Open Letter to My Married Friends
I have marveled at your weeping grooms, the ones whose tears turned into sobs as their fiancées glided between the pews. I have listened as you exchanged the vows of two love-struck people in the presence of God. When the moon rose, I have waved as you disappeared from the dance floor and went on your way to the marriage bed.
Yet some of you have succumbed to the fallacy that romance buds in isolation, and we have been deprived of witnessing your marital growth. As an unmarried woman in the church, my hope is that you would grant greater insight into the rawness of marriage beyond the wedding day.
Marriage Has Not Disqualified You
Your marital status on earth has changed, but while you have gone from being single to married, you are still single-mindedly devoted to the service of the Lord’s people. I want to remind you that spiritually, your marital status remains the same; God is your husband with a capital “H” and you continue to be a member of the body of his bride.
Since the collective ministry of the Church continues to function on the backs of his followers, marriage has not castrated you from the call to make disciples. While I know you must be obedient to death in the call to love one another sacrificially, I hope your love is not so exclusive and inwardly-focused that it is seldom displayed outside of your abode.Love your spouse uniquely, but let 1 Corinthians 13 be demonstrated universally, especially among believers. Grant the singles, the widows, the orphans and the likewise married an opportunity to witness your marital ministry.
Let us witness how the gifts God etched in you individually are combined in marriage for the furtherance of the Gospel. Show us you have not allowed your union to impede your ministry of evangelism and that what was a single voice crying out in the wilderness (John 1:23) has and will become a mass choir crying amidst the darkness, telling of his marvelous light. Do not divorce your love for one another from your ministry of evangelism. Rather let your marital status be an expansion of it.
What you were wholly committed to in your singleness—whether ministering to the widow, the oppressed, the youth, the unmarried, the prostitute and the destitute—should remain. You must continue to devote time to the fellowship of the saints, meeting together in worship, sharing in the heavenly calling, and living in community with those who have been adopted by the Most High God.
A Measure of Transparency—for Your Good, His glory, and Our Sanctification
I am aware of imperfections. Perhaps the feeling of marital bliss wanes and the command to commit serves a stronger foundation. Do not be afraid to admit the difficulties of marriage. In doing so, you will be destroying the distorted constructions of love instilled in us (singles) through the media. I want to remind you that it is good to be vulnerable. It is good to add a measure of transparency in the ministry of your affections, even when such transparency does not paint the call to love (within marriage) as a bed of red rose petals.
We want to be witnesses to your weaknesses and your struggles. We want to be reminded of the patience that must be wrought in us to withstand marital trials. We want to be informed of the gentleness that must encircle our speech in order to cushion conflict. We want to be awakened to the rawness of love in practice. Hold your tongue from slandering your spouse and err on the side of caution, but do not simply remain silent.
Be a herald in reminding us marriage is comprised of two lovers prone to sinfulness, yet it is amidst the weight of sinfulness that the continual demonstration of grace and reconciliation reach divinity. Show us the ebb and flow of passion, the sacrifice, and selflessness required to love another and to give of yourself daily, especially when you don’t feel like it. Rebuke the shame that may be borne in testifying of marital suffering, and in admitting love sometimes is a trial beyond the bliss. Humble yourself in asking for prayer.
We esteem marriage so highly that we long to pray for you, but we need your confession to substantiate our prayers to the Lord on your behalf.
How else can the Church (married, unmarried, widowed or divorced) benefit from transparent God-centered marriages?