Let’s be honest, marriage is just hard sometimes. Jared & I are approaching our 13th year of marriage and though, I married a man who is more than I could have dreamed of, we too, have had seasons that were just hard. Our society has painted a picture of a “happily ever after” that doesn’t actually usually reflect real life. Movies, magazines and books forget to fill in the some of the details that are a real part of marriage. Some of those happily-ever-after pictures that have been painted in our minds neglect to fill in the pieces that involve stress, bills, children, health issues, conflicting personalities and love languages–basically, the realities of real life. So, when life is hard and marriage is hard, how do you do it? How do you manage a marriage that honors God?
1. The marriage that honors God starts with God.
The makings of a good marriage starts with the maker of marriage. God created marriage and if we are to have any chance at honoring God with our marriage, we have to look to God. By developing a closer relationship with God, we will learn to be more like Jesus. Jesus was selfless, compassionate and loved unconditionally. Getting to know God more and imitating the qualities of His Son in our lives make for a good foundation to build a marriage.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here, however. Just because you have a strong walk with God does not mean that your marriage will be perfect or easy. Yet, if you want to strengthen your marriage, start by strengthening your relationship with God.
2. Develop a Holy Fear
I have to admit that I haven’t always loved the passage in Ephesians 5 that discusses the topic of wives submitting to their husbands. It seemed so demeaning to me. In fact, it was one of the passages that I knew that I simply didn’t agree with in the Bible and though I didn’t actually do it, I considered taking a Sharpie and marking it out. I didn’t like that passage. But, it’s because I didn’t understand the meaning of submission and further I didn’t have a proper appreciation or fear for God’s plan for marriage. Ridiculously enough, I actually believed for a while that I knew more than God when it came to marriage.
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God–Ephesians 5:21 (emphasis added)
Do you see that word fear in this verse? Some translations use the word reverence. In the Greek, the word is translated phobo in which we get our word phobia. That starts giving me the picture here of having a holy phobia of not doing marriage God’s way. Do you have any phobias?
I have a phobia of mice. It’s silly when you think about how small and relatively harmless they are but I totally wig out if I see a mouse scurrying across my floor. Talk about screaming like a little girl…yeah, that would be me.
Compare that phobia to God’s directive for marriage. That’s pretty serious business if you begin to think of the things you have a phobia about. We should take God’s plan for marriage as seriously as we would the things we’re afraid of. Marriage is actually a holy communion because God designed it to be a picture to the world of His relationship with His people. He takes it seriously.
3. Submit to One Another
Biblical submission is a mark of equality rather than inequality. This is the main misunderstanding most people have about submission. Biblical submission doesn’t mean you are a doormat. It doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to think independently or express your opinion.
Jesus, Himself, the one at whose name “every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth”, was equal with God but submitted His will to that of God’s will. (Luke 22:42) Biblical submission isn’t about inequality but about being equal and making a choice. It is about relationship.
Submission is vital for harmony in relationships and is an important part of business, government and family that function smoothly. The word submission is found all throughout the Bible because God knows that in certain relationships it is necessary to prevent chaos. But don’t misunderstand, biblical submission is not surrender, withdrawal or apathy. It does not mean inferior or subservient. Biblical submission is a mutual commitment and cooperation. It is based on valuing one another as equals.
Value your spouse. Not because they are perfect or deserve it but out of submission and denial of self. Real love is about denying self. That means through forgiveness, loving them with their love language and not always having to have your way. That is the very reflection of Jesus’ love for us.
Question: How can you love your spouse in a way that honors God? Do you have a holy fear of not doing marriage God’s way?