“Why are women so determined to fix a guy when they start dating someone?” This was the question an unnamed male wrote to Allana Pratt, “intimacy expert” for The Good Men Project website. He went on to defensively declare that he was “content with who I am” and not a “fixer-upper.” Such an attitude is consistent with studies which indicate the main thing men look for in a “soul mate” is someone who will not try to change them.
The flaw in our approach to relationships
The question reveals a fundamental flaw in the way most people in the post-Christian West evaluate relationships: namely, is this person compatible with me? The goal is to find a person who meets your needs while demanding almost nothing from you. Rooted in this kind of selfishness, marriage has become a program of personal growth and fulfillment. People enter marriage like two ticks thinking the other is a dog.
People enter marriage like two ticks thinking the other is a dog.
Statistics continually reveal the disaster such self-centeredness has inflicted upon society. Thus, it is vitally important to view marriage through the lens of Holy Scripture. Marriage was God’s idea, in accordance with his sovereign will, and instituted for mankind’s personal and collective blessing and benefit. Just like new cars come with an owner’s manual to provide instruction for the proper care and maintenance of the vehicle, so the Bible is our personal owner’s manual for life. If you put apple juice instead of motor oil in the engine, your car probably won’t work well. The Creator who designed marriage tells us what it takes to make it work successfully.
Marriage is designed to change you
The truth of the matter is that no one is fully compatible with any other individual. Sure, “like often attracts like” but sooner or later, it will become painfully obvious that 100% compatibility is a myth. At some point, someone must change, give in, or give up in order to satisfy the other. God knows this and therefore laid down two essential ingredients to make marriage the blessed thing he intended it to be.
Ingredient #1: A Wife’s Submissive Love
Nothing will put a burr under the secular saddle like the biblical concept of submission. Such a notion runs counter to seeing marriage as a path to one’s personal self-fulfillment. Biblical marriage is about serving one another and putting the other’s need ahead of your own. The Apostle states it very clearly: “As the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:24) Such spiritual acquiescence is ordained by God to facilitate, of all things, personal change!
Ingredient #2: A Husband’s Sacrificial Love
God’s requirement for the husband is as radical as his command to the wife. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) Jesus willingly giving himself up to be crucified exemplifies the love that men are directed to have for their wives. Certainly, we can see how such love demands personal change. Yet, men today want a life partner who will not attempt to change them when God planned marriage for that express purpose.
Submissive and sacrificial love is never a matter of worth or significance. A biblical understanding of marriage assumes that each partner is equally made in God’s image. These two requirements simply reflect the God-given role assigned to husbands and wives. Marriage was designed to be a process of change and to resist such change is to resist God.
Marriage points us to the gospel
When he brought Adam and Eve into the first marriage covenant, he had the cross in mind. When we see Jesus giving himself up completely, taking on pain and suffering like no other person will ever experience, to save us—that kind of love changes you. You want to follow and submit to a “husband” like that because you can trust that you’re completely safe with him. He’s gone to the extreme to prove it.
Truly, in marriage we come to understand the gospel, and in the gospel, we come to understand marriage.
The devolution of marriage in today’s culture will only continue to wreak havoc on lives. Throwing away the owner’s manual invites costly damage to our societal fabric. The fact of the matter is that we are all broken by sin and in need of fixing. We’re all fixer-uppers and marriage is just one of God’s tools to begin the project.