Living To Your Mate . . . An Absolute?

But one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
- I CORINTHIANS 7:33, 34

Of course, Paul prefaced this passage by writing it is “I,” not the “Lord,” speaking. My experience indicates there are just as many “divided” single Christians as married ones. Nevertheless, his observation is interesting and, for him, a near absolute born out of his experience. In thousands of hours of marriage counseling I have seen the same thing, but not from the same root. First, it has appeared to me that conflict comes not so much from trying to please one’s mate as from trying to please oneself. Second, I have noticed that in mature couples this principle expounded by Paul does not play out. Every couple, as they move forward in the expansion of the Christ within, will become less and less as He becomes more and more. I just do not see it as an absolute, for I know married couples who are more concerned about pleasing the Lord than pleasing one another. I know couples who are one and do not have divided interests. People in marriage for the revelation of Jesus, and not fleshly happiness, are not divided. On the path to this discovery there is division, but I believe one process God uses in marriage is freeing both individuals from each other and then giving them back to one another as different people. We need to be freed from the self-life of the other just as we need to be freed from our own self-life. In this freeing process, He will make us sick of trying to feed our flesh and/or the flesh of our mate until in the end the only place to go is Jesus, where the spirit can be fed. Once the spirit’s nourishing is the goal, there will be oneness of interests, all of which are rooted in undivided attention to the things of God. Seeing that there is no marriage in heaven [Mark 12:25], we can assume that marriage on earth is to have something more than a temporal impact on us. What is it teaching us that will have eternal value? There is so much to learn. We love but cannot live for another. We cannot get spiritual needs met from any human. We are selfish. Our peace is so easily surrendered to another, and it uncovers attributes of self hidden deep within. What wonderful things to be able to learn right alongside someone with whom we are one!

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