I got Michael this book for his birthday this year. Once he was finished reading it, of course, I stole it. I’m hoping to blog on my thoughts from each chapter.
So far, I’m loving the book. First of all, it’s the easiest to read Piper book I have ever (attempted) to read (since I’ve never actually gotten through an ENTIRE Piper book). Also, marriage, God’s design and desire for marriage, and improving your marriage happens to be one of my favorite subjects.
Over the last year, my marriage has been strengthened tremendously. Most of you know how much I adore my husband (I don’t hide this fact!) but I think it is so amazing to see how much we have changed in the last almost 5 years. God has used tough times to grow us up and together. Probably one of the best things I have learned is that love is a decision that I make every day. I wake up each day and make the decision to love Michael above all others that day. It’s not always easy. Some days it is way harder than others. But, because I vowed that I would before God, it is necessary. I hate when you hear people say that they got a divorce because they simply “fell out of love.” As if it is some kind of magical feeling that can come and go, when, in fact, love is not a feeling but, in the words of the great theologians, DC Talk, “love is a verb.” Because I am married to Michael, I love him. Period. The first page of this book features a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
In the first chapter of the book, Piper discusses God’s purpose and plan for marriage: that He created it and designed it when He first created Adam and Eve in the Garden. I think Piper makes two simple yet fundamental points in this first chapter: that the purpose of marriage is to bring glory to the one who created it and to display the relationship between Christ and His church.
Ephesians 5: 22-33 says:
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
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. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
In a section of the chapter entitled, “Christ will never leave His wife,” Piper writes,
Staying married, therefore, is not mainly about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant. “Till death do us part” or “As long as we both shall live” is a sacred covenant promise-the same kind Jesus made with his bride when he died for her. Therefore, what makes divorce and remarriage so horrific in God’s eyes is not merely that it involves covenant-breaking to the spouse, but that it involves misrepresenting Christ and his covenant.
Wow. When he puts it that way, it makes marriage so little about us and so much about God. It is easy to see our joy as the reason for our marriage, especially when you are first dating and your world is revolving around that person. You can barely imagine your life without that person. You can’t wait to have that ring on your finger. But how much more would we first consider if we were ready to be married if we truly viewed marriage in this light. This principle does not have to only apply to staying married or being divorced. In all aspects, our marriage is a picture of Christ and His church. So when I speak harshly to Michael, when I put myself above him, when I hurt him, I am telling him and others that I do not take my covenant with him seriously; I am misrepresenting the picture of Christ and his bride.