Forgiveness in Marriage and The Gospel

I spent a considerable amount of time in our Nearly/Newly Wed class this Sunday laying the Scriptural foundation of marriage in class in order to demonstrate that the purpose of marriage, as Paul highlights in Ephesians 5:31-32, is to demonstrate Christ and His glory to the world.

One implication of thinking about marriage this way is that if we fail in marriage, we preach a false gospel and become a heretic.  If the calling of marriage is viewed so highly by God, then how can we possibly hope to live up to this?  The answer I proposed is only by the power of the Gospel through the grace of God can we ever hope to live up to our calling in marriage.

I posted some thoughts for the “Nearly” crowd on the gospel and considering marriage yesterday, and I wanted to work through one more point today about the gospel applied in marriage.  This is a pseudo-repost of an idea that I had the last time I taught, but I thought I’d expand on it a little more.

For those that have been married for any length of time, forgiveness is something you end up doing a lot of.  There are a ton of benefits of forgiveness: restoration of relationship, moving past awkward tension, finally communicating after some time of silence after an argument…the list could go on.  Everyone, for the most part, knows that they ought to forgive in marriage, and usually it’s a matter of time before forgiveness is extended from the injured party.

As I have been thinking on the Gospel in marriage, however, I’m realizing that 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 has often become an assumed, automatic response in order to minimize a particular instance of sin in my relationship.  It is not gospel driven response that causes me to reflect on my own depravity, understand the depth of God’s mercy, and ultimately stir my affections for Christ and my love for my wife.

The question then becomes, “how can I remove myself from a cycle of mechanical obedience to a Godly principle and move toward a deep understanding of the grace of God and His gospel in my marriage?”  I think the answer is by practicing the discipline of tying forgiveness back to Christ’s forgiveness of us.  Each time I forgive my wife, am I going back to the cross, looking at the forgiveness that was extended to me, and then forgiving my wife out of the power of forgiveness that Christ has? Or instead, do I rob the cross of its power and extend forgiveness in my flesh only to cover over the momentary sin?

One response deals with the surface issue and placates ourselves and covers over a sin.  The other response leads to a deep understanding mercy and grace in the gospel. Pray this Gospel-driven thinking would work in our marriages!


For Those Considering Marriage – The Freedom of the Gospel

I’ve been preparing some teaching for our Nearly/Newly Wed class at The Austin Stone, and thinking on the gospel and its implications in our marriages.  Here are some of the thoughts I have for couples considering marriage:

Trusting the good news of Jesus and his work on your behalf frees you from:

  • Getting married because of a mistake you made in the past, because Jesus atones for sin, not you.
  • Getting married because you feel trapped in a relationship, because freedom is found in Christ, and you have nothing to fear.
  • Getting married because you just can’t wait to have sex, because the gospel has set you free from the lusts of the flesh, and the power of the gospel is sufficient in your weakness.
  • Getting married because you are lonely, because Christ promises that He is always with us, and we can believe His promise.

Feel free to contribute to this list in the comments section…


Preparing Young Men to be Husbands | Pure Church

This was a great thought from Voddie Baucham’s book What Must He Be…If He Wants to Marry My Daughter on preparing young men for marriage (via Pure Church).

Imagine a family who did not prepare their children for college. This would be unthinkable in today’s world. Everyone prepares their child for an academic future. Day-care programs boast about the head start they will give children in their “academic careers.” We buy houses in neighborhoods with “the best schools.” Beyond that, many families place their children in expensive preparatory schools, enduring tremendous financial burdens, incurring debt, and commuting hours each day in an effort to give their children an edge in that all-important race for the apex of academia.

However, little thought is given to preparing our sons to be husbands. Thus, they meander through life without the skills or mind-set necessary to play this most important role until one day, having met “the one,” they pop the question, set a date, and—in the rarest of cases—go to the pastor to learn everything they need to know about being the priest, prophet, provider, and protector of a household in four one-hour sessions. In the words of that great theologian Dr. Phil, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”

via Pure Church: Are We Preparing Boys and Young Men to Be Husbands and Fathers?.

As I am involved in ministering to nearly and newly married couples, I am acutely aware of the deficiency of many men, myself included, in effective spiritual leadership of the home.  I am grateful for the mentors in my life who have shaped my marriage, and pray that I will set an example of being a godly, biblical husband (Ephesians 5:25-33) for my son and the men to whom I am called to minister.