There used to be a time when we would ask, “What is God’s plan for marriage?” and we would be met with the deer in the headlights stare. Now, when asked, without hesitation, people shout out – To get each other to heaven. To which I respond, “How do we do that?” And the dear in the headlights looks returns. Too many times we learn the sound bites or catchphrases to respond to various questions, but we need not only to learn the appropriate response but to “live” the right answer as well.
A question that I’ve been asking, lately, is, “What is the purpose of Marriage?” One could ask, isn’t the goal and purpose the same thing? Ah, not exactly. A goal is an objective, something you strive to achieve. This is why heaven should be our ultimate goal in life, and marriage is a relationship to assist each other in getting there. A purpose is a reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. The purpose of marriage is for each spouse to be transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. We are called to learn to love like Jesus.
To love like Jesus, we have to identify the ways in which he loved. His love was unconditional, merciful and sacrificial. Therefore, we must exercise those same characteristics if we are to love like Christ. For a spouse to exemplify unconditional love, he/she needs to have a spouse who fails to meet all of their conditions in marriage. If you had a spouse that met all of your conditions you would not be able to practice unconditional love. Get the picture? If you have a spouse that was perfect and never messed up, you would not have the opportunity to extend merciful love. To know and experience sacrificial love, you need to have a spouse that does not cater to all of your “selfish” needs. So, when we have a spouse who fails to do things the way that we like to have them done or requires for us to extend mercy or requires us to go outside of ourselves to do for them – we complain! We complain because we fail to see that God has given us an imperfect person that allows us the many opportunities to learn to love like his son, Jesus Christ!