A staff member at Bethlehem asked Pastor John what one or two main things he wants to say to an engaged couple in premarital counseling. His answer is relevant for marriages new and old:
Be joyfully, brokenheartedly, shaped by the death of Christ for you.
Do you both feel the fearfulness of how the death of Christ witnesses to your unspeakable unworthiness to be loved—that it took this much suffering and indignity to the Son of God for you to be saved. And do you both feel the wonder of being forgiven owing to nothing in you?
If you do, it will profoundly shape your patience with each other’s shortcomings (which you will find to be more than you ever dreamed).
Get really clear the meaning of headship and submission.
Husband, tremble at the implications of Ephesians 5:25-30.
Wife, tremble at the implications of Ephesians 5:21-24.
Understand this and glory in the greatness of the calling to be married for the sake of showing the world the covenant faithfulness between Christ and his church.
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For more on marriage:
- This Momentary Marriage (book)
- This Momentary Marriage (free online book)
- Marriage, Christ, and Covenant: One Flesh for the Glory of God (sermon series)
- Topics for Conversation When a Man and a Woman Are Considering Marriage (article)