As I write this, the Wedding Countdown App on my I-Phone tells me that I am exactly 25 days, 5 hours, and 4 minutes from saying “I DO!” Standing on the joyful and exhilarating precipice of marriage, my hopes and dreams for marriage are filled with great optimism. Yet as I look out across society, marriage seems broken and in many cases beyond repair. Many studies point to this conclusion. For instance, I read recently that a divorce takes place every 13 seconds in America, and even many Christian marriages are fairing no better.
So as I rapidly close in on marriage, there are certain myths and lies that I want to avoid in my own marriage. And though many are confused about marriage, I am so glad God isn’t, and that His Word corrects our erroneous thinking. Let’s consider over the next couple weeks several myths on marriage.
Myth #1: Marriage can satisfy the deepest longings of my heart.
John Calvin so aptly said,
“The human heart is an idol factory… Every one of us from our mother’s womb is an expert in inventing idols.”
If we are not careful, we all naturally fall into this trap of exalting a person or a relationship into an all-consuming obsession, putting all our hope in that person. Perhaps the greatest temptation in singleness is to assume marriage will satisfy our needs, solve our weaknesses, organize our haphazard lives, and help us reach our potential.
Truly the heart behind this sinful myth is idolatry. Idolatry is when we worship and serve created things rather than the creator God (Romans 1:25). When we search for joy, satisfaction, and our rest in something other than God, then that thing has become an idol.
Many idolize marriage as an opportunity to find someone that will stimulate their intellect or excite their passions. Others tend to view marriage as an opportunity to find one who will provide spiritual stability, financial security, and a loving family. Many Christians believe that if they want to really be happy and reach their potential for God, they need someone who is a perfect match by their side.
In either case, one is making a good thing the most important thing. This comes down to one crucial truth that must be repeated: A spouse makes for a great companion, but a very poor Savior.
Jesus Christ is the only Person who can be our Savior and fill every void in our lives. The book of Colossians teaches that we are complete IF we are “in Christ.” In Christ is the only place that you can find salvation, satisfaction and rest. The woman at the well had multiple spouses, yet she was left feeling empty. Her heart and soul was missing the most important thing. But when she found Jesus and found out what only He could offer, she found true fulfillment.
As wonderful as marriage is, our souls are far too big to be satisfied only by a spouse and family. If you are seeking your greatest happiness in marriage, you will be left crushed under the weight of your idol. We must not ask from a spouse what only God can do. A spouse makes for a great companion, but a poor Savior.
Myth 2: If I meet the needs of my spouse, my spouse will certainly meet mine.
This myth espouses a consumer mentality, and leads to manipulation rather than love. In this myth, the wife’s main concern could be that her husband is not meeting her needs or that he is not speaking her love language. She most likely has a list of how he could speak her love language in practical ways.
The husband may get frustrated because his wife does not respect him. He has conditions contrived in his mind of what his love for her could look like if she would just make the first move by meeting his needs.
This cycle of thinking is unbiblical and promotes humanity as the redeemer of marriage. It promotes people to just try harder or do better in order to boast a successful marriage. This myth is man seeking to redeem his own marriage based on his own merits. This is man attempting to become the hero of his own marriage instead of relying on the Lordship of Christ and total submission to Scripture. This type of relationship is more about mutual need meeting than confessing their personal sin against God and reconciling their relationship between God and with each other.
When we as the people of God understand the Gospel correctly, then we will see how the Gospel is not about getting our needs met, but about pursuing one another in love (Mark 10:45). This learned myth loses all steam when we consider Christ. God came in human flesh to this world to meet the ultimate needs of mankind, yet they rejected and crucified Him. What does that say about the mutual need myth?
Serving your spouse in marriage then must be a picture of how God meets our needs spiritually, rescues us by His grace, accomplishing what we cannot do for ourselves. Jesus, for the glory of the Father, came to this world and died on the cross so that we might be saved.
So you serve your spouse based on what God has done for you, regardless of the spouse’s response. Remember what Paul said in Corinthians: “Love does not insist on its own way” (1 Cor. 13:5). We must not seek our own interests first. We must not manipulate our spouses, but fulfill our respective roles for God’s glory.
As my fiancée and I approach our wedding day, we need to be reminded of the beautiful reality that God exchanges the sin of our past in exchange for the perfect righteousness of His Son. Contrary to popular opinion, July 25, 2014 is not our wedding day; it is another display of the most stunning reality in the universe: that God sent his Son to die to redeem a people for Himself made clean through the blood of Jesus.
God’s ultimate plan in putting my fiancée and me together is that He wants to uniquely put His grace on display so that other people will praise Him (Ephesians 1:5-6). This is God’s purpose for our marriage, and for the world at large. By His grace alone, we will take part in that divine display.