Marriage is bigger than you. When marriage is all about me or all about us, we diminish it to a human institution. We diminish it to the means of getting what I or we desire. In so doing, we sin and our sin festers into disappointment that becomes an enduring curse at best and divorce at worst. The book of Ephesians, I have often said is the book of Romans in miniature. It is a compacted doctrinal declaration of God’s amazing work of redemption (1-4:16) and the practical outworking of that redemption (4:17-6: 24).
However, as I was meditating through chapter five one morning, it occurred to me that embedded in this awesome document is the secret of a happy marriage, it much more than a role declaration. If a man and a woman will approach this God-given gift of marriage1 by following this outline of this book, they will literally discover the mystery that unlocks the pathway to having a happy marriage. They will discover that a happy marriage is the byproduct of a living a purposeful godly life.
Read the book again with this outline in mind.
I. The Foundation 1-4:13
A. Recognize who you are—the elect of God 1:1-23
B. Recognize how you became who you are—grace of God 2:1-22
C. Recognize the mystery and your role—displaying the wisdom God 3:1-13
II. The Responsibilities 3:14-6:24
A. Claim a right desire 3:14-21
B. Consider the necessity of being equipped 4:11-16
C. Clean up your personal life 4:17-32
D. Cultivate a knowledge of God 5:1-21
E. Consistently live the model you represent 5:22-32
1. In the family 6:1-4
2. In the work world 6:5-9
F. Conduct spiritual warfare 6:10-18
G. Cultivate a prayer life for the church 19-24
III. The by product is a mutuality on a human level 5:28-33
But, you say, what about attraction and falling in love? Those are legitimate questions. I would suggest that these questions are answered by points A and B under Roman numeral one. These recognitions will set the conditions of the choices we make. That is, choosing the type of person we will allow ourselves to be attracted to and the person we choose to love as a life companion. Our parameters are set with these recognitions.
I dated many girls. I always found females a lot more interesting than most men. Perhaps growing up on an isolated farm with my mother was preconditioning for this bent. I was attracted to more than one of those gals but found those attractions often to diminish quickly after few dates. I “fell in love” with at least two of those gals but did not make the choice to stay in love.
Then I met my wife. Very quickly I realized that I was not only attracted to her as a woman, but to her godly character. Within a month I choose to love her. She had been through an engagement in which she realized that she had been attracted to the man, but not his character and broke it off. Within that same month she reciprocated and choose to love me.
Love is a choice and that is why it is commanded. Falling in love is a happenstance and easily reversed. Choosing to love is an intelligent choice and staying in love is an intelligent daily decision to love God because he first loved us and therefore living obediently in our personal lives and our married lives. We, and others, have enjoyed happy marriages by God’s grace through choosing to love God and obediently loving one another, even at times when the other drifts from living obediently for a season.
Now blogs are not usually given to an extensive outline. However, in this case, the intention of a blog is fulfilled—precipitating thinking. I am hopeful that readers will pick up the text and read it through the lens of this outline. There is no pretense that I have come up with something new, just a fresh perspective. Most readers will be accustomed to the common outline of the book—1-3 doctrinal, 4-6 six practical. Sometimes the common blinds us to seeing a fresh perspective. Here in is the value of intense meditation as the alternate to deductive study.
1Remember, it was not good for man to be alone, because he could not accomplish God’s task of managing and populating this world on his own, He gave him one who was bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman. The words are “ish” (man) and “ishah” (woman) isha (Genesis 1-2)