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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

MARRIAGE - TO BE OR NOT TO BE

I sat in a courtroom with a friend recently and sadly watched as the judge granted her a divorce. God has said in Malachi 2:16 "I hate divorce"….seems pretty clear, however, like many other things that must be abhorrent to Him….disease, pain, poverty, dishonesty, etc., divorce is a part of this imperfect world we live in.

Most of us marry to be 'happy'. What if God meant marriage to make us 'holy' rather than happy? 'Holy' does not mean 'perfect' but rather 'set apart' for God's purpose and intended use. God never makes a mistake and even though we may think in terms of 'why did I marry him/her', God knows why. He uses everything in our life to mold us into the unique person He wants us to be…..He is the potter; we are the clay – Romans 9.

While living in Raleigh, NC, I was privileged to have Anne Graham Lotz (Billy Graham's daughter) as a teaching leader in Bible Study Fellowship. One January day she came to our home for the monthly sharing time. One of the young women (we were all young!) said she felt ungrateful. God had blessed her with a wonderful husband who provided well for the family, loved her, and was a good father. Their three children were healthy, happy 'good kids'. They lived in a nice home, had many good friends….BUT, she wasn't happy. "Well," Anne said, "that's not too surprising; this is what has happened as the result of 'the fall of man." We became separated from God, nothing will ever satisfy us, happiness will never be complete on earth. God's words, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you"…Genesis 3:16. We suffer because we live in a fallen world.

We read in Revelation 13:8 that "the Lamb (meaning Jesus) that was slain from the creation of the world". From the creation of the world! This is long before Eve ate the apple. God created us and knew if given the opportunity, we would live life 'my way', and that is just what Adam and Eve did, they tested God....no, no, never a good idea! There was no reason to have slain Christ from the creation of the world if there were even a remote chance that we humans could stand up to Satan's lies. The 'fall' was part of God's perfect plan. It was His intention to glorify His Son as the Messiah, the Redeemer who was sent to save the lost. If we hadn't gotten lost, we wouldn't have needed a Savior! This is an interesting verse in this context….

Galatians 2:21 "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing".

In other words….we were not able to be righteous by 'being good', or being 'religious' or following the law. If we could have, Jesus would not have needed to pay the penalty for our sin and been crucified on the cross. He would have died for nothing….how sad is that?

So, what does this have to do with marriage?

We have certain expectations when we marry. We are often disappointed. That person wasn't who we thought he/she was. We don't always agree on important issues, we must compromise so we'll both be satisfied. The problem is, neither of you are completely satisfied. One or the other feels they are giving the most; your love affair begins to unravel.

In Genesis 2:24 God tells Adam and Eve that He will join them together and they will become "one flesh". How come we don't always feel like 'one flesh'? The Lord has given us some instructions in the form of exhortations. 'Exhortations are commands of God, impossible for us to perform, but given so we know what to ask God for'…..St. Augustine said this. We're not left alone to figure it all out, God is there to direct us….He is faithful to His promises.

Many women, Christian or not, don't like the idea of 'submitting' to their husbands. After all, we are equals! I believe the Scripture paints a picture of equality. We need to remember that Jesus is portrayed as the 'Bridegroom' and we, the believers, as the 'Bride'. I find this to be an interesting analogy, don't you? The Bridegroom -the One, who loves us, protects us, shelters us, provides for us,is 'head' of the family and takes responsibility for His bride. Think about that, then picture a bride, dependent on the one who loves her, protects her, shelters her, takes responsibility for her…..and will give his life for her!

Ephesians 5: 22 – 33 describes a marital relationship as well as the relationship between Christ and the Church, the body of believers. We believers are to submit to Christ and we wives are told to submit to our husbands. IMPOSSIBLE we women say! But look at what the Lord tells the husband, "love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…" (set apart – special). This passage goes on to say, "He who loves his wife loves himself."

Now I've got to ask, if your husband loves you as much as Christ loves the believers and died for them……wouldn't it be easy to submit? Yes, I think so! It's interesting to me that husbands are told to LOVE their wives, and wives are told to RESPECT their husbands. When a man senses respect from his wife, he steps up to the plate and performs like a man. When a wife experiences this kind of 'godly' love, the natural result is a deep respect. Wouldn't you call that equality? You give love, you get respect. You respect, you get love. If one or the other fails to do this, a breakdown of the relationship is sure to come.

A person who is happy within themself, not dependent on another human or 'things' for their happiness, will have a happy, content marriage. When two people look for the other person to provide what they need, they will be disappointed. We can't change someone else – their habits, personality,or inability to give and receive love, but with God's help (this is key), you can change how you deal with what disturbs your peace.

The Apostle Paul wrote extensively to the Corinthians about marriage. They were a group of new believers who had questions….'now that we've accepted Christ as our Savior, how should we live?' They were asking for some guidelines to live by. In the midst of all the instructions and suggestions Paul gives in I Cor., chapter 7, he reminds them…."God has called us to live in peace". This is huge! Where do we get peace? Ephesians 2:14 tells us Jesus is our peace! It won't come from the perfect marriage, wonderful children, a great job, money, or possessions; peace comes from God alone! In I Cor. 7:28 Paul takes note that, 'those who marry will face many troubles in this life'. Many of us have noticed! Paul is simply giving some advice based on his observations of life – this isn't theology.

So what is the answer? We can see that God all through history has allowed divorce. Therefore it must be a part of His plan, since no man can thwart His will…Daniel 4:35He also plans for us to be made whole only through Him….Philippians 4:19, 'God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus'. It is God, not our mate who will meet our expectations. Let me say it another way that may ring the bell of familiarity, Psalm 23:1 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want'.

Thank you Lord that you alone are our peace, and will meet all our needs. Help make this truth 'real' to us so we can stop searching elsewhere.