We are concluding a CE class on marriage at church this Sunday. I commend Paul Tripp’s What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage DVD sessions and book for the class. The quote below captures the gospel-centeredness of his material which is why it is so immensely useful and eminently practical.
It is telling to observe that the first two things Adam and Eve did after disobeying God was to cover themselves and to hide. For the very first time, they experienced shame and guilt. They feared discovery and judgment, and although they worked to shift the blame to someone else, they were playing a fool’s game. The blame-shifting did not quiet their hearts. It did not bring them peace. What they had done brought shame upon them and guilt in relation to God. It is important to understand that the shame and guilt were not just psychological or emotional experiences; they were real, and they had to be dealt with.
Dealing with our guilt and shame is what the whole Bible is about. It is about redemption, that is, the paying of a debt of guilt and shame that needed to be paid. That payment was made on the cross. Jesus took our shame, hanging in public, numbered with criminals. He took our guilt by taking our sin on himself and paying the price for it—death. He did this even though he had no reason for either shame or guilt, because he was a perfect man. He did not do these things for himself; every action in the whole process was substitutionary. It was done for us. Why? So guilt and shame would not hold us; so that in the courage of celebratory faith we would quit hiding, quit excusing, quit blaming, and quit rising to our own defense. So that we could be unafraid of saying, ‘You are right, and I was wrong, and I need your forgiveness.’ So that we could say, ‘I know I blew it last night, but I’m committed to doing better.’ So that we could say to one another, ‘I need your help. I don’t always see myself accurately. If you see something wrong in me, I welcome you to help me see it as well.’ So that we could look at our marriages and not declare that they are perfect but celebrate the fact that, over the years, we have taken many important steps closer to what God has called us to be and has designed our marriages to become (Paul Tripp, What Did You Expect?? [Wheaton: Crossway, 2010], 78-9).