Marriage is an institution ordained, designed and established by God. As Jesus affirmed, when two people come together in matrimony, it is God who joins them together. However, as fallen and rebellious sinners, humanity ever seeks to defy God and pervert His purpose. Rather than embracing God’s defined roles in marriage, fallen humanity seeks to reshape marriage in their own image. This results in fantasies about marriage that are idolatrous and in direct defiance of God’s purpose. As Christians, we need to recognize those fantasies, reject the idolatry and embrace God’s good purpose.
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The World’s False Ideals of Marriage
The world has no shortage of marital ideals. But all expectations for marriage that do not begin and end with the purpose and glory of God are fantasies and idolatries. When sinful man turned away from God he retreated into fantasy. He lives his whole life in denial of the one true God and tries to find fulfillment in creation rather than the Creator. A popular marital fantasy is that we have a right to happiness.
Unrealistic Expectations: Only God is Perfect
Marriage has been idealized to such an impossible and unachievable standard that some sociologists believe this is a major factor in the decline of the number of marriages. It seems men and women are looking for the “perfect spouse.” It is a fantasy to believe that your ideal of a “perfect spouse” exists and, if they did, they would consent to marry you. If we are honest, we know that we could never measure up to such a standard ourselves.
Expecting What Cannot Be Given
A common factor in marital fantasy is self-centeredness. Many enter into the marital relationship looking for personal gratification and fulfillment. We are looking to be completed, not to complete our spouse. Our sinful tendency is to be concerned about what we are not getting rather than what we are not giving. When we demand such fulfillment from marriage we are expecting from our spouse what no creature can give.
Idolatry, the Root of the Problem
Marriage does not exist to merely serve the needs of human beings. It is God’s institution designed to declare theological truths about Christ and His church. When people look to marriage for fulfillment they are looking to something God created for what only God Himself can provide. That is the essence of idolatry. When Christians use the Word of God to try and manipulate their spouse into doing what they want, that too is idolatry.
A Word of Encouragement -
Focusing of God’s Purpose
While we must guard against false expectations in marriage, that doesn’t mean we should have no expectations at all. God has joined us together with our spouse for a reason and we should pursue that purpose for His glory. How a husband treats his wife should be a living commentary on how Christ loves the church. How a wife treats her husband should be a living exposition of how the church honors Christ.