God’s Design for Marriage: Passion and Commitment (The Meaning of Marriage Chapter 3)

It seems like this world gives you two choices.
1. You can have a string of passionate relationships where the feelings are strong and the thrills intense. And while these relationships provide excitement, they also deliver a great deal of brokenness. (I once heard a woman describe her relationships as a war zone.)
2. You can settle down and get bored. Yes, there will be stability but the passion and thrill of a relationship will vanish. In its place will be the drudgery of a life without passionate love.
But, what if God’s design allowed for both stable commitment and passionate love?
In fact, marriage is meant to fight the two extremes listed above. On the one hand, we must avoid a passionless marriage that becomes nothing more than a social structure in which to raise children. On the other hand, we must avoid being so caught up in the emotional thrill so that we fail to make real sacrificial commitments to one another.
God’s design for marriage is passionate commitment.
The Biblical model of marriage is meant to unite passion and commitment in one relationship. Genesis speaks of cleaving together in marriage and it means to be glued together. Why is this necessary? Keller says, “Love needs a framework of binding obligation to make it fully what it should be.”
So, why have a wedding to make a promise? Does a ceremony really keep the spark of passion and commitment? Keller says, “Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love. A wedding should not be primarily a celebration of how loving you feel now – that can be safely assumed.”
At this point, Keller says something revolutionary. He says that the core of who we are as individuals is the sum of the promises we make. Our identity is directly tied to our word.
Only in the promise can we experience marriage as God intended. Why? Keller says, “When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits…It is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”
God’s design for man and woman is to be known and loved. That can only happen in the framework of commitment. Relationships do not begin without passion. They do not last without commitment. And that is God’s genius. He intended for us to find both passion and commitment in marriage.
Too many couples I meet settle for thrills of passion without knowledge. The result is a string of relationships instead of one great life-long story. And too many couples settle for knowledge without thrills of passion. They have one relationship but it is dull and lifeless.
God wants more for our marriages.
And maybe you didn’t realize it but when you got married you committed to a life-long passionate love affair with one person. You gave your word. You said, ‘I am glued to this person for good.’
To settle for less means you are not living up to your word.

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