This post on Sacred Marriage: Finding God in Marriage was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
Welcome to Week 3 of my series on “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. This week, we will be discussing the third chapter of the book titled “Finding God in Marriage: Marital Analogies Teach Us Truths About God”. This chapter focuses on how there are analogies throughout the Bible where marriage is used to represent the relationship between Christ and the church. One of them is in Ephesians 5:25-27, where Paul writes, “25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” In this sense, marriage is used to illustrate the commitment and relationship God has made to His people.
Thomas uses these analogies to address what he believes the purpose of marriage should be. While many people may get married for their own self interests, such as having somebody to comfort them and meet their desires and needs, Thomas sees it differently. He does not even prescribe to the belief by some Christians that marriage is simply to avoid sexual sin, procreate, or help us in our loneliness. While these all may be good motivations, Thomas ultimately believes marriage is about modeling God’s love for His people, as this is what pleases God. This is the primary purpose of marriage. Instead of asking ourselves, “What will make me happy?” Thomas thinks we should be asking, “What will make God happy?”
Of course, this is not easy. This turns the purpose of marriage from selfish to selfless. Just as God has reconciled with His people, we are to display reconciliation in our personal relationships and our marriage. This means “building a relationship that models forgiveness, selfless love, and sacrifice.” Through this process, we are able to become more like Jesus and display God’s love for the world through our marriage. This is what God calls us to do and what is pleasing to Him.
Thomas believes that if we make this the purpose of our marriage, then we can withstand the storms that will come in our relationships. If we are committed to please God above everything else in our marriage, we will be able to overcome issues such as “sexual temptations, communication problems, frustrations, and unrealized expectations.” However, if we seek personal happiness from marriage, we will only be disappointed and discouraged when troubles do arise. Our spouse will not always please us, and our marriage will let us down. Thus, for our marriages to endure, our focus should not be on what we can receive, but on what can we give to our spouse and to God. How can we love another person just as Jesus loves us?
I encourage you to reflect upon this question as you think about your marriage or any other close relationship in your life. Ultimately, if we are to put God first in our lives, this means putting others first as well. We are called to go against our own desires and instead live selflessly, so that we may display God’s love to the world. I hope you can make steps towards this purpose this week as I try to do the same.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me for feedback, questions, suggestions on topics, or anything else. I’m happy to chat about anything and everything. I hope you could take away something helpful from this post. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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