Iniquity has been accepted by our culture and one of the ways that is demonstrated is through the way certain concepts are now spoken of. So we start to hear and read about “his husband” and “her wife”, and as those terms start to get used regularly we can tend to get used to them and accept. But, wait-on everybody; this is an outrage! Marriage is between a man and a woman. So you can’t have “his husband” and “her wife”. Fellow believers in the Lord we need to be continually outraged about these developments and never accept them as the “norm”.
Another way in which the pollution of our culture is exhibited is in referring to a so-called trans-gendered man as a woman. We start to accept these things. James is now Julie and “he” is a “she”. But wait-on he is still a biological “he” no matter how much tampering has gone on with the genitalia.
Oh what a time we live in. And there is much pressure upon us to conform. Amidst these pressures there are no doubt many intricacies. But I feel, as much as lies within us, we should not bow to the prevailing culture, but rather should seek to honour the Lord by refusing to adopt these new ways of speaking.
There is much written about what the phrase “faithful to his wife” (Titus 1:6b, 1 Tim. 3:2b) means in reference to the qualifications for an elder. It seems to me that a lot of the observations about the statement get bogged down in technicalities and intricacies and miss the sense of the text.
A key fact in understanding the text is to realise that what is being referred to is someone who qualified to be an elder of a church. It is someone who has a steady and reliable character.
Following on from our awareness of context is the awareness of how the text can legitimately be rendered. “One woman man” is very much within the bounds of legitimacy and fits the context very well.
The characteristic we are looking then is part of the photo-fit which defines someone suitable for eldership. That man is to be devoted to one woman. He only has eyes for his wife (although if could reasonably referred to fiance or girlfriend). A flirtatious man reveals a man to be unsteady and unreliable and that would be unbecoming of an elder. Such a man is not fit for eldership.
So we need men who are utterly devoted to their wives. They find all their delight for fellowship, companionship, support and sexual fulfillment in this one woman. This woman has no doubt that all his affection is upon her. How men need to cultivate this so that their eyes (and hearts) do not wander. And of course we need to pray.
It is a beautiful thing to see a man devoted to his wife after 40/50/60 years of marriage. That has to be cultivated; it does not just happen.
When the first human relationship is consummated in Genesis 2 the proper order for sexual relations is established. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh is what the Word of the Lord says in Genesis 2:24.
There is the leaving of the father and mother to be united with his wife and then there is the creating of the one flesh union. First, there is there is the event which leads to the marriage being established. Then there is the coming together of their bodies to cement the one flesh union. To have sex without the forming of the marriage is against this order.
Does it matter? Yes it most certainly does. Entering into the one flesh union without the marriage destroys the order. It is God’s design that a man and a woman first give themselves to each other, then they give their bodies to each other. Disturbing this order is always detrimental to the welfare of the couple.
An issue arose recently. I had pondered upon how to respond to this matter and reached a conclusion which I thought was reasonable. I then mentioned the matter to May Lin who went on to suggest an alternative way forward. This led me to re-consider my approach.
Sometime later I found myself musing upon what might be the outcome of the approach that had been adopted. If it all turned out badly then I had it in mind that I would tell May Lin that it was her fault for suggesting the alternative strategy.
Whereupon, I thought that is an outrageous approach. “You, Philip have to take responsibility for the decision. Are you some kind of wimp or something? You have the benefit of drawing upon the wisdom of your wife, but it is you who has to decide whether or not to accept what your wife says. It is you who made the decision.”
Which all takes me back to the garden of Eden. What did Adam do when challenged about how he had failed to lead in the ways of godliness. The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ (Gen.3:12). He blames his wife for causing the problem. And, to boot, he blames God for giving him such a wife.
So where does all this leaves us. It reminds me that I have to take responsibility and lead my wife. She is my best counselor with lots of wisdom. However, if I decide to accept her wisdom then I have to know that was my call. It is me who as the husband has to take responsibility for the decisions reached in the marriage.
(Originally published at Venabling on 29th July 2013)
There is an interesting article here about the implications for marriage of sons being controlled by their mothers.
It is pertinent to observe how the Bible describes the institution of marriage. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Gen. 2:24). The key player, in many ways, in the establishing of a marriage is the man. He is the one who leaves in order to set up a new home. He leaves his father and mother and is now joined to his wife in a one flesh relationship.
It may be sometimes that the man does not physically leave his parents, although that must be advisable because to stay has many negative implicit complications. However, he must emotionally leave his parents and he must step away from the control of his parents. He is now starting up another household. So he leaves the household of his parents. If the son allows himself to remain under the control of his parents then the newly constituted marriage is in grave danger.
I have observed it, particularly in Indian marriages, in fact. The husband does not graduate from parental control to establishing his independence in a new family structure. He remains in thrall to the views, advice and control of the mother. And who suffers? It is the wife who suffers. Rather than living with a self-sacrificing husband who loves her with selfless devotion; she has a husband whose behaviour is determined by the vicissitudes of her mother-in-law.
Who do I blame for this scenario? Well the mother must take responsibility for her selfish trapping of her son. But it is the son I would see as most culpable. He needs to face up to his responsibilities and stand-up to his mother. He has to be big enough and brave enough to make the break.
So as regards to marriage here are three words of counsel:
- To Mothers. Beware of your attitude and actions towards your son. You must allow him to set up a new home. You can advise, but not control
- To Sons. Be aware that you are in a godly sense breaking away from your parents to establish a new home. Make sure you do that.
- To Prospective Wives. Ask yourself whether you believe the man you are thinking of marrying has the strength of character to make the break. If not; I would say be very wary of marrying him.
(Originally published at Venabling on 20th February 2014)
Many husbands see it as the main responsibility in marriage to get their wife to submit to them. The relevant scripture says this:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Eph. 5:21-27)
What do we learn here?
- Relationships between husbands and wives derive their character from v21 which says: submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. In fact v21 is the controlling verse for the ensuing relationships as described in Eph 6:1-9 between parents and children and masters and slaves.
- In marriage there should be this attitude of mutual submission. The husband willingly gives up his rights for the benefit of the wife and vice versa.
- The wife displays this attitude through her submitting to her own husband.
- The husband displays his willingness to give up all for his wife by loving her as Christ loved the church. This is love in its fullness. Our Lord’s love meant that he gave up his life for the church. That is the call to the husband.
- The call upon the husband is not then to get His wife to subject herself to himself. The call of the husband is to give himself for his wife.
- Never does the Word say that the husband’s duty is to get his wife to submit to him. Many men seem to think that this is their “cause” in life. They aspire to a state where their wife is in complete submission to them and view that as their great goal.
- What husbands should be doing rather is striving, with all the enabling of their LORD, to love their wives sacrificially desiring the good for her in every way.
- The more that a husband advances in love then the more he will see his wife responding delightedly to submit to him
- This does not take away from the fact that there are times when husband and wife have to speak about how they relate to one another. This will mean, that for good and proper order, there are times when the husband will ask his wife about her responding to him in submission. This is particularly necessary in bringing up children for example. The children need to know how the relationships function in the home.
So we conclude that the focus of the husband’s role is to love his wife. Surely we men have got enough to ponder upon in seeking to achieve that. Oh LORD please be my helper to be a loving husband.
(Originally published at Venabling on 26th February 2014)
I know this is a delicate subject, but it does seem to me that Christians are so often on the defensive about sex. The attitude conveyed from the world, via the media, is to pity Christians for their attitude towards sex. The world thinks that we are such poor people and miss out on so much. They think because we restrict sex to marriage that we are to be pitied. After all, according to the way of the world, you can enjoy sex with whoever and whenever you want, as long as it is not too licentiously outrageous. But those poor Christians – they can only enjoy sex in marriage. What poor creatures they are.
And so it was great to see this presentation by Tim Keller.
The fact is that it is those who engage in sexual practice outside marriage who are the ones who lose out. Marriage provides the appropriate secure framework in which a man and a woman can wholesomely give their bodies to one another without reserve. The marriage covenant engenders trust. And it is this trust which makes sex so special.
Without the marriage bond, the trust is missing to a greater or lesser extent so sex so easily becomes a selfish pursuit. Instead of solidifying their relationship, those involved in sex outside marriage are engaged in selfishly indulging their sexual drives. This is not a fulfilling arrangement. It is frustrating. This is why the world with all their propaganda towards “if it feels good do it” is propagating a destructive lie. How many lives are destroyed by this propaganda? Sex becomes totally warped. Men view women as sex objects. Women think that the best they get, is to acquiesce in a man’s lustful adventure.
But in marriage there is a beautiful symbiosis. As the marriage grows, so sex becomes that much more fulfilling. And as the fulfillment advances, so does the depth of the relationship in marriage. It is a beautiful virtuous circle. I know it is not always like that, but sex within marriage offers a completeness that fornication and adultery can never offer. In the end, the sexual libertines offer so much, but deliver so little.
Moreover, so many are harmed by their pre-marriage sexual indulgence so that they are scarred for the rest of their lives. Accordingly, the fulfillment of sex in marriage is diminished because they have been ravaged by their pre-marital sexual exploits. God graciously can cleanse and heal in this realm, but the damage can be oh too real.
So two things to close:
- If you are unmarried and facing the heat of peer pressure and worldly propaganda, then do not succumb. God’s way is the best without question. Save yourself for your husband / wife and you will nor regret it
- Let us not be cowed by the pressure all around for so-called “sexual freedom.” It is not freedom at all. It is a lie. Let us be willing to declare how sex is best God’s way.
(Originally published at Venabling on 12th December 2013).