In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas asks a powerful question: “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Holiness is one of those things we want to leave in church buildings. Rarely do we attribute the marital contract between two people as a holy, spiritual covenant.
In our world today these kinds of assertions bring a sobriety to life that is humbling. Happiness is such an important goal to which we aspire that we often feel betrayed and burdened when it is hard and painful. The hope that we will find a clearing in our marital relationships where we can run freely, hand-in-hand into the sunset, just like in the movies, eludes many marriages from beginning to end.
Does that mean that those relationships that do not achieve a romantic nirvana are of no value? Of course not. As I watch my own parents move closer to the margins of life I see their love and care for each other during their ‘Golden Years.’ For them, it truly is the golden years but with a very other-worldly quality that transcends their struggles and suffering, leading them to a place where their undying love for each other is deep, strong, vibrant and as youthful as ever.
Tony Reinke on John Piper’s Desiring God blog site made some similar oservations in a recent article about the marriage of Abraham Lincoln, inspired by the realistc depiction of the struggles of his marriage to Mary Todd in the most recent movie by Steven Spielberg. The article is entitled, “Learning from Lincoln’s Flawed Marriage.” He attributes the steadfast leadership of Lincoln to the fact that he and his wife chose to embrace their pain. They chose to wrestle with it in their own unique ways in the face of the temptation to walk away when the tough parts of their marriage seemed never ending..
But embracing the pain of marriage is only one portion of the overwhelming drama that unfolds in the context of this most intimate of relationships. In every corner of our mariages are hidden eternal truths that can lead us to a deeper understanding of the God we strive to know and to imitate. Why not give Thomas’ book a read as you seek out the joy of finding God in the midst of the multi-faceted complexities of your life-long commitment to that other person at your side.