The third discussion in our women’s ministry summer meetings dealt with how the gospel affects singleness and marriage. Kristin shared what she has learned in her singleness, and I tried to share how the gospel has changed my marriage. I’ll give the good stuff on marriage in this post, and save singleness for next week. 🙂
I carried the wrong focus in my marriage for a long time. Before I was married, I thought marriage was what I needed to be happy. Then I got married and discovered that happiness often still escaped me. In the early years of marriage, I thought marriage should be like it was in the movies. I kept expecting John to react to situations just like Mr. Darcy did, but, alas, John has his own way of doing things. Then, as I began to try to view marriage from a biblical perspective, I got sidetracked on the issue of roles. I tried to fulfill my role and evaluated John on how well I thought he was fulfilling his. This didn’t bring about the marriage of my dreams either.
Lately, though, God has graciously helped me refocus on the gospel. I love thinking of the gospel in 4 terms: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Thinking of the gospel in these terms helps me understand the full impact the gospel has on the different issues I face, like my marriage:
The creation story describes the goal of marriage: a man and a woman come together in order to become one flesh (Genesis 2). What a startling picture of incredible intimacy! Two people becoming one. Ephesians 5 echoes this goal of marriage: the husband and the wife are created to function as one body. Oneness, intimacy, unity… this is how a marriage is designed to work. This is how it’s supposed to be.
Unfortunately, because of the fall, my sin gets in the way of the intimate oneness my marriage was designed for (Genesis 3). I sin daily and John does, too. Our sin separates us from God and each other. Oneness is broken. We no longer function as one, but as two. And left to ourselves, that distance will only grow greater… and greater… and… greater.
The good news is, though, that God has made a way for oneness to be restored. Out of his great love for us, God sent Jesus to die in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve for all our sin. He has made it possible for me to be reconciled to God and to my husband. Both John and I have the freedom to confess sin, turn from it, and be forgiven by God and each other on a daily basis. This cycle of confession and repentance restores intimacy with God as well as intimacy with each other.
Because of the gospel, I can release myself from the prison of attempted perfection. And I can release my husband from the perfection prison, too. John is not the perfect hero of an adventure story or the perfect lover in a romantic drama… any more than I am (sorry, honey!). When we attempt to pretend to be perfect, or expect perfection in each other, we create distance. But confession and repentance restores the oneness we long for.
One day, when God has finally established his kingdom, we will enjoy shalom: the way things ought to be. We will enjoy perfect intimacy with other believers, untainted by sin. We have this to look forward to! Until then, we have the gospel. The gospel restores oneness until perfect restoration is in place.
These truths of the gospel have changed my marriage. For me, it’s no longer about finding happiness, living the storybook romance, or fulfilling a role. It’s about doing the hard work of applying the gospel every day in order to enjoy oneness.
To be honest, though, I still find applying the gospel hard to do. In the moment, I don’t want to confess my sin to John. I don’t want to admit I don’t have it all together. But I know that expecting perfection in myself or in John will only create distance between us. It’s the hard, humbling work of confession, repentance, and forgiveness that will restore the oneness our marriage was created for.