Today I am really excited to have Elizabeth Spence guest blogging with me! I really love Elizabeth’s heart on marriage, and you can check out wonderful writing by her and other amazing wives at her blog, The Warrior Wives.
Ps. Don’t worry – my last post on the theology of sex will be here on Wednesday.
The ring was on my finger. Wedding plans were under way. My love for my fiance was exciting and I frequently dreamed about the day when we would be officially Mr and Mrs Dave Spence. Together, we were working through the prerequisite premarital counseling required by our church before we could be married, counseling designed to help us work out important issues prior to entering into the marriage covenant. Finances, housework, communication, sex…we talked about it all. At the time, I remember vaguely thinking that marriage might be hard sometimes, but in my blushing bride naivety, I thought, “Well, we’ll just talk about it and then it will be fine.” I knew of lots of good marriage books and had heard of some good marriage conferences. I thought we had the perfect recipe for marital success.
If you’ve been married for longer than a day, you know how that turned out.
Although marriage can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life, it can also be one of the hardest. And it doesn’t just take reading a few marriage books or attending a few marriage conferences or having a few really solid conversations about issues. No, if a marriage is going to be successful, it’s going to take some seriously radical living.
Being radical is all the rage within the Christian community right now. Authors like Francis Chan and David Platt are challenging the status quo within the church and inspiring many people to truly imitate Christ and fulfill his call to make disciples of all nations. One of the most controversial statements that Francis Chan makes in his book Crazy Love is this: “As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are ‘lukewarm’ are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven (p.83-84).” In other words, the only way to live the Christian life is to live completely sold out for Christ, no matter how radical this looks to the rest of the world.
Marriage shouldn’t be any different. To put a spin on what Chan says, there should be no such thing as a lukewarm spouse or lukewarm love. We are called to love radically, even in our marriage. Christ is calling us to love even when we don’t feel loved. To love even when we aren’t being treated well. To give up our rights, the things we think we have deserved. To see our husband’s desires and preferences as more important than our own. To seek to serve and understand and appreciate and honor even when we find ourselves in a marriage that doesn’t measure up to our expectations.
I think that far too many of us wives have bought into worldly wisdom that prompts us to tell ourselves that we deserve to be happy, that we should stand up for ourselves, that our desires and needs are more important than our spouses, that we’ll only be kind to him if he’s kind to us first. I think Jesus would call us to task for thinking that way.
Am I preaching to you because I’ve arrived? Nope. I’ve only been married for a little over nine years, and so far 2 1/2 years of those nine years were fairly miserable. I really wasn’t sure we were going to make it, especially when 18 months into our marriage, my husband informed me that he was unhappy and was leaving. He didn’t. God had an awesome transformation in store for us. But you know what I know from here on the other side? It takes a huge amount of work. It takes enormous self-sacrifice. It takes more guts than you think you have to push through the struggles. It takes humility and compassion that can only come directly from our source of strength – God.
A godly marriage will require a fight, a fight for which you will need to take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph 6:12-13). Yes, it is hard. But God is faithful and will give you the strength and even the motivation to serve your husband radically. With His help, you can do it. You can be a warrior wife.