Healthy marriage is not a sociological or psychological pursuit. At its heart it is a theological relationship. Let me say that again. Healthy marriage is not a sociological or psychological pursuit. At its heart it is a theological relationship.
Certainly sociology and psychology play a part in marriage. They play a part in every human relationship. It is legitimate to ask questions like, “How should I proceed in this relationship? How does this benefit me? How does it harm me? What is my spouse’s role in this?” But ultimately psychology-based or sociology-based models for marriage are individual-centric pursuits that, if left unchecked, will eventually lead toward a destructive, self-centered existence. The questions then are no longer about my personal well-being for the sake of the relationship as a whole, but rather my personal well-being for the sake of my personal gratification. The god of “self” rears its ugly head and everything in the relationship becomes about pleasing me, even at the expense of my mate. The shared covenant relationship of Christian marriage is replaced by a parasitic relationship that seeks to use and devour the other partner, eventually killing the relationship.
But healthy marriage is at its heart a theological pursuit. All that simply means is Christian marriage should be centered in God and point other toward God. Marriage defined by God has both purpose and boundaries that bless the couple. In God, marriage is a shared ministry that moves a couple’s focus beyond selfish interests and leads them to seek ways to actively bless each other as they participate together in the Kingdom of God. The exact shape that takes will certainly differ from couple to couple, and will likely change multiple times throughout a couple’s lifetime. But the common element is a shared purpose that is centered in God, allows the couple to look outside of just themselves, and ultimately points the world back toward God.
In Genesis 2, the man and the woman are described as “one flesh.” Obviously, we live in a post-Garden-of-Eden world. The Edenic paradise no longer exists. The isolation and brokenness of this world is ever-present in all of our relationships, including (and often especially) marriage. But through Christ, God still calls couples to a covenant relationship between husband, wife, and God. God still calls spouses to find a purpose greater than selfish personal gratification. God still provides boundaries for healthy marriage. Only in Christ can spouses find a holy covenant relationship rather than the relationship-destroying parasite of selfishness. At its heart, healthy Christian marriage is always a theological relationship.