Sermon: What Makes a Marriage Christian
Scripture: Matthew 5:27-30
In this week’s lessons, we see that marriage is established by God, and serves to illustrate the relationship of Christ with His Church.
Theme: Soul with Soul
A better marriage than one only based on body with body is a marriage that is also a union of soul with soul, in addition to being a union of body with body. The word “soul” is a word that had almost passed out of use in the English language until the blacks of our day revived it. It is a good word, and we would have been poorer for its loss. It refers to the intellectual and emotional side of a person’s nature, involving all of the characteristics that we associate with the functioning of the mind. Hence, a marriage that involves a union of souls is a marriage in which a couple shares an interest in the same things—the same books, the same shows, the same friends—and seeks to establish a meeting of the minds (as it were) both intellectually and emotionally. Such marriages will always last longer.
I believe that at this point a special word must be said to Christians who are married. For whenever a minister speaks like this to Christians, many are already racing ahead of him to point three and are concluding that because their marriages are ones of spirit with spirit, therefore they do not need to worry very much about a union of their minds or souls. This is not right. Not only do we need to worry about it at times, we also need to work toward it. For an emotional and intellectual union does not in itself come naturally.
What does a girl have in her mind when she marries a young man? What is her vision of this new husband? Well, it has something to do with her father and whether she liked him or rebelled against him. It has a little bit of Cary Grant mixed up in it, and perhaps a little of James Bond or Johnny Carson or her minister. And what is the vision of the husband? Keith Miller, who wrote the best-selling book The Taste of New Wine, said that his vision was probably a combination of St. Theresa, Elizabeth Taylor and Betty Crocker. And, men, you know that we each put our own set of names into those categories.
Now what happens when a girl with a vision of Cary Grant and a man with a vision of Elizabeth Taylor get married and begin to find out that the other person is not much like their vision? One of two things! Either they center their minds on the difference between the ideal and what they are increasingly finding the other person to be like, and then try, either openly or subversively, to push the other spouse into that image; or, by the grace of God, they increasingly come to accept the other person as he or she is, including his or her standards of how they themselves should be, and then under God seek to conform to the best and most uplifting of those standards.
It must be one or the other of those ways. Keith Miller has written, “The soul of a marriage can be a trysting place where two people can come together quietly from the struggles of the world and feel safe, accepted, and loved . . . or it can be a battle ground where two egos are locked in a lifelong struggle for supremacy, a battle which is for the most part invisible to the rest of the world.”1 If you and I are to have the former in our marriages, then we must work toward it. And we must do it by cultivating the interests and the aspirations of the other party.
What does the soul refer to in a person? Describe the union of soul with soul in a marriage.
What can happen if there is not a union at the level of the soul?
Application: Do you have a strong marriage on the level of your souls? If not, what will you do this week to improve your relationship?
Reflection: If you are not married, what qualities are you looking for in a spouse? Are those qualities consistent with what the Bible teaches, or do they mirror the expectations of the world?
1Keith Miller, The Taste of New Wine (Waco, TX: Word, 1968), 46.