Forgiveness in the Marriage

Those three words are what make a marriage tick. I may not have 60 years’ experience like both my sets of grandparents, nor do I have the 36 years’ experience my parents do, but in 11 years of marriage I can attest to the three words that make a marriage last. The world gets two of them right, but the middle one eludes the world. “I forgive you.” Any couple will say “I love you” uncountable times, as they should. But “I forgive you” reveals that the husband or wife values the marriage more than his or her ego. It requires a great deal of humility because it means that whatever I once had against you, I now forget. And when one forgives another, he promises that the matter is over.

St. Paul in Ephesians 5 explains that marriage is a reflection of Christ and the Church. Christ gave all of Himself in forgiving our sins, and all of the great blessings He gives to us are ours because our sins are forgiven. Luther taught this in his Small Catechism: “Where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”

Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson of Mankato, MN wrote an article in October 2011 at The Hausvater Project about this, entitled “‘Return to Me'”: The Perfect Marriage Is Founded on Forgiveness in Christ”. Mrs. MacPherson shares the story of a wedding at which she was privileged to be a guest, where the husband was able to forgive the wife, and thereby save the marriage — even before the wedding took place. From her article:

As they reach around her growing belly to put rings on one another’s fingers, Christ-like love abounds. The trial this couple has already endured was certainly difficult, but it is also certain not to be the last. Yet, Christ’s example of His undying love for His church shines as an example for them—as for all spouses—to follow.

It’s a short read, and certainly well worth your time. Also, the rest of The Hausvater Project site contains lots of resources on various vocations in the home and in the world.

About Pastor Daniel Hinton

Pastor Hinton is pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Lubbock, Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, having majored in poultry science, and of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was ordained on Holy Trinity 2011. He has been married to Amanda for seventeen years, and has five daughters and one son. He grew up in the ELCA, and left in 2004 over issues of scriptural authority. It was because of a faithful Lutheran campus ministry that he was exposed to The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. He enjoys old books, teaching the faithful, and things that are beautiful.


Forgiveness in the Marriage — 6 Comments

  1. Just went to a wedding last night where the officiant basically gave a lecture on what the couple needs to do everyday. It was such a long list that I don’t think anyone could ever live up to. It offered no hope for when those standards couldn’t be met. Everything was “in the Spirit of Love” which I really don’t know what that is aside from Christ. Forgiveness…no mention. The hair on my back rose as the officiant oogled over the bride and made light of the entire marriage matter. No wonder marriages struggle. There is very little realistic information on how being resourced through Christ is the ultimate strength we need, DAILY. Not a bunch of rules to live by that set us up for failure. (P.S. I’m so OVER the soul mate word!)

  2. This was a neat article. Forgiveness, in it’s grace, peace, and wonder is vital to a marriage. Caveat being, repentance is just as vital. It brings, a grace, peace, and joy in itself. Sometimes, I think we forget that repentence is part of the equation. Not for forgiveness, but for restorations of marriages.

  3. @Dutch #2
    “Forgiveness, in it’s grace, peace, and wonder is vital to a marriage. Caveat being, repentance is just as vital.”

    Oh, but repenting implies that I have sinned! I’d rather just be the high and mighty (not to mention nice) one who forgives you sinful worms.

    Good point, Dutch!

  4. Pastor Crandall,
    Under most circumstances, this would crack a smile.

    But this is marriage, a Covenant, entered into by a child of Christ & the Lord of Hosts, regarding one’s spouse.

    Forgiveness w/o repentance, is for some, a carte blanche, to repeat & walk as the prodigal son did. We’ve all seen it, Pastors have had to watch the carnage when done, and a few have seen it first hand. One or two, may have been on the receiving end.
    I’d rather be chided & derided, than be right or even remotely, have a good point.

    We have been weighed, measured, & found wanting, in the repentance area of marriage & marital counseling. I’d rather see articles on that point. Every Shepherd should, their sheep see, hear, & watch it. Repentance, is the 1, in the 1+ 1=.

    Why is it, none ever address it in a repentance + forgiveness= restoration, when marriages are concerned? Our rate is no different than the children of the world….why?

  5. @Dutch #4

    “Our rate is no different than the children of the world….why?”

    Because the Old Adam in all of us realizes that repenting implies I have sinned! The Old Adam in all of us would rather just be the high and mighty (not to mention nice) one who forgives you sinful worms.

    Dutch, I was agreeing with you. I’m sorry my sarcasm (mocking the Old Adam in all of us) was not clearer.

    On the other hand, I also agree with Pastor Hinton that forgiveness is essential. Repentance and forgiveness go hand in hand. Refusing to forgive when there is repentance is hard-hearted; granting forgiveness when there is no repentance is granting a license to sin.

  6. Pastor Crandall,
    As a USMC kid, trust me, sarcasm becomes genetic, lol. But this is marriage & it is also the equation, that is vital to the life of any child of Christ. Thanks for the wiggle room.

    What you said, is true & I have yet to meet one person, who is truthful & honest (vocation is not limited to) “granting forgiveness when there is no repentance is granting a license to sin.”

    Great statement & reminder to those who counsel husbands & wives, who may need to be reminded of BOTH ends of that blest equation.

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