When I was a teenager, The Vogues came out with a song called “You’re the One” (1965). Feel free to pause and listen to it on YouTube. At the time, it was a notional song that had no personal impact on me. However, over the years, I had several romantic interests and eventually found the one for me.
By then, I had already been through several heartbreaks and a divorce. Unfortunately, this is a tragic reality in our culture, and as a church, we have been conflicted with dealing with biblical commands and modern social norms like divorce. There has been an unwillingness to show grace and forgiveness from some, but I want to assert that a Christian response includes a spirit of forgiveness and understanding. Galatians 6:1 encourages us to show gentleness and offer encouragement because all of us are subject to sin. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”
It is rare for anyone to be untouched by unfaithfulness and divorce. Feel free to correct me. However, I would be overjoyed to hear about anyone who went straight from childhood into marital bliss without any painful digressions. The truth is, we are all one bad decision away from choices that can affect and even destroy a relationship or marriage.
Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Similarly, Christ's love for his church should inspire and elevate the love of a husband for his wife. Marital bliss is the goal. When you listened to that song earlier, did you think of your spouse? Did you focus on what you love? Songs from the ‘60s were fairly demure, referencing hugs and kisses. Are you focusing on hugs and kisses with your spouse? If your spouse has passed on, do you recall the tender moments?
Have you given much thought to being the bride of Christ? (John 3:29). I am not my own. “I am thine, O Lord,” as Fannie Crosby’s old hymn says. This is the essence of the wedding vow. It is also the essence of the gospel confession. I have given up living for myself. I am committing myself to you, my Love! I am shedding my old life and putting on a new wardrobe of devotion and love. Together we will be much more than I am on my own.
This takes commitment. It takes banishing secular and cultural ideals on marriage and carefully studying the scriptural norm. We should also recognize that all of Paul’s teaching on marriage and family in Ephesians hinges on the admonishment in 6:18 to “be filled with the Spirit.” We are unable to fulfill this holy commitment without the Spirit of God living in us. The Spirit empowers us to live up to our obligations and commitments. There will be challenges and obstacles. Our enemies will try to trip us and trick us so that we will be a laughingstock. The world is no friend to the Christian. It seeks to discredit us, individually and as a church.
The plague of unfaithfulness and divorce is strengthening the enemy. But we can stand up for our principles and the reputation of the church. We can be faithful and committed, and outspoken about our faith. We can be open about our relationships, to Christ, and our wives and husbands. We can even be romantic about these things. So many of those songs we loved were written to remind us of the joy of our relationships, with our mates, and with our Savior.
O Lord, will you cause us to think of you more in very personal terms? You are majestic, but you are also our loving Father. You elevate us and make us worthy. Will you help us to represent you to others in an inviting way, a way that will make them want to share in our inheritance? Thank you, Lord! I know you will.