The Intentional Christian Marriage, Part II
Members of Christ Church, the question was asked in last week’s pastoral letter, “Is your marriage intentionally Christian?” Do you, as a couple, seek to cultivate a God-centered, Christ-dependent, Scripture-saturated perspective in your relationship? The first thing I mentioned as axiomatic to an intentional Christian marriage is the need to study, contemplate, and discuss the theology of Christian marriage— a discipline reserved for not only pastors, missionaries, and theologians. All married believers need to spend time under God’s Word (personal, family, and corporate worship) thinking about and discussing the nature of marriage and our inherent responsibilities within the roles God has established from creation. The truth is, if we were as intentional in improving our marriages as we are about other things, the result would be relationships abounding in harmony, respect, and warmth rather than in disunity, contempt, and coldness. The high divorce rate among evangelical Christians in America demonstrates our great need for reform and renewal. In this week’s pastoral letter we add a second way to be intentionally Christian in our marital relationships.
Learn how to love your spouse. Love is more than a word spoken. To love someone is not just to tell them you love them, but to show them. Love is action. To love someone is to commit to serving that person, even at the risk of inconvenience or personal loss. Perhaps the greatest expression of love within marriage is when both husband and wife are each committed to learning what pleases their spouse. The first years of marriage should be a time of learning what makes your spouse happy and then intentionally incorporating what you learn into everyday married life. The actions that demonstrate your love for your spouse are not always monumental. Often they are the simple things–– helping out around the house, warm encouragement, expressions of gratitude, a kind note, a date night, etc. The Lord knows that I fail to consistently love my wife as I should, and I am often selfish in my ways. But the idea of loving my wife with action more than with words is impressed upon my mind more and more with each passing year of marriage.
The Apostle John states, “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). Does this verse not powerfully apply to our marriages? An intentional Christian marriage is one in which both partners die to their selfish desires and put the other first, consistently learning how to love each other Coram Deo. At the root of all marital problems is the fundamental misunderstanding of thinking that the marriage relationship exists for my happiness.
The biblical model, however, is radically different from this worldly approach. The Bible teaches us that Christian marriage is meant to be a love relationship that exists to reflect the sacrificial love of Christ for His bride, the Church. In addition, it is meant to reflect the committed love of the bride (the Church) for the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. This reciprocal love relationship is never self-seeking, but rather it is always sacrificial and continually finding out ways to faithfully serve and please one another. Isn’t this the theology of Ephesians 5:22ff?
Christian, you must learn (and continue to learn) how to love your spouse. Commit to loving your lifelong partner with intentional and active love, not just with empty words. Remember, words carry weight only when accompanied by sincere deeds.
Take some time this Lord’s Day afternoon to speak to your spouse about how you might better serve him or her. Ask your spouse the following: What makes you happy? What can I do to better serve you and our marriage? How can I better encourage you in your life and your walk with God? Perhaps finding out the answers to these questions will help to break down some of the walls that may have been erected in your relationship–– walls that you may not know even exist. In addition, pray for one another, using the words of Scripture below.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things [God’s Word], hopes all things, endures all things.” I Corinthians 13:4-7
May God bring reformation and renewal to our marriages!
- Pastor Jon