The Great Sanctifier

March 21, 2007

This is a continuation of the topic that I began yesterday (i.e. earlier today). Welcome to reason number two (by it’s order in being discussed, not necessarily by ranking) of why I would choose marriage over celibacy.

Allen Hood often speaks of marriage as the great sanctifier. One of my favorite messages that he gave was his discussion of growing through mistreatment. In this, he addressed the myth of enduring mistreatment with your spouse by your side to support you. He pointed to the reality that you will most likely endure mistreatment from your spouse far more than you will from any other person. They know your buttons, and they push them skillfully.

I am not an advocate of tormenting ourselves or pursuing pain for pain’s sake, but something in me longs for the painful refining fire of marriage.

I once had the delusion that I needed to attain to this certain level of perfection before I was ready for marriage. While I do believe that a reasonable degree of maturity is certainly a good idea before you dive into this HUGE, life-changing commitment, no one’s wedding vows are stated from the place of absolute perfection. No one. That means you… and your spouse.

I want to learn to love. I want to learn to love well. And this relationship that places you in sometimes uncomfortable proximity to this one who may frequently hurt and mistreat you is an excellent place to learn to love. A relationship where you are committed not to back out and you have to press through the challenges together. I really want to wholeheartedly give myself to choosing love and choosing to serve and prefer another in that way.

You can call it the part of me that loves a challenge. You can call it my desire to be more like Him and to continually grow. Whatever it is… I long for the challenges of marriage and the growth that they can produce.



  1. Can I just say that I’m really enjoying this little series. Very thought-provoking and heart-stirring.

    Hopefully I’ll actually see you at the house one of these days and we can chat! 😀

  2. “I once had the delusion that I needed to attain to this certain level of perfection before I was ready for marriage.”

    …funny, I was getting some inner healing help Monday and we honed in on this lie pretty quick! Gonna have to do a lot of ongoing repenting to break this lie off my mind!

    Regarding celibacy vs. marraige, from my perspective, why get married if you could get by without it? Problem is that for many of us it’s hard not to face the reality that it’s not good to be alone!

  3. Thanks for the feedback! Thought-provoking and heart-stirring… wow. Thanks! I am glad that it is impacting you in a positive way. Writing this out has been really good for me, too.

    I am excited and stunned… it actually happened. We sat down in the house and had a real conversation! Can you believe it?

    (I heard you get up around 8:40. This time I knew it was you, because I had already seen Melissa. I was really excited for you when I didn’t hear the shower start up.)

  4. I agree with amanda’s comment.
    my heart definitely stirred when I think about those same things…what an adventure!
    miss you

  5. I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I have long believed that marriage was the answer to my prayer that God give me a meaningful challenge . . . but maybe that was all building to the current phase. Oy.

    As far as being hurt by someone, I suppose that’s true, but I still think the other is more true (about a spouse’s support). I think the catch is that they come together and the best support comes after you’ve worked through mutual hurt and mistreatment.

    It’s good not to go in thinking it’ll be a bed of roses . . . but it’s also good realizing that the bare earth and the scorching sun and the load of dung and the cold floods and the whistling wind and all of that other ambivalent stuff can be crafted into an extraordinary garden indeed. You are the fruit (ha: you are an excellent fruit) of such a garden and don’t ever forget it (and I say that in thanks for God’s grace, because I wasn’t always the best husband–double meaning intended).

    And, speaking of hurt, one of the things that I learned (learned deep in my heart and not in any superficial way that one might from reading or hearing it) is that people invariably hurt us from their woundedness; it becomes so much easier then to love our enemies when we see that they are in such pain. On the other hand, another lesson that only marriage could have taught me so well: sometimes others hurt us not because they’re doing anything wrong but because our own woundesness is so huge and dysfunctional (er, functioning well but as a dys) that healthy hurts.

    Ah, there’s more. But that’s probably plenty from the old man.

  6. i like that your dad comments on your blog. 🙂

    again, great thoughts. the great sanctifier–yes, i remember allen’s message and i remember thinking “oh what a good pain that will be! what a chance to grow!” i mean, what a chance to really dig in the plow and have someone right there with you who knows all the best ways to make sure you don’t just give up. it seems like such a God-send, that there is someone outfitted for that place in your/my life reserved for people who get to be jerks and it counts as holiness (this spot usually gets filled by some sort of mentor or long-term friend).

    i’m not gonna lie–i want one. and i’m not “ready” at all, but whoever said we get to be “ready”–and just what is “ready” anyway? i agree that there is a level of maturity necessary, but i think also that people more-often-than-not aim to overshoot that level out of insecurity and a desire for perfection that is comepletely uncalled for and it just turns into a huge mess. we really ought to leave God room to do what he does–to make all things beautiful in his time. i set my hope on that, actually, when i think about being a wife–how awesome it will be to walk out my salvation, learning and maturing, with another person. that just seems really cool to me…

  7. “painful refining fire of marriage”… Those are very powerful words. I really like the way you write.

  8. Sera – Thanks!

    Kacie – Wow. I was reading back over these comments from a year ago… and, given the recent changes in your life, it was really cool to read your thoughts. You’re getting married in a little more than two months!!!

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