One of the best books ever written on marriage is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Chapman helps readers understand what behaviors or words make them feel loved in marriage as well as showing them what makes their spouse feel loved.
It’s an extremely helpful book and I heartily recommend it.
There is, however, another marriage love language that trumps all others. It’s the love language that God expects in marriage and requires for both spouses.
So what’s the ultimate love language of marriage?
That which God expects of all spouses is the willingness to sacrifice for the well being of the other. It’s summed up in Paul’s short but powerful transition statement in Ephesians 5 — the one between his teaching on the filling of the Spirit and its effects on human relationships, starting with marriage.
“And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ,” Ephesians 5:21.
Consider Psalm 50:5, too — “Gather My godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.“
The language of covenant in the Bible is sacrifice. The sacrifice of a covenant maker showed how serious he was about the agreement he was entering into.
God used the sacrifice of animals when he made covenants with individuals in the Old Testament. Then, in the ultimate covenant act, God sacrificed his Son for us. That act of covenant showed just how serious God was about redeeming us from sin. He backed it up with the death of Jesus.
In the New Testament, Paul used God’s covenant with us to describe how a Christ-honoring marriage is supposed to work. He used the two players in God’s covenant relationship — Jesus and the Church — to show husbands and wives respectively how they are to not only act in marriage, but also how they are to treat each other.
In a word, it’s sacrifice.
Husbands sacrifice by dying daily for their wives. They lay their own lives down in order to provide for, protect, serve and lead their wives well. Wives sacrifice by daily living for their husbands. They show them honor by submitting to them and respecting them.
I know that that some of the language I just used for husbands and wives seems more than archaic in our culture. Words like submit, serve and honor. And that may be the point.
How might our marriages be better if husbands and wives approached each other with an “I’m in this to sacrifice” mindset? Would our divorce rates drop? Would cases of infidelity decline? Would marriage joy increase? You can decide for yourself.
But in a world where “Christians” celebrate their divorces on Facebook, I find the Bible’s call to sacrifice as part of the marriage covenant to be quite refreshing.
For those of you who are married, stop and pray about your relationship with your spouse. Where might God be asking you to add sacrifice into the language of your marriage?
For those of you who are single but plan to be married in the future, starting looking today at marriage through the lens of the Scriptures and not the lens of culture. The basic difference is obvious: Biblical marriage asks “What can I give?” not “What can I get?”