Marriage the Way God Intended: Part 2
Let’s continue our discussion on marriage by considering God’s design for oneness in marriage. Let’s look at what it means to stand in the way of the unity God lovingly intends for us. Has God asked men and women to deal with something that is really too hard for us? Or is He lovingly holding us to a higher standard so that we can see what a beautiful gift we have been given through marriage from the hand of God?
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:35
The life and teachings of Jesus show us that to be truly like Him in our flesh means that our desire to love others is greater than our desire to be loved ourselves. But in James 4:1-10 we are told that when we don’t get our way, when our spouse doesn’t live by our rules, we fight and quarrel. Instead of maintaining the oneness God intends, we disconnect, we attack, we withdraw—we can literally feel ourselves disconnecting from our spouse.
We typically maintain this posture until the emotional energy required to maintain the standoff becomes too great. Only then do we choose to play “nice”. Unfortunately, conflicts rarely get resolved on their own and so the cycle repeats over and over again. This is a far cry from the oneness God intends for our marriages. When our desire to be loved, honored, and served by our spouse is greater than our desire to love, honor, and serve our spouse, it is evidence of our allegiance to ourselves.
So what are we to do? Do we figure out a better way so that this pattern doesn’t repeat itself or does God offer real help? God does offer real help in the form of His Son Jesus.
Serving Jesus in Marriage:
If we serve Jesus, our desire to be loved can not overtake our commitment to love our spouse in Jesus name. This is to the glory of God and to the benefit of our spouse, and as a testimony to a watching world! Just imagine how powerfully the gospel is shown to those around us when they see our marriages line up with God’s plan and purpose. Unbelievers may not recognize that we are lining up with God’s plan for marriage but they will know that we have a different way of thriving in our marriage. They will see that we love each other. Believers will watch and be encouraged and maybe even ask what it is that makes our marriage happily thrive.
Loving us while we’re at our worst but when we need it most, is love the way Jesus modeled for us.
But God demonstrates His love for us in this, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Is your desire to love your spouse well, greater than your desire to be loved well? This is the way of love in God’s kingdom. When two committed believers come together and love as God intends, you have two givers who seek to outgive the other. God’s way to maintain oneness is mutual sacrifice leading to mutual enjoyment. The Bible makes it clear that our heart towards God can be measured by how we love one another. To claim to love God and then disconnect from our spouse is to live a lie.
What makes marriage work is Jesus. What maintains oneness in marriage is Jesus. The life and Spirit of Jesus in me will not fight with the life and Spirit of Jesus in my spouse. The Jesus in me unites with the Jesus in my spouse. The Jesus in me will not disconnect from the Jesus in my spouse. When we have differences, as husbands and wives do, Jesus will be the One who keeps us “one” as we bridge our differences. When we remember what we have in common—Jesus Christ—is greater than what would seek to divide us, we stay connected. James’ question to us is, “if you believe in Jesus, why do you fight?”
A lovely idea, James, but how do we resolve conflict, maintain oneness, glorify God, and honor our spouse all at the same time? How is this walked out practically by the Spirit of Christ who resides in us?
We’ll take a look at the questions and talk more about this concept in our next article on marriage the way God intended.