To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Sex Always Leads to a Mess?!

No it does not! But, it certainly does sometimes. What are the essential issues here?

In the Right Place.

Sex within marriage is a gift to be received from God with thanksgiving. It is something which, with due sensitivity by and for each party, should be engaged in and enjoyed. When sex is enjoyed within marriage then it is a beautiful constituent part of the marriage relationship. It gives added glue to the marriage. Moreover, through it, God can bring the blessing of children.

In The Wrong Place.

Sex outside marriage is like driving a car the wrong way down a motorway. You may seem to get-by sometimes, but generally it is a mess. And even when you have survived a few close scrapes it is known to be a less than ideal experience. Three scriptures struck me recently.

Firstly when Hagar was taken by Abram for sexual relations because Sarai could not have children we read the aftermath in Genesis 16:4b-6:

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.’ ‘Your slave is in your hands,’ Abram said. ‘Do with her whatever you think best.’ Then Sarai ill-treated Hagar; so she fled from her.

A household which was seemingly interacting quite harmoniously is now full of friction and disputes.

Secondly, in 2 Samuel 13 we read of how Amnon raped Tamar, his half sister. Again the outcome is unpleasant. We read: Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, ‘Get up and get out!’ ‘No!’ she said to him. ‘Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me’ (2 Sam. 13:15-16). Hatred has entered in conspicuous fashion consequent upon illicit sexual activity. As you read on in 2 Samuel 13 you find an angry father, David (v21) and a vengeful brother Absalom (V22).

Thirdly, in Genesis 34 we read of the brutal happenings which ultimately ensued as a result Shechem engaging sexually with Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. The Word says  it all started to go wrong when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her (Gen. 34:2).

 

So the lesson must be learned from Scripture and it is tangibly observed in our contemporary society that when sex is encouraged in in the wrong place, that is outside of marriage, then a mess results. The passages above all indicate how the mess is not just restricted to the couple involved, but effects many others as well. Let us be warned. But never forget, sex in the right place, that is in the marriage bond, is a gift to be received from God and engaged in for the glory of the Lord

 

Pollution Of Concepts.

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.

One Woman Man.

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.

 

Sex: The Proper Order.

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.

Husbands Take Responsibility.

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)

Sons and Mothers (and Wives).

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)

A Husband’s Resposibility.

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)

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