January 10, 2014

Love and Desire, pt. 3

Gary Thomas — 
photo: Brianne Hardcastle, Creative Commons

photo: Brianne Hardcastle, Creative Commons

[This is the final of a three part series on the difference between love and desire. You will benefit most from this post if you read the prior two first, in order. Part One. Part Two.]

Now that we know the goal of marriage is love more than it is desire—not that desire is opposed to love, just that it is not sustainable in the way we usually think of it—we realize the greatest enemy of our marriages isn’t lack of desire (that’s what so many people think) but rather our pride.

Will you believe this? Will you accept that the presence of pride is a greater threat to true marital intimacy than a lack of feelings? It’s counter-revolutionary to most everything you hear outside of Scripture, but I’m siding with the Bible on this one, and I hope you will, too.

Pride is the great enemy of love because pride is putting ourselves first.

When a married couple gets into a fight, pride wants to win. Pride wants to be heard. Pride wants to be understood. Pride wants the other to give way.

Love seeks to understand. Love seeks to serve. Love seeks to listen. Love seeks to lay down her life for the life of the beloved.

If Jesus had been prideful, the cross would have made no sense. Why should He die because we rebelled? How is that fair?

And yet aren’t most marriages fought on this basis: “That’s not fair!”

You want fair? Have a good time in hell.

Which means, to make this practical, I shouldn’t fear the waning of desire in marriage. Whether or not I feel “in love” shouldn’t really concern me anymore than whether it’s raining outside. It might make the day more pleasant, but it’s not the main factor in my life. On the contrary, I should disdain my pride, which supplants love from my marriage, and which kicks God out of our house (so to speak). “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

In the previous post, we described the sustaining factor of a sacred marriage as “If we love each other, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12) If God opposes the proud, well, that makes it pretty clear if I want God to live in us, to live in our home, to be made complete in us, I have got to surrender my pride, I have got to disdain and even hate my pride, and I must welcome any aspect of marriage that roots out the unseen pride that drives me.

If I truly understood how self-interested I am, how driven I am by my own selfish desires, I’m sure I would fall on the ground in despair. It is in part God’s kindness that keeps me somewhat blind to the true state of my wretchedness. Yet He uses marriage to give me a glimpse now and then, in bite-sized pieces, so that I can gradually surrender this demon of my own making.

As a younger believer, I resented this revealing, because I didn’t realize that pride was a main enemy of my marriage. I thought lack of desire was.

You want to keep your marriage sacred? Then keep yourself humble. Fear the presence of pride even more than you fear the absence of feelings, and you’ll be on your way to a God-honoring marriage.

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One response to Love and Desire, pt. 3

  1. Gary,
    I appreciate all your blogs on these important subjects of marriage and godly singleness. Such great truths—how I wish I had heard these things early in life. And even though I know them now, it is so good to be reminded of the “glue” that will hold a marriage together and even make it more fulfilling.
    I am single and just broke up with a man who is a Christian, but after dating for a little while realized he didn’t take his faith as seriously as I do. After reading your blogs, I am more confident of what I am looking for in a man. So thank you!