For the vast majority of singles, marriage looks like an improvement to their situation. But is that really the case? If we idealize marriage, we are more than likely to be surprised after the honeymoon. It also applies to our relationship with God.
When I was a young Christian, the worship leader of my church often sang a song about Jesus’ peace. With very soft notes, we could easily enter the Presence of God and actually be overwhelmed by peace. Even today, I sing this song for my babies as I rock them to sleep, instead of a traditional lullaby. And it is true, in the presence of God we find peace, despite our circumstances. John 14.27 (NIV) says : “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus said that to His disciples as He was going to be crucified.
But did Jesus came to bring peace to everyone? Not according to Matthew 10.34 (NIV) : “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Think of the vendors in the temple (Mark 11.15); Jesus didn’t give them any peace that day!
Many Christians talk about the freedom we have in Jesus, even quoting John 8.36 (NIV) : “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Yet Jesus also warned His disciples that they will be forced to go to places they don’t want to go to and that they will be persecuted. “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.” (Mark 13.9 NIV)
Are these contradictions in the Bible? Not at all. To have peace, we must give our life to God, and that is not easy. To be completely free, we must give up our flesh, refuse to listen and yield to its desires. Sin leads to death and our fleshly nature works so that we end up going in the wrong direction. When we give our lives to Jesus, He makes us free from our flesh, we are not forced to follow it anymore. The life of Christ in us drives us to walk the other direction. The freedom that Jesus gives us is not the right to do whatever our flesh wants! Just like the peace that Jesus gives us is not a ticket to live in a pink cloud. It is to have the freedom to enter the presence of God, where we find the peace that the world cannot give.
We do not accept Jesus in our hearts to improve our lives; at least the life here on Earth. Our life here will surely improve, but if not, that doesn’t matter. We accept Jesus for a glorious life after death and to have immediate and constant communion with our heavenly Father.
What about marriage? It is roughly the same. We’re not getting married to live a better life or to have all our needs met. We get married to make the other one happy. This means we must die to our life as a Single, our independent life. Being married is to be at war, not against your partner (that should never be!) but against our own selfish nature. If as a single woman, you spent without thinking about anyone, then when you get married you will need to consult your husband and your family budget before spending on what you lust. If you were the kind of single man who loved playing video games late at night or the whole night for that matter, you will have to die to this habit and be available for your wife. Getting married is going to war against your selfish desires.
Many young married couples divorce because they did not consider that before getting married. If you want to get married, and you want your marriage to last, you must consider your future involvement as an act of war against your independence. God said that marriage is the union of two beings, that they become one flesh, so there is no room for the individual.
Just as we should give our lives to God knowing that it will not be easy, that following God asks us to die to self. We should think of marriage in the way if we do not want to be disappointed, surprised and frustrated after we commit.