This past weekend the Grover household passed two major milestones. First, Luke, our youngest, married a beautiful, Christ-centered, young woman named Analise Ho. Second, Luke graduated from the IU Police Academy in Bloomington.
I told Luke that when he took his oath as a police officer, those words were extremely important and should guide his heart and actions for a lifetime of public service. But when he took his oath in the form of his wedding vow, those words even more so should guide his heart and actions for a lifetime of Christian service in and through his marriage.
In our culture, we have made marriage about the personal expression of love and fulfillment between a man and a woman. Although it includes that, marriage means so much more. Marriage is not just about two people. Marriage is about the extension of God’s grace and truth through the family to the world.
When two people “fall in love,” and the relationship deepens, they may talk of marriage as the next big step to find happiness in a world filled with a lot of pain. But, as we all know, marriage is not a contract that, once fulfilled, flips the “happy switch” in our lives. If we reduce marriage to personal fulfillment, we will neither find fulfillment nor the steady flow of happiness, which the Bible calls joy. We’re looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and are always left wanting.
When we accept that marriage is the joining of two lives as one, and that marriage is the quintessential relationship of serving the other and putting his or her interests above our own, we will discover the bedrock of joy and get fulfillment thrown in as well.
In other words, Christian marriages should bear witness to the ultimate union between Jesus and His Bride, the Church. Children become an extension of the ongoing delight God has for creation, “pro-creation.” New life, a small fellowship of the redeemed called “family,” all flowing from the oneness of a husband and wife. These are signposts of the greater reality of conversion and the church all flowing from the oneness of the Godhead and the union of the Lamb and His Bride.
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).
If I were writing this directly to Luke and Analise (and maybe in some way I am), I would tell them this: If you make your marriage about you, you will implode in the pursuit of self, for then you are merely using marriage as a means to your own selfish ends. But if you make marriage about Jesus and His mission in the world, you will thrive in the pursuit of the other, for then you are using marriage as a means to glorify God and bear witness to the Gospel.
What if God’s purpose for your marriage is not to make you happy but to make you holy? The deeper, nobler purpose of holiness will bring a lifetime of contentment even in moments of discontent.
As C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Aim at heaven, and you will get earth `thrown in’; aim at earth, and you will get neither.” Likewise, aim at the nobility of marriage, and you will get fulfillment thrown in; aim at personal fulfillment in marriage, and you will get neither.