We first became aware that our marriage was an open book when our pastor announced in church that we would be moving to another city to start a new Christian radio station. A young couple came up to us afterward. They told us that they had been secretly watching us interact as a couple for a long time. They both agreed that they wanted their marriage to be “just like ours.” Their reasoning was because of what they had observed.
We were caught off guard. First off, we weren’t aware that anyone was watching us. (Thank God they were positively influenced in the ways we treated each other!) But then we considered the ramifications. What if we had interacted negatively to each other? We might never have known that either. And yet that also would have impacted their lives. It brought into focus what it says in the Bible in 1 Thessalonians 2:12. “Live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.”
This begs all of us to consider the question: “What do people think of God when they watch us in our marriages?” Realistically, we don’t have a choice whether or not our marriages will be an open book. Someone, somewhere, at some time will eventually read our marriage book. It’s inevitable that it’s going to be seen and read. The question is: Is it a worthy read?
The Open Book of Marriage
The truth is you may never know who is reading your marriage book. You can be sure your children are—every day. But neighbors, friends, relatives, people you work with, and even complete strangers are also reading it.
Radio personality and author Brant Hansen found this out! He wrote:
“One evening, standing by the pond, a tipsy Finnish guy (he and his wife were drinking while moving out) told me—I swear I’m not making this up, ‘I’ve looked outside. And I’ve seen your family. I’ve watched you. And when I see your family, I don’t even know why, but I think about God.'” (From Brant’s book, “Unoffendable”)
Needless to say, this took Brant by surprise! He didn’t know their life was being read as an open book. But it was. And so is yours. Do they “think about God” when they see how you interact with your spouse? It’s important to note:
“Without ever passing out a tract, preaching a sermon, or even saying a word, a Spirit-filled Christian home declares to all who come within reach that God will do for others what He has done for them, if they’ll only give Him a chance.” (Jerry Jenkins) “Be imitators of God… and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1)
This is so, so true. Do you show, by the way you interact with your spouse that you are an “imitator of God and live a life of love?”
Living God’s Word
Here’s a “Love Lesson” we should all prayerfully consider:
“If you fall in love with God—really fall in love with God, you’ll notice a difference in your love toward your spouse. We each study and personalize the Bible and memorize specific verses to continually renew our minds to God’s power and character. If we fail to do that, our culture and society will shape our minds in the opposite direction.” (Mike and Debbie Breaux)
“The relationship of a man and a woman in marriage is a picture of Christ and His church. When we demonstrate to our spouses the grace that Christ demonstrated to us, we experience true oneness in marriage. As 1 John 4:19 tells us, ‘We love, because He first loved us.‘ Marriage works when a husband and wife remember that they are two sinners living together in a state of grace. It stops working when either of them forgets.” (Dave Boehi)
We hope you realize the gravity of our interactions within our marriages. Marriage is not all about us. It’s about God and the picture of Himself that He wants to write upon the hearts of others who don’t know Him.
Additional Thoughts on The Open Book Marriage
• “Most Christian marriages are patterned after the world, with a few threads of Christianity woven in. Couples know certain Bible verses, but few practice the Word of God and use it as the defining standard for their lives. If you want your marriage to become all that God intended, dig deeply into His Word and let it become the source of your lives together. Pray for one another that you’ll abide together in Christ.” (Dennis and Barbara Rainey)
• “Scripture reminds us, again and again, that our goal as Christians is to become more like Christ. In Ephesians 5:1 we read, ‘Be imitators of God.’ Elsewhere, Paul wrote, ‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son’ (Romans 8:29). As I grow in relationship to Christ, my [spouse] should be able to notice at least some family resemblance.” (Gary Thomas)
• “Marriage—the way God designed it, is meant to point people to God. The family is God’s laboratory. This is where His grace and provision are put to the test. It greatly concerns me that so many Christian marriages have fallen so short of what God intended for marriage. We can never impact our society for God if, in our own families, we can’t show the love of Christ.” (Margie Z.)
• “Today, many people claim to have Christian marriages. Yet the divorce rate among Christians is indistinguishable from the general population. If Christians followed the first-century model, and allowed ‘nothing to divide them, either in flesh or in spirit,’ wouldn’t that statistic be different? [Application:] Renew your commitment to your spouse, and together renew your commitment to Jesus Christ. Let your faith in God be the foundation of your marriage.” (Bill & Pam Farrel)
• “Our marriage is supposed to be a reflection of Christ and the Church. Christ does not fall out of love with us when we mess up. So why should we fall out of love with each other?” (Joshua Pease)
• “The theme of a sacred marriage is the same as the theme of life: ‘And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.‘ (Colossians 3:17) Whenever marriage becomes about us, it becomes bent. Whenever it focuses more and more on Him, it becomes whole.” (Gary Thomas)
The point of marriage is to glorify God. This means that the way we interact with each other should make HIM look good. It’s important to continually work on our relationship so that it reveals and reflects the love of Jesus to the point that when others see us, they see a glimpse of God. The outflow of this is that our living testimony can be used by God to compel them to want to know Christ better.
Can those who witness how you interact in your marriage relationship, see God within it? Can God use your testimony to want to know God better?
Again, Your Marriage is an Open Book
Pray about this. And then make the time to pray together as a couple. Ask God to show His power at work in your relationship.
Maybe you don’t feel you’re anywhere close to being the person, or a couple God could use. If so, start today to change that. Today can be a new beginning. Start by confessing to Him where you have failed. And then ask for forgiveness.
Additionally, commit to learn and apply Biblical principles to show the love of Christ within your marriage. It’s important to do this behind closed doors (when no one but you and God are looking). But also do this in front of open doors. That is because again, your marriage is an open book.
And please don’t worry about being imperfect. God specializes in using imperfect people. Just read the Bible, and you can see this clearly! All He asks for is a willing heart and spirit. (But then you must do what He tells you to do.)
Please note that if God can use us, God can definitely use you. It all begins with saying, “Yes” to Christ’s Lordship. Above all, keep in mind what we’re told in 2 Corinthians 2:2-3:
“And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.“
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
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10 responses to “Your Marriage is an Open Book”
(USA) The pastor of a church in So. CA said that he read in Christianity Today that Ravi Zacharias was divorcing his wife and had gotten engaged to another lady before his divorce was final. Can you confirm this? I don’t want this pastor to be spreading untruths if this in fact is not true. I have been unable to substantiate this. Thank you. Jean
It is obviously not true. He is married to Margie and has been since 1972. I read this article in Christianity Today on the internet a few years ago, and am trying to verify the exact date and who wrote the article.
My speculation is that some writer learned about the divorce of Naomi Zacharius (Ravi and Margies’ daughter) with the unusual detail that Naomi’s husband had become engaged to someone else before the divorce became final. Because of the name Zacharius, the writer, may have been confused and assumed Naomi was married to Ravi (her father) and built a sensational story around false assumptions.
This was a real published story but I can’t find any references to it. I can only assume Christianity Today has pulled it for the sake of objectivity and to avoid embarrassment for all parties (including themselves).
I think that many people discount God in their lives because their lives are so difficult. Marriage is difficult, especially when children enter the mix. It changes the dynamic of the wife’s role in putting her husband first and moves into more of a nurturing role for the baby and this can be frustrating for the husband. Although the couple loves the baby, children require a lot of attention. These are times when whoever is up in the middle of the night tending to a crying child, having to go to work, and bringing home a miserable child who has been in daycare all day and fusses because it’s just that kind of day wears on each person in the family.
In today’s age, where both spouses work and try to raise children, it is crucial that God is not left out of the equation. Unfortunately, it is also at this time that busyness consumes us and we seem to fall away from God as a natural consequence. Without a committed prayer life, not one where we are constantly asking God for something, but offering up our sacrifices to Him in honor of Him, the daily onslaught of frustrations begin to sever our relationship with God and with one another.
Having lived that part of my life, I can tell you that it was through prayer and especially those who were praying for us, that we made it now almost 30 years. A few of those years I wondered if we would be okay, but when I sit back and remember how I had relatively abandoned God during my hard and “busy” life, I can see that when I sought Him out again, and prayed, and prayed for others, that God brings us back in line and sort of shows us how we ought to be living.
Most importantly, when you think you really don’t like the spouse you committed yourself to, remember when you loved them so much and why you did. Love, kindness, patience, and forgiveness are a must and can heal. Take the time to just listen or do something kind. Don’t worry about rejection. When we change ourselves, it elicits change in those around us. You can’t change anyone but yourself and Jesus will never reject you.
Look at everyone in your life and consider them to be an opportunity that God has put before you. How have you changed their lives. Do they know God by your actions? Do your actions put God first? Sometimes God won’t heal a relationship. People must freely and willingly make those choices. But with prayer and you remembering that Jesus is in you, you can let go of the anger and distrust, and just let Him work through you. You will begin to see His blessings. May God be present in your Marriage, and Jesus be present in your hearts~
I love this. Thank you
Unfortunately, Ravi has been involved in what appears to be an online affair. There was a lawsuit (I believe the woman , with her husbands knowledge and probably encouragement) sought to entrap Ravi for financial gain. There was a settlement. It might not be a bad idea to remove this post.
Shirley, This is not the first time we have heard of this allegation. We did a lot of research last time someone brought this to our attention, and we have done more this time (and will do more in the future). We decided last time and this time that this is one of those “he says”/”she says” types of situations. For every article you can find on your stance, we can find others that rebuff it–that this is a woman that is trying to gain financially from her allegations. We KNOW of other cases like this so it’s hard to know what’s truth and what isn’t. There may be some truth to this or not… we don’t know. But from what we can see, there is no hard fast evidence. Here is a link to an article that seems pretty balanced on this issue (we’ve read plenty of others that have an imbalance one way or another): https://ministrywatch.com/ravi-zacharias-faces-criticism-for-exaggerated-credentials-and-settling-a-lawsuit-with-an-apparent-extortionist/. We’re not sure if we agree with all of what they write, but for the most part, we can see where they are trying to give “evidence” for both sides.
You may wonder why we haven’t pulled this Marriage Message, as you requested. That is definitely our temptation. But after prayerful, careful consideration (with more praying and research to do in the future), we decided to keep it in at this point. We have seen where Christians sometimes kill their wounded. They give no grace, and others overlook too much. We do not feel compelled by the Lord to jump either way at this time. Ravi probably did do things he shouldn’t have. We don’t know. But we’re not sure he did all that this lawsuit is trying to pin on him. We don’t know his past motives, nor her present ones. But from what we see, the ministry is making good steps to make sure there are not openings where anything improper can be done by any employee or that any false accusations or law suits can have any type of footing in the future.
We also don’t feel we should erase Ravi’s ministry in this message or other ones because no matter what he did or didn’t do after he made the above statements, it still doesn’t discredit that what he said is true. We also agree with the following part of the Ministry Watch’s article where they wrote: “Meanwhile, while quite disturbing, none of the above undermines the solid, biblically-based teaching for which RZIM and Ravi Zacharias have become well-known around the world. In MinistryWatch’s view, the ministry’s teaching materials are excellent and the roughly 80 RZIM staff traveling the world to share this teaching are very effective.” They say more, but we’ll let you (and anyone else who wants to) read that. Despite all that may have or may not have happened, the ministry is still solid.
We see where God forgave King David and others who committed adultery (and they truly did commit it). Beyond adultery, King David also had Bathsheba’s husband murdered. And yet God forgave King David and he was even called a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).
Jesus also forgave the woman caught in adultery. She again, actually was caught in adultery. And His statement to her was, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t wipe out her life and future potential ministry out afterward. He gave forgiveness and grace because He believed that she would do what was right in the future. We believe this is applicable to this situation, as well. We believe Ravi is living for Christ and is doing God’s will at this point, as well. Whether or not Ravi did things he shouldn’t have in that whole past scenario… whether or not he out and out sinned, we don’t know. But we do see (as far as we can) that he is doing what he should be doing in ministry and his personal life with his wife, family, friends, and others at this time. We will not condemn, if God does not condemn. We will not throw stones if God doesn’t.
The ministry is being blessed and it helping multitudes of people step into God’s light. If Ravi is caught in this type of situation now or in the future, then that is another thing. We will go to God again, and look to Him for wisdom and for His insight.
We all sin; “we all fall short of the glory of God.” We shouldn’t. And ministers are held to an even higher standard. But if we shunned everyone who sins (those who are presently trying to live right, despite their past sin), then we’d have to shun everyone. Shirley, we appreciate your wanting to point this out to us. But at this time, we are just posting your note and the link to the article and will continue to seek God’s face on this matter. God bless!
Are you now going to pull this article in light of the latest revelations about Ravi?
We are praying about this. We know God will give us wisdom on this matter. Ravi may have fallen, but his words can still minister as God uses them. So we are praying about what to do about this matter. We don’t want to be hasty and yet we also don’t want post things that we shouldn’t.
It would be great to know what happens when things go really wrong, such as with Ravi. Was his marriage a lie, considering the secret life he led? Is it wrong to expose the lies and talk about this? Life isn’t all good in the world, even for Christians; sometimes it’s awful. What then?
Linda, We have prayed about whether or not to pull Ravi’s marriage quotes because of the things we have read more recently about his cheating on his wife. We didn’t want to jump just because others did. We wanted to wait, pray, and then do as we felt God would have us. After praying about it we decided to pull his marriage quotes. It’s not that what he said was wrong. It wasn’t. But his “authority” on the area of marriage is tarnished to the point that keeping them could do more harm than good.
But we have to say that just because we did this, it doesn’t mean that we would throw stones at others who don’t pull those quotes. That is their prayerful decision. We also don’t want to spend much more energy and time on this issue. God is Ravi’s judge–not us. People sin. They shouldn’t. But they do. And if we spend too much time weighing their behavior we can go over the edge in our judgement. It becomes a matter of looking at the sin of others and overlooking our own sin. It’s too easy to look at other’s sin with magnifying glasses, and look at ours with minimizing glasses. I’d much rather error on the side of focusing less on the sinful actions of others, and to face my own sin, and also focus on the good that others are doing.
Also, we want to spend our time in helping others NOT to go this route, rather than spending too much energy on those who do.
You ask “is it wrong to expose the lies and talk about this?” All I can say is it depends upon how much you allow this to be your “calling” and your “right” to do this type of talking, and how much time you spend upon giving grace. No… we don’t excuse. But also we have to remember what Jesus told a crowd that was gathered to condemn a woman caught in adultery. “He who is without guilt, let him cast the first stone.” Jesus challenged their prone towards sinning. Who IS without guilt? People want to measure guilt. God doesn’t. We’re all guilty and “fall short of God’s glory.” Also, Jesus didn’t excuse the sin of the adulterous woman; He told her to “Go; and sin no more.” And then Jesus moved on.
We can’t tell Ravi to “sin no more” because he is deceased. God will totally handle this. Sadly, the costs on this side of Heaven will be enormous… no doubt! But we need to make sure that we aren’t spending much time on this. We aren’t appointed as Ravi’s moral police (at least we aren’t… I can’t answer for you). I try to put my words through God’s filter: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) If God tells me it’s acceptable for whatever period of time to spend energy focusing on another’s sin; I will. We pulled Ravi’s quotes after praying about it. But from there, we’re moving on to talk about other “acceptable” things that will benefit others. If God appoints you or others to police Ravi’s past marriage behaviors, then that is up to you and others. Do what you believe God would have you do.