Marriage on Purpose (Part 1)

"Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?" (Groucho Marx)

The Institution
Faith, Commitment, and Motivation. In short, marriage takes all three.  It takes a tremendous amount of faith to entrust yourself to the same person for the rest of your life.  What is it that motivates you to sacrifice day in and day out for this individual?  How committed are you going to be when "the going gets tough"?  There are numerous articles, posts, books, magazines, seminars, and videos that relate to the subject of marriage.  All telling their story on how to make this institution successful.  Many good.  Many stink.  But what I can tell you, is that there is no greater perspective on the institution of marriage than the Word of God.  

As anyone will tell you, there are various differences in what wives and husbands expect, demand, need, or desire from their marriage.  After reading through many resources on this, here's my conclusion on the difference between husbands and wives:
What Wives need from their Husbands:
Listen to her, Talk to her, Study her, Encourage her, Prioritize her, Care for her, Prepare her, Lead her, Free her, Date her, Love her, Understand and Forgive her, Make time for her, Appreciate her, Show her affection and kindness, Share household chores and child-rearing responsibilities, Give her a day off now and then, commit to physical and emotional well-being, Be her friend and confidant, Trust her, Provide for her, Romance her, and…other duties as assigned.
What Husbands need from their Wives:
Food and Sex.

Obviously, I'm joking (kind of).  Men and women have very different needs, love languages, and desires they want from their mate.  But therein lies the problem with a lot of marriages today.  Each person is seeking their own desires.  The wife is seeking everything mentioned above, and when her husband fails, and he most certainly will, it makes her upset because her needs weren't met according to her expectations, standards, and timetable.  The same goes for men.  Yes, men love to eat.  Men love to have sex.  But men also desire love, respect, and recognition for what they do in life and in their marriage.  When he doesn't receive what he thinks he deserves, selfishness and pride take over, and the arguing and bickering begins.  We live in an extremely self-centered society, so when the invaluable institution of marriage is dependent upon each person receiving what they want more than anything else, are we really shocked when so many marriages fall apart?  So many are divorcing their spouse due to 'irreconcilable differences'.  Were you expecting your husband to become just like you?  Did you have the anticipation that your wife was going to scratch, burp the alphabet, and hammer up drywall too?  What so many have said is that "they are just too different from me that I absolutely can not bring myself to love and respect their differences, so I'll go find someone else that fits my mold of perfection."

The Mystery
Ephesians 5:32 provides us a glimpse in to marriage: "This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church."  And very simply put provides the foundation, or 'thesis statement', to which every marriage is supposed to look like.  So, what is the "mystery"?  The clear model that a true biblical marriage is one that points others to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for the church to bring us to unity, sanctification, and ultimate glory.

It sounds simple enough doesn't it?  In your marriage, live for Jesus Christ.  Simple.  Or is it?  I think what makes this concept so mysterious is the term "sacrifice".  We in America have very little practice with this idea.  We don't truly know what it means to sacrifice.  To give up and/or lay down your life for the sake of someone else.  This is very antithetical to what our culture demands.  But that is exactly why following Jesus Christ is so radical, if done in a true biblical sense.  Let's take a look at the mystery of marriage as defined by scripture.  We need to place all things in context.  So before breaking down Paul's definition of marriage in Ephesians 5:21-33, let's look at what is discussed in the previous chapter leading up to marriage.  A quick look at Ephesians 4 and the first half of chapter 5 paints a beautiful picture.  If we take all of the key words mentioned in the previous chapter, here's a glimpse of what's discussed prior to Paul's instruction for marriage.
unity, holiness, service, renewal, righteousness, kind, forgiving, imitators of God, sacrifice, thanksgiving, no bitterness, no wrath, no anger, no clamor, no slander, no impurity.

Mystery Revealed
So if you place all of these attributes and characteristics in to the institution of marriage, would it not succeed?  If each husband and wife were to adhere to the above, would they not have a rich and peace-filled union?  It doesn't take an extensive education, degrees, certificates, or training to see what the institution of marriage is all about.  Both men and women, husbands and wives, Christian and Non-Christian would agree that these are all of the ingredients that would make a wonderful, vibrant marriage.  And, we haven't even gotten to the heart of the matter!  Unfortunately, "getting it" is one thing.  Putting it in to practice is quite another.  I'll fill you in, along with the rest of my thoughts on the mystery of marriage next time.

In the mean time, reflect on the institution of marriage as it is designed by God.  Read Ephesians 5:21-33.  Read it again.  Repent of the things you've said and done against your spouse.  Give your heart to the Lord, and May the Lord bless you!!

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