Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. Mal 2:13-15
At this point Malachi talks about marriage. I think it’s really interesting that out of all the sins God could mention, marital unfaithfulness takes precedence.
And he tells us why it is so important. First, because marriage is a partnership, a covenant. We are so stinking independent! It’s hard for us to see what it means to be a partner. It’s foreign for us to see everything through the lens of how it will affect our spouse, instead of just thinking about ourselves and our wants and needs. We are meant to do things as a TEAM.
Second, because we belong to God. In marriage, not only are we not independent of each other, we’re not independent of God. HE joined us in marriage, and we made our vows through him. God is intertwined with us. Our every action affects our partner, and it affects God. I really like the English Standard translation of verse 15: “Did (God) not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?” I love the idea that God actually invests in us with his Spirit when we get married. It’s like the Spirit is the supernatural force that somehow melds two different people.
Third, we are faithful in marriage because God seeks godly offspring. This refers to flesh and blood children, but I would say that it can also apply to spiritual children. Marriage is the place where we live out God’s purpose to be fruitful and multiply. There is nothing more important than raising up children in the Lord. There also is nothing more important than making disciples, and bringing others into God’s family. Marriage is the place God designed for this to happen. It is supposed to be a team effort, and both woman and man have their own unique contributions to it.
From my experience of 25 years of marriage, here are a few practical applications of these principles from Malachi:
- Present a unified front. Women, make every effort to be unified with your husband. That means having talks in private and laying out your opinions respectfully, and then going along with what your husband decides. I know. You think you are right. But God designed things to work a team, he didn’t make it just about you. And that means that sometimes you will have to subjugate your ideas to your spouse’s ideas. Standing up for what is right is a virtue. But God values teamwork and unity.
- Pray together! This keeps God in your relationship, and sets you up to win. Ken and I get down on our knees together once a week, and then have many spontaneous prayers together throughout the week. We know some couples who have a regular prayer time together every day. This is awesome.
- Be partners in the gospel. One woman I’ve been reaching out to has two children. On one occasion, my husband took her kids out for pizza so she could get together with sisters. Another time, he played with them in our back yard while she had a function at my house. This impressed the woman hugely. Conversely, I cook dinner for those Ken is reaching out to. We enjoy working together.
- Let your spouse be enough for you. Just as in the Garden when Satan tempted Eve to think she needed more, we can be greatly tempted to think we need more in a relationship. This is so often why we are unfaithful. One of my favorite proverbs is, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.“ (Prov. 14:1) Don’t keep harping on that thing that you wish would change. Zoom out and see the big picture. List the good things about your spouse. Yes, I do think we should communicate to one another, and work our on characters for each other. But our hearts need to be dominated by appreciation and gratitude, not bitterness.
As I was writing this, I received a text with the picture of close friend’s baby who was just born. My eyes teared up, and my heart welled with joy to bursting. There is nothing better than a new dear little soul in sweet infant form. It’s the same for God. He wants dear little souls to love. He wants his family to grow, with people who will love him devotedly.
This is why God made marriage. It is why forsaking this relationship is a serious sin in God’s eyes. It is why we must make it a priority in our every day to surround our spouse with love and respect.
When we do, it is a great gift from God.