Your Marriage is an Open Book

Open Book Marriage - AdobeStock_320490022We 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?

There was a related article presented a number of years ago in “Marriage Partnership Magazine.” It was titled, “Open to the World” and featured an interview with Ravi Zacharias and his wife, Margie. (Ravi has since gone on to Heaven.) Ravi had a phenomenal ministry to bring Jesus to the world in unconventional ways. He was a renowned author, speaker and apologist. He and Margie also believed very strongly that “marriage has the power to change the world for the better.”

They were convinced that God created their marriage as a base for ministering to others. And they didn’t let anyone else off the hook either. The Zacharias’ continually contended that we’re ALL called to show God’s love to those around us. And that especially includes those who are married. That is because marriage represents Christ’s love for the church.

The Open Book of Marriage Speaks to People

Ravi authored several books, including Cries of The Heart, Can Man Live Without God? and Deliver Us From Evil. Throughout his life he defended the reasonableness of the Christian faith. But he also stressed the peace and healing that comes only from God. Ravi and Margie incorporated that same mission into their life as a married couple. They explained it this way:

Ravi:

If our marriage speaks to people, it is our prayer that it is because it is a Christian marriage, not that it is inter-cultural. A couple’s home should convey peace to people when they come in. And where people sense that harmony, they will seek your feedback, even in subtle ways. People have come to the Lord in our home. One was a Hindu couple. I would love to think that happened because they sensed God in our home and in our marriage.

Margie:

One of the most fulfilling comments that could be made about any home is that it is a place of peace. And not only can friends sense this, but others do too. This includes trades people, and real estate agents. Anyone who has a reason to be there should be able to sense the difference in a Christian home.

But how did they establish that in their home? To that, they said:

Ravi:

Peace starts with the discipline of respecting your fellow human beings. Be kind to whoever you talk to. And be gentle and gracious in what you’re saying. I have always marveled why anybody would be unkind. I’m not kind to Margie because she’s my wife, I’m kind to her, first of all, because she’s a person. I see people at an airline counter screaming at a flight attendant because the plane is late. They act as if she had responsibility for it. Think of the peace that is lost.

Add to that is the love of Christ, which gives breadth to our kindness. When the love of Christ is in your heart, you’re accountable to Him for your actions toward others. Christ sheds his love in your heart; and all the more you need to share it with others.

Continuing on The Open Book Marriage

Ravi and Margie continue making this point by stating:

Ravi:

Marriage is the one human relationship that reflects the covenant relationship between God and his people.

Margie:

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.

Ravi:

Marriage is the first human relationship that God instituted. Before we were ever parents, we were a couple. Adam and Eve had no earthly parents. Their allegiance was first to God and then to each other, under God. That is why the wedding vows are so sacred. They are rooted in God’s first gift to humanity—a pure, exclusive, and abiding love.

In our society of broken homes, where can people turn to see the reality of God’s love if not to a Christian home? What they see demonstrated there should show them that it will take more than human love to repair their own lives. Christian couples, in the honor and respect they give to one another, can have the privilege of showing God’s power at work in a relationship.

Can those who witness your marriage relationship, see “God’s power at work?”

Again, Your Marriage is an Open Book

We hope you will spend time reflecting on the Zacharias’ comments. Especially focus on that last sentence. “Christian couples, in the honor and respect they give to one another, can show God’s power at work in a relationship.”

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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Comments

6 responses to “Your Marriage is an Open Book

  1. (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

    1. 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).

  2. 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~

  3. 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.

    1. 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!