Do You Have a Gospel Marriage or Good Works Marriage?


"This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."  Ephesians 5:32-33


Let’s explore what a Gospel Marriage is all about!  The Apostle Paul compares the marriage relationship to the relationship Christ has with the church.  The marriage is designed to mysteriously reflect the Gospel and the good news of Jesus.  I’ve defined a gospel marriage as a relationship in which both spouses commit to give unconditional love and respect.  Gospel marriages are those where both parties see their relationship as a covenant.  It’s a relationship where both spouses put in 100%, not 50%.  Many spouses may say, “What if the spouse doesn’t appreciate the work I’ve put into the marriage?” or “What if I do all this and he/she doesn’t reciprocate?”  In the worst-case scenario, you’ve treated someone really well, and you’ve taken the higher road by doing what’s right, and ultimately, you’ve obeyed the Lord.  That’s always a good feeling!  Furthermore, the Bible says that we can be sure that God rewards those who obey him!  (Galatians 6:9, Romans 2:6)

What can you do to share and show this Gospel love this week?  Don’t wait for your spouse to do something for you.  Just be the person God has called you to be.  Give the unconditional love or respect your spouse needs.  Gospel marriages are always good news for you and your spouse! 

On the flip side, there is the Good Works Marriages.  These marriages are bad news!  They do offer love and respect, but it’s only if the spouse earns it!  Therefore, love and respect are NOT CONDITIONAL, as in the Gospel Marriage, BUT THEY ARE CONDITIONAL.  In a Good Works Marriage, the spouses must earn love and respect.  If there is love and respect in the marriage it is there because someone earned it.  It was not given freely, but was given only as a result of good behavior.  For example:  say the wife chooses not to show respect to her husband until the husband has demonstrated his love for her.  Then the husband will not provide the loving kindness the wife desires until the wife earns it through showing him honor and respect. 

Marriage is not a contractual agreement.  It’s not a 50/50 deal.  It’s not an “I do my part; you do your part.”  It’s not I will be loving if____________, or I will be respectful if____________.   It’s choosing to be a loving and respectful person, even when you disagree and see something wrong that needs changing in your marriage.  You can respectfully confront your spouse, just as you can lovingly disagree with your spouse.  Unconditional love and respect are the essential elements for a Gospel marriage. 


Couples Discussion 

  • What kind of marriage do we tend or trend towards?
  • How can we do better?
  • Take some time to pray for one another. 


Want to Learn More about Marriage? Got Questions?

I am relaunching Real Life with Ryan on my personal Facebook page, which will have live videos starting with Marriage & Parenting on Thursdays at noon.  If you have questions about our current series or just about marriage and parenting, please send them over to me at, where I have a form that you can use to ask me questions that I might use in the Facebook live events.  Join me beginning Thursday, August 25th at noon.