The chasm between the biblical vision and society’s view of love and marriage has never been broader. It rings true that previous generations’ view of marriage was never high enough but we have reached a low, casual attitude of both what constitutes marriage and warrants it disposable. What would seem ludicrous in generations past has become the norm. Marriage is fundamentally God’s own design, confirmed by Jesus in Mark 10:8.
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 (Ge 2:24–25)
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 (Mt 19:4–6)
8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. (Mk 10:8)
Love doesn’t come easily and as a counselor, I see women who’ve become tired and frustrated in marriage. It takes intentional work and time to model God’s good design. Much like other relationships, love is best shared when applying biblical principles. It’s shameful that many couples are no longer willing to exercise patience, preferring to simply throw in the towel. David Powlison said it best, “It’s no accident ‘Love is patient’ comes first in 1 Corinthians 13. Patience isn’t very dramatic, but it counts.”
If we are to be biblical Christians, God will be honored in our relationships. The book titles I refer to time and again are: God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger, Preparing for Marriage by Boehi, Nelson, and Shadrach (edited by Dennis Rainey), What did you Expect? by Paul Tripp, and The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller.
Below are words penned by the Kellers in The Meaning of Marriage. Whether you are long-time married or merely contemplating marriage, I suggest you read the book for further insight.
“Our culture says that feelings of love are the basis for actions of love. And of course that can be true. But it is truer to say that actions of love can lead consistently to feelings of love.”
“Within this Christian vision of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!”
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
“In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.”
“You can only afford to be generous if you actually have some money in the bank to give. In the same way, if your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, then anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief but a psychological cataclysm. If, however, you know something of the work of the Spirit in your life, you have enough love “in the bank” to be generous to your spouse even when you are not getting much affection or kindness at the moment.”
“Only with time do we really learn who the other person is and come to love the person for him- or herself and not just for the feelings and experiences they give us.”
“What marriage is for: It is a way for two spiritual friends to help each other on their journey to become the persons God designed them to be.”