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Marriage Is for Holiness, Not Just Happiness

Marriage Is for Holiness, Not Just Happiness

How our marriage has made us better people
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Neither of us "needed" to get married. Both of us were independent and for the most part, content in our singleness. Paul dreamed of living alone on a boat off the coast of Newport Beach, California; Halee had plans to travel the world teaching English overseas. Yet there we were, barefoot on a sandy beach outside Santa Barbara, making our vows to the sound of rushing waves crashing on the shore.

Make no mistake, we were (and still are) head over heels for one another, but neither of us needed marriage to make us happy because we were already happy in our singleness. We understood—even then—that our marriage was ultimately more about our moral development than personal satisfaction and contentment. And that day, we washed each other's feet in the surf to symbolize our commitment to serve each other to that end.

For most of human history and in most societies, the goal of marriage was to provide economic security through family alliances and to serve as a context for procreation. To marry for personal happiness (or love) was considered a selfish act that disregarded the needs of the broader community. It wasn't until the 12th century that the troubadours (a group of traveling poets) introduced the concept of courtly love as we know it today.

Still other groups have emphasized the spiritual goals of marriage. The Catholic church believes marriage is a sacrament because the relationship between husband and wife represents the union of Christ to his bride, believers. In 1930, Pope Pius XI proposed that the primary purpose for Christian marriage was not procreation or sacrament, but to serve as a context for moral development. He writes, "This mutual molding of [spouses], this determined effort to perfect each other, can in a very real sense, as the Roman Catechism teaches, be said to be the chief reason and purpose of matrimony."

The trouble—even for contemporary Christians—is that we often approach marital issues in an individualistic way. In the cornucopia of Christian marriage self-help books, the guiding questions seem to be along the lines of "What can I get out of this?" or "How can I cope in this marriage?" rather than "What are we forging together?" or "How can our marriage make us each more like Christ?" It's not that God doesn't want our marriages to bring us deep satisfaction and happiness, it's just that marriage is bursting with opportunities for deeper spiritual growth—opportunities we may be missing if we're not asking all the right questions.

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Omawumi Ovuorie

February 14, 2013  12:56am

Really good views about marriage.

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Edward Mills

February 08, 2013  12:36pm

This is an addendum to my earlier comment. I have heard several sermons on the topic, "Marriage is for holiness, not happiness," and they all sounded like something out of the Victorian period and to the outsider the topic would likely reinforce the view of Christianity as "agin sex." The author of "Love and Will" was an ordained minister before becoming a psychotherapist. Google "Rollo May" and you will get some 1.8 million hits. The NY Times reviewed the book in 2 installments, ending with the comment "it is the only game in town" (for developing an attitude toward sex that fits the needs of today). The Times later described May as having "an ear to the ground" in that later work has confirmed all his theories. May is credited with developing an existential psychologlicl/philophosophical view of the nature of man. He studied under Paul Tillich, an existential philospher/theologian. I am writing a possible 50+ page memo to our pastors explaining the psychology of Rollo May

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uwimana Annah besigye.

February 08, 2013  12:33pm

beloved of God, this article has blessed my life beyond words can express. I just needed to hear all that I have read because am in such a learning moment in my marriage. Am close to 14 years in marriage and have had an upheaval that i never imagined could ever happen in my life and marriage But am grateful to God for His love endures forever. I have a testimony to share. I trusted my husband so much that I used to think that even if he was to sleep with another woman on the same bed nothing would happen between them but one day I was heart broken when he confessed before me that he had slept with some girl. However in that pain I had an assurance from God that He is in control and indeed he was in control. Right now we are still healing and I believe that God is taking us to grater heights and refining our characters to suit his purpose in our life. May god bless you so much. I would love to have a ministry with women where ti share this grate information and wisdom with. Blessings.

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