To God, marriage is sacred. There’s no doubt about it —not from God’s vantage point! He fully believes in the whole idea of having a sacred marriage. He created it to be that way. It’s important for us to realize that:
“A giant thread runs throughout scripture comparing God’s relationship to His people with the human institution of marriage.” (Gary Thomas)
The problem is that most Christians either don’t see that thread and/or they don’t realize its importance. We sure didn’t. It hasn’t been until recent years, through our studies, and reading God’s word, that we saw this thread. Since then we’ve seen that entering into a covenant relationship with another person (our spouse) and our God is a serious more commitment than we previously realized. We should consider marriage to be sacred and approach it as God does!
That’s why we want to point out a book that we wish everyone could read. It’s called Sacred Marriage. It’s written by Gary Thomas. If you can obtain and read this book, we HIGHLY recommend you do so. For us, it has been a real life-changer, in the way we now see and approach marriage. So, for this Marriage Message, we’re going to share a few quotes from the book, hoping you will also prayerfully consider what Gary writes.
Marriage is Sacred:
• “To spiritually benefit from marriage, we have to be honest. We have to look at our disappointments, own up to our ugly attitudes, and confront our selfishness. We also have to rid ourselves of the notion that the difficulties of marriage can be overcome if we simply pray harder or learn a few simple principles. Most of us have discovered that these ‘simple steps’ work only on a superficial level.
“Why is this? Because there’s a deeper question that needs to be addressed beyond how we can ‘improve’ our marriages. What if God didn’t design marriage to be ‘easier’? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? And what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”
• “I found there was a tremendous amount of immaturity within me that my marriage directly confronted. The key was that I had to change my view of marriage. If the purpose of marriage was simply to enjoy an infatuation and make me ‘happy,’ then I’d have to get a ‘new’ marriage every two or three years. But if I really wanted to see God transform me from the inside out, I’d need to concentrate on changing myself, rather than on changing my spouse. In fact, you might even say, the more difficult my spouse proved to be, the more opportunity I’d have to grow. Just as physical exercise needs to be somewhat strenuous, so ‘relational exercise’ may need to be a bit vigorous to truly stress-test the heart.”
• “I believe that much of the dissatisfaction we experience in marriage comes from expecting too much from it. I have a rather outdated computer so I know there are some things I simply can’t do with it. There’s just not enough memory or processing power to run certain programs or combine certain tasks. It’s not that I have a bad computer. It’s just that I can’t reasonably expect more from it than it has power to give.
“In the same way, some of us ask too much of marriage. We want to get the largest portion of our life’s fulfillment from our relationship with our spouse. That’s asking too much. Yes, without a doubt there should be moments of happiness, meaning, and a general sense of fulfillment. But my wife can’t be God, and I was created with a spirit that craves God. Anything less than God, and I’ll feel an ache.”
• “If there is one thing engaged couples need to hear, it’s that a good marriage is not something you find, it’s something you work for. It takes struggle. You must crucify your selfishness. It helps when we view our struggles in light of what they provide for us spiritually rather than in light of what they take from us emotionally. Working through disagreements is taxing. There are a million things I’d rather do than put in the time and effort to leap over a relational hurdle. If I’m in my marriage for emotional stability, I probably won’t last long. But if I think it can reap spiritual benefits, I’ll have reason to not just be married, but act married.”
• “What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and to grow in godliness.
“Kathleen and Thomas Hart write, ‘Sometimes what is hard to take in the first years of marriage is not what we find out about our partner, but what we find out about ourselves. As one young woman who had been married about a year said, ‘I always thought of myself as a patient and forgiving person. Then I began to wonder if that was just because I had never before gotten close to anyone. In marriage, when John and I began…dealing with difference, I saw how small and unforgiving I could be. I discovered a hardness in me I had never experienced before.’”
Your Spouse as a Mirror
• “One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached, it would have said, ‘Here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like! (Gary and Betsy Ricucci)
• “Infatuation can be an intoxicating drug that temporarily covers up any number of inner weaknesses. But marriage is a spotlight showing us that our search for another human being to ‘complete’ us is misguided. When disillusionment breaks through, we have one of two choices. We can dump our spouse and become infatuated with someone new. Or we seek to understand the message behind the disillusionment. It’s a message that we should seek our significance, meaning, and purpose in our Creator rather than in another human being.”
• “If you treat a man as he is, he will stay as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become the bigger and better man.” (Johann Wolfgang van Goethe)
• “Marriage can never remove the trials—in fact it almost always creates new ones. But even difficult marriages to difficult men can give women the strength to become the people God created them to be. (So it is for men married to difficult women as well.)”
Our Approach to Our Sacred Marriage
• “Knowing why we are married and should stay married is crucial. This will lead us into a discussion argued by Pastor C. J. Mahaney. It’s found in an audiotape series on marriage titled According to Plan. The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God. It points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.”
Please prayerfully consider:
“Merely being faithful to your spouse is quite a testimony in this society. But as you go beyond that to communicate love for your spouse in a consistent, creative, and uninhibited way, the world can’t help but notice. God will be honored.” (Gary and Betsy Ricucci)
It is our hope and prayer that God will be honored by the way every one of us conducts ourselves within our marriages. Even if our spouse doesn’t act in an honorable way, it doesn’t give us an excuse to do that, which is wrong. May we continually reveal and reflect the love of God in the way we live our lives. And may we live this way both within our homes and outside of them. May our actions be used of God to point others to Him, so they will want to know our God better!
Cindy and Steve Wright
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