Marriage today may be in trouble. Only half of Americans are married now, compared with 72% in 1960. For the first time in American history, more adults live outside the bounds of traditional marriage. Along with these facts, the number of adults cohabiting is on the rise, up 29% since 2007. Feelings about marriage may be changing in culture, but Christian marriage seems to be holding strong.
Research shows that couples who share their faith are less likely to get divorced. Catholic couples were 31% less likely to divorce; Protestant couples 35% less likely. In her research on Christian marriages, Shaunti Feldhahn found 53% of Very Happy Couples agree with the statement, “God is at the center of our marriage” (compared to 7% of Struggling Couples). Also, 30% of Struggling Couples disagree with the statement, “God is at the center of our marriage.”
WHAT TO EXPECT
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
Christian marriage is defined by two individuals committed to prioritizing faith in marriage. Two individuals may consider themselves Christian, but it is only when their faith takes priority in their lives that they experience the positive effects of a Christian marriage.
For example, a couple might conclude that physical health is important to them. But, if they eat out fast food every night and never exercise, their behaviors would contradict the values they profess. A married couple would only receive the benefits of being a physically healthy family once they prioritize physical health in their daily behaviors.
The good news is the Bible has a lot to say for those couples interested in creating a Christian marriage. Couples don’t have to wonder how to create a healthy marriage built on Christian values.
The Bible and Marriage
The Bible speaks about marriage, along with establishing healthy rules for communication in general.
Marriage is Holy
Marriage was created and ordained by God since the creation of the world. It’s a special relationship he established between two people.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ ” (Genesis 1:27-28).
“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” (Gen. 2:22-24).
Kind communication applies to every relationship, especially marriage for Christians.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18).
“Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise” (Prov. 13:10).
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions” (Prov. 18:2).
Sex is a Source of Joy in Marriage
Sex was also created by God for for pleasure and procreation. It is the most intimate act of love two individuals can have and it was given as a gift to married couples.
“I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,let us spend the night in the villages” (Song of Songs 7:10-11).
“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” (Prov. 5:18-19).
Love and Submission
True Christian love puts the needs of another before their own. Love does not demands its own needs, but works to meet the needs of the other person.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21) (speaking to wives and husbands).
“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” (1 Cor. 13:4-5).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
Christian marriage can create happily married couples. This doesn’t mean marriage will never be difficult, as every marriage suffers setbacks and disappointments from time to time. But, when two individuals prioritize their relationship with God, while striving to serve their partner, they will continue to grow in genuine love through the years.