Since the release of Making Marriage Beautiful back in January, my husband and I have been thinking a lot about how to help other folks create and maintain beautiful marriages. This past weekend, we had the opportunity to speak on the role of the Holy Spirit and marriage. This is a small portion of that sermon (written by both Christopher and me).

If my understanding is correct, the Holy Spirit does all of the following:

Comfort (John 14:16-18, John 20:22)

Teach or counsel (John 14:26, John 16, 1 John 2:27)

Remind (John 14:26)

Act as a collaborative creative partner (Genesis 1, creation)

Be a source of renewal (Titus 1)

Be a source of power (Luke 24:49)

Testify or direct us to God (Heb. 10:15-16)

Serve as an advocate (John 14:26 and 15:26)

Unite us (Acts 2)

Intercede for us (Rom 8:26)

Refine us (I Cor. 6:11)

Though the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, he is different than Jesus the Son and God the Father. This is evident in the baptism of Jesus: the Spirit descending, the Father declaring, and the Son submitting.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3)

In this single event, we see three vantage-points and three roles.

Similarly, my spouse is truly different than me even though we are one. The Holy Spirit can actually tutor us in embracing the “other.” How does this happen? First and foremost, by acknowledging that we need the Holy Spirit’s help.

One of the places we clearly see our need for help is in the midst of conflict. In every conflict there are three stories: my story, the other person’s story, and then the third story. The third story encompasses both of our experiences and is greater than their sum. In order to discover the third story, we must be still, listen well, listen non-defensively, and commit to extend empathy to the other person. (See the Harvard Negotiation Project’s book Difficult Conversations for more.) This is never easy. Christopher and I have discovered that we absolutely need the presence and power of the Holy Spirit—who is completely other and not partial to either of us—in order to pull this off.

Otherness is what accentuates those areas in our lives where we need more redemption and transformation. Sameness allows for definition and consolidation (as seen in the model of human development) but it can also breed complacency. Differentness in unity is part of the image of God. However, that same differentness demands growth. We cannot be in relationship with someone who is other and remain oblivious to our need to grow. This is part of why racial diversity pulls us out of our comfort zone and deeply challenges us.

Like many couples, my husband and I are VERY different and yet, we been able to love each other well despite these pronounced differences. Our mutual desire to become more like Christ and our willingness to avail ourselves to the Holy Spirit are a big part of why we have enjoyed being married for the past 26 years. We hope that you will consider how the Holy Spirit longs to come alongside of you and empower you to create and enjoy a beautiful marriage.

Just for grins…Five Ways the Holy Spirit and Your Spouse Are Not Alike:

1. The Holy Spirit is God and therefore always needs to be obeyed.

2. The Holy Spirit is unbiased.

3. The Holy Spirit will never fail or forsake you.

4. The Holy Spirit reveals and convicts you of sin (so your spouse does not have to).

5. The Holy Spirit reminds you of all things (ditto above parenthesis).

 And, Five Ways the Holy Spirit and Your Spouse Are Alike

1. The Holy Spirit and your spouse both want you to become more like Jesus.

2. The Holy Spirit and your spouse both love you.

3.  The Holy Spirit and your spouse will both comfort you.

4.  The Holy Spirit and your spouse are both collaborative creative partners.

5.  The Holy Spirit and marriage will refine us and this is a very good thing.

Pick up a copy of Making Marriage Beautiful! It’s still on sale at Amazon. It would make an awesome wedding gift. And I you have read the book and liked it, I would be most grateful if you would be willing to write a review over at Amazon. The more reviews, the more work Amazon does to help promote it.