On Valentine’s Day, why not take a few moments to review God’s purpose for marriage? Over the years, I’ve discovered some excellent marriage resources (Family Life’s Art of Marriage, Emerson Eggrich’s Love & Respect, Alex Kendrick’s The Love Dare to name a few). But my favorite resource I’ve come across is Timothy and Kathy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage.
It’s truly an extraordinary work. I loved it so much, I both read and listened to it. I particularly enjoyed hearing Kathy’s perspective. It is so rich, I integrated into my pre-marital curriculum. I’ll never do it justice in a blog post. You really just need to purchase it on audible or a hard copy from Amazon ($7.99).
I want to challenge you to purchase and read at least one book a year to invest in your marriage. The first book I’d urge you to read is The Meaning of Marriage. Someone once explained a marriage is like a house. You need to always be maintaining it and upgrading it. From an investment perspective, a house is often a person’s largest asset. From a spiritual standpoint, marriage takes on a similarly important role in a person’s life.
The Kellers make the case that marriage, according to God’s design, is really about friendship. They argue the Genesis narrative implies that our intense relational capacity, created and given by God, was not completely fulfilled by our vertical relationships with Him. God designed us to need horizontal relationships w/ other human beings. Marriage can uniquely fulfill this role in a man and woman’s life.
The stakes are high for this most important friendship, but sadly, the odds of sustaining a successful marriage are poor.
Couples face a 40-50% projected rate of divorce risk
Cohabitors in general have a 50-80% higher likelihood of divorce after marriage than non-cohabitors.
In addition to sexual purity before marriage, there’s some additional good habits couples can adopt to increase their odds of success:
Those with a strong common faith have a 35% lower risk of divorce.
Couples who attend church weekly are 47% less likely to divorce.
The problem, according to the Keller’s, is that people go into marriages with a flawed understanding of its purpose and with the wrong goals. People build marriages on things that aren’t durable–such as romantic attraction, sexual chemistry, and social class appeal. Unhappiness, frustration, and disappointment inevitably result.
But God’s plan for marriage is designed to help people become conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). A commitment to a person’s holiness-the process of becoming the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) God begins when a person commits their life to Christ–is what sustains a strong marriage.
Love for God is the fuel for the marriage that enables spouses to be kind and tenderhearted toward one another, forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32) as they journey toward the day of Christ.
Getting the vertical relationship right and understanding God’s goal for your marriage is the first step to renewing the horizontal marriage relationship that has been damaged by selfishness, lust, and other sins. When Jesus said, “I make all things new,” he didn’t caveat the promise. He absolutely can renew a dying marriage relationship if one or both partners are willing to turn from sin and submit to Him in faith.