Part of the Studying the Bible as a Married Couple Series
Romans 8:37 does much more than tell us we should expect resistance; it goes on to gloriously proclaim something even greater than victory — that we are "more than conquerors." In other words, we are called to do more than just survive; we are called to influence and proclaim, including in our marriages. Lifelong love is all about thriving in a ministry-minded marriage that impacts others.
If you're looking at marriage only on a "scientific" basis, you'll put into play psychological practices and relational skills that may indeed be helpful — to an extent. I'm not talking these down at all — I'm just saying there is another element to account for. If you want to grow together beyond your natural limitations, consider adopting the following spiritual practices that can lift your marriage above its scientific limitations.
The first conquering to be done must be over our own sin: "[Sin's] desire is for you, but you must rule over it" (Genesis 4:7). If we do not surrender to Holy Spirit-generated self-control — if we do not conquer our polluted thirsts — we cannot maintain the high level of marital intimacy God has designed us for. Sinful habits (gossip, pride, impatience, malice, resentment and so forth) wreak havoc on marital oneness. The conquering, in other words, begins with ourselves.
Next, we seek to conquer evil in our homes; we assault the presence of others' sin with grace, mercy, loving confrontation, forgiveness, prayer and a daily infusion of God's truth (which protects us from lies that bombard us). This last part is so important. We must conquer the lies that war against us, blunt our love and lead us away from God's plan. That means — there is no substitute here — daily immersion in Scripture. Remember, we are transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:1-2). Christianity is based on truth, which means, by definition, that Christian marriage is also based on truth, which means (are you still following me?) that we can't maintain intimacy with each other if we're not also maintaining intimacy with Scripture.
The world is lying to us every day about what will make us happy. I lie to myself every day about what will make me happy. I have to hear from God what is truly true lest I pour all my energies into pursuing something that can never satisfy. The one place where I know I will never be lied to is when I safely walk in the meadow of God's Word. No errors exist there; no enemies or tricks will ever be hidden in the pages of God's revelation. I can rest in the refreshing truth that gives life and wholeness.
The final step to becoming more than a conqueror is to conquer evil in the world. Saved from sin, more than conquerors at home, victors over the lies that assault us, we can go out and fight on behalf of other couples and other families. This is the missional aspect of God's plan for marriage.
Let's not settle for less. We aren't described as conquerors. We are called "more than conquerors." Couples on the verge of breaking up: God wants more from you than to merely hold on and stay together. He wants to do more than merely save your marriage. He would have you learn the lessons you must learn, conquer in your home, and then become a couple advocate for other couples who are drowning in defeat, starving for joy, thirsting for oneness.
This article was adapted from A Lifelong Love: What if marriage is about more than just staying together? by Gary Thomas.