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Three Biblical Secrets for a Happy Marriage
When I look around at the young people I get the feeling that they are not eager to marry because of the paucity of positive role models around them. Here in the Caribbean we suffer from the broken family links caused by slave trade and slavery, but the high rate of single parenting is alarming.
I firmly believe that marriage is God’s plan for society, that families need order, discipline, and spiritual care that is found in the presence of a sober husband and father; and that a home needs the love, charm, and graciousness which is distilled by the presence of a spiritual wife and mother. For those who still believe that marriage is still the ideal way to begin a home then I want to encourage you and share something from my library. It’s from a book on family life called ‘I Love You’ by Gordon O. Martinborough (Miami: Inter-American Division Publishing Association, 1995). A veteran pastor-evangelist from Guyana, he was once Director of Family Ministries at Inter American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
He has an interesting marriage formula in his book. The principles are extracted from an encounter between Christ and an expert in law:
Luke 10: 25-28
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test
Jesus by asking him this question: "Teacher, what should I do to inherit
26 Jesus replied, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?"
27 The man answered, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"*
28 "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!"
Notice that the legal expert replied by quoting two passages from Old testament scripture: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:8. According to Martinborough the response in Luke 10:27 contains the “key to life in its entirety”. In fact Jesus affirms the wisdom and veracity of the response and promises: “Do this and you will live”.
Here then are the three keys to happy marriage which are based on this passage.
First Secret: Love Yourself
This is the last one stated by the lawyer but an intriguing factor and the text does read “Love…yourself”. For if I do not love myself I make myself unlovable. Then if I don’t love myself I an unable to give love. And tragically if I don’t love myself it is impossible for me to accept love from others. Pastor Martinborough says it’s okay to love ourselves because God loves us.
Isaiah 43:4 (NLT)” …because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.”
Because you are so special to God you should place a high value on yourself. It seems to me that this attitude will influence our decision making.
So the first powerful secret according to Martinborough is that” a successful marriage does not start with finding the right person. It begins with being the right person.”
The Second Secret: Love Your Partner Better than Yourself
The legal expert rightly responded “Love you neighbour as yourself”. The writer sees our spouses as our dearest and nearest neighbours. Good so far. But oh the religion of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is so radical when brought into the workaday world of ordinary people like you and me, for the master also addresses the issue of conflict of rights in marriage:
John 13:34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
Jesus taught us a new way to love. I should love my spouse in the same way that Jesus loved me. Question to be asked then is how did Jesus love me? He loves me so much He endured the cruel cross for you and me. Self-sacrificing love.
The apostle Paul carries this over into interpersonal relationships
3 Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.4 Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Third Secret: Love for God
This is the most important ingredient, and is the first in response of the legal expert. Remember? "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.”
How does love for God translate into a successful marriage? The beloved Apostle John answers for us:
1 John 4:8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God is the Source of true love so all couples are pointed back to the Creator and Maintainer of marriage.
Pastor Martinborough makes a very profound statement. “Every marriage comes under the influence of the supernatural – the warring, destructive power of Satan or the peaceful, healing power of God. And every couple has the power of choice.”
He illustrates his case with some pointed geometry:
“A happy marriage may be compared to a triangle with Christ at the apex and husband and wife at each corner of the base. When the partners are far from Christ, they remain distant from each other. And when each connects with Christ, they become connected to each other. Love for God is the primary secret of a successful marriage.”
As I ponder these sublime thoughts I am reminded that the ethics which is based on Duty to God as taught by Christ is the kind of ethics that will inform happy marriages. The ethics of love in working clothes.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.