People get married for a lot of reasons.
They want someone to spend time with them. They want to feel appreciated. They want someone to love them. They want someone to serve them … at least occasionally (of course, no one likes to admit this one).
Do you notice what each of those ideas has in common? They’re all about what someone else can do for us.
But what if marriage isn’t primarily about any of those things? What if marriage is a tool God uses to transform us into His image?
As Gary Thomas, our guest on today’s broadcast, says, marriage is about our holiness more than our happiness.
When you read that sentence, maybe the first thought that comes to your mind is, “Oh, great! You’re telling me God doesn’t care if I’m miserable in my marriage as long as I become more holy.”
That’s not what I’m saying.
Holiness and happiness do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, Gary says holiness is the doorway to happiness.
If we coddle our selfishness, it’ll take over our lives. Selfishness can’t be satisfied. If people are greedy, they’ll never have enough money. If they’re materialists, they’ll never have enough stuff. If they’re desperate for attention, no amount of praise or acknowledgement will be enough.
Sin can’t be satisfied. It has to be crucified.
Likewise, a marriage won’t find true happiness until a husband and wife understand that their sin has to be crucified. When a couple fights out of their sense of selfishness, neither one wins. On the other hand, pursuing Christ can help couples resolve what might otherwise seem like unresolvable conflicts.
Gary Thomas takes the role of sin in our marriages one step further. He says, “Behind every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepentant sin.”
As he sees it, couples have lost the understanding that God uses our marriages as an instrument to make us more holy, more like Him.
Just a few generations ago, people expected marriage to be a lot of work and a source for building character. But many couples today are shocked at how much work is involved in building a successful marriage. They get married seeking fulfillment and happiness. But soon enough they have a spouse they have to give of themselves to, kids they have to give of themselves to – and before long each spouse begins to demand their own way. When that happens, the glory of what marriage can be gets lost.
Marriage helps men and women become the people God designed them to be. And it all starts with understanding that marriage is about our holiness more than our happiness. It’s about the art of serving one another, giving to one another, and learning to be patient. It’s about developing the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, self-control, meekness, and patience.
This is a challenging topic, I admit, but I believe it can transform marriages. I hope you’ll tune in today to your local radio station to hear my conversation with Gary Thomas, a best-selling author, speaker, and a writer-in-residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. We’ve titled our program “Embracing God’s Desire for Your Marriage.”
And comment below about Gary’s thought, “Behind every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepentant sin.” I’d like to hear what you think. Have you found that to be true in your own life? How has the pursuit of holiness impacted your marriage and happiness?