But Those Who Marry Will Face Troubles
First, I should explain what I mean by conflict. The word conflict typically conjures thoughts of war, arguments, disagreements, and strong negative emotions. Conflict can be positive also. It serves as a motivator to spur us on to better and greater things. Conflict serves as a reason to fight against injustice. It even drives us to bring things back into balance. So conflict is both positive and negative, especially in marriage.
Consider the words in I Corinthians 7 where Paul writes, “But if you marry, you have not sinned… But those who marry will face many troubles in this life…” According to this passage married couples are going to have conflict. Most married couples will testify to this fact, but there’s more. After all, why would anyone want to get married if it’s only going to be trouble? We are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) and we are drawn into relationship with others. Having such a close connection with another human made in God’s image is difficult, or at the very least uncomfortable, because we are different people and we are flawed with sin in our lives. Therefore, the intimate relationship of marriage, by its very nature, generates conflict. At this point, marital conflict becomes an opportunity to become a better, more mature Christian, as evidenced by James 1:2-4, 12.
I have not found the verse in the Bible that tells me God just wants me to be happy, but I do read that God wants me to have a relationship with him (Matt. 22:36-40). The Bible also says that God wants me to be holy and sanctified. Jesus lived a sinless life on Earth and became the ultimate sacrifice to atone for my sins so that my relationship with God would be reconciled (II Cor. 5:14-21). But what does that have to do with marriage?
Emerson Eggerichs (www.loveandrespect.com) suggests that the purpose of marriage is a test and a testimony of our relationship with God. Gary Thomas (www.garythomas.com) asserts that marriage is designed to make us holy, not happy. Bear in mind that in Heaven, we will neither marry, nor be given in marriage (Matt. 22:30), which puts our primary focus on being in relationship with God as our first priority… not on our spouse. When we lose our focus on God and put our focus on (put your faith in) our spouse, we have more negative conflict because we are relying on (seeking ultimate reconciliation of sin from; seeking righteousness from) another sinner who has fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23-24).
Therefore, maybe God uses trials, tests, and conflicts in marriage to more fully develop our faith in Him, and not in ourselves or others. When we seek our identity and reconciliation from God, it frees us up to love our spouse in good times and bad. The end result is that when we focus on and put our faith in God, we have less conflict and more peace in our lives.