When we prepared our wedding registry, I was incredibly eager as I considered the potential bounty we might accumulate. While my reasonable fiancé listed items in order to furnish our home with certain necessities, I saw an unprecedented opportunity to establish a collection of random items that would surely start our marriage off right. As she informed me regarding common wedding etiquette of which I saw as painfully unnecessary, I was inconsolably disappointed at the loss of such a prospect.
Despite my letdown, we did receive some incredible and even unexpected gifts. I do remember looking through the stacks of gifts and realizing there were some kitchen appliances of which I was not prepared to use from the start. Just seeing other people use such culinary gadgets did not ensure that I could do the same. Regardless of the immense levels of testosterone fueling my distaste for all things that looked like a set of directions, I knew that to use these tools well, I would have to read up on it. I would need to seek the wisdom of the expert who put it together and could teach me how best to operate this gift.
Marriage is a gift just like that – just more powerful and delicate. While I may have seen countless people handle that gift carefully and others handle it poorly, I am no more the expert due to some successes and others’ failures. I can be given the gift and fail at benefiting from it because I never sought the wisdom of the one who put it together.
Within his carefully crafted manual, God teaches me everything I need to start marriage well and to see it to completion.
The Bible teaches that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God did not invite us to embark upon the journey of marriage unprepared with the instructions required to bring it safely onto the shore. Marriage is a good work, and God has provided, through the pages of Scripture, exactly what is required to handle it properly.
Does the Bible give a checklist on how to resolve conflict? Will it guide you to know how to deal with inlaws? Is there guidance contained in those pages to navigate child-rearing, financial planning, and intentional intimacy? Yes and no. The eternal truths are plainly present in order to provide us with the principles needed to partake in such a pursuit. God’s Word doesn’t read like a three-step plan for every problem, but instead, it provides a guide for how our identity determines our activity.
What we become dictates how we behave.
Just like that wedding gift, you can open up God’s gift of marriage, throw his instructions to the side, and see how you fare, but I would encourage you to consider a different approach.
If God designed marriage, then we ought to consult him on the best way to engage it.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.