Almost twenty years ago I married my best friend. We were young and in love, thinking we would complete each other, and live happily ever after. Reality quickly set in as we realized how different we are in some ways, but exactly alike in our stubbornness and strong will.
It was ten rough years of marriage before we surrendered to Christ and His will for our life. That’s when Jesus began to sanctify us individually and as a couple. We had faithful men and women who invested biblical principles into our lives, who modeled godliness for us, and prayed diligently for us. As we learned and applied the reason for marriage, our roles, and the result of a biblical marriage, our marriage was transformed.
Lots of people go into marriage like we did with high expectations of perfect wedded bliss all of our days. They look to their spouse to meet their needs and end up sucking the life out of each other. That’s why it’s important to know what the Bible says about marriage before going into it.
Couples need to know that their spouse is human and will fail them at some point in time. They’re not perfect, only Jesus is, and He is the only One who will never leave them or let them down.
My husband is a pastor now and we both enjoy investing truth into couples who are preparing to enter into a marriage covenant. Together we teach these 3 Basics for a Biblical Marriage: The reason, the roles, and the result.
Marriage was ordained by God to put the gospel on display, bring Him glory, and reproduce worshipers. Not to make you happy.
Having a biblical marriage that accomplishes God’s purpose takes work. It requires:
- unconditional love
Draw strength and grace from the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from Him we can do nothing(John 15:5), but with Him we can do all things! (Phil.4:13)
Without regular time in the word and in prayer they won’t be Spirit-filled and able to respond to the circumstances of life in a way that glorifies God and unites them. In the flesh dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18), and when the flesh is ruling there will be anger, pride, contention, drama, and division.
~Proverbs 13:10~ Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
An important thing to remember in marriage is to leave and cleave.(Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7) The husband and wife become one flesh. Two separate lives are molded together forever.
Neither spouse should tattle on the other to their parents or friends. They should pray through the difficulties and differences of opinion. Get the Lord’s mind on it in the word, and communicate with each other calmly and with humility.
To have a biblical marriage that puts the gospel on display and glorifies God, both spouses will need to know and live out their biblical role. These are found in Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-20, and Genesis 2:15-25. The couple needs to realize that they have a mission to accomplish together, and a picture to display for the lost world.
My favorite example of a married couple accomplishing the mission of God is Priscilla and Aquila. They worked together to fund the mission of God by being tent makers, joined in the ministry of the gospel by helping Paul in Ephesus, and witnessing to Apollos. Aquila and Priscilla worked, worshiped, and witnessed together.
Throughout scripture we can see that a biblical marriage has a specific chain of command. The husband is to be the leader of the home. He is the protector and provider of the family. His responsibility is to shepherd his family.
To be a good shepherd he will need to learn from the Good Shepherd himself. (John 10:7-16) The Good Shepherd loves His sheep. The sheep know and listen to His voice, and follow His lead. He is so protective that He risks His life for His sheep. His eyes are always on them. He knows when to apply the rod, and when to draw them in with His staff.
That loving care that Jesus shows to us is the way the husband is to lead his family. Patiently, carefully, humbly, and protectively, he shepherds his family as he looks to the Lord for direction. The family is to follow him as he follows Christ. As the leader of the home, he should be intentionally pointing them to obedience to the Lord and His word:
- Attending a bible-believing and teaching church
- Serving in ministry
- Sanctified from the world
- Growing in grace and the knowledge of the Lord
- Glorifying God
The husband’s responsibility to his wife is not just to lead her closer to Christ, but also to love her like Christ loves the Church. (Ephesians 5:25) That’s a sacrificial, unconditional, selfless, eternal love. A love that seeks nothing in return. It’s agape love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
The closer the husband is to Christ, the more he will look like Him, serve like Him, and love like Him.
The wife is given to the husband by God to be a help-meet. This is a helper. She is to be by his side as his partner in ministry, serving him and supporting him, with reverence and love.
As the husband leads the home she follows. This doesn’t mean she’s not as important as the husband or that she has to be a doormat. But there is a clear structure of authority in the Bible, and distinct roles.
She is instructed by God to submit to her husband. (Ephesians 5:22, 24, Colossians 3:18, 1Peter 3:1) This means to keep rank. To put herself underneath his authority, for her safety, and in order to help him accomplish the mission God has given him.
With two heads of the home there is confusion, chaos, and contention. But when the wife lets the husband be the head he is instructed to be, and she operates as his neck, the body of their family can function in the proper way, and represent a biblical marriage.
Pride and selfishness keep wives from being humble help-meets under headship. Their own will wins out over the Spirit’s prompting to be a humble, obedient, servant like Jesus. They rebel against his delegated authority and the word of God. Her sin of rebellion will be chastised, and repentance is the only way to restoration of fellowship with Christ and her spouse.
The more time the wife spends in the word and in prayer for her heart, her husband, and her home, the more humble she will be. Consistent time with Jesus is absolutely necessary for a wife to reflect the love of Christ and fulfill her role and responsibilities with joy.
The wife also needs to cultivate a close friendship with her husband. He should be able to confide in her, and count on wise counsel from her, without condemnation or contention. (Proverbs 21:9, 19, Proverbs 25:24, Proverbs 27:15) They should be best friends who are loyal and love each other fervently. (1Peter 1:22)
It’s an absolute delight to see couples embrace their God-given roles and seek to glorify God with their marriage!
When both spouses commit to obedience to their biblical roles and draw near to the Lord, their marriage will be a beautiful example of Christ and the Church. Husband and wife will operate as one flesh, with one mind, and one goal. And God will get the glory He deserves.
Our marriage isn’t perfect and never will be. But it’s a million times better than it was because we’re applying the 3 basics for a biblical marriage. What was once upside down and ugly has been remade into a God honoring union dominated by love, joy, and peace.
May God be glorified in our marriage for another twenty years or more!
♥For more on biblical marriage♥
The Bridegroom Beckons His Bride
“I’m a Fool!” Wisdom from Proverbs
♥Ephesians 5:33♥ Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.