Cultivating Marriage

Journal Entry // May 3, 2023

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (ESV)

Matthew 5:31–32

Jesus continues his discourse on helping us better understand and interpret the laws and commandments that have been given by God for our good and the good of others. Here Jesus interprets the common practice of the day (and today) of a simple divorce without parameters. Divorce was prevalent in these days as it is today. People then and now did/do not understand the importance of their marriage vows before God. They simply wanted to live a prideful self-righteous life and would send their spouse away if they were displeased. Even if the spouse had done nothing wrong in the marriage relationship, they could end up divorced because they no longer brought satisfaction or pleasure to their partner.

Jesus speaks into this by moving us to value and understand the commitment we have made in our marriage vows. This vow is not just a mere agreement to partner together in a business venture. This vow of marriage is made before God and is designed to be a picture of Christ and the church. How we treat our spouse says a lot about our relationship with Christ. If we are continually or repeatedly angry with our spouse, then we are most assuredly angry with God himself. If we are seeking sexual pleasure and fulfillment outside of the marriage, mentally or physically, then we are most assuredly seeking fulfillment in other things (idols) that are not Jesus. We are called to not only honor the marriage vow we have made, but we are called to nurture, grow, and develop our partner in love. We are to cultivate the love of Christ in each other.

Are there times when divorce is necessary? Yes, and Jesus speaks into that. Yet, I want to be more focused on the why of marriage and not the escape plan. The escape plan only becomes necessary when the marriage partners neglect the basic truth of their marriage. The truth that their marriage is not simply based on the two of them living together as partners, but that their marriage is a reflection and statement to the world about the loving goodness of Jesus Christ. My marriage demonstrates my commitment to Jesus by presenting a picture of my love for my wife on a daily basis. How I love my wife directly demonstrates how I love Jesus.

There is a lot to think and pray about in this area as I often do not love my wife as Christ loves the church. I want to love her as Jesus does, but I so often fail in my actions. I am self-centered and prideful. I sometimes want to live my life completely in my own mind. I become overly absorbed in what is happening to “me” and neglect her in various ways. Jesus is calling me to something greater. He is calling me to love my wife by putting her needs ahead of my own. He is calling me to lead by serving. He is calling me to a life of humility before him and before my wife.

What does this mean moving forward? It means that I need to put into practice all the great truths and understanding that the Lord is giving me. Putting into practice my faithful obedience to Christ by prioritizing my wife in marriage. When I learn some great truth from God’s Word about how to live and act before the world, I must first remember that this needs to be lived out in my marriage. It is easy to keep these spiritual truths theoretical or apply them only to certain situations, but Jesus wants me to apply these truths to the wife of my youth. Jesus wants me to understand that I am not just caring for myself, I am caring for my marriage (me and my wife). My marriage takes a lot of time and effort and intentionality. It takes prayer. It takes communication. It takes love for each other as we love Jesus together.

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