Killing the Idol of Marriage
By: Betsy St. Amant Haddox
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
People typically think of marriage as an idol before they’re married. After all, when you’re single, it’s easy to be consumed by the thought of getting married and making that future hope your all-in-all. When I went through my divorce years ago, all I could think for years was getting married again and getting a new “normal” back after being abandoned.
I never expected to struggle with making my marriage an idol after I said, “I do.” But just like the threat of idolatry can sneak in unaware on a single man or woman, it can also slip into our subconscious while we’re married. We start trying to please our spouse above all else. We start expecting our spouse to always please us, and then enforce punishments (however subconsciously) when they fail to meet our high expectations. We continue to push and strive to seek our happiness from our spouse and then reel in disappointment when we realize we’re still not truly happy. It’s a vicious cycle we repeat—and is about as crazy as squeezing a lemon and expecting orange juice.
Jesus is clear in his Word that true, lasting joy only comes from him. When he spoke to the woman at the well in the book of John, he knew about her multiple past marriages and her current relationship, and chose to tell her the following: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again… John 4:13 (ESV)
He knew she was drawing water from the wrong source. He knew those relationships wouldn’t fill her up. Only Christ could. The ironic part is, the more we try to demand our spouse to fill us up, the faster we dry out. But as it says in Matthew 6:33, when we put the kingdom of God first, everything else falls into place. That includes our marriage.
Also, consider 1 Corinthians 10:14 (ESV) Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. Pretty straight-forward command, right? Same goes for Exodus 34:14 (ESV) (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God)…
The commands are clear. But its trickier trying to identify what these idols look like today for us. We’re not carving cows from chunks of gold, so we tend to think we’re good. But God looks at the heart. And while our hands might not be converting wood into animals, our hearts are cultivating idols right and left.
Bottom line—idolatry is trying to find our security, identity, or meaning in something (or someone!) other than the Lord God Himself. When I was single, I felt like I couldn’t be truly happy again until I had a husband and a family unit once more. I believed I couldn’t thrive until those dreams were met and what was robbed from me was restored. I knew those dreams were of the Lord—he gave them to me—so how could that be wrong?The same confusion slips int our marriages. We should want to make our spouses happy and please them. We should desire for good communication and healthy marriages. Those are worthwhile goals. But the problem comes when we start making that marriage relationship our priority, over and above our walk with the Lord.
“For what is idolatry if not this: to worship the gifts in place of the Giver himself?” John Calvin.
Calvin had it right. When we start to find more joy and pleasure in the gifts of the Lord—i.e., marriage—rather than in the Lord Himself, we’re slipping into idolatry. And this is a slippery slope that will never end in joy.
I think John Piper sums it up well. “We make a god out of whatever we find most joy in. So, find your joy in God and be done with all idolatry.”
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over sixteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her drummer of a hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of pickle chips. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Visit her and see a list of books at http://www.betsystamant.com./
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