This time last week, I was spending the evening with my family, playing Uno in their hotel room. The TV was on, and the news featured the story of a woman whose fiancé proposed to her in the classroom. What struck me was the comment of a child about the purpose of marriage. According to this child, who has obviously been influenced by our culture, says that you get married "to have some love you and take care of you." To put it in the first-person tense: "I marry to have someone to love me and take care of me." While having someone that loves me and takes care of me would be a benefit and a blessing of the marriage union, I desire marriage to give of myself to another. I desire to love my wife as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). Christ's love was a selfless love.
How did Christ love? He gave Himself up for His bride, the church. He didn't look for someone to show love and to care for Him. Instead, He sought to care for and provide for His bride.
I cannot help but be reminded of the song, "The Heart of Worship." This song bears the refrain, "It's all about you." Worship students frequently parody this song as a comment on much of today's man-centered worship, changing the phrase to "It's all about me." Worship, at its core, is not about me. Marriage, at its core, is not about me. Even as Paul discussed the matter of physical intimacy, he taught that pleasing the spouse is one of the major principles guiding the physical union. Each member is to give of himself or herself for the sake of the other in the physical relationship, seeking the pleasure of the other (1 Cor. 7:3-5, NASB). Should physical intimacy be the only portion of marriage that is governed by the policy of selflessness? This question points to the fact that if even a pleasurable act is governed by selfless expression of love, should not the whole tenor of the marriage be one of selfless love toward the spouse?
Truly, the glory of it all is that as a godly husband works hard and sacrifices himself for the sake of his wife, he finds joy and fulfillment in serving her as he honors her more than himself, living with her in an "understanding way" (1 Peter 3:7, NASB) and loving and caring for his wife as he cares for himself (Eph. 5:28, NASB). The glory of it all is that as a godly wife supports her husband and seeks his good above her own, she finds joy and fulfillment in bearing the glory of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4, NASB) and respecting her husband (Eph. 5:33, NASB).
I have not experienced the joy of marriage, and I am not qualified to speak about marriage experientially or theoretically. Thankfully, through the Word of God, I can speak and teach with authority on this topic as I teach what the Scripture teaches and not beyond. It is clear from Scripture that marriage is not about me, it's about my wife. Even now as I pray for her, I'm training myself to think of her and what her needs may be. I pray that I'll continue to grow into a man who is capable of loving more and more selflessly, seeking to emulate the compassionate, selfless love of the Savior. While I'm seeking to prepare financially for marriage (see my entry on "The Sanctification of Spending"), my future wife also deserves my love and my devotion. However, she ultimately deserves a husband who loves God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Pray for me to that end, because it is not about me...