Is Marriage for Holiness and/or Happiness?
After a year and a half of marriage, I can honestly say that I love it. 90% of the time, when Sarah and I are alone, we are just as happy with one another as you see us in public. (just a lot more goofy). In fact, we suppress our giddiness for one another while others are around. There is, however, another 10% or so that we are in disagreement with one another about one thing or another. It’s usually something that has grown out of selfishness and a desire to be pleased by the other, and it takes the most frequent form of different opinions concerning cleanliness or lack thereof. (“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is not part of God’s written word to us; although I think that Sarah is more tempted to add that principal than any other!)
One way that I let my sin deceive me is by instinctively having a desire to always get along, and to change that 90% to 100%. I tell myself that things would be easier; that we would actually be engaged in a healthier relationship if we were not disagreeing, and that the joy of our marriage would increase if we saw eye-to-eye on everything. This is a horrendous misconception and does not allow the Holy Spirit to change us. This desire is much more selfish even than me wanting things “my way!”
I forget that in part, marriage is meant to change us and make us more like Jesus. I am quick to overlook the practical implications of Sarah and I entering into a covenant relationship. We were given to each other as a gift to encourage, love, remind, help, lead, rebuke, and change one-another. These situations allow the Holy Spirit to work in us as they lead to being more joyful. It helps us be changed more into who we are as God’s children and how we were created to love each other and God being made in the image of God.
Sarah and I read in a book, “what if marriage is to make you holy, and not happy.” We agreed and quoted this for a time, but these are not contradictory ends! Sarah, being used as God’s instrument of changing me to be more like Jesus, is a gift to me to change me. Yes, she makes me happier, but when she is being used by God to reveal my selfishness, it is not something to dread, it’s something to celebrate. Christians learn to realize that suffering is a gift for the purpose of looking forward to the hope of the Glory of God (Romans 5:1-4), and so is each and every opportunity that I have to serve my darling wife. Our relationship is a catalyst to team up with one another to better be prepared for the Divine Marriage after we die. It’s to make us both happy, and holy. This is because true happiness for the person who by faith loves Jesus, is evidenced by a love of becoming more holy.
For Christmas, Sarah bought “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller. I highly recommend it whether you’re single, married or divorced. The thoughts above were initiated by reading a chapter of it last night!