Tag Archives: Marriage

God’s Blueprint for the Home

Thoughts from our weekend seminar, God’s Blueprint for the Home.

Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships bring happiness and health to our lives. Here are basic ways to make your relationships healthy.

  1. Keep expectations realistic. No one can be everything we might want him or her to be.
  2. Talk with each other. It can’t be said enough: communication is essential in healthy relationships.
  3. Be flexible. Most of us try to keep people and situations just the way we like them to be.
  4. Take care of yourself. You probably hope those around you like you, so you may try to please them. Don’t forget to please yourself. Healthy relationships are mutual.
  5. Be dependable. If you make plans with someone, follow through.
  6. Fight fair. Most relationships have some conflict. It only means you disagree about something. It doesn’t have to mean you don’t like each other.
  7. Show your warmth. Studies tell us warmth is highly valued by most people in their relationships. Healthy relationships show emotional warmth!
  8. Keep your life balanced. Other people help make our lives satisfying, but they can’t create that satisfaction for us. Only you can fill your life. Don’t overload on activities.
  9. It’s a process. Sometimes it looks like everyone else is confident and connected. Actually, most people feel just like you feel, wondering how to fit in and have good relationships.
  10. Be yourself. It’s much easier and much more fun to be you than to pretend to be something or someone else. Healthy relationships are made of real people, not images.

Qualities for a Meaningful Marital Relationship

Wisdom from God’s Word – Genesis 2.1, 7, 18-24

  1. Realize your spouse is special. Vs.7: The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground…” Vs.22: “…the LORD God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of man…”
  2. Recognize God knows what is best. Vs.18: “And God said, It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
  3. Receive your spouse as a gift from God. Vs.22: “…and He brought her to the man.”
  4. Remember your obligations. Vs.23: “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.”
  5. Resolve to live as God teaches. Vs.24: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

 

Thinking of Husbands and Wives

God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn’t find a suitable companion.

God put the Man into a deep sleep. As he slept He removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh. God then used the rib that He had taken from the Man to make Woman and presented her to the Man.

The Man said, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman, for she was made from Man.” Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh.

Genesis 2:18-24

God ordained marriage for our welfare, for our happiness, and to provide us with intimate companionship. It’s a mutual relationship that requires both the husband and wife to give unselfishly of themselves, always seeking the best for the other, putting the other first.

Marriage is a mutual trust spoken in solemn vows before God and to each other that as husbands and wives we will honor and love and cherish one another; that we will reserve our intimate affection solely for each other; that we will care for and protect, provide for and sustain each other.

Marriage takes two different people, joins them so that they are no longer two but one, no longer “I” or “me,” but “we” and “us.”

Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden
.

Proverbs 30.18-19

 

On Redefining Marriage

Or, as the popular hot issue among the talking heads goes: “Marriage Equality.”

The following events occurred at City Hall, in any Metropolitan City, USA:

County Clerk: “Next.”

“Good Morning. We want to apply for a marriage license.”

“Names?”

“Tim and Jim Jones.”

“Jones? Are you related? I see a resemblance.”

“Yes, we’re brothers.”

“Brothers? You can’t get married.”

“Why not? Aren’t you issuing marriage licenses to same gender couples?”

“Yes, thousands. But we haven’t had any siblings. That’s incest!”

“Incest?! But we aren’t gay.”

“Not gay? Then why do you want to get married?”

“For the financial benefits, of course – and we do love each other. Besides, we haven’t any other prospects.”

“But we’re issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who’ve been denied equal protection under the law. If you are not gay, you can marry a woman.”

“Wait a minute. A gay man has the same right to marry a woman as I have. But just because I’m straight doesn’t mean I want to marry a woman – I want to marry Jim.”

“And I want to marry Tim. Are you going to discriminate against us just because we’re not gay?”

All right, all right, I’ll give you your marriage license.” – – “Next…”

 

“Hi. We’re here to get married.”

“Names?”

“John Smith, Jane James, Robert Green, and June Johnson.”

“Who wants to marry whom?”

“We all want to marry each other.”

“But there are FOUR of you!”

“That’s right – we’re all bisexual. I love Jane and Robert, Jane loves me and June, June loves Robert and Jane, and Robert loves June and me. We’re all marrying each other because that’s the only way we can express our sexual preferences in a marital relationship.”

“But we’ve only been granting licenses to gay and lesbian couples.”

“So you’re discriminating against bisexuals?!”

“No…it’s…uh…just that, well…the traditional idea of marriage is that it’s just for couples.”

“Since when are you standing on tradition?”

“Well, I mean you have to draw the line somewhere!”

“Who says? There’s no logical reason to limit marriage to couples. If it’s what makes people happy, the more the better. Besides, we DEMAND our rights! The mayor says the constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. So give us a marriage license!”

Oh…all right! – – “Next…”

“Hello, I’d like a marriage license.”

“In what names?”

“David Deets.”

“And the other man?”

“That’s all. I want to marry myself.”

“Marry yourself? What on earth do you mean?”

“Well, my psychiatrist says I have a dual personality, so I want to wed the two together. Maybe I can file a joint tax return.”

“That does it! I QUIT!! You people are making a MOCKERY of marriage!!!”

I don’t know who wrote this piece, but in today’s cultural environment, it makes perfect sense…

–Bill

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2.21-24)

He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19.4-6)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5.20)

 

The Church: The Bride and Bridegroom Theme

Why should Christians and the church be concerned with doctrinal purity? People today often take truth to be relative and thus look on Christian doctrine as quite unimportant.

It is essential to remind ourselves that God doesn’t hold the same view. God actually prevents us from doing so by very clear biblical teaching. An important part of that instruction is grounded in the statement that Christians and the church are the bride of Christ. The relationship between God and His people is graphically illustrated by the marriage relationship between a man and a woman:

 “ 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that 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.

28So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30because we are members of His body.

31For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5.25-32)

Here is a remarkably strong statement about the church as the bride of Christ. Notice how God carefully intertwines the church with the normal marriage relationship. The two ideas are so fused that it is almost impossible to divide them.

Here are three inseparable relationships: the man-woman relationship, the Christ-Christian relationship; and the Christ-church relationship.

Who Is the Bride?

In the New Testament, brideship is thought of in two ways. Some texts emphasize the fact that each Christian is, individually, the bride of Christ. Other texts stress that the church as a whole is the bride of Christ. There is no contradiction – the church, collectively, is the bride of Christ collectively composed of individual Christians, each one of whom is the bride of Christ.

Paul states in verse 32 that he is speaking of a great mystery – and what a mystery it is! The very fact that Christ, the eternal second person of the Godhead, the Creator, has become the divine bridegroom.

This Ephesian passage does not stand alone. In John 3.28-29, John the Baptist introduces Christ in these terms:

“You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, I have been sent ahead of Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.”

Romans 7.4: “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be married to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.”

This passage is an overwhelming picture of a bride who places herself in her bridegroom’s arms on their wedding. And as children are born to them, so too the individual Christian puts himself or herself in the bridegroom’s arms bearing the offspring of Christ into a fallen world alienated from God.

The Wonder of Relationship

This marvelous man-woman relationship of marriage is stressed throughout Scripture as an illustration of the wonder of the relationship of the individual and Christ and the church and Christ. The way in which Scripture parallels the human man-woman relationship and our union with Christ guides our thinking in two directions. First, it makes us understand the greatness and the wonder and the beauty of marriage, and second, it helps us to understand profoundly something of the relationship between God and His people and between Christ and His church.

Simply put, that is why infidelity and sexual promiscuity are wrong. Not only because God says it’s wrong, but because it adulterates the man-woman relationship and the Christ-Christian relationship – the church as the bride of Christ.

–Bill

adapted from The Church before the Watching World
by Francis Schaeffer

 

Religious Confusion

During our Lord’s brief ministry, multitudes of people were attracted to Him. Some followed Him because of His miracles; others thought He would deliver them in a victorious revolt against the hated Romans. Still others held Him to be a great prophet and teacher. They followed Him because His teaching was simple and understandable. They were spiritually impoverished. They had no direction or purpose. Their leaders set no proper example because they, too, were ignorant of how to serve God.

Similarly, many people today do not know how to serve God. Is there any truth to which they can turn? Can they learn to serve and worship God as He has ordained? Unfortunately the concept of “attend the church of your choice” has led to such confusion.

The apostle Paul instructed the early Christians to agree and not to divide up into groups teaching different doctrines (1 Corinthians 1.10). But variety is what we have today, and if we believe Paul (and the other New Testament writers), we must conclude that all these “Christian variations” are in opposition to God.

We all have to choose whether or not to acknowledge and serve God, but “choice” begins and ends with that decision. If we choose to serve Him, in order for our service to be acceptable, it must be in the manner He has prescribed. Consider Matthew 15.8-9: “This people honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

If doctrines and commandments of men produce vain worship, then it follows that the commandments of God produce true worship. While denominations today, to some degree, recognize the Bible as God’s Word, all have substituted or added to the Bible requirements peculiar to their denomination.

That brings us back to the “church of your choice” and the idea that we can all go church hunting until we find one that seems to fit our needs or our likes and dislikes. Scripture warns against such practice: “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.”

Why risk the wrath of God by attempting to serve Him the way we think best or the way that appeals to us? Is it not more reasonable to seek conformity with His will? After all, He is God, so would it not be better to honor Him by respecting His Word? If we all did that, we would put an end to a lot of religious confusion and unbelief and at the same time realize the apostolic ideal of all speaking the same thing and being of the same mind and judgment.

 – Bill

 

Same Sex Marriage

With the stroke of a pen just before midnight on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo legalized gay marriage in New York, making it the sixth and by far the largest state, along with  Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, to have a same-sex marriage law on the books.

In a former time, Micah warned of those who scheme iniquity and who work out evil on their beds…who hate good and love evil…and who twist everything that is straight. He was describing conditions in eighth century BC Judah and Jerusalem but he could have just as well been talking about the New York State Legislature. In today’s standard of a value-relative culture, right has become wrong and wrong has become right – in fact, it is wrong to even declare there is such a thing as right.

Over three decades ago Dr. Karl Menninger penned these words: “The very word sin, which seems to have disappeared, was a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. It described a central point in every civilized human being’s life plan and life style. But the word went away. It has almost disappeared – the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore? Doesn’t anyone believe in sin?” (Whatever Became of Sin, 14).

Sin, indeed, is the forgotten word. It’s inconvenient and judgmental of our society’s life style. The employment of such a word suggests, God forbid, some sort of moral accountability, and we certainly can’t have that in a free society where everyone is guaranteed the right “to do what is right in their own eyes.”

Centuries ago, Sodom and Gomorrah represented a culture, not unlike our own, in which the legitimization of homosexuality became the very symbol of a people who had given up on God and godliness. Nothing pictures more graphically the depths to which a society can plunge – and in the end, God rained down fire from heaven upon them.

Bill

 

 

Of Husbands and Wives

God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn’t find a suitable companion.

God put the Man into a deep sleep. As he slept He removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh. God then used the rib that He had taken from the Man to make Woman and presented her to the Man.

The Man said, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman, for she was made from Man.” Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh.

Genesis 1.18-24

I am always happy to read the engagement announcements in the paper and see the pictures of the young couple, their faces beaming with excitement. And I always say a little prayer for them because, nowadays, the deck is really stacked against them. The pressures of our culture and society make it nearly impossible to sustain a long-term relationship. Commitment has become a relative term; it now means “for the time being.”

Marriage is serious business. It means different things to different people. For some it’s merely a legal or religious prerequisite for sex. Some see it as an escape from a bad situation. Still others reject it entirely as an antiquated custom that is neither useful nor suitable for today’s sophistication. In fact, within our present culture, it’s sometimes hard to find people who have anything good to say about marriage.

What’s happened? Most people get married, so they must want to. Have we, as a people, become so selfish and self-centered that we enter the marriage relationship simply for what we want from it without any regard for our marriage partner?

Happiness and companionship are the usual and common goals for marriage. As good and noble as they may be, they can also be terribly abused. It is wrong, selfish, cruel, and abusive for one to say to the other, “Alright now, make me happy, feed me, make me a home, satisfy my needs, provide for my wants, gimme, gimme, gimme.” Those are the selfish demands of a little tyrant who forces everyone else in the household to live in servitude – so much for happiness and companionship. That kind, most of us can do without!

Marriage isn’t bad. People make marriages bad. Marriage isn’t servitude. Rather it’s unselfish sharing. Remember how you felt about your spouse before your marriage? No words were capable of describing your love nor were there any to adequately convey your feelings. So what’s happened? Do we still feel that way after a year of marriage or five or fifteen, thirty or more? Is reality so disappointing that it destroys idealism?

Why can’t we make our marriages the way we dreamed they would be, the way we wanted them to be, the way God intended them to be? We can, you know. But it takes effort and commitment and determination. At times marriage can be hard work, but it’s good work.

God ordained marriage for our welfare, for our happiness, and to provide us with intimate companionship. It’s a mutual relationship that requires both the husband and wife to give unselfishly of themselves, always seeking the best for the other, putting the other first.

Marriage is a mutual trust spoken in solemn vows before God and to each other that as husbands and wives we will honor and love and cherish one another; that we will reserve our intimate affection solely for each other; that we will care for and protect, provide for and sustain each other.

Marriage takes two different people, joins them so that they are no longer two but one, no longer “I” or “me,” but “we.” It provides the natural and nurturing environment for children, precious little lives and awesome responsibilities who need mommies and daddies to love them and raise them and train them.

Good marriages are not accidents. You just don’t automatically “live happily ever after”; rather you choose to – and then you make it happen! Build your home and your love and your life on faith in God. Honor the vows you made to each other. Respect and cherish one another. Treat the other the way you yourself want to be treated. That’s a small price to pay for real happiness.

— Bill

Malachi and Divorce

In Deuteronomy 24.1-4, God, through Moses, permitted a man to divorce his wife if he found “some uncleanness” in her. A generation before Christ, the great Jewish teacher, Shammai, taught that this referred to immorality and moral lewdness; consequently, it was a sin to put away one’s wife for any cause other than immorality.

A generation later, during Jesus’ time, Hillel, a disciple of Shammai, took a far more liberal view of the phrase “some uncleanness” which caused the wife to “lose favor” in her husband’s eyes. Basically, he taught divorce was permissible for any reason, for such trivial things as the way she prepared the food or if her husband found a prettier woman. Continue reading Malachi and Divorce

A Celebration of Romantic Love – the Song of Solomon

There are two extremes when it comes to the physical, romantic, and sexual dimensions of human love – sensuality and asceticism. Sensuality turns pleasure into lust. Asceticism turns purity into sterility.

The moderating alternative is to recognize that romantic love is a gift of God, to be celebrated and enjoyed, but also protected. This is the message of the Song of Solomon. Here we have a picture of what healthy romance looks like. The poem captures the passion, the intensity, the imagery, and the anticipation of genuine romantic love.

The Song of Solomon offers a corrective to the sexual confusion and erotic excesses of our day. It gives us a positive ideal to pursue, a portrait of married love that is neither obscene nor ashamed.

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.