(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
“…that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,” (Colossians 2:2, NASB, emphasis added).
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3, NKJV).
A harmonious marriage is one of unity and agreement. Husband and wife, dedicated to the task of building a harmonious marriage, must have a clear definition of the meaning of these words.
Agree to disagree?
One idea of unity and agreement is expressed in the words: I agree to disagree. This idea is based on placing a high value on individuality. In a democracy, you must respect the rights of the individual. This is understood by some to mean that you must accept each other just as you are. According to this philosophy, if the wife thinks differently from her husband in some areas, she has every right to go on doing so. The husband has a right to hold different views from his wife. Each must be gracious and understanding toward the other, but each should grant the other the right to be different.
To illustrate, one couple has differing views about money. Both of them are employed. She spends her money as she pleases. He spends his money as he pleases. Each pays a percentage of the bills to keep the household going.
Other points of difference that are frequently mentioned by marriage partners are the condition of the living room, whether hooks or hangers should be used in the closet, when dishes should be washed, where shoes should be taken off, the flavoring of the food, how often the grass should be cut, bedtime and discipline of the children, paint versus wallpaper, color schemes, entertainment, and so on.
Such minor differences often cause the relationship between husband and wife to be strained. Efforts at resolving them fail because to resolve them means giving up personal rights that are guaranteed in a democracy. To agree to disagree is generally a wishful thought that cannot be successfully and happily carried out.
Agree to agree
Another idea of unity and agreement is expressed by Paul:
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (Philippians 2: 1-2).
In other words, if both partners are in Christ, they will agree to agree. It is not enough to understand and appreciate the points of difference. The goal should be to resolve those differences, to find a basis for mutual agreement. As followers of Christ, “…we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” (Ephesians 5:30-31). Marriage, to be successful, is more than a fifty-fifty proposition. Each partner must be dedicated to the marriage one hundred per cent. If the goal is to maintain individuality within the marriage, then unity is virtually impossible to achieve. If the goal is to achieve unity and agreement, it can be done.
This does not mean a loss of individuality, or slavery, or imprisonment. It does mean a voluntary commitment on the part of husband and wife to exchange personal individuality for a mutual way of life. The first step toward unity is that of accepting the lifetime goal of becoming like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.