Marriage: If You Think You're Ready, You're Probably Not

"I'm so excited and can't wait to share the Gospel! It's so much fun!" said no true, nor sane Christian ever. Yet, sadly, many Christians, like those of the world, say this about marriage—that they can't wait to be married because it's going to be so much fun! Not that it isn't fun, but that's not the focus and should never be the foundation of a Christian marriage.

Marriage is the only earthly relationship God uses as a paradigm of the Gospel. And therefore, as God's holy and dearly loved children, we shouldn't enter into marriage like those of this world: with self-focus and selfish affections. But we should enter into marriage like Christ: with self-denial and selfless service, first to our King, and then to our spouse.

Anyone who is intimately acquainted with the Gospel of God's grace—granted through God's gift of repentance and saving faith in Jesus Christ, echoes what the Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthian believers, "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, ESV)

Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves His Bride—sacrificially and faithfully washing her with the Word of God, to present her holy and without blemish before the Father (Eph 5:25-27).  But a husband can only sacrificially love His wife as Christ, if he first loves his own body (Eph 5:29) by nourishing his spirit with the Word of God so that he might turn to his wife, and nourish her with God's Word (admonish where she is idle, encourage where she is fainthearted, help where she is weak, and be patient with her always;1 Thess 5:14). And this is the greatest most noble sacrifice a husband can make for his wife: To daily die to any self-indulgence in order to daily practice the discipline of feeding his own soul with God's Word, so that he might lovingly and rightly sanctify his wife with the same Word God used to sanctify his soul. The fleshly and temporal "sacrifices" a husband makes for his wife (e.g., granting her preferences) are nothing compared to the eternal sacrifice he is commanded by God to offer her, just as Christ Jesus offered to die to His temporal fleshly desires so that He might give His Bride eternal treasures. If a husband keeps first things first (things eternal); granting her non-sinful, temporal preferences will be the fruit of that work.

Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands in everything as they ought to submit to the Lord Jesus in everything—with joy and reverence. And as much as I'd like there to be an "if" between verses 24 and 25, there isn't sisters. I've searched and studied, and it's not there. Yes, I admit, it's far easier to submit in everything, to a husband who's loving you as Christ loves His Bride. But just as God didn't command husbands to seek a life or marriage of ease, He didn't command wives to seek these either. No, God commanded both husbands and wives to seek to live and love one another sacrificially (both in times of ease and in times of great pain), to demonstrate our immense love and gratitude to God for giving us His one and only Son.

Does loving his wife as Christ loves His Bride guarantee a husband that his wife will happily follow his lead and joyfully love and serve him as his God-given, suitable help-meet? Ideally, yes. In reality, no. Does a wife's submission to her husband in everything, as unto the Lord Jesus guarantee that her husband will appreciate her and lead her well? Ideally, yes. In reality, no. A self-seeking and contentious man or woman, will remain a self-seeking and contentious man or woman until the LORD (who alone transforms hearts and renews minds) deals with his/her sin by His awesome acts of righteousness (Ps 65:4-5).

So, if there's no guarantee of a happy marriage, why obey God's command? We obey this command for the same reason why we obey every command of God—because we delight in His Word and His precepts cause our hearts to rejoice (Ps 19:7-10). We obey not simply because we owe God everything, but also because we love and fear Him for all that He's given us in Christ Jesus the Lord.

Therefore, though God does not guarantee a happy marriage for the obedient spouse, he/she will be happy in their pursuit of holiness, while the disobedient spouse will only find misery in their pursuit of self-importance.

Our obedience to God should never be about the results; what we can get out of it. But our obedience ought always be in response to God's love toward us in Christ, rather than our reaction to what others have or haven't done to us.

The people who are, and will enjoy marriage most, are those who are most submitted to Christ and seek the discipline of their loving Father. The happiest person is the one who avails every resource (God's Word, soundly doctrinal and wiser Christians and sermons, books, articles, etc.) that God provides them.

The people who are, and will find the most misery in marriage, are those who are least submitted to Christ and ignore or run from God's loving discipline. The most fearful and fretful person, is the one who scoffs (actively or passively) every resource (God's Word, soundly doctrinal and wiser Christians and sermons, books, articles, etc.) that God provides them.

If you think you're ready for marriage because you're looking forward to daily living with your biggest're not ready. Marriage is for those who are seeking to daily die to self through the discipline from God's Word, and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Marriage is for those who daily desire to live as Christ's biggest fan.

Only a holy marriage, is a truly happy marriage.