Day 9

Principles of Marriage

from the 1 & 2 Corinthians reading plan


1 Corinthians 7:1-40, Genesis 2:24

BY Rebecca Faires

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, Genesis 2:24

Almost half of marriages end in divorce, and the average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is only eight years (according to 2014 US census data). Eight years! It’s shocking that we stand up and promise “‘til death do us part,” yet only half of us make it past eight years. Marriage is hard. And indeed, the skills necessary to simply get along long-term with other people, not just spouses, are really difficult to come by. When we concede that marriage doesn’t have to last, we also allow that friendships don’t need to last. When the going gets tough, it’s just so much easier to find new friends and start over. Except it’s not.

On paper, marriage is an unachievable task. Paul commands wives to submit to their husbands, and then he turns to the husbands and piles onto the first unbelievable task this astonishing humdinger: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:22-25). In one fell swoop, it seems Paul is making an open-and-shut case that marriage is just never going to work. He even follows this up by saying, essentially, marriage is too much for him, and he’s chosen to keep out of the fray; and if anyone else has the constitution for it, they should stay unmarried also (1 Corinthians 7:8).

But here’s the problem: not everyone has Paul’s self-control, and instead we, ahem, “burn with desire” (v. 9).  We fall in love, and that love leads us to make wildly extravagant promises to each other. We promise, in our best clothes, in front of all our aunts and uncles, to love and honor one another for the rest of our lives. These are the bravest, most ridiculous promises I’ve ever made.

I want to write a book titled, ’Til Death Do Us Part, and Other Lies I Told While Wearing a White Ball Gown. Because even though I’ve been married for thirteen years, have I truly kept my wedding vows? Have you? Even before we’d driven off into the sunset, I had already broken my vows. My heart was full of love, but my soul was still inclined to offer my new husband far less than the love I’m called to give. But that’s really the whole point. And that is why marriage is a covenant. We make extravagant promises that we cannot keep, but God keeps His promises. He created marriage and designed it to last.

God has called us to live in peace (v. 15), and it’s His peace that makes it possible for us to do so. I can rely on Him. He keeps His promises. He is there in the ceremony, walking through the covenant just like He did in the Old Testament. He makes our covenants, and He keeps up both ends of the deal. May we look to Him to preserve our marriages, our friendships, and our families. He is the One who takes our brave words made on brave days and makes them come true.

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Post Comments (118)

118 thoughts on "Principles of Marriage"

  1. Xan Nicola says:

    I agree as well

  2. Monica Davis says:

    I said Brave words on a brave day… help me to be brave EVERY DAY!

  3. Allie Hood says:

    Such a hard message to hear. They always say the hardest lessons are the ones we need the most, so perhaps this rings true for this message.

  4. Andrea says:

    “… yet only half of us make it past eight years” This statement is incorrect. This is not how statistics work. If the average marriage ending in divorce ends at 8 years, that means that half of marriages that end in divorce make it past 8 years. In addition, more than half of marriages do not end in divorce.

  5. Damaris Seijo says:

    *meditating

  6. Damaris Seijo says:

    I have read some of the comments and have been mediating on these verses because I know it’s hard particularly when you’re in an abusive relationship. Paul says in verse 12-13 not to divorce an unbelieving husband… but he specifically says that it’s coming from him and not the Lord. If you’re husband is abusing you- I would consider him unbelieving (even if he’s keeping up the appearance of being Christian). God is not saying that you can’t leave him- Paul is. I think that if it was God’s command to stay Paul wouldn’t have made that distinction.

    1. Amanda Smith says:

      I agree. I just realized today how much of the chapters is Paul’s opinion and not commands from the Lord.

      1. Kylie Gumban says:

        I think we have to be careful with saying that this was the “author’s opinion,” and not the Lord’s. Yes, we must consider the social and historical context of the verse and why Paul would say this to his particular audience, but we must also understand that the Lord allowed these words to be preserved throughout time. God has inspired all Scripture. Not all of it is prescriptive, but it is helpful to ponder on the principle of the given verse.

  7. Erin Moser says:

    I love this passage for how it speaks to evangelical culture where those who are married seem to be higher in the church hierarchy. I’m not sure I agree with the devotional though. I don’t think he’s saying don’t get married because it is HARD but because it a DISTRACTION from the Lord and makes us more earthly minded. What do you think ?

  8. Laura says:

    I never believed in divorce. I was married very young, both of us Christians, and we took our vows very seriously. But things happen. I was married to a man who put ministry before his wife and family. We drifted apart…slowly. One day, I woke up and told him that I wanted counseling, or we were never going to get back on track. I said these words, “If I weren’t a Christian, I would divorce you.” Neither of us had ever used that word before. He refused counseling. Too proud. Too busy. He started an affair instead. Eight months after making that statement, he confessed to me. And said he wanted to rebuild. He wanted to change. He wanted to go to counseling. But I was over it. I got my answer. Now I could divorce him, right? But I had been praying for God to heal my marriage. This certainly was not healing. This was in fact the worse thing I ever walked through. I wavered for the next 2 years between wanting my marriage to be healed and wanting it to be all over. God was present the whole time. I grew in my faith, but I also hurt, deeply. It was a valley. A deep valley that I thought perhaps I would never come out of. We are still together. We have been through some intense counseling. We are healing. It has been a long, hard road, and we are still walking on it. I write this to encourage anyone who might be going through a similar situation. Cling to God’s promise to be with you…always. It doesn’t mean that the road is easy, but He will help to carry your burden. Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. Singleness is hard. Life is hard. But God is good. All the time.

    1. Clare says:

      Wow Laura, thanks for your honesty and encouragement x

      1. Amy Rinta says:

        Brave honest words as well as a brave example of grating Jesus.

      2. Amy Rinta says:

        Trusting

    2. Kristi says:

      Yes, thank you so much for sharing this!

    3. Emily West says:

      Thank you for sharing!

    4. Amanda Smith says:

      Amen. I can relate to this but as I prayed for healing for my previous marriage, God was speaking to me otherwise. Abuse, neglect, and dangerous conditions led me to divorce my unbelieving husband. I believe God has blessed me ten-fold for my decision to rescue my *then* infant daughter and myself from that life. We now have been blessed to welcome a God-fearing, self-sacrificing, amazing man into our lives. My daughter can now experience a real loving father that loves both of us the way Christ loves the church.

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