Reflections on Marriage: Part 1, Marriage is Personal

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On April 2, my wife Sarah and I celebrated our one-year anniversary of marriage. This past year has been the most challenging, yet most blessed year of my life. Challenging, because my laziness, selfishness, and carelessness is exposed daily, simply by her presence. Blessed, because I get to be with the girl I love daily and work through those things with her. Through it all, we have both (if I can speak for her also) grown closer to Christ. Everyday I realize more of what I don’t know than what I do know. I don’t really understand someone’s calling themselves a “marriage expert”–I mean, really, it’s, to use the old phrase, “one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread.” We’re all like fish scrambling for the surface to get a… I don’t know, whatever fish eat.

I do know, however, that God is faithful and loving, and that I love Sarah. That affection between spouses is transformed and sanctified in the gospel, when spouses love as Christ loves. It is not some evolutionary development to ensure the survival of a species or a social bond to increase the probability for offspring. It is a performance of the Divine. In tangible, real life, practical ways, the love of Christ is put on display before the entire cosmos.

It is really hard to understand (which is one reason why Paul calls it a mystery in Eph 5) and is especially intimidating when I take my eyes off Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. In this series of posts, I will do my best to clearly reflect on a few truths on what it means to be an actor in this performance. First, marriage is personal.

Have you ever seen tweets and/or Facebook statuses where the guy/girl always refers to their spouse as “my wife” or “my husband,” and rarely, if ever, refers to them by name? Or how about this, you ask a newlywed, “How’s married life?” They respond about how pleasant it is spend the whole day with someone, or share meals together. I bet you got more answer than what you bargained for when you asked the question. But how many times have you heard an answer to that question that actually mentions something personal and gracious about the spouse?

By “marriage is personal,” I do not mean simply that it is intimate. It certainly is intimate. If you want details about marital intimacy, you may need to check out the Resurgence or a Mark Driscoll seminar. Rather, what I mean is that someone can love marriage without loving the person to whom they are married. You can love the benefits of marriage, whether it be sexual, financial, culinary, or social, without the person coming into your mind. In this way, marital benefits is the end, and the person is the means to that end. I want to show how this flows from a misunderstanding of a few basic gospel truths:

  1. God is a personal God who enters into covenant with His people. God says concerning His covenant people, “They will be my people and I will be their God” (Jer 32:38, etc.). The covenant is personal, meaning that the people are not to value covenant as an end in itself. But they are to value covenant in as much as their covenant is with the God of covenants.
  2. Saving faith is placed in a personal Redeemer. We throw around the phrase “saved through faith” pretty often, but it’s important to remember that our faith is only as good as the object to which it is directed.
  3. Jesus Christ came to redeem particular people. I’ve heard certain pastors throw around the phrase “whosoever will” as if it debunks the idea that God had particular individuals in mind when He sent Christ to die for them. However, the details given in Scripture are not of a God who puts on a blindfold and goes bobbing for apples, but rather a Shepherd who calls His sheep by name (John 10).

Sarah and I often tell each other that we love being married. But we clarify it by saying, “I love being married to you. I wouldn’t want to be married if it wasn’t to you.” This emphasizes that the value we place on our marriage comes from each other, not marriage in itself. Loving marriage as an end in itself is like loving Jesus just for what we can get out of Him, whether it be forgiveness of sins, peace, hope, joy, etc. We come to Jesus to get Jesus, and we enter into marriage to get our spouse. “Love is not self-seeking”–It looks to the other person. It loves the person first, and then exults in the blessings that come from being in a lifelong covenant with that person. Marriage is great—don’t get me wrong—but marriage to a person is even better.


Written by keywoodblog

April 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Hey, Jay, I love reading your posts. I like the perspectives that you offer. Keep it up!

    Kevin Yu

    April 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm

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