I had an awesome opportunity last week to speak with best selling author and international speaker, Gary Thomas, who wrote bestseller Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage To Make Us Holy Instead Of Happy?, which still remains as his most successful book. Mr. Thomas is the author of at least thirteen books, a couple of which rank on my all-time favorites list. Learn more about this amazing author and his beautiful insights on marriage and the relationship the couple shares with Christ in this post.
An Interview About Sacred Marriage
In this article:
- The Purpose of Marriage
- The Spiritual Side of a Sacred Marriage
- Marriage: Holy or Happy?
- Marriage as a Teacher of How to Love
- How to Encourage a Sacred Marriage
Here are a few excerpts from my conversation with Mr. Thomas:
The Purpose of Marriage
Sacred Marriage asks a powerful question about the real purpose of marriage. It really is a revolutionary and freeing perspective. Where did the concept for this book come from?
Gary Thomas: From experience. When I got married, I was challenged in my marriage in ways I was not challenged in my single life. When I was in college, if I did not like my roommate, I just had to hang on for a few months and it would be over. In other words, I could just run from the situation. But in marriage, that is not an option. At a point, I realized that no one had breathed a word of anything regarding the spiritual challenges of marriage.
The Spiritual Side of a Sacred Marriage
Gary Thomas: We had heard about conflict issues, financial issues, in-law issues, sexual issues, but nobody talked about the spiritual challenges in marriage. Beyond just learning to deal with someone else, I saw a different side of myself, in marriage. Typically, I am a laid back guy, but coming into marriage, I saw myself irritated more.
So to me, it was just spiritually forming to look at marriage in this way, and I had not heard anybody else address it at that time, and that is what gave birth to the concept.
Marriage: Holy or Happy?
The subtitle: What if God designed marriage to make us holy instead of happy? Give us a snapshot of what that means, to those that have not been introduced to the book yet.
Gary Thomas: Most people today think that their greatest need is to be loved; that is why they get married. They want to find someone that will love them, they want to be noticed, they feel lonely, they want to be appreciated. The biblical view is that God has met that need. He proved His love for us through Christ, He will love us, He will accept us. So your greatest need has already been met. The greatest need now then is to learn how to love.
Marriage as a Teacher of How to Love
Gary Thomas: I look at marriage as a teacher of how to love. If you are married to a person with a temper, how do you learn to love a person with a temper? If you are married to a person who is overly sensitive or selfish, how do you learn to love a sensitive or selfish person?
Well, it is really through humility, realizing that I am, not like Christ. We often compare ourselves to people we deem to not be good examples of how to be in marriage, like a Charlie Sheen and say, “Well I am not Charlie Sheen but I am not Jesus either.” So even though a person might be more spiritual than their spouse, they still realize the need to grow in how they love their spouse. So then the things I used to resent about my marriage — now I see it as a purpose of my marriage, as I now see that God designed it to pinch my feet, to show me that I am selfish and that I don’t know how to love, to show me that I am not like Christ so I can become better at how I love.
How to Encourage a Sacred Marriage
Heading into the new year, what words of encouragement would you give to a couple that has been going through years of tough times in their marriage?
Gary Thomas: There are a few things I would like to say to that:
1. Remember that every marriage is difficult. I throw that out because people go through difficulties and they think something is wrong with their marriage. There is no such thing as an easy marriage. There will never be a marriage without struggle on this side of heaven. Struggle is healthy. So the expectation that you can ever get to a point where there is no struggle, that will always leave you frustrated. Not to say that some seasons are not more pleasurable than others. But I would call it a lie to say that there will not be points of struggle.
2. A marriage is not only something we can make but something that we can also remake. We have this notion that there is nothing we can do about where we are in our marriage, but that is just not true. It is natural that when things get busy, when the kids are young, or you have challenges on your job, that you wake up and feel really distant from each other. However, you can always choose to grow back together. You spend the time, you talk, you have fun, you get back under the sheets, you do what a couple has to do to grow their marriage back together. You can grow back together. That assumes that you are forgiving each other, that you are applying grace and showing the love of Christ to each other. If you are willing to do those things, eventually the marriage can grow back together.
Here is a video of Gary himself, shared by wheatoncollege, talking about Sacred Marriage:
Wow, great insight! It was really a pleasure to talk with Gary about his great work. He is really one of the great authors and thinkers of our time when it comes to marriage, family and spiritual concerns. For more information about Gary’s books and when he will be speaking in your city, you can go to garythomas.com
BMWK Family, have you read Sacred Marriage yet? Let us know what you think in the comments section!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 17, 2012, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.