Another shameless look at a chapter from Tim and Kathy Keller’s book called The Meaning of Marriage…
Chapter Three – Mmm good! My wife and I love a line from a chick flick we watched early in our marriage. “Mickey, I will always love you, but I don’t have to like you right now!” Sometimes we interrupt a tough or intense conversation where we know we are getting too intense and could demonstrate some kindness and patience with laughing about this quote. We will admit we aren’t “feelin’ it” right then, but we will seek to laugh at how intense we are allowing the given issue to make our outlook. God alone is the ultimate Promise Keeper – if you recall the Promise Keeper’s movement that swept across the USA not so long ago. If men could stand up and make promises and choose to love their brides with humility and commitment in their sights over taking and sex and pleasure and getting a babe to feel pride from winning… Our country could honestly turn around just from this single change of perspective among men in particular.
As a 33 year old man who has been married to my beautiful bride now for nearly 10 years, I believe I can speak into this national catastrophe reasonably well. My challenge and then prayer is as follows concerning us, the 20 and 30 somethings men in particular of the United States…
MEN, act like real men. Stand up and choose your bride wisely if you aren’t already married, and marry her. Either way, men, once married, choose to LOVE FIRST and allow the LIKING to grow more and more. If, as Christian men, women who follow the Savior with us are FIRST viewed as sisters in Christ, our ability to cherish them properly and enjoy them as family before they ever are thought of as “candidates to be my bride,” we would right there see a marked difference in the dating world.
How about for us who are married? Men, no matter how long you’ve been married, try several weeks of simply meditating on your original marriage vows and laboring with all your heart to fulfill on your promises – maybe focus on simply the commitment we all made no matter our creative or simple vows. As married men, we each committed to our brides to LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY. Only in the grace of God can this be done in a frail human replication to how Jesus Christ has loved us. Imagine though for a few minutes of quiet prayer how your marriage would flourish as you SERVE more often than TAKE, as WE as men ACT IN LOVE more often than look at our marriages as “input/output” tools for getting sex.
Let’s be honest, many men going into marriage like the comfort of knowing they should now get sex a couple times a week minimally and are good with the labors of marriage in exchange. This isn’t the point! Sex is wonderful and a true gift to a married man and woman, especially when given with generosity and consistency and for the pleasure of the other first. However, if as men we make our focus a genuine seeking out of our bride as the covenant wife whom God has given us to nourish and cherish, our labors in marriage have so much more meaning. We learn to lay down our lives daily and serve. We learn to listen and genuinely seek out the good of our mate. As we do this, our enjoyment and liking of our bride increases. We come to love someone we used to too quickly find fault in, serve someone we used to struggle to serve because we were in it for ourselves instead of the glory of Jesus Christ.
Marriage isn’t about me. It’s more about my bride. And, it’s ultimate about Jesus Christ. Imagine if men increasingly looked at marriage as an opportunity to grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ. Now we’re talking! As we learn day-by-day to serve instead of take in our marriages, our brides become all the more lovely to us and our God becomes all the more awesome to behold. We also learn to serve in our communities more graciously and become more on mission with our families, being about giving and finding deep joy therein as we age and ripen together for God’s plucking us up to join Him one day for a truly euphoric eternity of divine relationship joys.
Father God, please draw men to read this and consider seriously what the Kellers’ and Carrie and I and so many other couples in every community know to be true and worth living out. Help men to lead in this, to seek out their wives in genuine and lasting love, not to feed their pride in conquest. Grow our affections for our brides as we serve and fulfill our commitment to love as Christ has loved us. Undo us and reshape us with godly affection, realizing how You chose to love and seek us out, listen to our repentance and sorrow over our sin, laying down Your holy life to give us eternal life. Jesus, we fall so short, and yet You inspire us and fill us with pleasure as we contemplate how You have sought us out and won our hearts and minds. You melt our pride and labor in love over us through the ministry of Your Holy Spirit, Your Word, and Your people. May it start right here in Tuolumne County. May we as men stand up and choose to love one day at a time, fulfilling our promise in our marriage to LOVE. As we do this, may our families grow and swell with the deep affection that follows faithful fulfilling of promises by men. May our wives respond with joy and faithfulness and abundant hope ultimately in the Savior, seeing how their husbands are changing in the shadow of the Cross of Christ.
As men, we bow and soak in the shadow of the cross. We’re melted at the reality of Your death for us, Jesus. We enjoy the thought of seeing Your face one day, and we want to spend our lives well, abandoned to Your service. Our old men hang lifelessly on the cross where You hung thousands of years ago. Our new men increasingly stand while our old men are being beat back by this meditation. Our new men stand up to serve and give instead of take and get. We find an increase in our liking of our brides and children and those we serve as we lay down self only to find our true selves in Jesus Christ, selves we enjoy being much more than our old men. Make us new, Savior. Help us to more readily work together and serve together. May we do this for the good of our brides, the good of our children, and the good of our communities… May we do this for YOUR GLORY, KING JESUS!
Grateful for you, men!