"Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.... For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.... So then each of us will give an account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:4, 7-8, 12).
The apostle Paul wrote these verses to the church at Rome, instructing them on how to treat brothers and sisters in Christ who disagreed over what foods to eat or what days to observe as holy. Some Christians thought some days were more sacred than others. Other Christians thought Christ made all days equal. Some Christians thought some foods were wrong to eat, and some thought all foods were fine. Such matters still split churches and denominations today.
What was Paul's answer to Christians on both sides of the argument? "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind" (Rom. 14:5). This is the kind of answer that makes people pull their hair out. What do you mean, each should be convinced in his own mind? That leaves so much room for... uhm... for... uhh... liberty! Someone has to be right. Someone has to be wrong. We just don't like having to live and let live. Yet this is Paul's answer. If you eat everything, don't be angry at the ones who don't. And if you don't eat meat, don't judge the one who does. Live and let live.
Why do we find it so difficult just letting people be who they are? Why do we feel the constant need to assess others, to control what they're thinking or doing? We find it very difficult to follow Paul's simple counsel. Paul says live and let live, and we don't listen. Instead, we scour the Bible looking for ammunition, looking for the reason our situation is an exception to Paul's counsel. "Oh sure, meat-eating is one thing. We're free in that. But we're talking about going roller skating! Have you heard the music they play at the roller rink? Is it good and pure and true? Surely you realize Paul said we're supposed to be ignorant of things done in the dark. Have you ever been to a bright roller rink? And don't you know our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? Have you seen some of the nasty spills people take on a rink floor? How does that glorify God? By destroying his temple? Hmm?" Similar lines of thinking have taken place regarding dancing, drinking a beer, eating red meat, smoking a pipe, reading non-Christian fiction, playing rummie, wearing make-up and the list seems endless. We can't be satisfied with each other as we are.
What does this have to do with marriage? Glad you've stuck around to find out. The reason Paul says that each person can be convinced in his own mind, and doesn't owe anyone else an explanation is because each person ultimately belongs to God. God alone. The person who eats meat is not the servant of the one who doesn't. He is God's servant. So he doesn't owe obedience to anyone but God. He won't give any account of his actions to anyone but God. He lives or dies to God alone.
Liberty applies in marriage the same way. Your spouse is not yours. They don't really belong to you. They belong to God. Isn't God just awesome for letting you get benefits from his servant? He lets his servant serve you. And he lets you serve your spouse. I think of this sometimes, especially when I ponder how giving my wife is. She's not my servant. I don't deserve her. And you don't deserve your spouse. You deserve hell right along with me. But instead, because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will spend eternity with God, and be served by his servants. What a loving, giving God. Think about this the next time you want to yell at your spouse for not "doing right by you." He or she isn't your servant. God will make your spouse stand, even when you want to condemn or criticize.
I can't tell you how many times I've caused my wife guilt for not doing just what I want when I want. She desires to be a servant to her family. And sometimes her family puts expectations on her that she can't possibly live up to. Everyone takes a pull, but hates the bloody mess that results from ripping her in pieces in selfishness. Thankfully, God will make her stand. Don't fall into the same trap I fall into. Just enjoy your spouse, and thank God that you're not profoundly alone right now. After all, you don't really have any servants of your own do you? Just one loaned out by God.