateful to Jesus Christ—for His gift of Linda and for His grace and love in our lives! Linda is the love of my life!
When I think of all we’ve been through as a married couple, I’d like to share some thoughts with you about marriage. What I write below is not hypothetical. Nor am I claiming that our marriage has been without its challenges—some of them quite difficult.
As you’ll see, I’m working from a biblical understanding of marriage—that is the union of one man with one woman.
Jesus explained, “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
And in Hebrews 13:4 we read, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
What Is marriage?
Marriage is the union of a man and a woman in a life-long partnership. In fact, it is the most intimate of all relationships between two people on earth. In the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom pledge before witnesses to live, no longer as two separate individuals but to blend into one. They will now live to honor, love, and protect each other.
In marriage we commit to taking on each other’s goals and aspirations. It’s no longer just about my career or hers. Marriage is two people learning, under some of the most challenging situations, what love really looks like. Marriage is the greatest exercise in loving another more than oneself.
Some marriages fail. This is due to a variety of issues: self—getting in the way; unfaithfulness of a partner; unrealistic expectations (i.e., perfection); quitting when life gets tough, etc. (There’s no judgment here on my part.) We must humbly remember that marriage involves two sinners forming an intimate partnership in which they seek to elevate the relationship over their own individual wishes. And when two Christians marry, they seek to follow and glorify Jesus in their marriage.
A great marriage is something a man and woman commit to building together. In marriage, you recognize for the most part that compatibility is a choice, not a condition. Marriage is a mutual surrendering of oneself to one’s partner for the benefit of the marriage. And in doing so, both partners win.
Benefits of Marriage
Within marriage one learns to depend on God and imitate His character traits to make the marriage work. Building a great marriage establishes a lasting legacy that many others will benefit from. A great marriage is much bigger and grander than anything its individual members could accomplish on their own.
In the marital relationship, we learn patience, forgiveness, peace-making, forbearance, and a host of other valuable skills that are useful and beneficial in all aspects of life and society.
A strong marriage also provides shelter and stability for children. And a good marriage demonstrates for the children that they also can enjoy a good marriage. Children who grow up in a household with both parents receive the love and care that the mother and the father each uniquely provide.
Sex Reserved for Marriage
Our Creator provided sex as the most intimate physical and emotional experience between husband and wife. Sex within marriage is good, pure, pleasurable and protected.
Casual sex is a cheap counterfeit for sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy is reserved for the one we pledge our love to. Casual sex is a fleeting moment of passion void of any lasting commitment or long-term pleasure, leaving one longing for something more. Living together outside the bonds of marriage is like trying to enjoy the benefits of marriage without the investment that will ensure its benefits.
Why Marriage Is So Important
Marriage is so important because love fought for is infinitely more precious than a fleeting feeling. Marriage involves commitment. Marriage is a pledge to love, cherish, and honor one’s mate for life. Marriage is the foundation of a healthy society because marriage is where sinful people learn to love, forgive, serve and sacrifice for one another. Marriages provide stability to a culture and an economy.
What Makes a Great Marriage?
When I say, “great marriage,” I don’t mean perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. Marriage involves two sinners coming together, so from the get-go, building a marriage is hard work and a humbling experience, but well worth the effort.
Our culture teaches that self is preeminent. Marriage teaches us that ego and self-centeredness are ultimately very unsatisfying. Focus on self makes for a poor marriage and fosters difficulties in any relationship. Self-focus and a big ego are ugly and destructive for others and for oneself.
A great marriage is built on a mutual relationship with Jesus Christ. We trust Him, seek to imitate Him, and rely on Him for the strength and grace to love our marriage partner in all circumstances. We help each other grow in our relationship with Christ. As we learn to live together harmoniously, we also learn to enjoy each other profoundly.
Bad or failed marriages don’t argue against the institution of marriage, they merely attest to the sinfulness of mankind.
I also believe the marriage ceremony is part of what makes a good marriage. In the ceremony, we’re giving ourselves to each other before witnesses with vows and sealing our resolve with rings and a kiss. Together, we’re driving a stake in the ground committing to each other to build a marriage, a family.
I’ve hardly scratched the surface of what makes a great marriage. But having said all this, let’s celebrate marriage and seek to build our marriages such that they bring joy and honor to God, each other, and all who benefit by them. “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)