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Transformational Marriage

December 22, 2022

Mary Miller

As husbands and wives pursue a marriage unified by a vision of oneness with Christ and His Bride as our model, we move into ultimate fulfillment.

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. [1]  

The other morning I was captured by two commands in Peter’s address to both husbands and wives. My husband and I met in seminary, where we were working on graduate studies in theology; I also pursued a concentration in marriage and family. We have counseled and coached numerous marriages since we embarked on our journey together in the late 1990s. After a much needed two-year hiatus, God opened doors for us to renew our ministry to couples, but with an entirely fresh vision of husbands and wives—an earthly model of Christ and His Bride—unity in mind, spirit, body and Christ-centered vision. What is our end goal as married couples? We have witnessed too many husbands and wives in our churches, both of them independently serving, pursuing, and loving God, but only for individual fulfillment, not with oneness of vision. We have been in that situation, pursuing devotional meditation in the Word, serving in the church, but not united in perfect oneness. 

That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. [2]

If we are ONE, who has authority over whom? I’ll start with myself, the wife. Scripture suggests that in the process of submitting to her husband, the wife exercises authority over herself to humbly obey. What leapt off the page on this occasion was the phrase, do not fear anything that is frightening.” [3] What was Sarah not afraid of that, in turn, brought her so much honor? I am not a person given to much fear, so I pondered this statement for days. What is frightening to the average faith-filled woman, even to me? What keeps us from complete oneness with our spouses? Is it financial concerns, business problems, issues with one’s children, health concerns, the economy, or interpersonal relationships?

1 John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” In 2 Corinthians 10:5 the Apostle Paul declares that We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”  In the process of choosing to not fear anything that is frightening, a woman exercises authority by “taking every thought captive” [4] and choosing to walk under the umbrella of perfect love—courageous authority over her own fear. Our minds often wander and entertain vain imaginations, both from carnal thinking and at times, from satanic influence. My weapons include the sword of the Spirit which I can wield with confidence knowing God’s word never fails. My head is covered with the helmet of salvation which leads me in humility, knowing that I am nothing without the cross and resurrection. I raise the shield of faith using my mouth to pray, praise, and cry out to God in all circumstances because “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” [5] 

Focusing on oneness in marriage—in the day-to-day choice to submit to my husband and choosing to not fear that which is frightening (which can even be the very choice to submit)—I, the Bride, am pursuing Christ above all. He is my righteousness, my covering, and despite any misguidance on my husband’s part, I am ultimately His—the daughter of the King. There is no fear in Christ.

Husbands are commanded to live with their wives in an understanding manner in order that their prayers may not be hindered. Too often husbands exercise earthly authority over their spheres of influence via their human nature, not the meekness of Christ.  How many marriages do each of us know which reflect husbands who truly study their wives with an intent to understand her—her hopes, dreams, foibles, fears, her past, preferences, passions, health considerations and utter delights? C.S. Lewis writes, “Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” [6] In studying his wife to understand her better, the husband pursues her good above his own. 

We often coach marriages of complete opposites, with each spouse expecting the other to make all the changes to accommodate him/herself. Prayers are being hindered by fears and an unwillingness to take the time and intentionality to understand one another, especially on his part. Women are much more likely to observe their husbands’ nature. The man’s authority is not given because women are told to submit, or because he’s the “head”, but flows from his identity in Christ with the end goal of being ONE with his wife, honoring her into a beautiful unity in mind, body and spirit.  Christ earned His authority by dying on the cross once and for all conquering death.

Mark and I propose that God’s intent for Christian marriages is complete oneness of vision—our ultimate goal in marriage is to use our unity for the glory of God and with the authority of Scripture.

Ephesians 4:9 declares that two are better than one.Matthew 18:20 reads, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  My purpose in marriage is not self-fulfillment but to die to myself and live for Christ. Marriage has not been an easy journey; in fact, being single for each of us would have likely been easier, and even in some seasons, more “fun.” Each of our twenty-four years around the sun has brought us continually closer to “knowing” one another—the pursuit of mutual understanding, authority over fear, quiet grace, and choosing to forgive and love—being still in our hearts and minds and honoring the struggle.

Our marriages are intended to glorify God above all else, to reflect Christ and His Bride. Christ, the “head” died for His Bride. The Bride fully submits in the Spirit as she waits on Him for direction, anointing, and to go before her making a way. Imagine how transformational our churches and communities would be if every married couple walked in such a way! I am anticipating transformational emergence at the marriage retreat we’ll be leading in November as we share our hearts, the Word, and vision for the opportunity to be powerful witnesses of the Gospel.

[1] 1 Peter 3: 1-7, ESV

[2] John 17:21, ESV

[3] I Peter 3:6, ESV

[4] 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV

[5] Proverbs 18:22, ESV

[6] C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock.

Featured image is courtesy of Brooke Cagle via Unsplash. We are grateful for her generosity.


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