Request your free, three-month trial to Tabletalk magazine. You’ll receive the print issue monthly and gain immediate digital access to decades of archives. This trial is risk-free. No credit card required.Try Tabletalk Now
Already receive Tabletalk magazine every month?
Verify your email address to gain unlimited access.
I’ve married dozens of Christian couples. All begin with great promise; not all continue with promise. Unfortunately, some of these marriages will not survive. The great sin that tends to drive Christian marriages to dissolution is not what many assume. Seldom is adultery, addiction, or abuse the underlying cause of Christians pursuing divorce. And when they are, often they result from a much more subtle sin that took root beforehand—marital apathy.
A husband comes home from work, changes his clothes, sits on the couch, and spends the evening watching sports. He forgets or simply doesn’t care to love his wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). It requires too much. A wife expends herself in the daily grind of dishes, diapers, and dirty clothes. Her marriage becomes an afterthought, another obligation. Escape is found on social media. She wants nothing more to do with honoring and submitting to her husband “as the church submits to Christ” (Eph. 5:24). It requires too much. They both settle in. Marital apathy descends.
How does this happen? Often, it begins with lost perspective. This life is not the end. Heaven sits just over the horizon. The Christian couple forgets that they were united by the Lord for the Lord. He sovereignly placed them together to help each other as fellow pilgrims through this world to the glory of Christ. But their eyes have fixed on the immediate, the urgent, and the temporal. They need reorientation to what lasts for eternity.
Second, they often forget to tend to their own respective souls. No Christian husband serves his wife’s soul if he is not tending to his own—and likewise for the wife. As a pastor, if I do not readily seek holiness and delight in Christ, I have little to offer those I serve. It proves the same for the Christian husband or wife. We cannot give what we do not have. If we would see our spouse more readily pursue Christ, we must pursue Christ. If we desire our spouse to become more holy, we must become more holy. If we want to see more love in our spouse, we must become more loving.
Third, apathy often descends when disillusionment takes hold. When we married, we wed a fallen human being. Expect the fruit of it. If we married a blind person, we wouldn’t burn in anger when he couldn’t watch the sunset with us. If we married a handicapped person, we wouldn’t be filled with disdain because she couldn’t go on jogs with us. You knew what to expect. Every Christian husband or wife married a weak vessel. Expect the fruit of weakness. There are daily failings, faults, and sins. As it is true for you, so it is with your spouse. Look past much and forgive even more.
Finally, apathy makes a miscalculation. None of us undertakes something arduous unless we are convinced that the thing we seek is worth the effort. Christian marriage is worth it. Every effort you make plants a seed for eternity. It is never wasted, and the rewards are sweet and good. Don’t settle into marital apathy. If you are already there, it is time to repent and recommit. It is worth it.