Growing up in the Church I’ve always felt like marriage was mostly viewed through the lens of roles: the husband leads and the wife submits. A lot of times I would see the beautiful picture of Christ and his bride, the Church, being like marriage. These ideas are found in the pages of Scripture, and I’m not coming against them, but I do feel the need to shift the focus off of these idealized views that are overly promoted in the Church. Focusing too much on the picture of Christ and the Church, and roles in marriage, disregards the large number of marriages that are in pain.
I’ll never forget the older married lady in my church (whose husband didn’t come to Church with her) who reached out to me when she heard my marriage was struggling. We met up at Starbucks and she told me about the pain in her marriage. She shared her story with me about how she stayed married to her unbelieving husband, and how she had to cling to Christ as her spiritual husband. “I realized I had to push more into my relationship with Jesus.” These were words of wisdom from an older married woman who knew suffering. She saw that I was hurting and reached out to me. This is a beautiful picture of honoring marriage in the Church.
God’s Faithfulness When We Are Faithless
When God made his covenant with Noah, and then Abraham, and so on, he knew they would break it. God knew his people would continually break the covenant. But God remained true to himself and was faithful; so much so that he died in order to keep the covenant. He held up his end of the bargain well, and us, well, not so much. In the covenant of marriage both parties are faithless sinners, but we can honor marriage by looking to the faithful One who will help us stay faithful in the marriage covenant. We can look to his faithfulness even when we are faithless (or our spouse is faithless) and remember that God’s faithfulness now covers us (and our spouse) through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He has atoned for our faithlessness in marriage. Even when we fail in marriage, we can bring it to Christ and our spouse, and rely on the Spirit to help us in our weakness.
Marriage can be a place of happiness and a place of sadness. Some marriages experience more of one than the other. The hardships vary in every season and over the years in every marriage, but everyone knows at some point that being married isn’t easy. For many it is a source of pain and suffering as well. The Church would do well to acknowledge this more publicly and privately. If we didn’t make talking about marriage struggles so “taboo,” then maybe more marriages would be helped. One of the best ways to honor marriage in the Church is to openly acknowledge the brokenness of it.
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