Primarily, the REAL REASON marriages are crumbling at a much faster rate today is not about the man or the woman in the marriage. Rather, there’s an OVERWHELMING spiritual undertone that is driving the trend.
That spiritual undertone relates to the nature of the days that we currently live in – the AGE OF SELF.
What does this mean? At this present time, there’s a FORMIDABLE spiritual force that is turning the attention of man INWARD. Turning man to love himself more. Trust himself more. Honor himself more. Reward himself more. Defend himself more. And so on.
This is how Bible prophecy, written over 2,000 years ago, characterized our days, “But understand this, that in the last days, there will come times of difficulty. For people will be LOVERS OF SELF….” (2 Tim 3:1-5)
So, the massive increase we are seeing in the concept of Self-love today is not ordinary! The key problem with this intense FOCUS ON SELF is that it minimizes/reduces our focus on OTHERS. For it is impossible to be focused INWARDLY and OUTWARDLY at the same time.
Originally, God did not create mankind to look INWARD. We were created to look UPWARD. For when we look up at God, He DIRECTS our attention to OTHERS. Directs our attention to their welfare. Their needs. Their interests. Their progress. And so on.
It is in this way that God created human society to function and grow. And, to an extent; mankind, despite its many flaws, has lived along this principle. That is, generally speaking.
For example, it was for this reason that MOST of our ancestors tolerated bad marriages. Or, better still, focussed intensely on ‘repairing’ the marriage – just for the sake of the children.
Fundamentally, it was NOT about their own needs – it was about the needs of the children. Without a vast understanding of the behavioral sciences (as we have today), our ancestors instinctively knew that divorce DAMAGES children in massive ways. So, they did all that was in their power, and even beyond their power, to minimize their own needs in the interest of the needs of OTHERS. In this case, the children.
It was not only about the needs of the children. It was also about the need of the wider society to have STABILITY. Broken homes inevitably lead to broken societies. So, they endured. Especially the mothers.
But all these have changed! The spirit that CONTROLS the age that we live in has taught us that we DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. Many times, at the expense of EVERYTHING else.
There’s no problem in the pursuit of personal happiness per se. Ideally, everybody deserves to be happy. But, because we do not live in an ideal world, not everybody will be happy. Satan will see to that! Because he is the RULER that controls this present world (John 14:30).
Thus, for some to be happy, others may be constrained to be unhappy. For some to be able to eat, others may have to deny themselves their money/possessions. For some to live, others may have to die (this is what soldiers routinely do). And so on. This is what is called SACRIFICE.
And it is in this spirit of sacrifice. In the very first sacrifice recorded in the Bible, an animal had to lose its life for the ‘shameful’ nakedness of Adam and Eve to be covered. That is sacrifice.
Jesus took the concept of sacrifice to another level when He left His stupendous glory in heaven to come and die for mankind. Just so that you and I can have life. Abundant life. Eternal life.
Do you see how God thinks? In this evil world, SACRIFICE is necessary for survival, growth, and hope. Hope for the continuation of society.
This is the HARD LESSON that Jesus taught His hearers again and again. Not just with His life. But also in His numerous teachings that are recorded for us in the Holy Writ. Recorded – not for our reading pleasure – but as an INSTRUCTION for us on the ONLY way to live. That is if we claim to follow Christ. A life of SACRIFICE.
The early church understood the spirit of this message very clearly. This is why it is recorded for us that they commonly sold their possessions – just so that the needs of their poorer brethren could be met (Acts 2:45, 4:32-35). That is SACRIFICE. So that society – in this case, the church – could survive and thrive.
This SELFLESSNESS is the unchanging principle that God ordained for His genuine church. (Sadly, selflessness is not what we see in the backslidden, lukewarm entity that we today commonly call ‘church’).
The Apostles of Christ rigorously pushed this philosophy of sacrifice among the early church. That, in a particular case in the church at Corinth, Paul challenged his hearers, “… It would be BETTER for you to let someone wrong you. It would be BETTER to let someone cheat you.” (1 Cor 6:7)
In that case, please note that Paul was not PRIMARILY thinking about the interest (or happiness) of the offended party. Rather, he was thinking about the welfare, survival, and growth of the whole society, the church.
In another instance, Peter said this: “… But if when you DO GOOD AND SUFFER for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” (1 Pet 2:20). ‘A gracious thing’ here means this is the way to live as a believer! In this scenario, where is the victim’s happiness? The victim’s happiness has been subordinated to the general good of the wider society. A sacrifice.
This principle of SELF-SACRIFICE is also the thinking behind verses of the Scriptures like this: “…. Think of OTHERS as deserving MORE HONOUR than yourselves.” (Romans 12:10).
Here’s one more example. Another Apostle. This time, John the Beloved: “THIS IS HOW WE KNOW WHAT LOVE IS: Christ gave his life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for others!” (1 John 3:16)
Needless to say that ‘giving our lives’ in that context means giving up our rights, our prestige, our honor, our possessions, our fulfillment, our happiness, and so on – just so that the society (the church) could survive, grow, and thrive.
According to John in that verse, giving up our rights/interests for the welfare of others is GENUINE PROOF OF LOVE. And we all know that God designed marriage to be underpinned by LOVE.
This means that marriage is meant for ONLY two people that GENUINELY love each other in the way of SELF-sacrifice! But, in most cases, the marriages that we see today (including MOST Christian marriages), are NOT underpinned by TRUE LOVE as required by God. It is more of boy-meets-girl, and then, boy-marries-girl.
So, we can see that, even from the very beginning, TRUE LOVE is not at the foundation of MOST marriages. This means that God is NOT in the foundation of most marriages! For God is love (1 John 4:8). It does not matter AN INCH if such marriages are solemnized in the church. God is still NOT in the foundation!
It is for this reason that it is EXTREMELY EASY for the spirit of the age – the AGE OF SELF – to come into the marriage and scatter it into pieces. Or, make the marriage a MISERY for both husband and wife.
All Satan has to do is to focus the attention of the husband or the wife (or, even both) on their PERSONAL NEEDS in the marriage. The rest is history, as the AGE OF SELF moves its demonic minions into the marriage to shred it into pieces. This is WHY many marriages are crumbling our days.
As difficult as all these may appear, the truth expressed in this article also offers a glimpse of hope! For, as the Bible makes clear, God indeed HATES divorce. Thus, there’s hope in His word for struggling marriages.
Both parties simply need to, first of all, go back to the foundation of the marriage institution (not just their marriage per se). This foundation is LOVE. That is the COMMITMENT is to be focused on the NEED of the other party in the marriage. NOT on our own needs. NOT on our own needs. NOT on our own needs. NOT on our own needs. NOT on our own needs. Do you get the idea?
In a marriage, the man NEEDS to be honored and respected (please note that the Bible mentions this need FIRST – in Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1). Similarly, the woman NEEDS to be loved and honored (Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 3:19, 1 Pet 3:7).
If we are TRULY focused on the party’s NEEDS of the other party in the spirit of sacrifice, here is what happens. God will take His place in the foundation of the marriage. He’ll move in (1) to honor His name, and (2) to fulfill His will in the union. God has a purpose for every marriage.
This is what it means to have God in the foundation of a marriage. A foundation that this evil AGE OF SELF can never, ever assail. However, in this AGE OF SELF, any marriage that is not built on the Rock, will become a pawn in Satan’s chessboard of life (Mat 7:24-25).
While waiting for His return, do you want a godly marriage? Or, do you have a marriage that needs to be ‘repaired’? Please, use the available grace of God to just take your eyes away from your SELF!
In the spirit of self-sacrifice, put your INTENSE FOCUS on the NEEDS of your spouse. As you do this, NEVER allow your spouse’s action/inaction to DICTATE your commitment to selflessness in the marriage. Do this daily – even if it ‘kills’ you! Then, leave the rest to God.
You’ll be amazed at how your marriage will become A PLATFORM FOR GOD’S GLORY in this end-time. This should be the ultimate goal of every Christian marriage – the pursuit of the glory of God. For, after all, our lives are ALL about Him – NOT about us.
“And do not forget to do good … for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrew 13:16)
Thanks for reading, God bless you.