Category Archives: Marriage

Treat your spouse with biblical love no matter what they say or do

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Part 2 of “Want to have a better marriage?”

Defining love is a tricky task.   One popular notion of love suggests to a person, “If you love something, let it go; if it returns back to you it is yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.”  I have no idea who first declared that hackneyed phrase but it contains only a grain of truth.    That grain probably works well when applied to  stray cats or box turtles found by children. There might even be a grain of that truth in the puppy love of tweeners and young teens twittering about who loves who this week, but the whole idea of “love lets go” falls apart when applied to the serious love demanded between a husband and wife in marriage.

Our modern idea of love is mostly based on feelings and the problem with feelings is that they change like the weather. Hollywood and publishing media have glorified romantic love to such a degree that many people know of no other kind of love.  When warm feelings inevitably fade the heart speaks to the mind saying  that love is gone and the person must be let go.  You can find another and start over.

A related problem is that we are intensely selfish.  People are deeply invested in self.  They grow up making most of their decisions on the basis of self advancement or gratification.   Humility, service, honor, loyalty,  and stoicism are neglected virtues rarely taught and less often modeled.   All of this focus on self is incompatible with biblical love.

When the Bible speaks of love it emphasizes selflessness  and humility.    A biblical definition of love could be,

selfless care of another which seeks the best spiritual, physical, and emotional outcome for the other regardless of how one is treated in return.

Several passages will be briefly considered in this series and the first one is 1 Corinthians 13.   While often read at weddings, this passage is infrequently applied adequately in life.  Consider verses 4-7,

 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (NASB)

If you read these verses and carefully consider how each of these descriptions of love might apply to your marriage, and then actually do these things, you will find a miraculous change.  However, one thing is necessary.  You must apply these things regardless of how the other responds.  Biblical love does its work in spite of, or even because of, persecution, un- thakfulness,  accusation and many other selfish responses.

Loving your spouse or any other person with biblical love is not easy.  It is actually very difficult.  It is hard because it requires radical change in ourselves from self-centered to God and others centered.  By God’s grace and in His power you can be the person God desires you to be.


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Want to have a better marriage?

rings-1516837Here are five thoughts for improving your marriage that are guaranteed to help.   Each of these thoughts will be fleshed out in the coming days.

  1. Treat your spouse with biblical love no matter what they say or do.

  2. Love selflessly.

  3. Keep very short accounts.

  4. Seek to fulfill your biblical roles.

  5. Make God the center of your live.

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Sacred Marriage – Book Review. You need to read this!

Sacred Marriage

I’ve just completed reading Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage and I have to say, the sub-title very aptly summarizes the entire book.

The sub-title is, What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy.”    It is a profound statement and though it is stated as a question, Mr. Thomas uses 268 pages to prove that it is true.

I found this book compelling because the basic message is something that I have been thinking, teaching, and to a small degree living for some time now.    I’ve got a long way to go in the application department.  This book advances my previous thinking significantly and I would recommend this book to any married person or person about to be married.

The author essentially deals with the culturally conditioned myth that the purpose of marriage, and the purpose of our spouse in the marriage, is to make us happy.   He actually has so much nerve as to suggest that God is pleased when our marriages are tough because it is through difficulties that God changes us.

If I had a criticism of the book it would be that I think Mr. Thomas could have said it all in about half as many words.  I know, who am I to complain about long windedness?     Well, everything he says is interesting and useful.   I just hate to see someone read half this book and then quit.  The second half is as good as the first.

I’ll allow you some exposure to this book through some selected quotes from the first two chapters.

What if God didn’t design marriage to be ‘easier’?  What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place?

What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?  (p.13)

But the idea that a marriage can survive on romance alone, or that romantic feelings are more important than any other consideration when choosing a spouse, has wrecked many a marital ship.  (p.14)

If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there’s no question – stay single.   Marriage takes a lot of time.  But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do than to get married.  Being married forces you to face some character issues you’d never have to face otherwise. (p.21)

Any situation that calls me to confront my selfishness has enormous spiritual value…the real purpose of marriage may not be happiness as much as it is holiness.   Not that God has anything against happiness, or that happiness and holiness are by nature mutually exclusive, but looking at marriage through the lens of holiness began to put it into an entirely new perspective for me. (p.22,23)

I found there was a tremendous amount if immaturity within me that my marriage directly confronted.  The key was that I had to change my view of marriage.  If the purpose of marriage was simply to enjoy an infatuation and make me ‘happy’, then I’d have to get a ‘new’ marriage every two or three years.  But if I really wanted to see God transform me from the inside out, I’d need to concentrate on changing myself rather than on changing my spouse.  (p.23)

In the same way, some of us ask too much of marriage.  We want to get the largest portion of our life’s fulfillment from our relationship with our spouse.  That’s asking too much.  (p.25)

We need to remind ourselves of the ridiculousness of looking for something from other humans that only God can provide. (p.25)

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