The Blessings of an Unhappy Marriage Part 1February 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 9 Comments
Tags: a happy marriage, an unhappy marriage, Biblical marriage, Christian marriage, Christian marriage counseling, God's perfect will, God's plan for marriage, marriage, marriage counseling, Romans 12, Romans 8, satisfaction in marriage
I have to put a disclaimer on this post. I don’t have an unhappy marriage. I love my wife very much. I love being married to her. From my point of view my marriage is extremely happy. (My wife’s point of view may be a different story!) Even better than being “happy,” my marriage is full of joy – real God-given, Christ-exalting, grace-fueled, Gospel-centered joy! This post is intended to help those who are under the mistaken assumption or belief that the sole purpose of marriage is to give us a shallow, temporary, circumstances-dependent happiness. God’s purpose for marriage is far higher and far greater than that – even when (and maybe especially when) one or both spouses don’t really feel happy.
Here are the first two of four Bible principles to help us understand what God wants to do in our marriages. These are opposed to what the world (and even much of the Church) teaches about how to have a superficially happier marriage.
1. Satisfaction in Marriage
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12:1-2, emphasis added
God’s will is perfect. Unless you are a bigamist or a polygamist, you are married to the person to whom God wants you to be married. You may have heard the old joke about the man who wore his wedding ring on the wrong hand. When his friend asked him about it, the man said, “That’s because I’m married to the wrong woman.” It may be a cute joke, but it expresses a horrible idea, and it’s not at all Biblical. I remember (sort of) the words to a song that was popular on the radio when I was a young child. It went something like, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with…” Not very romantic, to be sure! And I’m almost certain it was not a very spiritual song. However, it did express something of a solid Biblical principle: Love is something we are commanded to “do” to our spouses, regardless of what sentimental or sinful “feelings” we might have.
God is sovereign. He uses everything that happens to you – if you are truly a Christian – truly His son or daughter – to conform you to the image of His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus. That is the ultimate overriding goal – the big purpose of God – His divine will – concerning you.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Romans 8:29, emphasis added
It’s a big job – but nothing is too difficult for God. This is a great encouragement. God is going to conform me to the image of Christ. If my marriage is “unhappy” but God is using it to conform me to the image of His dear Son, then I can find Satisfaction in my marriage.
2. Separation in Marriage
Romans 12:2 says that we are not to be conformed to image of the world. Therefore, we are to reject worldly ideas of marriage. We are to be transformed inwardly – and be conformed inwardly and outwardly to the image of Christ. “Separation in marriage” sounds like an oxymoron. Normally, we think of “separation” as the precursor to divorce. But I’m not talking about separation from your spouse. I’m talking about separation from the affections of others (such as parents, friends, etc.) and separation from “worldly wisdom” about your marriage. When you find satisfaction in your marriage by viewing it as part of God’s divine will, you will be able to handle the principle of separation from the world’s view of what your marriage can be, and you will be able to see God’s view of what it can be.
Next time, we’ll look at Sanctification and Sacrifice in marriage.