It is naivé however to think that marriage is a completely private affair. People are watching when you leave your house. If you publicly call yourself “Christian” then they are watching more intently. Critics of the church love to point to religious folks who stumble and say “See? They’re no better than the rest of us,” in essence declaring “God makes no difference.” In a society that is saying that marriage is an outdated institution, quaint at best and pointless at worst, it is our job as Christians to be an advertisement for God’s ideas of what it is supposed to be.
Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding. There are constant metaphorical references to Christ as the bridegroom with the church as his bride. Wedding imagery is used extensively in Revelations to describe the reconciling of God to his creation. Marriage is meant to be a glimpse of God’s plan for the salvation of us all. Done right, it can be a ray of hope in a fallen world that God loves us, and wants us to be in relationship with him forever. I make this point not to put pressure on those of us who struggle - none of us is perfect, and we all have our problems. I make this point to remind us that we are part of something much bigger than us, and our marriages are not just for our benefit. They can be an inspiration to others, whom we may not even realize are watching.
Listen to comedians, watch a sit com... the media says that marriage is a chore, a dead end, spiritually numbing and usually doomed to failure. Does your marriage reinforce that worldview - or refute it? The Bible is the template of what God wants for all marriages. Deuteronomy 24:5 says that men should “be at home to bring happiness to the wife he married.” Guys, are you doing that? Proverbs 14:1 says “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Ladies, are your efforts constructive or destructive?
A friend of mine said this: “Your walk must be so loud that people can’t hear what you are saying.” Louder then words, your actions are what other people notice - so what message is your marriage sending? The Bishop of London gave a homily on marriage recently. In it he said “The more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves... In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.” To truly become one flesh (Matthew 19:6) each spouse must die to themselves and put the other first in their hearts in order for the union to flourish and be what God desires. The joy this type of marriage exudes is noticeable, inspirational and hopefully contagious. Is your marriage sending God’s message to those around you? If not, then what do you need to change, to do differently? As Christians, how we live our lives can - and should - be our loudest testimony to the value of having God at the center of all we do.