Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20 (NIV)
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.’ Luke 11:34-36 (NIV)
As we continue to consider the attributes of love articulated in 1 Corinthians 13 we come to: ‘love … does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth’. Paul gives us the negative and positive sides of this attribute of love. Perhaps Paul knew human nature well and as a result decided that this particular attribute needed reinforcement by stating both the negative and the positive.
Notice the words ‘delight’ and ‘rejoices’. Both words give a picture of someone enjoying life, yet one bases their life on evil, rather than good. What Paul is pushing his readers towards is living in such a way that the delight and rejoicing comes from seeing others grow more Christlike. In marrige this must mean that each partner should look out for the spiritual welfare of the other, taking pleasure in seeing them being built up in Christ and developing Christlike characteristics.
Thinking about someone who takes delight in evil; this could mean someone who wilfully decides that they will not allow God to have premier place in their marriage, but to seek fulfilment of their own desires above all else. Of course it might mean that both partners have decided to separate what they see as their spiritual lives from their secular lives, ending up trying to lead two lives where they live by differing standards. Work and home are the two most obvious applications of this. What normally happens is that the lower standards of behaviour which might be acceptable in the workplace finally ‘anaesthetise’ the person to such an extent that they don’t see a problem applying this standard to their marriage.
Looking at the verses above from Luke’s gospel (11:34-36) we are told that the light within us (Jesus) should be strong enough to overcome the darkness. But what if one partner decides to keep one part of their life ‘dark’? This could mean cherishing some aspect of their former life (before Christ), the single life before marriage or even having a secret life apart from marriage (something one partner keeps secret from the other). All of these can have a detrimental effect on the harmony of the marriage and could easily result in marriage breakdown.
I think the real crux of the matter is that both partners in a Christian marriage need to live their lives in full knowledge of the third party to the marriage (i.e. God). If they do this, then they will find fulfilment in their partner as both seek to live according to the truth.
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