Choosing a marriage that’s oriented toward Christ

Written by Bonnie Pue

This year marks 20 years since my husband Bryan and I met one another outside the south-facing double doors at our local church. I was leaned up against a rock wall with binders and notebooks filled with biology sketches and notes surrounding me—squeezing in a little bit of studying for my provincial exam before youth group started.

He saw me and asked me what I was studying.

“Biology? Oh? My dad’s actually a biology teacher.”

He laughs now to think that his dad’s career choice would come in handy in that moment of destiny.

Our friendship, our flirting, the months we spent “taking a break,” and then our dating were full of both wonderful and awkward and difficult moments. My heart leapt at the sound of his blue Dodge truck’s engine as it rumbled around the corner towards our family home. For my 21st birthday, he surprised me with tickets to see Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera. My face hurt from smiling as the orchestral music filled the theatre.

He dropped down on one knee on May 25, 2007. Even though I had suspected it that day and had even booked the day off to get a manicure and shop for a new dress, I still burst into tears and to this day can’t remember a word that he said. My answer was an emphatic “yes.”

In the years of marriage since, I’ve thought often of the verse in the letter written to the early church of Corinth that directs the people of God to be “equally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Many of us live in urban centres now and don’t often see oxen out plowing fields. But we can understand the concept: align your life with someone who is going the same direction and who wants the same kinds of things.

God never intended for us to pair up just so we could have someone with us at candlelight dinners every weekend for the rest of our lives. Yes, romance and passion and finding comfort in one another’s arms is a vital part, but it is only one part.

The honeymoon bliss and infatuation will fade in time. It has to. Weak-knees and starry eyes make it very hard to get anywhere in life.

The purpose of romance and marriage is about something far grander than the couple themselves.

We each have a part to play in this epic story of life, and God has called us to invest our lives into something greater. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, ESV).

At times our stories will play like a romance, and then without warning married life transforms into something more akin to a tragedy. Just when we think it must all be over, we discover another lesson to be learned, and a resurrection occurs. The adventure continues and we find we are better together than alone. But not just for our own sake—for the sake of the world around us.

I can’t adequately express the fulfilment that has come in my life from being yoked in this way to my husband, and the way it feels to lean into that yoke and pull in the same direction. Not perfectly. Heck, not even with noteworthy effectiveness throughout our years together. Yet when I look back over our married life, I recognize we’ve helped each other inch closer in the journey of becoming who we’re supposed to be in Christ. Our partnership has helped us as we serve our local church and community and as we push back together against darkness.

I know there are no guarantees. Marriage to anyone is a risk. As C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.” Hearts are broken by broken promises and drifting priorities. All we have is our word. A vow made with deliberation needs to be followed up with decades of grit, forgiveness, and messy prayers because we realize how much we need God’s strength along the way.

Those vows require hearts longing to be a part of a story that extends beyond romance and into the epic genre. Like a hero and heroine of any great story, when we recognize God is inviting us to walk out a divine purpose, we’ll find strength to continue amid discomfort or discouragement. And one day when we look back at our journey, we’ll see His steady hand was leading us all the way.

Bonnie Pue is a mother of six and co-founder of the Union Movement living in Mission, B.C. Read more from the “Making love matter(s)” column.