The look on my face must have been one of utter confusion.
A woman who had been married almost forty years just told our group that, as a young fiancee, she had a bright and sunny outlook on marriage. To her generation, marriage was full of hope and possibilities for a blissful life.
Contrary to us millennials who constantly hear and experience, “Marriage is hard.”
We’ve heard the stats: divorce rates in the church are the same as outside the church. In fact, anecdotally, many of us know marriages of unbelievers that are thriving and happy and united.
Why aren’t ours?
Why is Christian marriage so hard?
There are two answers in Ephesians 5.
1. Marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with His people. Thus, much is at stake.
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…
This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:24-26,32 NIV)
You may already know this, but why does this necessitate hardship?
God has given marriage as a primary tool to teach the gospel (the other big one being the love that God’s people have for each other). Thus, a lot is at stake. Redemption is at stake. Souls are at stake.
So a battle for our marriage is waged. Notice that the famous marriage passages are bookmarked on either side by guardianship against sin and spiritual warfare.
Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Eph. 5:15-16 NIV
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Eph. 6:11 NIV
It should perhaps be no surprise at all that marriage is difficult. It’s a General in a massive battle for the kingdom.
2. Marriage is a union of two sinners.
You could have guessed this, right? Paul is teaching the “faithful” in Ephesus how relationships work in God’s design, and he has to frequently call out our selfishness.
Get rid of all bitterness…
Find out what pleases the Lord…
Submit to one another…
Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church…
Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies… All from Eph. 4-5
So now we don’t just have a relationship that is under attack by the enemy, but our very selves attack from within, letting selfishness breed like cancer.
I don’t now how well a cancerous soldier can fight. Do you?
Two ways to fight for a better marriage
So what’s the solution? There must be something that can make marriage better!
1. Trust in the victor.
We already know how this battle ends. Christ’s heel is struck, but the enemy is crushed.
For God has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Cor. 15:57 NIV
We must rest in this truth. Meditate on it and know that God wins!
2. Seek help and accountability.
You must must have help to have a great marriage. This includes
- Personal accountability for your relationship with the Lord
- Community with others who can encourage your marriage
- Counseling for traumatic pasts and martial hurts
After being married for forty years, do you know why that lady was in our group? Because it turns out marriage is hard, and she was leading other married couples to have better marriages, marriages that illustrate God’s work on the cross, marriages full of hope and possibilities.