Dr. Albert Mohler is one of our favorite writers, pastors, teachers, and also serves as the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He wrote an article titled Marriage and the Glory of God that so wonderfully describes what this looks like practically in marriage that we’ve decided to talk about it for a few days.
Today we start with this quote:
It is bad enough that the secular world has discounted marriage into a quasi-legal contract that, like other voluntary contracts, can be made or broken at will. The greater tragedy is the failure of Christians to take marriage seriously. According to the Bible, marriage is not only designed by the Creator as an arena for human happiness and the continuation of the human race–it is also the arena of God’s glory, where the delights and disciplines of marriage point to the purpose for which human beings were made.
Did you catch that? “The greater tragedy is the failure of Christians to take marriage seriously.” We imagine most, if not all of you have Christian friends who have been divorced. For some it was the result of unfaithfulness on the part of one spouse to the other. We are not addressing those caught in such a sad situation.
What we want to address is the casual nature in which many Christians approach marriage.
We remember vividly being a part of a wedding where it was obvious the woman didn’t love the man as she should. She was more excited about the wedding plans than she was the marriage covenant. It was a sad day when the marriage ended only a few years later in divorce.
What are the “delights and disciplines of marriage” that Dr. Mohler is talking about which bring glory to God?
Delights of Marriage
He has created the marriage to reflect His Son’s love for the church. Christ delights in those who are His. In the same way a husband is to take great delight in his wife. She is the only one with whom he should seek comfort and solace. This is how God has designed it, and when a husband treats his wife in this way, God takes notice. It brings Him great glory.
Disciplines of Marriage
God knows we are sinners saved by grace. It is not in our nature to treat our spouse in a way that glorifies Him. So, He not only commands us to love in this way, but He breathes grace into our sinful nature allowing us to do what we couldn’t do on our own. This great exchange–our sinfulness for His holiness–brings God great glory. We were bought with a price. What a privilege it is to be asked to lay our lives down for another in the way Christ has done for us.
But we don’t do marriage perfectly. We mess up. We respond sinfully even when we don’t want to. This is why Dr. Mohler calls it discipline.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
(Hebrews 12:11 ESV)
Let’s look at a common conflict most couples face–finances.
What if one spouse ignores the budget and spends an extravagant amount of money of something wanted, but not needed. And worse yet, they do it without asking? When the other spouse finds out do you think they are justified in feeling angry? Are they justified in lashing out in anger towards the other?
It is obvious the first spouse sinned against the other by acting independently without regard for the parameters set by the budget. It was like a slap in the face to the more disciplined spouse. But lashing out in anger won’t bring about the needed resolve. Instead it will only add fuel to the fire.
How can the disciplined spouse respond in this situation to bring glory to God? The answer is simple. Remember foremost how much Christ has forgiven them. This opens the door of humility which is a ground softener for confrontation. When we lash out in self-righteousness and anger it hardens the ground and makes the conflict more complicated to resolve. It takes great discipline steeped in the power of the Holy
Spirit to calmly discuss the whys of such financial decisions. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance and faith. Those who are seeking to live in a way that glorifies God will exhibit these fruits on a regular basis. Those marriages that are disciplined and enjoy great delight will also produce these fruits of the Spirit.
Wherever the fruit of the Spirit is produced you can be certain God is receiving glory. It can’t be any other way.
How would you respond in a similar conflict towards your spouse? What if you were to talk about how you would LIKE to respond now, so when you’re tested you’ll be more likely to choose the disciplined approach rather than the angry, self-righteous one.