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 back! We are now in Week 4 of my series on “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. Today, we will be discussing the fourth chapter of the book called “Learning to Love: How Marriage Teaches Us to Love”. This chapter talks about how the context of marriage can be a great place for us to learn how to love other people. Loving others can be extremely difficult at times, especially if we don’t like something about them or they are unable or unwilling to reciprocate our love. There are people we simply cannot stand, or people that have hurt us deeply, or people that return our acts of kindness with evil, yet God calls us to love them all. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus responds that it is to love God and love others. They come hand in hand. We show our love for God by loving others. We also love others by loving God.
However, as mentioned before, this is not an easy task. Yet, Thomas believes that marriage provides a tremendous opportunity to learn how to love. After all, we get to choose our spouse. If we can’t love our chosen spouse, how can we love our disrespectful co-worker or annoying family member? How can we love our enemies if we can’t even love the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with? While it can be hard to love our spouses at times, because they are human just like everybody else, marriage teaches us how to love and therefore how to be a Christian. It teaches us how to “accept another person and serve him or her,” and this is pleasing to God.
So what does this mean in the context of marriage? Love can show itself in countless ways, but one example Thomas uses is that it is not about being right. Trying to “win” every argument with your spouse and defending yourself in every situation is truly a selfish act. It is usually for the sake of pride and feeling good about yourself. You are fighting for yourself and not your spouse. That is not what love is about. Love is about listening to your spouse’s labors and sorrows, no matter if you think they are insignificant or less than your own, and helping them bear them.
Our spouse does not always want us to solve their problems – often they recognize that nobody can. However, sometimes they just need somebody “to listen, to understand, and to sympathize.” While they want to know that we would fix their problems if we could, they ultimately want to know that their pain causes us pain, and despite their issues and struggles, we still love them. They want to feel understood and accepted instead of dismissed and trivialized. They want a “soul-deep companionship” – somebody who will always be there for them in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life.
That is what love is about. Committing to be there for another human who may be radically different from you and thus difficult to love at times. This is what God does for us. We are certainly hard to love, as we fail to obey Him over and over again. In a sense, it is not “right” for God to love us. We do not deserve His love. Yet, He loves us anyways. How awesome is that. If we are able to show even a tad of this kind of radical love to our spouse or somebody else close to us, God will be more than pleased.
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 can take away something helpful form this post. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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