The Joy of Marriage

Posted: January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

MarriageScripture tells us that one of the results of sin is that it separates us from God as well as from each another. And so the goal of putting it to death isn’t just about pursuing holiness but more so reconciliation. As Peter explains, “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18 ESV). Again, this is the goal of the cross, this is the purpose of sanctification, to restore broken relationships. We should be careful then not to miss this, especially when it comes to our marriages. Holiness is not the primary goal but instead a deeper more joy filled relationship.

Recently Anthony Ashley, a writer for Boundless, shared the following reflection on a popular marriage book by Gary Thomas…

Sacred Marriage tells us that marriage is hard work, that our holiness is God’s priority over our happiness, that God uses marriage to help us die to self, and that dying hurts. Let me tell you: All of this is true. Marriage is crazy difficult sometimes, and the “old man” doesn’t die easily. Laying down my life to serve my wife and love her like Christ loved the church isn’t easy and is impossible apart from Jesus’ grace. The tasks of dying to self, learning long-suffering, and being sanctified are essential, and they are accomplished in marriage if we submit to God’s discipline. So what’s my problem? My problem is that many people who read Sacred Marriage still have an incomplete picture of what marriage is and what it’s for.

Everything Thomas says in his book basically sounds true, but why do I feel so ambivalent about it? The answer came to me a few years later when someone sent me a collection of quotes about marriage, and I read this one by Ted Cunningham:

“The creation order establishes the priority of marriage as companionship, not sanctification. God wants you to enjoy your marriage.”

When I read this, my jaw dropped, and I stared at my computer screen for a long time. That was it! God invented marriage before the Fall! If marriage existed in the Garden of Eden long before sin entered the world, then why are we saying that the primary role of marriage is to help us die to our sinful nature? What was marriage for before we had a sinful nature? The answer, my friends, is relationship. Genesis 1:18-24 tells us what the original reason for marriage was: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'”

Believe that, before everything else, God wants you to enjoy relationship in your marriage. And what could be more godlike? If holiness is being more like God, then relationship comes first. Long before sin entered the world God existed as a beautiful, holy Trinity. Relationship is essential to who God is as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Sacred Marriage leaves a lot of us thinking that there is nothing more to holiness than suffering and being purged of sinfulness. Marriage does these things no doubt, but marriage also relieves us of loneliness and gives us a helper with whom to walk life’s journey. This is part of holiness, and this is good. The sinfulness of sin is that it robs us of right relationship with each other and with God. And dying to sin is not something we do for its own sake, but because there is something better for us on the other side of that death.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)


  1. Nancy Kuehn says:

    Dear Pastor Lee,

    I really enjoyed this blog, and wanted to pass it on to a friend, but in checking the church website, I could not find a link to your blogs. Can you help, please?

    Have a great day, Pastor Lee.


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