Ask Your Preacher
Can people fall out of love? If the love you have for each other is true, why do so many marriages end in divorce? I am not married yet, but my boyfriend and I know we will be someday. I love him more than my own life and second only to the Lord, whom by His grace, sent me my best friend. But I hear almost every day of someone who I believed to have a Christ-centered relationship breaking up, or worse, ending their marriage. How can this be? How can people stop loving the person they marry and have promised to love forever? Are they really losing their love, or are they being lazy and not wanting to work at the relationship anymore?
Happily Ever After
Dear Happily Ever After,
To answer your question, we need to talk about the difference between passionate love and the type of love the Bible says a marriage needs. Passion is a fickle thing; passionate love is what we most often associate with love because that is what society teaches us romance is all about, but passion doesn’t always stick around. When a marriage faces the strains of day-to-day life, sometimes you don’t “feel” close… but God teaches that a godly marriage is built off of a stronger type of love.
Biblical love (best described in 1 Cor 13:4-8) is a choice, not a feeling. A loving husband chooses to do that which is in the best interest of his wife. He is to seek to love his wife as Christ does the church (Eph 5:25). A husband’s love is sacrificial; it is a gift he chooses to give unconditionally.
A wife is to respect her husband (Eph 5:24). She shows him respect even if he doesn’t deserve that respect. She chooses to let him lead the household regardless of whether he is good at it. As long as his decisions do not force her to disobey God (Acts 5:29), she follows him. She treats him as a man and honors him as head of the household even when he acts petty and small. Her respect is unconditional.
It is the lack of biblical love in marriages that has created the high divorce rate in our country. Godly marriages are successful because both people choose to love each other even through the hard times. Godly marriages take work, but it is good work, and it is rewarding work. Ask any older couple that still holds hands when they walk down the street – it isn’t always easy, but it is worth it.
I am engaged to be married, but I have a lot of friends of the opposite sex. Should I stop my relationships with men I have known half my life, so he does not question my faithfulness to him? What does the Bible say about opposite sex friendships… friendships that are purely platonic?
The Bible never says that men and women can’t be friends, but it does give some warnings to remain above reproach. Being above reproach is a qualification for an elder (Tit 1:6) and something we should all strive for. To be ‘above reproach’ means to make sure that your behavior is clearly appropriate and honorable in the sight of all (2 Cor 8:21).
When Christians interact with others of the opposite gender, we are to behave in a way that shows all purity (1 Tim 5:1-2). When you are engaged, your relationships with others of the opposite gender change because your stage of life has changed. That doesn’t mean that you can’t still do things with men… but you need to be looking at how to have those relationships in a healthy way that incorporates your soon-to-be husband – that may or may not be possible. If it does come down to choosing between your marriage and others… your marriage will always come first (Eph 5:31).
How do you survive an unevenly yoked marriage, and if your marriage is unevenly yoked, can God yoke the relationship together?
Dear Just Surviving,
God says that we are ‘unevenly yoked’ when we deeply intertwine our life with an unbeliever (2 Cor 6:14). A prime example of this is marriage. There is no more intimate relationship on this planet than marriage (Gen 2:24), and when a Christian is married to a non-Christian, it can be extremely difficult.
If you are married to an unbeliever, things will be tough, but all things are possible through God (Lk 18:27). Remember that your role is to be a light and sanctifying influence in your marriage (1 Cor 7:13-14). It is your godly behavior that has the potential to lead your spouse to Christ.
Inversely, you must not let your spouse’s attitudes and priorities lead you away from the Lord. Remember that your relationship with Christ comes first. Stand firm in the faith (1 Cor 16:13). Set your mind and purpose in your heart that you won’t skip church services (Heb 10:24-25), won’t compromise your morals for anyone, and you won’t let your love of Christ grow cold (Matt 24:12). If you do that, the Lord will bless you, and your marriage will be blessed.