GOD – MARRIAGE – It was His idea
Let’s think together about the Christian marriage. Marriage was God’s idea. Let’s look at what makes a Christian marriage and a Christian home. What does it mean to be married – from God’s viewpoint? What is the duty of each member of the family? According to the Bible, what is each member to do in order to maintain a proper Christian perspective and responsibility as a part of the family? Let’s start where God started it all. We call it “Marriage”.
Marriage is the only institution that has come down to us from the other side of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:21-25). God ordained marriage before sin entered the world and intended for it to be the fullest, richest and most joyous life on planet earth. If it fails in being this, the fault is not in the institution itself but in those who enter into it carelessly and fail to fulfill its conditions. In fact, marriage is so important to God’s plan that He makes a comparison in the book of Ephesians between marriage and the Church. “The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church; and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands. Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it… So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:23-25; 28). The Church should be a reflection of the home, and the home should be a reflection of the Church.
Pre-Marital Check List
Expectation in marriage varies in many ways. Some get married for the wrong motives such as: physical attraction, financial security, physical security, emotional stability, sexual compatibility, freedom from parents, escape from a bad home, a poor self-image, approval and the list continues. Sooner or later these motives will surface and will put the marriage in jeopardy. Each should be absolutely honest and open with each other before marriage. They should have the liberty to ask questions whether they are social, spiritual, physical or anything that might be a part of the others past. Honesty will prevent future shocks that may save the marriage. In fact, every romantic relationship requires the test of time, as well as the test of an occasional separation. This is a fundamental practice in determining God’s will. Time apart will make the heart grow fonder, either for the one you plan to marry or for someone else. Make sure your relationship has experienced the time test.
God planned for many of our individual needs to be met through marriage. The need for companionship, family, social acceptance, sexual intimacy and many other needs are met through marriage. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and these two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). God ordained marriage for the comfort, happiness and well being of mankind. It is a part of God’s original plan. It is not a relationship that evolved. It is not a custom into which men fell into during the early days of the human race. It is not a mere arrangement or relationship that is temporary and man-made. It is of Divine origin as a part of God’s creation, which God ordained to be a life-long commitment to each other. “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). It is His ordained institution for men and women to join in a physical and emotional relationship and to have the privilege of bringing forth children into the world.
There is no relationship on earth so close and sacred as the relationship of marriage. It supersedes the relationship of a child to mother or father. Our Savior, Himself, directed that a man should forsake father and mother and cleave unto his wife (Genesis 2:24). This is not to be taken as meaning that a man should neglect father or mother – far from that. It means that the marriage relationship and obligations come first. From the moment a man and woman stand at the marriage altar, their highest duty is to each other.
A minister of the gospel should perform a Christian marriage. It is a ceremony so solemn, so fraught with possibilities of good or evil, so bound up with the eternal destiny of the lives of people that a cheap or flippant mode of entrance thereupon should not be tolerated. In marriage, two hearts and lives are being joined, becoming one for their lifetime. This was God’s original plan for marriage before the fall of man into sin. “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). One is the only number that is not divisible.
Here is a famous quote that gives God’s perspective on marriage. “If God meant for woman to rule over man, He would have taken her out of Adam’s head. Had he designed her to be his slave, He would have taken her out of his feet. But God took woman out of man’s side, for He made her to be a helpmate and an equal with him” (Augustine).
Marriage is a bond that can only be dissolved by death. The ceremony is focused on a covenant between two people who exchange vows and pledge to each other to “love, honor and cherish until death do us part”. The ceremony anticipates commitment exclusive of future events regardless of what happens. “For better or for worse, in sickness or in health, for richer or for poorer.” These two people stand before God and form a covenant that only death can annul. It is not difficult for us to think that the angels of heaven hush their songs and grow silent in wonder while holy vows are taken, and two hearts and lives are thus joined by Divine appointment. A ceremony so holy, so sacred, so filled with destiny that as Christians, it should only be done in the presence of Christians who understand the sacredness of this occasion. Let’s not be guilty of treating this Divine plan lightly.
What is to be expected of these people if marriage is to prove to them the blessing God intended it to be? What must they have in their hearts? What will sustain this new relationship? Will there be any adjustments or conflicts? Let’s consider some of these.
Flexibility and Understanding
Every pastor of a church knows the truth of this. When two lives are joined together, there is, necessarily, for a time, a dashing of life against life. We all come from different backgrounds, families, temperaments and personalities. Many adjustments must be made, and each must have an understanding heart and mind to blend this relationship together. They begin to understand that there is a big difference in the way a man and a woman thinks. Things that are important to a woman are insignificant to a man, and things that are important to a man are insignificant to a woman. The discovery is soon made that those habits, tastes and inclinations differ much more widely than was thought possible during those wondrous courtship days! If both were just alike, marriage would soon be boring. God made us different so that we can compliment each other as we mature.
The best way to make these adjustments is to frequently use the following eight words: “I am sorry, forgive me and I love you.” Here is a verse to reinforce this. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). At the discovery of many differences, couples sometimes grow disheartened and conclude at once that their marriage was a dreadful mistake. Understand again, marriage requires sacrifice and adjustments to each other. It is easy to forget how wonderful it was and how much in love you were before marriage. Again, marriage is a Divine plan that merges two lives into one, and by taking it one day at a time, you will begin to mature and compliment each other in every thing you do. As someone has said, “You never really know a person until you live with him or her, and getting to know them is the joy of married life.”
Let me illustrate how it all works. Have you ever stood and watched as two streams of water merge with each other? One can be a muddy stream and the other clear water. Where the two streams meet there is the sharp dividing line. The murky water stands out sharply and distinctly from the clearer water. As you follow the stream, you will be surprised to find that within a comparatively short distance all signs of distinction are lost. The streams have completely merged. So it is when two lives merge in marriage. Union and perfect co-mingling can never be forced. It comes quietly and gradually – but it will come – and your lives together will be finer, nobler and stronger than if there had been no differences to overcome. Each will have won a moral victory over his own soul, and the united life together in the Lord Jesus Christ will bring calm and peaceful waters to a wonderful relationship.
Sometimes in the middle of your frustration and selfishness, the devil will try to destroy the relationship. One word that a Christian couple should both agree never to consider or discuss is the word “divorce”. It is never the answer. It is the devil’s lie to make you think that all your problems would be solved. If you have sought God’s will and He has brought you together, and with His grace and guidance and your perseverance, you can make it work. When you look back years later, you will understand the bond of true love in marriage and will rejoice in the wonderful relationship that you have. All that is needed is a little wise patience. If each is patient and thoughtful toward the other, adjustment will occur very quickly, and you will discover that marriage, when you are in the center of God’s will, is the most wonderful relationship on earth.
Building a marriage relationship is not easy. There must be fewer thoughts of happiness and more thoughts of the simple, unadorned job of marriage. When a scientist shuts himself up for years in the laboratory for research, when a child is born crippled and some mother’s heart is chained to the little couch of suffering, we do not press upon them with idiotic inquiries as to whether or not they are happy. Such a question would be an insult. Marriage is a commitment that we are to see through. We are to look before we leap, and having leaped, we are to remain committed at the post of duty. There never was a marriage that could have possibly been a success or a marriage that could have possibly been a failure.
No one has a right to happiness unless he wins it by devotion, courage and self-sacrifice. These three qualities bring the happiness and joy God intended when two become one in Him through marriage. “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21). Happiness is not the motivational goal. It changes like the wind. Happiness is a result of obedience in doing God’s will according to God’s Word. “For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputing” (Philippians 2:13-14). For the Christian couple, marriage should be one new life existent in two persons.
If happiness is primarily sought and made the chief end and aim of marriage, it eludes the feverish grasp and escapes. If, however, men and women gird themselves for the adventure of marriage by becoming sacrificial, patient, forgiving and determined to make a success of the venture at any cost, then they find happiness! Marriage is a means of grace, not of shallow human happiness. Remember, marriage is a like a triangle. The bottom two corners of the triangle are you and your mate. The top corner of the triangle is God. If you draw closer to God, you will automatically draw closer to each other, and if you draw closer to each other, you will automatically draw closer to Him and find “the joy of the Lord is your stregenth” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Politeness and Courtesy
If you are married, you remember what it was like before marriage, how attentive your mate was! You could not do enough to please each other. After marriage, how prone we are to drop the little amenities of life. The words “I love you,” “I thank God for you,” “You’re special” and other encouragement’s are used less frequently. The little thoughtful courtesies that mean so much to the heart and happiness of each other begin to diminish. Of course, it is not all a one-sided matter. The wife is often as neglectful in this matter as is her husband. The point is that these words and encouragement’s are necessary for the success of the married life. Make it a point that these refinements of manner toward one another be preserved.
Our hearts are loving, but not so loving that they can permanently withstand ugly treatment. The very fact that they are home hearts makes them all the more sensitive to such neglect. Home heart and home love is loyal and hardy plants but not so hardy as never to need the dew and sunshine of kind, tender and courteous actions. The fact is that there are no hearts that hunger so passionately after kindness, affection and thoughtful courtesy as the home hearts of a married couple. Many marriages have been destroyed at this point. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18).
Unity of Interest
It is a very easy thing for even the hearts that love one another very dearly to drift apart. Before marriage, you each did all you could to find out what the other person liked. Then you would be sure to provide this for them. After marriage the husband has his office, cares, professional duties and daily toil. The wife has her household problems, children and social engagements. Often, before either of them is aware, they have drifted apart, and misunderstandings have become easy because interests are so far removed.
Now there are excellent ways to meet this contingency. We know a splendid man and his wife who have been almost overwhelmingly busy, each in his own line of work. However, they have not allowed that to cause them to grow apart. They read together. Each concerns themselves with the problems and hopes of the other. They worship together and pray together. The years have knit them into a perfect union of wedded love. No man is so great as to be above concern about that which affects the interest of his wife. If he is unconcerned, it is not a sign of greatness but of folly and failure to care for the most priceless treasure that God has given him. Marriage is more than finding the right person; it is being the right person. To be the right person, you must each have the right relationship with Jesus Christ. Then you will have the right relationship with each other. Please read I Corinthians chapter 13.
Vision to Avoid Misunderstanding
Married life is no place for calculating as to whose place and duty it is to make the first step toward reconciliation, to apologize first. True love knows no such decision! None but a fool will take such a course. If offensive words have been spoken during the day, let them be recalled instantly. Here is a good practice, if words of offense, or anger have been spoken during the day, this verse must be applied, “Be angry and do not sin. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians .4:26 NSAB). Before you close your eyes to sleep, be sure there is complete restoration of fellowship between you and your mate. The words “I’m sorry” will bring peace of heart plus, a goodnight sleep. True love delights in being the first to forgive. There is no place for pride in wedded life. It would not have been permitted before marriage. Let it not be permitted now.
Jesus Christ in the Home
To leave Jesus Christ and the Bible out of your daily conversations is a fatal mistake. Jesus never had a home of His own, but He was a home lover and spent a lot of time in different homes. His presence in the home is indispensable. He loves your home and wants to be a welcomed guest at any time. Never create a situation in your home or relationship that you would not feel comfortable inviting Him in as your guest. There can really be no deep and abiding love without Him. There may be agreement, after a kind. Men and women may even live together in peace, but there is no such thing as a true home without the abiding presence of the Son of God. The heart of every home is the wife; the head of every home is the husband; the head of every husband is Christ; the head of Christ is God. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God” (I Corinthians 11:3).