Tag Archives: Marriage

Why should we expect to emerge unscathed?

I read this quote the other day:

“Marriage, see, was God’s idea. It’s one of the most potent metaphors in all of Scripture for the way God loves us and the way we’re to let ourselves be loved by him. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. To the contrary, it’s fraught with peril. Any good marriage involves a thousand deaths to self—the good news is, in Christ that marriage involves at least as many resurrections. We lay our lives down and enter this perilous dance with another human being who has done the same. Why should we expect to emerge unscathed?”

– Andrew Peterson, describing the story behind his song “Dancing in the Minefields”

The ironic thing is, soon as I posted it, Cheryl and I got into an argument. I don’t remember exactly what it was about (to heighten the irony, perhaps it was an argument about posting things on Facebook!).

But we sinned and went to bed angry (well, I know I did). And the next morning, the first thing we had to do was to repent of our wrongs. We then asked each other for forgiveness. Death to self. Then a resurrection. So true.

Marriage is a wonderful, gracious way to expose how selfish I continue to be, and that I’d have no hope of changing from if it weren’t for God gently, courageously transforming me into His likeness (Rom 12:1-2).

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– William

What dreams may come – marriage in heaven

So a question piqued my interest recently. It came to me one Sunday, when sitting under Jono’s message. Midway through he was citing the example of a movie called “What Dreams May Come”, starring Robin Williams. The story goes like this:

“Chris Neilson dies to find himself in a heaven more amazing than he could have ever dreamed of. There is one thing missing: his wife. After he dies, his wife, Annie killed herself and went to hell. Chris decides to risk eternity in hades for the small chance that he will be able to bring her back to heaven…”

OK, admittedly it’s a particularly well-rated film. But it does portray a human concept of heaven. The worldview in this particular motion picture basically states: unless your spouse is with you, heaven is not heaven.

So here is my question: “Is there marriage in heaven?”

You’d think no, right? I mean, Jesus said this: “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matt 22:30) And if you thought no, you’d be correct, in one sense.

But look how the concept of marriage is further expounded in the Apostle Paul’s writings in the book of Ephesians. Towards the end of the book, Paul gives some practical advice for husbands and wives. He quotes back to Genesis to outline the biblical framework of all marriage, and then he states this: For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. And I tell you, this is refers to Christ and the church” (Eph 5:31-32).

Profound.

So actually, the answer is yes. There *is* marriage in heaven. With this passage in view, marriage becomes a picture of Christ and His bride, the church for whom he died for, and loved sacrificially. So what if our earthly marriage is an imperfect picture? Thankfully, in heaven all things will be made new (Rev 21:5), and our imperfect pictures are no longer necessary.

If we turn from our sins and trust Christ for salvation, once all is said and done we’ll be in the midst of the perfect marriage between Him and His bride, for whom He paid such a massive price for.

So… I guess there won’t be any bachelors in heaven then!

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-William Chong

There’s still a lot to learn!

On Friday, we had an enchanting night out to celebrate six months of married life. Dinner at a fine Italian-style restaurant on Cockle Bay, a random interlude of Christ-centred rap music, then an evening of enjoying each other’s company, and reflecting on the amazing partnership, the astounding gift God has given us.

Even in just six months, God has already taught us heaps. There are some things about marriage (and about your partner for life) you can only learn by actually being in the thick of a confrontation, or in the aftermath of a disappointing exchange. Books on marriage can only trace outlines around the specific issues in our marriage… real-life issues such as living with your spouse’s habits, and how to show patience, forbearance and forgiveness towards their SSB’s (secret single behaviours). Over time, we’ve realised more and more how immensely dependent we are on the Lord to change us and help us to serve one another better.

What challenges and convicts us the most, however, comes from a passage in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church.

Eph 5:31-32: “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

Our marriage is a picture, however imperfect, of Christ’s covenantal love for His church. We earnestly want to improve our marriage, not because it makes us look good, not because we get fame and glory, but so that it would be a better picture of Christ’s marriage to the church. That’s something worth striving towards, we think.

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– Cheryl and William

Julie and Julia – happily ever after?

Julie and Julia

I watched a movie called “Julie and Julia” along with a group of friends last night. It’s a film about two women who find meaning and purpose through food. Julia Child goes to cooking school and writes a cookbook. A generation later, Julie Powell spends a year cooking through all the recipes in that (now famous) cookbook, and blogs about it.

Yet the most intriguing aspect of the film for me wasn’t the cooking. It was the portrayal of their marriages. Julia and Paul are firm in their marriage and throughout the film constantly support each other in their respective endeavours. They demonstrate, knowingly or unknowingly, some of the advice that another Paul (an apostle) gives:

“… let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph 5:33)

On the other hand, the movie portrays a sanitised view of Julie’s marriage with husband Eric – yet real life seems to be less rosy. It’s heartbreaking after watching the film to read that since finding fame and popularity with her blogging and writing, she’s gone on to be unfaithful to her husband and recently released a second book which details her newfound passion as a butcher alongside her numerous infidelities.

Here’s the backcover text to her second book (emphasis mine):

Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing she’d ever do–until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING.

Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischer’s, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs–tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts.

The camaraderie at Fleischer’s leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world–from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly heart.

It’s painful to read her description of cheating on your spouse as merely “insane” and “irresistable”.

In many ways, I am encouraged and challenged not by the cooking prowess and know-how of Julie and Julia, but by their commitment to their respective marriages.

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-William

On John Piper’s sabbatical

John Piper

John Piper, preaching pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN, announced his upcoming sabbatical from all public commitments and explains why:

“Noël [John’s wife] and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side. But, as I told the elders, “rock solid” is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a woman’s tender companion. In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments.”

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As a naïve husband on the opposite end of the age and ministry spectrum, I need to take note. John is humble in saying that even 40 years into their marriage, there is work to be done, and there are needs to be tended to. That is something I can only glean from older, wiser followers of Christ.

Who are we to haughtily assume we won’t be drawn to similar challenges in a later season of our marriage?

Who am I to brazenly throw around platitudes like “our honeymoon doesn’t have to end”, as if by being just over a month into our marriage we’re at an elevated level of sageness? It is foolishness for me to think so.

Who am I to be proud of having a marriage I don’t deserve?

For those who care for us, please hold us to account on this issue. Don’t let us get carried away in our married pride.

That’s right, knock us off our prideful perches and tell us how to be more humble, more Christ-exalting.

And most of all, pray for us, that we would continue to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6:33).

– William

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