Our pursuits of holiness, whether our own or our spouse’s, are only ever incomplete pursuits. They are real and meaningful, but necessarily limited by the harsh reality that there is no perfection to be had on this side of the grave.
He told me he knew that marriage was designed not to make him happy, but to make him holy. He had accepted the wisdom in the phrase, and there is certainly an element of truth behind it: Marriage really can serve as a significant means of sanctification in the life of the believer and it really can foster growth in holiness. But as useful and challenging as the phrase is, it failed to address the question that had been nagging his mind of late: What if marriage isn’t making me as holy as I had hoped? And what if marriage isn’t making her as holy as I had hoped? If marriage is designed to make us holy, why are we still so unholy?
I think there come times of reckoning in the life of every believer where we are forced to ask, Is this all? Is this as holy as I’m going to get? Will that temptation I’ve been fighting for decades never loosen its grip? Will that habit I’ve been trying to break never fully disappear? Will that discipline I’ve been trying to establish never become easy? While I may be holier than I once was, it’s still shocking and disappointing how unholy I remain.
And then there come other times of reckoning where we turn those questions toward our spouse. Is this as holy as she is going to get? Will that temptation he has been fighting never fully loosen its grip? Will that bad habit never disappear from her life? Will that discipline I so want him to put on never become established and easy? While our spouse may be holier than he or she once was, it’s still shocking how unholy a person can remain, even after many years of Christian living and Christian marriage.