By Heidi Vegh, Crosswalk.com
Marriage is a precious gift given to us by a gracious God who wants us to experience the profound pleasure of a committed, loving, and fruitful marriage relationship. He created marriage as a beautiful picture of how Christ loves His people, the Church.
A worldly purpose of marriage is the act of marrying someone to fulfill ourselves, complete ourselves, or make ourselves happy. In fact, that is not the purpose at all. God gave us marriage to encourage, love, and spur our spouse into the person God created them to be. If we go into marriage expecting to be entirely fulfilled by another person, we will be disappointed. This is possibly why the divorce rate is so high. People get married, the person they are committed to isn’t what they thought, and they aren’t happy or fulfilled, so they decide to walk away. This must be devastating to our loving Father who purposed marriage for so much more.
Based on Scripture, here are eight fruitful characteristics of a Godly marriage:
1. Filled with Love
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.1 Corinthians 13:4-8
It is not easy to exude patience when the person we married is getting under our skin, just like it is not easy to be selfless in our choices or not hold grudges. However, when we surrender our own fleshly reactions and trade them for a loving and kind demeanor, the marriage will benefit greatly. You can live in a peaceful home knowing that your wrongs aren’t counted, your spouse isn’t only out for their own interest, and you are sharing life with someone you can trust.
2. Ultimate Devotion
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
A Godly marriage will be two people devoted solely to each other. They will take the commitment seriously and never seek love and attention from anyone other than their spouse.
3. Submission and Love
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33
In our worldly culture, the idea of a woman submitting to a man goes against the current feminist views screaming to women that they are equal to men and should not have to submit to anyone. However, in the upside-down kingdom of our King Jesus, God created man and women to each have a place in the marriage relationship. When a woman submits to her husband as the head of the home, they are mirroring Christ and the church. This doesn’t mean the woman is to tolerate being pushed around, controlled, or abused, but God wants a woman to respect her husband, and He commands the husband to love his wife.
There is a vicious cycle that can take place when respect and love are abused. If a woman feels unloved, she may start to disrespect her husband, and when a man begins to feel disrespected, he may withhold love from his wife. God created this aspect of marriage to keep the peace in the marriage, to keep it running smoothly, and for each person to feel safe and secure.
4. A Prayer-Filled Friendship
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Praying together as husband and wife is one of the most powerful things a couple can do. This act brings them closer together, aligns them both with God’s plan for their lives, and grows their personal relationships with their Father.
5. Living as One Flesh
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So, the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 2:18-24
Being married is a paradox as it is two people coming together as one. Still two separate hearts, souls, and minds; however, under the commitment of a Godly marriage, they are viewed as one. Having this view of your marriage gives it more depth and more purpose. When you make decisions based on God’s direction and the betterment of the marriage relationship as a sole entity, you begin aligning with God’s purposes for your life and marriage.
6. Deep Commitment
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned. Song of Songs 8:6-7
This may go without saying, but steadfast commitment is essential to flourish in your marriage. This means steering clear of temptations to be unfaithful, be it pursuing an unhealthy friendship with someone of the opposite sex, having a physical connection with someone else, or confiding in another person deep, personal things that only should be shared with your spouse. When the marriage relationship strives to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, putting your spouse before yourself and purposing your marriage to further the kingdom of God, there will be no desire to pursue attention, gratification, or pleasure from anyone else other than your spouse. Guard your marriage against temptation by praying together, coming together as one, and removing anything from your lives that the enemy could use to tear you apart.
7. Worship and Serve God Together
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17
A couple that is plugged into a local church serving together shines bright for Jesus. Worshiping God together either at church or in your alone time together is beneficial for the health of your marriage. Giving of yourselves, your time, and your resources provide the marriage with a solid foundation of selfless living that will only serve to exude the love of Christ to others.
8. Humility, Gentleness, and Patience
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Ephesians 4:2-3
Forgiving your spouse for hurtful words or actions can be difficult. You may be justified in your anger and want to hang on to the resentment to teach them a lesson. This can be detrimental. When we choose to forgive quickly, humble ourselves to apologize, speak gentle words and exude patience in tribulation, this will only strengthen your marriage. Living this way makes your marriage rock-solid. It leaves no room for bitter grudges and meaningless bickering. Use your energy together to show love, gratitude, and forgiveness.
Marriage is hard work, but we don’t have to go it alone. Marriage is a gift from the Lord; no matter how challenging it becomes, we have the power in Jesus to overcome it. When we strive to live in a Godly and fruitful marriage, we may be faced with new challenges as we change ourselves, our reactions, and our words, but God can work through all of that. So today, let’s commit to asking the Lord to show us where we need to change things about ourselves to make our marriage better, not only asking the Lord to change our spouse.
Heidi Vegh is a writer, speaker, and ministry leader living in Gig Harbor, WA. She is a remarried mother of four, navigating the blended family life after the loss of her first husband to cancer in 2013. She longs to use her writing as a way to encourage others who have experienced loss and guide them on the road to healing. She contributes to her blog found at thebreathingmama.com, sharing stories and devotionals of faith stemming from her loss and healing, mothering, and her blended and complex family. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Creative Writing and English and is working on her first book. Heidi is the Women’s Ministry Director at Gig Harbor Foursquare and has a deep heart for sharing Jesus with women and encouraging them in their faith walk. When she is not writing she loves to travel, read, craft, and experiment in the kitchen. Visit her Facebook and Instagram (@breathingmamalife) to learn more.