By Sam Greer
Senior Pastor, Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga
Marriage is work, but the way God designed it, it works! In our social media saturated culture, the work of marriage continues to get tougher. In a recent issue of Computers and Human Behavior, the authors noted that those who didn’t use social media sites at all reported being 11.4 percent happier with their marriage than heavy social media users. And heavy social media users were 32 percent more likely to think about leaving their spouse, compared with 16 percent for a nonuser. Very few, if any, would argue that marriage is indeed work, but there may be some, if not many, who might question whether or not marriage works. How can we know that marriage, the way God designed it, works?
Marriage guards purity. Paul refused to pretend that the temptation to sexual sin doesn’t exist. He refrained from denying this temptation or explaining it away. On the contrary, Paul confronted this temptation and presented marriage as a guardrail for both men and women (I Corinthians 7:2). The apostle was clear in his description that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Furthermore, Paul reminds the church at Corinth that a husband’s body belongs first to Christ, then to his wife, but never to himself. Likewise, the wife’s body belongs to Christ first, then to her husband, but never to herself (vv. 3-4). Apparently, the apostle was championing the truth that all sexual interaction outside the bounds of marriage between one man and one woman is sin. Among others, one of God’s purposes for marriage is to guard sexual purity.
Marriage promotes the pursuit of a spouse. A husband must pursue his wife. A wife must remain pursuable to her husband. I tell my wife, “I love pursuing you!” She responds, “I love being pursued by you!” Husbands, pursue your wife! Wives, remain pursuable to your husband! Paul reminded husbands and wives that marriage promotes the pursuit of a spouse as he told them not to deprive one another (v. 5). Also, he instructed them to come together so they would not give into the temptation of sexual sin (v. 5). Paul wrote elsewhere that a husband must love “his” wife, not someone else’s, and that a wife must submit to “her” husband, not someone else’s. Husbands and wives would do well to remember that the grass is never greener on the other side, it is always browner.
Marriage pictures the gospel. While officiating weddings, my favorite part of any wedding ceremony is when the groom steps down to retrieve his bride from the father of the bride. What a picture of the fact that Jesus is coming for His Bride, the Church! From the time of the wedding ceremony until the time that death parts a couple, marriage pictures the gospel. Paul called the married to stay married in I Corinthians 7:10-13. A couple committed to one another, making sacrifices for one another, serving one another, loving one another and forgiving one another, is a picture of the gospel. What is more, Paul implored a believing spouse to stay married to an unbelieving spouse in hopes of winning them to Christ. Also, Paul wrote to those who were unmarried to stay unmarried unless unable to practice self-control. He understood that those who were unmarried had more time to devote to the work of Christ outside the home. Paul reminded the unmarried that they were married to Christ (vv. 6-9). For the believer, every earthly relationship has some tangible Kingdom commitments worth keeping.