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.

 

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.

Honey We Need to Talk

We normally think of these words as negative. The first thing that runs through your mind may be “What have I done now?”  But… they can actually be a great thing. David Clarke wrote a book called “Honey We Need to Talk”. In this book he talks about how a man can use these words to control the conversation and prevent the inevitable spider webbing that results from talking to a woman. David created a formula for having successful deep intimate conversation with your spouse.

*The wife thinks of 3 topics she would like to discuss with her husband.

*The husband schedules three,  thirty minute “Couple Talk Time” meetings with his wife the following week to discuss one of the topics,

*The same topic is discussed at each meeting.

*The husband sends his wife reminders before each meeting.

*The meeting spot needs to be a neutral zone that feels safe for both people.  The bedroom is not an option.

*The husband begins the meeting and ends the meeting.

This puts the husband in charge of the topic of conversation and allows him the freedom to talk about one topic without being subjected to a wide variety of other issues.  It allows him to focus on one thing at a time which is more in tune with his natural abilities.  It also allows the couple to go deeper into a topic knowing that it will be discussed at each meeting. If research on the subject needs to be done, they have the time and freedom to do that before the next meeting. This gives both the husband and wife a sense of control over the topic of conversation because they both get input into what topic is. It also keeps the conversation in small manageable chunks of information.  This is a great tool to use for times of conflict, but it can also be used as a time for you to set aside to get to know your wife on a deeper more intimate level.

Example

Sally is concerned about not having a budget, the need for car repairs and her mother coming over for Thanksgiving.  She sends these three topics to Frank on Saturday.  Frank chooses the topic of budgeting and sets a time Monday night for the conversation.

Monday night they look at their bank accounts and discuss different ways they might set up a budget.  Sally agrees to research other ways and Frank agrees to bring account information concerning their spending over the past six months.  Next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

Wednesday night Franks shows Sally where they have been spending their money and expresses concern over how much they spend on eating out.  Sally shares a way they could budget using envelopes and Frank agrees to try this method.  Sally points out that Frank has been spending money on video games and expresses concern that he might not be willing to limit his spending on this hobby.  Frank gets a little mad but agrees to think about it until their next meeting, Friday night.

Friday night Frank has a number of envelopes and they divide their weekly budget placing the amounts budgeted for food, entertainment, rent, bills, etc in each envelope.  Frank has thought about his gaming and agrees to buy only 1 game per month.  This money is placed in the entertainment envelop.

Three conversations on a sensitive topic with Frank having time to process each step and both of them having a conversation on their financial goals and resources.  Both influence the other.  Both feel heard.  Both feel progress towards mutual goals have been made.  Win/Win/Win.

Using this Time to Share Your Life

Men you are aware that your woman wants to hear about your day and what is going on in your life. What is really going on inside of you spiritually, your thoughts, feelings, goals, life ambitions,etc. David suggests that men keep a notepad or electronic device with them to record events that happen during the day or of thoughts and feelings that might interest their wife. Then share these tidbits of information during Couple Talk Time.  Sharing your thoughts and feelings gives your wife the emotional support she needs to feel secure in the relationship.

This is a communication tool to put in your tool belt to assist you with that deep emotional connection that is desired by your spouse.

My husband and I have tried this and found it to be very beneficial in discussing topics that are often swept under the rug. I highly recommend you try this with your spouse.