If we were to go by popular opinion, we would have little good to say about marriage. Many have given up on marriage altogether. The reality is many marriages in Kenya, and the world over, are struggling; even in Christian circles. So, why do I still assert that marriage is a good thing? I will expound three reasons in the following paragraphs, praying that hope would be sparked in discouraged hearts.
Marriage is God's Idea
Genesis 2:24, a verse commonly quoted in weddings reads, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." When God created Adam and Eve, our first parents, he instituted a marriage union. We can therefore freely include marriage among the good things God created in the beginning.
A lot can be said about the verse but I will use it to emphasize two things. First, the fact that marriage is introduced this early in the Bible—even before the fall of man—makes it obvious that marriage is not a man-made idea. Since it's God who invented marriage, we must solely rely on him for wisdom concerning marriage. Secondly, marriage, like all God's good gifts, has suffered corruption due to the fall and is therefore not immune to distortions. Ensuring that we maintain a biblical mindset on matters marriage, and in fact every other issue, prevents us from falling prey to misleading ideologies.
Remembering that marriage is God's idea greatly enhances joy in marriage as we marvel at the goodness of the Giver. We are led to worship God in gratitude both for the gift of marriage and for who he is.
A Most Intimate Relationship
When praying for a husband, one of the things God laid on my heart to pray for was that he would be my best friend for the rest of my life. It's undeniable that a marriage relationship should supersede one's usual friendship. Moreover, this unique and even more intimate friendship is what gives durability to the goodies in marriage. It is hence helpful—but not a prerequisite—that for a marriage partner one finds a friend or at least someone who would grow into a friend as Jackie Hill Perry implored in one of her Instagram posts. Not to imply that a marriage that enjoys the aforementioned friendship would be trouble-free. However, solving marital conflicts by a friend's side sure does make the journey much more bearable.
Friendship in marriage needs to be both sustained and protected. The place of prayer in doing this cannot be overstated. The man and his wife are to be accountable to one another in ensuring they pursue constant fellowship with the God who brought them together. In effect, the friendship will grow even deeper. Other practical things include continuing with the activities they loved doing together before marriage and finding more creative ways of spending time together.
Above all, ask God for wisdom to keep the flame of your marriage ablaze. He will help you.
Marriage is Bigger than the Man and his Wife
In Ephesians 5:32, Paul says—in reference to the words from Genesis 2:24— "this mystery is profound, and I am saying it refers to Christ and the Church." Here Paul seems to imply that marriage is bigger than the man and his wife.
Why is this a good thing? you might wonder. Going back to the prayer I talked about earlier, another plea I made was that my husband-to-be would love God much more than he would ever love me. God had helped me understand how depraved I was. He had opened my eyes to my inability to please my husband for the rest of our marriage years by my own strength and will. I also had the same view of my husband-to-be. So, when he came, we were both able to shift our focus from each other and to God. It became our core mission to know Christ and make him known.
This does a whole lot of good to our marriage. It lifts pressure off our shoulders in trying to please each other to keep the marriage; we entrust this to the one who brought us together. We know that, as children of God, the greater purpose of our marriage is not to prove to the world how much we love each other. Rather, it's to reflect to the watching world the relationship between Jesus Christ and his Church. We show forth how Christ loved us; enough to die for us while we were still sinners.
Going into marriage with this mindset helps keep us from idolising each other; which could lead to many unmet expectations. In as much as unmet expectations are unavoidable, remembering my own sinfulness and how much I fall short helps me to have the right perspective. Needless to say, when God is bigger than us, our issues become way smaller.
Having learnt how crucial God-centeredness in marriage is, it's hard to ignore its eternal implications. Just like every other thing God brings our way, marriage is meant to point us to Christ, our heavenly Bridegroom. Christ is the One who alone makes our earthly marriages good. He does this as he prepares us, his Bride, for our eternal union with him.
Whether single or married, aim only to fix your gaze on our forever Groom, Jesus Christ.