Let’s stop and talk for a minute about the foundation of marriage.
The world builds marriage on ungodly and unscriptural things – like romantic feelings and infatuation. Sadly, we may have bought into some of the world’s lies without even realizing what we have embraced.
The world says things about marriage like:
- Marriage should be built on Hollywood style “true love” – meaning, an intense infatuation and feelings of romantic love.
- Romantic love is the greatest love there is.
- The purpose of marriage is to celebrate romantic love and showcase romantic love – unless romantic love dies, and then you need to leave that marriage to find a more real romantic love.
- Only marry someone you romantically love and once you get married, you should expect romantic love to be the most important thing every moment of every day. You deserve to live the rest of your life experiencing the intoxicating cocktail of romantic infatuation every waking moment.
- If you don’t feel romantic love anymore (or right now) in your marriage, then you have lost what is most important in life and it is ok to treat your husband terribly, leave your children, forsake your promises, cheat on your husband or divorce him if you find a “better” romantic lover. Romance and feeling loved in the moment is more important than God, vows, marriage, family, integrity and faithfulness. Romantic love is THE most important goal in life (idolatry of romance).
- If you marry your “soul mate,” he will never disappoint you, hurt you or upset you and he will lavish you with romantic love, affection and attention 24/7. If your husband is not doing this and not “making you feel happy” or not “making you feel loved” then you obviously chose the “wrong man” and your marriage was a “mistake.” So now, you are free to pursue another man who is willing and able to be your “soul mate” because romantic love is the ultimate goal.
- Being unhappy, even if only for a day or two, is unacceptable. Happiness is a supreme goal in life (idolatry of happiness).
- It is your husband’s job to make you happy if you are not happy (idolatry of your husband). He carries all of the responsibility for your happiness and you are not responsible for your emotions or your happiness whatsoever.
- You are a perfect princess who can do no wrong and it is your husband’s job to please you and submit to your every desire (idolatry of self and being in control ourselves).
- Your husband exists solely to satisfy your wishes. If he is not doing everything you want him to do, he is a failure as a husband and you are justified in treating him with contempt and any sin in your life is excusable.
- Your husband is never allowed to sin against you. He must be perfect.
For a believer in Christ, the absolute truth of the Word of God is to be the foundation of our lives, our belief systems, our priorities, our marriages, our attitudes, our words, our actions and everything in our lives. This is a VASTLY different foundation for marriage and for life than Disney or Hollywood or our culture promotes.
God’s Word says things about marriage like:
- The purpose of marriage is to bring honor and glory to God. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
- The purpose of my life is to bring honor and glory to God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
- Jesus is the Rock upon which I can build my life and when I build on Him and the absolute truth of His Word, my life will withstand every trial and test. (Matthew 7:24-27) He is the only one who can complete me and meet my deepest spiritual and emotional needs. No human man can do that for me.
- Pleasing Jesus and obeying Him is the most important thing – this is how I show I love Him. John 14:22-24.
- I am responsible for finding contentment, joy and peace in Christ for myself. Each person is responsible for himself/herself before God. (Philippians 4:12-13)
- God’s two primary commands to me are to:
- Love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength
- Love others with the selfless, agape love of God (Matthew 22:37-40)
- Marriage is a holy and sacred covenant before God between a man and a wife that is binding until death. (Matthew 19:1-11)
- God doesn’t want humans to separate the marriage union between a husband and wife. That is not His good design. (Matthew 19:1-11)
- Marriage is based on God’s design and wisdom in Genesis 2, Ephesians 5:22-33, I Corinthians 11:3, Titus 2:3-5, Matthew 19:1-11, etc…
- Marriage represents the unconditional, agape love of Christ for His people, the church where the husband is to love his wife the way Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her and the wife must respect her husband and honor his God-given leadership. (Ephesians 5:22-33) God’s commands to me as a wife are completely independent of my husband’s behavior (and vice versa for husbands, too). He does not say, “Wives respect your husbands and submit to them IF you feel loved or IF you agree with everything your husbands do.” God simply commands us “Wives must respect your husbands” and “Wives submit to your husbands in everything (as to the Lord).” (For more on this, please check out Spiritual Authority)
- God wants people to be reached for the gospel of Christ. Marriage is a vehicle for believers to reach their children and many other people with the gospel of Christ as we seek to portray our roles in this living play about the relationship between Christ and His church. If we do not obey God and we dishonor our husbands, not only our marriages and children and husbands suffer, but “the Word of God is maligned” Titus 2:5
- God’s unconditional agape love is the greatest love there is. (I Corinthians 13:4-8)
- God, as He reveals Himself to us in the Bible, is the most important consideration in our lives as believers in Christ.
- God commands us to marry a man who is “in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 7). There is NO mention of infatuation, romance, “soul mates,” “true love” or any of the Hollywood chick-flick ideas in The New Testament. The Song of Solomon does talk about romantic love being part of marriage but it is a part of it, not the whole of marriage.
- God does command wives to phileo love their husbands in Titus 2:2-5. Phileo is an affectionate, brotherly love.
- God commands husbands to agape love their wives – which is the unconditional love of God. Ephesians 5:22-33 He also commands husbands to be gentle with their wives, to honor them and not to be harsh with them. I Peter 3:7
- Once we are married, there is no concept that “This was a mistake, so I need to find someone else” in the Bible. Once we are married, we are married. Check out Hosea to see an example of the kind of love God has for His people and the kind of love He desires us to have in marriage.
- We obey God in our marriage and trust Him to lead us and show us what He wants us to do and how He wants us to bring honor and glory to Him in our particular situation. (if you have severe problems in your marriage, please seek godly, experienced, biblical counsel. If you are in danger, please find safety ASAP if you can. I am not writing for people with severe marriage problems.)
- All people are wretched sinners according to the Bible. There is no one who is righteous. Not even one who does good. (Romans 3:10) Women and men are equally sinful (For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23). Our husbands will sin against us at times. And we will sin against them. None of us will be perfect until heaven. God does not excuse us from our marriage vows because of sin with a few possible exceptions. But even then, we are not commanded to divorce and God is able to do miracles. (Matthew 19:1-11, I Corinthians 7, Malachi 2)
- The way God deals with sin in marriage is that we repent to Him for our sin and He forgives us (I John 1:9) and He empowers us to live in obedience to Him (Galatians 5:22-26). He also commands us to forgive. (Matthew 6) There is grace, mercy and forgiveness available to all of us from God and this same grace, mercy and forgiveness is to flow into our marriages. (Grace Filled Marriage by Dr. Tim Keller)
- God hates divorce. (Malachi 2)
- God wants us all to set a godly example for our children so that godly children may come from our marriages and so that our marriages will point others to Him. (Malachi 2, Deut 6, Titus 2:5)
- God created romantic love and sex to be available, possible and beautiful in the context of marriage but these are not the ultimate goals of our lives but rather they are fringe benefits and blessings we can experience at times in marriage.
- Even if we are not feeling romantic love at the time, God still calls us to live in obedience to Him and to walk in faithfulness to Christ and to our husbands. Feelings are not the most important things in God’s economy. We may want to lay our feelings before God and see if there is some area of sin we are struggling with or see if there is a problem that needs to be addressed. But we also can recognize that feelings are not always accurate and not always dependable. Ultimately, God and His Word and our obedience to Him because we love Him so much are what matters most.
- God commands us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- Jesus is our LORD. We answer to Him. We obey Him in all things.
- The kind of love God wants us to have for all people, including our husbands is His godly, agape love. We are to love our husbands the way God loves us. I Corinthians 13:4-8. Put your name in the sentences and see if you are loving your husband the way God calls you to:
April is patient with Greg, April is kind to him in all circumstances.
She does not envy what other wives have, she does not boast about herself to Greg or others, she is not proud (thinking she is always right and Greg is always wrong).
She does not dishonor her husband, she is not self-seeking in her marriage, she is not easily angered by Greg, she keeps no record of wrongs Greg has done to her.
April does not delight when Greg experiences evil (or suffering) but rejoices with the truth.
She always protects Greg, always trusts God, always hopes in God, always perseveres.
April’s love never fails (because it is God’s love flowing through her).
TEMPTATION ENTERS MY LIFE: Will I flirt back or cheat on my husband with this guy who is flirting with me?
FEELINGS may tell me – if this other guy is “cuter,” more wealthy, more “into” me, more “loving” (by my definition) or more interesting and I “feel happier” with him in this moment, then I have the “right” to pursue this new guy without regard for my husband’s feelings, my marriage covenant or God. I should just do what “feels right” or “feels good” in the moment.
GOD’S WORD tells me to be faithful to my husband and faithful to my covenant before God. I owe my husband my loyalty, honesty, fidelity, consideration, love and respect because I took a vow before God to do this. Cheating on my husband or even flirting with someone else would definitely not honor Christ and would be extremely unloving and disrespectful towards my husband no matter how I feel about my husband at the moment.
I can acknowledge to myself that this other man is attractive. But I don’t have to act on my feelings. I am not a slave to feelings – praise God! If I followed these sinful feelings, I would destroy my walk with Christ, my marriage and my family.
It is not worth it! I can ask God to help me take these thoughts captive and replace them with purposely focusing my attention on my husband and on Christ and His Word.
I can ask God to help me wisely protect my heart and my marriage and build a hedge around it so that I do not allow myself to make provisions for my sinful desires and flesh.
I can share my temptation with my husband or with a godly mentoring wife who will keep me accountable.
God can give me the power to die to my sinful self and to live as a living sacrifice for Jesus, offering the parts of my body as instruments of righteousness to be used of God instead of offering my body to sin. Romans 12:1-2.
We will continue this series later this week with more examples about using feelings to make specific decisions vs. using the Word of God to make specific decisions.