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What Christians need to know about marriage.  Learn how Christian marriage is very different, very special and very hard to break.

What Is A Christian Marriage?

There is probably no event as ripe with promise and expectation as a wedding.  Unfortunately, expectations of marriage are often the cause of early problems and sometimes, divorce.  In this article, we'll examine what it means to have a Christian marriage, a marriage in the image of God, a marriage of three rather than two, and how the two become one.  If you're not yet married or if you've been married ten years, be ready for some surprises.

Marriage In The Image Of God:

We know it isn't our beauty, our sinless life or unselfish nature, so what could it mean that man and woman were created in the image of God?  In my understanding, God is three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) who are one eternal God.  Anyone who has tried to maintain a relationship for longer than a few days can easily see how big a miracle this is.  The Three have been One for eternity.  All we have to manage is 50-60 years.  This is one of the main ways we humans were created in the image of live in relationship.  The relationship that bears most closely to the image of God, is the permanent, loving, committed relationship of marriage. 

Two Becoming One:

Anyone attending a Christian wedding knows that the Christian concept of marriage is two becoming one.  Most people don't know what that means in real life.  Of course, on the wedding day, there's the spiritual union and the physical union which often brings little ones.  However, the union most discussed in the Bible is the union of wills, desires, expectations.  It's a process that takes a lifetime, so we'll take a little time to examine it here. 

People get married for entirely selfish reasons...what the other person has done or can do for them (for example-attention, fulfillment, children, sex, food, house, family, etc.). Many of these expectations are not negotiated or even discussed prior to marriage because neither party is aware of them.  That's because these expectations were just what they'd seen of marriage growing up, from TV, neighbors, family, etc. Every person has different expectations. Once the rings go on, all bets are off...the expectations reveal themselves and the conflict begins. What a wonderful system, right? Believe it or not, no matter how difficult it seems, God does have a plan to handle this.

His plan is called self-sacrifice. You can see self-sacrifice in Philippians 2, where He tells Christians to consider the needs of others as more important than their own. You can see it in Eph 5, where He says for you to submit to one another out of love for Christ, and to sacrifice yourself for your spouse. In fact, you can read everything the Bible has to say about marriage and never see where your spouse is supposed to meet your expectations.

By sacrificing what you want and devoting yourself to what your spouse wants and needs, you set an entirely different environment for the marriage relationship. Look at Php 2 again. Jesus, to serve the needs of the relationship, gave up His equal status with God, became human, allowed us to kill Him, and thereby got all His needs and wants met. Do you think He wanted to do this? In the garden, He prayed, 'Father, if there's any way, save me from this fate, nevertheless, not my will but yours, be done.' Now, this is a hard example to follow, but it's in the self-sacrifice of love, that we're created in God's image.

If two people are to become one, some parts will have to come off.  This is painful!.  Each of you is going to sacrifice about half of the self you were when you got married.  When you have to sacrifice, it will not seem fair any more than the sacrifice Jesus made was fair to Him.  If you're patient and willing to give even when it seems your spouse isn't giving, then you'll see the blessings of marriage you could never have imagined, the miracle of two becoming one in everything.  It will no longer be a sacrifice, but a great joy.  To get to that point requires faith in the promises of God and of your spouse.  Many fall on the road, never to see the promised land of Christian marriage.

Marriage Of Three-Not Two:

They fall because most people, even most Christians believe there is no difference between a Christian marriage and any other, but the difference is so profound, it could mean the difference between life-long loving marriage and divorce.  In society at large, marriage is a contract between two people which can be dissolved at any time.  In Christianity, marriage is between three people and only one of them can dissolve it.  Yes, three people (husband, wife and God) are part of everything in a Christian marriage (love, children, sex, arguments, budget...everything).  Not only that, but God is the only one who has authority to break the marriage up (see Christian Divorce Doctrine).  A marriage of three is very different.  As each of you gets closer to Christ, you get closer to each other.  Instead of arguing, you seek God's answer to the issues.  You manage the family money according to God's principles.  It takes the pressure off of each individual, because Jesus is there to provide His advice and His power to solve problems.  "A triple braided cord is hard to break."

Just like the Trinity, a marriage in Christ is 3-in-one.  Christian marriage is different from any other marriage.  It's two people, each sacrificing to serve the other and become one whole person instead of two selfish fractions.  Christian marriage is the image of God's relationship with Himself.  From that relationship, anything is possible.

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