My wife and I recently celebrated thirty years of marriage. It is amazing how quickly the years have flown by! My wife was born in Swaziland and raised in South Africa. She was born at a remote mission clinic. She weighed slightly over four pounds. The doctor told her parents, “You might as well take her home. She will either live or die.” Thankfully, she lived!
The first time I met my wife in South Carolina I knew I was going to marry her. We started dating, got engaged and the rest is history.
Marriage is not a social construct. Marriage did not originate from the culture. Marriage did not come from our own minds. God designed marriage. Marriage is God’s gift to us. God made Adam on the sixth day of creation. It was not good for man to be alone. God brought all the animals to Adam. Not one of the animals could meet his needs. The Lord took a bone from Adam’s side and made Eve. Any attack upon marriage is a direct attack upon God.
Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships. Marriage is also to be the most permanent of all human relationships.
God designed marriage to illustrate the gospel. Ephesians 5 contains great teaching on marriage. In Ephesians 5:32 the apostle Paul concludes, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” The gospel is the best news! We can be reconciled to God through the death of His Son. Jesus came to die for our sins. When we put our faith and trust in Christ’s finished work, we become part of the church. We become God’s children.
In marriage a husband is to play the role of the Lord Jesus. Jesus sacrificed for us. He laid down His life for us. A husband is to sacrifice for his wife. Jesus has a nourishing love for His people. He is the Shepherd Who provides for His people. Jesus cherishes His people. He is tender and compassionate. A husband is to illustrate the love of Christ.
A wife is to follow her husband as the church follows Christ. A wife is to follow her husband as he lovingly leads and cares for her.
Marriage is not easy. Two sinful people living together will produce sparks! I believe there are two keys to a great marriage. Both keys are found in the Book of Ephesians. The first key is to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 says, “Speak the truth in love.” Opposites often attract in marriage but then they have to live together! One person will often naturally speak the truth. Like a volcano they say what is on their minds. If they are upset everyone will know. The other person is often like a clam. They force their marriage partner to guess what they are thinking. The Bible commands us to speak the truth in love.
The context of Ephesians 4:15 is being immersed in God’s Word. As we understand the truth we are to speak the truth in love. Don’t be a volcano. Don’t be a clam. Be a person who clearly speaks the truth. Clear communication is critically important in marriage. Speak in a calm, loving manner!
A second key to a great marriage is forgiveness. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Forgiveness is critically important in any relationship. We will offend one another- especially in marriage. Forgiveness is the key to a great marriage. We can disagree but we must forgive each other before the sun goes down.
Forgiveness is so important one book in the Bible is devoted to forgiveness. The Book of Philemon is only one chapter but it is very influential. Philemon was a wealthy businessman who owned a slave named Onesimus. Onesimus stole money from Philemon, ran away and ended up in Rome. There he met the apostle Paul and became a Christian. Paul instructed Onesimus to return home and serve his master. The penalty for a runaway slave was death in the Roman Empire.
Paul asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus. Paul asked Philemon to receive Onesimus “not as a slave but as a beloved brother” (verse 16). A church met in Philemon’s home. Imagine the powerful picture of God’s grace as Philemon and Onesimus worshiped together as brothers in Christ.
My wife is a forgiving person. We spent our anniversary weekend dipnetting in Chitina. The weather was beautiful. The salmon were running. We limited out- 65 fish. My wife and I and our two youngest children camped. We shared a tent and, yes, my fourteen year old son and myself were covered in salmon slime! She is a very forgiving person.
Before we moved to Alaska I prayed, “Lord, I’ll go anywhere but I’d like to go north and west.” God answered that prayer by sending us to Alaska! My wife prayed, “Lord, I’ll go anywhere but I’d like to be near an ocean.” She forgot to pray for a warm ocean!
When the weather is cold we enjoy going to Death Valley. Furnace Creek is a lush oasis surrounded by the vast and arid desert of Death Valley National Park. A natural spring provides millions of gallons of water. There is a beautiful pool fed by a hot spring. We enjoy hiking and then swimming later in the day. This winter we plan to travel to Death Valley, swim in the pool, celebrate our marriage and reflect on God’s goodness in providing thirty years of marriage.
Ethan Hansen is a pastor at Faith Bible Fellowship in Big Lake.