One of my favorite biblical passages related to marriage is found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, which says this:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
When we read about how God created marriage in the Garden of Eden, we always think of the first couple, Adam and Eve. That’s two people. We tend to forget that the Bible says God walked among them in the Garden. It wasn’t just Adam and Eve. It was Adam and Eve and God—a cord of three strands.
A successful marriage requires a man and a wife, with God at the center. This three-part relationship is essential to success—especially in building a marriage that can survive the trials of life.
At a recent conference, I had the honor of hosting three celebrity couples and talking to them about what it meant for God to be central to their marriages. Here are three things that stand out.
Sexuality: Sean and Catherine Lowe met the old-fashioned way—he was a contestant on The Bachelor and she was one of the women vying for his affection. Actually, there’s nothing traditional about the format, but Sean, a devout Christian, was determined to remain a role model throughout the process.
After connecting during the show, the couple made headlines by announcing they would wait until marriage to have sex. By inviting God into their burgeoning relationship, they set an example for everyone watching them.
“You will not regret that decision to wait until marriage,” Sean says. “It’s such a special, intimate thing that God has created for you and that one person you’re going to go through life with.” Catherine told me that the two of them held each other accountable. “It’s the most amazing thing that I have been blessed with,” she says.
Communication: Tim Brown is an NFL Hall of Fame receiver who won the Heisman Trophy in 1987 and spent the bulk of his career with the Oakland Raiders. He was known for his intense work ethic on and off the field, but said his relationship with his wife, Sherice, required just as much effort—and maybe more.
“Marriage is probably the most difficult thing that you ever go through, without a doubt. This is an ever-changing being,” Tim says. He explains that it’s essential to turn to God when “things start to slide a little bit” in your relationship.
Sherice agrees, and says a couple has to rely on God to help them work through decisions and disagreements. “Communication is key,” she explains. “If you don’t communicate, then there’s no way that your marriage is going to survive.
Tragedy: Singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, went through a very public time of grief after their daughter, Maria, was killed in a car accident in their driveway. The only way the devastating event didn’t destroy their marriage was the fact that they relied on God to be their unbreakable strand.
“If God were not in the center of our relationship, it is a 100-percent truth we would not have survived,” Mary Beth says. Steven says that even when they had no clue how to love or understand each other in the wake of the heartbreak, they could turn to God, who became their anchor.
“We’re trusting that your Word is true. We’re anchoring our hearts to that right now in this moment,” Steven says they prayed. “He has been faithful through all of it.”
Marriage is difficult. It requires work. Even godly relationships will encounter serious challenges. When these trials arrive, it’s important to have your marriage intertwined with God. These couples show that a “threefold cord” really can’t be broken.