***Marriage is not a happy-making contract!***
Besides being predicated on a sociologically proven false premise–i.e. cheaters only cheat when they are unhappy in their marriages (see Dr. Shirley Glass’ book in RESOURCES)–it is premised on a faulty and ungodly understanding of marriage.
God does not tell us to only honor our marriage covenants as long as our spouse makes us happy. He warns us to honor our marriage covenants and keep the marriage bed pure with no reference to our state of happiness or unhappiness in that relationship.
Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. -Hebrews 13:4, NLT
Maybe I am missing something here, but where in this verse (or the whole Bible for that matter) is the warning to faithful spouses to keep their partners happy or God will let their spouses cheat on them? The Bible I read does not contain such a warning.
But perhaps all those “wise” pastors and Christian leaders asking about “what was missing” in the infidelity violated marriage see something in Hebrews 13:4 that I am missing?
Reducing a marriage to a happy-making contract dehumanizes both parties. Such an understanding of marriage essentially states that the only reason one is married is to extract happiness from the other. As soon as such happiness is no longer a gain, then the relationship is over. The other spouse is no longer person but rather a means to an ends–i.e. someone being used to get personal happiness.
This is a horribly pagan and heathen notion.
Christian marriage is to mirror Christ’s relationship with the Church (e.g. Ephesians 5:23ff):
What if Jesus approached that covenant as a happiness-making contract?
If He did, I doubt He would have gone to the Cross.
You see, crucifixion is a real buzz-kill to personal happiness. I am told they had to invent a word to capture how incredibly painful such a death was–i.e. “excruciating.” Yet Jesus did that in order to win His Bride and glorify His Father.
Please do not get me wrong: I hope every marriage is full of happy moments and memories. However, I am troubled by a Christian world that blindly accepts the “happy-making contract” concept of marriage and reinforces such a concept when dealing with infidelity.
God has a much higher view of such relationships. He gave us marriage as a picture of His deep and abiding commitment to His people. A commitment that prioritized the relationship over the personal pain of even God’s Only Begotten Son.
Christian marriage is not reducible to a happiness equation.
This means the happiness or unhappiness is not the primary focus here for godly marriage. The primary focus is upon keeping the covenant–aka commitments–made to each other before God and each other on the wedding day.
It is not that I think God is uninterested in our happiness. But that is not what He teaches us as the primary area of focus in honoring marriage. The primary focus is upon keeping the marriage covenant and not violating it as a cheater does. And only the person choosing to violate the marriage by committing adultery has the power to choose otherwise.
Instead of asking why the cheater is unhappy, a more constructive question to ask is what made him or her think it was okay to disobey God’s clear teaching against cheating. That is the real issue from a biblical standpoint. A cheater needs to dig down internally to deal with what led to his or her open defiance of God.