For the Spanish impaired, that’s 15 years! That’s how long I’ve been to my beautiful wife (May 29th, 1999) who doesn’t age. She’s as beautiful as ever in more ways than we understand beauty to be.
15 years is a long time to make a lot of terrible mistakes and to feel like there’s ample reasons to not stay with someone. I’ve had many friends and colleagues over the years never make it to 15 years of marriage… many marriages in America never make it past 7 years. For those who have been married for 20(+) years, keep going, stay in the game, you’re modeling for those of us who care about marital faithfulness and joy; we need you!
As I’ve been reflecting about marriage over the last few weeks, the word covenant has stolen my thoughts. In the New Testament, the Greek word for covenant is diathḗkē (διαθήκη), and within the storyline of scripture, diathḗkē refers to the declaration of God’s unconditional promise to make Abraham and his future offsprings the recipients of certain blessings (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14–17; 15:18; 17:7–8, 19–21; 21:12, 14; 22:2, 12).
Through diathḗkē, God stays with (and loves) Israel in spite of the fact that Israel has been an unfaithful diathḗkē partner. This is extraordinary, especially if you know the nuances of Israel’s unfaithfulness. Then, Jesus arrives midway through God’s story of redemption (of his wayward bride), and God is executing his faithfulness to his bride through making himself become one of us, and taking onto himself what we deserve for our marital unfaithfulness towards him. So to continue in marriage terms, Jesus sacrifices for his undeserving bride, and wins her back, washes her clean from her years of cheating, and brings her back home, loves her, serves her, blesses her, provides for her, and stays with her, no matter what.
Now, the biblical language says that Jesus is the groom and we (followers of Jesus) are the brides… sorry dudes! So in our marriages, husbands and wives are called to enter into a diathḗkē with one another that is meant to model to the watching world the kind of diathḗkē God made with Abraham (you and I) and fulfilled through Jesus, who is the ultimate blessing. Jesus stayed on the cross when we mocked, spit, cursed, hated, and eventually killed him. This means marriage is not only to be a commitment of two lovers who care for another and enjoy the fruit’s of all forms of love, but it is a diathḗkē that was meant to drive one another towards staying when it was easier to leave. And this is so because Jesus stayed.
The marriage covenant was instituted to model to the watching world the kind of love that God has for humanity. When marriages break down, especially among Jesus followers, it is sending a message to the watching world that Jesus is good and loving, but he might not stay if I show all my junk to him… he may leave me. Marriage is a big deal, and it has a huge role in God’s story. The story of God begins with a marriage (Adam and Eve; Gen 1-2) and it ends with a marriage (Christ and the church; Rev. 19). All the marriages in between those historical moments matter, because they display the beauty and worth of Jesus to a world who has distorted beauty and has placed worth on short-lived items.
Marriage with Amy has been amazingly beautiful with many hard days mixed in between, mostly because of my stubborn heart. High highs, and low lows. There are many days I don’t even think about the covenant I made to her before God and man, but then there are other days where we both fall back on the covenant we made to each other and reflect on the reality that our marriage isn’t just about us, our happiness, and our desires. Marriage is about God, and it is meant to display his radical plan to prodigally love humanity. This is what keeps married partners in the game. If there’s anything else that takes priority over this, it won’t stand the test of time and suffering and sin. There are unfortunately times when leaving is necessary and I know many godly people who have left marriages for just and holy reasons (abuse, unfaithfulness, etc), but this post isn’t about the exceptions and this was not God’s plan in his story.
I’m in love with my wife and have loved being married for 15 years with her, and having her be my lady for the past 18 years. I have been sharpened and blessed by her in ways that are unexplainable, and feel like we are only now at the starting line of life together. Holding fast to the covenant God made with us and to the covenant Amy and I made to each other is a way of adding grace to our marriage and produces more love, more joy, and more years together without the devastation of splintered relationships.
If you have been divorced, this post is not to put you down or to make you feel less than, I simply wanted to honor the true meaning of a marriage covenant. God is a God of grace and redemption, and divorce isn’t the unforgivable sin as some fanatics make it out to be, but it does matter and we need to continue to pray for marriages and the display they have in our culture.
Here’s to another quince años Amy Skeens!