Your Marriage

Timothy "TA" Ateek // Sep 22, 2020

When you get married, you’re not just saying “yes” to a wedding, but you’re agreeing to a whole lot more. Marriages too often end up failing because many miss the point and purpose of marriage as God created it for. In this message, we learn 8 principles that can save your marriage before it even begins.

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It is so good to be at The Porch. How are we doing tonight? For all of my Aggies in here, let me just say, "Howdy!" You guys travel strong. Thanks for doing that. I want to say "hello" to everyone watching in the other rooms and to all of the different Porch.Live sites. It's so good to get to spend a little time with you tonight. I love JD. I love David. I love the ministry of The Porch, so it's great to see.

I want to start tonight by sharing with you how I proposed to my wife. There are some people in the room who love a good proposal story, and others of you would probably rather leave right now. I understand. Let me just say, ladies, you're hardwired to enjoy good engagement stories, so as I'm talking, your body is going to be doing something involuntarily. Just go with it. Don't fight it. That's what you were made to do.

Men, while the women are emotionally vomiting, you might just be vomiting, and that's okay. But here's what I would encourage you to do: take notes on this story, go and find a girl outside of this room, claim it all as your own. All I ask is that you DM me and credit me as a romantic genius. Anyway, here's how I proposed to my wife Kathryn.

Several years ago, I was living in Austin. She was living in Dallas. We would travel on the weekends to see each other. I convinced her on this weekend that she was going to be flying from Dallas to Austin to visit me. I convinced her of this by buying her a fully refundable ticket on I sent her the e-confirmation, and then I got my money back. Without her knowing, she thought she was going to fly on a Friday.

On the Thursday before the Friday, I made my way to Dallas without her knowing, and then during the day on Friday, I made my way up to her work. I was in cahoots with her boss and her coworkers. They lured Kathryn away from her desk, got into her purse, grabbed her keys, came outside, and unlocked her car. All the while, Kathryn had no clue she was about to get punked.

What I did was I got into her car, and I put two dozen roses, sprinkled the whole car with rose petals, and then in the seat I put a note that said, "Change of plans. Tonight is a very important night in the history of our relationship. Go home, and then you'll get further instructions." So, Kathryn comes out of her work, thinking she's going to get in her car to drive to the airport, and instead, she finds that blissful love has exploded all over the inside of her car.

She makes her way back to her apartment where I have already been. She opens the door, and there is a trail of rose petals from the front door all the way into the bedroom, and there on the bed was me. Not really. Sorry. Highly inappropriate. My apologies. There on the bed were two dozen more roses, a dress I had bought for Kathryn, and a note that said, "See you at 6:00."

Now, ladies, I know what you're thinking. You're like, "You bought a dress for her? That is super dangerous. What if it doesn't fit? Deal breaker right there." Fortunately, Kathryn has a twin sister, so I was like, "Will this fit Kathryn? Yes. Great. Good. Got it." At 6:00 p.m. she comes out of her apartment where I am waiting in front of a limousine holding two dozen more roses.

We get into the limo, we make our way to downtown Dallas, and then we go and eat dinner on the thirty-ninth floor of the downtown Dallas skyscraper that has the hole in the middle of it. We sit in the restaurant right below that hole, and we're watching the sun set, and then right there in the middle of the sunset, as we're eating dinner, I look at Kathryn, I take her by the hand, and I say, "Kathryn, will you pass the Sweet'NLow?" And she did, and I appreciated that.

So, we finished up dinner, we hopped back in the limo, and then we made our way to my cousin's backyard. Now, I know what you're thinking. Who goes to their cousin's backyard when they're proposing? Well, this guy does. Why? Because my cousin shared a backyard with former Dallas Cowboys football player Daryl Johnston, aka the Moose, and the Moose had this beautiful private lake with fountains and waterfalls.

So, I walked Kathryn up the driveway where I had a projection screen set up. I sat her down, I pushed play, and I showed her a slideshow of the two of us from birth to present. She cried. I said, "Bam!" So, she watched the slideshow, and after she finished the slideshow, I took her by the hand and walked her down to the lake. It was very dark, but it was lit by candles. The water was dark, but there were floating candles in the lake.

There in the lake was a rowboat. I put Kathryn in the rowboat. There were two dozen more roses. (True story, people.) I'm not really great at rowboats, but I put her in it, and I proceeded to row the two of us out to the middle of this lake. There, in the middle of the lake, I got down on one knee, and I told Kathryn I loved her for the very first time in our relationship. I didn't want to say it until I could put a ring on it. You know what I mean?

So, I told her I loved her for the very first time, and then I asked her this question. I said, "Will you marry me?" She said, "Yes," and that was a pretty good thing. After she said, "Yes," there was some PDA, and we hugged it out. Then as we were in that rowboat, I said, "I want to get you in the light so you can see your ring," so I rowed the two of us back to the shore. I said, "Let's go knock on my cousin's door. That way you can see your ring in the light."

The door opened, and there was her family. Estrogen just exploded in that moment. Then 10 seconds later, 20 of her closest friends come running around the corner. More estrogen just flying all over the place. I feel highly uncomfortable in this moment. Then we go outside, and we spend the rest of the evening celebrating the fact that a girl like that would say "Yes" to a dude like this. That's all I wanted to share with you tonight. Let's pray and get out of here. No, just joking.

It was an incredible night. I loved that night, and I love sharing our story. Many of you guys have your own stories. I love sharing our story, but as I think back to that night and to Kathryn's yes, here's the realization I have. In that moment, Kathryn wasn't just saying yes to a wedding. She was saying yes to so much more. That one yes was actually a countless number of yeses.

In that moment, what she was saying yes to was traveling really hard all over this nation and to different cool parts of the world during our first year of marriage. She was saying yes to binging The Office for our third time now. She was saying yes to having three crazy boys with me. She was saying yes to moving to Austin to share Jesus with high school students and then to Waco to share Jesus with college students, and then she was saying yes to moving to College Station to share Jesus with college students at Texas A&M University.

She was saying yes to so many great things, but in that moment, she was also saying yes to walking through a miscarriage. She was saying yes to sitting in a marriage counselor's office just a year ago because marriage was tougher than we wanted it to be. See, I'm trying to state the obvious. That yes wasn't just for a wedding, because behind every wedding is a marriage.

We need to talk about marriage tonight, because here's the reality. Some of you guys came here ready to talk about marriage because you want to be married. That whole "ring by spring" thing? You're like, "God, please, not another spring without a ring." But then there are some of you guys here, and you're like, "You know what? I'm going to be a bachelor until the rapture." That's kind of your deal right now, so you're really not into this marriage conversation.

But statistics would show at least the majority of people sitting in this room are at least open to the idea of marriage. So, if you're open to the idea of marriage, I just want you to think. Don't you envision having a good marriage? No girl here is getting together with their gal pals (I don't know what y'all call each other)… No girl gets here with their group and is like, "I cannot wait to be married. My husband and I are going to fight all the time."

No guy is like, "I will want to get out of my marriage often." No one says that right now, yet when you look at different marriages in the world, do you know what you see time and time again? You see people's dreams and people's realities going in two totally different directions. So, here's what I want to try to do tonight. I want to try to save your marriage before it even begins. My goal tonight is to save your marriage before it even begins.

I'm going to do it by unpacking for you the ultimate point and purpose of marriage. What I'm really explaining to you is why marriage even exists. So, if you have a Bible, I want you to turn with me tonight to Genesis, chapter 2. Genesis, chapter 2, is the origination of marriage. I love that, because marriage is God's invention. It is an overflow from the creative genius that is God. The fact that God put marriage on page 2 of his Bible shows us just how passionate he is about marriage. It shows us how pro-marriage God truly is.

What we need to do is to align our hearts with God's heart for marriage. If you really want to save your marriage, starting now, the best thing you can do is sync up with God's heart for marriage. So, let's just walk through it. This is the account of the creation of marriage. It starts in Genesis, chapter 2, verse 18, with these simple words. This is picturing Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Eve has not been created yet. Adam is in the garden by himself.

Verse 18: "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone…'" That's where we have to start. God looks at Adam's isolation in the garden of Eden and says, "It is not good for man to be alone." Now, let's just get some background on this statement, because this is extremely important. Don't miss it.

Genesis, chapter 1, is the account of God creating the heavens and the earth, and God slipped into this rhythm when he created. He would speak, he would say, "Let there be…" "Let there be light. Let there be oceans. Let there be animals." He would speak, something would come into existence, and then he would step back, observe it, and call it good. He says that six or seven different times in just chapter 1. God deems what he has made good.

The reason I tell you that is verse 18 in chapter 2 is the first time in the Bible that we see something being not good. It's the first time God declares that in his creation something is not good. He says, "It is not good for man to be alone." Why is it not good for man to be alone? Okay. We need to get some background here, and I need you to track with me, because what I'm talking about right now is extremely crucial to the entire understanding of marriage. The reason God says it's not good for man to be alone is because of what we find in Genesis 1:26-27.

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

Here's what this tells us. God created men and women in his image. Well, what does that mean? It means God created us with the responsibility of imaging him on the earth. What I'm talking about right now is the point and purpose of your existence. Do you want to know why you exist? You exist to represent and reflect God on the earth. We exist to show God off on the earth. That is why God made us.

I just want to be clear. I am drilling down to why you even are breathing right now. For some of you, that's really important, because you've been questioning the point of your life. You haven't figured out what you're supposed to do with your life yet, and you've begun to wonder, "What's the point anyway?" You've thought about checking out. Well, let me just put it this way. You exist to know Jesus and make Jesus known. That's the point and purpose of your life. You exist to put Jesus on display to the world.

I'll demonstrate it like this. I'm holding my iPhone right now. Think about this. Why does the iPhone exist? The iPhone exists to put the world at your fingertips. Right? You can FaceTime with anyone on the planet at any time face-to-face. You can get a date without leaving your room. One swipe can change your life. I'm not encouraging that. I'm just saying that's a reality.

Now, you can live as if the iPhone exists for a different purpose. You can buy an iPhone, and you can put it on your coffee table and be like, "This is an incredible coaster. Have you ever tried using your iPhone as a coaster? Especially if you have an OtterBox, it is so effective." Or you can be like, "You know what? This table is a little wobbly." You can take it and jam it under the leg and be like, "Man! Thank goodness I bought this iPhone, because it is great at leveling tables."

You can live as if the iPhone exists to be a coaster or to steady a table, but it doesn't change the fact that the iPhone is most fully functioning and most fully alive when it is fulfilling the purpose for which it has been created, which is to put the world at your fingertips. It's the same thing with you. I am telling you right now the point and purpose of your life. The point of your life is to point people to Christ. The point of your life is to put God on display to the world.

Now, you can live as if you exist for a different purpose. You can live as if you exist to make tons of money. You can live as if you exist to get a ring on your finger. You can live as if you exist to have multiple homes to travel to, but it doesn't change the fact that you will be most fully functioning and most fully alive when you are fulfilling the purpose for which you have been created. I need you to understand that, because that is foundational tonight.

God looks at Adam and says, "It is not good for man to be alone." Why? Because his responsibility was to image God on the earth. Well, God is a relational God. It's this theological concept called the Trinity, where there's God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. There are three, but there's only one God. It's three co-equal, co-eternal persons who exist in one essence. At the core of who God is are deep, meaningful relationships.

God looks at Adam's isolation, and he says, "It's not good for man to be alone." Why? Because the image of God through Adam's life was being distorted by Adam's isolation. Adam was incapable of reflecting God as God was meant to be reflected because he could not reflect the relational nature of God throughout the earth. Enter Eve. Watch what God does.

Verse 18: "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'" Ladies, this is where you come in. I just want you to understand what's going on here. God decides to make Adam a helper. That word in the Hebrew, which is the original language of the Old Testament… The word helper is used 19 times in the Old Testament. Sixteen of those times it is referring to God. So, helper here is not demeaning at all. It actually gives incredible value to the woman.

He says, "I will make a helper fit for him." In the Hebrew, that literally means like opposite. God is basically saying, "Adam, you don't need a clone. You need a complement." God is looking at Adam and saying, "You know what, Adam? You're great, but there are ways I've wired you where you're not going to be able to accomplish all that I've made you to do without the woman, and I'm making the woman in a unique and creative way. She won't be able to accomplish all that I've called her to do without the man.

So, Adam, I'm going to make a woman who is less like you but more like me, and together, your responsibility will be to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it." Their responsibility together… It wasn't just Adam's responsibility, but Adam and Eve together would live on mission as a married couple to spread God's kingdom throughout the earth, which is pretty incredible. Now watch how it plays out. Here we go. Here's how God went to work. Verse 19:

"Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him."

This is interesting. God parades all of the animals in front of Adam. We are meant to feel his loneliness. One commentator pictured Adam saying, "Every animal has a partner, but I have no partner." It's like watching everyone go with their date to the dance, but he's flying stag. We are meant to feel that feeling of loneliness, as all of these animals are (I was going to say hooking up, but that just was not the right wording) just walking together, yet Adam is there by himself.

This is where it gets really good. Verse 21: "So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made…" That's a key word there. "…he made into a woman and brought her to the man."

This is awesome, because that word made is the Hebrew word banah, which literally means built. God built Eve. Everything else in creation, everything in this world that captivates us with its majesty…all of the oceans, all of the mountains…God simply spoke, and they came into being, but when it came to creating the woman, he built. He used his hands. Do you know what that means? It means nothing else in all of creation got more of God's attention and creative energy than the woman and the relationship between a man and a woman in marriage.

Now, did you see the wording? God built Eve, and then it says God brought her to the man. This is what I need you to understand really quickly. When you get engaged or when you get married, you're going to be hanging out with couple friends, and here's the question you're going to get asked a lot: "Hey, how did you guys meet?" When that question gets asked, here's what you and your spouse are going to do.

You and your spouse are going to lock eyes with each other, and you're going to look at each other like, "We're about to change these people's lives, and they don't even know it yet." Then y'all are going to start this back and forth, like, "Do you want to tell it?" "No, no, no." It's an it. It is that important.

"Do you want to tell it?"

"No. I like how you tell it."

"Well, okay. I'll tell it."

It's going to be this back and forth. Just a sidenote: if it takes longer than three minutes to tell, people begin to regret asking. I'm just lovingly telling you. That's a word from a friend. Of all of the stories of how we met that exist in this world, no one has a better story than Adam. Right? "Hey, Adam, I'd love to know. How did you and Eve meet?"

"Well, God introduced us."

"Okay. Super Jesus juke, Adam. Okay, we get it. God introduced me to Kathryn too."

"No. For real. God introduced us. See, I was the only man on the planet at the time. So, uh, God put me to sleep. He took one of my ribs. He invented a woman. He brought her to me. We were both naked, and the rest is history."

That's a pretty great story. It's the best story of how we met in the world. Watch Adam's response. This is pretty great. Verse 23: "Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'" Do you know what that is? That's poetry.

Adam meets a woman for the first time, and the dude just bursts out into poetry. Men, here's the deal. If you're writing poetry for a girl, you might as well put a ring on it, because you're in love. That's a joke. Please don't do that. Don't be going home like, "I'm going to write some poetry tonight, and I'm going to propose tomorrow. He said to do it." That's not what I'm saying. But this is a guy in love. That's the power of love. He is speaking poetry.

Then verse 24. Here's the climax. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." This is it. This is the invention of marriage. "A man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

I want you to think about this. God had options. He could have just given Adam more animals. He could have cloned Adam. He could have just bro'd out with a bunch of Adams. But what does he do? He creates a woman with a heart, with a mind, with a soul, with a body that fits perfectly with the man, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

The wording is very interesting. In the ESV it says therefore, but in other translations it says for this reason, which begs the question…For what reason? For what reason will a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife? Well, for this reason: because it's not good for man to be alone. But why isn't it good for man to be alone? Because men and women exist to put the beauty of Jesus Christ on display in the world.

In isolation, Adam was incapable of fulfilling the purpose for which he was created, which was to put the beauty of Christ on display. Here's what that means. Why does marriage exist? Ultimately, marriage exists to put the beauty of Jesus Christ on display to the world. That's it. That is why marriage exists. It's for two people who were created to image God on the earth to come together and image God in an even different and great way. That is why marriage exists.

I don't know if you realize this, but marriage is actually the clearest picture we have of understanding God. If God is a triune God, which means he is three persons who exist in one essence… A lot of people try to explain the Trinity by looking at an apple or looking at how water can be water and a gas and a solid. All of those fall short.

The best picture we have of God is marriage, where two equal people become one in essence in God's eyes. That is why marriage exists. Marriage exists to point to Jesus Christ. Let me put it this way. Your story of how you guys met and how God brought you together exists to point to an even greater story. It's the story of Christ's love for his bride who is the church. Not the building we're in but the people of God.

Your story exists to point people to the greater story of Jesus' love for the church. When you're married, anytime you selflessly serve your spouse, you're pointing to Jesus' selflessness when he laid down his life for you and me on the cross, when he voluntarily sacrificed his life on the cross for our sins. You point to that selflessness.

During the times in life when marriage is tough and you don't feel in love and it feels easier to run but you stay in it and you work for it and you choose to love and you're faithful, you're pointing to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ who will never leave us or forsake us. Nothing can separate us from his great love.

In the moments where everything is as it should be, when the laughter is rich and you share great meals together and sex is enjoyable… In all of those times, when everything is as it should be and you give glory and praise to God, you point the world to how good and great your God truly is. This is the point of marriage.

Let's just be clear. Marriage doesn't exist first and foremost for your happiness. Marriage doesn't exist first and foremost for companionship. Marriage doesn't exist for you to have guiltless sex. Marriage exists for you to put the beauty of Jesus Christ on display to the world. That's what we're talking about. If you want to save your marriage before it ever begins, enter marriage with that mentality, that it is a marriage on mission.

Here's what I want to do with the remainder of my time. These will go quickly, so please listen closely. I want to give you eight keys to saving your marriage before it begins. So, let's get really practical.

1 . Marriage has a mission. What is it? I've said it multiple times. The point of your future marriage will be to point to Jesus Christ. It will be to put his love on display to the world. Your marriage has a mission. I often tell people in premarital counseling, "Your greatest ministry will be through your marriage."

My hope is my greatest ministry during my lifetime will be through my marriage. Even though I speak to a lot of people each week, my hope is that my greatest ministry will be through my marriage. Why? Because I've only made a covenant in this world with my wife. I haven't made a covenant to my kids, even though I love my kids. I haven't made a covenant to Breakaway, even though I love Breakaway. I have only made a covenant to my wife. So I want our marriage to be our greatest ministry.

Let me just say this. Some of you guys are not going to want to hear this, but let me just lovingly tell you. Here's the problem with a Christian marrying someone who isn't a Christian. The problem is that when a Christian marries someone who's not a Christian, instead of your mission being the world, your mission becomes your spouse.

If you're contemplating marrying an unbeliever, I want to put a question kind of like a pebble in your shoe. You need to decide if you want to spend your marriage praying with your spouse or praying for your spouse, because those are two totally different experiences. Your marriage has a mission.

2 . Single and lonely is better than married and lonely. I promise you single and lonely is better than married and lonely. There is a marriage after your wedding. Please, all eyes on me. Don't miss what I'm about to tell you. Marriage does not solve your problems; it intensifies your problems. So, if there are red flags in the relationship right now, I promise you they will not magically disappear when you get married.

Marriage doesn't solve problems; it intensifies your problems. Do not marry anyone for who you hope they become. Some of y'all are in relationships right now you shouldn't be in. Why? Because everyone around you is telling you this is not the right relationship for you to be in, but you're buying into what I like to call Akon theology. I don't know if you remember Akon, but Akon has a song where he says this:

Nobody wanna see us together

But it don't matter, no

I got you.

No, it does matter. If no one wants to see you together, you should probably not be together. For you to just move forward, hoping for the best, will put you in a world of hurt. You can't imagine how many lonely married people there are in this world. No one is better than the wrong one. I assure you of that.

3 . Cultivate your character. From now, cultivate your character. Let me explain it this way. A few years ago, my wife and I… We love to go to New York at Christmastime. We always take a selfie in front of the tree. Well, probably five years ago, we were taking a selfie in front of the tree at Rockefeller Center, and we did the thing where you take the selfie, and then you automatically instantly want to look at how the picture came out.

We both had the same reaction. We both smiled. We took the picture. We were like, "We crushed it." Then we looked, and we were like, "We are officially too old for selfies. They're too up close." I was like, "Look at those wrinkles around my eyes. I thought I was like this. I turned out like this. I don't understand. What happened?" It was just a reminder that time is not on the side of external beauty. It's not.

The further you get into marriage, you're going to need your character to facilitate the attraction between you and your spouse. I assure you of that. But let's just be clear. It is possible to live a double life where you have this external public persona, but then you have this private reality. Your spouse is the one who will be most acquainted with that private reality, and if there is compromise in your character, I promise you it will strain your marriage. Cultivate your character.

If you have roommates, then ask your roommates to help you prepare for your lifelong roommate. Just ask them, "Are there any cracks in my character?" Here are some good questions for you to ask yourself. Do you smell more of conviction or compromise? Good question to ask. In the way you talk, in the way you act on the weekends, when you go out after work for happy hour, do you smell more of conviction or compromise?

Do you smell more of faithfulness or flakiness? Can people count on you? Are you where you tell people you're going to be? Do you show up? Do you leave people stranded? If so, deal with it. Grow. Pursue faithfulness. What about this? Do you smell of selfishness or selflessness? Does drama follow you around? Does all of your time with your group of friends revolve around you? Is it always you dumping all of your problems upon your friends? That's okay. It's just good to realize that and grow. Cultivate your character.

4 . Comparison kills closeness. Here's the problem with getting married in the social media age. We compare like we breathe. We compare ourselves to other people's lives all the time. Some of you are wildly unhappy, and at the root of your unhappiness, I promise you, is comparison. You are consistently comparing your unfiltered life to other people's filtered feeds, and it drives you crazy.

Comparison is toxic to a marriage. You're going to get into marriage, and you're going to begin to look at what he and she are doing and what that couple is like and where they're traveling to and how much money they have and how much more in shape he is than your "he." You're going to be comparing, and comparison kills closeness. Do you know what comparison does? It demands that your spouse compete for your affection.

Let me just say this. I want to talk for a moment about pornography, because if statistics are right, there are plenty of men and women watching right now who struggle with pornography. Six in 10 seek it out at least monthly. Pornography cultivates the demand for novelty. Pornography invites perpetual comparison into your marriage. While you're comparing, your spouse is competing for your affection, for your attention, for your attraction.

Let me just tell you how things can unravel because of comparison. Comparison leads to competition. Competition fuels insecurity. Insecurity leads to anger. Anger leads to distress. Distress leads to withdrawal. Withdrawal leads to separation. Separation leads to divorce. Comparison kills closeness.

5 . Love has no caveats. I learned this best from Todd Wagner. One day, you're going to stand on an altar and share vows. "I [so-and-so] take you [so-and-so] to be my wife" or "to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part." That vow isn't just a tradition; it is a commitment with your significant other before God and family and friends.

Unless you explicitly declare, "Hey, just to be clear, there are some caveats to my vows," whatever you commit to doing, God will hold you to that. So don't operate with these underlying asterisks, where it's like, "In sickness and in health, till death do us part. *As long as I'm still happy." "Yeah, I promise to love you. *As long as I still feel like you're meeting my needs." "As long as I'm still attracted to you." "As long as this thing works and it's not too difficult and we don't have, what many call, irreconcilable differences." Love has no caveats.

Love isn't something you fall in and out of. It's a choice. Often it's a feeling, but often it's a choice. When you stand on that altar and say, "I promise to love you till death do us part," do you know what you're really saying? You're saying, "I don't need to know everything that's going to happen between now and death. I don't need to know about all of the ups and all of the downs. I am committed to loving you. I will choose you till death."

6 . Conflict doesn't change commitment. You will fight. If you don't fight, you probably need to go to marriage counseling, because you're just not saying what you're thinking. Conflict isn't a bad thing. It can be a godly thing. Conflict can actually point to the love of Jesus Christ, because Jesus has reconciled us to God. He's glorified when we reconcile with each other.

But when you conflict with one another, divorce is not an option. Kathryn and I know "It doesn't matter how bad this fight is. In the end it is worth it, because we're stuck together." And as Ben Rector says, forever is a long time to be sad, so we might as well fight for it.

7 . Being faithful is better than being famous. Here's what I mean by that. Some of you guys have this instinctive drive to achieve, and that's an awesome thing. That's a God-given thing, but instead of godly, it can become god. Some of you guys are chasing something. You've turned it into your god…success, a bottom line on a bank account.

You don't know me, and I don't know you, but I just want to lovingly say we wear busyness and workaholism around like badges of honor. There is nothing impressive about working 80 hours a week. I promise you there will be nothing impressive to your spouse about you working 80 hours a week. Do you want to know why? Because your spouse will never see you. There is nothing noble about that.

So, drive, succeed, achieve, but you know what? Be faithful. If it comes down to a job that will make your life extremely unhealthy, but everyone will know who you are at work and everyone at work will respect you, versus being faithful to your wife, faithful to your husband, loving your kids, choose that, because you're not going to get to heaven and God is like, "Oh man. Well done, good and faithful workaholic. Oh man. Well done, good and faithful 100-hour-a-week girl." What does he celebrate? "Well done, good and faithful servant."

8 . Today is the best day to passionately follow Jesus. Whatever day you find yourself waking up on, today is the best day to follow Jesus. The best thing you can do for your marriage is walk faithfully with your God.

Let me close by saying this. Some of you guys are like, "This is great. Thanks for talking about marriage, but what if I never get married? You just said that marriage exists to put the glory of God, the beauty of God on display. What if I never get married? What if I'm never able to truly fulfill the purpose for which I've been created, which is to truly put the beauty of Jesus on display?"

Well, here's what you need to understand. Genesis 2:24 says a man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. Well, Jesus Christ left his Father in heaven and came to earth, and he did work on a cross so that he could become one with us, his bride. That's what we're called. We are called the bride of Christ.

The point of this is ultimately not about marriage. Marriage isn't ultimate. Knowing Jesus is truly ultimate, because when you are known by Jesus Christ, when you are his bride, you have everything you need for life and godliness. Your life becomes a beautiful display of Jesus' love to you and the rest of the world.

I want to save your marriage before it begins. So many people's dreams and realities go in two totally different directions. Where it starts is with Jesus Christ. Do you know him? If you do, walk faithfully with him. If you don't, the invitation tonight is to come and be his bride. Let's pray together.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for who you are. I thank you for how you've loved us. I thank you that you left heaven and came to earth so we could be joined to you, that we could become one with you, that we could experience intimacy with you, Lord God. I pray, God, that you'd do a good work in our hearts tonight. I pray for my friends in this room. For those who long to get married one day, I pray that there would be many future marriages represented in this room that would put your beauty on display to this world.

I pray that many in this world would come to know you through the love that is seen in the marriages represented in this room. May our marriages, may our stories point to a greater story, that you, Jesus, left heaven and came to earth. You lived the life we couldn't. You died the death we deserved to die. You rose from the dead. You conquered sin and death so we could become one with you. We need you, God. We trust you. We love you. Would you do a work in our lives and our hearts tonight? In Jesus' name, amen.