by Jen Smidt
Flipping through a popular women’s magazine recently, I came across an article on marriage.
Since I am married and regularly teach on marriage, I was interested in what advice today’s culture would bestow upon me. I was not surprised and more than a little disturbed. While I did not expect that biblically sound wisdom would flow from the glossy pages, I did hope for something more than a completely self-absorbed, wicked plan for marital bliss.
I found myself immediately refuting each point with truth from Scripture–realizing that God, much more so than culture, has graciously shaped and redeemed my understanding of his purpose for marriage. The article claimed that couples stay in love by taking chances. The 3 suggested risks were:
- Call a time-out. Apparently, the happiest couples spend much of their time apart.
- Have another man in your life. The article claimed that friendships with men allow you to “experience that rush of newness.”
- Satisfy yourself. Enough said.
Good advice is just that…a suggestion that may or may not work. In the case of this advice, I’d call it downright dangerous. Spending large chunks of time away from your husband, flirting with other men, and seeking selfish pleasures are invitations to disaster.
“God calls us to a vision and purpose for marriage that is radically different than how the world views this union.”
Let me call you to something different than what this magazine offers: Good News. Here’s the revised version of the above list grounded in the good news of the gospel:
- Call a time-out with God. “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me” (Proverbs 8:17). As both a daily habit and in the midst of conflict, the happiest couples have regular time with God. They pray, seek, study and listen for the wisdom that comes from above. They look for ways to build oneness, not distance.
- Have another man in your life…his name is Jesus. “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14). Friendship with Jesus is the only possibility for a life reconciled to God and a marriage that reflects his covenant made with us: I will never leave you or forsake you.
- Deny yourself. Over and over and over. Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). The greatest threat to your marriage is you. Seeking to satisfy yourself first is a surefire marital destruction plan. Dying to self is rooted in living in Christ. He alone makes self-sacrifice possible and pleasurable in marriage.
God calls us to a vision and purpose for marriage that is radically different than how the world views this union. May we be married couples that reject the world’s shallow and selfish advice for marriage and embrace God’s glorious call to selfless, Jesus-filled marriages.