The #1 most referenced reason Marriage Gets Messy: God is Uninvited.
I thought this was going to be a no brainer of an answer.
I expected “good Christians,” the ones who follow Jesus and imitate Him, would be best at marriage. You know, since God is love (1 John 4:8) and we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And because God created woman for man instituting marriage in the very beginning of Genesis (Genesis 2:18-24). The Bible tells us to model our marriages after Jesus’ relationship to the church (Ephesians 5:22-32) and Jesus admonishes us not to separate what God has joined (Mark 10:9).
But it seems to be much more complicated than I first assumed.
I suspect the predominantly Christian respondents to our initial survey thought this was the best “Sunday School Answer” – leaving God out of marriage makes it messy.
But the statistics tell a different story.
The Truth About Marriage
This article by Thought Co in March of 2017 shows that Atheists have the lowest divorce rate in America. Additionally, it claims divorce rates are higher in the Bible Belt than any other area in America, and conservative Protestants are more likely to end their marriages than other groups.
Feminists use statistics pointing to the rise of feminism as the cause of declining divorce rates in America. Another article touts the increase in cohabitation before marriage as a factor in longer lasting marriages, because mismatched couples break up before they actually get married. Yet another source said divorced people are so stigmatized they leave the church, and therefore the number of divorced Christians is actually higher than reported. Some studies show inter-faith and atheistic or agnostics relationships are more likely to go the distance than “equally yoked” Christian marriages.
Christians aren’t the only ones who desire good marriages.
Nobody wants to be miserable with their mate.
Over the course of the last 11 weeks, I’ve noticed even secular marital advice stems from biblical truths. They just aren’t citing their sources, or perhaps they don’t even realize their origins. But the truth is, you don’t have to knowingly involve God to have a good, or even great, marriage.
But we cannot have God-glorifying, masterpiece marriages without inviting the Master.
Those who deny the existence of God cannot please or glorify Him. And that is my desire for my marriage and every other aspect of my life. And, I suspect it is your wish, too.
God designed and instituted marriage, and created all those who are married or will marry one day. He knows each of us intimately, including our gifts, weaknesses, temptations, and failures. Why on earth would we deliberately leave Him out of this equation?
My guess is it’s not intentional, just inconvenient.
Inviting God is Inconvenient
It takes time to stop, pray, and seek God’s guidance for every messy situation. It’s a sacrifice to suppress our fleshly desires and to place the needs of another above our own. It takes commitment and intentional action to avoid complacency. We need to lay aside endless commitments and obligations demanding our attention in order to properly focus on our spouse.
This is what I know: much of what I need to make my marriage a masterpiece comes as fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. These are not from my self. Left to my own own devices, I would only, and often do, make a mess of my marriage. Because I’m a sinner, just like everybody else. No matter what else you call it, sin is what makes marriage messy.
But, we were also all (Christians, Jews, Atheists, and everybody else) created in God’s image and with an awareness of His law written on our hearts (Romans 2:14-15), so each of us have an innate sense of the right and wrong that makes marriage work.
Christians would like to think we have the upper hand in marriage. But we don’t. Because claiming Christianity and inviting God into your marriage are two vastly different situations. Just because I have access to Christ’s power doesn’t mean I’m claiming it for my marriage.
Make no mistake. God is at work in marriage whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not. He is for our marriages, even if our spouses neglect the gift. But, for me, the real power comes from acknowledging His presence through prayer. He is the third strand that makes marriage strong, the closer we abide in Him, the closer we cling to our spouse, and the less likely we are to turn our marriages into broken messes.
Four ways we can invite God into our marriages.
1. Pray for yourself. Ask God to show you how to be the wife your husband needs, to fill you with the fruit of the Spirit that makes marriage work, and to give you His love for your mate. Invite God to transform your marriage. Ask Him to help you respect your husband in the way the Church is called to make Jesus its head.
2. Pray for your spouse. Pray that God would work in his heart to transform him into the husband you need. Ask God to inspire him to the be spiritual leader of your family. Ask God to show him how to love you as Jesus loves the Church, and to protect him from all the enemy’s evil advances.
3. Ask Others to pray for your marriage. Whether it is a friend, a mentor, or a member of your inner circle, it is important to have warriors committed to covering your marriage in prayer. This isn’t an invitation to air your dirty laundry and you don’t necessarily have to share any intimate details when asking for prayer. God knows what our marriages need.
4. Pray together. This is where many couples struggle, but it could be the most powerful prayer of all. We’ve been taught to pray in secret so that others don’t see or hear us. But there ought to be no secrets between husband and wife. By sharing prayer we increase intimacy in ways impossible to imagine. Thank God for each other and His gift of marriage. Ask Him to increase your intimacy and commitment to each other so that no earthly circumstance would tear apart what He has joined. Request the strength to love and serve each other selflessly. Ask His Spirit to inspire you to see your spouse as God sees him and to extend the same forgiveness you’ve each been given.
Prayer invites God’s power to transform messy marriages into masterpieces.
For more testimony about the benefits of inviting God into marriage, visit Tiffiney at Welcome Home Ministry. http://welcomehomeministry.com/christian-living/little-house-thrive-family-life/
Don’t forget to join us next week for the Wrap Up and Resources post. Rumor has it there will be a give-away!
Don’t miss the other posts in this series:
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light.