We just finished our last weekend Merge class Saturday night and one of the topics for the weekend is God’s design for marriage. Every time we start or finish a class I remember the day I married Kristen: September 15, 2001. We had no clue what we signed up for, and knew that the “alleged” problems most couples face would certainly not affect us. We soon realized that the honeymoon stage of marriage fades quickly, and the selfishness of our heart had begun to be revealed.
In the opening session of Merge we try our best to create the right tension between the beauty and challenges of marriage. The focus of session one is the biblical definition, picture and purpose of marriage. We start the night with one of my favorite quotes about marriage from John Piper. In his book, This Momentary Marriage, he says:
“There never has been a generation whose general view of marriage is high enough. The chasm between the biblical vision of marriage and the common human vision is now, and has always been, gargantuan…. Some cultures….like our own, have such low, casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitudes toward marriage as to make the biblical vision seem ludicrous to most people.”
Do you Cheapen Your Marriage?
I love Piper’s emphasis on Christ-centered marriages and the way he challenges his readers to keep Christ first. Here is where the challenge is applicable to us: whether we are married or premarried, God wants to enlarge our view of marriage and doesn’t want us to cheapen it. When we cheapen something, we lower its esteem by decreasing the value and beauty of it. Picture a piece of furniture you buy for hundreds of dollars that you later sell in a yard sale for $10. What was once valuable becomes cheapened. In marriage, we lower its value when we flippantly enter into it or when we are already married and do not love, value and cherish our spouse in the way God has designed.
I do this all the time. I am short with my wife. I am selfish and make things all about me. I yell at my kids. I lust. I choose not to serve. I make decisions that benefit me and neglect my family. I binge on food, feeding my cravings to the detriment of my health. I care way too much about what others think of me and sometimes disregard the ones who love me the most. I work too much and my brain constantly thinks about work. Or writing. Or Scott!!!!
This is not self-deprecating talk here. Grace abounds, and I know I am a good husband and daddy. But – and it’s a big ol’ “but” – that doesn’t excuse me from the way I live, the decisions I make, and how I cheapen marriage every single day. God has called men to love their wives as Christ loved the church. How are you doing, husbands? Ladies – God has given you the privilege of being a Christ-like helper in marriage. How are you doing, wives?
So what do we do about it?
The reality is that we all cheapen marriage regularly. So what do we do about it? What am I going to do? The answer is to faithfully take one step towards the Lord and towards your spouse.
About eighteen months ago I sat down with a struggling, newly-married couple. Also in the room were family members of the couple, three other pastors on staff, and the newlywed’s mentor couple. The male mentor asked the newlyweds this question: What three things can you do this week to be an Ephesians 5 husband or wife? This question is pure gold and still challenges me today.
Your turn: Your challenge this week is to:
1. Read Ephesians 5:22-33.
2. Ask yourself what three things you can do this week to be an Ephesians 5 husband or wife.
3. Share your answers with your significant other.
You will never regret living your marriage according to God’s perfect design. Along the way you will appreciate more and more the beauty of marriage and learn how to quit cheapening His gift.