Jesus showed us that love means giving one's life for others rather than taking life, becoming the lowest and humblest rather than the most powerful. Love makes us free. A person who wants to dominate others and have power over them has a tormented soul, whereas a person who is burning with love has a joyful soul. We wish for our couples that love might rule their life, and that service to one another might come before service to oneself. But more than this, we wish that they might be dedicated to the great cause of God, and that their love to him might come before everything else - even before their marriage. [page 169]
From a letter: The attraction to the opposite sex is natural, but it is not sufficient ground by far on which to marry or found a family. It is quite natural that when a man loves a woman, he wants to know if she is the "right" one. There is only one answer to this question: both must feel that a marital relationship will lead them nearer to Jesus.
I can well imagine - in actual fact, I know it for sure - that the right choice for a spouse is not the one who is most attractive erotically, but the one whose companionship will lead both partners closer to Jesus. If marriage is based only on physical attraction, it will go to pieces easily. [p 170]
From a letter: If you are thinking of binding another soul to your life through marriage, learn to love, learn to be open-hearted, and learn to consider the other person first. [p 171]
Jesus takes the bond of marriage so seriously that he calls even a lustful glance "adultery in the heart" (Mat 5:28). He speaks so sharply about this because he wants to protect the wonderful and holy gift of unity between two people.
In a true marriage a man and a woman become one first of all in spirit. This means that they are one in faith, one in their experience of God, and united in the purity of the church.
Second, marriage means that a man and a woman are one in soul…. There is a special love between these two, and a special joy when they are near to one another. Because they love one another quite specifically, they are faithful to one another and keep their relationship pure.
Third, marriage means that a couple becomes one flesh through the act of physical union… The blessing of God is on any couple - young or old - who experiences unity in the right order: first unity of one spirit, then oneness of heart and soul, and then physical union. [p.172]
In the deepest sense, marriage leads to community. As God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). Out of one being he made two–man and woman–and in marriage these two become one again.
A marriage will last only if both partners have humble and open hearts. Jealousy and self-importance will always try to enter their relationship and separate them, but love will overcome, because it is “neither arrogant nor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor13:4-6). This also means that love forgives. When you are married, you find out day by day that your partner is not perfect. But if you can forgive your spouse, every day will be a new beginning, and every day will contain new joy. “Love bears all things, hopes and believes all things” (1 Cor 13:7). Nothing is too heavy to carry if there is love. Even if a difficult situation confronts you as a couple, love will hold you firm with hope and faith, for it endures all things. [p.174]
Our main calling is to follow Jesus, whatever the cost. If we are given the gift of a partner, it should double our dedication to Jesus, not weaken it. Marriage should lead us closer to Jesus.
We pray that those who enter marriage may allow nothing to separate them from the love of God, whatever may happen; for his love is always there to hold each of them and both of them together through need and suffering as well as through times of joy.
The bond of marriage is a promise to be faithful through thick and thin, through good days and hard days, and to be completely dependent on the love of God for the whole of life. [p.175]
Excerpted from Discipleship, a free ebook.