Successful marriage and good marriage

Jason’s comment on one of Dalrock’s recent posts is worth critically analyzing because it has a lot of assumptions packed into it about the definition of a “good marriage.” There’s a lot that is wrong with the current evangelical Christianity to be sure, and there is also a lot of cultural thinking.

My parents were not practicing Christians. Culturally, yes. We were a ‘Christmas and Easter’ type of family. My parents were not ‘hostile’ to Christianity or the church in general. They were ‘married’ in a church. We never attended church except for those two holidays.

They met in 1964, after eight months of dating, they got married in 1965 and had a very, very solid marriage. A loving, helpful, uplifting and working as a “team” marriage.

So when Pastors and busy-body church-folk tell me that you have to have ‘Jesus’ in order to have a “good” marriage…….I sometimes wince and think “well, that’s not really true”

Plenty of Christians I have met have been married several times, been through messy divorces, or their marriage is a “yo go girl” wife and brow beaten husband……

Remember too, even in the early days of the church……even the ‘pagan’ Romans, many had good marriages and they loved each other without “Jesus”. For the most part, evangelical-protestant Christianity somehow made marriage “their” invention with zero proof and most of the sheeple in the church have just swallowed it and accepted this.

Generally speaking, one could say this is not an uncommon scenario for those who lived in the US in say 1700-1950s or so. The case where one needs to make a distinction is on a few points.

  • God created man and marriage to reflect Himself.
  • When you follow God’s prescriptions such as with proper roles and responsibilities, you will generally have a “successful” marriage. For example, the husband is the head and loves his wife, and the wife submits and respects her husband. Such a marriage will rarely divorce and generally be happy, despite the faith or lack thereof of said participants.
  • The pastors are indeed correct that you cannot have a “good” marriage without Jesus/God. To have a good marriage, you need to please God. Having correct roles and responsibilities in marriage may make a marriage have earthly success, but such a marriage does not please God.

The better term for what Jason is discussing above is “successful marriage” and mainly in terms of worldly success. If we define a successful marriage as one that does not divorce and is generally happy like most. A successful marriage it not necessarily a good marriage. A good marriage pleases God, and pleasing God requires faith.

Mark 10:17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the [a]assurance of things [b]hoped for, the [c]conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old [d]gained approval. 3 By faith we understand that the [e]worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying [f]about his gifts, and through [g]faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Jason commits a few fallacies that are common.

One can have much worldly success following Biblical principles, but still not know God or please Him (like his parents). As we know, the only way to God is through the sacrifice of Jesus. Without the sacrifice of Jesus and God’s grace and mercy working through us, we can do nothing good. The worldly successful of a marriage doesn’t make it good.

This is true not just of marriage, but of other things such as financial success. The Scriptures espouse hard work, being diligent with the little things and the big things, being responsible, going above and beyond to please our superiors, generous, and giving. All of these things help to contribute to financial success. However, these things don’t make a man good.

Likewise, an example of an unsuccessful/sinful marriage between Christians does not prove that a marriage with Christians is not good. It only proves that Christians still sin. A successful marriage without God still leads to hell too.

A good marriage is made up of Christians, following God’s prescriptions of roles and responsibilities, so that it reflects the mystery of Jesus and the Church. For Christians, success in marriage is only secondary to aiming to please God first. And that makes all the difference.

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12 Responses to Successful marriage and good marriage

  1. My grandparents were non-practicing Catholics and they had a happy and love filled marriage for 60+ years. But, as you say, just having a successful marriage won’t save you.

    It makes me think of the book, A Severe Mercy. It’s about a couple who had a wonderful marriage and love for each other, but this was an idol for the man that kept him from loving God fully, so God took the wife home early. That’s where the book title comes from – the idea that her death was a severe mercy from God in order to reach this man.

  2. donalgraeme says:

    Such a thing a difficult for us to accept, and yet it is sometimes necessary.

  3. feeriker says:

    A good marriage is made up of Christians, following God’s prescriptions of roles and responsibilities, so that it reflects the mystery of Jesus and the Church. For Christians, success in marriage is only secondary to aiming to please God first. And that makes all the difference.

    It’s the modern interpretation of “pleasing God” that has us off the rails. Clearly, too many people who consider themselves Christians have duped themselves into believing (or have been duped into believing by the wolves in sheep’s garb who lead all too many churches today) that pleasing themselves/the World is equivalent to pleasing God, who, after all, just “wants [them] to be happy,” because that’s what a loving God wants for His children, right? That this is the mindset of so many Christians today explains the unacceptable divorce rate (“only” 38 percent of marriages compared to the World’s 50-plus percent) that now stains the church.

    Are we truly prepared to say that a Christian couple in a dysfunctional marriage that they have obviously kicked God out of is more pleasing to His eyes than a non-Christian couple that follows His model, even if not consciously or as believers (rare as such marriages among non-believers may be)?

  4. @feeriker:

    Well, almost all of modern “Christianity” is off the rails.

    As to the topic at hand, it’s a combination of Category Error and Personal Bias (from the original commenter). You don’t normally throw your parents under the bus when they have treated you well, so the Personal Bias is pretty easy to understand.

    DS pointed out most of the Category Error, but there’s a subtle point that probably needs to be brought out. The Christian Life, properly understood, isn’t just a Spiritual benefit; it’s a Physical benefit as well. The structure works because it works, which is why removing the Spiritual requirements is so appealing to a lot of people. They want all of the benefits without any of the costs, which is the instinct that the original comment is also playing upon.

  5. dvdivx says:

    Anyone who does not believe in hell has clearly not been in a bad marriage. Money and the vagina have replaced God and his son on the alter and the only sins are those against women and being racist. There are no other mortal sins in the modern church. Its just about prosperity, obeying women and being PC.
    I know Jesus can’t save me from the hell of a dead sexless marriage. Its harder to know that the only churches around me only care about the collection plate. Or have as doctrine things God clearly hates

  6. elspeth says:

    Good morning Rachel.

    Firstly, I assume your comment wasn’t a solicitation for advice as much as it was offer of a different perspective to the often repeated refrain that lack of sexual compatibility equals selfishness. I believe your comment that you were both chaste before marriage and still unable to find sexual compatibility with your husband. I also agree with seriously serving that two years is a long time not to have found a rhythm. I can only imagine how frustrating that must be for you.

    Couple of thoughts that might help you. First, (sorry Robyn!), do NOT, I repeat, do NOT talk to your parents about this. Given that you’ve talked to certified sexual experts, LOL, I don’t know what good it would do assault your parent with sexual information about your marriage that they would live much happier without.

    Next, I strongly suggest that you drink a relaxing tea such as peppermint tea in the evenings. At this point, there must be a fair amount of anxiety (even latent anxiety) built up in you as thoughts or times of intimacy approach. Another relaxing supplement is magnesium in powder form. I know for a fact that Calm Zone made by Vitamin Shoppe works well as I have taken it to address another issue.

    Also, I know Sheila Gregoire gets a bad rap in trad/MRA circles, and I *get* why, but she offers a lot of good practical, physical advice for wives struggling in this area. You can start with this post and there should be a lot of stuff there that you can try if you haven’t yet.

    http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2012/02/29-days-to-great-sex-day-15-what-is-foreplay/

    Lastly, you said that you don’t “enjoy orgasms”, which made me wonder if there isn’t something going on beyond the physical that you need to address. If it is at ALL possible, find an older woman who is candid and discreet (contrary to popular opinion these are not mutually exclusive) and do a serious inventory of the things in your past that have created an aversion to the part of sex that God offered as a gift to married couples to help insure that we do it for the continuation of the species. You can have things in your past that have nothing to do with sexual sin on your part yet which might interfere with your ability to appreciate sexual intimacy.

    Hope all of this helps and best of luck to you!

  7. dvdivx says:

    Ever time I visit the love honor and vacuum site its full of feminist tripe. More victim hood more men are evil women are victims. I have yet to see anything talking about the sins women commit. The sins men commit are about 90% of any men’s Christian site.

  8. dvdivx says:

    A perfect. example is
    http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2017/05/teaching-purity-wrong/

    Even though the comment would be banned there for not meeting the “message” its really as simple as not spreading your legs like a whore and being a virgin when you marry. Its that simple. Same would go for men except most men use porn not romance novels and dildos. Any attempt at rewriting the purity message by women is just a reframe of the just except me for the whore I am. No thanks. Jesus already talks about where harlots go. You might want to look into that.

  9. Elspeth says:

    Ever time I visit the love honor and vacuum site its full of feminist tripe. More victim hood more men are evil women are victims. I have yet to see anything talking about the sins women commit. The sins men commit are about 90% of any men’s Christian site.

    Sheila gets a lot wrong about the hierarchical nature of marriage. I would never claim otherwise,. However, when it comes to helping young brides navigate the practical aspects of intimacy, learn to enjoy it and their husbands physically -as I thought I made perfectly clear- she does a pretty decent job.

    I am very big on giving credit where it is due and on this topic, she does fairly well. I didn’t say perfect (lest someone digs up a gotcha quote), but good enough. In other areas she leaves a lot to be desired, as is already well known.

    I frequently give people credit for being able to draw what they can from things while discarding things that are clearly in error, although by now I guess I should know better than to do that,

  10. Bart says:

    It is getting much more difficult for non Christians to have a decent marriage in our society. The whoring that many young women engage in today is enormously destructive. In the past, many people were only nominal cultural Christians, but still avoided whoring because of how destructive it was to their social standing.

    That has all changed now. Virtue is considered a vice, and evil is called good. Whoring is applauded while chastity is derided. Outside of extremely conservative Christian circles (or perhaps a few overweight and awkward girls) it is extremely unlikely that a young man will find an honorable virgin woman to marry.

    Virgins tend to make better wives than whores.

  11. SirHamster says:

    Are we truly prepared to say that a Christian couple in a dysfunctional marriage that they have obviously kicked God out of is more pleasing to His eyes than a non-Christian couple that follows His model, even if not consciously or as believers (rare as such marriages among non-believers may be)?

    I don’t think you can measure pleasing God by the goodness of the marriage. Consider how Jesus compared the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector – the Pharisee boasts of fasting twice a week and regular offerings. Societally, he has everything together. He looks great by human measures.

    But it is the tax collector who asked God for mercy who goes home justified. This is a despised traitor to his own people, who abuses them for selfish gain!

    Just in being Christian, the dysfunctional Christian couple have done more to please God than the the non-Christians with a better marriage, because that is the power of Christ and our lack without him.

    That’s my first take, though one can also link the parable of the sheep and goats and ask how love is being practiced. But practicing a good marriage and showing charity to those that God identifies as aren’t intrinsically linked.

  12. Bart says:

    SirHamster –
    It sounds like you are saying that God is pleased with our faith in Christ no matter how small, and that without faith, it is impossible to please God.

    Sounds like the book of Hebrews.

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