Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Syriac Orthodox, Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Quad Centum (Issue 400) Souvenir Edition

Volume 7 No. 400 March 1, 2017
 

 Chapter 21: Family - Marriage

Seven Commandments of a Great Marriage

There are some necessary ingredients for a healthy marriage. Want a healthier marriage? Consider these 7 Commandments of Marriage. ...

How To Heal Any Marriage

The person you love the most and have committed your life to is an imperfect being. This person is guaranteed to hurt you and fail you in many ways, some serious and some not. You can expect the failures to come. ...

Is Love Enough To Make A Marriage Succeed?

Many couples assume that the excitement of their courtship will continue for the rest of their lives. That virtually never occurs! It is naive to expect two unique individuals to mesh together and to remain exhilarated throughout life. ...

Nine Truths About Sex and Marriage From the First Two Chapters of Genesis

Critics have sometimes claimed that marriage is not that important to God. But interestingly, the Bible both begins and ends with a marriage. In fact, marriage is the defining metaphor God uses to illustrate His love for the Church, His "bride." ...

The Profound Theological Importance of Husband-Wife Marriage

God intends marriage to be a source of great personal satisfaction. We live in a fallen world full of disappointments and heartaches and it is such a blessing to have a soul mate who is dedicated and loyal to you. But there is much more to marriage than personal happiness. ...

When Routine Is Robbing the Romance

But on those days when I see my marriage slipping back into the mundane cadence of passionless routine, I pull out my list of ideas, and put a smile on Steve's face. And that's my challenge to you and to me today. When we see the fire needs stoking, remember and return. It may be a little scary at first, but be brave and begin! ...

Late Have I Loved You -- On the Delay of Marriage in Our Culture and the Flawed Notions That Underlie It

At least two bad things happen the longer you wait to get "ready" to be married. One is that, the number of quality single men/women declines. The other bad thing that happens is that you often end up waiting longer and longer. After a certain point, being single becomes the norm and the thought of marrying becomes less, not more, appealing. So over time you can actually become less "ready" to get married. ...

Seven-Minute Marriage Solution

From Dr. Tim Clinton's show Life, Love & Family. Dr. Clintonm speaks with Stephen Arterburn about the things to stop and start in order to have an enjoyable marriage. ...

 Chapter 21: Family - Marriage

Seven Commandments of a Great Marriage

by Ron Edmondson

I have an advanced degree in counseling and hundreds of hours experience working with couples. I've taught marriage retreats for years. I wouldn't say I'm an "expert" in marriage - because I'm married - and my wife reads my blog. That would be a stretch. Actually, I know more to do than I have the practice of doing. (Isn't that true for most of us?)

But I've learned a few things. I've observed things that work and things that don't.

I think there are some necessary ingredients for a healthy marriage. That's the point of this post.

Want a healthier marriage?

Consider these 7 Commandments of Marriage:

1. Thou shalt serve one another.

A good marriage practices mutual submission. Ephesians 5:21 commands us to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. Marriage is not a 50/50 deal. It's a 100/100 deal - each willing to surrender all to the other person.

How are you at serving your spouse? Would they say you strive to serve them more everyday? Are you more the giver or the taker in the relationship? Be honest.

2. Thou shalt love unconditionally.

Unconditionally means without conditions. (See how deep this blog can be.) I'll love you if… is not the command. It's I'll love you even if not. God commands us to love our enemies. How much more should this commitment be strong within a marriage?

Are you loving your spouse even with the flaws that you can see better than anyone else? Here's a quick test: Does the way you communicate with your spouse indicate you have the highest regard for them - always?

3. Thou shalt respect one another.

The Golden Rule covers this one. Everyone wants to be respected - so in any good marriage respect is granted to and by both parties. And, by the way, I believe respect too is to be unconditional.

In my experience, this one is sometimes easier for one spouse to give than the other, especially the one who works hardest in the marriage. Respect is mostly given because of actions. But respect is important for both spouses. Most people grant respect only when all conditions are met to be respected. That makes sense, but it doesn't provide motivation to improve when the other party needs it most. All of us need someone who believes in us even when we don't believe in ourselves. That's the grace of respect. When most of us feel respected we will work harder to keep that respect.

4. Thou shalt put no other earthly relationships before this one.

"Let not man put asunder" is not just a good King James Version wedding line. It's God's desire for a marriage. Great couples strive to allow no one - even children - even in-laws - to get in the way of building a healthy marriage.

Wow! Isn't this a hard one? Yet I can't tell you how many marriages I have seen ruined because the children came first or the in-laws interfered. I've seen marriages ruined by friends - sometimes co-workers - who had little regard for the integrity of the marriage, and so they built a wedge between the couple. As hard as it is sometimes, great couples work to protect the marriage from every outside interruption.

5. Thou shalt commit beyond feelings.

The Bible talks a great deal about the renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2, for example). The mind is more reliable than emotions. You may not always feel as in love as you did the day you married. There will be tough seasons in any marriage. Strong marriages last because they have a commitment beyond their emotional response to each other. And when that's true for both parties, feelings almost always reciprocate and grow over time.

As true and necessary as this is, great marriage partners continue to pursue each other - they date one another - fostering the romantic feelings that everyone craves in a relationship. Sobering question: When's the last time you pursued your spouse?

6. Thou shalt consider the other person's interest ahead of thine own.

Again, we are commanded to to do this in all relationships. How much more should we in marriage?

Over the years, as couples get comfortable with one another, I've observed couples who become very selfish with their individual time. Sometimes, for example, one spouse pursues a hobby that excludes the other one, and more and more time is committed to that hobby. The other spouse begins to feel neglected. It may be allocation of time, in actions or the words used to communicate, but sometimes a spouse can make the other spouse feel they are no longer valuable to them. Are you considering how you are being perceived by your spouse?

7. Thou shalt complete one another.

The Biblical command is one flesh (Ephesians 5). I'm not sure that's anymore possible than the command that our individual flesh be molded into the image of Christ. It's a command we obey in process. We are saints still under construction. We still sin. And that process isn't completed here on earth in my opinion. So it is in a marriage. We never completely "get there," but we set such a high standard for our marriage that we continue to press towards the goal.

There is no better place where "iron sharpens iron" than in a marriage. Cheryl makes me a better person. And, if I can be so bold - I think I do the same for her. There are qualities in her I need and qualities in me she needs to become one flesh. But that's a process. That takes time, humility, and intentionality. I must allow her to make me better - and likewise for her. But when we do, we are both the benefactors. One question I always ask couples: Are you becoming closer as a couple - or are you drifting further apart? That's a great question to ask frequently throughout the marriage.

These are obviously not the "10 Commandments." They aren't even necessarily God's commandments - although I do believe they are based on the commands of God. The point is to take Biblical principles and apply them to our marriage.

And, what marriage wouldn't benefit from that?

Would you pause and consider - are you breaking any of these commands?

Source: Today's Topical Bible Study

How To Heal Any Marriage
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
-Colossians 3:12-14

I (Dr. Cloud) was leading a seminar, and I asked the audience of married couples to stop for a moment and think of their spouse. I told them to think of all of the wonderful things that they love about their spouse and to concentrate on how awesome that person is and how much they love him or her. "Think of the wonderful qualities that you admire and that attracted you to that person. Let those feelings fill you," I told them.

Then, after they were feeling all giddy and in love again, I asked each person to turn to their spouse who was idealizing them at that moment and to repeat after me, "Honey, I am a sinner. I will fail you, and I will hurt you."

You could feel the sense of discombobulation in the room. In one moment, they were shaken from the ideal to the real. Some began to laugh as they got it. Some felt even closer to each other. Some looked up confused as if they did not know what to do with my invitation.

But that is reality. The person you love the most and have committed your life to is an imperfect being. This person is guaranteed to hurt you and fail you in many ways, some serious and some not. You can expect the failures to come. As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20, "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins." We can expect failure from even the best people in our lives.

So the question becomes, "What then?" What do you do when your spouse fails you in some way or is less than you wish for him to be? What happens when she has a weakness or a failure? How about an inability to do something? What about an unresolved childhood hurt that he brings to the relationship?

Other than denial, there are only a couple of options. You can beat him up for his imperfections, or you can love him out of them. The Bible says, "Love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). Nothing in a relationship has to permanently destroy that relationship if forgiveness is in the picture. No failure is larger than grace. No hurt exists that love cannot heal. But, for all of these miracles to take place, there must be compassion and tenderheartedness.

What does that mean? I like how the Bible describes God's compassion: "to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior" (Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionary). For God to have compassion on our brokenness or sin is certainly to stoop to an inferior. But we need the same attitude toward an equal spouse for two reasons:

First, you forgive what is inferior to the ideal standard. You humble yourself to identify with your loved one, who is experiencing life in a way that is less than you or even he would want. You give up all demands for your spouse to be something he isn't at that moment.

Second, if your spouse is hurting or failing, you are not morally superior, but you are in the stronger position at that moment to be able to help. God never uses the stronger position to hurt, but always to help. As Paul puts it in Colossians 3:12-14, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

What a picture that is! "Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." What if you "wore" these qualities every time your spouse failed or was hurting? I think we would see a lot more healed marriages.

But that is not the human way. The human way is to harden our hearts when we are hurt or offended.

I was talking to a friend the other day who had offended his wife in a relatively minor way. But to her it was not minor at all. As a result, she did not speak to him for several days. Finally he asked her when she might forgive him. "Will it be before next month? Before Christmas? Just let me know so I can get ready." She finally broke and started laughing, and things were fine again. She saw how unnecessary her "hardness of heart" was to the offense.

Hardness of heart, much more than failure, is the true relationship killer. Jesus said in Matthew 19:8 that failure is not the cause of divorce, but hardness of heart is. This is why the Bible places such a high value on tenderheartedness.

Adapted from Boundaries In Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Copyright 2014 by Zondervan; all rights reserved. Visit BoundariesBooks.com for more information.

Is Love Enough To Make A Marriage Succeed?

By Dr. James Dobson

Is Love Enough To Make A Marriage Succeed?

Love can be defined in myriad ways, but in marriage "I love you" really means "I promise to be there for you all of my days." It is a promise that says, "I'll be there when you lose your job, your health, your parents, your looks, your confidence, your friends." It's a promise that tells your partner, "I'll build you up; I'll overlook your weaknesses; I'll forgive your mistakes; I'll put your needs above my own; I'll stick by you even when the going gets tough."

This kind of assurance will hold you steady through all of life's ups and downs, through all the "better or worse" conditions.

Many couples assume that the excitement of their courtship will continue for the rest of their lives. That virtually never occurs! It is naive to expect two unique individuals to mesh together and to remain exhilarated throughout life.

Gears have rough edges that must be honed before they will work in concert. That honing process usually occurs in the first year or two of marriage. The foundation for all that is to follow is laid in those critical months. What often occurs at this time is a dramatic struggle for power in the relationship. Who will lead? Who will follow? Who will determine how the money is spent? Who will get his or her way in times of disagreement? Everything is up for grabs in the beginning, and the way these early decisions are made will set the stage for the future. If both partners come into the relationship prepared for battle, the foundation will begin to crumble.

The apostle Paul gave us the divine perspective on human relationships--not only in marriage, but in every dimension of life. He wrote, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

That one verse contains more wisdom than most marriage manuals combined. If heeded, it could virtually eliminate divorce from the catalog of human experience—no small achievement, considering that more than one million marriages break apart in the United States every year. If you want yours to be different, I urge you to commit now to "sticking in there" during the newlywed phase, the middle years, and your golden age together.

Will your commitment hold you steady? If you want your marriage to last a lifetime, you must set your jaw and clench your fists. Make up your mind that nothing short of death will ever be permitted to come between the two of you. Nothing!

Premarital counseling is a must and can literally be a marriage saver. These sessions can help young men and women overcome the cultural tendency to marry virtual strangers. Let me explain.

The typical couple spends much time talking. Still, they don't know each other as well as they think they do. That is because a dating relationship is designed to conceal information, not reveal it. Each partner puts his or her best foot forward, hiding embarrassing facts, habits, flaws, and temperaments.

Consequently, the bride and groom often enter into marriage with an array of private assumptions. Then major conflict occurs a few weeks later when they discover they have radically different views on nonnegotiable issues. The stage is then set for arguments and hurt feelings that were never anticipated during the courtship period.

That's why I strongly believe in the value of solid, biblical premarital counseling. Each engaged couple, even those who seem perfectly suited for one another, should participate in at least six to ten meetings with someone who is trained to help them prepare for marriage. The primary purpose of these encounters is to identify the assumptions each partner holds and to work through the areas of potential conflict.

The following questions are typical of the issues that a competent counselor will help the couple address together:

• Where will you live after getting married?
• Are children planned? How many? How soon?
• Will the wife return to work after babies arrive? How quickly?
• How will the kids be disciplined?
• Are there theological differences to be reckoned with?
• Where will you spend Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays?
• How will financial decisions be made?

This is only a partial list of questions to be discussed and considered. Then a battery of compatibility tests is administered to identify patterns of temperament and personality. Some couples decide to postpone or call off the wedding after discovering areas of likely conflict down the road. Others work through their differences and proceed toward marriage with increased confidence. In either case, men and women benefit from knowing each other better.

Someone has said: The key to healthy marriage is to keep your eyes wide open before you wed and half-closed thereafter. I agree. Premarital counseling is designed to help couples accomplish that.

Source: The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide by Dr. James Dobson

About The Author:

For over 30 years, Dr. James Dobson has been America's trusted source for psychologically sound, biblically based advice to help strengthen marriages, parents and families.

Nine Truths About Sex and Marriage From the First Two Chapters of Genesis

by Sean McDowell, Ph.D

Critics have sometimes claimed that marriage is not that important to God. But interestingly, the Bible both begins and ends with a marriage. In fact, marriage is the defining metaphor God uses to illustrate His love for the Church, His "bride."

The natural place to begin an investigation into what God thinks about marriage (and sex) is in Genesis 1 and 2, where scripture describes God's creation of the world and everything in it. Here are nine truths about sex and marriage from the first two chapters in Genesis:

1. Sex and marriage are a creation of God.

Sex is not the result of a blind, evolutionary process that lacks meaning and merely exists to propagate the species. Rather, God is the one who created sex with a purpose for how it is to be expressed and experienced. The first explicit attribute we learn about God in the Bible is that He is the Creator (Gen 1:1), which implies there is a purpose for what He creates, including sex.

2. People are created as gendered [distinctively male or female] beings.

Gender is not accidental to the creation story. Rather, God intentionally made human beings male and female (1:27-28) so they could populate the earth. The creation story emphasizes distinctions between day and night, land and sea, as well as male and female. Gender is fundamental to what it means to be human.

3. The biblical design for marriage is monogamy.

The pattern in Genesis 2:24 is that a man leaves his household, which consists of his father and his mother, and then "clings" to his wife. When God called Adam to name the animals, "there was not found a helper fit for him" (2:20b). The clear implication is that Adam was looking for one partner. Populating the earth only requires one man and one woman. Although many biblical leaders embraced polygamy, the clear design for marriage is monogamy.

4. The two sexes are equal in value.

Even though there is contrast between Adam and Eve (male and female), there is no hint of ontological superiority for the male. Both are equal image bearers of the divine (1:27). While egalitarians and complementarians differ over the roles of men and women in the family and church, both agree that men and women have equal value.

5. Marriage is an exclusive relationship.

Genesis 2:24 says a man shall leave his father and mother. The Hebrew term for "leave" is a strong term that is often translated as "abandon" or "forsake," and is sometimes used to indicate that Israel has forsaken the God of Israel for false gods (e.g. Deut 28:20). Richard Davidson explains: "This leaving also implies the exclusiveness of the relationship: husband and wife, and no other interfering party, are bone of each other's bones, flesh of each other's flesh."[1]

6. Marriage is meant to be permanent.

According to Genesis 2:24, man will "hold fast" to his wife. The language of this same verse, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," expresses a marriage covenant vow. Holding fast and the one-flesh union indicate permanence in the relationship. Jesus affirmed the intended permanence for marriage (See Matt. 19:3-4).

7. Marriage is heterosexual.

Both Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that marriage is gendered. The man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife. While marriage entails much more than gender differences, it entails no less. Paul affirms that marriage is gendered (See Eph. 5:22-33).

8. One of the primary purposes of sex and marriage is procreation.

After indicating that males and females are made in God's image, Genesis indicates that they are to "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." Thus, one of the primary purposes of marriage is procreation. Not all couples can have children, for a variety of reasons, but part of the divine design for sex and marriage is procreation.

9. Sex is good and beautiful.

Over and over again the author of Genesis 1 makes it clear that creation is good: "And God saw everything he had made, and behold, it was very good" (1:31). Sex is part of God's original good creation. Sex is only bad when we abuse God's intended design. But in the marriage relationship of one man and one woman, sex is meant to be experienced without fear, shame or regret and is both good and beautiful.

About The Author:

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

Source: The Stream

The Profound Theological Importance of Husband-Wife Marriage

by Ralph Drollinger

If you debate marriage based upon personal happiness you will lose the argument. If you debate it from theology you will not.

Certainly God intends marriage to be a source of great personal satisfaction. We live in a fallen world full of disappointments and heartaches and it is such a blessing to have a soul mate who is dedicated and loyal to you. I praise God for my wife Danielle in this regard.

But there is much more to marriage than personal happiness. When America in any way denigrates God's ordained Institution of husband-wife Marriage, our nation loses one of His primary means of heralding His nature to our country! Such loss has serious long-term repercussions both in terms of national cultural patterning and moral direction. Why? Because God designed marriage between a man and a woman to be an emulation of His very nature! To lose the husband-wife model of marriage is to lose an archetype of His otherwise invisible attributes, His eternal power and His divine glory.

My friend, don't argue marriage as if it's all about personal happiness! There's a whole lot more to it than that! Read on.

I. INTRODUCTION

Ephesians 5:22-33 contains a large embodiment of the divinely inspired Apostle Paul's teaching relative to the relationship of husbands to wives. The context of this passage in the epistle is within the section where Paul is expressing the behavioral aspects of the called-out ones (cf. 1:4, 5; 2:10).

The overall organization of the book of Ephesians is simple to understand: Paul has expressed the doctrinal truths and the calling of believers in chapters 1 to 3. He then segues to express the various practical aspects of the conduct of believers in chapters 4 through 6:9 (all based on the prior doctrinal truths he has previously stated). It is within this latter delineation on the behavioral elements of believers that he specifically addresses the husband-wife relationship. More pointedly, Paul addresses the walk or practices of the believer in this section, calling him or her to walk in unity (4:1-16), in holiness (4:17-32), in love (5:1-6), in light (5:7-14), and in wisdom (5:15-6:9). The passage, 5:22-23, follows:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 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 should 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 let 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.

Given the fact that the passage under investigation appears below the wisdom banner when outlining the book, means that for the believer to walk in wisdom he or she must understand the God-ordained relationship between husband and wife - the way God intends it to be. Of course too, the presumption is that God expects you and me to obey what He says here. In addition, for lawmakers, God expects them to take His wisdom on marriage into consideration when constructing (or reconstructing if need be) marriage legislation for a nation.

More so, by living in accordance to the guidelines of Ephesians 5:22-33, and enjoying the wonderful benefits of blessing that stem from such:

THE BELIEVER'S ALLEGIANCE TO GOD'S MANUSCRIPT ON MARRIAGE SERVES TO MANIFEST HIS GLORY TO THE WORLD

Exactly what do I mean by this? In Romans 1:20 Paul states, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made . . . . Clearly, in addition to God's wonderful manufacture of organic and inorganic substances within the first days of creation, He fashioned marriage soon thereafter (cf. Gen. 2:24, 25). Therefore (now follow me on this):

In proportion to a believer and societies' obedience to God and His ordained guidelines concerning marriage, His attributes, power and nature are on display in and to a man-centered, God-rebelling, lost and fallen world.

Herein is perhaps a whole new motive for one to work and strive for a godly marriage - a reason and motive that should eclipse one's quest for self-satisfaction only.

When people steadfastly obey Scriptures' specific blueprint for marriage, they mightily testify of God's existence and greatness. Your marriage can and should be a powerful manifestation of God's invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature. Your marriage should and most definitely can preach God's glory to a lost watching world!

In addition to motivating every true believer to be extra-sensitive and careful as to how he treats his spouse, this truth also explains the reason why the forces and agents of evil continually labor to expunge God's model of marriage from the face of the earth. To do so results in the fact that God's existence is less apparent. Marriage, as we shall examine, provides all of us with a magnificent glimpse of what God is like! Should it be any wonder therefore why such a powerful force is afoot to redefine marriage? To do so is to extract a testimony of and by God; it is to erode one of the five foundational pillars that He intends to manifest His reign in the world prior to His Second Coming.

How then does the biblical pattern of marriage illumine the reality of God? That question is answered in this passage. Specifically, the relationship of husbands to wives helps to illustrate and reveal three major aspects dealing with God's attributes, power and nature. They are as follows:

II. THE INTERRELATIONSHIPS OF THE TRINITY

God has ordained marriage to reveal intensively, but not extensively, His nature, as it exists within the triune Godhead. The following four godly characteristics are revealed on earth through His ordination of the husband-to-wife relationship.

A. FELLOWSHIP

A seminary definition of the Trinity is this: God exists in three personages of the same numerical essence. The close study and comparison of various scriptural passages remarkably and unmistakably reveals this truth. Accordingly God's essential nature is characterized by fellowship and communication within the Godhead. And these two attributes, fellowship and communication, are beautifully portrayed by and in God's construction of marriage. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for one (echad), as used in Deuteronomy 6:4 to describe the oneness nature of God, denotes a pluralistic unity. It is the same word used in Genesis 2:24 and quoted by Paul in Ephesians 5:31 to describe the husband and wife as one flesh. I.e. they are one, but remain two separate personages: A pluralistic unity. Therefore a good marriage where the husband and wife freely communicate and enjoy fellowshipping with one another vividly displays God's divine nature. So then:

TO THE DEGREE THAT YOU, AS HUSBAND AND WIFE, ARE COMMUNICATIVE AND ENJOY ONE ANOTHER'S COMPANY IS THE DEGREE TO WHICH YOU GIVE GLORY TO GOD IN YOUR MARRIAGE

I love talking to my wife, Danielle, and greatly enjoy her company! We continually discuss everything going on in our lives. The point is this: to abstain from regular communication and fellowship is sinful because in part the believing couple is failing to manifest God's character.

B. AUTHORITY AND SUBMISSION

The second characteristic of God that is on display through His ordination of marriage is the way in which He interrelates within Himself and with His creative order. Throughout all of the Godhead and creation there exist authority-submission relationships. In the Trinity, the Son (as depicted by His name) is subject to the Father. Matthew 28:18 and John 5:26 & 27 bear out the fact that it is the Father who gave Christ His authority. Marriage is likened to every other God-ordained institution whereby there exists an authority-submission relationship, husband to wife respectively (Ephesians 5:22-23). Thereby revealed is the character of God. To further illustrate the authority-submission construct nature of God note that in the Institution of the Family, the children are to be subject to the parent's authority (Ephesians 6:1), in the Church the believer is to be subject to the elders (Hebrews 13:17), in commerce, the employee is to be subject to the employer (1Timothy 6:1) and in the state, the citizen is to be subject to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1).

Specifically, the wife's submission to her husband, among other things, is a powerful picture of Christ's submission to the Father when He went to the Cross. ". . . My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will " (Matthew 26:39). Or of the Holy Spirit, who is called the Helper by Jesus Christ in John 14:26, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. "

C. LOVE

The third characteristic of God revealed by marriage is His love. 1John 4:16 states, God is love . . . Accordingly, Ephesians 5:25 commands husbands to love your wives. Paul reiterates the essential importance of this no less than two additional times in the same passage: So husbands ought also to love their own wives . . . (5:28), and Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself . . . (5:33). This selfless agape love displayed by the spiritually-mature husband portrays the very character of God to an on-looking, God-scrutinizing world. Not only does the husband love his wife because in his obedience he will be blessed, but he loves his wife because it reflects the very essence of God to the world.

D. RESPECT

The respect of the wife for her husband (Ephesians 5:33) is the fourth characteristic of God's emulation in the similitude of marriage. Wives are commanded to respect their husbands. This reveals the respect that Christ has for the Father. Such respect is implied in Philippians 2:6-7 where Paul says of Christ, who although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself . . . Christ willingly took a different position during His incarnation, even though in His essence He was equal with God as the second member of the Trinity (cf. John 5:18). Out of respect for fulfilling the ultimate plan of God, and with redemption of the elect in view, He was willingly subservient to the one to whom He was equal. The respect of the submissive wife to her husband then, becomes a tremendous physical picture of the interrelationships existing amongst the members of the Trinity, i.e. the Son's respect for the Father's authority. This human modeling is essential to the woof and warp of successful cultures.

Marriage, as depicted by Paul in this Ephesian passage, attests in these four aforementioned tangential ways to the very nature of God. Accordingly the believing husband and wife need be obedient to these biblical precepts if he or she is to "Let (their) light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven " (Matthew 5:16). Herein then - illustrated theologically - is revealed why God is for marriage between a husband and a wife: it serves to reveal His nature and attributes.

III. THE UNITY WITHIN THE TRINITY

The second main category of understanding that is depicted by God's observable model of marriage is His unity within diversity within the Trinity. In this Ephesian passage, combined with Paul's teaching in Galatians 3:28, there exists a tension in marriage that also exists in the Godhead, that being the equality of the members in the midst of their dissimilarities regarding role and function. Accordingly:

FOR MARRIAGE TO REFLECT GOD'S ESSENCE THERE MUST BE PRACTICED A DISTINCTION OF ROLE AND FUNCTION IN THE MIDST OF EQUALITY BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE

A. EQUALITY

Galatians 3:28 reads, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. According to the latter portion of this passage, there is no spiritual distinction between the sexes. One leading commentator on Ephesians puts it this way: "In the dimension of spiritual possessions and privilege, there is absolutely no difference. " Both are heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). This is the conclusion of the extensive exegetical work done by S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. in Role Distinctions in the Church: Galatians 3:28. He states:

The richness of the oneness, without any denial at all of role distinctions, is the preeminent thrust of the section we have been considering. Justified by faith in Christ, both male and female are ‘sons of God' (verse 26), both are ‘in Christ Jesus' (verse 26), united in Him in eternal union through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (verse 27), both have clothed themselves with Christ and are one in Him (v. 28).

Accordingly, God has designed both male and female, heretofore, husband and wife to be equal before Him in position. This construction exactly parallels that of the unity within the Trinity: Each member possesses homogeny and essential similarity.

B. DIVERSITY

The egalitarian equality of the sexes as explicated by Paul in Galatians 3:28 in no way erodes or contradicts the diversity of them stated elsewhere, especially in Ephesians 5:22- 33. Here their roles are distinctly differentiated. In addition to this passage, elsewhere in the Old and New Testaments is communicated under divine inspiration the delineation of husband and wife responsibilities.

Paul's teaching stems from that given in the book of Genesis where in summary, God describes the role of the husband as one of headship, and the wife in terms of a helper (see Genesis 2:18-25). Ray Ortlund Jr. has provided the leading exegetical work on this along with Dr. Wayne Grudem. The Scriptures not only describe their differences in these general terms, but more specifically in terms of unambiguous responsibilities.

The following are some of their scripturally definitive differences:

SOME PRIMARY FUNCTIONS OF WOMEN

Homemaking Responsibilities Prov. 31
Home Management Responsibilities Titus 2:5
Mothering Responsibilities 1Tim. 5:10
Teaching Younger Women 1Tim. 3:11
Displaying Hospitality 1Tim. 5:10
Differentiating in Dress 1Tim. 2:9

SOME PRIMARY FUNCTIONS OF MEN

Providing for the Household 1Tim. 5:8
Leading in the Church 1Tim. 3:1-7
Leading in the Home Eph. 5:24
Sacrificing for his Wife Eph. 5:25
Sanctifying his Wife Eph. 5:26
Fathering Children into Adults Prov. 22:6

These differing role functions of the husband and wife are not intended to suggest a superior/ inferior relationship in the marriage any more than the role of Christ in salvation, which differs from that of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Similar to God's expression of salvation, it being a team effort whereby varying God-assigned responsibilities are assumed and accepted by each member of the Trinity, so are roles in marriage; each sex possesses God-designed and imbued proclivities.

This concept of role specificity should not prove new, difficult or alarming to the believer. Paul forthrightly presents this same principle of role differentiation in the context of the unity of the Church and its diversity of spiritual gifts in 1Corinthians 12:12-18:

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body, " it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body, " it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

The body of Christ is composed of varying gifts, and therefore varying responsibilities and roles per God's eternal design – all with the same value and worth. Accordingly, the relationship of husbands and wives, in their essential unity and specified role diversity, give witness to God's triune nature.

IV. CHRIST AND THE CHURCH

Lastly, the relationship of husbands and wives serves to illustrate the relationship of Christ and His Church. Ephesians 5:27 states, 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. Colossians 1:22 is a parallel passage in statement and meaning. In summary, God is preparing a bride, which is the Church, for Christ. Whereas in the Old Testament Israel is pictured as the wife of the Lord (cf. Isaiah 54:5; and Hosea 2:19, 20), in the New Testament the Church is seen as the bride of Christ, with Christ as the bridegroom (cf. Mark 2:20). Furthermore, in His second coming, Christ will be united with His bride and appear with her in His glorious, triumphant return. Such splendor is revealed in the following passages of the book of Revelation:

Revelation 19:7 "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. "

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

Revelation 21:9 And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. "

Herein is an astounding metaphor of the husband-wife relationship:

IF IT IS THEOLOGICALLY EVIDENT THAT CHRIST DIED FOR HIS CHURCH TO SAVE HER, AND IS IN THE PROCESS OF SANCTIFYING HER AND WILL SOMEDAY GLORIFY HER, THEN THOSE SAME ELEMENTS SEEMINGLY WOULD APPEAR IN THE METAPHOR OF HUMAN MARRIAGE AND THEY DO.

Accordingly, it is the husband's responsibility in marriage to present his wife sanctified, cleansed by the washing of the water with the word (Ephesians 5:26). Men, here is another reason you should be in Bible study – because you need to be teaching God's Word to your wife in order to fulfill your responsibility before God as a husband! What follows are three theologically-basic responsibilities you have in relationship to your wife:

A. SALVATION

In Ephesians 5:25, Paul states:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

Herein is a direct parallel contained in one passage connecting the metaphor of marriage to the redemptive work of Christ for His Church. In that a physical husband cannot spiritually save his physical wife, he is commanded nonetheless to display the same sacrificial love to the point of death so as to depict the ultimate love of Christ for His called-out ones.

THE HUSBAND IS TO DISPLAY HIS LOVE BY HIS ACTIONS; TO HER HIS VOCABULARY IS A MUCH LESS IMPRESSIVE CONDUIT THAN HIS VOLITIONAL SACRIFICES FOR HER BEST INTERESTS

To the degree that he sacrifices his own desires for those of his wife, is the degree that she senses his true love.

B. SANCTIFICATION

In Ephesians 5:26 the passage continues to indicate the cleansing metaphor of the husband to the wife in parallel to Christ and His Church. It reads,

so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.

In marriage the husband is to know how to deal with his wife's sin. In Stuart Scott's book, The Exemplary Husband, he spends a chapter on, A Husband's Resolve: Helping His Wife Deal with Her Sin. Scott's thoughts are motivated from the gravity of the aforementioned passage. I.e. it is the husband's responsibility to grow his wife spiritually. Why? It models sanctification: Christ building, cleansing and washing His Church. This husbanding skill requires the abilities of being gracious, patient, loving and correcting (think of that in terms of 10-10-10- 01 in respective proportions I might add!). In addition it requires the ability to discern true repentance and practice biblical forgiveness. Each ingredient is representative of the process our Lord uses with His Church to sanctify her. Again, in terms of sanctifying one's wife, we see the wondrous illustration that marriage emits relative to God's nature, character and purposes in the world.

C. GLORIFICATION

Lastly, if marriage parallels Christ and His Church, one would think that the model would parallel in some way the eventual marriage of believers to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ in His second coming. In fact, that is what the marriage ceremony of husband and wife depicts! It is a coming together, the long-awaited consummation of the courtship that in a small way symbolically embodies the marriage of the Lamb of God to His Church. (See the previously indicated passages listed from the book of Revelation.) Although somewhat anachronistic in the physical realm (in human marriage the glorification stage comes before the sanctification) the marriage ceremony nonetheless captures the excitement and anticipation that the followers of Christ sense as they await the consummation of the Church age and the second coming of The LORD: At last Christ is united with all of His called-out ones and reigns triumphant!

V. SUMMARY

These are the many ways that the relationship of husbands and wives models and describes the spiritual realities of the living God of the universe who has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. The mere fact that the physical reality of marriage over the centuries has outwardly portrayed and paralleled the profound symbolism attested to in Scripture evidences the authorship of God not only on marriage, but His penmanship of the Bible. Their respective proclamations have matched up with one another for centuries! And:

AS THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE GOES, SO GOES A NATION'S CULTURE

Lastly and most importantly, in that God has so identified Himself to His creation through His construct of the Institution of Marriage, true believers should be extremely motivated to pay special, close attention to their marriage and give it the priority and energy it deserves and requires in order to best proclaim God's invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature to an unbelieving world. This should be especially true with lawmakers who publicly profess Christ.

THE HEALTH OF ONE'S MARRIAGE IS A FUNDAMENTAL SIGNATURE TO YOUR LONG-TERM, OVERALL EFFECTIVENESS AND INFLUENCE IN THE CAPITOL

Beloved, hopefully this study will provide you with a different and even more powerful motive for working attentively, diligently and forthrightly on your marriage! There is so much more to the divine institution than your personal satisfaction (as important as that is in a fallen disappointing world).

In a cultural sense even more is at stake: When America in any way denigrates God's ordained Institution of husband and wife Marriage, our nation loses one of God's primary means of heralding His nature to our country! This loss has serious long-term repercussions in terms of cultural patterning and moral direction. In this sense, and hope you clearly see why:

THERE IS A WHOLE LOT MORE TO MARRIAGE THAN PERSONAL HAPPINESS!

There is much more to marriage – much more rides on defining marriage God's way – than on one's personal pleasures. As a lawmaker it is critically important for you to understand this.

Notes:

1 The word Walk is used by Paul metaphorically throughout the epistle to capsulate the believers' process of sanctification, or becoming Christ-like.

2 Cf. Gen. 1:26 and Deuteronomy 6:4

3 The one exception to submission to authority relates to the one(s) in authority asking another to violate God's clear commands.

4 In the Greek NT, agapao signifies unconditional love and is based on one's character, in contrast to a responsive love that is determined relative to how one is treated.

5 There is a gradient ease or difficulty in the submission of the wife relative to the love – or lack of by the husband, and vice-versa. Note that these indispensable ingredients of submission and love in marriage are exemplarily and simultaneously modeled in the Trinity.

6 Theologically, this is the tension of synthesizing the Economic Trinity with the Ontological Trinity. Both are taught in Scripture. The Economic Trinity refers to how the persons of the Trinity relate to each other, and the Ontological Trinity depicts God's overall being and existence.

7 Excerpted from, Piper, John & Grudem, Wayne, Gen. Ed.'s Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991) p. 160

8 Ortland, Raymond C. Jr. Male-Female Equality and Male Headship; Genesis 1-3. Excerpted from, Piper, John & Grudem, Wayne, Gen. Ed.'s Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991) p. 95

9 Failure by one to accept his God-given role is first illustrated by Satan. He rebelled against his God-created position of being an angelic being (cf. Ezekiel 28:11-19; Isaiah 14:12-15; Genesis 3:1-13). In essence, rebellion is the sin of rejecting one's God-given role; it is wanting to be someone other than the person and position God created you to be and fulfill. Rebellion means one thinks he knows better than God, which is a statement that he wants to be God. It is the sin of pride. Lastly, rebellion is listed as a characteristic of an apostate in Jude, vss. 8-11.

10 Scott, Stuart. The Exemplary Husband (Bemidji, Minnesota: Focus Publishing, 2000) p 205

Source: Capitol Ministries Bible Study

When Routine Is Robbing the Romance

by Sharon Jaynes

What do you do when you've lost that lovin' feelin' in your marriage?

Maybe you truly adored your husband in the beginning, but now you can't remember why.

Maybe you honestly admired his finer qualities, but now you can't remember what they were.

Maybe you appreciated his wonderful attributes, but now you take them for granted.

Between taking out the garbage, paying the bills, running the car pool, mowing the lawn, disciplining the kids, and folding the laundry, sometimes the passion of marriage gets lost. It happens to all of us at one time or another.

We can get so busy taking care of life that we forget to take care of love.

None of us got married so we could have a long list of chores. If you're like me, most likely you got married because you were madly in-love and couldn't imagine life without your man! You got married because your heart skipped a beat every time you laid eyes on him.

You couldn't wait to tie the knot and build a life with this incredible person God had miraculously brought into your life. Maybe you still feel that way. But maybe you could use a little reminder - a re-stoking of the romance.

In the book of Revelation in the Bible, God had this to say to the church at Ephesus: "I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first" (Revelation 2:4).

Ephesus was one of the most loving churches in the New Testament, and yet somewhere along the way they lost that initial thrill of knowing Christ. Their love for each other and for God had grown cold.

So how do you get that lovin' feelin' back?

God gave the church two simple steps, and I believe we can apply them to our marriages as well. "Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first" (Revelation 2:5).

Remember how it was in the beginning.

Return and do the things you did at first.

One day I took John's words in Revelation to heart, and decided to remember and return by romancing my husband for fourteen days straight.

Can I tell you, I was a little bit nervous about it?

What if he thought I was silly?

What if he didn't respond?

But I took a deep breath, push the fear aside, and began to romance my man like I did in the early days.

Everyday wasn't earth-shaking romance, even though there was some of that.

One day I simply put a sticky note on his bathroom mirror that said, "I love you."

Another day I placed a box of Red Hot candy on his car seat with a note that said, "You're a hottie."

One morning I warmed up his towel in the dryer and had it ready when he got out of the shower.

And you know what happened? At the end of the fourteen days, Steve had a skip in his step and smile on his face like a Cheshire cat.

And what happened in me? I can hardly describe the love that welled up in me, as I loved my man well. Hear this…I changed.

I don't have a big, bad personal story of how God took a terrible, tumultuous marriage and miraculously transformed it into a storybook romance filled with white-knight rescues, relentless romance, and rides into the sunset leaving all danger and darkness behind. Although our marriage has been all that at one time or another, it's no fairy tale.

Our marriage is a daily journal, one page after another, one day after another. I'm guessing just like yours.

Some entries are smudged with tears; others are dog-eared as favorites.

Some days are marred by unsuccessful erasures that couldn't quite rub away hurtful the words said; others are finger-worn by the reading of precious events time and time again.

But on those days when I see my marriage slipping back into the mundane cadence of passionless routine, I pull out my list of ideas, and put a smile on Steve's face.

And that's my challenge to you and to me today. When we see the fire needs stoking, remember and return. It may be a little scary at first, but be brave and begin!

What is one thing that you can do for your husband today to remind him of how much you love him?

About The Author:

Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker, devotion writer for Girlfriends in God and Proverbs 31 Ministries, and author of 21 books. Her latest book, A 14-Day Romance Challenge: Reigniting Passion in Your Marriage will help you step out of the mundane routine of life and captivate your husband all over again.

Late Have I Loved You -- On the Delay of Marriage in Our Culture and the Flawed Notions That Underlie It

by Msgr. Charles Pope

In football, if the offense takes more than thirty seconds between plays, they are penalized for "delay of game." The result is lost yardage; they are now farther away from the goal line. The delay thus brings loss; progress toward the goal is hindered; victory becomes less likely, not more. I'm sure the offense would always like a little more time in the huddle in order to ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do. But there comes a moment when they must break out of the huddle and execute the play even if more time would have been ideal.

This also happens in "real life." Deliberations have their place, but delay can be costly and can actually set us back from our goals. Life keeps moving forward even when we don't feel prepared or completely certain of the outcome.

Related to this is an old saying, "If something is worth doing well, it's worth doing poorly." The point is not that we should plan to do something poorly, but rather that if it's worth doing it's worth doing, even if we wish we could have more time to plan/control better. One might have envisioned a nice cookout with steaks on the grill, but due to time constraints and limited funds it ends up being hot dogs and hamburgers. But it was still worth doing, and a nice time was had by all.

With this in mind, I'd like to discuss an increasingly large problem in our culture: the delay of marriage by young people. Many today are in their thirties by the time they marry. There are many reasons for this that are beyond the young adults themselves, but the bottom line is that delayed marriage is not indicative of a healthy culture. Marriage and family are the foundation of a healthy culture, and the lack of this anchor causes many to drift into unhealthy and counterproductive attitudes and behaviors. This "delay of game" brings penalties, both personal and societal, that cause us to "lose yardage" and make victory less likely.

Marrying and raising children within a family is demonstrably better for men and women than remaining single. Those in traditional marriages are on average healthier, happier, more affluent, and mature more quickly. It is also better for the culture when young people get married. Getting married and having children help men and women to become more responsible, more mature, and to make better decisions that are less wasteful and selfish. It helps them to think of others, and to learn to settle down into more stable, frugal, generous lives. All of this is good for culture and society.

A recent article by Dennis Prager in National Review speaks to the flawed thinking that has given rise to the delay of marriage. He does not deny, nor do I, that young adults today face many personal and cultural obstacles. But he also thinks that the obstacles are often overstated, and that it is time for all of us to work more at facilitating earlier marriages by encouraging young adults to be more intent on this goal.

I have presented Prager's remarks in bold, black italics; my remarks are in plain, red text.

The statement "I'm not ready to get married" ... said by more and more Americans between the ages of 21 and 40 (and some who are older than that) ... usually qualifies as both meaningless and untrue. ... So, here's a truth that young Americans need to hear: Most people become "ready to get married" when they get married. Throughout history most people got married at a much younger age than people today. They were hardly "ready." They got married because society and/or their religion expected them to. And then, once married, they tended to rise to the occasion.

Here is the opening salvo: it is always be possible to be more ready to do something. But the trap is that when you can always be more ready, you're never quite ready enough.

For me, there is nothing like a deadline to help me accomplish a task. But the expectation in our culture today that young people should marry is so weak that few sense any urgency or "deadline" until they are well into their thirties. And it's usually more the women than the men feel it. The biological starts to loom large for a woman when she hits her mid-thirties, but for a man it doesn't. Thus there is little to no expectation that binds men and women equally to set about the task of looking for a spouse and getting married.

At one time we thought it was the most natural thing in the world for men and women to want to marry each other; apparently that is no longer the case.

A promiscuous culture has taken away one very central lure of marriage: approved access to sexual intimacy. Further, there is the notion that a marriage is supposed to be a perfect union and that the ideal mate must be found. Add to this the ordinary fear that getting married has always provoked.

I remember as a boy being up on the high diving board at the local pool. Standing up there on my own looking down at the water so far below caused me to freeze up. A few things "unfroze" me: someone coming up the ladder behind me, my friends down below encouraging me, and everyone else expecting me to go ahead and make the dive and chiding me for my delay. I felt unprepared, but off the board I went. I "got ready" by just doing it.

... at least two bad things happen the longer you wait to get "ready" to be married. One is that, if you are a woman, the number of quality single men declines. ... as Susan Patton, a Princeton graduate, wrote ... "Find a husband on campus before you graduate ... You will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you."

In a big pool there are lots of fish; in a smaller pool, fewer fish.

The other bad thing that happens when people wait until they are "ready" to get married is that they often end up waiting longer and longer. After a certain point, being single becomes the norm and the thought of marrying becomes less, not more, appealing. So over time you can actually become less "ready" to get married.

Yes, we are very invested in the familiar, even if it has hardships. Further, it gets harder to change as we age. Those who are older are less willing and able to adjust to the changes that marriage brings.

And one more thing: If you're 25 and not ready ... [saying] "I'm not ready to get married" means "I'm not ready to stop being preoccupied with myself," or, to put it as directly as possible, "I'm not ready to grow up."

You may think Prager unkind here. And perhaps he generalizes a bit too much. But let's admit that we live in a narcissistic culture, one in which most people take a long time to grow up and some never do.

I would argue that our whole culture is fixated on teenage issues. We are titillated by and immature about sex; we demand rights but refuse responsibility; we rebel against authority; we act like "know-it-alls"; we are forever crying about how unfair things are and how mean some people can be. This is teenage stuff, but our culture seems stuck in this mode.

Having been brought up on a steady diet of this sort, young adults (understandably) are going to have a harder time breaking free of narcissism and immaturity. But recognizing the problems is a first step toward getting better and getting ready.

People didn't marry in the past only because they fell in love. And people can fall in love and don't marry--as happens frequently today. People married because it was a primary societal value. People understood that it was better for society and for the vast majority of its members that as many individuals as possible commit to someone and take care of that person.

I would only add here that in the past people married in order to survive. They had children to survive. There was no Social Security and no retirement plans. Your children were your Social Security.

I do not argue for a dismantling of the whole Social Security system or of retirement plans, but I do argue that they have had unintended effects: the government has increasingly taken on a role that families once filled. People used to take care of those in their family, and this respected the principle of subsidiarity. Today, this has responsibility has been shifted to an impersonal government body. The "welfare system" (personal and corporate) has created an unhealthy dependence on government. This has the dual effect of reducing the perceived need for family ties and interfering with them when they do exist.

The argument [is invalid] that the older people are when they marry, the less likely they are to divorce. ... The latest data are that those who marry in their early thirties are more likely to divorce than those who marry in their late twenties.

People may be more mature in their thirties but they are also more settled in their ways and more accustomed to the single life.

And then there is the economic argument. Many single men, for example, say they are not ready to get married because they don't have the income ... In fact, marriage may be the best way to increase one's income. Men's income rises after marriage. They have less time to waste, and someone to help support--two spurs to hard work and ambition, not to mention that most employers prefer men who are married. And can't two people live on less money than they would need if they lived each on his or her own, paying for two apartments?

Frankly there is just more to work for when one is married. And combined resources, financial and otherwise, lead to a more "diversified portfolio."

In addition to economic benefits, the vast majority of human beings do better when they have someone to come home to, someone to care for, and someone to care for them. And, no matter how much feminists and other progressives deny it, children do best when raised by a married couple.

This is just plain common sense.

Throughout history, and in every society, people married not when they were "ready" to marry but when they reached marriageable age and were expected to assume adult responsibilities.

Yep! And we err by not insisting on these things. People at every stage of life need a little pressure to encourage them to make beneficial moves.

The "greatest generation," which lived through the depression and fought in WWII, did indeed make enormous sacrifices. But it would seem that they failed to pass on to their children the notion of duty and sacrifice. The baby boom generation thus ended up self-absorbed and under-disciplined. They threw a miserable revolution in the late 1960s. The tsunami-like devastation wrought by this revolution afflicts us to this day and has a lot to do with the demise of marriage, family, and (healthy) disciplined sexuality in the culture.

Finally, this [situation] reflects another negative trend in society--that of people being guided by feelings rather than by standards or obligations. In life, behavior shapes feelings. Act happy, you'll become happy. Act like you're single, you'll remain single. Act like you're ready for marriage, you'll become ready for marriage. Do it, in other words. Then you'll be "ready."

Yes, other things being equal, this is true. Now please, don't treat this as an absolute and consequently reject it. Understand that it is a general principle. There are times when other factors are involved; the correlation is not 100%. But I know (as I think you do) that when I do right and I do good, I "feel" better.

Finally, a disclaimer: I have written a lot on this blog about issues related to the delay of marriage, to the vocation, and so forth. And whenever I do, I find that some readers take articles like this one very personally and get offended. This piece is a commentary on cultural trends, not on your personal life. There are always going to be specific, individual factors that affect the outcome in a particular situation; those cannot reasonably be included in wide-ranging column addressed to thousands. If you are in your thirties and unmarried, there may be good reason for that. But this article is not about you; it is about an overall trend that is not healthy for a culture. Young adults today are not wholly to blame for marrying later in life. The adults in their lives, and institutions like schools and the Church, also bear some responsibility. These negative effects flowed from what we have done and what we have failed to do, individually and collectively. This is about all of us. I pray that this disclaimer will avoid the posting of angry and bitter responses in the comments section that bespeak readers who take personally what is not meant personally.
 

Seven-Minute Marriage Solution

By Dr. Tim Clinton

The Most Important Things to Stop in Your Marriage:

1) Focusing on Your Own Interests - so many people get married and never move into the "we" dimension of relationship. Being a couple costs your selfishness.

2) Maintaining Unrealistic Expectations - we will always want something to "fix" us. For most, the treatment of choice is for God to take anything away that we don't want in our lives. Similarly, people choose the treatment of marriage to fix what is going on in their soul. You cannot believe that your spouse will meet all of your needs - no one is capable of doing this for you but God.

3) Trying to Change Your Spouse - nagging and criticism has never changed anyone. A person cannot change their background, their heritage, or what they've been through. Everyone enters marriage with some type of emotional baggage. When you accept your spouse and focus on what is good and positive about him/her, your spouse will feel free to change.

4) Being Angry and Resentful - these emotions are used to control another. If your spouse is angry, look at your own behavior to see if there's anything you're doing to provoke his/her anger. Take time to connect with God and His truths - which are opposite of anger and bitterness.

5) Stop focusing on things of the past. You must not let the past control your present life. Allow forgiveness and grace to bring healing into your marriage.

The Most Important Things to Start in Your Marriage:

1) Take a minimum of seven minutes each day to look together at God's work in your lives.

2) Spend time in God's Word. (Research shows that if you engage in Scripture at least four days each week, it will change your choices, your relationship with your spouse, and lowers the risk for infidelity by 60%.)

3) Have Fun and Romance Each Other - be spontaneous. Go on dates. Make time for one another. Look for the fun and the laughter.

4) Spend Money Responsibly - arguments in marriage occur most often over money. Consider developing a budget. Think about your purchases. Don't simply react to your compulsion to spend.

5) Express Grace and Forgiveness - regardless of what you've been through together, you should daily express grace, forgiveness, and affirmation to one another. Avoid criticism. Acknowledge the good in your spouse.

Applicable quotes to inspire your marriage:

• "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." - Fredrich Nietzche

• "Outside of infidelity, disrespect is the most destructive behavior in any marriage." - Steve Arterburn

• "Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave." - Martin Luther

• "Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny thread which sew people together throughout the years." - Simone Signoret

• "Problems aren't really the issue in marriage; it's what you do with those problems that makes all the difference." - Tim Clinton

Related Bible Verses:

"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." - Proverbs 18:22

"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 5:33

"What therefore God has joined together let no man separate." - Mark 10:9

"And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." - Ecclesiastes 4:12

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." - Ephesians 4:32

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." - John 10:10

"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." - Galatians 6:9

From Dr. Tim Clinton's show Life, Love & Family - He speaks with Stephen Arterburn about the things to stop and start in order to have an enjoyable marriage.

About Stephen Arterburn:

Stephen Arterburn is an award-winning author with over 8 million books in print, including the bestsellers Every Man's Battle and Healing Is a Choice. He has also been editor of 10 Bible projects, including the Life Recovery Bible. Steve founded New Life Treatment Centers in 1988 and is currently host of the radio and television show "New Life Live." In 1996 he started the most successful traveling conference, Women of Faith – attended by over 4 million women.

About Tim Clinton, Ed. D., LPC, LMFT

Tim Clinton, Ed. D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly,

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