Kati and I had the privilege of contributing to a 30 day Marriage Devotional Book with our friend Dean Fulks, Lead Pastor of Lifepoint Church in Columbus Ohio. Your Next 30 days of Relationships will be published in a few weeks. Here is some of what you will find in this book.
Fifteen years ago my wife, Kati, andI were married in our hometown of Bossier City, Louisiana. Today we live in Fort Smith, Arkansas and have three children and a dog! Life is pretty good. However, like most, Kati and I navigatethe difficulties of marriage and family daily. I once heard this question asked, “Do you know what you get when two sinners get married? One big sinner!” That is so true, at least in our case.
As Kati and I reflect on our early struggles, we can now laughabout them. But in those early moments, marriage was very difficult. Kati was raised to make her bed…I was not (on one occasion she actually made the bed with me in it!). I left my shoes in living room floor to be picked up later…Kati put her shoes away immediately. I liked to eat junk food…Kati was very health conscious. I like television…Kati likes to talk. We even argue differently. The truth is all of those differences can be a recipe for disaster if not filtered through the lens of the One who created man and woman and designed them to be united in marriage.
There is no question that marriage can be difficult. And if the statistics are right, every first time marriage has a 50 percentchance of lasting—not great odds! Imagine if on your wedding day, you looked at your husband or wife and said, “Honey, I hope we make it!” But the truth is, that’s statistically how most marriages start.
One of the most important questions we should be asking is, what must we do in order to make our marriages last? Kati and I would like to suggest two truths to consider for the health and longevity of your marriage.
1. We must die.
Every wedding ceremony should begin with those words.But that’s what it means to enter into a covenant, and marriage was always meant to be a covenant. If there’s one thing that will kill a marriage, it’s selfishness.
What exactly is a covenant? Merriam-Webster defines a covenant as, “a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement.”When God made a covenant with His people, He designed it to have eternal and lasting implications, and His people in the Old Testament took covenants very seriously.
In fact, the Old Testament covenant ceremony involved a “walk of death,” which constitutes the core issue of the covenant. An animal was killed and split down the middle. The covenant participants would walk in a figure eight between the halves of the animal, reciting the duties of the covenant, and returning to face each other. The figure eight, a symbol of eternity, was an acknowledgement that the covenant was forever. This covenantal “walk of death” said one important thing: I am dying to myself and giving up the rights to my individual life to become one with my covenant partner. THAT is what God intended when he officiated the first wedding.
And right from the beginning, we see that Adam and Eve were made to be in covenant with each other; they were made to be one:
Genesis 2:22-24 – And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be call Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Notice the description of this event in the text:
“Bone of my bones”
“Flesh of my flesh”
This is the core of a covenant marriage—oneness. When you see your marriage relationship as “two becoming one,” the game changes.
“I” is transformed to “US”
“Me” changes to “WE”
This sentiment of oneness is also implied in Song of Solomon 2:16:“My beloved is mine, and I am his….”
So, what’s the takeaway? Selflessness is the key to any successful marriage.Still, as Christians, our marriages are meant to accomplish more than simply fulfilling each other’s physical needsor raisinga family. This brings us to the second truth.
2. We are a reflection.
Marriage is not an earthly creation of man, but it was designed by God to reflect Jesus’ covenantal relationship with His church. We see this true purpose of marriage in Ephesians:
Ephesians 5:31-32– “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
In other words, our covenant with our spouse is meant to reflect God’s eternal, everlasting covenant with us. So, marriage is so much more than an earthly relationship. It is a mirror that reflects eternal realities. Therefore, the highest meaning and ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and his church on display for the world to see.
Key Concept: Marriage exists to reflect Jesus’ covenant with his church
So, every time a couple “ties the knot,” they are making a death march, of sorts. However, God never wastes anything. Just like in nature—death leads to life, the same is true in marriage. When “me” becomes “we” and “I” becomes “us,” you are fully alive to reflect God’s glory in a new way.
However, I want to we, when it’s convenient for me. What I really want is a consumer marriage. More service at a lower price. I want the discounted version of marriage…the one on the clearance rack, where I get something good that doesn’t cost me as much.
The problem is obvious. Reflecting Christ means that I reflect His sacrifice, as much as humanly possible. Our spouses should see and sense that. I don’t know that God gets much more glory than two people willingly submitting their desires to another in the same way that He submitted Himself to the Cross in our behalf.