Christians are not to grieve the Holy Spirit with bitterness, but to be kind, compassionate and forgiving. We are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. To sustain our marriage, we have to daily remind ourselves of the gospel of God’s forgiveness.
What’s the best thing about marriage? I think as a teenager I would have thought that sex might be the best thing about marriage. That was what I was looking forward to. Now sex is a great gift for marriage, but it is not the best thing about marriage. As someone who has been married for over twenty years, I think companionship is one of the best things about marriage. But even this is not the best thing about marriage. The best thing about marriage is that it gives us a glimpse of the infinite love God wants people to experience in Him.
I used to read Isaiah 62:5 at weddings: “as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so your God rejoices over you.” I used to invite the congregation to look at the groom and learn. Watch him as he smiles at his bride, see him whisper in her ear and look at him as he leaves this building with her on his arm, acting like the cat that got the cream. That is just an inadequate picture of the infinitely greater love that God wants people to experience in Him.
In fact, in Mark’s gospel (2:14), Jesus takes this picture of a bridegroom for Himself. Jesus, God the Son, wants you to experience and enjoy His love.
Marriage is a Gift
Jesus has moved from Galilee to Judea. He is no longer just speaking to His disciples but a crowd. The religious leaders ask Him a question to catch Him out. How do they intend to catch Jesus out? Well, remember when John the Baptist criticised King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife. That got John’s head cut off. They are hoping Jesus might get in similar trouble with His views of marriage.
As often happens, Jesus answers a question with a question. ‘What does Moses say?’ Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. In one of those books, Deuteronomy (24:1-4), Moses gave God’s command, for that time, on divorce. A divorce law was given assumed that divorce was taking place, and it was aimed at making it harder for men to divorce their wives, so that they would not simply treat their wife as a commodity. But that law, given through Moses, was given because people’s hearts were hard. God’s original design for marriage is found in Genesis 2.
In Genesis chapter 2 God’s design for marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman. The man and woman are seen as equals (‘made in the image of God’) but different. They are a compliment, a fit, for each other. This is a great gift from God to people. In fact, Jesus talks of God as being the one who puts people together.
Notice, in Genesis 2, what Adam does when he is presented with his future wife. He sings. “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man” (2:23). If you want to bless your spouse, rejoice over them. Look to see their beauty. Be thankful that God has given them to you. Ask God to help you appreciate them. If you want to ruin your marriage become an expert in criticism and comparison. “Why couldn’t our relationship be like theirs?” “Why isn’t he as kind as…?” “Why isn’t she as beautiful as…?”
Like a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God rejoices over you (Is. 62:5). Don’t stop imitating God in this!