I routinely find myself astonished by people’s cavalier attitudes toward marriage and fidelity. I find myself particularly astonished when those people are Christian. If you take a tour of Christian Facebook pages, you’ll often find Biblical quotes justifying one political position or another but rarely will you see a Christian publicly quoting Matthew 5:27-29:
27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery. 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (NLT)
Let’s face it. Christ was pretty clear about that one. There are plenty of places in the Gospel open for interpretation, but this is NOT one of them. Clearly, the standard is not so much as a thought about sleeping with someone other than your spouse. Of course, we all know that we fail, and God forgives, but the expectation is still there.
Marriage isn’t easy. As my husband is so found of saying, if it were, they wouldn’t make you get up in front of your friends and family and swear to God you’ll stay together. There’s a reason so many churches require counseling prior to the wedding. Spending the rest of your life with one person through thick and thin requires commitment. It requires choosing every day to honor and cherish that person even when s/he can’t seem to figure out how to get socks in the laundry basket, even when s/he has the flu, and even when s/he makes you miss all the good parts of a movie because s/he can’t stop talking. Yes, even then.
I’m certainly not an expert on marriage, but I can tell you exactly why my first marriage failed and why my second marriage won’t. I walked into my first marriage thinking I could save him, thinking that if I was a good enough wife he would quit drinking and get his life together. If I had found Alanon 15 years sooner and been committed to the man he was rather than the man I wanted him to be, we’d still be married. I wouldn’t be as happy or as fulfilled as I am today, but the marriage would have worked.
This time around, we dated for 8 years before getting married. Probably longer than necessary, but we knew exactly what we were getting into. We’d been through almost 3 years of couples counseling, and we were perfectly clear on what our expectations were. We both took the commitment VERY seriously. We’d both been divorced and were NOT going down that road again. We’d also been miserable in our respective marriages, and we were NEVER going to do that again either. We were determined to work things out and to treat each other with respect.
Don’t get me wrong… We have days where we’ve fail miserably. We yell and scream and say things we can’t take back. BUT… We also apologize and agree to do better. Just as God forgives us for our failures, we forgive each other. Not just say we forgive only to bring it up again next week, but really forgive each other. Above all else, we honor each other by never putting ourselves in situations that would dishonor each other. We put God first, and we do our best to live up to the standard set out for us in our wedding vows.
I’m not judging. I promise I’m not. But I do think that Christians need to talk about what it means to be in a Christian marriage and to be real about what the expectations are. We need to do more to live up to those expectations. We also need to do more to support each other in honoring our marriages and our spouses.
What have you done today to honor and cherish the love of your life?