Monday, November 11, 2013

Marriage IS for you!

There has been an article going around online which says that marriage is primarily about your spouse. When you get married you are to seek their happiness. Marriage isn't for you, it says. Marriage is about them.

Then, there's this second article from a different blog which responds to the first. 

The second article is better because it says that the purpose of marriage is to make the other person more holy. And, I agree, that is one aspect of marriage. Christ is going to present the church to himself without blemish, and so husbands and wives should strive to sanctify each other to become more Christlike. But it seems to leave out another very human element to marriage. A very hedonistic element. 

Both articles agree that marriage is not about making yourself happy. But I don't agree. 

When we examine Ephesians 5:28-29, we see something amazing happening. 

“He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…”

John Piper, in his book Desiring God, wrote a section on marriage that completely renovated my thoughts concerning happiness in the union between a man and wife. I don’t have the book in my possession at this time, so I will try to remember some of the things he said.

The gist was that in loving my wife I love myself. In seeking her good, I am seeking my good. Since she is my own flesh, in her happiness I find mine. In loving her I love myself. This is exactly what Paul says, "He who loves and cherishes his wife loves himself." 

Therefore, be a hedonist and love yourself in your marriage. Remember that yourself isn't just you, but you and your wife as one body. 

It seems many marriages fail because the one flesh of the two spouses is malnourished. The husband selfishly seeks what he thinks will bring him joy to the detriment of his wife's needs, and the wife does the same. In seeking the temporary joy, he is actually crushing hope of a lasting joy gained through loving and cherishing his wife. In serving your wife, you are bringing peace and happiness to the one body. Why would one purposefully under nourish his own body? Christ has not done that with the church. Why would we do it with our own body, our spouse?

When one considers the profound impact of hedonism in marriage, we don't find that we put our joy on the back burner in order to serve our spouses. What we find, in fact, is that in loving our spouses, in cherishing and serving our wives as Christ does the church, we are seeking and finding a source of very great peace and happiness and joy. A greater joy than we could have found in self-seeking. Why settle for temporary highs when something better is offered?

So be a hedonist in your marriage. In serving, loving, and cherishing your wife, you are serving loving and cherishing yourself. In seeking her joy, you actually seek yours.

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten that we seek our greatest joy in God. But we do find very real joy in our spouses, which flows from our enjoyment of God. Without him, there is no satisfaction, and only he can free us from the selfishness which plagues us in our relationships.