Christian Marriage Faces Sin-Pitfalls
It is no surprise that Satan’s strategy for winning souls would focus on those institutions God has established for the propogation and preservation of the Christian faith–the church, the family, and Christian marriage.
In recent generations all of those sacred institutions have come under relentless siege and, to no one’s surprise, have suffered serious damage in our society. The disintegration of many marriage and family relationships (as God designed and desired them) has not only caused major social problems in our country, but also has left in its wake a path of spiritual destruction that will impact future generations as well.
Two of Satan’s key agents in his mission are the world and our own sinful flesh.
At Satan’s disposal is a world which is diametrically opposed to the will of God.
By the world we simply mean all those things surrounding us that tempt, allure, or pressure us into sin. Hymns 430 and 446 in The Lutheran Hymnal clearly present the world’s true colors and a Christian’s attitude toward it. Scripture says clearly: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15).
Thus the world’s view of marriage is radically different from God’s. The world would disagree with our previous description of marriage as a divine institution, a heaven-sent blessing, and a sacred spiritual commitment. It would rather view marriage as a cultural or religious preference, or as one of several relationship alternatives. In our “anything goes,” “tolerant,” and “politically correct” society, such issues as pre-marital sex, adultery, divorce, and homosexuality become matters of individual choice, subject to the judgment of no one.
From the perspective of those who remember back a few generations this represents a significant change. To be sure, sin was no less present or powerful in the “good old days.” Yet back then society and the evolving media of TV, movies, and music did not undermine Christian marriage and moral values to the degree this is being done today. We may have come a long way, but in what direction?
To illustrate, let’s ask ourselves a few questions:
* How easy is it to find "wholesome" (Philippians 4:8) family entertainment today? * How often do we find Christian marriage and moral values strongly endorsed in any public medium or forum? * In the past would those who speak out against immorality or homosexuality on the basis of Scripture have been labeled as intolerant, narrow-minded, and bigoted, sowers of seeds of hatred and paranoia? * Would the majority of our society fifty years ago have shrugged their shoulders and expressed continuing support for a nation's leader guilty of adultery, cover-up, and perjury? * How difficult is it today to find logical reasons for divorce or to legally secure one?
The answers to these questions reflect the changing mores and values of our spiritually decaying world.
Our Sinful Flesh
The other serious sin-pitfall in Christian marriage is our own sinful flesh.
Enthusiastically our flesh rises up to embrace the selfish philosophy and attitudes espoused and practiced by many: ME first, ME only, MY needs, MY rights! The focus is on self and what I want. Witness the Dear Abby criteria for determining whether to continue in a less than ideal marriage: “Ask yourself — am I better off with or without my spouse?” Yes, the overwhelming majority of marital problems stem from simple selfishness.
All of this flies in the face of God’s design for selfless Christian marriage.
Just as Jesus Christ loved His Church and selflessly and sacrificially gave Himself for her, so Christian husbands and wives are to love and honor each other selflessly. Love’s focus is always on the needs and wishes of the other–that is, my God, and my God-given spouse and family.
Because of sin no marriage is perfect, nor is any marriage partner. The many flaws which I possess (which begs the question: “How would I like to be married to me?”) should drive me to my knees in humility and repentance. The flaws which my spouse possesses (the “speck of dust” in Mt. 7:3) should in love evoke a kind and forgiving spirit in me (Eph. 4:32).
Repentance and forgiveness at the foot of Christ’s cross lie at the heart of all our relationships–with God and with each other. Thank God for Christ–in my life and in my marriage.
Pitfalls there may be in marriage. Yet with God’s forgiving love, His help and strength, these can be overcome. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4).
In Christ husband and wife find a love, a unity, a commitment and a strength that will “overcome” and will be a joy to their God and a blessing to each of them.
–Pastor David Schierenbeck