When Marriage Becomes Idolatry . . .

21 Sep

“And the prince and the princess entered the castle together as husband and wife and lived happily ever after, surrounded by their moat and their seven wonderful children . . .”

Isn’t that how the fairy tale ending usually plays out?  

Or, of more relevance to those of us raised on the beautiful love stories of the golden age of Hollywood, isn’t that how the movie usually ends?  Except the prince and the princess are usually commoners in the movies . . .

Regardless of the social status of the central characters, both fairy tales and Hollywood’s best movies convey the same idea– that marriage is a state in which two people spend the rest of their lives gazing into each other’s eyes, oblivious to the rest of the world out there, except for those gorgeous children who come along to complete the couple’s family circle.  

And this idea is one that I have long sought to balance in the thinking of the younger women with whom I have been privileged to have a friendship.  

It is a short step from loving someone with all my heart to idolatry.  And it is a short step from love to obsession, if love is anchored by Hollywood’s standards instead of by the Word of God.

God gave us the Great Commission to reach a hurting world for Christ.  That alone should tell us that we Christians were not created to spend a lifetime gazing into someone’s eyes.  There are times that is lovely and appropriate, but not an entire lifetime.  And it hurts my heart when I see younger girlfriends who seem to judge the health of their marriages by whether their spouses make them the center of their lives.  

Ummm, it’s Christ who is supposed to be the center of our lives as Christians, both as Christian men and as Christian women.  When we derail that truth, we go over the line into idolatry.  Or worse, into obsession with another human being, making him the center of our life and trying to force him to make us the center of his life.  

Not healthy.  Not tenable.  Life won’t work that way for long.  It isn’t meant to work that way.

I once heard the definition that a healthy Christian marriage is not two people gazing at each other, but two people, shoulder to shoulder, gazing outward at the world and the place in it where God has called them to serve together. 

Yet I still hear of situations where wives (most commonly wives, although husbands probably do this, too, and I just don’t hear about it as much) have absolute meltdowns over the fact that their husbands don’t do everything with them when not at work.  For those who work together, say in the ministry or in a family run business, the wife can end up totally doubting her husband’s love if he is not at her side 24/7.  

That may have worked in Eden before the Fall but it is not the way marriages work today.  If we put a stranglehold on a relationship we, umm, strangle the life and joy out of that relationship.  

The answer for a wife demanding that her husband put her at the center of his life is not more time and attention.  She needs to be drawn to the Word of God and challenged to put the Lord at the center of her life, as her husband needs to do. God has given us sufficient grace to live in relationship to Him and in relationship to each other without getting out of balance and into idolatry.  

He has a plan for each of our lives and that plan continues even if our spouse should die.  

The primary relationship is with Him, now and forevermore.  We need to be looking at Him,  as first in our lives, to stay on track with what He has called us to do.  

It is in that primary relationship that we find the reason He created us.  Our marriage is part of that reason, but it is not, nor will it ever be, the central reason of our existence.  In marriage, we help each other fulfill God’s plan for us as individuals, and as a team.  

And that is a very great grace.      

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