Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. Psalm 16:1 (NIV)
We come now to consider the final four attributes of love as set out in 1 Corinthians 13, the first of which is: ‘love … always protects’.
When I was thinking about this attribute within Christian marriage I was drawn to the obvious meanings of protect as ‘keep safe’ or ‘guard’, but on reading further there is a deeper meaning that we will consider in our discussion.
Looking first at the obvious meanings of ‘keep safe’ and ‘guard’, there are several Bible passages that give us clear advice on how we can get protection for ourselves (our marriage), and these can act as a model for how we can protect our marriage.
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10 (NIV)
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)
It has been mentioned a few times in our discussions on love that Christian marriage has three parties involved – husband, wife and God. The starting point for ‘love … always protects’ must be having your marriage firmly grounded. What I mean by that is that the husband and wife should centre their expectations, hopes and desires not just on pleasing each other (although this is vitally important), but also on pleasing God. But why do Christians need protection in their marriage? It is because Christians are subject to exactly the same temptations as everyone else. The protection Christians have against falling into sin is to constantly go back to God and his word for guidance and help. Notice in the verse quoted above from 1 Corinthians 16, the words ‘courageoes’ and ‘strong’ are used. But I hear you say that you don’t feel strong, nor courageous and that when tempted you give in. There is a verse in Luke 11 that says:
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. Luke 11:21 (NIV)
I was thinking about this and realised that strength in a Christian marriage doesn’t come from either of the human partners, but only from God. Thinking about the words ‘… fully armed …’ mentioned in the verse from Luke, we can link this to Ephesians 6 where it is said:
Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:13-17 (NIV)
I’m sure that like me you never really thought about the armour of God described in Ephesians 6 as applying to marriage. Yet even here we are in a battle. I don’t want to over-emphasise this, but neither do I want to under-emphasise it. Your marriage is very bit as much a part of the Christian battlefield as every other aspect of your life. Take time to look through the armour described in Ephesians 6 and ask God to show you where your weaknesses are and where you need to be equipped.
Turning now to another aspect of ‘love … allways protects’ we come to a delicate matter. When reading through the Bible God impressed on me how he sees protection (or a lack of) within marriage. So here goes!
The man who hates and divorces his wife, says the Lord, the God of Israel, does violence to the one he should protect, says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. Malachi 2:16 (NIV)
If you are divorced or going through a divorce, I’m not trying to make you feel bad. What is important is for us to see things from God’s perspective. God’s desire for Christian marriage is that it should be characterised by faithfulness and not end in divorce. God sees divorce as a lack of protection.
God understands human nature. He knows the temptations you and I will face in our marriages. God wants you to keep your marriage safe and to be on your guard, so that you remain faithful. He knows that you (and your spouse) need the full armour of God to make your marriage strong. My prayer for your marriage and mine is that we will actively protect our marriages by putting Christ at the centre.
[Archives – click on the icon at the top of the page]