Dangerous, destructive behavior in marriage is frequently treated with ‘kid gloves’. Too often it’s not taken seriously until it’s too late. Where do you stand? Have you gotten comfortable with certain behaviors in your marriage that used to be called ‘sin’?
Question: Could you stand up in a room and say, without embarrassment, “We’re not perfect but even so, I encourage you to follow our example in marriage?” Are you modeling the marriage you desire your children (who are watching you and taking notes) to enjoy when they get married?
A godly couple can say this, in part, because of what’s missing from their marriage. Sometimes it’s good when certain things go missing.
Here are 10 that have no place in a godly relationship:
1. A Sharp Tongue
So much damage in so little time . . . that’s the result of the unbridled tongue. It can be easy to cut with words when things don’t go our way but, in a godly marriage, neither spouse yields to this ungodly impulse. (James 3:8)
2. A Good Memory (when it comes to offenses).
A good memory can be very bad. After we repent of our sins before God, He doesn’t then commit them to memory so they can be thrown in our faces the next time we need to repent. The Bible says that God forgets our sins. When we repent and ask forgiveness of each other, that sin should never be referenced again. Remembering and repeating past wrongs will prevent the true fellowship that always follows true forgiveness. We are called to forgive as God has forgiven. (Col. 3:13)
3. A neglect of the Bibilical order in marriage.
In today’s culture, it’s practically hate speech by now but if you desire to have a marriage ordered according to God’s structure and standards, read and live by Ephesians chapter 5. The perspective of the culture we’re surrounded by – the ‘world’ the Bible calls it – is that Biblical teaching on the subject of order in marriage is old, outdated . . . even inappropriate, for our modern era. But God disagrees and though some things may be hard to understand, going against the culture as they do, God would have us remember, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
4. A lack of care for how each other is doing.
Godly love engenders a genuine concern for one’s spouse – not merely concern that is felt but concern that is expressed in meaningful ways. We may feel deeply but, our spouse is not a mind reader. Communicating that love is as easy as, “Hey, how are you doing . . . really?” Love is kind. (1 Cor. 13:4)
5. A short temper or being easily offended.
Godly couples are slow to become angry. Do you have a short fuse, instantly become angry at a variety of provocations large or small? That’s your flesh talking. That’s sin. (1 Cor. 13:5)
6. An unwillingness to sustain difficulty.
Godly couples have settled in for the long haul. Remember the old vow, “In sickness and in health?” Godly love bears all things. The pilgrimage is chosen by God. We are called to be faithful in it, even if the way is hard. (1 Cor. 13:7)
Pride says, “Notice me, talk about me, and focus on me.” The first thing you’ll hear or notice from a godly spouse is, “It’s not about me.” A godly spouse rejoices in the triumphs, achievements, and attentions received by his/her spouse. (1 Cor. 13:4)
8. A tearing down of one another.
Godly couples are busy . . . too busy lifting each other up to have the time to tear each other down by speaking negatively to others.
9. Thinking less than the best of each other.
Godly couples love first and ask questions later. They assume the best of the other person. (1 Cor. 13:7)
10. Taking pleasure in each other’s failings.
Love doesn’t rejoice when someone sins or falls, but rejoices in the truth. (1 Cor. 13:6)
It’s easy to get busy with life and treat marriage like it is something that is happening to us, instead of something we are doing. Maybe you’ve removed all of these negative, sinful behaviors from your marriage. If so, great! But, if not, take responsibility for what you are bringing to the relationship and take action to ensure these things are “missing” from your marriage – at least for the part of the relationship God entrusted to you . . . your part.
My own summary to Matthew’s excellent article: let your marriage preach the gospel through and through.