Everyone knows that the institution of marriage is under attack today. From every corner, barrage after barrage is being fired against God's plan for marriage. But the one ultimate source of the attack is often overlooked. For the war against, as well as within, the institution of marriage is most fundamentally a spiritual warfare. While avoiding on the one hand the extreme that spiritual warfare is nothing and on the other hand that it is everything, we must still confront the reality of such a conflict and its attack on our marriages.

The Enemy's Attack Against Marriage

The first shots fired against marriage occurred in the very beginning. In Genesis 1-2 God created a perfect universe, a perfect environment, and then placed our first parents into that magnificent environment: a beautiful garden, a two-becoming-one marriage, and a daily walk with God the Creator Himself. Who could ask for anything more? But into this perfect scene the Evil One descended, casting doubt about God's sincerity, care, concern, and provision (Gen. 3). And down through the centuries, his tactics haven't changed. That is why Jesus called Satan "a murderer from the beginning, . . . a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44) and "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31). The Enemy's attack is focused against the Triune God, but in order to effectively accomplish such an audacious assault, he focuses on God's people in general and the Christian home in particular.

For example, after the Apostle Paul had laid out all of the various relationships to which God calls His people, including marriage and family (Eph. 4:1-6:9), he pointed us to the ultimate undermining force behind all of the conflicts we encounter in these relationships:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:10-12).

You see, there is an invisible warfare going on all the time. And if the Enemy's assaults are successful, then our marriages will not reflect the image of God, reproduce a godly heritage, nor reign with God in His kingdom enterprise. So then our primary struggle is not primarily with our spouses, it is with the spiritual forces arrayed against God and His people in the invisible sphere of spiritual realities. God's ancient foe is at work day and night, seeking to undermine and overthrow all the good things that God is trying to accomplish in the world. This Enemy of our souls launches his total arsenal against our marriages in order to divide and conquer, seeking to prove to the onlooking world that God is a fraud and that His program of love and grace is really a sham and will ultimately end in complete ruin. But although he may have the latest word in this warfare, God alone will have the last word!

Our Defense Against the Enemy

What is our defense against this malevolent onslaught aimed at our marriages? First, from the divine perspective, Satan has already been defeated and he knows it. When our Lord died on the cross, was raised from dead three days later, and then ascended back into heaven, the authority and power of the Devil were utterly and completely destroyed (cf. John 12:31; Col. 2:15; etc.). We await the Second Coming of the Lord to carry out the final execution of this Enemy and all of his forces (cf. Rev. 20; etc.). In the meantime, the Devil has become quite a poker player, always seeking to bluff us into believing his lies and deceptions. But all we have to do is call his bluff.