There are many reasons why we want to get married, but typically we singles don't list "the gospel" near the top of that list. So today I'm borrowing from my friend, Mark Lauterbach, for his insightful post on this topic. As he and his fellow pastors considered this topic, these points came to mind. I think they are worth our consideration as we pray for the gift of marriage:
1. Both men and women lay down their lives in a Gospel-centered marriage. Both lose their independence. Both give their whole being to live out the one symbolic relationship on earth -- husband and wife as imaging Christ and the Church.
2. The purpose of marriage and family, should God give children, is larger than itself. The redemptive purpose of Christ controls all things -- including family life. The flow of redemptive history, beginning with Abraham, is about redemption of a new people for God, purchased with the blood of Christ. Families serve the Gospel by pursuing godliness, training children in the Gospel and praying for their salvation, serving the lost with the Gospel, and serving the church Jesus died for.
3. The calling of the husband is to be the responsible head of his family and to imitate the beautiful and glorious love of Christ for his people. I find this to be overwhelming: to turn my thoughts to the needs and care of my wife often, to think less often of myself and to think more of her, to open my life and heart to her so she knows me, to solicit her help and wisdom in all things. That is the short list of what it looks like to be a redeemed and humble sinner loving my wife.
4. A Gospel-shaped marriage is beautiful -- it is not repressive. One of the best apologetics for the Gospel is husbands and wives who love each other as equal heirs of salvation and live out their roles in a way in which they thrive.
5. In a Gospel-shaped marriage condemnation and anxiety are fought with the cross and empty tomb. Grace rules. We are not called to have "showcase marriages" -- but to humbly display the glorious grace of God to sinners even as we stumble along. Our hope is not in our excellent efforts but in the kindness of God revealed at the cross.
Here are some questions I am asking myself to grow:
>Does my wife sense any burden coming to her because I am being lazy? Does my Lord ever unnecessarily burden his children?
>Does my wife get my full attention? Is Jesus ever preoccupied when I come to him? Or does he give me his full attention?
>Does my wife get her heart's satisfaction in hearing the details of my life and heart? Do I follow Jesus who called the eleven his friends not servants -- because the master does not reveal his heart to servants, but he tells his friends everything?
As one of my recently married friends said, you're always "on" when you're married. There's no downtime for being selfish. It's stretching, but it's good.
My thanks to Mark for providing these points. It's a helpful prayer guide for those of us who want to get married. May we one day receive this gift with our eyes fully opened to the gospel purposes of marriage.