January 7, 2015

Joy in Marriage

I love my wife. I love being married to her. I love her as a person. I love spending time with her. I usually wouldn't care if I was with anyone at all, but if I have a chance to spend time with her, I always take it if I can. I am not going to lie to you.... this isn't a chore in any way shape or form... she brings me great joy.

Does this make me selfish? Am I only loving her because of the joy she brings me? On the contrary, doesn't it bring her greater honor and a greater sense of love if I enjoy my love?

Consider these words of John Piper:


The reason there is so much misery in marriage is not that husbands and wives seek their own pleasure, but that they do not seek it in the pleasure of their spouses. The biblical mandate to husbands and wives is to seek your own joy in the joy of your spouse.
What is he talking about? Ephesians 5:25-30
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 
There is a certain personally fulfilling joy in seeking the joy of my wife. i.e. her joy brings me greater joy. This brings up another question though, one that plagues many: Didn't Jesus say, "Hate your life"?
When Paul says, "No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it," and then uses Christ Himself as an example, is he contradicting John 12:25, where Jesus says, "Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life"? No! There is not contradiction. On the contrary, the agreement is remarkable.
The key phrase is "in this world": He who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. This is not an ultimate hating, because by doing it, you keep your life forever. So there is a kind of hating of life that is good and necessary, and this is not what Paul denies when he says no one hates his life. This kind of hating is a means to saving and is therefore a kind of love. That's why Jesus has to limit the hating He commends with the words in this world. If you take the future world into view, it can't be called hating anymore. Hating life in this world is what Jesus did when He "gave himself for the church." But He did it for the joy set before Him. He did it that He might present His bride to Himself in splendor. Hating His own life was the deepest love for His own life -- and for the church!
Does this make sense?

I know that this might go against some of our deeply instilled feelings regarding what is genuinely good. It is a little like how some people view food... if it tastes good, then it probably isn't good for you... right? But so much of scripture's teaching is calling us to not settle for less than best. To aim for greatest joy. To aim for greatest pleasure. To aim for the most wonderful things of all. And the most wonderful things of all require a losing of yourself now for a gaining of yourself later.

Marriage is a great example of this greater joy and greater pleasure.

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Now I have one of the challenges facing the sharing of quotes: Am I sharing too much or not enough? It is quite possible that these quotes are meaningful to me because of the context. This always causes me to want to share more and more of the content of the book. Then I wonder whether or not sharing this entire chapter out of Desiring God, would be necessary for these statements to make sense.

Well, if you feel like these statements are lacking and require more explanation, please let me know.