Speaking on Focus on the Family, co-host Juli Slattery claimed that “We know based on experience and also based on scripture that sometimes the Lord calls us to a sort of suffering in marriage.”
However, there is not one verse in the bible that ever says or suggests that God calls people into marriage for suffering.
When contacted by NewsVideoClip.TV, Dr. Slattery claimed that numerous bible verses support this idea that God calls people into marriage for suffering. Her response is below with our clarifications (in parenthesis).
Ironically, the verses that Dr. Slattery cites below are actually biblical guidance on how to avoid suffering in marriage and life.
Dr. Slattery responds:
First, there is the implication from Scripture. Marriage is the picture of Christ and His people. Much of the Old Testament portrays a relationship of a husband (God) who sacrifices greatly for His Bride (the Jewish people) and endures rejection to demonstrate an everlasting love. Christ on the cross is the ultimate picture of a love that involves suffering and sacrifice. The story of Hosea is also an example of how this metaphor is sometimes true in actual marriage.
(The book of Hosea is about a man who marries a prostitute who commits adultery multiple times, which is actually contrary to Exodus 20:14, Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.” The metaphor in Hosea is clearly spelled as God’s relationship to Israel.)
Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 and Peter’s teaching in I Peter 3 show the way a husband sacrifices by laying down his life/needs and a wife sacrifices by yielding control through submission.
(The only mentions of marriage are in Ephesians 5:22-33 in which the husband and wife are told love each other, submit,and respect.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Colossians 3 never says that God calls people into marriage to suffer, either. The only mention of marriage is in Colossians 3:18-19 “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”
I Peter 3 does not say that God calls people into marriage to suffer either. The only mentions of marriage are in regards to submission, purity, and respect.
3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.)
Hebrews 12 is a more generic teaching that shows us that God can use all hardship, including tough things in marriage, as discipline that refines us to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who are trained by it.
(Hebrews 12 makes no mention of God calling people into marriage to suffer either.)