This video segment is one of six presentations in the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations” seminar. There will be four more seminars in this series covering the subjects: communication, finances, decision making, and intimacy. As those presentations are ready they will be posted on this blog.
NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at email@example.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).
Unit One Evaluation: GCM_Foundations_Eval1_Expectations
Memorize: Luke 9:23-25 (ESV), “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?’” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:
- “All” – You’ll never be a better spouse than you are disciple. Growing as a spouse requires becoming Christ-like.
- “Deny” – Marriage exists in a context of limited resources (time, money, attention, etc…) and requires sacrifice.
- “Daily” – Like discipleship, a good marriage is achieved in daily moments and decisions, not “special” moments.
- “Save… lose… loses…save” – A satisfying marriage is the product of two people learning joy by sacrificial love.
- “Profit” – It is good to want a great marriage, but we’re often misguided on how to attain, protect, and enrich it.
“Our personal dreams for marriage seem so beautiful and convincing that we don’t stop to consider that God’s dreams for us may be different (p. 60).” Winston Smith in Marriage Matters
“I am persuaded that it is more regular than irregular for couples to get married with unrealistic expectations (p. 16)… The person who was once your escape from responsibility has become your most significant responsibility. Spending time together is radically different from living together. Reasons for attraction now become sources of irritation (p. 32)… Marriages don’t typically change with an explosion. Marriages typically change by the process of erosion (p. 254).” Paul Tripp in What Did You Expect?
“But here’s the problem. My wife does not learn about my sins like a physician learns about my diseases or like my counselor learns about my anger and fear. She knows my sins because they so often are committed against her… And there’s the Great Problem of marriage. The one person in the whole world who holds your heart in her hand, whose approval and affirmation you most long for and need, is the one who is hurt more deeply by your sins than anyone else on the planet (p. 162)… Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself. Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it (p. 140).” Tim Keller in The Meaning of Marriage
“Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become ‘whole’ and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that it we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect of marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we will always marry the wrong person (p. 417).” Stanley Hauerwas in “Sex and Politics” in Christian Century (April 19, 1978).
“When you marry a person, you don’t know what they are going to be like in thirty years (p. 58).” John Piper in This Momentary Marriage
It would be easy to be overwhelmed at this point and think that a good marriage requires a perfect spouse. These questions reveal how far short we all fall from being a perfect spouse. But Jesus put this kind of high standard before anyone who wanted to be his disciple, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).” His purpose, however, wasn’t discouragement, but revival.
That is the aim of a gospel-centered approach to marriage. We want more than marital enrichment. We want marital revival! We desperately need an intense awakening to what God called marriage to be; not a mere nudging towards more functional principles. The general condition of marriage in our culture cries out to God for a radical transformation of our “common sense” and “best practices” about marriage, because they’re not working.
If we are going to seek a gospel-centered marriage, we must realize such an endeavor will cast us to our knees begging God for the grace, strength, and wisdom to bless our spouse and homes in ways that we are, in ourselves, utterly incapable and sometimes even unwilling to do. But from our knees we will find that God is both willing and capable to give the kind of marriage we could have never had on our feet.
That brings us to one final virtue that is absolutely necessary to experience and enjoy a gospel-centered marriage – humility.
Marriage is a journey from our weakness (both spouses) to God’s strength. Due to the affects of sin, many of our weaknesses are exaggerated strengths. So even our strengths must be handled with humility or they betray us and our marriage. But when handled with humility even our weaknesses become a blessing to our marriage. It is only the gospel that will teach us to view life this way.