The Purpose of Marriage

“Strengthening your ministry by strengthening your marriage.”  This is the mission statement of Three Strands Ministry and is founded on Biblical principles regarding marriage.  These foundational scriptures can be discovered in Genesis, Colossians, Corinthians, Ephesians, and 1st Timothy.  I have been thinking a lot about these scriptures and recently heard a podcast from our friends at Fierce Marriage concerning scripture and marriage.   This has motivated me to think a little deeper about what scripture says about our marriage.   I personally love the science behind marriage; communication, sexuality, emotion, etc.   However, as believers, we need a strong understanding about what scripture has to say about a covenant marriage.  Over the next few weeks we will explore what scripture says about the purpose of marriage, the joy of marriage, the power for marriage, the enemy of marriage and the ultimate marriage.  Come back weekly for more.

Your Marriage is not About Your Marriage

A strong marriage is not an end to itself.  A strong marriage creates a foundation from which to minister and serve.  A strong marriage reflects the image of Christ and the Church.  A strong marriage creates a fellowship between two people which strengthens both partners and allows them to better express their giftedness and talents.  A strong marriage forms the foundation of a stable church and therefore creates a stronger foundation for cities, states and countries.

The Purpose of Your Marriage is Fellowship

In Genesis we see the first purpose of marriage, fellowship.  God created the heavens and earth, placed man in the garden, gave him a job and said “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)  It is the first time that God created and did not say “It is good.”  This is often referred to the “pregnant pause” in creation where God focuses on his preparation for woman.  He puts Adam to work naming animals and as Adam does so, he finds that there is a female for every male, “but no suitable helper could be found.”  (Genesis 2:20)  God made sure Adam knew what it was like to be alone so he would appreciate the fellowship of his wife.  When she was created he was so happy he actually broke out into song.

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”

Genesis 2:23

Additionally, marriage is about woman being created for man as a loving partner (Genesis 2, Proverbs 5:19), a wise adviser (Proverbs 31),  and as a family manager (1 Timothy 5:14).  Husband and wife together, acting as best friends, serving one another in unique ways, makes up the fellowship of marriage.

The Purpose of Your Marriage is Procreation and Sexual Purity

One of the first commands God gave man was to “subdue the earth” (Genesis 1:28)  For this purpose God created a sexual drive, usually stronger in men than women, for the purpose of intimacy and procreation.  As with many things, the enemy uses this drive, originally meant for good and blessing, to tempt people into sin.  Paul, writing to the Corinthians, recognizes this and says that the answer if for each man to have sexual relations with his own wife  (1 Corinthians 7:2) He goes so far as to tell each spouse that their body is not their own and that they cannot withhold themselves from one another unless there is mutual agreement and for a short time. (1 Corinthians 7:5)  Marriage is the place where sexual expression, child-rearing, and the nuclear family dynamic is held together for the glory of the creator of the family, God.

The Purpose of Your Marriage is Sanctification

I can say it no better than Tim Keller, Author of The Meaning of Marriage, so I will not try.

“What, then, is marriage for? It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us. The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have. I can think of no more powerful common horizon than that, and that is why putting a Christian friendship at the heart of a marriage relationship can lift it to a level that no other vision for marriage approaches.”

Later her writes:

Within this Christian vision for marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’” Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel.“1

Marriage is about God utilizing the joy of marriage to teach you appreciations and thanksgiving, and using the struggles of marriage to teach you sacrificial love, respect and patience.  In short, he uses us as a couple, both in our obedience and in our rebellion, to grow the image of Christ in each of us.

Challenge:  This week think about the blessings of your marriage.  This may be difficult for about 25% of us as a quarter of couples are stressed and challenged at any given time.  Do it anyway.  Give thanks to God for the blessings you have (1 Thess. 5:18) and give a word of encouragement to your spouse for what they bring into your life (1 Thess. 5:11).

Stretch Challenge:  Do this daily for the next week.

1  Keller, Timothy. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (p. vi). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Social Media and Marriage

How does your relationship compare to other couples in your life. Consciously or unconsciously this is the question we often ask as we look at social media. Is social media really a problem for relationships?

Gender Roles

Have you ever really sat down and thought about gender roles? Or… do you just rely on the stereotypical roles set by society?  The roles set by society are fickle at best and always changing.  Should we change with them or should our roles stay the same? What does the bible say?

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church.” Ephesians 5:21-23 NLT

One thing for certain is the bible says the man is to be the head of the household.  The man is to be the leader of the family as Christ is the head of the church. Wives are to submit to the husband as they submit to Christ. But it also says they are to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.

Ok… Hmm.  Well…

Tim and Kathy Keller in “The Meaning of Marriage” gives us a different take on this meaning of submission, leadership, and gender roles.  They tell us that marriage is all about love, respect, and service. That if we play our designated role in the marriage there is a freedom that comes with it.

THINK

Each of us have been given different gifts.  We are to operate within our gifts for the betterment of the family and church.  Having a specific gender role is different from this. If a woman has the gift of leadership, and her man doesn’t, that doesn’t mean she becomes the leader of the family.  It just means she is gifted in that area and can be a great helpmate for her husband and a great leader for the children, but the man is still the head of the household.

Tony Evans says the man and the woman are both equal in their value and worth in the sight of the Lord and this is clear in scripture.  Example: The man is the manager and the woman is the assistant manager so when an issue arises they both get to weigh in on the issue.  While the man has the ultimate responsibility concerning the family, both pay a critical role in decision making.  In those rare instances where a decision has to be made, and there is conflict concerning which option to choose, the man is burdened with the decision. This is actually quite freeing for a woman to know the man is the burden bearer in this situation.  Yet the man can take the problem to the owner who is Jesus Christ who ultimately bears all of our burdens. This is freeing for the man because Jesus is the final authority on every situation and the ultimate burden bearer.  After all he took all of our burdens to the cross and died for them so we could live forever with Christ in heaven.

So as you can see there is a freedom when you yield to the role Christ has designated for you.

Marriage is also to be a picture to the world of Christ’s relationship with the church.

Let’s take a closer look at each role.

Ephesians 5:25-33 shows us how the husband’s role is like Jesus’ role with the church.

    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because 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.This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Jesus sacrifices his life for the church.  Husbands are commanded to sacrifice their life for the wife.  This is how much husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church.  A man goes about doing this by serving the wife. Think of Jesus washing the disciples feet.  This was an act of service and love.

Philippians 2:5-11 shows us how the wife’s role is like Jesus’ role with the church.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is equal with God.  They are one and the same.  However, Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to God and died on the cross for you and me.  This is an example of how much Jesus respected God and his authority. Wives are equal with their husbands and both have the same value and worth. But… the wife is commanded to humble herself and become obedient to the husband by submitting to him.  This shows how much the wife respects her husband and his God given authority. Additionally, it shows how much she trusts God, the writer of this scripture.  Wives can go about doing this by serving their husbands. Think of Jesus washing his disciples feet.  He humbled himself and became as a servant when he washed their feet.

We need to pray to have God’s perspective and viewpoint on these things.  Tim and Kathy show us that both the husband and wife accomplish their role through serving each other as Christ served the church.  Both the husband and wife become like Jesus when they submit to their God given role. Which is why God starts Ephesians with submit to one another out of respect, honor, and reverence for Jesus Christ.  Meaning don’t do it for each other, do it for Jesus because you love him and he loves you. I like what Kathy says, “If Jesus can do it, then I can do it. If he wasn’t too good to serve, then I’m not too good to serve.”  

God is so funny.  He commands us love, respect and serve our spouse and then gives us cravings for them. We are called to be like Jesus and give them unconditionally whether they are deserved or not.

As you can see the ultimate goal is to be like Jesus.  God uses our spouses to make us more like Jesus. Anytime we can do what we are called to do, then all glory and honor are given to God for working in and through us to make us more like Jesus.

The Laying of Bricks- Building a Marriage That Lasts

Marriages are not built on grand moments and larger than life memories.  They are built on the foundation of Christ in the context of friendship.  Your marriage grows through the laying of bricks; the bricks of kind words said; the bricks of a honest compliments given.  The bricks of little decisions and kind thoughts shared day in and day out build a gentle and sweet relationship.  It is these small bricks that forms the wall that bears the sometimes hurricane force winds of life.  It is these daily commitments that build a relationship capable of standing the test of time.  While the big trips and family vacations make great memories, it is the small, daily acts of kindness, humor and thoughtfulness that progressively build a marriage.

This week seek out ways you can serve your spouse in little ways.  Make their coffee for them in the morning, offer a foot rub, fold the clothes or take the dishes from the dishwasher and put them away.  Get up early and fix breakfast or stop on the way home and bring home their favorite takeout.  Find one small way daily to express your love, show your respect and build the relationship that God has given you through your marriage.  Daily acts of service build relationships, strengthen your friendship and fuel the fires of romance.

 

Fight the Good Fight – Unity

Over the last few weeks we have been exploring how to fight better.  We have discussed the soft start-up, repair attempts, compromise,  influence and soothing.  This week we will wrap up this series by considering the overall goal of your fight.  When a fight kicks off there is a gap between the time something happens to anger you and your response.  In this gap you have a choice to make.  Will I fight for getting what I want or will I fight for the unity of my marriage?  When the wrong choice us made, especially over the long haul, it is disastrous to a marriage.

In marriage, we are called to sacrificially serve one another in a way that builds unity in a marriage.  We are called to submit to one another looking out for the best interests of the other.  We are called to humility; admitting wrongs and asking for forgiveness when needed.  We are called to pursue each other in ways that show how much the other person means to us.  We are called to “die” to self and seek the other person’s needs before we seek our own.  When we do this we turn towards one another instead of away from each other.  We understand that when we fight, we are fighting for our marriage,  not to get our own way.  We recognize that our spouse is not our enemy but is our ally.

If you get married you will have trouble (1 Cor 7:28).  God will often use your marriage to change you more and more into the image of His son, Jesus.  That growth is not an easy process and we often fight against it by fighting with our spouse.  Additionally, you have an enemy that hates your marriage.  Satan stands against your marriage as it is a reminder of God’s relationship with His people.  Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.”  Though selfishness, pride, hatred, disunity and Satan all stand against your marriage, they are no threat to the God of the universe that is holding your marriage together.  In unity, with each other and with God, we can stand against the powers of this world that seek to undermine our marriages.  In unity we can stand together, lifting the shield of faith against the arrows of the enemy, and overcome any attempt to undermine our marriage.  In unity, we can turn towards each other, rely on each other, and bear each others burdens instead of turning away from each other and accepting defeat.

This mindset requires the power of the Holy Spirit and a commitment to following his lead.  Considering this before you get into a fight helps frame the fight in a way that builds your marriage instead of undermining it.  Being thankful for the blessing you have been given in marriage on the good days helps you remember the blessings on the bad days.  Listening to the Holy Spirit at the beginning of a fight helps resolve the issue more effectively.

The Musical Date – A Date Night at Home

Date Night Doesn’t Have to be  Challenging

Need a quick date night idea for this weekend that has minimal cost and big impact.  Spend an evening creating a playlist of the songs of your marriage.  Of course, the longer you have been married the more music you have to choose from.  However, even if you have only been together for a few months this date will work for you.

Order your favorite Pizza to be delivered or grab one you can throw in the oven when you get home.  Minimize distractions (turn off the TV, set phone to Airplane Mode, lock the kids in the closet) and look through your music collection (playlists, cassette, 8 tracks, records).   Start with two songs from your days of dating and then review music in three year increments until you have a list of music that reflect different periods of your relationship.  You may have a few from your dating days, a few from your newlywed days, a few from the early years of raising children; you get the idea.  Next, start “whittling down” your list until you have 12 to 15 songs.  Once you have your songs selected download them and create a new playlist on your phone.

The act of reviewing this music will bring back memories and make for a fun evening.  Remember to keep the distractions to a minimum and spend some time thinking about where you were living and what you were doing when these songs came out.  Here are a few of ours:

Take Me Down – Alabama

Feels So Right – Alabama

Love In The First Degree – Alabama

Faithfully – Journey

Wonderful World – Sam Cook

Unforgettable – Nat King Cole

Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers

She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals.

Fields of Gold – Sting

Everything – Wasis Diop

Keeper of the Stars – Tracy Byrd

World on Fire – Sarah McLaughlan

Come Away With Me – Norah Jones

Moon Dance – Carmel

Duet – Penny and Sparrow

Use the comments to share yours.