Marriage is not easy. Interviewing Super Couples (the cream of the crop) clarified and solidified that understanding in me. Even they had to work at being and staying happy. Wow. Ok. Then I guess it’s not such a big deal that I had to work my butt off to get to happy and still work to maintain that. I feel better. Mr. and Mrs. Danny and Christine Bacon are not weird. We’re typical.
But now that we’ve “arrived” at that happy place we need to consider, are we “holy” yet?
To be holy means to be “set apart.” Um. OK. Set apart from what?
We’re twenty-plus years into the third millennium and the current marital buzz words are “soul mates” “best friends” and “sugar daddy.” Oh wait, that last one is just mine 😊 We believe that our marriages should mirror that which we see on soap operas and the big screen where the wives never criticize and the husbands never get defensive. (Well, actually, I should say the male and female lovers or affair partners because the Big Screen and Soap Operas no longer even bother writing married couples into their scripts). We see relationships where fights don’t exist and arguments are only over minor incidents that get resolved in a sentence or two and end in a snuggle where both lovingly tell the other “I’m sorry, honey. You were right. I should have known better” and then they kiss and move on to the next scene.
Real marriage is not like that…at all.
To be set apart means being different than the predominant culture.
In the predominant culture we must seek “soulmate” status and appear to be best friends. We must appear to be happy. In the predominant culture we must escape any marriage that is imperfect. In the predominant culture we must divorce if our spouse has any addictions, has had an affair or doesn’t speak to us as nicely as we’d like. In the predominant culture the woman must wear the pants and always tell the husband what to do. In the predominant culture the husband is supposed to do everything a woman is naturally good at and be faulted if he isn’t equally as nurturing, empathetic and tender with the kids as his wife is. In the predominant culture the wife is supposed to work outside of the house (and like it more than raising her children) and send her children to be schooled by government forces who prepare our children for “the real world” of business, money and ways to succeed (which never include God) and disdain any person who believes in some invisible being who exists outside of what we can see with our eyes.
Holy marriages are set apart from those marriages of which the culture approves.
Holy marriages may not be soulmates but they recognize their vow to love each other despite that. Holy marriages may not be best friends but they try each day to like each other more. Holy marriages recognize their imperfections and stay together regardless…as they work on those imperfections together (or sometimes alone). Holy marriages stick it out and refuse divorce no matter how difficult it is to live with their spouse’s addiction, adultery or unkind words. They always work to be more like Christ while simultaneously working to change those things. Holy marriages recognize that the husband has strengths that may never rival those of his wife’s in caring for and nurturing the children but accept that he is often better suited for the provision and protection of his family. Holy marriages recognize that God created an order and try not to disorder their roles by allowing the women to take charge over and often emasculate their men. Holy marriages recognize that God is the head of the man, the man the head of his wife and the wife over her children—not the other way around. Holy marriages are different than the world’s and thus, set apart.
So, as you can see, if you want to have a holy marriage it may not be easy. It will likely bring with it its own set of difficulties as those whose priority it is to “fit in” with the culture will often disdain, insult and laugh at you for trying to be “set apart.” But that’s ok. Jesus disdained, insulted and laughed at too.
I often felt it was crazy for us to be commanded in the bible to “be holy for your Father in heaven is holy” as who can ever be like God?! But once I realized that God was telling us, rather, to work towards holiness by setting ourselves apart from the culture, it made more sense and I found the task much more pursuable.
So that’s your task now, too. Are you set apart from the culture or are you trying too hard to fit in and be a part of the culture? I know it’s hard to do. We’re sheep living in a wolf’s den. We are constantly going to be at odds with the culture in which we live but we are called to at least try. So, in your marriage, consider what everyone else is doing and set yourselves apart from that. Do what Christ would have you do and don’t follow the masses. Nearly forty percent of marriages in America fail these days. Set your marriage apart and fight for it instead. Don’t give up when the going gets tough or seemingly impossible. Our God is a god of the impossible and He would never command you to do the impossible if it weren’t possible through Him. He wants to be a part of your marriage. He wants to make it holy. Allow Him to do so.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, do what He would do and holiness will soon follow. Our Lord has set you apart for such a task as this.