What should make Christian marriages distinctive?

When we talk about the difference that being a Christian makes in life, not just in marriage, we point to the reality that as Christians we are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, who is working within us to give us assistance to be obedient to the commandments of God. We also realize that simply because we are Christian, we are by no means exempt from sin. Christians sin. We all sin and we all continue to sin. So the fact that we are Christians is no guarantee that our marriage relationships will be what they ought to be.

I’ve mentioned on many occasions that I’m always distressed when I hear of pastors who are so zealous to reach people with Christianity that they make promises I don’t think God ever dreamed of making to people. They will say things like, “Come to Jesus and all your problems will be solved.” In my experience as a Christian and one who was suddenly and dramatically converted from a pagan lifestyle, I think that my life didn’t get complicated until I became a Christian because now I’m engaged in conflict such as I never knew before. There is conflict between the desires that come out of my heart that are not righteous and what God’s Word is saying I should be doing.

If there’s any great advantage of being a Christian, it’s the advantage of having at our disposal the wisdom of God. For any human relationship to survive disputes, disagreements, struggles, and the adjustments that all human relationships go through requires more than simple moral character. It requires great wisdom. The wisdom to handle conflict in human relationships is available to us from the Word of God. We’re told, for example, something as simple as this: A soft answer turns away wrath. We’re instructed by those principles of wisdom how to avoid the kind of spirit that destroys relationships. Think for a minute about the gamut of emotions we go through in our friendships and our marriages. I’ve always said there’s no human being in the world who can make me more angry than my wife can. There’s no one in the world whose criticism can hurt me more than my wife’s because her opinion of me means more to me than anybody else’s. I have to know how to handle my emotions in that very volatile and vulnerable relationship. The Scriptures teach me that there is a difference between hurt and grief and bitterness. I’m allowed to be hurt. I’m allowed to grieve. But I’m not allowed to be bitter. I’m allowed to be angry, but I’m not allowed to let the sun go down on my wrath. The application of those principles that God gives to us goes a long way in helping us and many other people through these rough spots in human relationships.

©1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.