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6/07/2017

The purpose of Marriage

I remember when a pastor asked us during our pre-wedding counseling why we were getting married. What was the purpose of getting married?
Rodolfo and I looked at each other and answered what first came to our mind.
"To start a family. To be be together. Because we love each other," were some of the responses.
We were engaged and preparing a wedding without having asked ourselves that question.

Our pastor said the purpose should be to give God glory.
"Of course," I thought to myself. "We are centering our whole wedding around the gospel for our non-Christian family and friends." My vision was so narrow back then.

Marriage is for protection of immoral sexual sin (1 Corinthians 7:2), for the extension of our happiness and promotion of a healthy society (Proverbs 18:22), and for fellowship, mutual help, and companionship (Genesis 2:18).

But I had no idea of the importance and relevance of marriage in giving God glory. You see, marriage is the earthly image of God's love for His bride, the church. The way a husband loves his wife is the picture we can see with our own eyes of the love God has for His church.

Ephesians 5
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Yesterday I was reading an old blog post about adding goodness to our faith. I wrote of how I didn't want to be there for really terrible friends, and then realize I am an even more terrible friend to Jesus and He was still there for me.
This image is ten times enhanced in marriage.

I still remember my amazement when I realized how powerful the love of your husband is. We were newly weds learning to share life together, and I was constantly humbled by my husband's love for me.
I've said it before and I'll continue to say it: women are difficult.
Boy! Are WE difficult. Honestly!
I have a husband that loves me like the verse above "presents me without stain or wrinkle or blemish."

If I initially compared the greatness of Jesus being my friend with how bad a friend I am to him, I can't even comprehend or compare how great His love for the church is with how much love my husband shows to his undeserving and difficult wife.
I honestly wish every woman in the world could experience the greatness of being loved by a husband who shows an image of God on earth with how well he loves his wife. I wish every husband out there would desire to be a good image of God on earth by loving his wife well.
I wish I can be an image of submitting to a loving God by submitting with a joyful and grateful heart to the wonderful husband the Lord has given me.

This doesn't mean my marriage is perfect. The reason I am so humbled by Rodol's love for me is because he sees my shortcomings time and time again, and still loves me like our first day as a married couple. He sees the imperfections of my body, all exacerbated by pregnancies and cancer, and still looks at me with loving eyes. He deals with my mood swings and my fragile, prone-to-illness body and cares for me with the same patience and loving-kindness.  He forgives me for my difficulty submitting, my short temper, and my unkindness. He corrects me with his example and his listening-before-judging disposition, and is always ready to serve me and the girls.

The purpose of marriage is to show God's unconditional love in an imperfect relationship. I understand a little more why the husband is the head of the house, having the burden to portray God in this image which is not an easy feat.
My husband's love is nothing short of a miracle.

I was pondering on why this portrayal of unconditional love is not portrayed in the mother-child relationship. After all, how many countless poems have been written of the immeasurable love of a mother? I wondered which was greater: the love of a parent to a child or a spouse to spouse. I don't think it is a matter of which is greater, but of which is harder.

Most people, Christian or not, feel there is an obligation to love your children. If a newborn baby is found abandoned anywhere, there is immediate outrage from the whole world to this "monster" who didn't love her child. How could she not love the child? She HAS to. I've seen mothers forgive atrocities from her children. Mothers are mostly hurt by their own children. I even pray for the days my own daughters will cause me grief. because they are human. I also pray for the days I will cause them grief, as I suffer of the same imperfect condition.

But, somehow, you have been sold the idea that you should remain with your spouse only if the spouse makes you happy, if you feel "in love," if it's "working." If not, than you have been told to get out and find a relationship that makes you feel all of the above again. You are not obligated to love your spouse forever if he or she is causing you grief. If the relationship is inconvenient, you have been shown by the world that it is OK to leave, even better not to "stay together" for the kids. The world accepts your decision and condones it. No one will call you a monster if you leave your husband, even if you just cited the most common "irreconcilable differences." It is in this ambiguity of the image of love that the love of a spouse surpasses the love of a son. You are not obligated to love your spouse, so to show such unconditional love in this scenario is rare and strange. It is here where the image of God loving such a wrecked and sullied church [bride] and presenting her as without stain, wrinkle, or blemish is beautiful and humbling.

The thought crosses my mind (I won't lie): "What if you write these praises to your husband and one day he leaves you?" Well, 1) I must always have present the fact that my marriage could end up a failure story, but this is true with all my relationships. If I am not mindful of loving my husband well, caring for him and all his needs, and lifting him up with honor and admiration, there are plenty of women lined up to do that. If I am not mindful of the way I treat my girls and the way I talk to them, they will grow calloused to me and won't want a relationship with me when they are old enough to decide. If I don't nurture the relationships with my friends by being there in the good and the bad, they won't be there for me in the good and the bad. 2) Even if that was to be so, it wouldn't make it untrue. He was a wonderful husband and, if at one point he wasn't, I would be grateful he was at some point in our lives. The thought crosses my mind more for what others tell me than what I fear. The only thing I fear is that I don't love him as well as he loves me, and that is not a bad place to be. I want to be in that place with Jesus and have an urge in me to love Him as well as I can all the days of my life. I want to need to love others more and better each day that goes by. Some days I succeed. Most days I fail; but, as long as I keep trying and breathing, today I can do better.

We will be celebrating our 7th anniversary next month. I can't believe we have been through so much in such a short time. Times are still unstable for us. We still don't have jobs in Panama, and we are making ends meet in a day-to-day basis. My friend Tito, who visited us last week, asked what was a material thing I desired. When I pondered on the question I answered: "nothing." When my husband starts feeling down because he can't shower us with material possessions, I remind him how I wouldn't trade all the riches in the world for the love I get from him. He is, and ladies remind your own husbands of this, the best love in this earthly life.



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