6 things you need to know about marriage

July 16, 2019

A mentor once told us that in life, “There are things that you know, things that you don’t know, and there are things that you don’t know that you don’t know.” Twenty-five years of marriage has proven this adage to be true. When we entered the covenant of marriage we were young, naive, and gullible. Oh yes, we did premarital counseling and talked with older, more experienced married couples. But we were confident our love was potent enough to fill in any gaps that might arise. However, just like seminary can’t fully prepare a pastor for ministry, nothing can fully prepare a couple for the challenges of marriage. There are some things in life that can only be learned through experience. 

Marriage is one of the instruments God uses for our sanctification. After reflecting on a quarter century of sanctification through marriage, here are some insights we have learned so far. 

3 things we did wrong

Lack of foresight

It might be hard to imagine, but the kids grow up and move out. At the onset of our marriage, we envisioned a family. We dreamed about vacations, ball games, and being called “Mom” and “Dad.” And then God blessed us with twin sons. 

Those early years with children were fast and furious. We held on for dear life. In the chaos of diapers and disarray, we desperately wanted to steal time away for just the two of us.  And then suddenly, without much warning, it happened. They grew up. And we found ourselves back where we began. We didn’t know that one day we would be asking, “What did we do before children?”  

Marriage is a tool of sanctification and an instrument for mission. It’s vital to envision a plan for your second half of marriage before it arrives. As empty nesters, we are learning that we have a unique opportunity to serve the Lord; with more time and disposable income, we have flexibility to use our marriage for something bigger than ourselves. Moreover, in an age where so many marriages end after the children move out, couples that have a vision to serve the Lord in the second half of life provide a striking witness to the power of Christ. 

Sloppy scheduling

No. That’s our first answer to anything that wants to earn a spot on our calendars now. It takes some convincing to turn that no into a yes. Ungenerous? Perhaps. But that’s because for the first couple of decades of marriage, we tried real hard to squeeze everything in. And that came at a cost: physically, spiritually, and emotionally. If you get heart palpitations when you look at your calendar or fantasize about running away, you understand. 

When we started Restoration Church, we valued building relationships and serving the community. These are good things. But we burned ourselves out and harmed some of our most important relationships. Day in and day out we opened up our home to strangers, friends, and neighbors. And when we said yes to them, we had to say no to others. The people we said no to were those dearest to us: spouse, kids, and parents. No, we don’t have time for a date night this week, or month. No, we can’t watch your ball game. And no, we can’t make family dinner this weekend. We have learned that before we say yes, we evaluate, scrutinize, and then schedule.

Let the little things consume us

Along with thinning hair and thickening waistlines, middle age has also ushered in some welcome changes—like more calm and relaxed demeanors. Looking back, we were too uptight over little things. Gas gauges left on empty, mismatched socks, and mystery meatloaf once served as a source of tension in our marriage. But now we have learned to appreciate the humor in it all.  

God made the marriage covenant to reflect a multitude of things. And one aspect of marriage that is often missed is the daily joy of laughing with (and sometimes at) each other. Looking back, we wish we had not allowed little annoyances to siphon off our laugher. But maybe that’s part of the vision for the next 25! 

3 things we did right

Prepared before the storm

Suffering will come to your marriage—so plan ahead. In the span of 36 months our marriage endured the death of two parents, a staff member who gave himself to sin, and our church plant that was teetering on the verge of financial collapse—all while managing the emotional stress of sending our twin sons off to college. One thing we learned in that season was that you cannot prepare for a storm in the middle of a tempest. 

Jesus told his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” None of us ought to be shocked that troubles will touch our marriage. But the time to prepare for turbulence is in the days of stillness, not on the fly. Make spiritual and emotional investments in your marriage when life is settled and clear. Hold hands and pray, steal away and read Scripture, and celebrate God’s deliverance when your life is quiet. You will need it when chaos comes. 

Invested our money

In our years of ministry, we have seen money weaponized as an instrument of vengeance by many. Often couples declare one spouse to be the CFO—the one who controls the checkbook. And when the CFO is offended, there is a strong temptation to shut down all funding. Money can easily become a subtle way to act on unspoken grievances.  

On the other hand, money has the potential to become an investment vehicle to strengthen our marriages. We have tried (although imperfectly) to use money to bless one another. An unexpected treat from her favorite coffee shop or a spontaneous gift card to his favorite golf course has helped to reinforce the idea that we want to bless one another. Money has a unique way of revealing the activity of the heart; therefore, we have enjoyed setting some aside to creatively show love to one another.

Used discretion

In a culture that lacks discretion, we have decided to use more of it with how we speak to and about each other publically. We have found ourselves in the midst of peer groups or couples get-togethers that have quickly descended into people airing their frustrations about their spouses. This undermines your spouse while leaving the perception of discontentment in your marriage. Seeking wise counsel about your marital challenges is good and helpful, but we don’t need to publicly air our spouse’s faults at the church picnic. That can open the doors to a multitude of problems and temptations.

It is good to affirm each other publicly because not only does it build up our spouse, it also gives grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29). This has helped reinforce our covenant as well as ward off unwanted admirers. 

These are just a few of the lessons learned from the first 25 years. We still don’t know what we don’t know, but we look forward to learning more in the next 25.

Dan Trippie

After ministering in the Southern US, Dan Trippie returned to his hometown of Buffalo, New York in 2008 to plant Restoration Church. Dan has traveled to seven countries for mission and church saturation endeavors, as his desire is to see gospel-centered churches planted throughout the world, especially in Western New … Read More

Gina Trippie

Gina and her husband, Dan, have faithfully raised twins sons. She is the author of Peace for an Anxious Woman’s Heart and co-author of He Said, She Said, God Said: Biblical Answers to Marriage Questions. Gina has helped to plant two churches while serving as director of Children’s Ministry and currently as director of … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24