Marriage and the Promises of the Covenant

marriage covenant promises.jpg

Editor’s note: Marriage is used by God to display on earth his covenantal promises of faithfulness and love. Likewise, marriage problems are a microcosm of the problems experienced within the church and society. Here, four Chinese pastors (and two of their wives) talk about marriage as a reflection of God’s covenants, about how they have experienced God’s faithfulness in their own relationships, and about their struggles and victories in marriage.

 

Pastor Cheng: Marriages, whether healthy or failing, show our faithfulness to our covenantal promises or our complete disregard of them. Tracing God’s promises through redemptive history, we discover a story about small families, great families, and big institutions like nations or the church. Whatever we see within the church is related to the relationships between family units and the church. Problems and blessings can both be traced to our relationship to God’s kingdom.

The Davidic Covenant is among the least understood of church teachings. It was the last covenant prior to the introduction of the new covenant, and its climax was in the promised Christ. Many of the failures in David’s family are similar to the failures in the church. Likewise, we see David’s faithful works are precursors to the perfect and good work God accomplishes through his Son. 

In 2 Samuel 7:1-17, the Lord says it will be different with David than when he appointed judges over his people. He promised to give David rest from his enemies, and through the prophet Nathan declared that “the Lord will make you a house.” The promise does not refer only to David’s immediate heir and son. It continues: “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”


Never miss a story

Sign up to receive our weekly email with our original articles.

David’s response is to enter the tabernacle and sit before the Lord. He says, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God!” David does not separate his immediate household from the promise of a greater house to come. God’s promise has something to do with David’s family, but on a deeper level, it is a promise that concerns all of humanity. In the first Abrahamic Covenant, God also promised Abraham and his family that all the families of the earth would be blessed through them. 

The promise to prosper David’s family affected more than only his biological descendants. Instead, David’s family and the fate of Israel were permanently intertwined and interconnected. In a similar sense, we are in Christ, and he is the mediator for both our households and the church. Our lives are fully connected to his. 

With these covenantal promises in mind, we turn to marriage and ministry. This combination is often discussed among pastors. Husbands and wives, what have you learned? What do you want to share with other pastors? Some are younger; others are older. Can you share some words of hope with us about your failures or your successes? 

Pastor Yan: After ten years of marriage, the general outlook is that we are very excited. We both think this relationship is what God has specially designed for us. We have received healing; we have experienced the gospel and its renewal power in our marriage. I am trying to persuade and remind myself that serving my family needs to be my priority in ministry. When I put ministry first, I had a lot of internal pain, and there were many messes I could not clean up. However, when my wife knows that I am pursuing and taking care of her, then we establish a pattern of protecting, prioritizing, and loving each other. In this way, I can nurture the potential God has given to my helper. My wife’s growth—whether it is for ministry effectiveness or for deepening joy in our lives—is one of the most wonderful things in my life. This is why we both feel excited when we look to the future of our marriage. 

Pastor Xi: Marriage is where our spiritual practices take place, whereas ministry is the front line of the spiritual battle. Our sins are exposed in our marriage so that our brothers and sisters can learn from our mistakes. Our testimonies can then be used as an opportunity to glorify God. The struggles we face in marriage are truly spiritual battles. I hope to receive more practical guidance from elders since I lack in this area. I’m not saying that my elders do not provide us with this guidance—instead, I hope we can have more opportunities to receive counseling. I truly desire for someone to walk with us in our marriage for awhile. I also think that this is the heart-cry of many brothers and sisters who have just begun full-time ministry.

Luo Yi (Pastor Xi’s wife): Homes should be built upon love. If you establish your home upon reason or good sense, you will inevitably argue and hurt each other. 

Pastor Wu: Over the past few years, the best thing that has happened to me has been truly understanding the message of the gospel and of grace. Christ is with me in all areas of life—church, family, and myself. In this secular world, we accept ourselves only when we reach the goals we set. It’s easy to determine whether we have “successful” families based on our management skills as parents, similar to how companies determine success based on whether their teams meet specific metrics. 

Our lives are measured by performance and results. If you run a company, you are considered successful when your company grows and has abundant funds. However, the church is different. We cannot judge the church by worldly metrics. The church only accomplishes her mission when we truly experience Christ in our lives, our families, and our churches. Churches are forgiving places. They won’t fire the pastor because of fewer members or smaller offerings. You won’t be fired because you’re less gifted, or because you aren’t a great preacher. This is not how the church operates. 

It’s the same with your family: your wife won’t walk away because you’re not good enough, or because you don’t speak romantic words, or because you don’t apologize. It’s the same with yourself. You can still live with yourself after you realize that you have many issues and are truly a wicked sinner. Praise the Lord! Christians have hope in the Lord, and we can enjoy the presence of God. 

Huang Shuhao (Pastor Wu’s wife): My husband mentioned the word “hope.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” This hope in marriage is real. One Autumn Festival, we had a long conversation with a pastor who was counseling us. This pastor made me feel truly hopeful when he said, “The feelings of love you thought were long gone will eventually come back.” Today, I realized when my husband was preaching that he looked quite handsome from afar. At one point, I thought our feelings of love were gone, but I truly believe the feelings have come back. Thank you, Lord!

Pastor Cheng: Let’s thank God for the victories, struggles, and failures of these pastors and their wives. Let’s pray for their marriages and the churches they are pastoring. God has chosen us from his family to lead his church. If we cannot manage our own families, how can we lead God’s church? In God’s grace, he uses us to minister among broken people. This is a profound mystery, but we experience the fullness of this grace and continually receive more of it. 

This content was excerpted from a panel at a marriage retreat for Chinese pastors and their wives. All names are pseudonyms.

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

-Pray for the marriages of Chinese pastors and ministry leaders. Pray that Christian leaders will experience God’s grace in their marriages and that their marriages will, in turn, bless their churches.

Our blog exists, not just to share information, but to resource the global church to share the joys and burdens of the Chinese church. Our hope is that everything you read here will lead you to intentional, knowledgeable prayer for the Chinese church.  

Share This Story

Further Reading

ulrich-mareli-aspeling-KIesafoIhi8-unsplash
Chengdu: Discipleship in Difficult Times
Read More
juli-kosolapova-pZ-XFIrJMtE-unsplash
Moses in the Wilderness 2: A Reflection of Christ
Read More
chester-ho-MfmCt8fRaQw-unsplash
Chengdu: Opportunities and Challenges
Read More

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

Videos

ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

Videos

Stories from Shenyang

About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

Videos

Stories from Qingdao

About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

Videos

Stories from Xiamen

About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Videos

Stories from Chongqing

About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

Videos

Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

Videos

Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

Videos

Stories from Guangzhou

About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

Videos

Stories from Kunming

About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

Videos

Stories from Shenzhen

About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

Videos

Stories from Chengdu

About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

Videos

Stories from Beijing

About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

Videos

Stories from Shanghai

give

A short message about partnering with us.