13 years ago to this very date I started working at Watermark Community Church. Cue the celebratory music, cake, and fireworks!
Almost every day for these last 13 years I’ve served as a marriage pastor. I’ve worked with thousands of premarried couples, hundreds of small groups of newlyweds, and many married couples in crisis. I’ve worked with new parents, empty nesters, and everything in between. By God’s grace I’ve watched countless men and women become godly husbands and wives. I even got to write a book about marriage. Not every story has a happy ending, but I’ve seen God do some incredible things.
But recently I made a surprising discovery about marriage. After 13 years of marriage ministry, maybe I should have made this discovery sooner.
I recently realized the Bible doesn’t say much about godly husbands. It doesn’t often describe a godly wife. We don’t see many/any pictures of godly couples. In fact, the Bible doesn’t say much about marriage at all!
Have I been giving my life to the wrong cause? How can I give my life towards building and growing healthy marriages when the Bible doesn’t even say much about marriage?
What does the Bible say about Marriage?
Sure, the Bible shares some great counsel about marriage.
- Genesis 2:18-25 talks about the first marriage and describes the ideal picture of intimacy.
- Ephesians 5:21-33 talks about the roles of godly husbands and wives and the mystery of marriage.
- 1 Peter 3:1-7 gives some genius instruction to both husbands and wives.
- Song of Solomon, while filled with descriptions of vineyards and flowers, is not a book about gardening. It’s a beautiful picture and description of a relationship between a man and woman as they progress from friends to marital lovers.
- The Proverbs are filled with warnings about cantankerous women (Proverbs 21:9, 25:24) and lazy men (Proverbs 26:13-16). On the flip side, Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” The infamous Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the wife of noble character.
- 1 Corinthians 7 talks about singleness, marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
- The book of Hosea compares Israel’s abandonment of God to a woman’s unfaithfulness to her husband.
There are other passages, but not much more outside of these verses/passages.
So how on earth can someone like me be a marriage pastor for 13 years while the Bible says so little about marriage?
How Can I have a Healthy Marriage?
My strong conviction is that while the Bible doesn’t talk much about being a godly husband or wife or of even having a strong marriage, it does talk a whole lot about how to become more like Jesus. And I believe if you become more like Jesus and your spouse becomes more like Jesus, then you will have a healthy marriage.
For example, we see in Philippians 2:1-11 how we can be more like Jesus Christ when we put the needs of others before our own. While this passage says nothing directly about how to be a godly spouse, if you apply this passage to your life, as you become more like Christ, you will be a godly spouse!
Likewise, in Mark 10:42-45 we see a great picture of what it looks like to not sit back and be served but how to serve others like Christ. Again, while this passage does not directly address marriage, it clearly tells you how to be a godly spouse. If you’re a wife who realizes you have an opportunity to become more like Christ as you serve your husband, then you will both become more like Jesus and you’ll be a more godly wife.
We’ve all been to weddings where someone reads or quotes 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Again, this verse has nothing and everything to do with marriage. While the context of the passage is a discussion about the gifts of the Spirit, if you apply these verses to your life, you will be a better husband or wife. I wrote before about 8 ways we can better show love to our spouse from this passage.
The Most Important Marriage Lesson I’ve Learned in 13 Years
Too often I’ve challenged men and women to be better husbands and wives and to grow a healthier marriage. For 13 years I’ve focused on the wrong thing. I want your marriage to grow and I want you to be a great spouse, but I need to keep reminding you how to get there.
Here’s 13 years of marriage ministry boiled down to one challenge. Don’t work to become a better husband. Don’t strive to be a godly wife. And don’t make it your goal to have a great marriage. Rather, seek to become more like Jesus Christ. Every day pray that God will help you grow in your understanding of the Gospel. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5), and seek to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37-40).
I can’t wait to see what God teaches me in the next 13 years. Even more, I can’t wait to see what He does with husbands and wives who don’t seek to have better marriages, but rather seek to become more like Jesus.
In honor of 13 years of marriage ministry, I’m giving away a few different marriage books.
How is God helping you grow more like Jesus and how is this helping you grow your marriage?
Comment below and I’ll do a random drawing from all the comments for a few giveaways.