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  • Writer's pictureVic Bernales

Battles and Blessings in Marriage

Being married for more than a quarter of a century now, I can testify that marriage is a most fulfilling gift from the Lord. Having a godly wife whose desire is to please the Lord first and foremost is a great blessing!

Marriage, however, can be a battleground for couples. It doesn't have to be, but couples can find many things and any reasons in marriage to fight each other. As simple as the use of toothpaste or as serious as child discipline can be a source of conflict between the wife and the husband.

In one of the marriage seminars Cathy and I attended early on in our life as a couple, we both learned that our spouse is not our enemy. We even wrote the statement “My spouse is not my enemy” in our wedding Bible.

This truth presupposes that in marriage there is a struggle that both spouses have to recognize and to face. Knowing this truth has helped me a lot because there are times that one feels as if the spouse is the mortal enemy in life.

But this is one of the deceptions of sin in us. Sin is the deadly opponent inside us. It finds an ally with Satan and his cohorts who are our enemies as well. Its main goal is to tempt us to follow our old selfish self. It blinds us and blurs our perceptions that we do not see our own mistakes and shortcomings.

It is true that marriage is one of the beautiful creations of God, one of the greatest gifts He has given to man. However, marriage was also affected by sin and it became part of the battle that every man and woman must wage and win in order to attain some peace and order in life.

For us Christians, we can experience true joy and quietness in life and marriage. And this is not because we are good or really smart. I always find selfishness and foolishness in me in my relationship with Cathy.

Joy and quietness in marriage are also gifts from God. They come only by the grace of God in Christ as each spouse imitates Christ's selfless service for His bride and for His Father's sake by the power of the Spirit.

The Spirit of Christ enables us to fulfill our respective role and responsibilities as husband and wife in marriage. It's no easy task. It requires daily self-denial and humility.

Faithfulness in marriage also calls both the husband and the wife to put the interest and the need of the other spouse over and ahead of himself or herself. And God has provided us the resources to keep our marriages as a safe haven for the family rather than as a war zone.

“Life is full of conflict and chaos,” write Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III. “The Bible understands this and describes our time on earth as warfare.”

These authors then quote Ephesians 6:10-18 to prove their point. Then they continue saying, “The world is a dangerous place to live. God battles Leviathan, and we battle a hostile environment. Paul makes it clear in this passage that life is a battleground.

“We lead such an hour-by-hour existence that we miss the great truth that we are caught up in a cosmic struggle, a struggle between good and evil. It is not always clear who or what is on which side. People do not wear black and white hats. But the Bible describes the Christian life as a struggle against the ‘powers and principalities' (KJV); sometimes those powers take form in other people.

“Marriage is part of the battle. It is a battle that calls us to engage the enemy and push back the forces of chaos. The beauty of marriage is that it is God's gift of an intimate ally in the struggle. Although at times it appears that husband and wife increase rather than diminish the chaos of life, marriage intends to unite two people into a joint ministry of subduing, shaping, conquering, in order to produce beauty.

"At the end of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul encourages the believers in their struggles by placing their conflicts in the broader context of God's war against evil. Paul knows that life is a battle, and the opposition is not just what our eyes can see. The ultimate opponent is the Master of Chaos himself, Satan, and his minions.

"A married couple will find out only too soon that romance does not protect them from the forces of the warfare. If warm, fuzzy feelings are all they have between them, then the conflict will soon cause those to disappear.

"As married couples, we are jointly called to shape a world that resists shaping. We are called to join the army of God in order to conquer chaos. In our marriage we are called to help one another 'stand firm.' This is a military term that means to be prepared for the assault. We are to be 'ready'; we are not only to be prepared with our armor on and our sword sharpened but actually to be 'looking' for the signs of attack. I am to help my spouse see the war with our children, family, friends, and neighbors. Even more, I am to help my spouse prepare for war, train for war, and use God's weapons to fight the war that rages around us each day....

"....And the weapons [God] gives us for the struggle are powerful. They may not seem so at first. After all, they are only spiritual weapons. Our human natures fear guns and bombs; we think that is where true power is. But we are wrong. Spiritual does not mean intangible. The weapons described in Ephesians 6 are the most powerful weapons of all: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, prayer, and the Word of God" (Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III, "Intimate Allies," 106-109).


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