15 March 2014 ~ 4 Comments

Should Marriage Make You Happy or Holy?

Gary Thomas Quote

“God wants me to be happy and my husband isn’t making me happy, so I’m going to break my marriage vows, cheat on my spouse, then divorce him, destroying my family and that of my lover in the process in the name of happiness and love.”

The above statement is completely ridiculous, of course.

Except that it isn’t. The ridiculous thing is that Christians are having affairs and getting divorced every day, with pretty much this exact rationalization.

Recently I was browsing a Christian forum when I saw a woman asking advice for this exact situation. She was a Christian, a wife, and a mother who was having an affair with a man from her work. This person was also a Christian, a husband, and a father. The poster wanted advice on whether she should divorce her husband to be with her lover, saying that he made her happy, while her husband wasn’t “the best husband”.

Tainted Love

In his book Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas poses the question: “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

I think the obvious answer is “yes”.

And yet we still have situations like the one above. We have been brainwashed by Satan and his friends in Hollywood and the publishing industry into thinking that “love” is the main thing. And they have totally warped our view about what “love” is. Their “love” is completely selfish. It’s about the heady emotions you feel at the beginning of a new romantic relationship. It’s about self fulfillment. It’s about expecting someone else to meet your every emotional and sexual need.

If those emotions fade, or if that person is no longer satisfying you, you must have “fallen out of love”. And the only thing any sane person can do (with this definition of “love”) is to abandon ship. Have an affair. Get a divorce. Seek “love” and happiness in the arms of another, because “love is all you need”.

But of course, Hollywood “love” and biblical love are opposed to one another. Where one takes, the other gives. When one is all about feelings, the other is a choice. Where one seeks self fulfillment, the other is willing to sacrifice. Where one demands, the other forgives. One leads to despair, the other gives hope. One destroys, and one builds. One withers away, the other is everlasting.

What kind of love do you want?

Trapped in a Loveless Marriage?

Should marriage make you happy or holy?

The woman in the example above chose happiness over holiness, and I  think we all can see the problems with that.

She could have also chosen to pursue holiness at the expense of happiness. This could have easily led to her feeling trapped in a loveless marriage. I don’t think anyone should accept that as an OK outcome.

The fact that she was unhappy in her marriage was an indicator that something wasn’t working. What if she sought God in figuring out what the problem is and how to fix it? What if she stuck by her vows and learned how to make her marriage better?

That might have meant learning to change her expectations of her marriage because she wanted “Hollywood love”. It might have meant learning to be a better wife. It might have meant learning to confront her husband about why he wasn’t meeting her needs and helping him to learn to be a better husband. Probably some combination of all of these.

You could even argue that this is more holy than just “gritting through and bearing it”. Working to improve yourself and your situation by following God is much more holy than acting like some kind of martyr who just has to suffer through life as it is.

But what if she did divorce her husband to be with her new lover? She would quickly realize what a huge mistake this was! After all, he was willing to destroy both his and her family for the sake of love and happiness, too. And his own marriage was probably already suffering before the affair.

They would have quickly run into the same problems they faced in their previous marriages, with the added problems that come with divorce and having children from an earlier marriage.

What a mess!

Even if she stayed with her husband and things didn’t improve, that would still be better than her new reality.

Holiness Leads to Happiness

So yes, holiness is more important than happiness, but don’t let fool you into thinking you have to forsake happiness to be holy. God promises to bless us when we seek and follow Him. Just look at these verses:

Matt 6 33Psalm 37 4

This doesn’t just apply to divorce and affairs. Marriage provides plenty of opportunities to grow. The closer we are to being who God designed us to be the happier we become.

Imagine if there was no sin in the world. What if Adam and Eve had never fallen? What if you lived in a world free from the curse of sin? Who would you be? How happy would you be?

Sin prevents you from being that person. It steals your joy and peace. It warps you in ways you will never understand until you are made perfect when you are resurrected in heaven.

But you can become more your true self as you allow God to transform your mind and heart. Marriage is often the perfect transformation catalyst.

I’m not saying this is easy or fast. If you are facing problems in your marriage, it could take years of seeking God and trusting in Him before you have a major breakthrough.

But that breakthrough is worth fighting for.

Recommended Resources:


Sacred Marriage CoverSacred Marriage

What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?

Gary Thomas explores this question in more depth in his book. As of this writing the Kindle version is just $2.99 on Amazon.





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4 Responses to “Should Marriage Make You Happy or Holy?”

  1. jacqueline 20 March 2014 at 9:40 am Permalink

    hi, what if is not happyness,but peace,respect,love,honor and oneness you are seeking? Thought your partner wanted the same only to find years later he was laying all along.
    he was addicted to porn and masterbation and hid it. when it did came to light, I was blamed and then verbal, emotional, phisical and financial abused followed. I seperated after 4years off that and empty promises. We were married for 15years, have 4 childern and because off the porn the spirit off lust had free reing on them, they started to masterbate at a very early age and one off them still does. she is now 7.
    the separation was so he could get perspective and turn to the Lord he profess to love, but alass hechose self again andfiled for divorce. So i got the becoming holy without the marraige happyness. I have a greater reward, Gods love and His happyness(joy!!!!

  2. chuck 10 December 2014 at 6:12 pm Permalink

    Seamlessly logical. Presented well. But no basis in scripture. Please show where there is biblical support for the idea that marriage is a tool of God to make us holy. I know of verses that speak of delight and happiness, and pleasing in connection with marriage, but not one that speaks of suffering through marriage.

  3. Daniel Robertson 10 December 2014 at 9:02 pm Permalink

    Chuck, thanks for stopping by.

    I don’t believe in suffering through marriage.I never suggested as much in this post. If you have to suffer for your marriage to survive, something is seriously wrong.

    Sure, some marriages will go through a season of suffering, and I believe that most of these marriage can survive and grow if the couple is willing to stick together during this season and work on the issues.

    And I believe that all of life is designed to make us holy. Marriage, career, family, whatever. This is supported by many verses, including the two I reference in the images above.
    Daniel Robertson recently posted..Should Marriage Be Hard?My Profile

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