It is very easy to get caught up with fine sounding memes or articles when they come around at first thought – if we forget to give them a second thought. It seems the more viral they are, the more excited we become to claim them without giving them any thought.
Regarding the Seth Adam Smith Meme (or blog), “Marriage is not for me”: This is a deceptively fine sounding article, in that it is humanist and robs God of His glory. We are called to do everything to the glory of God – including our marriage. If we live up to the ideals of this article but forget about God, or put His glory aside for the sake of our relationship, we set up our spouse and/or our marriage as an idol. What happens if you have an idol that cannot be pleased?
When I was young, I heard theories such that marriage is a 50/50 proposition – each spouse contributing fifty percent. Later, I heard theories proposing each party give fifty-one percent, then one hundred percent – then one hundred ten percent. These theories were all in the name of getting peoples’ attention to keep their marriages together. Lately there was a blog post gone viral on the internet titled, “Marriage Isn’t For You.” The premise is each spouse should not look to their own interests in the marriage but wholly look to their spouse’s interest.
The conclusion of the viral blog post is this: “Love is about the person you love. And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered. Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.” This might sound all warm and good but a closer look reveals very bad theology. Even my professing Christian friends were passing this around – but what would the Bible say?
First, let’s take a closer look at what the objectives of the viral blog post were:
1) The author is a Mormon and he also promotes secular and pagan philosophies (Forward Walking, the Seven Paths, Kamauoha, etc);
2) He references a spouse as “significant other” so the writing can apply to concubines and same-sex relationships;
3) The person you love (spouse?) becomes the object of the marriage – or relationship; and
4) The reward for your unselfishness will become ultimate happiness for you – which makes this the goal. I say this because this was the purpose of the article: he had become selfish in his marriage and his wife reached out by becoming unselfish; he decided to “try harder” and found ultimate happiness and thus, the article was written to spread this joy around. So, yes, the goal of unselfish living is to find the most happiness – this goes hand-in-hand with the other secular and pagan philosophies the author promotes.
The Bible tells us God claims the glory in marriage. In one example, God tells us the purpose of marriage is that He might have Godly offspring (Mal 2:15). There are other examples, such as where the Apostle Paul tells us marriage is representative of Christ and the Church (Eph 5:22-33). It would detract from this study to do a thorough examination of marriage at this time but we will look at this verse in Malachi because it is specific and clear God has laid claim to the marriage relationship. In this verse, He lays claim to what man produces through the marriage relationship. He also reaffirms it is He who has put the two together as husband and wife and it is for Him that we must stay faithful.
Does this mean a marriage without children is not blessed by or ordained by God? Not necessarily. God is talking about the purpose of the institution of marriage. What this verse does affirm is:
1) Marriage is for God’s glory (in this case, that He might have Godly offspring);
2) Marriage is His idea and His creation (did He not make them one?);
3) God has blessed the institution of marriage and the union of husband and wife (with a portion of the Spirit in their union).
4) For this reason, we are to guard against becoming unfaithful (so guard yourselves … let none of you be faithless).
So, when you boil all this down, the happiness of our spouse is not the purpose of our marriage. The purpose of our marriage is to give glory to God. The reason we have children and teach them to follow Christ is to give glory and pleasure to God. The reason we stand boldly for the institution of marriage – despite mans’ fallen nature – is to give glory to God. The reason we stay faithful to our spouse is to give glory to God.
Using the tools of the viral blog post, we can set up our spouse to become our idol. If we get off track in this matter, we can be deceived that God is glorified in our quest for ultimate happiness. There was a man who fell into this trap and after struggling to determine the purpose of life amid the seeming vanity of it all, Solomon concluded, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecc 12:13] We need to keep our focus on glorifying God in our marriage.
And taking from the example of Christ in this miracle: everything He does is very good or excellent. Our duty as God’s creation is to imitate Him (Gen 1:26-27). Thus, we should heed the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in everything we do to do it all for the glory of God (1Co 10:31). There is no exception – in everything we do, including our marriage – we imitate Christ’s excellence for the glory of God.