Whether you've been married 5 days or 50 years, marriage was and is defined by God for some specific purposes. For the young it includes the possibility of children. For all ages it is to be for an intimate oneness and companionship that cannot be found in any other relationship including the sisterhood like that between Naomi and Ruth and brotherhood like Jonathon and David. It also is the unique connection physically in love making, in which God requires a husband and wife to be fully devoted to pleasing each other. And finally, but perhaps the most important, a marriage is to reflect the relationship that Christ has with His church (Eph 5:32) - perhaps the best form of evangelism God has given mankind. Why you ask? Because a great marriage that does that is unique and very visible to us all, and we are drawn to it to ask, "Why are you so different?"
When we married, we each gave a covenantal vow before one another and to God, that our marriage would last until one of us stands beside the grave of the other. Although the Bible says marriage and male/female do not exist in heaven we will be with our Christian spouse and other Christ follower loved ones for eternity. The here and now is our preparation for our eternity.
Looking for a possible measuring stick, consider that there were most likely two parts to your wedding vows - the Vow and the Exchange of rings. You may have written your own vows, or used some of the more common ones like the one below. For most of us our wedding day was a blur, and unless we tucked them away somewhere, we may long have forgotten them, so read the one below, for I'm sure it contains the essence of the words you shared with each other that day.
I, ___, take you ___, to be my wedded ___. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part. And this day I pledge you my faithfulness.
The rings exchanged symbolize the unending nature of marriage. Also during your ceremony, the Bible was read, and prayers given. Truth and wisdom about marriage are found throughout the pages of the Bible. The Bible, Prayer, Worship, and Relationships with others are the binding glue of marriage.
Actually, our vows were the challenge to place Christ at the center of our individual lives and to do so in our marriage. The Great Commandment first found in Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us that we must love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and love our neighbors as our self. This touches on something we all feel very deeply in our hearts; that the purity of God's love is the greatest gift we can offer one another. It is what makes marriage so very special and gives us the greatest opportunity for ongoing joy. Our relationship with Him guides our way to be kind and gentle, even when emotions rise - as they will.
As we individually and together see Christ so up close and personal, we realize that He is worthy of our losing everything we value in life in order to know Him and serve Him. The more clearly we see God, the more we are able to give to one another.
The measure of our marriage then, is displayed as a radical and humble servant-hood. It is not how we embrace the “happy life” geared to “my rights”, personal comfort, or entitlements , rather that we live unselfishly, before one another, submitting to each other as unto Christ in the years to come.
Ultimately, the real measure of our marriage and our individual lives, is in our character; how it is displayed before our spouse, and others. Do we exude the fruit of God’s spirit (see Gal 5:22-23), or do others see more of those things outlined in verses 19-21? As we humble ourselves before the Creator of the universe, He changes our character to become the person and couple He designed us to be.