Less-Than-Perfect Spouse
Mardi Gras
28 February 2017
In dealing with couples in conflicted marriages, I often encourage them to treat each other as though they were strangers they bumped into at Wal-Mart. I call this Wal-Mart test of civility. Could you say to a stranger at Wal-Mart what you have said to your spouse? This low threshold of civility is a starting place in a marriage where suspicion and vicious recriminations have become the daily norm. Simple "please" and "thank you" go a long way to help in the marital relationship. The presumption of common courtesy is a necessary minimum for all human interaction (even at Lutheran voters assemblies!). This is part of the "mere" human wisdom, which should have been taught and modeled by our own parents.
 
The level of behavior beyond the "mere" human wisdom is unique to the Christian Church which encourages sacrifice of self according to the model of Christ. He takes all our sin and spiritual filth into Himself, indeed becoming sin for us (2Co 5:21), that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. He puts up with all our filth and sin for our sakes. This is what forgiveness of sins is. All our moral filth has been borne by the Lamb of God that we might no longer bear it. He who is ever patient and holy enters into fellowship with us to bear away our sin in the marriage feast of the Lamb. The Head attaches Himself to the body of the Church that the body's filth might become His, taking it away from us.
 
So it is in marriage. No marital partner turns out to be perfect. Why should we be shocked when we find this out? Does Christ find himself alarmed when He discovers what is in man? Is He amazed to find out that humans are filthy, decayed sinners? Does He complain to His heavenly Father that He was misled by this bride and that He wants out of this marriage? No, a thousand times, no. He has agreed to marry into poverty, weakness, and filth, to redeem that body of the Church, His bride, with His own precious and holy life. He patiently bears with our weaknesses, sins, and moral filth because we are His body, holy and precious in Him. How could we do less for our less-than-perfect bride or groom? Today forgive your bride or groom. You will be treating right your own body (Eph 5:28) as Christ loves and cares for His body, the Church.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"The best way to prevent divorce and other discord is for everyone to learn patience in putting up with the common faults and troubles of his place in life and to put up with them in his wife as well, knowing that we can never have everything just right, the way we would like to have it. Even the condition of your own body can never be any different or better. You have to put up with the many kinds of filth and discomfort that it causes you every day; and if you were to throw away everything about it that is impure, you would have to start with the belly, which you need to nourish you and to keep you alive.
 
"Now, you can stand it when your body emits a disgusting odor before you realize it, or when it festers and becomes pussy and completely pollutes your skin. You make allowances for all this. In fact, this only increases your concern and love for your body; you wait on it and wash it, and you endure and help in every way you can. Why not do the same with the spouse whom God has given you, who is an even greater treasure and whom you have even more reason to love?
 
"For the love among Christians should be the same kind of love as that of every member of the body for every other one, as St. Paul often says (Rm 12:4-5; 1Co 12:12-26), each one accepting the faults of the other, sympathizing with them, bearing and removing them, and doing everything possible to help him. Hence the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins is the most important of all, both for us personally and for our relations with others. As Christ continually bears with us in His kingdom and forgives us all sorts of faults, so we should bear with and forgive one another in every situation and in every way. Whoever refuses to do this, may God grant him no rest and make his misfortune or plague ten times as bad."

Martin Luther, Sermon on the Mount, 5.32
Ephesians 5:1-16

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
 
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
 
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.   (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, You took a body unto Yourself when becoming incarnate You were wed to the Church. Grant that we might confess ourselves united with one another through You, so that when one suffers we all suffer and when one rejoices we all rejoice. Grant us the courage to give forgiveness in our marriages that Your body might be built up and Your kingdom come. Amen.
 
For the members of Luther Academy, that they would be supported in their service to the gospel of Christ
 
For President Donald Christian of Concordia University Texas, that the Lord Jesus would give him strength to accomplish His will
 
For all those who share the gift of music with the world, that they would recognize that God has given them this gift and use it to His service and the benefit of humanity
Art: MANETTI, Rutilio   Wedding Feast at Cana  (c . 1620)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2017