By Rev Dr Edward Goh
We just had our Marriage Enrichment Retreat over the weekend of 8 to 10 Nov, Rev David Burke was the speaker. The key message impressed upon us is the constant need to work on our marriage regardless of our life stages, and to do so in accordance with “the Maker’s Manual”. Three reasons are given. 1. We must work on our marriage because God has ordained marriage to be a life-long commitment to our spouses. 2. We need to work on our marriage because we are imperfect. 3. We can work on our marriage because of the Gospel of God’s grace.
When I reflected on these three reasons, I saw they are deeply rooted in the Gospel. The first grounds us in obedience to God as our Creator, the One who made us male and female, who ordained marriage to be a union of the husband and the wife. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). The second acknowledges our fallen nature, our constant need for forgiveness, from God and from each other. The third points to our hope in the redemptive grace of the cross. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We forgive because He has forgiven us. These precious scriptural truths lived out are the foundations of a strong lasting marriage.
This is the reason Proverbs 31, in advising a young man how to select a mate, culminates with verse 30, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” This applies also to a woman choosing a man. Paul’s advice to a widow remarrying in 1 Cor. 7:39 is “but he must belong to the Lord.” This is because the wisdom to live an abundant life, such as in a God-honouring marriage, is found in God’s Word alone, and comes from the fear of the Lord.
In fact, Paul tells us in Eph. 5:32 the purpose of marriage is not primarily our earthly happiness, but to point us to the Gospel of Christ’s love. We will enjoy the climactic fulfilment of this love at the wedding of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7), where the greatest earthly marriage will pale in comparison and would have served its purpose. It is the day all believers have been made for. In the meantime, may we encourage one another, especially our spouses, to live towards that day.