Today my wife and I celebrate 30 years of marriage. In a day where stats are disheartening for the continuation of marriage, many wonder how we lasted so long. Some ask in jest, some of a more serious nature. I have often thrown out a comment in jest to those questions, but now it is time to give the answer to how we have lasted 30 years.
There have been many difficult times, even today. Many enter marriage thinking things will always be great, with no conflict. That is not the way it is. There was even a time when our marriage almost did not survive.
So what is the secret? It is not a secret, it is just that I think people tend to ignore it. Here it is….
Marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with us.
Pastor Curt Seaburg, lead pastor at Victory Church in Lancaster, PA mentioned in his message yesterday that “Marriage is a covenant, not a contract”. As we share our vows, we make a covenant with the other that no matter what, we will be there for them. Does that sound familiar? Paul wrote to the Romans (Romans 8:38-39) that he was “… sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God is committed to those who follow Him, and we need to have that commitment to our wives.
In like fashion, the man is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27a), he is to be faithful to his wife and love her as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). Likewise, the wife, represents the church (and the Jewish nation) and is to be faithful to her husband. In doing so, she represents the church’s faithfulness to God.
This image of marriage showing the relationship between God and His people is a continuing theme throughout the Bible. The book of Hosea always stands out to me as it shows the wife (the people of Israel, the church) straying from the husband (God), yet Hosea continues to love, and seeks his wife out to restore that relationship as God has done for us.
So for me, marriage is not just a covenant to my wife, my marriage is an image to those around us of how God loves His bride, the church. I represent Christ in this picture and I need to reflect Him as I am able. If I should so easily cast that covenant aside and not fight for it, then I no longer represent Christ.
This is something that is not often taught in churches today. That is why I believe that the Bible has such a high standard for elders, pastors and deacons in regard to marriage. Because as church leaders, they need to be emulating Christ to those in their flock. Sadly, that image has been eroded in America as we give into the cultural statistics of marriage and seek to fill positions forsaking the beautiful picture of marriage that God has laid before us.
I am not the perfect husband. I am not the mirror image of God. I am human and I fail as anyone else. But I hope that as people see our marriage, they see a loving God staying with his bride no matter what the day might bring and my prayer is that people may see Jesus through me.
That is the secret to a lasting marriage. Doing your best to have your marriage reflect the image it was intended, a loving God, loving His bride and staying by her side.