A Christ-centered Bride
by: Al and Lisa Robertson
When we are first called to help a couple in crisis, we often wonder what the motivation is that the partners have for wanting to save their marriage.
First of all, we believe that God has placed permanence in our hearts – it’s in our DNA to desire lasting and meaningful marriage relationships. Most cultures throughout history have honored marriages that endure the test of time. Most people understand that a cheating spouse is a dishonorable spouse. Take a man’s wife in almost any culture, and you’ll soon find out that people expect faithfulness and endurance in a marriage.
However, is making your marriage work simply for the sake of having a good marriage good enough? Is desiring a good marriage so that your own needs can be met what God really desires? Sure, everyone’s better off when people stay together and live in harmony. Divorce is always bad, and the collateral damage is far-reaching. Divorce hurts everyone involved – both parents, the children, and the entire extended family. The long and evil fingers of divorce reach down deep into society and spills its poison by ripping apart the fabric of society.
All of this is true, but we think that God desires more. We think that God has a purpose for marriage that is far more important. Actually, when you understand what we are going to tell you about God’s design for the marriage relationship, we think that you will see that all of the good things that result from a stable and loving relationship are actually benefits of embracing God’s plan for your marriage.
In Ephesians chapter five, the Apostle Paul defines the roles in a godly marriage. You can read it later (and we suggest that you do), but Paul’s argument was not that these roles should be looked at as simply rules that exist in isolation.
He said two things that we should take note of. One is that as the church submits to Christ who is the head of the church, wives should submit to their husbands. Secondly, husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church.
Without getting into what submission and love really mean in a marriage (we may deal with that in a later blog), the point we want to make right now is that the purpose of a godly marriage is to give us a model for the relationship between Christ and his Bride – the church. And when we say “church” we aren’t talking about a denominational institution. We are talking about the biblical church which is the community of all believers around the globe and throughout history. In other words, we are talking about you and me.
When our marriage was about our marriage (or about us), things didn’t go so well as we explained in our latest book. No, our marriage began to really take off when we began to understand that our marriage did not exist to make us happy but to glorify God. Admittedly, when we began to honor God in our relationship, we were happier. But the kind of happiness that we have in our marriage is not an end unto itself; it is the result of our decision to honor God.
In fact, we began to understand more and more that there is no fulfillment in any area of life unless whatever it is that we are attempting to accomplish has honoring God as its foundation. Satan tells us that we can be fulfilled if only we _________ (he fills in the blanks with whatever it is that our hearts really desire). If only I could be rich or famous. If only I could have this thing or this person.
But we all know the ugly truth that none of those things we write in the blank will really make us happy. The Bible tells us (and we have all experienced it) that only by pleading with God for the honor of giving glory to God by our words and by how we live our lives in a deep relationship with him that seeks to bring glory and honor to his name will we ever be truly full-filled (fulfilled).
So we have a suggestion for you. Before you take another step, before you read another marriage book or see another counselor, bow down before God (together and separately) and plead with him to change your heart toward HIM. Pray that he will give you a spirit that seeks to magnify his name among the people you see every day. Pray that he will use your marriage to glorify him before he uses your marriage to make you happy.
Trust us when we tell you that you can’t believe the mighty work God can do in your relationship once you begin to allow God to glorify his name in you by conforming you to the image of his son.