23 August 2012

Christian marriage

by Dan Phillips

Christian marriage is like the Christian life... only more so.


Dan Phillips's signature


DJP said...

If I may prime the pump, there are actually some very deep and little-appreciated truths for singles and marrieds alike in this. Dig.

Rachel said...

I know this is pre-marriage but I hope it’s still on topic. My choice of husband will be based first of all on Biblical truth and not some mysterious feeling that he is ‘the one’. When I find someone who I can see is striving to meet the qualities set forth in the Bible for a husband (and a Christian) I am free to consider a relationship with them without waiting for some feeling that this is what I am ‘supposed to’ do.
The same as I do in my Christian life – I rely upon Biblical truth to inform my thinking. I believe what is true so much so that it changes my behavior. When making decisions, I rely upon Biblical truth and try to choose what is good and pure and most of all glorifying to God.

DJP said...

Good opening pitch, Rachel. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Perhaps marriage manifests who we really are:

If we are loving, generous, and Christlike, marriage gives us an opportunity to be more so.

If we are selfish and prideful, marriage also gives us the opportunity to practice our sin on someone in the same household.

DJP said...

Very good, Jeff. Thanks!

FX Turk said...

I think there's a lot of wisdom about sanctification in Dan'd post, and I'm not sure idealizing that process is what God has in mind when he says that "leave" and "cleave".

Jeremiah Greenwell said...

I'm not sure what truths you're pointing at and I'm single, so I'm not sure I have any authority to speak on this, but with that I'll try my hand.

As becoming a Christian is not a cure from the strife of this world (John 16:33), neither is marriage a fix for our struggle with sin. Lust isn't something that just goes away when married; it's something we will struggle with to some degree as long as we live in sinful flesh. And sexual immorality is used interchangeably with idolatry a lot in scripture (especially in the OT concerning nations), which is something we battle with in our spiritual life (Revelation 2:4; Isaiah 31:6-7) almost identical to the struggle in marriage. The Convenantal bond is the only sure footing for either or relationship with God or spouse.

The Christian life is one of submission to God that takes faith, prayer, study, practice, fellowship, and many more things I probably have missed. The Christian marriage, though, is an active practice in His attributes revealing a picture of Christ and the church to the world (Ephesians 5:31-32), taking all the things required to live godly on this earth and focusing them toward one specific person above all others, subject ultimately to the will of God alone ('for what God has joined together let no man tear apart').

It is a privileged position (Proverbs 18:22) and one that should not be entered into lightly.

And for someone who's single like me, it's a responsibility that I should at least understand and might want to be actively preparing for, but for now I can focus on the things of God without the 'hindrance'(1st Corinthians 7:32-33) and I have been given this gift at least for a time (1st Corinthians 7:7).

DJP said...

So far, everybody's basically throwing in the stadium I had in mind.

Unless I misunderstood myself, of course.


DJP said...

(I hope to be able to come in and throw some of my own, but it'll be a few hours.)

Tom Chantry said...

Well, I know I thought I was a wonderful Christian until I got married and discovered what an unspiritual clod I am!

I don't mean that my wife has been berating me, either; she is wonderfully patient. Neither do I mean to put her on a spiritual pedestal; this has been instead a shared journey.

Consider the thrust of I John chapter 4 - the one who loves God must love the brethren. The simple truth is that this is pretty easy to do on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Single life left me a lot of time to be exquisitely selfish while pretending to be sacrificial and loving during brief periods of a few hours each week. Two sinners under one roof is a different story. Thus love - not as a romantic construct but as the essential command of the Christian life - is either deepened or abandoned in a Christian marriage.

DJP said...

Leave it to Pastor C to take it to the next level. Exactly what I was thinking.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

To bum off of Tom C's wonderful comment, I was thinking about all the relational responsibilites we have to our brethren and how they are augmented in Christian marriage. Could it be because we share 2 covenants with our spouses?

physicsphantasm said...

so i thought i was the only one that felt like that. i've been married for 2 yr and was single for 31 before that. i thought i had i a mostly selfless guy. turns out wanting to watch 32 hours of football a week is very selfish when the wife hates the sport. and on top of beign marrage is a baby. and i find my self fighting the urge to get up set that i missed a play cause it's my turn to feed her.

Mandi said...

Going off of Jeff's comment-
Christian community always gives you chances to practice such things as forgiveness and gentleness, the extension of grace, being loving even when you don't want to, thinking of someone else before youself, etc. Marriage gives you so many more opportunities for these things, because you are with the person much more often. I can bite back the angry things I may want to say to someone who has wronger, angered, or annoyed me at church and look like I have perfect Christian character, but with my husband I'm either going to let loose or become more sanctified (or both).

DJP said...

Frank: ONE STAR for talking about Christian marriage!

DJP said...

You commenters are totally getting it. Keep it up, there are still unexplored rooms.

donsands said...

The bottom line of my being married to Patti is that I truly have love for her. She is in my heart.
Over the years, I have been quite the oaf and worse. Yet my love is there. And I also have the vows I took that keep an impression on my heart and mind as well.

have a joyous weekend in Christ. Even in the darkest moments we can have a joy, and even rejoice in Jesus our Savior and Friend.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

In Christian marriage we have a full-time disciple in one another. We teach, learn from, and grow one another by loving the Lord and obeying the specific commands given us on how we are to interact with one-another. Holy Spirit-powered, Christ-honoring, Word-driven lives to the Glory of God the Father on a supremely intimate scale! No other fellow disciple will have the opportunities to be poured into like our spouses.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

And I say all of that being an oaf and worse like my brother donsands, and needing to repent for my lack.

Tom Chantry said...

I sometimes suspect that "One-Star-Rating-Hater" is a beloved member of the Commentariat® with a perverse sense of humor that likes to see you guys comment on how absurd his actions are.

No, he is not I.

Anonymous said...

For marriage to be what it should be, we need to live for each other.
Life is best at home when my wife and her care are trumping me and what I want.

Same in the church as a whole. When I am there to serve rather than to be served, the church is better off and so am I.

Add children to the mix...I can even imagine myself to be unselfish when it's just the Mrs. & I. Throw in a crying kid at 3:30AM and its amazing how well I can pretend to be asleep and selfishly let my wife get up...again.

Or, I can get up so she doesn't have to.

Same with folk who need a ride to church, or help moving, or a friend to rely on...I can pretend I don't know or aren't able, selfishly, of I can pitch in.

Further...if I may. Going all in, never paying attention to what I really do need to take care of, can cause burn-out in either situation, which is also not good.

But again, better that I should burn out in the church or at home, than I should expect someone else to burn out on my behalf.

Which of the fruits of the Spirit can be grown/demonstrated/worked on, without other people around.
A wife and kids eliminates the possibility of holding my breath until I can get away from the people and relax...

Linda said...

If a person says to themselves that they are a perfect person than there is only one hope for them,, Get married!!

Kerry James Allen said...

My bride and I celebrated 34 years of marriage last Sunday. I have found a "good thing" and obtained favor of the Lord. Shared dreams, direction and spiritual mission covered by plenty of love and forgiveness have made it wonderful. I told our church publicly that if I could I would marry my wife again and a thousand times besides. To me, that is a telling question: If you could go back, would you marry this individual again? If not, why not? What is your marriage based on? If not, do you see the need for outside help?

"When husbands and wives are well yoked, how light their load becomes!" CHS

Kerry James Allen said...

And as for the one star commenter, I wish we could all just completely ignore this pitiful, bitter individual. Why give them any of the attention they so desperately crave?

"A bulldog can beat a skunk, but it isn't worth it!" Sorry, not CHS!

Chris said...

I love my Christian marriage. Like my Christian life, it has not been easy. There are difficulties and challenges and failures. My wife and I continue to love each other, as a choice and as a non-choice since we have committed to it. A friend described 2 Peter 1:5-7 as a helix that moves us upward. So, too does my marriage. Every challenge, every disagreement when survived or resolved moves me upward. I give up selfishness and pride and mover closer to my spouse and we move closer to God. Together.

And after 14 years of marriage, having our first baby has impressed upon me how selfish I still was and how hard it is to teach about God "when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise".

Tom Chantry said...

This is running off in a slightly different direction, but as I've thought more about this I think it applies. While Paul acknowledges that the single Christian may be able to serve God in ways that a married Christian cannot, the converse is certainly true. Marriage opens up new fields of ministry to the Christian.

As a single pastor, I was under the obligation to show genuine Christian hospitality, which was complicated in a thousand ways. As a pastor with a Christian wife, opportunities to extend hospitality within the body have expanded marvelously. A single man must always be careful in his dealings with unattached women in the church (singles, widows, etc.), but once married, he and his wife together may offer fellowship and friendship on a whole new level.

So in these ways, marriage opens up whole elements of Christian fellowship that were not previously open. I don't know if that's one of the directions you were thinking or not.

Scot said...

Marriage is a wonderful, beautiful place some people have the opportunity to call Jesus Lord. It's where we declare we aren't the Master and we are willing to do whatever God's providence brings us.

I don't think this room has been explored, yet my description of the room seems more Bible quizzy than real discipleship. :-/

FX Turk said...


Monique B said...

I had always thought the only "true" ministry was OUT THERE, doing something wild and dangerous and possibly stinky for God. After marriage, and again after children, I realized that THIS role as wife, and THIS role of mother IS my ministry. Maybe one day God will send my husband and I to podunk nowhere and we'll translate the bible and administer Christ's love to savages. But, first, I've been given this blessing of trying to master cheerfully serving my husband and children and ministering to them with an attitude of joyful serventhood. And with four little arrows four and under, my ministry is most certainly wild, sometimes dangerous, and all too frequently stinky ;)

Linda said...

Chris, that's beautiful what you said... It's more difficult to stay in love than it is to fall in love. Phil. 2- Is the key to what it means to stay in love. John 13 a New Commandment I give you "love one another."

The Christian marriage has Christ to satisfy us and so we learn to submit. It's impossible for our spouses to meet our every need since no human being can anyways.

Unknown said...

With our tenth anniversary coming up tomorrow, this topic has been on my mind lately. My husband amazingly gives me a flesh-and-blood example of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Galatians 5:22-23 and Ephesians 5:25 as he submits to the Lord by obedience to His Word.

Tom Chantry said...

Building off of others here:

The Christian life is one in which we are to act in a Christ-like manner, demonstrating the love of Christ in our own imperfect ways. The Christian marriage is simply the best context in which to do this - to love like Christ does, to forgive as He forgives, to pray for one another has He prays for us...

Tom Chantry said...

By the way, this is a deceptively wonderful post. Eleven words, and I've been thinking about it all day as I go about my business, with new thoughts popping up every so often. And what a great subject - one we all need to reflect on for at least a day!

I give it one star...per word.

donsands said...

"I give it one star...per word."-TC

me too.

I was listening to a song as I drove about doing my work as a "gutter" man, and I also thought of Dan's post.

Here's the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BumFoQOd74&feature=related

"My heart is where my treasure lies,...
You are my treasure."

DJP said...

You all have made terrific contributions.

To add one pastoral thought: most of the issues I've seen in marriage don't even amount to a failure specifically to apply specifically marital graces. Most — and I do say "most," not "all" — of them amount to a failure to apply Christian graces, graces in which all of us should be growing. (That's a theme that could be explored a lot more.)

Christian marriage demands the same graces that Christian living does, only more so. That is, I should show these graces to friends and in church and all — but I'm not with those people 24/7. I go home. I can go home at will. I can be ignorant, or I can arrange ignorance, or I can feign ignorance.

But with your 24/7/365 friend? Not so much! No escape!

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I've been enjoying this, although my hands have been rather busy today. I was thinking about a really stirring message that I heard in regards to the family, and it goes well with this topic.

This is the part that I vividly remember:

"When single people, single Christians leave this world, they leave no heritage. They leave no offspring. They have passed down nothing because they've received no new life from the Lord. Now it's not to say they don't witness and evangelize. But the intimacy and the power of evangelism within the family, between the parents and the children, they miss. So it is true that Scripture says it's not good to be alone. And Scripture also says it's a blessing from the Lord to bring up children."

I know that reproducing mankind in the fleshiest sense is not uber-righteousness. Offspring does not equal holiness. But in comparison/contrast with the Christian life, reproducing offspring who reproduce is a good indicator that things are going as they should be going. Was that eloquent enough?

Before I go back to my kitchen and make more sense, I think it's possible that the single star is automatically generated. As in maybe blogger wants to automatically rate everything, and you can't go lower than one, so BAM. One star. Actual readers with actual responses will actually make the ratings go up. Just a guess. I think I was the first one to rate with 5 stars today. Yay me!

Merrilee Stevenson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

After several very heart-wrenching relationships I'm caught between these two verses

"An excellent wife who can find?"


"He who finds a wife, finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord."

I think I'm leaning towards the hopelessness displayed in the first verse of trying to find the extremely rare gem. I'll leave it to the Lord to work this one out in His timing. :)

Nonna said...

My beloved husband and I agreed when we married not to ever mention divorce as an option. We have remained true to that agreement for over 30 years now. Glory to Jesus Christ.

We have learned to forgive one another over and over again. Marriage without forgiveness would make life miserable, indeed almost unbearable. In light of this, it is always best not to let the sun go down on one's anger. So before we go to sleep at night, if we have any anger, malice, or disordered passion against the other, we ask for forgiveness.

Marriage is sacrifice and in this way it reflects Christ and His Bride, the Church. Both must resist selfish desires that do not take the needs of their spouse into consideration. Though my dear husband and I fall short in this regard, nonetheless we strive toward maturity in Christ and building up one another in our most holy faith.

Linda said...

Nonna--"Marriage is sacrifice and in this way it reflects Christ and His Bride, the Church."

That's beautiful Nonna and congrats on 30 years Woowoo Praise the LORD!.

You made me think of the verse where it says "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her"-Eph. 5:25..

I'll never forget when my brother told me before I was even saved that the love Christ talks about is sacrificial love not selfish love.. That really impressed me.

Bipolar in Transition said...

Celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary this month, and yet of that time I have only been a Christian husband the last three.

Broken, painful, sanctifying, gracious, being accountable, making disciples (three now aged 12, 9 and six months).. my marriage is eveything the church is, and yet much more powerful. I can put on my Sunday face and fake it, but as it was mentioned before: it's a lot harder to do with someone you live with 24/7/365.

rockstarkp said...

Much of the Christian life and Christian life is ordinary and "boring".
Don't expect exciting events every day.

(I stealing this all from a recent White Horse Inn podcast)

AJM said...

I'm called to love my wife AND my enemies even when it is the same person.

Tom Chantry said...

amoduct 45Um.

Are the day 2 comments getting a little tongue in cheek?

AJM said...

Hopefully not mine. Please consider my comment in the light of a "first day" since I did not read any comments until I responded to Dans invitation.

Tom Chantry said...


I can see the truth in what you were saying.

For what it's worth, I typed "Um." and it came out "amoduct 45Um."


DJP said...

No, I think AJM makes a really important point.

Some unbeliever curses us or abuses us in some way, and we know what to do: return blessing for cursing. Do good. Pray. Be charitable?

But if our spouse does it?


You see the point.

AJM said...

Yes with so much more.
If I cannot/ will not "live out the Gospel AND the rest of the whole counsel of God" AT HOME then __________. (fill in the blank)

Chris H said...

First thing that comes to mind is how incapable I was when single to demonstrate (feebly) how Christ laid down His life for the Church. I mean, I suck at it with a wife; I can only imagine how poorly I did it before I had the specifically-named target in my life.

Of course, I'm willing to agree that it's just that I'm especially terrible at that, and not that single people in general are terrible.

donsands said...

I just read James 3. Wonder what James means here: "From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.
My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water."-James , our Lord's brother

Is the fruit of our tongue the indication of our hearts?
Can the born again husband bless his wife, and then curse his wife?

I suppose there must be grows away from the cursing, and especially repentance, if we are truly a Christian. Yet, we surely can have times when our tongues " bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God."-James

Jim Pemberton said...

Marriage offers the Christian intimacy that we are supposed to have in our churches - if we are willing to submit. I go back to Ephesians 5. Paul is talking about church early in the chapter, makes a general statement about submission, talks about marriage, and then brings it back to a relationship between Christ and the church.

Look at verse 11. Prior to that Paul lists all kinds of bad things and says we shouldn't name them in verse 3, but in verse 11 he says we should expose them. This is some kind of apparent tension to have in the church fellowship. "Submitting" in verse 21 seems to be a fear-and-trembling kind of thing after all that.

Do we do this in church? We seem to get verse 3 pretty good except when someone decides to gossip. We're certainly not going to reveal our own flaws to our church family. Put on our Sunday best and pretend that life is great when we're surely guilty of something Paul just mentioned.

So because we have sin nipping at our heels, women are supposed to submit to their husbands as to the Lord and men are supposed to love their wives as Christ loved the church - sacrificially and sanctifyingly. You can't do that without verse 11 happening. A church body can carry on a ruse for a long time with everyone indulging in private sins. But that's not going to happen in a marriage. A spouse will usually find out what evil thing you're up to. It's best to be open about it up front.

That's one reason why the divorce rate has gotten so high. We don't know how to handle the disillusionment that Mr or Mrs Right isn't the great person we thought we married. We're not prepared for that kind of intimacy because we've believed the deception we've brought to church and can't see that we're not exactly an ideal spouse either.

So a marriage that is a marriage (rather than a socially sanctioned temporary cohabitation) embraces this kind of hard intimacy. I'm so grateful to God for my wife. We have this kind of marriage and our love is stronger for it.

Linda said...

When we learn by yoking with Jesus the faithfulness and mercy of the Lord and his unconditional love putting it into practice, the Christian's marriage is a model to the supreme standard and is the backbone to our society.

donsands said...

"That's one reason why the divorce rate has gotten so high."

Made me think why Amy Grant got divorced: (And maybe this will also speak to this whole doctrinal truth we are discussing).
She said, in Charisma Magazine, I think it was, That when she met Vince Gill she realized that relationships are more important than marriage, and she also believes God tells us that as well.
"Relationships are more important than mariiage."
So she leaves her husband for Vince.

Of course she is a huge personality in thelime light, and a millionaire most likely, and all that does affect our hearts. Solomon is our best example, and he had 700 wives, along with 300 concubines.

Hope all this fits within our discussion.

Have a blessed and joy filled Lord's Day! Go and worship our Father and Savior and listen to His Word, and grow in His grace and truth.

Steve Scott said...

The Christian life is "already/not yet," but the Christian marriage is "already." I've met my wife here and now, but have to wait to meet God.

Carl C. said...

"Love your neighbor as yourself" is made eerily real when your spouse is your closest neighbor, and knows every dirty detail of your self-love.

AJM said...

Adding to Carl C.'s comments with 1Peter 1 - 3:7 as the context 1 Pet 3:8 - 9 "Now finally, all of you should be likeminded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing.

Mike Mittelstadt said...

Great topic though I'm afraid late, in my case, to have prevented a--um--trial the Lord has put my way. My wife and I began what I thought was a solid Christian marriage, based on Biblical principles, more than 18 years ago. But now we are separated and she is living under the same roof (her mom's, where my wife and I lived our entire marriage) with a man she met in an Internet chat room and traveled 1,400 miles to be with her. Clearly something went wrong and I take my share of the blame. I am an unChristian clod all too often, under pressure, and have said my share of some very nasty things in expressing my dissatisfaction at living all that time with the mother-in-law and quite a few pets.Of this I know I need to repent. This is the second time this separation has happened but the first time an Internet boyfriend has shown up in person. (Last time she came back to me within a couple of weeks.)I know from Scripture that bitterness and resentment are not the answer. (And even AA, from which I gained an initial idea of surrender to God a full year before I became a Christian, teaches that resentment can lead to backsliding.) I and my Christian friends are praying for my wife, this man, and her mom. Right now I have seen no legal documents and the matter is unchanged. My pastor is helping me retrieve stuff from the house, by appointment, when the couple isn't around. Thoughts?

Mike Mittelstadt said...
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Linda said...
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