Forgiveness in Marriage

February 23, 2009 — 2 Comments

I’ve been reading through This Momentary Marriage by John Piper in preparation for our Nearly/Newly Wed class at The Austin Stone.  Although the content hasn’t been earth shattering, I’ve been reflecting on Ephesians 5:22-32, and specifically some applications for marriage from Christ’s covenant keeping love for His church.

First, Piper has often made the point that this passage is his justification for why divorce is such an abomination to God (Malachi 2:16).  We are supposed to display the same love that Christ has for His church, which continues permanently without divorce despite the unfaithfulness of His bride.

I think the corollary that struck me as I was reading that shines the beauty of the Gospel more than prohibiting divorce is the fact that within the covenant of marriage, if it rests on the same grace of Christ, creates an unbelievable atmosphere of freedom.  If you can believe that your spouse, regardless of what you do to sin against them, will demonstrate the same grace and love as Jesus in the face of our sin, then you can be completely free to confess and repent in marriage.  A truly God-glorifying marriage rests in the truth and power of the Gospel bent toward one another.

Secondly, from this idea of Gospel centrality in marriage, I’ve been thinking about forgiveness.  Forgiveness for me is often done out of an “I ought to do this” mentality, rather than reminding me of the depth of my depravity and the forgiveness of the Gospel.  To be more clear, I think I tend to forgive and forget, without ever even considering the power and depth of the Gospel.  Forgiveness is an automatic response, not one that stirs my affections for Christ and my love for my wife.

This Gospel-driven thinking is working in my heart, and I pray that God continues to show me how to connect many of my assumed or rote behaviors in marriage back to the heart of the Gospel of grace.

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

2 responses to Forgiveness in Marriage

  1. I dig your third paragraph. It’s unfortunate that many take advantage of that grace and “continue to sin so that grace may abound.”

    There’s nothing like knowing that you are loved by a love that cannot be earned, thus, cannot be lost. Piper:“…grace empowers husbands and wives to keep their covenant by means of forgiveness and forbearance. That emphasis is at the heart of what grace is: treating people better than they deserve.” (Feb 25, 2007)

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