What makes a marriage Christian? Is every good marriage a Christian marriage? Is every Christian marriage a good marriage?
Ask many Christians if their marriage is good, and they will tell you, NO! Marriages among Christians are too often plagued by violence, infidelity, and dysfunction just as non-Christian marriages are.
And many of you may also know happily married people who do not claim a Christian faith.
There are certain ingredients that improve a marriage’s chance of success, whether the people involved are Christian or not.
And there are certain ingredients that spell disaster for a marriage regardless of whether or not the people involved carry the label “Christian.”
Here are some things a Christian marriage is NOT:
- Husband and wife showing up together for church on Sunday – after a night of yelling, threatening, or physical violence.
- Husband (or wife) “enjoying” an affair with another woman while demanding his wife not divorce him because “divorce is a sin.”
- Wife shaming and criticizing her husband – both in private and to their friends – for every possible mistake.
- Husband demanding sex from his wife any time he wants to because “God said so.”
- Wife withholding sex from her husband as punishment for anything she doesn’t like.
- Either spouse using Scripture as a weapon to criticize, control, or demand things from the other.
That’s only a few of the ways a “Christian” marriage can be distorted.
Sadly, I’ve seen most of those distortions “up close and personal” among friends, relatives, patients, and fellow church members.
As James says, “My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:10)
So here are a few things that a Christian marriage IS:
- Husband and wife each accepting God’s forgiveness and extending that forgiveness to each other.
- Husband and wife both committed to each other as a result of being committed first to God.
- Husband demonstrating the same unselfish love and care to his wife that Christ showed us.
- Wife demonstrating the same unselfish love and respect to her husband that Christ asks from us.
- Both committed to learning whatever is necessary for a successful marriage: communication, friendship, intimacy, etc.
- Both committed to allowing God to change whatever is wrong in their own lives, and supporting His work in their spouse’s life with grace and love.
- Both willing for God to use their marriage to bless others.
For a marriage to be “Christian” it takes much more than putting a label on something or someone. It takes truly allowing God to change both husband, wife, and their union together.
There are 3 things that God provides for a marriage:
- Forgiveness for each spouse.
- Grace and power to change hurtful behaviors into loving, helpful ones.
- “Glue” to hold husband and wife together.
With that kind of help, any marriage where BOTH people are committed to God’s transforming grace can be successful.
Your Turn: What do you think makes a Christian marriage? Leave a comment below.
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