Marriage is a Ministry-Part 1
A post about a protective stance towards marriage.
What if we began to see our marriages as ministries? Not as something to gain from only, but to have a servant's heart for kingdom impact. Marriage is designed to be the foundation of a family modeling the love of Christ inwardly and outwardly. Founded on unity in Christ, marriage becomes a ministry. I’ll explore the function of this ministry in 3 parts: protection, service, and submission.
Marriage is a holy covenant promise of unity between husband and wife, modeled after Christ and his bride, the Church ( Ephesians 5:21-32). Discontent, unfaithfulness, and selfishness lead to divorce because they are the bedrock of division ( Romans 16: 17-18). Since what is holy is hated by the enemy, divisive tactics are used to target and attack marriage.
If you have not previously recognized your marriage as something that needs protecting, consider this your public service announcement! The Bible says to expect a battle not with flesh and blood, but with an enemy in the spiritual realm that impacts our every day ( Ephesians 6:12). If you’re married, you can expect a spiritual attack of division to come against your union.
Therefore, desensitization to the Spirit impedes the health of our relationships and our ability to fight for them. Unawareness leads to a hyper-focus on individual will and ability to change things in the natural, forgetting the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit as a source to protect intimacy and unity in marriage.
Because followers of Christ are called to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, it follows that when we try fighting for our marriages in our strength and understanding, we fail ( Romans 8:5). As a result, exasperation, unresolved hurt, and conflict seed the ground for greater division. I challenge you to scrutinize division in marriage as not two people growing apart or not getting along, but the result of two people identifying the wrong enemy ( each other) as the target in their fight. Or, having identified the right enemy, showing up to battle spiritually with bows and arrows against an adversary advancing with tanks.
Consider how armies remain “ battle ready”— it’s through preparation and watchfulness. Soldiers don’t get ready when the battle comes, they live in expectation of the battle. The Ministry of Marriage requires this kind of diligence and attentiveness to be protected. Soldiers remain battle-ready, in part, through a regimen of patrol and training.
When we are on patrol in our marriage, we are aware of temptations, triggers, and the temperature in our relationship given that needs and seasons change. We’re called as Christians to be alert to the tactics and advances of the enemy ( 1 Peter 5: 8-10). It's easy to be influenced by ideas that seem to come from a good place, but they can be the beginnings of division taking root. You are on patrol for those ideas influencing your heart.
For example, strife, selfishness, lack of self-control, malice, and dishonesty are all issues that begin in our hearts ( Luke 6:45). The Holy Spirit wants us to guard our hearts because whatever comes from them is what we act upon (Proverbs 4:23). Awareness of what comes through you, and what comes through your spouse, helps you know the vulnerabilities of your relationship, and to respond in faith to reinforce those areas against strife and division ( Matthew 12:25). A patrolling posture is mindful that any participation ( words or behavior) that oppose the teachings of Christ can contribute to the breakdown of love and respect in a marriage over time. Effective patrol against the penetration of division involves an ongoing reflection and commitment to pursue and respond to your spouse in a life-giving manner ( Galatians 5:22-26).
Just as patrol is crucial to be alert for battle, training to win the battle is equally important. How does one train to protect their marriage? Through spending time sharpening the weapons of spiritual warfare! Specifically, time in prayer about your marriage, reading the Word on how God wants you to love, and worshipping God so that you stay focused on His will, which is always good, instead of your own ( Romans 8:28).
Similarly to how fitness training enables one to endure harder workouts, a strengthened wielding of spiritual weapons to protect your marriage works the same way. Tests and seasons of challenge apart from spiritual attacks will come, but training to be fit for the good fight of faith will help you stand ( 1 Timothy 6:12). Evidence of your training is reflected in the state of your marriage. For instance, a consistent response to conflict that weaponizes the use of silent treatment or wounding words reveals resentment traded between you and your spouse. Seeking to know God’s heart directs a righteous response to situations with your spouse and guards against attitudes/behaviors that erode marriage. Discipline is required, but the result is tactics of the enemy are less effective in taking root to divide your relationship ( 2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
In short, marriage is a good thing from God ( Proverbs 18:22). It is purposed to be a relationship that we enjoy and see God’s love abound through. Your marital ministry is a powerful one, as it pours into other relationships and serves as a witness of Christ’s love to folks who don’t yet know Him. With this in mind, a servant’s heart in cherishing this good gift helps reorient one’s posture to protect marriage for the glory of God.
Keep a lookout for part 2+3