My husband and I would never have been friends if we had met in high school.
I was a rule-follower, he was a rule-breaker. I was obedient, compliant, and rarely got in trouble. Joe never did any homework. He mouthed off to the teachers, ran with the rough crowd, had piercings, and was well known by the police. I grew up in a Christian home and my father was a pastor. I loved going to youth group, had great Christians friends, and only attended Christian schools. Joe never went to church and hated Christianity. A life expectancy test he took in high school showed that he would only make it to about 27 years old. Joe, with his long hair and his black leather, was all heavy metal while my life consisted of pastels and Amy Grant.
But God’s plan transcends anything man can imagine. While Joe and I grew up in radically opposite ways, we are now the same in the most crucial ways. Both of us were given new life that overcomes the differences of our past, and the ongoing differences between us today.
In many ways Joe and I are still pretty different. He likes dark movies and books, I like lighter, happier stories. He likes heavy metal and jazz, I like pop music. He is bold and direct, I am more quiet and reserved. And yet, we have been blessed (and have worked to maintain) a happy and strong unity in our marriage.
This unity, and a unity much greater than we experience, is offered to all Christian couples. You can experience unity in your Christian marriage as well because:
1. You are needy sinners
I am far from perfect and so is my husband. Though we are both forgiven and saved, we mess up quite a bit. Husbands and wives are both worthy of condemnation, and in desperate need of grace. Regardless of our backgrounds, apart from Jesus we are all lost. There is no room for finger pointing. Instead there needs to be grace, encouragement, and pointing each other to Christ.
2. You are in Christ
Neither of you bring anything to the table that Jesus has set. Christ brings it all, the bread of life and the wine of forgiveness. As Christians we are not simply religious adherents, but people united to Jesus Christ. We derive our life and identity from him. And because you and your husband are in Christ you share the most important reality in all creation. You have access to the power of Christ so that, despite your different upbringings, you can grow in love, unity, and friendship.
3. You are new creatures
As Christians you no longer live in the kingdom of darkness. You are no longer shackled to sin, and you are no longer slaves. In Jesus Christ you both are new creatures, born again by the Spirit of God. You have new hearts and a desire to grow in holiness and love. You will have the desire to please God and to serve each other in your marriage roles. It is a work that God is still completing in all of us, this work of sanctification. We get to play a role as well but it is hard work, fighting the temptations of the world, our fickle hearts and the attacks of the devil. This is why as new creatures we need to be cheering on our husbands, encouraging them, in their becoming.
“Within this Christian vision for marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!'”
– Timothy Keller (The Meaning of Marriage)
4. You are friends in Jesus
Can a husband and wife really be friends? What would make it possible? Shared interests like working out or reading books? Music? Movies? Sports? These things are great to share, but far more important than any of these to is recognize that you and your spouse are not only husband and wife, but are also friends and fellow family members of the household of God. You both are sharing the same journey that will extend long beyond this life. Tim Keller says that, “friendship is a deep oneness that develops when two people, speaking the truth in love to one another, journey together to the same horizon.” (Meaning of Marriage)
Here is where friendship in marriage becomes reality: we are following Jesus together, helping each other along the way, and enjoying God and his gifts together as we seek his Kingdom.
Visit Jen’s website: Adorned