Something has been on my heart for ages now, so I’ll just throw it out there.
It is my firm belief that the Church should focus more on marriage anatomy. What do I mean by that? Not anything related to marriage equality- that’s a different conversation. Christians need to teach and learn the anatomy of a marriage- the different parts/aspects of the covenant union and how it is supposed to function…so that we as the body and Bride of Christ can stop having people drop thousands on a fairytale day that ends in divorce proceedings.
I look at divorce in my family and the emotional distruction, complex relationship dynamics, and difficulty faced by people I love because of broken relationships and my heart hurts. My vision is for the Church to see marriage and family as important as it was intended by God to be- an image of the unity and intimacy between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; a picture of Christ’s sacrificial love for the Church.
If you’re a young single Christian, looking to get married for all the “guilt-free sex” (or room and board) stop. You’re already in this for the wrong reasons, and it’s my bet you’re not really focusing on the Kingdom purpose for marriage, let alone the other person’s soul.
The truth is that relationships based on any worldly standard or virtue- trust, respect, fidelity, honesty, affection, physical attraction, lust, money– don’t last.
What happens when your spouse lies to you? Loses his job? What happens when harsh words are spoken? What happens if your spouse has an affair, or a porn addiction? What happens when your hot wife gets a terminal diagnosis, or she has a few children and her body goes from super model to super Mom? (Been there, done crossfitted that, I’ve accepted my new shapes.) What happens if the sexy husband gets into a horribly disfiguring accident? What happens as you both age- some more gracefully than others? What happens when you start having children and your time, attention, affections, energy, and money are stretched to the max?
If you’re in a worldly marriage, it crumbles. Because the foundation is set on eggshell-thin expectations. And guess what? That man or woman you married is a sinner. Someday or another, they will fall short and disappoint you.
When you make Christ your standard, when He becomes the basis not only of your marriage but even of the selection of your marriage partner, the entire trajectory of your relationship changes.
Suddenly, you understand what it means to have and give unconditional love and forgiveness. You grasp very finitely the infinite grace and mercy of our Savior. You know what true love- love that sacrifices onesself for an unworthy partner- looks like. And you can begin to understand the picture of beauty and grace and mercy and love God our Father intended for marriage.
It’s not a commitment- it’s a covenant.
Commitments can be broken whenever one party breaks or fails to uphold the agreed upon expectations for the relationship. How many of you have committed to fitness regimes? Diets? Music lessons? Sports teams? Yeah, and how many of you are still honoring those commitments?
Marriage isn’t a commitment to your spouse, because commitments are based on convenience and when that commitment no longer serves you… Well, then it’s… You know…
A covenant, on the other hand is…
…an agreement which brings about a relationship of commitment between God and His people.
It’s about a relationship with your spouse, yes, but more importantly, it’s about relationship with God.
So many times we disregard the gravity of the marriage covenant because we think, “Oh, well we wore beautiful clothes, spoke emotional words, listened to a preacher talk, and signed a legal document, all in front of friends and family.” That’s what a wedding is, right? With a rockin’ party of a gormet-catered reception to follow? Maybe there are flowers, music, fancy clothes, tears, stunning photography… But the wedding ceremony isn’t the covenant; it simply acts as the “sealing ceremony” of a heart-promise; you, before God and witnesses, promise your entire life to someone, sins and all, in every circumstance, in every outcome, no matter what, until one or both of you die.
I have more rants on how we’ve ruined the covenant picture as a culture, but I’ll save those for later.
When I married my husband, I had imagined a string quartet, a beautiful church, the perfect mermaid style, boatneck cut gown, his perfect tux, gorgeous live flowers, and beautiful vows taken before our family and friends. That’s not at all what happened. We scrapped 6 months of wedding plans due to my family’s drama, eloped at the county courthouse, and only about 5 people bore witness to it. My hair and make-up weren’t movie star perfect. We had a bunch of really blurry, out-of-focus pictures taken, and no one partied hard at our small reception at my in-laws’ house. I didn’t get a fairytale wedding.
I got a fairytale marriage. Going on 10 years with my best friend. He promised me his life; I got the handsome, 6-pack abs of my 19-year-old, soccer playing newlywed husband. I also got the active duty Marine Corp enlistment, which meant 3 of our first 4 anniversaries were spent apart. But, I also got to watch him mature and grow in faith. I got the embarrassing moments of immaturity, the humbling and sometimes painful moments of sin and confession. I got the memory-making moments of the births of our children.
I got the laughter of goofing off with my best friend. I got the tears, prayers, and arguments that come in times of high-stress, and financial struggle. But best of all, I got the love, grace, mercy, and compassion of Christ. I’ve experienced undeserved forgiveness, selfless sacrifice, compassionate care, and, unconditional love.
Man, I got it all! And all means all; good, bad, and ugly. But I only have it all because the man I married loves Jesus Christ more than anyone or anything on this earth.
So Christians- stop getting married for sex and the Instagram pics of your perfect day. Marriage isn’t about your wedding day. The wedding day is about the covenant of marriage. And marriage is about relationship and honoring God through that most intimate relationship we as human beings can experience in this life.