In part two of this series I wrote about two people joining together to become one new person. In this post we will look at what keeps the two together as one. Whenever you place two objects together you have to have some kind of adhesive to make sure they stay together. We aren’t talking about Velcro, tape, or superglue though. In order to keep two people together as one, we need something far more powerful.
Have you ever tried fastening two objects together with the wrong substance? You’d never use duct tape for water pipes. Or wood glue for metal parts. You wouldn’t try to solder two plastic items together. Only the right adhesive will work. Use the wrong stuff and over time the objects will fall apart. Sometimes this happens quickly, but others, over a long period of time. When binding two people together, its no different.
So what is the correct way to bond the married couple as one? Most mainstream magazines would argue that it’s love. This, of course, depends on what definition of love you’re talking about. The so called emotion of love is an awful binding agent. Feelings come and go as we all know. Unfortunately this is the definition of love that most in the world operate with. That’s why we hear people say that they “fell out of love” and that’s why they are separating. What they are really saying is that the warm and fuzzy emotions aren’t there any more and they want to go search for them in someone or something else.
Another response that some might give to what keeps people together is commitment. But that warrants the question: commitment to what? I’ve known people that have stayed ‘together’ for decades but their marriage was a wreck and they simply lived together and tolerated one another. I’ve also seen people so committed to their spouse that they change to become whatever their spouse wants them to be, even if that is so far from who God called them to be. Does that sound like God’s design? Not even close.
Love and commitment are huge! Bigger than huge! I don’t even know what word would adequately depict just how huge they are. But they have to be centered on the right thing. We must be committed, not to the institution of marriage, but to the ones involved in the marriage. Before you think that I can’t do math or that I put a typo in there. The ‘ones’ that I’m referring to are your spouse and the third person in the covenant relation: God. We also have to love both our spouse and God but not in the way that the world generally defines love (more on that further down).
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV) [my emphasis]
This passage obviously speaks about more than just a marriage but it is also meant to explain a covenant relationship between two people and the third strand: God. Whenever two people enter into a marriage they aren’t just making vows to each other, but also to God. A married couple becomes a threefold cord which are three parts laced together to make stronger. It’s not three parts side by side taped together. The three parts are literally overlapping and intertwined. In other words, they are meant to be inseparable. Take one strand out of the cord and it quickly unravels.
Many couples around the world view their marriage as a union of two people. God is often discarded, or not even recognized from the beginning. If that is the case, then it’s not a marriage according to God’s original design. God included himself in the equation and we cannot afford to write Him out. He is the adhesive. He is the ultimate superglue that binds us to our spouse.
He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV) [my emphasis]
God joined you to your spouse, therefore He holds you together. We have to be committed to Him, and His commands, and His guidance. We serve Him and love Him first, and from that comes our love and service to our spouse. It’s in the pursuit of God that our marriage is enriched and our love becomes genuine. It’s in the pursuit of God that our lives are changed so that we can be the person that our spouse deserves. What does that look like? We need to go to God before we go to our spouse. We should be praying before we bring things to our spouse. We should be self reflecting through time with God before we dare to point a finger of blame. We need to make sure we are treating our spouse like they are a child and treasure of God. We need to speak to and treat our spouse like we would speak to or treat God himself. We need to be faithful to our spouse like we would be faithful to God. We need to be spending time with God in prayer and bible study with our spouse.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
Most people have seen this passage quoted. A lot of people even put it on marriage invitations or wedding glasses or fancy signs to hang in their homes. But how often does our love for our spouse really reflect the words in these verses? There is nothing in here about warm and fuzzy emotions. Love is the way we choose to treat our spouse. Love is a way of life. Love is selfless and giving. Love focuses on others and how we can benefit them. A marriage full of this love, which is only possible through a life lived through and for God, will hold together. This isn’t worldly love. This is Christian love. This is God infused and Holy Spirit empowered love. If we want to love our spouse as we should then we need the third part of the threefold cord. When we do, our marriage will be strong and it will endure.
Follow Up: Use these questions for your own self reflection or to have a deep discussion with your beloved.
1- What do you do with your spouse that includes God and is about God? (i.e. prayer, bible study, worship, serving others, etc…)
2- Do you ever pray before bringing something up to your spouse or while in the middle of a disagreement?
3- How often have you covered your spouse in prayer?
4- Do you view your spouse as a child and treasure of God?
5- Does your approach to loving your spouse reflect the words in 1 Corinthians 13? What areas do you need the Lord to change you in order to love them better?