I don’t know about you guys but when we were growing up if you wanted to roast something over the fire you ran to your closet to grab something. Any ideas? You always tried to grab the ones that had no coating or that brown cardboard things for pants. You know what we are talking about….a coat hanger. The wire coat hanger is one of the most versatile tools in the home. It can be used to roast a marshmallow for a s’more or a hotdog. It can be used to unlock a locked car (at least it could when we were growing up). If you stretch panty hose over it you can make a cool art project as a kid. The options are endless.
Regardless of how we twist, bend, or cut it; the wire hanger is best when used for its created purpose: to hang clothes. When the hanger was created there was one purpose in mind, and no matter how many different ways we use it the defined purpose can only come from the one who created it.
Marriage is no different. We cannot determine the purpose for marriage, because we did not create it. Marriage is not something that man instituted, and while culture wants to help define what it is, culture did not create marriage. The same creator who created the heavens and the earth, humans and animals, everything we see; is the one who created marriage. God created marriage with one purpose in mind:
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:31-32
Marriage was created as a way for us as human beings to paint a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the church. Yes we get to enjoy it and it can be a whole lot of fun, but it is not about us. It’s about showing the gospel through our marriage.
Honestly y’all, this topic has been a hard one for me. Not because I struggle with this in my marriage to Hayes, but only because it has been hard for me to get my words out. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about purpose. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that everything we do has a purpose behind it. Everything. So many things we do during our day is just out of habit. We don’t even think about it. We just check it off the list that day. Brush teeth…check. Make lunches…check. Buckle our seat belts…check. But every single thing we do during our day has a purpose behind it. We brush our teeth so that we don’t get cavities. We make lunches so that our kiddos, or husbands, have something to eat at lunch. We buckle our seat belts in the car so that we stay safe. Our “things” get so mundane and become seemingly easy, daily tasks. We don’t think through the fact that we need to brush our teeth so we don’t get cavities. We just brush our teeth. So, if the mundane, seemingly easy, daily tasks have purpose then why in the world would we not think our marriages have a purpose? But, I think we all know they do. If we were to take a poll and ask people if marriage served a purpose I think they would all say yes. Maybe for personal happiness. Maybe for fulfillment or status. Maybe for pro-creation or just because that’s what society tells us to do. And to be transparent, twelve years ago when I walked down the aisle and promised myself to Hayes, the “purpose” behind why I was marrying Hayes was for some of the reasons I just mentioned. Because I loved him. Because I wanted to spend my life with him. Because I wanted to have a family with him. Personal happiness and fulfillment. Those were my purposes behind my marriage. But ladies, the Lord has taught me so much in the last twelve years. My marriage to Hayes is not about me or Hayes or our girls. It’s about the Lord. It’s about bringing Him glory. It’s about the Lord using both of us, together, to make His name known. And knowing that has changed my life. It’s changed my perspective.
Some of you, though, may have gone into your marriages knowing this already. Kuddos. I LOVE that about you. I hope and pray our daughters and their future husbands do. To have that perspective right from the start would have been amazing. Maybe some of you knew this going in, but life happened. And now this high calling has become one of those things I mentioned above. Just part of the mundane, daily life. A good marriage, healthy even. But not a marriage that is thought about though the lens of Jesus. Just something you do now. Like brushing your teeth. You have a healthy marriage just like you have healthy teeth. I’ve been there. I am there.
Friends, here is my challenge to myself and to you. Let’s be wives who are intentional. Intentional in praying for our marriages. Intentional about praying for eyes that are seeing our marriages through the lens of Jesus. The Lord created marriage for us to enjoy. I’m so thankful for that! But that’s not the sole reason. He created marriage for HIS glory. Let’s allow the Lord to use this wonderful gift of marriage to further His kingdom. Who’s in?
As men we understand purpose. We know that the purpose behind changing the oil in the car is so that the engine will last longer. We know that the reason we check the tire pressure is to make sure your tires last as long as possible, because no one enjoys buying tires (unless you get to buy big mud tires for a truck). As men we get purpose. But also as men we don’t like to take purpose and apply it to our lives. We have no problem understanding the purpose behind a starter on a vehicle or lawn mower, but when it comes to our purpose on this life we just don’t tend to think about it.
At least I didn’t. My purpose in life as I was growing up was to become the manliest man I could. When I looked at the men in my life, my dad and all the others, I had boiled being a man down to a bullet list of things to do:
- Provide for a family.
- Be able to change oil and a tire.
- Be able to disassemble and reassemble a carburetor.
- Be brave and courageous.
- Be willing to throw and take a punch.
- Drink beer and smoke cigarettes.
I thought if I could do these things I was a man and was fulfilling my purpose. But as I went through my adolescent years and began to experiment with some of these things I realized they were not fulfilling. They didn’t make me feel like a man. I acted like they did. As I went into college I indulged in even more “manly” things and acted like they were fulfilling but they weren’t.
When we got married, to be honest, I was doing it because I thought it was what we were supposed to do. I loved Elizabeth and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her but just like everything else in life that dealt with emotion I didn’t stop and contemplate the purpose behind marriage. I knew that biblically we were supposed to be married, and I knew that I wanted to experience all the adventure that came with marriage.
I remember when God wrecked my idea of marriage, it wasn’t that long ago. We had and still have a great marriage. God was at work in our lives and was using us to make disciples. In 2014 Francis and Lisa Chan published a book called “You and Me Forever,” and as soon as it came out a group my wife and I were in began reading it together. I remember so clearly when I read these sentences:
“Our marriages also play a significant role in His great plan. We are called to paint such an attractive picture of marriage that it causes people to long for the coming marriage with Jesus.”
I literally quit reading the book. This was too much for me. I wasn’t sure if I could do that. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to do that. I liked our life, we were doing ministry, we loved Jesus; but in that moment I think mine and Elizabeth’s bubble popped. We loved our marriage and our life but we were failing to pursue the marriage that God designed. After a year or so we read the book again and finished it and I believe this is when the Lord really put us in motion to have a serious passion for Godly marriage.
Men, marriage is not just something we do, it is one of our greatest tools we have to make disciples. It has the ultimate purpose, and if we will begin to pursue marriage through this lens then God will take a good marriage and make it great. That doesn’t mean that it will be great as we want to define it, but it will be great in our ultimate purpose to worship Jesus with our lives. The manliest men we can be is to be husbands who use our marriage for the gospel.
- Men, take your wife on a date. As you enjoy a nice dinner (not at Taco Bell) have an honest discussion about your expectations for the purpose of your marriage. What do you think lines up with scripture, what doesn’t? What can you do to make it reflect the gospel?
- If you have made your marriage an idol be honest and confess that. Write it in a journal, tell your accountability partner or pastor. Just get it out there and then repent. Pray and ask God to forgive you for worshiping your marriage more than Him.
- Pray. Set aside time each day to pray for your spouse. Set aside time each day to pray for your marriage with your spouse. Nothing of eternal significance (including our marriages) happens apart from prayer.
- If you would like to continue to grow in your marriage subscribe to our blog. This is not just so we can add followers, but rather so we can build a movement of marriages that reflect the gospel in order to see disciples of Jesus made around the globe. If you would like to subscribe via email simply scroll to the bottom of our blog and sign up.
- Recruit others to join. Talk to those in your small group at church, or your child’s traveling sports team and set up a weekly time to gather and get real about your marriage.