...from the pastor

MY FAVORITE MARRIAGE COUNSELING VERSE

Sitting next to a pastor frightens some people. Last week I was flying to Richmond to teach missionaries, and I ended up sitting by a young woman. Eventually we talked, and she found out that I was a pastor. “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” She asked. “I’ve always wanted to ask a pastor; what do you think of interfaith marriage?” I told her my favorite verse for marriage counseling, and I asked her what that meant.  She admitted that, based on that verse, she could see that it would be problematic. 

My favorite verse for counseling couples about to be married, for counseling married couples, and for counseling people in marital issues, is found in Amos 3:3. The prophet writes, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” The prophet is speaking about walking with God, and the clear answer is, “No.” Agreement with God is the foundational premise for a relationship with Him. He is right, and we must conform to His Word; when the Bible says, “Enoch walked with God,” it pictures a relationship of mutuality as Enoch listened to and heeded God.

Amos’s words speak volumes to marital relationships as well. Some assume that the heart of biblical teaching is submission and authority, but this is not the heart of marriage. Marriage at its heart is two people who have agreed to walk with God together; no marriage will work unless two people agree on the road they will travel and they way that they will journey on that road.

In light of this verse, it is no wonder that God commands believers not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. They will pull in different directions, and the yoke will only create conflict. If one spouse is committed to going to heaven and the other spouse refuses to follow Christ, they will ultimately travel to two diametrically opposed destinations. The journey they take will only produce heartbreak and alienation unless one or the other renounces their path. The majority of such cases reveal that the unbeliever generally drags the believer down. 

Real marriage works best when two believers are yoked together in Christ to travel the same road of life—they commit to follow Christ as Lord and to serve Him together. They commit to rear their children in His ways, to serve together in a local church where their lives can reflect His love and their gifts can be exercised for His glory, and to seek Him together in prayer and the Word. They may occasionally disagree; then they employ biblical counsel to resolve that disagreement. The heart of marriage is joyful agreement with one another and God; such marriages fill life’s journey with joy and end well.