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Mission of Marriage: Holiness, Not Happiness


Gary Thomas’ famous line from his book Sacred Marriage says, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

 

We are steeped in a culture that is all about our happiness. Happiness is good. God is honored through our enjoyment of his creation. But our lives are not about our happiness. We were not created to pursue happiness as the ultimate thing. Happiness as our life goal is an idol.

 

We were created to glorify God and make disciples. The Bible calls us to die to ourselves, not to glorify ourselves. A life focused on happiness is centered primarily on self-satisfaction, not on glorifying God.

 

Our goal in life is holiness, not happiness. We should carry this philosophy into our marriages.

 

Holiness, Not Happiness

 

I think so many marriage problems stem from having the wrong focus. We are focused on getting along, on being happy, and on enjoying our marriage. All of these things are great. Many marriages will even need to spend a period of time with these as their focus in order to reunify and re-center on the mission. But when these become the main focus and goal for the entire marriage, dissatisfaction is bound to follow.

 

When studying the scriptures, we find that everything about our lives exists to both glorify God and to become holy. The idea that marriage would be about becoming holy and glorifying God aligns with what we find in scripture about that.

 

“…It is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16

 

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38

 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20

 

We should be holy, and we should teach others to do the same. Our marriages exist for the same purpose.

 

Picture of a Great Marriage

 

Francis Chan, in his book You and Me Forever, says he is focused on how his wife will appear before God one day, instead of earthly concerns. He says that his mission of leading her towards holiness helps him keep his focus on his mission of holiness before happiness.

 

I love his example, because it shows us what the truly important things in life are–and they’re not what most of us default to.

 

Just as in every other area of our lives, if we make our happiness our mission, we will be unhappy. Our culture tells us that if we don’t focus on our happiness, we will be unhappy. But the Bible tells us that happiness is found in loving and serving Christ, and he tells us that comes with self denial and sacrifice–hardly things that make up our culture’s definition of happiness.

 

A great marriage is made up of self-denial, sacrifice, and putting others before ourselves. All of these things–self denial, sacrifice, and putting others before ourselves– start not in marriage, but in everyday life. If they are our focus in all of life, it will carry over into marriage.

 

What else makes up a great marriage, a marriage that is “holy?”

 

Empathy, assuming the best in each other, showing each other grace, and remembering each others’ weaknesses.

 

How do we encourage each other towards holiness?

 

Loving each other. Respecting each other.

 

Serving each other. Humble confession. Forgiveness.

 

Coming together and professing an orthodox theology that you commit to live out. Committing to being a part of a community of believers.

 

Seeing minor arguments as of little importance in light of the mission God has given us: to glorify him, become holy, and lead others to do the same.

 

Remember your mission. Don’t get distracted by what the world tells you.

 

We find happiness by focusing on holiness.

 

Nothing unifies like a shared mission.

 

To learn more about this, read Gary Thomas’ Sacred Marriage and Francis Chan’s You and Me Forever.

 

Wife Step: Spend time thinking about how you can refocus your marriage on holiness, and how you can encourage your spouse towards holiness.

Meagan Elling is a wife of 7 years to Reed, mama to two little girls, writer, and house renovator. She is a SAHM {I’ll let you decide if you want this spelled out or not} in Duluth, MN with a writing degree she thought would go to waste. She is passionate about encouraging women, ministry, traveling, reading 5 books at once, and Texas Roadhouse bread. Meagan writes at www.meaganelling.com and on Instagram @meaganelling.

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