- But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (Romans 10:6a)
According to Romans 10, the way to a godly marriage is not by striving to create a godly marriage. A godly marriage is the fruit of the
cross where each person in the marriage has been cruci- fied. In short, a true godly marriage is a crucified couple. As strange and simple as it may sound, a godly marriage is achieved by each person giving themselves fully, and
only to God. A godly marriage is not saying, “Who will ascend into heaven,” or in other words, “We strive and seek to have a godly marriage every day.” A holy marriage is arrived at only by way of the cross.
Singles can best prepare for marriage by not looking for a godly mate. As we will see, such statements are fully grounded in Scripture, even if they seem out of place in today’s Christian environment.
The message of the cross is foolishness to the mind and heart of man. God does things the opposite way man sets out to achieve a goal. But to those who let the offen- sive cross do its killing work, it becomes the transforming power of God.
- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
The relationship books written today, and the advice given by speakers on this topic, do not reflect the fool- ishness of the cross, but the mind and religious schemes of man. The message of the cross reveals these things for what they really are, foolishness mixed with prayer.
- For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:19–20)
Crucified couples in the Lord are about each person being crucified to themselves. A crucified couple has been killed by God so that Jesus lives in each person. This is a painful and offensive process that few willingly surrender to, but it is the only way to a holy marriage (1 Peter 4:1). Many couples have a religious, even Biblical marriage, but not by way of the cross. They are simply married Pharisees.
Do Not Look
Let us begin with the single person, for to be prepared for marriage we must not seek to be married.
- Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. (1 Corinthians 7:27b)
A single person in the Lord never joins a match- making service and is never, ever on the look-out for a mate. They obey the Holy Spirit by not looking “for a wife.” Thus, finding joy and satisfaction only in the Lord. Single people, since they do not look for a mate, will feel shocked to hear God speak to their heart and say, “That is the person you are to marry.”
Men, would you think about marrying your sister? Would you think it a proper desire to give your sister a passionate kiss? Do you care what your sister thinks about you? What you wear, what you say, and how you act? Would you look at her in a longing way? Biblically, men in the church are called to view women as their sisters, “with absolute purity.”
- Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1 Timothy 5:1b–2)
The foolishness of the cross demonstrates that by not looking for a wife, treating all sisters as sisters, and crucifying all those desires the world calls “normal,” God can work and will a marriage—if that is indeed His will.
Affairs of the World
Consider that the single person has it easier when it comes to worshiping and loving the Lord. That is another reason why the church doesn’t need a support group for the singles in church. Because in every way, married couples should look at the lives of singles and envy the freedom they have to serve and love God.
- I would like you to be free from concern. An unmar- ried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord. But a married man is con- cerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:32–34)
As the Scripture above just told us, married men and women are, in reality, worldly, because they have a worldly concern—how they can please their partner. When a husband or wife asks themselves how they can please the other, they become worldly. Indeed, since we know that marriage will not exist in heaven, to think how we can please each other means to have our minds set on things of the earth—something the Bible commands us not to do (Mark 12:25, Colossians 3:2). As Paul put it, “a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife.”
Let us not think for a moment this is some kind of super-spiritual, high minded concept. It comes out in very practical ways we do not have time to explore. For as the Scripture below tells us, a married man should live as if he did not have a wife, “as if they had none.”
- What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none. (1 Corinthians 7:29)
When a married Christian man arises in the morning, he should feel totally unconcerned about what his wife wants him to do for her during the day. Indeed, he gives no thought to his wife’s desires until he enters the prayer closet and seeks the will of God. He does not listen to her, give her attention, or care about her opinion or demands. He “lives” his life in such a way that he is single—single in heart and action.
Loving Your Wife
At this point the offense of the cross leaves most pro- fessing Christians behind. They will clamor and whine that men must love their wives like Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). Of course, they are correct, God commands them to love their wives, but they are wrong in how. Marriage is to be honored by all but the way to a truly godly marriage is by way of the cross (Hebrews 13:4).
The worldly counselors tell married couples to spend quality time with each other, to listen to each other, and to strive in every way to build a godly family. The message of the cross tells us the opposite and, in reality,
such strivings create a form of legalism, of salvation by works. The message of the cross allows God to crucify each person’s flesh, desires, wants, and dreams. This is why we are told to “hate” our own lives (John 12:25).
I know this will come as a shock to many, but couples arrive at a godly marriage only by seeking God. Not God and a praying partner, not God and a ministry, not God and children, not God and Bible reading, but God and only God. Out of this kind of total focus and surrender God then creates the kind of marriage or single person He wills and wants. Only when we can say that we have suffered being crucified to ourselves can we gain a godly marriage (Galatians 2:20–21).
The cross demands that we give all to God, or as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 7:35, “I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” The crucified marriage is not one of many restrictions, or something cold and heartless. On the contrary those couples that willingly give themselves to God in undivided devotion to be crucified with Christ will find a marriage filled with the joys and love of heaven. After all, in heaven everyone seeks only the face of God and out of that seeking bursts forth all the joy that is in heaven.
Therefore, there exists no biblical principles for a godly marriage. There are no four or even ten spiritual laws to a successful marriage. Only the cross can crucify each individual’s plans, dreams, desires, and wants. And out of that death God brings forth His glory of godliness in each person (John 12:24). When individuals allow
Jesus to stamp His image in them, divorce becomes im- possible. Love and unity flow naturally, unhindered and without effort.
As each person crucifies their love, and the how and why they love others, God’s pure love shines forth in a marriage. As a husband, when I go into the prayer closet to seek God’s will, I not only hear God on how and when to show my wife love, but God also empowers me with His love. This is how each husband loves his wife like Christ loves the church. Jesus depends on God’s love and will to love His bride. We all know that God is love and the source of true love. What we don’t seem to know in the church today is that we should love others only by God’s love. We might choose to pray with our spouse or to spend time with our children but if it is not God’s will and power for the moment it counts for nothing. It is a big fat spiritual zero.
- The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)
Jesus made this clear and John recorded in John 6:63. We might focus in on our families a million times over, but a million times zero is still zero. The flesh, with all of
its counseling, planning, and striving to ensure a good marriage amounts to nothing. The cross leaves no need for promise keeping, the signing of oaths of purity, or any other gimmick, for such is unholy swearing (James 5:12). Only the Holy Spirit can give life to a marriage and while we often give lip service to this truth, most refuse the nails of the cross that crucifies our love. We do not want to go through the pain in order that God might be God in a marriage. We would rather enjoy our families, feel satisfied in our relationships. And ask God to bless our search for a mate than surrender to the will of God. After all, it may never be God’s will for a married couple to pray together, it may be God’s will that they bear no children, or a couple only spend a few brief months together as husband and wife. Of course, it could also be God’s will that a couple pray together all of the time, spend time together constantly, and have many children. The message of the cross is simply this. It is not what you de- sire and want, but what God wills and works.
Anything less than what we have looked at here denotes idolatry.
- Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)
If a couple sets themselves only toward the face of God, His righteousness will make them holy. God will work the cross in their lives, killing their marriage that it might be a marriage made by God. In this way, idolatry is
exposed and destroyed, and true love flows from heaven’s throne into the marriage. All of this is done without the effort of man and thus God’s power is made perfect in weakness. To Him be all the praise, glory and honor for such a working of His love in a marriage, where the individuals have been crucified into a crucified couple.
- If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)
The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, folly and madness