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 —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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