Category: Godly Marriage

The Algebra of Marriage


Christian marriage is a union of two people before God and man; it includes a promise to be faithful, and to love and cherish each other for the rest of your lives. Those are the facts that most of us can agree upon. Yet there are many aspects of marriage, within the Christian view, that have the church divided in opinions.

For example, some people believe marriage is eternal, lasting beyond our earthly lives, while others believe there is no marriage in Heaven. There is also disagreement about divorce, and when it might be acceptable to God, if ever. And of course, there is the huge debate (with most Christians on one side of it,) about whether same-sex marriages are accepted by God. I have my opinions about all of these things, and I could spend a lot of time writing about each of them and analyzing the Biblical support for both sides. But today, I want to focus on one of the issues that affects most of my readers, and myself, the most in our daily lives. That is, what are the Biblical roles in a marriage?

The two distinct viewpoints are known as complementarian and egalitarian.

Most Christians, and many non-believers, are familiar with the concept of the husband being the leader in a Biblical marriage. Traditionally, churches teach a complementarian view, in which husbands and wives each hold roles in a marriage that are equally valuable and important, but different. These roles are defined by Bible verses such as Ephesians 5:22-24, which says:

“22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the
head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the
church.24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands
in everything.”

In a complementarian marriage, the husband is seen as the leader while the wife is called to be submissive. Importantly, this type of marriage is not oppressive to the wife, because in many other Bible verses, husbands are commanded to love their wives selflessly. Any misuse of this view which allows abuse or disrespect towards women is not Biblically supported. Love and respect are the key components.

The lesser known view in the church is called egalitarian, which means equal. Roles are not defined based on gender, and the individuals in this type of marriage work more as a collaborative team. Decisions are made together, and disagreements are resolved by discussion rather than defaulting to the husband’s authority. Mutual submission and respect, based on love, are the key components here.

The egalitarian system is often criticized as being ignorant of scripture. Yet Biblical egalitarians, like myself, do not hold this view by ignoring scripture. I base my views in every area of life upon my best understanding of the Bible and God’s character. Verses such as this one, Galatians 3:28, support the idea that gender roles are no longer necessary when we are new creations in Christ: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

I do not disregard the verses which might point towards a complementarian model for marriage, though. I simply view them with the understanding that translation, context, and interpretation of the Bible can lead to very different understandings of issues like this. I find different lessons in these verses, which are just as valuable and applicable to my life. And so, in the same spirit as I am a “rainbow fish,” I also believe in egalitarian marriage. (Coincidentally, egalitarianism is the only view that makes sense in same-sex marriages.) I see the big picture of God’s message as being one of love, freedom, and a call to willing selflessness–for everyone, no matter what their gender may be.

Both complementarian and egalitarian marriages can be beautiful, loving, healthy, and strong. And I emphasize again that both can be supported convincingly by passages in the Bible. I would not criticize a healthy and happy Christian marriage as being “wrong” for following a complementarian approach. For some marriages, the man may be a natural leader and the woman may be naturally submissive, and as long as the marriage is strong in love and mutual respect, I see no issue with that.

But for other marriages, like mine, these roles are not what feels right or works best. I was always confused and uncomfortable with teachings about gender roles in marriage, until I finally discovered that there are egalitarian Christians in the world. I used to worry that we were going against God’s best plans for us by working as a team, or even by my leading our decisions at times, rather than following a traditional “male leadership” model. Now I have peace knowing that my marriage is Godly, strong, and healthy just the way it is. As long as we are growing in love and maturity, and striving to serve each other rather than ourselves, I know that we will continue to thrive.

If marriage is a math equation in which two individuals come together make a whole, the question is this: Is the husband the bigger piece? Or are they equal? This is something you will have to decide for yourself. But the most important thing is that the two are a whole together. Marriage is all about unity in Christ. If you have that, I can’t see a way that God wouldn’t be pleased.

What kind of marriage do you have, or want to have? Have you ever been confused about God’s will for individual roles in marriage? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


P.S. Here are some great resources for more information on this topic!

For an overview on the differences and overall views of complementarian and egalitarian marriage:

For a Biblical foundation of egalitarianism:

For a Biblical foundation of complementarianism:

Christians for Biblical Equality:

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

How to Love Your Significant Other Every Day



Sometimes, we all need a reminder to actively love the one we’ve chosen to commit ourselves to. After all, love is a verb. Here are five things we can all do each day to love our significant other!

  1. Speak Kindly

I often need to step back and check myself on this one. Sometimes my words and my tone towards my husband are less than loving. The way we speak to those we love matters. Use words that are encouraging, kind, and considerate, and speak in a way that demonstrates how much you care. Control yourself when you feel like snapping at them, and choose to speak gently. And of course, don’t forget to tell them that you love them!

  1. Connect Physically

Little things like holding hands, hugging, kissing, or snuggling on the couch can have a big impact. It can be easy to neglect physical affection after years of being with a person, but it is still important! In a marriage, a healthy sex life is also vital. Physical touch has power to connect and strengthen relationships. Find a way to show your affection every day.

  1. Be Supportive

In a marriage or any committed relationship, there are bound to be times when you must choose between serving yourself or serving your significant other. Take care of yourself, but remember to support your spouse, too. Support means being a teammate, managing your lives and home and family together, and working as a team to balance it all. Support means encouraging the dreams of your significant other, and doing what you can to help them achieve those dreams. Support also means being open and accepting of emotions—both yours and your spouse’s.

  1. Use Their Love Language

Not everyone gives or receives love in the same way. If you don’t know your love language and that of your spouse, find out what it is! Then, learn to speak in it. I know that my husband feels most loved through physical touch, so I need to make this a priority. He knows that I also need quality time and words of affirmation to feel loved, so he tries to show his love in those ways. You can take a love language quiz here, and purchase the incredibly helpful Love Languages book on Amazon here.

  1. Pray for Them

One of the most important things you can do for your significant other is to pray for them. Pray for their safety, their health, their career success, their happiness, their spiritual growth, their relationships, their dreams… and anything else you can think of! Praying for somebody you love not only invites God to work in their lives, but it changes your heart to be more humble and loving towards that person.

Happy loving today, my friends!


The Keys to Marriage

This month, Cory and I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. In honor of that, I wanted to write about some of what I have learned about marriage over the years.

Today, Cory and I are just as committed to staying married forever as we were when we said our vows. We have had struggles to face as a couple, and we have certainly had our share of fights and disagreements, and times when we haven’t been very connected as a couple. Yet despite these things, we are still in love and determined to keep our marriage strong. Reflecting lately about why that is, I formed a theory about the keys to marriage—four ingredients which are needed for success. Obviously, this is all my opinion and based on my own experience and observations, so you can take it or leave it. But I believe that the four keys to marriage are compatibility, commitment, communication, and Christ.

For many years, I believed that it was mainly about commitment. You just decide to stay married forever, and you do. And I still do believe that is part of it, but I also know that commitment means more than just deciding—it takes a lot of energy to turn that decision into reality. Aside from that, commitment isn’t the only thing that makes marriage work. I realized this through a conversation with my mother-in-law, who shared her thoughts that compatibility may be the most important factor in determining whether or not a marriage lasts. It made me realize how much I took for granted the compatibility that Cory and I share, and the importance of these other factors.

In my theory, these four keys to a successful marriage can work in different ways. All relationships have varying levels of compatibility, commitment, communication, and Christ, whether those aspects are completely absent or fully present. A great marriage can happen even when one of these areas is weak, usually because another area is strong enough to compensate. The best part is that even if all of the other areas are weak, a marriage can still succeed if Christ is strongly present—which happens when he’s invited in and given control.

So what do I mean by each of these words? They’re not just catchy words that start with the letter C. They each have a very important role to play in a marriage.

Compatibility means agreeing on fundamental beliefs, especially faith. It is Biblically supported to say that Christians should marry other Christians, and for good reason. Two people who hold conflicting beliefs about important matters such as God, the purpose of life, and eternity will always have a rift between them that can’t be crossed. It limits not only the level of intimacy that a marriage can achieve, but the strength of the team that the marriage represents. It causes great pressure for either individual to change their beliefs, potentially for the wrong reasons, or to lose one’s faith altogether. Compatibility on a faith level is vital for a strong marriage. While no two people are at the exact same place in their spiritual walks, I feel it’s wise to at least be in the same time zone, spiritually speaking.

Compatibility is also about sharing other similar beliefs and interests. It isn’t important to agree on everything or be exactly alike—differences make life interesting and help us grow. I do feel that it’s important to agree on any topics which are extremely important to either person, or at least agree to respect the other person’s views as valid and be willing to moderate your own views, and vice versa. It’s also important to share a handful of meaningful interests, if only because spending time together and doing what you enjoy should be, well, enjoyable! Similar beliefs and interests bond and unite, and that’s important for a strong relationship. Yet another important aspect of compatibility is simply getting along. Every couple fights, and that’s okay—what matters is that fighting isn’t the main activity. Even more important is a couple’s ability to resolve conflicts in a healthy way, which is both an aspect of compatibility and communication. This is a skill that can be learned and developed over time, if it’s not something that comes naturally.

Lastly, a compatible couple is one that can work well together. One of the things that I think makes Cory and I a strong couple is that we are an excellent team. We work well together in life, and because of that we are able to support each other and navigate through difficult seasons without falling apart.

Part of working well together is communication, which is my second key to marriage. Communication means being able to broach difficult topics with your significant other, clearly explain how you feel, listen carefully to what they have to say, and generally be on the same page. It means expressing feelings instead of holding them in. It means sharing the details of your life with your spouse. It means caring about what your spouse has to say and listening attentively. I will freely admit that communication is one of the biggest struggles as a couple for me and Cory, and it’s something that we’re working on very often.

Conflict resolution is a form of communication that is extremely important in a marriage. Conflict is bound to happen, and being able to resolve it in a way that is respectful to both people is invaluable. Sweeping conflicts under the rug, having explosive arguments, or insisting on always being right are all unhealthy for a marriage. Conflict resolution is the antidote. Since conflict resolution skills don’t come naturally for most people, this is something that needs to be intentionally learned and applied. Do Cory and I always resolve our conflicts in a mature and healthy way? No, I can’t say that we do. This is another area in which we are working to improve.

Commitment is my third key to marriage, and it’s the one that I have always felt most strongly about. I think this may be because I have seen many marriages fail because of a lack of commitment, and it frustrates me. Yet commitment is not an easy thing to truly have. It means hard work instead of complacency, choosing to love somebody even when you don’t feel like it, and consciously rejecting thoughts about what shade of green the grass might be on the other side. Commitment in marriage means that you both agree that marriage is permanent, that you accept that it won’t always be easy, and that you are willing to put in effort to make the relationship work. Above all, commitment means that you choose to love your spouse, even when your relationship isn’t as thrilling or new as it once was. A marriage can and should have passion and a deep, growing love—frequently, these are things that must be chosen and pursued as well.

My fourth and most important key to marriage is Christ. I say this because I truly believe that even if you don’t have the best compatibility, or communication skills, or a strong mutual commitment, Jesus can be the ingredient who makes it work anyway. Having Jesus in a marriage means following his example by putting each other first and giving grace to each other and yourself. Selflessness and grace can overcome a lot of problems within a marriage. Having Christ in your marriage also, and most importantly, means that you rely on God’s strength to do what you could not do in your own power. If I relied on my own power and just tried really hard, it still would not be enough because deep down I’m a selfish human. Yet as a new creation in Christ, I know that God sees me as so much more. He sees me as perfect, and he gives me power to pursue holiness in every area of my life, including my marriage. Will I mess up sometimes? Yes. Will my marriage stay strong anyway? Yes. This boat won’t sink because Jesus is in it with us.

Over the years, I haven’t given God as much credit as he deserves—and he deserves all of it—so I’ll just say this now. Jesus is the most important ingredient in our marriage. He is the reason we are together, and the reason that we always will be.

These keys to marriage are areas in which every couple has room to grow. And when Christ is in a marriage, he provides the tools, motivation, and strength to do just that. I started this blog as a place to write about marriage, and I hope that this post helps somebody somewhere to grow stronger in their own marriage. Because marriage matters to me, and more importantly, it matters to God.