princess(psst!  You NEED to watch the video that is part of this post)

This past weekend, two students who used to be in my youth ministry got married.  I wasn’t fortunate enough to be there, but I was there in spirit.  This is one of those couples where you can really CELEBRATE their union in Christ.  They so wonderfully love each other over the past four+ years that they courted.  They are one of those couples who really exhibited the way a Christian couple ought to court and date.  They took their time.  They really got to know each other.  They endured some serious long distance for a while in their relationship.  They truly sharpened each other in their faith, their service to others and helped each other become the person God created them to be.  But most of all, they depended on Christ for their primary relationship.

Sunday was special because not only did the community of faith celebrate a Wedding, we were able to celebrate a Godly Marriage.  Weddings are parties celebrating a marriage, marriages are the celebration of a lifelong relationship.  Far too often we believe a great wedding can substitute for a healthy marriage.  Unfortunately, it can’t.  It is when we can celebrate BOTH that true Celebrations can happen.

Here are the foundation principles that I believe make for a solid foundation for a healthy marital relationship.

MARITAL PRIORITY #1–Our individual relationship with Christ must inform our Humanity.

Our relationship with God teaches us what is mean to be a good human.  It is in our humanity we realize our weakness our frailty our need for God.  It allows us to understand Who is truly in charge.  Our humanity teaches us our limits and our need for a limitless Savior. Humanity and faith in a Creator, Redeemer God gives us the ability to learn and practice Trust.  Humanity indwells us with the need for grace and forgiveness, justice and mercy.

This has to be a INDIVIDUAL discipline before it is a COUPLE’S discipline.  In other words, I must work on my own relationship first, without Amy or her influence.  I must be able to be a follower of God without Amy BEFORE I can be a follower WITH Amy.  i.e. I need to be able to feed myself so that I can help feed Amy and Madeline and Abby and others.  Too many times I have seen one person or the other fully depend on their spouse for their spiritual influence only to become codependent on their spouse for faith and draining their spouse in the process.

Yes, there are seasons when I have had to depend on Amy for faith and encouragement, but this cannot be the regular practice for a couple to remain healthy.  I think this is what Paul is getting at when he talks of being unequally yoked.

MARITAL PRIORITY #2–This humanity then informs our ability to be a great spouse/partner/helpmate

Without knowledge of our limits, need for grace, we are unable to practice understanding, forgiveness, trust, justice and mercy–all VITAL foundations of a healthy, thriving marital relationship.

MARITAL PRIORITY #3–This ability to be a good spouse/partner/helpmate informs our ability to be a great parent.

One of the best pieces of advice we got in our parenting classes before we had Madeline was that we needed to keep these first two relationships (God,spouse) in order SO THAT we could be great parents.  This means that my relationship with God comes before my relationship with Amy and that my relationship with Amy comes before my relationship with Madeline and Abby.  Otherwise I am not being a good parent.

I have watched so many families flip this and allow their children to take the place of a struggling (or even healthy) marriage, only to destroy that marriage.  Amy and I tell our girls regularly that we love God more than we love each other and that we love each other more than we love them.  This shocked them the first time we told them, but it it TRUE.

MARITAL PRIORITY #4–After all of that is said and done, then our humanity, our “spouse”ness, and our “parent”ness ought to inform our Vocation.

These foundational aspects of the human condition ought to inform that to which God has called all of us.  Our vocation, our careers, ought to be informed by our limits, our need for forgiveness, our dependence on one another, our need for grace as we teach, litigate, heal, clean, account, market, sell, train, build, construct, bank, trade, invest, drive, minister, or whatever else one does as a calling.  Then we can truly be shining stars, salt, light, hand and feet of Jesus in our daily lives.

When all of these priorities are in order (and this order alone) only then we can truly CELEBRATE a marriage.

Wedding Celebration

This clip is from a wedding I wish I could have been at.  It is of two people getting married that I do not know, but they have captured in their processional what the CELEBRATION of a MARRIAGE and a UNION in CHRIST ought to truly look like.  I think Celebration is a discipline that is far too UNDERutilized in the community of faith.  We need to Celebrate what God does in our live much more than we do. You will not regret spending the next five minutes watching this!

So to my two friends who are now celebrating your brand new marriage, Congratulations!  May God bless you with year after year of bliss, growth, sharpening, grace, forgiveness, faith, hope and LOVE!

“Have fun storming the castle!”

-The Princess Bride


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