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More Than a Piece of Paper

Piece of paper In our world it is easy to see marriage as nothing more than a piece of paper.  But marriage is about more than a simple, legal binding between two parties.  It is about two people before God, their family, and their friends making a promise.

This isn’t about negotiating a contract.

It’s not about scoring the better end of the deal.  It’s not about making sure your benefits outweigh the costs.  It’s not about making sure that you’ve made out better than the other person.  This is not about being a consumer seeking a good bargain.

Our world loves bargains and business deals.  But marriage is not one of them.

Marriage is about two people making vows.  It’s a promise to one another and a promise to God.

This promise between a husband and a wife actually reflects the promise that God himself makes to his Church.  Paul describes this in Ephesians 5 when he says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  This is the promise we see kept by God.  Jesus Christ sacrifices his life for us despite our unfaithfulness.

Imagine that kind of promise.  An unconditional, faithful, and forever love.

Although we’ve sinned, although we’ve fallen short, and although we do not deserve it - Jesus continues to love us.  He gives up everything so that we might have everything.  He makes us holy and clean.  And in marriage, we reflect this same promise.  If it were a contract, it would be about negotiating terms.  But instead this is a covenant; it’s about making a vow.  A vow to give sacrificially, to serve humbly, and love unconditionally just as Jesus himself did for every one of us.

Contracts are about the piece of paper.  Contracts are about the legal agreement.  Contracts are about what you can get from the other person.  But this isn’t about the paper, it’s about vows.

But marriage is a promise that says, “I’m binding my life to yours forever.”

Marriage isn’t about a contract, it’s about a promise.  The marriage part matters not because the piece of paper matters, but because in the promise to be a spouse, there’s a commitment that fulfill God’s calling to love and serve each other in your marriage.

In marriage we have a joining of two people that cannot be separated.  In marriage, two are bound together.  They are glued to one another for life.  Sickness, tragedy, trials, and pain - none of these can separate the couple that has committed themselves to each other “till death do us part.”

You’ll notice this same language reflected when describing God’s relationship with us:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  - Romans 8:38-39

No change in feelings, no loss of job, or no tragedy can separate the two that have been joined together.  In marriage, we commit that even when the passion fades, the promise will always remain.



The Vocations in a Family

Vocations Everybody has a vocation.  Vocation is a really just a fancy way of saying a “calling.”  Our vocations are the way that God works in the world serving the world through us as we fulfill our vocations.  And we all have these callings.  God serves our schools as teachers teach, principals lead, and as students obey.  God serves in our families as husbands love their wives, as wives love their husbands, and so on.  Our callings extend into our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our churches, and into our homes.

One of the fascinating things about family, however, is that it is the first place that we all experience calling.  Because we are all born into the vocation of a son or daughter.  Families are full of different callings - each of which have different unique characteristics, responsibilities, and value.

Note: This list is really simplified and meant to scratch the surface. We could spend a lot of time on each of these individual vocations, so if you feel like one doesn’t say all that it should… it probably doesn’t. 


The husband is the leader of the home. Ephesians calls the husband to love his wife the way that Christ loved the Church.  This is a high calling, to be the sacrificial, loving leader of the home.  Service and sacrificing for the benefit of the one he loves.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” - Ephesians 5:25


The wife has been called to her husband and to love her husband as the Church loves Christ.  The calling of a wife is a distinct calling from her husband, yet equally sacred and important.

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” - Ephesians 5:21-22

A wife is called to submit to her husband.

Now this word can cause a lot of trouble, but it doesn’t need to.  Because this is about mutual submission. She is not called to submit to him for the sake of him “lording it over her” but to submit to and serve her husband as he has also done for her.

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” - Proverbs 31:10-12


A man, if he has kids, not only has the responsibility to lead his wife but to also lead his kids.  The father provides for his family, protects his family, and also pastors his family.  The calling of fatherhood is a call to disciple your children - to make sure they know they are loved by God and by their parents.

"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." - Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV


Moms have one of the most difficult callings there is.  It’s one of the most important, yet it is also one of the most under-appreciated and exhausting callings there is.  The most important work that any mom does is the work she does as a mother; and it is an exhausting, unpaid, holy calling to love, care for, and disciple her children.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed.” - Proverbs 31:26


The first vocation that we all have in life is the same.  It’s the vocation of being a son or a daughter.  This might be unusual, especially because we primarily begin to think of callings as what happens when we become adults.  But this isn’t true, callings extend into childhood as - son/daughter, brother/sister, student, and friend.

"My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” - Proverbs 6:20 ESV

We could also add to this list things like brother and sister, grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, cousins.  All of these are unique relationships that God has placed you in.  And since God has placed you in those relationships, this also means that he has called you to love him and love others in those relationships that he has called you to.

What are some of the other unique callings within a family that you could describe? 



Dating Doesn't End with "I Do"

Dating Dating doesn’t end with “I do.”

In a marriage, there are many things that are competing for your attention.  Bills, kids, projects, deadlines, school, laundry, dinner, groceries, birthday parties, or even the in-laws.  While these things are necessary and important parts of a marriage, a marriage needs much more than paid bills and kids to thrive.  The goal of our marriage isn’t just to stay married, it’s to have a marriage that is filled with joy.

And a joy-filled marriage comes in the pursuit of one another and in knowing that God is in pursuit of us.

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (ESV) - Ephesians 5:23-27

Notice what happens here. Christ pursues the Church.  Christ sacrifices.  Christ gives of himself.  Christ loves.  And this verse from Ephesians calls men to the same thing - love your wives, sacrifice for your wives, pursue your wives.

Christ calls men to do for their wives what has been done for them.  And it might even be suggested that by God’s pursuit of you, he has freed you to not focus on scoring spiritual points with God but instead focus on the hard work of fulfilling your calling as you love and pursue your spouse.

Dating is an opportunity for pursuit that shouldn’t disappear after the wedding vows.  It will certainly look different, but it shouldn't end.  Because even after the vows are spoken, the relationship doesn’t stop growing.

And when there are so many different areas of our life that are seeking our time and attention, the question becomes, “Which area of your life will become the priority?"

“Daily you make decisions to give up one thing in order to gain something else. This is especially true within the arena of your schedule. You face a variety of responsibilities and opportunities: work … family … hobbies … clubs … leagues … the list is endless. Each competes for your attention. Each competes for your most valuable resource, your time. But to give each of these the time it demands or deserves would require more time than you have.” - Andy Stanley

Maybe it’s time to start dating again.

As life happens in marriage, dating is easy to get bumped down the list.  Our kids take priority.  Our bills have to get paid.  The jobs need to get done on time.  And while it is easy to bump dating off the list, it is probably the last thing that should be moved down the list.  Because even when we struggle to pay the bills, a healthy marriage gets us through those difficult days.  And even if our career is miserable, a happy marriage makes it do-able.  And while our kids are certainly a priority, the best gift we can ever give to our kids is a healthy marriage and a healthy home to grow up in.

Everyday you are going to have to make decisions about what to give up and what to pursue.  Choose your family.  Choose your spouse.

Note: This title and concept comes from a Date Night event that Eric and our church put on for couples that my wife and I got the chance to participate in.