Jesus' Challenging Words on Marriage

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“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  Matthew 19:5

The crowds following Jesus were large, we are told in Matthew 19:2. Attempting to trap Jesus and cast a shadow on his popularity, the Pharisees asked Jesus a hard question about divorce. Far from trapping him, they handed Jesus a microphone through which he quoted and elaborated on Genesis 2:24 and cast God’s vision for marriage through the ages.  The disciples even bristled at his words. 

At 21, I was madly in love and wanted to spend the rest of my life with the man I believed God made just for me!  In his proposal, Jim used this verse, Matthew 19:5.  He knew we were in love, but he had the insight to know that marriage was going to take more than the passion our 21-year-old selves felt at that moment.  (He was right.)  Reaching for words of wisdom and truth that superseded his own, Jim asked me to marry him with these words of Jesus.  Becoming one from two very strong-willed individuals was the invitation.  Jim was not inviting me to an extended honeymoon, an opportunity to set up a home together, to have children together, or become partners in life.  He was not asking me to complete him or offering to complete me (sorry, Jerry McGuire fans.)  He was asking me to agree to all the hope, surrender, humility, perseverance, loads of costly love and grace that it takes for God himself to make one from two.   

Even though he added his own words of love and romance, I am certain his proposal would not have gone viral, because an invitation to a life of mutual sacrifice is not very appealing to our flesh.   Paul builds on Jesus’ words in Ephesians 5:31-32, explaining that this type of oneness in marriage is a picture of Christ and His church.  God’s vision for marriage is two laying down their individual lives to become something more glorious than they could be on their own: a witness of His love for his beloved bride, the company of His redeemed people, the Church universal!   Jim was inviting me to this glorious calling. 

Since that October evening nearly 34 years ago, I have bristled at Jesus words too many times to count - preferring MY way over OUR way, wanting to be right over wanting to be rightly related to my Jim.  At times, I have wanted a different vision of marriage than this one Jesus gave.  I have wanted “happily every after” over and above “united for the glory of God” to be the goal. 

What about your marriage?  Do you wish it were easier?  Do you wish love were not so costly? 

I still believe that God created Jim for me, but I see that so much more fully than I did in my 20s.  He knew just the smile, affection, humor, challenges, strengths, weaknesses, conflicts, joys, perspectives, and stubborn streaks I needed in the husband with whom He would make me one.   What would it look for you to believe that all your spouse brings to the table will be used by a loving God for your good?

Jesus says oneness is His goal for marriage.  He also says oneness is His goal for all who believe in Him, see John 17 for more on that!  While only He can truly forge oneness, embracing His vision, praying for His vision, surrendering to His vision is a game changer, whether you are just walking down the aisle or have been married 33 years!    How will you embrace oneness for your marriage today?

A little funny detail in our proposal story…  knowing he intended to use this verse in his proposal, Jim underlined these words in his Bible only later realizing he had picked up my dad’s bible, that was left in the guest room, by mistake.  Jim was slightly horrified he had written in my father’s very pristine Bible!  We still giggle at the mistake!

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