Two Words, Faithfulness & Commitment (Part 2 Back to the Word on Marriage)
Two words, faithfulness & commitment.
When it comes to marriage, these are key & pivotal words. Yet, we have lost their meaning and their importance in today’s society.
As I’ve said before, I like to define words, so let’s get definitions before we dive into why these words are so important when it comes to marriage.
Faithfulness/Faithful - trust-worthiness, fidelity, trustful
Now to open up Noah Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 to define the word faithfulness on an even deeper level.
Faithfulness def. 4: strict performance of promises, vows or covenants, constancy in affection, as the faithfulness of a husband or wife
Faithfully def. 3: with strict observance of promises, vows, covenants or duties; without failure of performance; honestly, exactly
Faithful def. 8. constant, not fickle
Now to define the word commitment.
Commitment - a pledge, to give in charge, to entrust, commit to one's charge, pledge or bind
By defining, we can see these are very serious words, with a lot of depth. These words are not words to be taken lightly.
God has made it very clear in His Word that when it comes to marriage, faithfulness and commitment are essential and non-negotiable.
So a key question needs to be asked, when do faithfulness and commitment to one’s spouse start?
If you are like me, you have probably heard it said, “Faithfulness/commitment begins on the wedding day, but doesn’t end there.”
Believe it or not, this statement is actually biblically inaccurate. For truly, nothing could be farther from the truth. I'll come back to this quote in a moment, there is something else that needs to be brought out first.
Using the principles and commands of Scripture, let us look into why a proper outlook of these words, faithfulness & commitment, have a serious ramification on the health of marriages in this world.
There is a quote that reads, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
While the author of this quote was not a believer, there is some truth to this quote.
God’s Word clearly says, what you sow, you reap. (Galatians 6:7-10) The progression of sin that is laid out in the book of James is very clear how wrongdoing originates. “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” - James 1:14-15
We are also told to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” - 2 Corinthians 10:5
Why am I laboring over this thought, sowing and reaping? Simple, it is important what we believe, because what we believe shapes our lives and the actions we chose to make on a daily basis.
Back to our erring quote - “Faithfulness/commitment to one’s spouse begins on the wedding day, but doesn’t end there.”
Corrected quote - "Faithfulness/commitment to one’s spouse begins at birth and continues till death."
Now, I know this is a radical statement that many have never heard, much less believe. So allow me to walk through Scripture and show why this is the model God has laid out for us regarding faithfulness and commitment before and after marriage.
As we established in our previous article, marriage was created to give us a picture of God’s love for us who are believers. In a marriage, we are told the man is to represent Christ and the woman is to represent the Church. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
This begs the question, what example has Christ given us as men to seek to exemplify as we love our wives?
The answer, a radical example that demands we lay down self. Jesus came to this earth and for 33 years lived among us with a sole purpose, to die on the cross for our sins. Yet, not only did He die physically, He died to Himself each and every day to serve us, laying down His life moment by moment.
Men, when we talk about faithfulness and commitment to our wives, we are talking about full-blown, dying to our selves and serving our wives.
Let me put it this way, the example Jesus left for us isn’t about putting our wife’s needs above our own. No, His example is to forget our needs and focus solely on serving our wives. It isn’t about a she-meets-my-needs-I’ll-meet-hers. No, Jesus’ example is meet-her-needs-forget-about-yours-meet-her-needs-even-if-she-never-meets-yours. And on top of this, our love is to be unconditional. It doesn’t depend on one’s wife’s performance or how she treats you. The unconditional love Jesus showed us, is a love that loves to the end. Even if the very person you are loving is the one who put you on the cross.
That’s impossible you might say! And I agree with you. That is why we are called to live the Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit and not our own. (Galatians 5:16-25)
As for the wife, she is to love her husband wholeheartedly. She is to submit to her husband, not because she is inferior, but rather following the example of Jesus, who submitted to His Father. He did not submit because the Father is greater than Him, rather He humbly submitted to the Father’s will that He might give us live through His selfless service.
Now I know, I haven’t mentioned where I am getting this faithful-from-birth thing. Don’t worry, I’m getting there. :)
Let’s quickly revisit the OT to gain some perspective. What was the #1 commandment on the ten commandments?
“You shall have NO other gods before Me.” - Exodus 20:3
None. Zero tolerance for other gods, no exemptions, no exceptions, totally 100% forbidden.
Where am I going with this? I’m glad you asked. :)
Over and over again, when the Israelites rebelled against God and worshipped other gods, God uses two words repeatedly to describe Israel’s sin and rebellion.
What two words you might ask? That’s right, unfaithfulness and adultery. (Joshua 7:1, 1 Chronicles 5:25, 1 Chronicles 9:1, 2 Chronicles 12:2, 2 Chronicles 30:7, Jeremiah 3:6, Ezekiel 23:37, Hosea 4:15 per example)
God used the covenant of marriage as a teaching tool to give Israel a picture of what they were doing spiritually when they served other gods rather than Him.
God is very clear in His Word from beginning to end, He views the worship and love of other gods as adultery and unfaithfulness to Him.
If marriage is to be a picture of God’s committed and faithful love to us, how can we falsely proclaim commitment begins at the wedding day? We are told in Scripture we are awaiting the wedding feast of the Lamb, (Revelation 19:6-9) so is it okay for us to flirt around with other gods in the process? Will our Bridegroom find that acceptable? Of course not! We are called to be faithful to one, God Almighty. There is to be no tolerance in the Christian life for false gods of any kind, shape or size.
So, keeping in mind what marriage represents, should one date/court or flirt around with any other beside’s one’s spouse, either before or after marriage?
The answer is of course, a resounding no.
Men, we represent Christ in the marriage relationship. Is Christ unfaithful to His Bride the Church? Of course not. For those of us men who are unmarried, we are to be practicing faithfulness NOW! God has designed marriage to be one man, one woman for life! For life! Not starting at marriage, but beginning at birth. We as men were created to only give our hearts to one woman, period.
Same for women as well. A woman is created to give her heart away to one man.
The flippant dating around, break-ups and the merry-go-round-of-guy-girl-relationships-get-on-have-fun-jump-off-get-back-on is wrong. Not only that, we are patterning ourselves for divorce with this flippant attitude, not faithfulness. Worse still, we are treating the sacredness of marriage like something that was just made for our fun. Instead of honoring the sacredness representation marriage is of God’s love for His people and the love His people are to have for Him.
God made marriage to be for life, one man, one woman. Faithfulness to one’s spouse begins at birth, not the wedding day.
Also, I desire to be very clear that God is a God who forgives. There is no sin, I repeat, no sin, that the blood of Jesus isn’t able to cover. (1 John 1:9) I desire to be firm in that truth as well, even as we confront the lies of this culture. No matter your past or mine, Jesus is willing and more than able to cleanse us from our sin.
By the grace of God, I pray we will return to God’s Word on marriage, treating it with the sacredness it deserves.
To God alone be the glory!
Next post - Love Defined