Ever wish you had the answers to a test before you walked into the classroom? Maybe some of you did have the answers, but you better keep that to yourself. If you spent time in college, you remember review days where the professor would give some insights about the impending test. Miss review day, and it would be foolish to expect a passing grade.
But it never failed. I would follow the guideline. I would study the handout. But when it came time, the professor would put the exam on my desk and there would be a foreign formula or equation I had never seen—or, at least, one I did not see on the study guide. Looking back, I realize the teacher did not intend for the study guide to be comprehensive. It was simply not possible to include everything from the required reading, class notes and lectures.
Such is the case with the Church and marriage. I am grateful for the foundation the Church gave me in regard to marriage. It was a good study guide. But there some things on the test I did not learn until marriage began. So I am going to give you some answers to the test that some of you might not expect to see. Here are a few truths about marriage I never heard in church:
1. Sex is a Gift From God. Explore It.
God created sex, but through the years, God’s people have allowed Satan to steal this gift—without much of a fight.
I was never educated about sex—and I grew up in a Christian family. My framework for sex was built by my friends at school and the movies I watched. Big uh oh. I still struggle with enjoying the fullness of sex today because of the cloud of lies formed during my teenage years.
It is time for God’s people to take back the gift of sex. The lies surrounding it are ruining lives and marriages. If you are married, explore the fullness of sex for the glory of God. Pray for sexual intimacy with your spouse.
2. There is More Than One Person Out There You Could Marry.
Soulmates are made, not born. Maintaining a healthy relationship is more about commitment than perfection. Every person on earth has imperfections. And the reality is there is more than one person we could spend our lives with.
Soulmates are made, not born. Maintaining a healthy relationship is more about commitment than perfection
I meet too many young people that are waiting for something that is not real. “I just couldn’t marry her because she smacked her food.” “He just wasn’t the one. But I know my soulmate is still out there. I just have to keep looking.”
What if God does not want you to find a perfect person, but find an imperfect person who will draw you closer to Him? What if God desires you to marry a person with flaws to expose yours? What if God wants to teach you the value and life found in committing to one person forever, not the exhausting pursuit of searching your entire life to find the perfect person?
3. The First Year of Marriage is Really Hard.
What have we done? Are we going to make it? Why is this so hard? These are all questions I asked myself many times during my first year of marriage.
We were arguing. We were fighting. It was really hard. And every day I thought something was wrong. Nobody warned me about the difficulty of the first year.
If you are in the first year of marriage and thinking about giving up, you’re not alone. Everyone struggles. Persevere. There are better days coming. Your marriage will get better. Stick with it.
4. A Spouse Does Not Complete You.
Jerry Maguire has brainwashed a generation of people to believe a lie. Spouses do not complete people. I bought this lie, and it wasn’t until I let go of any notion my wife could fill some void that I was able to truly love her. I had been expecting Tiffani to do something only God can do.
If you are empty, broken or insecure and you believe a spouse is the silver bullet to your problems, buckle up. It will be a bumpy ride. You will never be able to enjoy the beauty of marriage if you think your spouse’s job is to complete you.
5. Marry Someone With Similar Goals, Dreams and Passions.
Marry someone who is a Christian, yes. But I would go further—marry someone with similar passions and dreams. Of course, no two people are going to want exactly the same things in life. But some things are harder to work through than others. For example, if you love foreign missions and your potential spouse hates going overseas, tension is going to arise.
If your spouse has similar passions, they will be able to understand your struggles and fully support your pursuits. There is much power in two people living life with the same goals, dreams and passions for life.
6. Marriage is Not for Everybody.
Paul talks about this in Corinthians. He tells the church at Corinth to remain in the situation they are in. If unmarried, then stay unmarried. If married, then stay married. Later, he says, “So then the person who marries his fiancee does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better” (1 Corinthians 7:38).
Maybe it is time for God’s people to accept the reality that God has not called everyone to marry. I have talked with young men and women that are almost consumed with finding a spouse. And most of the pressure comes from church. Once a person reaches mid-twenties, we assume something is wrong with them if they have not married.
Marriage is holy and good, but it is also possible to follow Jesus without a spouse.
Shame on us. Marriage is holy and good, but it is also possible to follow Jesus without a spouse.
7. Marriage is Not About You.
I love weddings. But in an increasingly individualistic, “me” culture, weddings create a potentially dangerous situation. It is all about the bride and groom. Everyone looks at them. Encourages them. Congratulates them.
Many couples have bought the lie of the wedding day: It is all about me. But marriage is at odds with this mindset. A successful wedding day is one where everyone serves you. A successful marriage is one where you serve your spouse. The wedding day is a day where the spotlight is on you. Marriage has no spotlight. The wedding day is joyous and celebratory. Many seasons of marriage are about persevering and not letting go through the storms.
Embrace your wedding day. Prepare for it. Celebrate it. But do not make the mistake of believing the lie that it’s all about you. After your 20 minutes of fame, the spotlight is gone forever. It is no longer about you (and this is a good thing, you will see).