In the past three days I have talked with five different couples whose marriages are on the brink of divorce. Some rather old. Some rather young. Some from past or ongoing affairs. Some because of finances. Some because of difficult circumstances. Vanessa and I are constantly amazed at the reality of friends, loved ones, Christians and non-Christians… whose marriages are so evidently under attack. And yes – I mean from the “spiritual forces of this world,” (Eph. 6:12). Sometimes marriage feels like work. Sometimes it feels like war. And if we could learn to identify the real enemy, we may be more adept at realizing that our marriages are worth fighting for. Not fighting each other. Not fighting circumstances. But fighting against the sinful flesh and the one who takes sadistic pleasure in ruining marriages – Satan himself.
But why? Why does Satan go through such great lengths to ruin marriage? What’s in it for him? I firmly believe there are two biblical reasons:
1. Marriage was the first institution created by God and it serves as the building block for all others in this world. When God joined Adam and Eve together in covenantal marriage, He set a huge precedent. “It is not good for man to be alone,” said the Creator of all things. We are created for community. We are created for togetherness. Symbiotism, as it is scientifically labeled among the creatures in the natural world. Mutual agreement. Mutual benefit. Mutual sacrifice. Mutual trust. “It is not good for man to be alone.” Marriage fills that earthly relational void. As an institution, marriage forms the most basic covenant between two individuals. Two people agreeing (“in the presence of God and these witnesses”) to work through difficulty and fight against selfishness for the benefit of each other and of the team. When one member of the team resorts to egotism, both members and the institution itself suffers. That truth is expanded upon and epitomized in large corporations, governments, athletic teams, and community organizations. That’s why we have an innate disdain for the one who is found to be a “mole,” or commits treachery or mutany on some level. “Back-stabber,” and “traitor,” are among the most loathsome name-tags one can possibly be socially forced to wear. Why? Because mutual sacrifice for the good of the team and the good of each other are ingrained within us. And this truth is most fundamentally exemplified in the bond of marriage. If the institution of marriage is reduced to selfish ambition, emphasizing the good of self over the good of the other and the team, the basic building block of human community is destroyed. And when the foundation crumbles, the structure is not far behind. The paint stays on the walls for a while… The decorations begin to appear uneven… Little cracks are exposed… Nails pop loose… and eventually, the whole structure collapses. This is the pattern of a society losing the significance and the importance of covenantal marriage. When marriages suffer, so does society.
2. If Satan can destroy a marriage, he has distorted the picture of Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:21-32 describes marriage as a picture of Christ and His church. When wives stop submitting to their husbands “in all things,” it paints the picture of a church which is more interested in its traditions and independence than in Christ’s headship. When husbands don’t sacrifice themselves (desires, physicality, emotions) for the benefit of their wives, it paints the picture of a Christ who is self-serving instead of others/church-serving. The church is to look at Christ for headship and authority. If it fails in that regard, it ceases to be a New Testament church. Christ proves His love in that “While we were yet in sin,” He died for us (Rom. 5:8). Jesus died for the sins of the whole world and His action of love was not conditional upon our acceptance of it. He died first. Then we are given the choice to respond. Husbands – no matter the willingness or unwillingness of the wife – are to sacrifice themselves for their bride. First. THEN, give her the chance to respond. We are to picture Christ in our marriages, husbands. And wives – if you cease to allow your husband his ordained headship in your home, it is so much more than a “21st Century egalitarian concept.” It is a distortion of the picture God has painted in marriage. Not a picture of a man and a woman – but a picture of Christ and His church. Satan hates Jesus. He hates Jesus’ church. And if he can work, plot, scheme, and trick to destroy the picture of Christ’s love for the church and the church’s submission to Christ, he’s had a great day. Every marriage he destroys is a picture of Christ’s love taken down off his walls and burned in fire.
Marriage is under attack. Let’s recognize the enemy, and come to it prepared for battle. Your marriage – whatever work, plot, scheme, or trick of Satan you are facing – is worth fighting for. Your husband is worth forgiving. Your wife is worth sacrificing yourself. Your marriage is worth fighting for. Don’t let Satan win. Stand. And fight. It will probably feel like work. It may be so difficult you can’t imagine anything worse. Your emotions may be roller-coasteresque. You will probably want to give up at some point. Don’t. Your marriage is worth the fight.
Grace and Peace,