Marriage, Happiness and Holiness

Recently I was reminded of the popular quote from Gary Thomas.

What if God designed marriage

to make us holy more than to make us happy?

I love this quote. It catches my attention. It points out God’s working in our marriage.

But like many things repeated over and over, the quote can be interpreted in ways that the author never intended.

So let’s consider some wrong ways we might interpret this quote.

  • Happiness or Holiness. You get your choice in marriage. Focusing on happiness in marriage is missing the the point.
  • Great marriages focus on holiness instead of frivolous stuff like happiness.
  • This week has been a great one for growing in holiness. We haven’t spoken since Monday night…

Gary Thomas would laugh at these responses and then have us sit down for a quick discussion. But he’s busy so let’s apply God’s word to find the truth in applying his quote.

First. Does God want me to be holy in my marriage?

Most of us would say, “Of course He does!”. And that seems to be true.

Hebrews 13:4 Hebrews 12:14 Ephesians 1:4 Leviticus 19:2 1 Peter 1:15-16

Plus, a growing holiness, in a couple, would seem to lead to a better marriage as they seek peace, submit to each other and trust God more.

Second. Does God want me to be happy in my marriage? Or joyful?

This is a tough question for me. Even a trick question.

If I say “yes” it might raise questions about my faith. Am I too focused on “this world” and “my pleasures”?  And if I expect happiness in marriage am I missing the point?

Psalms 68:3 Psalms 51:12 Psalms 97:11 Galatians 5:22  1 Thessalonians 3:9

These indicate that joy is a natural state for those who love God.

I love what Scott Hubbard recently said. He points us to Luke 15:11-32, where we read the parable of the Prodigal Son.

 There are at least two ways to please the devil when it comes to the pursuit of holiness.

The first way, of course, is to run from holiness altogether — to flee, with the prodigal, to the far country of this world, away from the Father’s home.

The second way, perhaps even more dangerous than the first, is to pursue holiness (or what we imagine holiness to be), and yet not be happy about it.


So this is my summary thought on this.

God wants my marriage to make me both happy and holy.  We pursue both as we pursue Him.

And God knows I need to be both because He is both.


Discuss these questions with your spouse!

How could holiness in your marriage improve your happiness?

How could happiness improve your holiness in marriage?

How are you seeking both happiness and holiness in your marriage?

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