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faithful love at the heart of marriage

Here are some highlights from a new book by Christopher Ash: Married for God: Making Your Marriage the Best It Can Be (Crossway, 2016). About halfway through and it's excellent so far...

"We are male and female so that we may use our maleness and femaleness in joyful service of God in the government of his world."

"Marriage and family can easily become just a respectable form of selfishness... If we marry mainly to meet our own needs, then our marriages will be just that: good-looking masks for selfishness. It is a short step from 'loving you' to 'loving me and wanting you.' It is too easy for Christians to think of marriage as a discipleship-free zone. So that outside of marriage we talk about sacrifice, taking up our cross, and so on. But inside marriage we just talk about how to communicate better, how to be more intimate, how to have better sex, how to be happy."

"The defining moment is thought to be when they are alone in the bedroom, not when they serve together as a new social and family unit in the wider society. Sociologists have noted how destructively intense such relationships become, and therefore how brief."

"This irony, that we expect so much of marriage but find it disappointing, is an irony the Bible understands perfectly. It calls it idolatry. This means that if I pursue any goal except the honor of God, then I am worshiping an idol. And idols are empty, vacuous, disappointing things that have no power to help me. We see this brilliantly exposed in Isaiah 44:9–20 and in Psalm 135:15–18. The moment I make my 'relationship' the goal of my life, I doom myself to disappointment. Surprisingly, the key to a good marriage is not to pursue a good marriage, but to pursue the honor of God. We need to replace this selfish model of marriage with one in which we work side by side in God’s 'garden' (that is, God’s world), rather than gaze forever into each other’s eyes."

"The blessing 'be fruitful and multiply' is given so that men and women will be able to govern and care for the world God has entrusted to them."

"One of the great reasons why married couples ought to want children is that they force us to welcome into our circle strangers we have not chosen... And therefore in parenting we learn to welcome the stranger, the one chosen by God for us to love."

"When you or I find ourselves 'falling in love' with our future wife or husband, we should ask, Why has God given me these feelings? Why do I feel like a bird in springtime? The answer is, so that as a couple delighting in one another you can forge a new social unit whose heart is faithful love; and then out of that heart of faithful love can overflow generous love to others... The principle is that faithful love cannot flow out from a marriage unless it is present as the heart of a marriage."

~ Christopher Ash, Married for God: Making Your Marriage the Best It Can Be.


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