Imagine a giant 15,000-piece jigsaw puzzle in a big cardboard box. Now imagine a married couple locked up in a room together where the only way out is tosolve this jigsaw puzzle without the box top. Without the box top they won’t know what the finished puzzle is supposed to look like.
Sounds pretty stressful — if not impossible, right? I actually think that at some point this couple would try to kill one another inside that room!
Most marriages are a lot like this scenario. The pieces of the puzzle represent the different aspects of our marriage, including our work, the in-laws,kids, family, money, etc. And just like the couple in the illustration, most of us are trying to work out our marriages without the box top! As a result,we don’t know how our marriage is supposed to look and function.
But did you know that God has painted the “box top” of your marriage and He wants you to know what it looks like?
Here’s a snapshot of what it looks like: Couples that have God’s “box top” are able to resolve conflict because they know what normal, healthy conflictlooks like. They also have God’s supernatural power to help them to stay committed to their spouse as they go through some of the most trying and stressfultimes in life. With God’s strength, as they go through these difficult times, they actually grow closer together so that they don’t give up, find someoneelse, or assume they are with the wrong person. With God’s “box top” they’re able to build deep and strong relationships.
So, what is God’s “box top” design for marriage? We can find it in Genesis 2:
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and theyfelt no shame. (v. 24-25)
In God’s design, couples must leave their parents, be united with one another and become one flesh.Both Adam and Eve were emotionally and psychologically naked, vulnerable and open to one another. They had oneness, which is true intimacy –emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
The same model also applies to us. We must leave, break from our pasts and be united with each other. When we get married, it means there is no longer “he”and “she,” but “we.” Then there’s the blending together of all aspects of life: physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. This meansthat family, in-laws, hobbies, work, and kids all rank number two in importance and the “we” as a couple ranks number one.
God designed marriage so that when we each draw closer to God, then we naturally draw closer to each other.We often forget that God created us first and foremost for Himself and then for one another. God being the central component in marriage is completelyabsent in secular marriages and almostcompletely absent in Christian marriages. Yet He is absolutely essential.
God designed marriage to be a holy covenant.A holy covenant is super serious business. Marriage isn’t just a “contract” with a pre-nuptial. A marriagecovenant is a guarantee, a solemnagreement with a binding force. It is a life or death commitment, an all or nothing. Yet many of us as Christians simply “hope” our marriage works out. Wehave an attitude of “if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.”
But this doesn’t reflect God’s design.
God’s design for marriage is a life-long commitment of unconditional love toward an imperfect person.One man, one woman, together, forever.
When we truly begin to see marriage as a holy covenant, then divorce is not an option. When things get hard, there aren’t any “Plan Bs”or seeing it as a 50/50 contract. When we get married, we enter into a holy covenant before a holy God who provides supernatural resources. And as we layour life before Him, God outlines His conditions as He shows us His design.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip