“Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives.” –C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis always has it right when it comes to love. If something so powerful as affection dictates our true happiness in life, how might we be working our future happiness today? What choices regarding our love lives might we make today that will secure our happiness tomorrow? I believe that to crack this code we must look at one timeless value – faithfulness. Marriage affection is totally dependent on you being faithful to your spouse. Faithfulness is an objective state of being, in that you either are faithful or you’re not, and working to be faithful is a pursuit. According to the nature of redemptive grace, you can also start working on it now. And, I’ll ask: Would you be capable of an affectionate lifetime with someone who actively seeks to devalue your relationship, swapping it for cheap and unfulfilling vices that come your way? I think you’ll agree with me that faithfulness should be a priority. It is a central factor to your own durable happiness in this life if you plan on spending this life with a companion. Whether you are single or married, there are four key areas where your affection and happiness is totally dependent on your choices. It’s up to you what you do with those areas once defined.
One, you must be spiritually faithful to the most important person in your life. If you are not constantly refining your relationship with Christ, you cannot expect to have a healthy, happy relationship with a human who is less reliable than God. Your spirit was made to be faithful to its Creator, and in being faithful to your Creator, you are sharpening your capacity to be faithful to your spouse. If you want to be properly prepared for a great marriage, stick firmly to your relationship with God. Psalm 37v28 says, “For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.” If you remain faithful, you have nothing to worry about when the storms and rough patches hit your marriage. Your joy and marital health will be deeply rooted in God’s promises: You are firmly planted in the One who will always be faithful.
Two, you must be mentally faithful to your spouse. The things that you decide to let into your beautiful mind today can wreak havoc on tomorrow. There’s an old adage that “Garbage In = Garbage Out.” If you are allowing thoughts into your head that could be tampering with your ability to remain faithful to your spouse, you have to handle it. The “Garbage In” is pretty plain — it’s anything that is destructive for a wholesome mind. “Garbage In” can be things that you let in, thoughts that you entertain, the conversations you keep, the images you see, and the unfortunate habits that may develop. Habits are only a pattern of behavior, and you can break them. Choose better for yourself. “Garbage Out” pertains to the outward expression of what’s happening in your mind. Whether that means being mentally disconnected, growing bitter and cold, shutting yourself off, or being unfaithful to your spouse (or your future spouse).
The things you let your mind to sit in and soak in will eventually take you on a ride. Sin by its very nature is when we’re acting less than our best, disappointing, or out of our sanctified character, and much of our sin relates to the mental garbage we may be entertaining up inside. Philippians 4v8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Think on what is lovely and excellent. Choose to take control over the “Garbage In,” and tell it to get out.
Three, you must be emotionally faithful to your spouse. This one’s pretty simple. I’ve separated the sections for the singles and the marrieds, but I encourage you to read both for perspective:
For my single and dating people: Song of Solomon 8v4 says, “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.” I know it’s speaking to ladies, but I think this makes sense in a broader context. Men and women alike often become engrossed in the desires of their hearts. When we’re still unmarried and looking to eventually settle, we’re often finding ourselves stuck in a sort of chasm — having all these emotions that we’re so willing to give, and we’re often finding similar folks in this same chasm. It’s lonely down here without a companion. Many others down here are so desperately wanting to use their emotions, they cast them out to anyone willing to reciprocate. The problem is, you forget about what’s up above. If you’re willing to wait, there is someone coming for you.
C. S. Lewis steps in again with his words of wisdom and reminds you of something the Father above does so perfectly, “You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.” You could just settle for any person on this planet that is looking for love, but God does something even better – He has designed you for another human being to share your heart with, to live life with. It might take time down here on Earth, but just wait until the Father looks down and says, “Here she is!” or “Here he is!” Matthew 19v6 cites the words of Christ on marriage, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” You may not always be single, so don’t let your heart become diluted by your emotions towards others that may be less than God’s best. Don’t let YOUR feelings about another weaken your ability to be emotionally faithful to your future, GOD-given spouse. Your emotional faithfulness is a choice you make when you decide that your heart is for someone that you’ll marry someday, and you actively choose to let your love rest until the time is right.
For my married folks: I’m not a marriage expert with experience, and I don’t suppose anyone with marriage experience is an expert. Have you ever stubbed your toe, and reacted by yelling something PG-rated? 😉 In the simplest terms, what you feel in one part of your body has a reaction upon the entire thing. Genesis 2v23&24 are a wonder to ponder, “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” I hope you realize that by being one flesh with your spouse, whatever you choose to do with your heart has an impact on the heart of your spouse. You share the same heart, so be careful what you do with it. It could grow cold or sour if you decide to tamper with it, break it, or harm it in any way. Be mindful of your spouse’s heart, and treat it as your own – as it actually IS your own. Your negative emotions will bring your spouse down, guaranteed. Dominos beside one another fall together. Be faithful to your spouse’s heart, and your marriage will reap the rewards.
Four, you must be physically faithful to your spouse. The purpose of physical faithfulness is laid out in Scripture. Romans 6v12-14, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Simply put, to follow your desires and cast aside your purity outside of God’s perfect plan is a sin. You might be saying, “WAIT A MINUTE, what’s the plan that makes it a sin?”
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Then, Colossians 3v5 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” So, you are not to be following the ways of this world, including the earthly desire to be sexually impure. 1 Corinthians 6v19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” For Christians, the plan is clarified more by telling us that our bodies are not ours but God’s. Thus, everything we do should honor His plan for us. Finally, 1 Corinthians 7v2 just reminds us that God knows we struggle, and He’s got us covered, saying, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” So, sex is for marriage. The end. If you’re not convinced, one last thought. Your purity is a gift for your spouse, and though that sounds cliché, the valuable and lovely things in life should be gifts. Scripture has a warning and reminder in Matthew 7v6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
Five, we’re finished with the four types of faithfulness: spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical, but I want to encourage your faithfulness with one last bit of the Bible. 2 Corinthians 5v6 says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” It might be hard to grasp, but Jesus has been in your shoes before. He lived in your same flesh, he had your same struggles. The forty days after his baptism in Matthew 4 attest to the fact that he battled sin and overcame it. So, there is hope for your faithfulness, and always look to learn from the best. Make your #1 priority your spiritual faithfulness to God, and in turn, your faithfulness to your spouse will reflect the sharpening of your character and spirit in Christ. Just as C. S. Lewis said, solid and durable happiness will result from affection, and your durable affection will result from your faithfulness.