In 1993 we stood before God and witnesses to pledge our love and faithfulness to one another. Over the last twenty years, we have endeavored to have a marriage built on these values and be a testimony of this devotion. It is a grand undertaking. And while the thought of love is common and easy to recognize, faithfulness can be multifaceted. Just what does it mean to be faithful? Are there levels of faithfulness? Why is it important? And how does faithfulness affect a marriage?
The dictionary defines faithfulness as unwavering in belief, consistently loyal, or not adulterous. There is the horizontal side to faithfulness that is between a husband and wife. This is what most people think of when they think of being faithful in marriage. It encompasses the physical, emotional, and mental aspect of marriage. However, there is also the faithfulness that a Christian couple has to God. This is the vertical (or spiritual) side of faithfulness. Both components of faithfulness are essential in marriage.
Because marriage is ordained by God the enemy seeks to destroy it, government demeans it, and society distorts it. Satan will use any means necessary to wreck marriage. This has been a goal from the beginning. We also see marriage degraded by government through legislation that seeks to redefine marriage or laws that allow no fault divorce. Then the culture is constantly pushing against God’s ideal for husbands and wives by actively perverting and twisting marriage via movies, television programs, magazines, and music. As influential as these factors are, you might ask what Christians can possibly due to push back. Perhaps the most profound way to effect change is to have a biblically based, God-honoring, faithful marriage.
Faithfulness is downplayed by the world, but we know that it is God’s plan for a beautiful marriage. So let’s look at 5 thoughts that will uphold a biblical view of faithfulness in marriage.
A Proper Perspective
One day our family was traveling down the road and talking about marriage with our children. Our oldest son had a friend with him who replied, “I’m never going to get married. I want to be single my whole life.” Our youngest son (who was 6 years old at the time) commented, “You are single when you get married.” We assured him that a married man was not single to which he adamantly responded, “Yes you are, two becomes one!”
“From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh,” Mark 10:6-8. Having a proper perspective means that we understand that as husband and wife, we are no longer two but one. That means when a husband loves his wife, he loves himself. When a wife is faithful to her husband, she is in essence being faithful to herself. When one is built up, they are both built up. When one rejoices, they both rejoice. Understanding that “two becomes one” revolutionizes a marriage.
Honesty is the Best Policy
The father of lies says that a little white lie will not hurt a marriage. Even the world whispers that it is okay to hide things from our spouse. But does the world have our best interest in mind? Is the great deceiver seeking to protect marriages? Secrets, lies, dishonesty, and unfaithfulness to one another will destroy a marriage. A husband and wife need to communicate, speak the truth in love, and be faithful to one another through their words and deeds. We have counseled with many couples who are on the verge of divorce because one spouse was betrayed by lies. It takes years to rebuild trust in a relationship and sometimes it can never be rebuilt. “He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit,” Proverbs 12:17. Let our marriages be governed by honesty.
Being truthful to your spouse is a fruit of true love; it shows your love for them. “Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth,” 1 John 3:18.
Eyes for Only You
Adultery is a devastating act of unfaithfulness both horizontally and vertically. When King David took the wife of Uriah, his betrayal was to a loyal and faithful servant that eventually led to murder. But ultimately his unfaithfulness was to God. “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD,” 2 Samuel 12:13a.
What led to this act of adultery? The Bible says that David saw, coveted, and took. It began with his eyes. Job, a man who was, “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil,” (Job 1:1) understood this. He said, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? (Job 31:1).
Looking lustfully at the opposite sex (whether in person, on TV, in the movies, or online) is infidelity of the heart. Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart,” Matthew 5:28. But sadly, because we have become so desensitized by our immodest culture, we hardly recognize it. Subtle temptations abound all around us. For a couple to uphold faithfulness in marriage they must shield their eyes and guard their hearts. To do this not only shows faithfulness, but also great honor toward one another.
What Impact Am I Making?
The world is speaking one thing. What is our faithfulness (or unfaithfulness) speaking to those around us? Not every marriage has believing partners. Should a husband have an unbelieving wife, his faithfulness to her could be what brings her to Christ. The same applies for Christian wives with unbelieving husbands. “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?,” 1 Corinthians 7:16.
Likewise, our testimony of faithfulness speaks volumes to our children. Theodore Hesburgh is credited for saying, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” You cannot have love without faithfulness. In addition, a faithful marriage is a testimony to the world for God’s glory. Understanding the impact we can have on our spouse, children, those around us, and the lost greatly motivates believers to live in a faithful manner.
Keep God Preeminent
A husband and wife can be faithful to each other, but still be unfaithful to God in their marriage. This is done by focusing more on things of the world than on things above. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth,” Colossians 3:1-2. God should never be an add-on in our marriage. He should be the very foundation upon which our marriage is built. It becomes very easy for God to lose His place of importance in day to day activities. Therefore, we must be intentional in keeping God preeminent in our marriage. Great is God’s faithfulness to us (Lamentations 3:23), so let us be faithful to Him in devotion and action, giving Him glory through our marriage.
By having a proper perspective, speaking the truth in love, making a covenant with our eyes, understanding the impact we are making, and keeping God preeminent, faithfulness will be upheld in our marriage. This does not mean that it will be easy, for the enemy is against us; the world is against us; and even our own weak flesh battles against us. But in Christ we are victorious! He has already overcome the enemy (Revelation 20:10). Those that are born of God have overcome the world (1 John 5:4). And as children of God, our flesh has been defeated (Romans 6:6).