The Christian Marriage We Don’t Want

Great Sex & Pillow Talk

There are countless things people desire for their marriage. Trust. Love. Great sex. Genuine intimacy. Deep connection. Fun-filled activities. Cuddling. Laughter. Good cooking.

These are all great things and things that I personally love as well and appreciate within marriage. These are the things our favorite movies and TV shows make us yearn for. We want the hang out time, the pillow talk, and the passion. But one of the things you don’t see people asking for is rebuke/criticism. If you polled the general public I doubt you’d find many people put at the top of their list of marriage desires, “I want my spouse to always tell me when I am wrong or acting a fool or could have done something better or been more sincere.”

We don’t like that. Not even a little bit.

In fact, we hate it. We don’t like it when we’re wrong and we don’t like it even more when someone brings it up. We want to be right all the time, say the right thing, do the right thing, be the right person.

We want perfection.

We want the silver screen romance with no arguments.

We want the tension-free life together with our best friend who loves everything we do in the exact way that we do it.

…And there’s only a few things we’d change about them.

Embrace your identity in Christ by releasing your pride in your personal identity.

When we’re corrected or offered a better way to do something it tells us we need improvement, that we haven’t arrived, and that we’re not the perfect person we think we are. For some reason, we hate it the most when it comes from the person we’re dating or the person we’re married to. It seems to be the common feeling that we don’t want criticism or correction from the people we love and care for the most. Maybe it’s because we’re scared of that person leaving if they know we messed up. Maybe it’s because they know us too intimately.

Maybe it’s because we know they are probably the closest to being spot-on about our failures and shortcomings.

 

A Spouse That Sanctifies

The other night, my wife and I left a spot downtown where we were hanging with some friends from our small group when she said,

“Babe, I don’t think you should have made that joke. I think it came across too sharp and could have been offensive.”

After spending some time defending why I thought I was right and she was wrong and why what I said wasn’t offensive, that it was funny, and that the person I said it to didn’t think anything about it, I realized she was 100% right. What I said was nowhere close to encouraging. It wasn’t uplifting.

She called me out.

And she needed to.

And it was hard.

I think if we were honest with ourselves, many of us are thankful that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship to us, his church, his bride. We love to pray that. We love to preach on it. We love to write songs about it. The thing we don’t like to do is live it.

If sanctification is vital in our marriage to Christ, it’s vital in our marriage to our spouse.

The Scripture speaks to Christ sanctifying us all over. Paul writes multiple times and in multiple ways that Christ seeks our sanctification.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Thessalonians 5:23]

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” [John 17:17]

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” [1 Thessalonians 4:3]

“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.” [Hebrews 13:12]

“For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” [Hebrews 12:10]

Christ’s mission and desire is our sanctification. He desires to change us and make us more like Himself. He wants to sharpen us. He wants to prune us. And he needs to because we, apart from him, are wretched and rebellious and in need of cleansing. His desire is that we become more like he is, not less.

If we want our marriages to truly resemble the bond between Christ and his people, it’s hard to do that without sanctification being a part of our spousal relationships. A lot of the time we want and pray for Christ to sanctify us but when he seeks to do so through our spouse we reject it and throw up our defense. Very seldomly, if ever, will Christ sanctify you through his Spirit with you just you alone in your closet. He will do so through His Spirit working through His Church, and that means those in your lives all up in your business.

Your spouse included.

Marriage is hard. But it’s especially hard when we let our spouse speak into our faults and offer spirit-led correction. Our relationship with Christ transforms us. Christ comes in and seeks to make us his own. He does this through marriage in a way like none other. When we say our wedding vows, we are opening up the door to speak into one another’s lives for the sake of sanctification. If Christ desires to sanctify us and that’s a key part of our marriage to him, it’s safe to say it should be a vital part of christian marriage with one another.

A Few Practical Points

Ask. Start opening up the dialogue by asking questions. Ask if there are ways to be better or improve or where the Lord needs to grow you. Ask your husband/wife if they can see areas where you’re growing and then areas where you could use a little bit more.

Trust. Trust that just as Christ is committed to us, so too is your spouse. Trust Christ in them; that they want you to be more like Jesus and they know that hasn’t fully happened yet and won’t until the resurrection. Trust that their love, like Christ’s for you, is not based on your performance but rather on the sacrifice and commitment of Christ’s performance on Calvary.

Rest. Rest that Christ has done what is necessary to bring you to himself. Now embrace your identity in him by releasing your personal identity and pride. When you do this, you will begin, perhaps very slowly over time, to welcome criticism and correction and wisdom that makes you more like Christ and less like yourself. That’s Christ’s aim. Let him do it. As the late Adrian Rogers said, Christ doesn’t change you in order to love you, he loves you in order to change you.

May your marriage be a picture of Christ’s bond with his church in the way you receive and offer constructive correction and be sanctified more into the image of the Son.

 

 

Jonathan C. Edwards (@NotThePuritan)

Jonathan (M.Div, Th.M) is the Director of Curriculum for Docent Research Group. He is the author of "Left: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves," available now!

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