Getting Married Will Fix All My Problems, Right?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Looking back, I can see that before I got married, I was already developing a substance use disorder. I thought however, that when I got married I would just grow out of it. My wife and I decided together that we didn’t want to keep alcohol in the house and I just assumed that my relationship with chemicals was something that would fade away as I moved into adulthood. So, we got married but my problems with chemicals were just beginning. It didn’t take long, and I was hiding bottles of alcohol in the garage. Then, I discovered pills, furthering my descent into addiction and disaster. I’d just assumed my behavior would be transformed in marriage, but simply getting married didn’t make me act like the husband I wanted to be.
I’ve had the same approach to my faith. Today’s passage says that we’re transformed into a new creation when we come to faith in Christ. The old has passed and the new has come. That certainly sounds like a promise that when I turn to God, my old struggles will just naturally fade away. When I first attempted recovery, I turned to God, assuming that my self-destructive desires would evaporate as I was transformed into this new creation. Then, when I relapsed several times, I was lost. Why does my addiction keep returning if the old is gone? Am I not a Christian? Why doesn’t God change me?
I entered my marriage not realizing I had to radically change my behavior if I wanted to live appropriately as a husband. I did the same with my faith. I turned to my relationship with God, not realizing I had a responsibility to do whatever it took to abandon my old life. I thought just existing in the relationship would do all the work. Yes, I was given a new life, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t still influenced by my addictive, self-destructive behavior patterns. It would be easy from this passage alone to conclude that, but if you include all the Bible’s teaching on the subject, it’s clear that we carry our new life in the persistently flawed flesh (2 Corinthians 4:7) and as such, we still have evil passions that wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11).
Yes, I’m married, but now it’s my responsibility to live as a husband. In this light, today’s passage can be seen as an encouragement or admonishment. Yes, I’ve been given a new life in Christ, but now, it’s my responsibility to do whatever it takes to live in it.