Don’t look now, but there is someone who is dead set against you and your spouse enjoying a happy, fulfilling marriage. No, we’re not talking about your in-laws or an old, jealous boyfriend or girlfriend—and we certainly hope these people are not against you. We’re talking about someone very hateful, powerful, and devious. We’re talking about God’s archenemy and the enemy of your soul: Satan.
“Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
You may be wondering, “What’s so special about my marriage that the devil himself is out to ruin it?” Your marriage is God’s creation, and your family is God’s joy. Throughout the Bible, God uses marriage as an object lesson for his desired relationship with humankind. The beauty of the love relationship God seeks with us and wants to illustrate in your relationship with your spouse is pictured in Solomon’s love poem: “I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3).
That’s what your marriage is supposed to look like: a husband and wife totally devoted to and absorbed in one another. When you love your spouse sacrificially and unconditionally according to the guidelines of Scripture and when he or she loves you the same way, you are modeling for all to see the essence of how God wants to be involved with us.
God wants your marriage to paint a true picture. He wants your kids to see a dad and mom so devoted to each other and to them that they say, “Wow! So that’s how much God loves me.” He wants your neighbors, work associates, and friends to see how you humbly serve one another and say, “Amazing! So that’s what it means to serve God.” No wonder Satan wants to deface this image by ruining your marriage or at least keeping it from becoming all it can be. It is vital that you guard your hearts and your marriage from the devil’s ongoing assault.
How does Satan seek to devour your marriage? One of his primary weapons is the godless culture we live in. You can talk all you want to about America as a “Christian nation,” but there is a lot going on in American culture that is working against the health and success of your marriage. And if you fail to guard against these subtle—and sometimes blatant—influences, this world will drain the vitality and passion from your marriage relationship.
What influences are we talking about? Try the media, for example. When was the last time you flipped on a television drama, viewed a movie at the theater, or read a secular novel that didn’t glorify adultery or an illicit affair in some manner? And even when infidelity and dishonesty in marriage isn’t glorified in these presentations, it is at least accepted and condoned as “normal.” At the same time, wholesome, monogamous marriages are often pictured as anemic or boring.
Then there is the insidious cancer of pornography poisoning the vital organs of our culture through the media. Countless numbers of magazines, books, videos, adult “superstores,” and Internet websites promote unbridled sexual expression.
You may object, “We’re Christians, so the culture doesn’t influence us that much.” If Satan’s influence through the culture didn’t affect believers, we wouldn’t need the clear instruction found in 1 John 2:15-16, which is written to Christians: “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world.”
The devil probably knows he can’t convince you to dump your spouse and run off with another man or woman. But he will try to keep that option looking attractive to you through the media and other means. He will do his best to stoke the fires of lust enough to distract you from full devotion to your spouse. And if he can keep you distracted by the world’s view of marriage and sex, your marriage will be much less than it could be—which suits him just fine.
We’re not advocating that you take a sledgehammer to your TV or iPad, torch all your paperback novels, or swear off attending. But as a couple you must exercise guarding love by holding each other accountable to verses like Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
We are stuck in this world for now. But as Jesus said, we are not of this world any more than he is of this world (see John 17:16). The distractions are strong and plentiful. But guarding love finds a way to make it through together without being devoured by Satan. Solomon’s instructions are key: “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil” (Proverbs 4:25-27).
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!