indexIf there is one thing I’ve learned about culture it is this: most of what comes out of places like Hollywood is highly idealized fantasy (this of course being the world that pornography swims in). From romantic comedies to reality television, there is a trend in culture that says there is a person out there who is perfect for you if you simply look hard or wait. More on this in a moment.

The statistics are in regarding marriage and family and they are not good. The divorce rate is at an all-time high. 65 percent of women and 55 percent of men will have an adulterous affair by the age of 40. In 1970, 89 percent of all births were to married parents, but today only 60 percent are. Over 72 percent of American adults were marred in 1960, but only 50 percent were in 2008. (You can find these statistics just about anywhere, but I cite these from places like the National Marriage Project at University of Virginia.)

This can get somewhat overwhelming, but there is hope because marriages, though typically in decline as many are opting for cohabitation, are still going strong and the divorce rate is markedly lower in Christian circles (as well as those of other faith traditions). The common assumption that the divorce rate for Christians is just as high as secular culture is absolutely false (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/january/21.34.html).

Enter Jesus. The Apostle Paul explains in Ephesians 5:32 that marriage is a gospel issue. He likens the relationship between a husband and wife to that of Jesus and the Church. This model helps us learn more and more about what it means to be married. It means for husbands to lead their wives through servant leadership (like Jesus), while wives are to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:20-33; cf. Titus 2; Colossians 3:18-24). It means that spouses should never love themselves more than they do the other person or Jesus. It means that marriage itself is a picture of a greater reality that can only be the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel is the reality that you and I are more sinful than we could have ever imagined or admit, yet more loved than we could ever dare hope. This is the power and pattern for marriage.

You never marry the “right” person because there is no “perfect” person; marriage changes you and since we are all on a level playing field (meaning we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory), there is no possible way for you to find someone who will fit everything on your “list”. That person does not exist. Don’t believe Hollywood. Nobody will ever measure up to your expectations. Marriage isn’t 50/50. It is 100/0. You go in expecting nothing yet willing to give everything.

This is the gospel-centered marriage. One that looks at the other spouse and sees that person through the lens of the gospel. Keep short accounts of sin because Jesus has wiped your account clean; never speak ill of your spouse because Jesus intercedes for us daily speaking heavenly words to the Father. You need the gospel every single day in order for your marriage to work and not turn out as another statistic. Believe the gospel, not the lies.