Stable Marriage is Critical
It One of God’s Primary Designs and Callings
It is One of the Influences on Culture
It is One of the Influences of God’s Kingdom
We tend to view marriage as a form of personal pleasure and happiness. We fall in love with someone and we have the sincere feelings of love, and that leads us to marriage. But once we are married, over time the feelings of love are less consistent and harder to maintain.
It is likely that difficulty in marriage is due to two basic things:
1.We are sinners.
Each one of us is a sinner! We are believing in Christ as our Savior, but we still have bodies and fleshes that lead us away from God, away from marriage oneness, and toward self-feelings.
2.We as the spouses are different from each other.
We grow up in different backgrounds and we have different personalities. These differences make us see things differently, feel things differently, and handle things differently.
These things separate us in marriage. Some of us are slightly separate but still close to each other; but some of us as spouses are very separate. We may not believe in divorce and so we are still married, but our oneness is being difficult due to our different feelings and our different fleshes and thoughts.
The question is whether we can have oneness in our marriage despite these issues. We’ll see two things:
1.The oneness is important despite our feelings and difficulties.
2.The oneness is not a result of being in love with each other. It is a result of our response to God.
First, let’s see why the oneness in marriage is so important.
A stable marriage is one of the things that affect our children.
One the one hand, fatherless children have the worst statistics in several areas. Not only do the fatherless children suffer, but even the ones where their parents do not have genuine oneness.
Another statistic is that 70-75% of children who grow up in a church abandon God and faith in Christ. One of the reasons that so many young adults do that is that they have not seen oneness between their parents. That can mean to children that God is not at work in their parents’ hearts, and so maybe there is no God.
Our children as adults either promote God’s kingdom or else damage society.
When they are not mature as adults – due to lack of a stable marriage, whether due to fatherlessness, due to divorce, or just due to a lack of oneness in the parents – then they are immature and statistically bad.
But if a unified married couple affects children positively, then when the kids go into society as adults they are contributing to God’s kingdom.
So what we can see is that oneness in marriage is an important display of God.
Oneness displays God because we are sinners and we are different from each other. So oneness does not normally result from feelings of love. If we have genuine oneness it is more likely due to the fact that we give ourselves to God and then give ourselves to each other in submission to God.
This oneness as a result of submission to God is an important display of God – to our children, but to others, also. It is even a display of God to ourselves!
Second, this is what we were touching on above:
That our marital oneness is not a result of being in love with each other.
It is a result of our response to God.
One of the important aspects of this second point is that we are pursuing submission to God because He has been so gracious to us. God calls us to have real oneness in our marriage. If we believe in God we need to understand His instructions and give ourselves to our spouse.
But that is not for salvation. That is not what saves us. It is the sacrifice of Christ and His gift to us of His righteousness that gives us salvation before God. So the reason we obey God is not to get salvation but in response to salvation. And so because of God’s grace, our marriage difficulty is a place where we become willing to take the steps toward oneness even though they can be pretty tough.
So an important concept is that love is not a feeling. It is a choice. That is, we have feelings of love sometimes, but sometimes we don’t. But we are to act lovingly consistently. So that is why love is a choice, versus a response to our feelings.
In 1 Corinthians 13 there is a very helpful passage. In verses 1-3 we can see that doing good things without love is not beneficial. Then in verses 4-8 we see descriptions of love. What we can see there is that “love” is not a feeling, but a behavior.
The word in this passage is the Greek work agape. The word agape is God’s love and God’s calling, and it is not a calling to have feelings. It is a calling to make choices toward the right behaviors that lead us to oneness. So “love” in marriage is behavior, not feelings. What is interesting is that if we do these behaviors, then eventually we might well end up with great feelings! Either way, we are pursuing a stable family and that makes a difference to our children and to God’s kingdom.
So what we need to keep in mind is that oneness in marriage is God’s design, not our personal choice. If we are in love, great. If the love is difficult, we still give ourselves to God and apply agape toward our spouse. And we see that stable marriages are making the biggest differences.
Biggest differences to our children.
Biggest differences to our society.
One of the biggest differences to God’s kingdom.
A stable marriage and a stable family is a primary display of God.
I hope you can focus on it and pursue it. A good seminar is “Marriage Oneness” – a small group video with 8 sessions. Contact me about a Marriage Oneness group you can enter this spring. 804-754-0572 or email firstname.lastname@example.org,
There are also good helps in Richmond provided by First Things First: http://www.firstthingsrichmond.org/
Tom Clark is a Family Life Ambassador with the Family Life Ministry and on the Advisory Board of the Virginia Christian Alliance.