The Marriage Covenant, and Courtship vs Dating

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Marriage Covenant

and Courtship vs Dating

By Larry R. Lasiter © 2008

"Love is blind, but Marriage restores its sight." Georg Lichtenberg

Some of the content in this study is from T. D. Jakes book, "Before You Do."

INTRODUCTION: You alone are complete. God made each of us 100% complete. You donít need another person to complete you. Marriage is not 50-50 but 100-100. In Marriage, each person brings their completeness and joins it to one another. No one should marry because they feel needy, or feel incomplete. Your contentment, fulfillment and happiness cannot be dependent upon another person. Before you marry you are one, and after you marry you are still one. Marriage is not designed to make two, but to make two, one. Each person must be totally committed to the Marriage Covenant and fulfill their roles 100%. Marriage will never succeed where there is a weak commitment or where an independent spirit exists. A husband must love his wife as Christ loves the Church, lead her, provide for her completely and manage his household properly. A wife must honor and obey her husband and serve as his helper. This is Godís pattern for success.

This is not to suggest that a wife cannot work or have a job, even a job which brings in more income to the family, but the husband is ordained with headship of his wife and family and is charged to manage it properly.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DATING AND COURTING: The motive of recreational dating is to have fun. A person will often date someone that they do not really know at all and have no intentions of eventually marrying. One of the goals of dating is to impress the one youíre out with, usually for selfish reasons. Men try to charm their date and women often strive to be attractive. Dating is progressive by nature. Each person has their own personal standards as to what is appropriate interaction and what is not on a first date, second date, etc., but both parties hope that they will become more and more intimate as time passes. The problem with this is that there is no real commitment and the lives of those who date are littered with failed relationships and the pain that follows. By the time most people in America marry they have gone through a number of painful "divorces" without ever being legally married. They bring all this baggage from the past into their Marriage. The temptation to compare your new mate with those whom you were involved in before is extremely difficult to prevent. This can easily breed discontentment. Many face the end of their lives with a mountain of regrets. The best and only way a young person can prevent this is by living by Godís holy standard now.

Many people are excellent daters. They have learned how to impress a date. But this is a "dating" behavior not a "marriage" behavior - it will not carry over into your relationship as mates.

COURTING is spending time getting to know a perspective mate. The goal of courting is not to have fun or impress the other person, but to gather information and analyze compatibility. It is not time set aside to flirt. People who date usually begin at high school age, and date without any thought of Marriage. People who Court do so because they are ready to marry and are specifically looking for a mate who is also ready. The Bible teaches that the Church is the future Bride of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for His Bride. Before a man should enter Courtship he must do as Jesus is doing,- prepare a place for his bride. This means he must have a suitable home ready and be financially able to provide for a wife and children.

The Apostle Paul teaches the Church that we are not to be joined with unbelievers who are outside the faith. Paul also taught that to be married to a man who did not provide for his family financially is actually worse than marrying an unbeliever, -"If a man does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8

Perspective grooms should have a considerable amount of money set back when they begin to court. Financial stress is cited as one of the top reasons marriages fail. God knew this, which is why He instructed newly married Israelite men to stay home with their wives for the first year of their marriage. He was exempt from military service, from work and even from doing business. His sole purpose in that first year of marriage was to bring happiness to his new wife. (Deuteronomy 24:5) Since he was given no financial assistance from the nation, he must have diligently saved enough money and goods to live a year without need. God had ordained that the first year would be a time when the two would bond and become one, and free from financial worries. How glorious it would be if our newlyweds could experience this today. I am sure that the divorce rate would change dramatically for the better. That certainly would be ideal, but we donít live in an ideal society today and I hold no real hope of people putting this instruction into practice today. Today, I counsel young men who have had steady employment for a few years to set back $3000 to $5000 before they begin Courting. $3000 if they own their own home and $5000 if not. This is counsel not a command, but the honest can see it is wise.

The first step in making life-changing decisions without regret is research. Research will give you the information you need to make good and sound decisions which you will never regret. The quality of your life and the lives of your children defend on you to get it right. Donít be risky and simply roll the dice in hope of success, but know what you are looking for in a life-long mate and do your research well. Courting offers the atmosphere to ask questions and get answers.

Your decisions set the course of your life. Your tomorrow will be no better than the decisions you make today. Good decision making results from a process of reflection and discernment. Good decisions are based on sound and accurate information. You cannot make a good decision by listening to your head only or your heart only; both must come into the equation when you make any significant decision. Think back on the regrets you now have and analyze the root causes.

Be careful making comparisons. Perhaps you had a relationship in the past with someone you now know was very self-centered and selfish, and now you meet someone who is very sweet and considerate and are totally impressed. But before you exalt this person to supreme sainthood you should continue your examination. Your research may reveal equally bad traits such as laziness, or that they are a workaholic. Do you want to marry a person who will not keep a job, or a person who spends all of their time working?

Perhaps they are thoughtful and are always giving you a gift, but further research my reveal that they have problems managing their finances. You love their taste in clothing but find that their house is always unkept. You like their choice in automobiles but will it drive you crazy that they donít keep their car clean? Donít compare people with people, but instead compare a potential mate to the vision of what you want and expect in a mate.

Analogy from "Before You Do" by T.D. Jakes, -When shopping for a home, you may consider the looks of the house and the neighborhood it is in. You may also consider how near it is to school. But a wise buyer will also carefully determine that it is a good financial investment that will increase in value over time. It is not enough to just like the house and the neighborhood. And it is not enough that it is a good investment. A wise buyer shops until he finds a good investment in a home he also likes. You should not commit to a home purchase that will bring you financial gain but little pleasure. And you should not commit to a home purchase that will bring you pleasure but no financial gain.

Likewise, you should never marry because you are looking for pleasure. And you should never marry for financial reasons. Momentary pleasures will fade with time and finances are extremely fickle and can change in the blink of an eye. Marriage should never be primarily based upon things or circumstances which can easily, and often do change. Unexpected things happen. The economy fluctuates and people lose their jobs. Sometimes a spouse gets injured or sick and can no longer hold a job. Like a sound investment in a new home, a good marriage will increase in value over time because it is not founded upon such loose sand. Momentary excitement and thrills will be replaced by deep commitment and a sense of oneness.

Deciding to enter into a committed relationship such as the Marriage Covenant is a decision that shouldnít be taken lightly. "Till death do us part" is a serious commitment. Before we enter into our personal research of a perspective mate, which we will call "Courting" for lack of a better name, we should think long and hard about the consequences -Jesus called this, "Counting the Costs." Notice Luke 14:28-30, "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ĎThis man began to build and was not able to finish.í"

Many of you reading this material have entered into the Marriage Covenant already and suffered through the agony of a divorce. In these cases it wasnít "Till death do us part" but instead until we can no longer live together in peace. Many want released from their Marriages because they are weary of the daily drama and seek peace. PEACE is a tremendously valuable commodity. When you join yourself to another person in Marriage it must not disturb the peace in the home. A mistake many make is failing to share in the responsibility of a failed Marriage. Playing the "blame game" is far too common. Everybody seems to minimize their own role in the failure while magnifying the role their spouse played. If each person does not carefully examine themselves and understand clearly where and how they contributed to the failure they are doomed to bring the same habits into a new relationship which will ultimately poison it.

50% of first Marriages fail, 67% of second Marriages fail and 73% of third Marriages fail. The statistics are no better in the Christian Church. The data reveals that instead of learning from their mistakes, most people repeat them. These numbers clearly show that most people entering into their first Marriage are only half committed, and the commitment to second and third Marriages are even less solid. We need to ask ourselves "WHY" so many failures? What is the real problem? Is it disrespect for the holiness of the Covenant itself? Is it personal selfishness? Is it ignorance about how day to day married life would be?

I think the real reason most Marriages fail can be understood in the term "SHATTERED EXPECTATIONS." Everyone will tell you that their Marriage and their spouse was not what they expected. For those who have suffered through failed Marriages, there should be earnest determination to find the answer to why their expectations were shattered. What did you base your expectations on? What caused you to be so blind about the person you joined yourself to? Thinking back, certainly you can see many "red flags" which should have served to warn you. Why didnít you see them then? Was your blindness self-induced because you valued momentary pleasure over a life-long commitment? Many marry out of desperation -the years pass and panic screams -"If I donít marry now I will spend the rest of my life alone!" When people act in desperation they overlook or push aside whatever it is that would, and should concern them about the person that are about to join themselves to. Living alone can be difficult but not nearly as stressful as living with an incompatible mate. Just ask someone who has lived through this and suffered shattered expectations which was followed by divorce.

The truth is, you didnít do your research. You probably dated instead courted. Dr. Jakes refers to the person you date as not the real person but their "representative." The representativeís job is to be all things to you - be bigger than life itself - just simply to be too good to be true. The representative is not there to share truth and enlightenment about their honest feelings, but to project and deliver what they think you want to see and hear. They are trying their best to impress you, to charm you. The problem comes when the vows are exchanged. Soon, after the honeymoon, you find that the dating game is over and come to see that the person you married is not the representative and that their real self is a different person.

Why you do think that books are written explaining what men are looking for in a woman, or how women want to be treated - what sweet things they desire to be whispered in their ears? Men and women USE this material for their own selfish reasons and motives. They learn to act and say what they do, not because they are being honest and truthful, but in hope it will bring them personal gain. Men keep whispering sweet nothings because they work for short term gain. These things are not called "sweet nothings" for no reason. It means that they are not truly spoken from the heart from pure motives, but, though sound "sweet", really mean "nothing." Women smile and flirt, entice with their eyes all for the same sad reasons. Women dress "for the occasion." Ladies, you need to re-examine how you dress and not try to dress in ways that entice or even draw attention. Remember Paulís instruction, -"I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness." 1 Timothy 2:9-10

PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO SPEAK SWEET NOTHINGS OR ATTEMPT TO CHARM SOMEONE YOU ARE COURTING OR CONSIDER A POSSIBLE MATE. BE COMPLETELY OPEN AND HONEST ABOUT YOURSELF AND ABOUT THE THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU. IT IS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE AS WELL AS THE ONE YOU ARE COURTING. PLEASE DONíT SET YOURSELF OR ANOTHER PERSON UP FOR SHATTERED EXPECTATIONS RESULTING IN FAILURE.

 

AVOID EVEN THE APPEARANCE OF EVIL

"But examine everything carefully; hold fast that which is good; and abstain from every form of evil." (Meaning, even something that appears to be evil) 1 Thess. 5:22 It is not enough to just abstain from evil, be must also abstain from anything that may appear evil to others. We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and always be careful to not offend them. I never give counsel to a female member alone in my office. Itís not because I do not trust them or myself, but because I want to set a good example of not doing anything that may appear evil. So, I always counsel a woman with my wife there or if more privacy is needed in an open place where people may see but not hear. As saints representing our Heavenly Father, we must strive to live above reproach and not give the devil an opportunity for accusations. Never forget that others that you may be witnessing to are always watching you. Many are quick to cite that the Church is full of hypocrisy.

 

VITAL QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

Take the time to ponder these questions and write down your answers. Refresh your mind from time to time, and keep and your conclusions clear in your thoughts. I know a man whose new wife really wanted a Ford Mustang -and he really wanted to buy her one. One day he asked me if I would buy one and finance it to him and I agreed to do that. I had sold them a nice Mazda 626 before but it was recently stolen from a parking lot and now they needed another second car. It was during this time I learned that they really wanted a Mustang then but had just settled for the Mazda.

One day I told him that I was going to an auto auction and would look for a Mustang for his wife, but to my surprise he began to add additional cars which would be acceptable. It ended up five different cars in all. When I questioned him about it he said that the only car they had was not running good and that he was getting a little desperate. So now he was about to repeat the same mistake as he had made before -settle for something less than what he and his wife really wanted. He would be making payments on a car he really didnít want, and his wife would be driving a car for years that she really didnít want.

Before I left for the auction, I prayed that God would provide a nice Mustang that I could buy for this young couple. There were about 700 automobiles at the auction that day, but the very first one that came through was a nice, shiny red Mustang. Not only did I win the bid, but I purchased it thousands of dollars under wholesale price. After I came home, before I even had a chance to call this young newlywed, she just happened to drive by my home and see the Mustang parked in my driveway. She was so excited when she called, saying -"Is that my Mustang!" When I said "Yes", she screamed, -"Iím so excited! I knew it was for me!" Know what you want and donít settle for anything less. Marriage is "Till death do us part."

1. What do you Expect in Marriage?

You need to have a crystal clear picture in your mind what you expect out of a Marriage. Is your vision of Marriage Scripturally sound? Are your expectations realistic? There is a vast difference between who we are versus how we habitually present ourselves. There is our ideal self, and then there is our real self. We may fall in love with the ideal but we marry the real. We all wish we had fewer bad traits and habits, and that we could consistently live up to our ideal self. Projecting our ideal can create expectations that counter the reality. When the ideal proves to be less than ideal and reality is revealed, resentment can easily set in. Sometimes it can even produce a sense of betrayal. Always remember, the number one killer of relationships is shattered expectations. Donít be deceived, donít deceive yourself and donít deceive a perspective mate.

How important is your family to you? Do you share a close personal relationship with your mother and father? Are you close to your brothers or sisters? How do you expect your new mate to get along with your parents and siblings? Will your Marriage make your family bigger with the new addition, or will it cause division and problems? Never mind whether it should or not, but will it? Will your parents and siblings accept your mate into the family? If not, then count the costs.

Will it eventually matter to you if your mate is overweight or out of shape? How do you envision raising children? Remember, your children will inherit traits from your mate, what traits are you looking for in a mate? Do you want a talkative husband? Do you want a quiet wife. How do you expect the house to be kept or the money to be spent? Do you want a primarily indoor or outdoor type of mate? Iím sure you can think of many more questions. Now, write down your honest expectations in a mate and of a Marriage. Be very careful to not write what you think you would settle for, but be absolutely truthful and honest.

 

2. How do you envision day to day married life to be?

Some people are homebodies and some like to constantly be on the move. Some like to watch a lot of television, sports, movies, news, etc., and some like to sit for hours reading a good book. Some men expect their meals to be ready at a certain time and some are more flexible. Some like their homes kept clean and uncluttered and others are not so picky. Some wives expect their husbands to devote time each evening in conversation, while some men covet quiet time when they come home from work. Some believe in raising children more strictly than others -you must be on the same page on this subject. A united front is necessary to raise faithful children.

In the case where children are already present when marriage occurs even greater challenges arise. She is already in the habit of allowing or denying certain behaviors and when her new husband begins to bring in a different approach it produces serious problems. If you are the new husband in this case, you must ask yourself if you are up to the challenge of raising another manís children, and also possibly encountering difficulties with their natural father and even grandparents? If you are a unmarried parent you should ask yourself how bringing in a new spouse will affect your children. Since your attention will now be divided, will your children feel deprived of love? With Marriage comes commitment and obligation. You are no longer free to do whatever you want whenever you want. With Marriage comes less individual freedom - can you gladly accept that? There is nothing more important than peace in the home so you should carefully analyze how a new marriage will affect peace in your home.

3. How do you feel about having children?

Some want a large family and some want no children at all. Some people are naturally comfortable with children and some are not. Some people are comfortable playing with children on their own level but at not so good at teaching and discipline. Raising children presents many challenges which must be met with one united goal. The Christian goal is to raise godly children in the admonition and instruction of the Lord as revealed in the Bible. Both parents must be spiritually sound and faithful to accomplish this goal. Ask yourself what kind of mother/father you want your children to have and donít join yourself that falls short your answer.

4. How do you handle disagreements and disappointments?

Is it your habit to react in anger? Perhaps you are one of those who suppress your feelings while putting on your best face. Do you have a habit of reacting defensively? Perhaps you just clam-up when an altercation comes your way. Do you tend to throw your own pity party? Are you so insecure that you read into every statement or action as though they had much deeper and more sinister meanings? How we handle disagreements and disappoints can severely damage any relationship. If you are like so many and struggle with these emotions and their responses, you need to face them and correct them before you enter into Marriage.

It is extremely important to honestly examine how you have handled like situations in the past and accurately assess the results. Remember the old saying which is truthful indeed,- "He who does not learn from his mistakes is doomed to repeat them." Our bitter words spoken in unrighteous anger forever stain and scar our relationships. If you have acted or reacted in ways which poisoned former relationships, you must change before you bring those destructive traits into another relationship.

5. What is your financial status?

Are you in debt? Is your perspective mate in debt? What is your credit rating? Does your perspective mate have good credit? Do you qualify for a loan? Does your perspective mate quality for a loan? If not, then why? You need to ask these questions and receive honest answers. Do you have a steady job with a good income? Does your perspective mate have a steady job with a good income? Does he own his own home? Remember, bad credit is usually a result of bad financial management. A husbandís job is to manage his household so it is important for women to avoid courting a man who has not proven that he can faithfully manage. Jesus said that the person who is unfaithful in the little things will not be faithful in the bigger things. You do not want to entrust your life or the life of your children to a man who has been unfaithful in paying his debts. Every loan carries a commitment to faithfully pay back a debt on time; if a man fails to uphold a commitment such as this, how can you trust him to be faithful to the commitment of Marriage and all it involves?

REMEMBER -"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Timothy 5:8) ESV

A few years back I counseled a young couple who were considering engagement. The young man was sharing an apartment with another man and could not afford his own apartment. He had no college degree and his employment history was littered with failed opportunities. He was also in debt to the tune of about $2000. The young woman was in college and had worked steady for years, but her income was low and she had acquired some credit card debt. I suggested that they work to get debt-free and for him to get a steady job and his own apartment. Within a few months she had sacrificed and paid her way completely out of debt while he had added another $1000 to his debt and was still without his own apartment.

To my surprise, about $600 of the new debt was a ring he had purchased for her. I told him how wonderful it was going to be as he and his new bride watched how the beautiful new ring reflected the car lights as they lived homeless under the overpass. "Isnít it beautiful honey? Can you pass me another sheet of cardboard, Iím getting a little cold?" He was more interested in impressing her with a gift than for providing her a home. He was living for a fleeting moment rather than working to provide something with lasting value. Of course a gift like a beautiful ring is romantic, but it pales in comparison to working to provide a financially stable home for his future bride and future children.

How the finances are managed and spent in a household is very important to everyone involved. Statistics show that disagreements on how money is spent is one of the main reasons sited for divorce. It is a common saying that people should live within their means, but the truth is, we should live below our means so that we have money set back for the unexpected. Unforseen expenses sometimes suddenly appear, and how often have you wished you had the funds to help a friend in need but didnít have it to give. We should live such a live that we can weather financial storms and be a help to others in their time of need.

6. Will you submit to Godly authority in the home?

God has a specific plan for the institution of Marriage. Both man and woman have important roles to fulfill. Ladies, the man you join yourself to will be your head. He will lead you and your children. God expects you to honor and obey him until death. You have no authority to question him or argue over the decisions he makes. Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition, it is a 100-100 proposition. God has placed the husband as 100% head over the wife and has commanded the wife to be his helper. You need to count the costs before you say "I do." You need to understand fully what it means to say "I do."

Men, you may feel uncomfortable in always taking the lead. You may feel like your wife is more experienced or smarter than you, but God has placed you as her head, and He will hold you accountable. Can you love a wife more than you love yourself? This is how Christ loves the Church. Jesus gave His life for the Church and commands husbands to love their wives as He loves the Church. The Marriage Covenant is holy and has been instituted by God; do not enter into it if you are unwilling to live up to your vows.

7. How do you envision you relationship twenty years from now?

When the children are on their own -when the luster of youth has faded -what do you envision day to day life together to be like? Will you need to take on the demanding task of caring for parent whose health is failing? If so, how will that affect the quality of the Marriage? Consider the possibility of one of you becoming a physical burden. Many envision their golden years as being a time of adventure and travel, but certain circumstances can make that an impossibility. Marriage is for better or worse, until death do you part. The person you join yourself to will likely be the person who you stand beside as you bury your father and mother. Think about these things, re-read this paper and carefully analyze if you really want to enter into courting, engagement and Marriage. If you decide you want Marriage, then do your research well and be honest and expect honestly from your possible mate as you gather the necessary information to make a wise decision.

 

Marriage is. . .Commitment

Marriage is an order of Creation. Our Creator made man and woman, displaying His full image only as both man and woman. Each made for each other, their essential natures being complementary, and brought into oneness in marriage.

Marriage is an intimate union to which a man and woman consent, consummated and continuously nourished by sexual intercourse, and perfected in a lifelong partnership of mutual love and commitment.

Marriage is the unity of husband and wife in God's creative will, for from Him come the love and grace which enable them to grow together in life comradeship.

Marriage is the sacrament of human society. Husband and wife both share and perpetuate their happiness in having and rearing a family within the sphere of their own love and mutual commitment. Thus marriage is more than an end in itself, it is the means to ends outside the married couple.

Marriage is consummated in intimate union by divine command from God -"Go forth and multiply." It is an outward sign of the inner commitment of love and oneness of being which is recognized as a gift from God. Marriage is -to the Christian, a holy covenant in which husband and wife together publicly witness their commitment, not only to each other but together with God, that to the end they shall in unity fulfill His purposes throughout their lives.

Marriage is "other-person-centered," with each giving and renouncing for the sake of the well-being of the beloved rather than in expectation of return. It is expressed through service, not exploitation.

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 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." (Philippians 2:3-8) "Did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped" in the Greek means that Jesus determined not to selfishly hold that position in order to bring salvation to those lost in sin through His sacrifice.

Marriage is God's process of making two people one. It is the highest fulfillment of human friendship. It is a type of the Christian's oneness with God in spirit.

What is the basis for marriage?

Most would say "love." By love, they mean a romantic feeling toward another. Real love, as defined by Scripture is "out-going concern" for another. More than a mere emotional feeling, true love produces action that proves its care for the other involved. As Paul said "love is not selfish, does not envy, is not jealous and does not seek its own."(1 Cor. 13) "Does not seek its own" means that true love is driven by giving in to self and giving to another according to the divine will of God.

One Marriage expert lists six traits of "romantic love" that make it a shaky foundation for marriage

1. Romantic love often overtakes its victim suddenly and unexpectedly.

2. Being "in love" may distort a person's judgment.

3. Being "in love" is first and foremost an experience of the emotions.

4. "Romantic" love is most often an irrational experience.

5. The experience of "love" may immobilize its victim.

6. There are evidences of a well-formed delusional system in some romantic encounters.

Yet despite this, "romantic love" is often made the sole basis for marriage. Is it any wonder why more than half of marriages fail, and more than 60% of second marriages?

The true Biblical basis for marriage is commitment. Not only to your partner, but to God. God says plainly "I hate divorce!"(Mal.2:16) Jesus said, -"What therefore God has joined together, let no man tear apart."

MARRIAGE IS... "till death do us part," not "until the going gets rough." It is a lifelong commitment based upon sacred vows uttered in the presence of the Creator of marriage. It is not two people simply living together, but two living as a team ordained by God for the advancement of His glory in commitment to His will.

 

Marriage is. . .Communication

Marriage is unique to man, in that he can conceive of the future, and can relate the present to the future, even to eternity. He is the only creature that can have marriage instead of simply mating, -for marriage involves commitment for the future, with both husband and wife each fulfilling that which is lacking in the other.

Marriage is a union endowed with spiritual significance when each partner is enabled by love to transcend his own self-centeredness and identify himself with the well-being and concerns of another.

Marriage is two becoming one. Marriage is raised to the highest pinnacle as the type of the union between Christ and His Church.

"For this reason (that we are members of Christís Body) 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." (Ephesians 5:31-33)

Writing to the Church, Paul says, "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin." (2 Corinthians 9:2)

The Church is the Bride of Christ, -"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ĎWrite, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.í" (Revelation 19:7-9) Here we see that there will be "invited guests" who will be "blessed" to witness the marriage of the bride to the Lamb. The bride are the saints, the Church of God and the Lamb is Jesus. The invited guests are those among the nations who will have survived the Great Tribulation and have entered the Millennial reign. If you are among the called and chosen in this age, then you are His chosen bride. How great an honor and how precious and holy a calling.

This conception emphasizes both the holiness of the estate and the wickedness of all sins against it. Husband and Wife are not two, but one. It is a serious offence to violate the Marriage Covenant by fornication or adultery.

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals. . .The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. . .Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, ĎThe two shall become one flesh.í But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one Spirit with Him. Flee immorality! Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:9,13,15-20)

Sexual immorality stands alone in that the lust it feeds will consume your flesh, and your body, and your heart, and your mind. Those ensnared by its lusts can hardly think of anything else but satisfying its demands. Sexual immorality takes control over and consumes the mind, and thus denies the Lord His due attention and devotion. The end result is the immoral person becomes defiled.

"Let no one say when he is tempted, ĎI am being tempted by God;" for God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived my beloved brethren." (James 1:13-16)

Sexual immorality not only defiles the entire body but is highly addictive. Though evil, other sins do not have such devastating impact on the body. Your hand can be defiled by theft and your tongue can be defiled by lying, but fornication is a sin against a body which was created to be a holy Temple for God. Immorality puts a filthy stain on Godís House-defiling His holy dwelling place.

 

Marriage is commitment to the holy laws that regulate it

The duty of the Husband is love, and of the Wife obedience and respect, with the Husband being the God-ordained head of his Wife. As Christians, they both are joint-heirs of the promise.

Marriage is being one flesh. Sexual union is holy, being the creation and gift of God. It is fulfilled only as regulated by the law of God in marriage. Man and woman were created to compliment each other physically as in other ways, and to share together in God's creative process. This unity causes growth as each child is conceived and born. Adam and Eve were created by God's own hand, -but God allowed Husband and Wife to join with Him in creating the rest of humanity. This is accomplished through this holy and intimate union of Husband and Wife.

Marriage is the honor of offering the precious gift of sexual communion, with each partner giving that which has been exclusively preserved for that one alone.

Marriage is honoring the band on your hand.

Marriage is. . . Communication

During this time of unprecedented immorality, adultery and unfaithfulness, one would think that the main reason for the escalating divorce rate would be one of these. But surprisingly, lack of communication is named most for terminating a marriage. Even though, a recent poll found that over 65% of married people have had affairs during their marriage, most put forth an effort to save their marriage afterwards. It seems that lack of communication presents a more hopeless obstacle.

Generally, men view themselves as "problem-solvers." Men often communicate with each other about how to do something, or how to prevent doing something wrong. Men are accustomed to feeling they need to have an answer for whatever problem may arise.

Generally, women are more socially oriented, in that their communicating is designed for personal bonding rather than problem solving.

Often, Wives want to communicate to strengthen the marriage bond, and to feel closer to her mate. As Husbands, we should understand that when our mate talks with us, even about problems, she is not necessarily telling us so we can jump into "solve-mode."

Men desire to be appreciated and needed. Women desire to be valued and cherished. Men should understand that their Wives need these things communicated to them in ways other than mere words, but also in actions. A soft touch, a gentle caress, -confirms your words. Wives should know that their Husbands truly need respect and honor as the head of the home. Build him up with encouraging words, gently tell him where you wish he was a little different without demanding change or usurping his authority.

Husbands listen to your Wives. Wives submit to your Husbands. The greatest communication a marriage can have, is when the actions of both Husband and Wife are motivated by love with concern for the needs of the other, and seeing it all through the eyes of God.

 

 

Marriage is. . .Allowing Christ to be First

When I hear of marital problems and even divorces within the Body of Christ, it brings to mind Jesus' message to the Church at Laodicea. Particularly the verse which reads, -"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20)

What Jesus seems to be saying to those in the Church infected with the Laodicean spirit, is that they have put Christ out of their homes. Jesus is saying that He is outside knocking, desiring to come in, -but is waiting for those in the house to open the door.

Letting Jesus in your life and home means letting Him in your marriage as well. It is also letting Him into the Way you rear the children God blesses your family with. It is each person submitting to the role God has created them to fulfill. Only then, can there be harmony, peace and order.

Married on October 26, 1972, my wife Treon and I celebrate many years of life together as a couple. At the ages of 18 and 17, not many of our family and friends gave us much of a chance at "making it." And on our own, we probably wouldn't have.

But in 1974, shortly after the birth of our first child, Ashleigh, our merciful heavenly Father gave us an opportunity to come to know Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. God blessed our marriage and gave us four more beautiful children to raise in His ways, -Sarah , Jennifer , Michael and Matthew.

With God the Father and His Son Jesus at the center of our home, we began applying His "prescription" for a happy marriage, and a happy family. As husband I assumed my appointed role as head of the family, and Treon submitted to her role of being my help-meet. Immediately wonderful changes began to take place. Each of us had a desire to defer to the otherís needs. Treon and I didnít spend time thinking about how to get our own way but each truly wanted to bless and please the other. We didnít spend time thinking about the our mateís shortcoming without making sure that we recognized and appreciated their strengths-bringing to mind what we respected and admired about them. Our children were raised in this environment.

When you focus on doing your part; on fulfilling your responsibilities to God, then you can pray for Him to lead your mate, and bless the decisions that are made.

You are assured that God will hear your prayers, because you are fulfilling your role as God directs and has ordained.

As the Creator of marriage, God knows how He designed it to work. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, and the wife is not to reject her husband as her head. Rebellion is never pleasing in God's sight.

With the divorce rate at an all-time high, -more than half of marriages end in divorce, something is very wrong in our society and even in the Church.

I believe Christ at the center of our homes is the answer to these marital problems. But before He can be in the center of your home, you first must open the door and let Him in. If He is already in your life, home and marriage, -then let Him in even more ways.

 

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries