A Biblical marriage involves rejecting the message this world gives us that we are owed ANYTHING – that we deserve ANYTHING. 1 Corinthians 13 highlights what real love is. If you want to go with the Western version of marriage – where love is central – then at least fashion your understanding of love on the Bible. Love is not: a feeling, a sentiment, how I feel when my ego is stroked, getting what I want, feeling good, warm-fuzzies. Love, according to Scripture, is sacrifice, sometimes painful, self-giving, enduring, not fickle, always pouring out more and more.
Our Ultimate Guide
The ultimate Biblical marriage we have to look at is that of Christ and His Bride, the Church. In spite of her many failings – ongoing and difficult and painful – God continues to patiently bear with, seek and pursue, love and give to His Bride. He calls husbands to exemplify this kind of love. And He never tells wives to evaluate whether their husbands are measuring up!
He calls wives to a life of faith – to foster a gentle and quiet spirit – to respect their husbands. None of these are simple, easy ‘follow-these-steps to get there’ type of commands. Ultimately we cannot try enough to become what God envisions for us. We must rely fully on the power of the Holy Spirit to fashion us into the image of Christ – both as husbands and wives.
Christ exemplifies for us what both a husband and a wife should be. In relation to the Church He shows what a loving husband should be – willing to die for His Bride. As God the Son He shows how a wife can submit joyfully to her calling in the marriage relationship. He submitted to the Father – to the point of death. I have not been asked to submit to this degree, so if I complain I have no justification.
These are just a few highlights of what a Biblical marriage involves. In my own life I’ve had to apply these in various ways. Here’s just one example:
My Personal Experience
It was our first year of being married and we were on a trip in Zambia. Sadly, Sam had come down with malaria and was laid up suffering fever, chills and depression which often accompanies a bout of malaria. I, on the other hand, was selfishly lamenting that my first birthday married was spent with a sick husband in a distant place away from civilization and that he had overlooked giving me a present (yes, I blush to admit it). It was a bit of a pity-party going on in my soul – and I daresay, not pleasing to the Lord. But I had to work it through slowly, with much prayer.
I dared not complain to Sam – he was half delirious. I didn’t realize how much it meant to me to not celebrate my birthday (in the way I thought it should be done). I was puzzled by my own disappointment. I didn’t like feeling that way, but couldn’t wave a magic wand to change it. So, I prayed. Was it a day or two I prayed about this? No. I kept it to myself, pondering it before the Lord for six weeks.
I wrestled – should I say something about how hurt I was? Eventually, I felt I should share it with Sam, along with my own remorse for my selfish attitude. By this time we were back in civilization and he decided we should celebrate. We did – but you know what? By that time it didn’t matter. I had learned to put my faith in God, not in my husband doing what I wanted. God used this very small trial to turn my heart to Him, and to learn to honor and love my husband for who he is. He isn’t into gifts and celebrating. Would that be okay with me? How much grief and frustration I saved myself by working that through prayerfully the first year, rather than re-visiting it every year! God gave me such a wonderful man in Sam – and I would have him no other way. I was so rebuked when I reflected on my attitude.
Let me challenge you to give your energies to being the prime giver in your marriage. Allow yourself to be filled with love from God – Who meets all our needs – and consider how you may be a blessing to your spouse. Marriages in the Bible had it tough. Recognize how good you have it! Be thankful for all the many blessings in your life and learn to grow in contentment and joy. This will go a long way to understanding what a Biblical marriage looks like!