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

Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Marriage

Marriage is an institution ordained of God. Accordingly we, as Christians, should be careful to make sure that we provide our full support both for the institution of marriage itself and also individual marriages. We remember in this how the LORD Himself was happy to attend the wedding at Canaan (see John 2:1-11) during the course of His ministry thus sealing His approval to marriage.

What is Marriage?

The pattern is set right back at the beginning of mankind when Adam has a woman brought to him by God and they are joined together as one flesh in the marriage bond; husband and wife together (Gen. 1:18-25). How they come together is not important; it can be a love marriage or an arranged marriage. But it is one man and one woman. Homosexual marriages and polygamous marriages are thereby outlawed by God.

Both parties enter into a covenant together and they must do so willingly. This pattern is seen in how Rebekah was consulted by Laban and Bethuel before they committed her to a marriage with Isaac (Gen. 24:58). Forced marriages are thereby not true marriages.

The way a marriage is legally sealed obviously varies from culture to culture, but for a relationship to be conceived of as a marriage; it must satisfy the law of the land wherever it is undertaken.

How Long Should A Marriage Last.

Till death us do part” is a familiar line in the marriage service; it is also the declared purpose of God. Paul in Romans 7:2-3 affirms this. This is God’s ideal. Accordingly if a Christian marries they should always enter such with the determination that, with the Lord’s help, the marriage will be unto death or the coming of the LORD.

However, we all should know that we live in a sinful world where we fail. The scriptures have regard to this. In fact our LORD gives something of the balance in Matt. 19: 1-10. The thrust here is that we should not allow marriage breakdown to be accepted as the norm, but we have to accept there are times when marriages breakdown. Paul in 1 Cor. 7:10-16 similarly gives teaching in this direction.

When marriages are breaking down all attempts should be made toward restoration. However, we have to accept that there are times when a marriage is finished, according to a proper biblical evaluation. Nevertheless marriage breakdowns should always be a source of grief. And, amidst the inevitable heartache and concern over wrongs done and sins committed, we must always remember that for those who repent there is forgiveness with the LORD.

How Can Marriages Be Made To Work?

It is quaintly, but truly, said that the couple who pray together stay together. This reminds us that the biblical injunction is for a Christian to marry another Christian (see 2 Cor.6:14-18). If our spouse will not pray with us then that takes away from the strength of the marriage.

Men and women are different though, and they bring different things to the relationship. Put simply the man will determine whether or not the marital home is orderly and the woman will determine the atmosphere of the home. So you can have “warm chaos” or “well-ordered fridge”. However, what you should have is “warm orderliness”.

The man is called to loving leadership; not as a tyrant, but as a protector of his wife. The woman is called to submission; not through gritted teeth, but out of respect for her husband (see Eph.5). These concepts are at variance with the world in which we live. However they stand as the statutes of the LORD and we put ourselves in peril if we go against them.

Let us then support marriages. If we are married we should pray for the strengthening of our own marriage. And we should all be praying that married couples should be prospered in their relationship. Remember Satan walks around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He wants to devour marriages; let us resist him!

(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Newsletter of November 2004)

Parents Together.

Children can be very demanding. Knowing that God has given you these precious gifts necessitates that you give your lives for their benefit. However, in all of this giving for the welfare of children, which is right and proper, a couple need to remember to nourish their own relationship. In fact if they start to drift apart and not be together then they will not be able to serve and benefit their children as they should.

So parents need to make sure they keep their relationship strong, fresh, vital and joyous as they move through the demanding task of bringing up children. How do they do this?

Time Together. It is vital that they spend time together. This might mean going to a quiet place in the home, if such a place can be found. More likely it means going for a walk together or “a coffee” at the local coffee shop. Taking a night or two away on your own might mean you have to take time to arrange things for the children to be cared for, but is well worth doing to give you time and space together.

One practical thing to think of is to make sure you have a lock on your bedroom door. This will give you opportunity for that quiet place. It will also mean that your times of intimacy are not threatened by one of the children barging in. A locked door means you can relax together and be for each other. An unlocked door means you are always on edge.

Encouragement. A mother can often feel she is of little use and is not being productive as she relentlessly goes through the drudgerous routine of home life. Changing nappies and preparing meals can seem endless. Husbands can feel that the responsibility they have in leading their family is just too big. Given these scenarios each must take time to encourage and appreciate each other. Failure to do this can lead to a cycle of despair.

So make sure that you take time to encourage each other. Perhaps at the end of each day stop and think have I encouraged my wife/husband today? If not make sure you do so before you go to sleep.

Harry And Meghan Get Wed

So what did you think about it; the Royal Wedding last Saturday that is? So much has been written about the event, in particular the sermon by Michael Curry. Accordingly, I hesitatingly throw my little bit into the ring of information and opinion.

  • After all the fanfare and grand entrance we had to listen to a man who seemed less than excited about what was happening. Could they have put someone on who had some more interest and engagement in his presentation. By the way it is important who leads and how we lead our church services.
  • The wording he read was grand though. Talking about husband and wife and the fact of a man and woman coming together being at the heart of marriage. Good to hear. Mmmmmmmh where does that leave same-sex marriage? Finished and in the grave one would hope! But such is a vain aspiration I fear.
  • Great to hear a confession of our Trinitarian God.
  • At least Justin Welby was somewhat more lively.
  • And then there is Mr Curry. Vast amounts have been written. Two most helpful contributions would be by Stephen Kneale here and David Robertson here. Here are some of my thoughts upon:
    • The fact that he spoke with passion and warmth seems to have taken people aback. How can we have got into such a state that people expect to come to church and hear something delivered in a cold and detached manner. Surely it should be de rigeur that we preach with warmth and passion. Now passion and warmth are incarnated and therefore will vary from person to person, but they must be there.
    • He did say some better things than most in a similar position have done. He did speak warmly of Jesus Christ.
    • However, let us be clear; he did not preach the gospel. It is shocking that people in evangelical circles can be thinking the he “preached the gospel.” Do we really understand what the gospel is? See here for my previous thoughts on this.
    • I am drawn back to Dr Lloyd Jones great teaching in his book on the Sermon on the Mount about how false teachers are known not by what they say, but by what they do not say. And normally that means lots of love and little sin and judgement which is exactly what was there on Saturday.
  • I’m not sure what place a rendition of “Stand by Me” had in the context of a church service. More suitable for the reception I would have thought. But that is all part of wanting to have church to make me feel good rather than being challenged about the call of God on our lives.
  • Hence, returning to Mr Curry’s sermon, it is all part of creating a certain view of God which is bolstered by a selective use of the Bible. Then we are encouraged to work ourselves into/towards this version God that has been revealed to us. And we all go away happy because this nice convenient God is now happy with us.
  • Whereas the love of God is truly experienced when I submit in all brokenness before this mighty God and am totally dependent upon Him to raise me up and bring me to Himself. Now that is the love of God.
  • The airbrushing of Meghan Markel’s divorce was interesting as well. No mention of it at all. Now I know the Christian gospel is all about forgiveness and restoration. But vows have been taken by Ms Markel previously and have not been fulfilled. Our society seems to be very casual about keeping your word and honoring vows. It is a startling thing about the Old Testament that vows were viewed in the highest regard. For a society to be bound well together, honoring of commitments is vital. It was all as if nothing had happened.
  • And then there is the magnificent white wedding dress. Yes it was respectable and all that. But is not the white wedding gown supposed to be a declaration of virginity? Which leaves me wondering?!

Just some thoughts.

 

Bodily Contact.

Before marriage May Lin and myself covenanted that we would not allow certain parts of our bodies to be in contact. It is an absolute non-negotiable of Scripture that any sexual engagement is prohibited outside of marriage. However, wisdom would inform us that it is best to make sure that we do not provoke any unnecessary sexual stimulation.

So May Lin and myself determined that even in a fully clothed state certain erogenous parts of our bodies would not come into contact. This is something we have never regretted doing. There is something wrong if a couple “go-as-far” as they can without transgressing sexually before marriage.

The course that May Lin and myself chose, I believe:

  1. Meant that our relationship was built on a solid spiritual and companionship foundation before we engaged in the “icing” of the physical relationship.
  2. We had a built-in safety net which stopped us stirring up sexual energies that can soon lead to sin.
  3. Our sexual relationship has been the more special within marriage.

Pre-marriage Counselling.

I have heard it said that premarital counselling should be undertaken six months after a couple have been married!

The logic behind this suggestion focuses on the fact that couples before marriage so very often view themselves as stepping into an idyllic marriage, where all will be easy and their story will be “happy ever after”. Living with another sinner for six months is generally long enough to realise that it is not so easy after all. And thereby, they conclude, they might need some help after all.

Counselling prior to marriage is hindered by the fact that prior to marriage the couple are generally not listening to the wise advice being imparted by the counsellor(s). They sit there all gooey-eyed and love struck with each other dreaming of the day of marriage and somewhat bemused at suggestions of dangers ahead.

So what is the wise way ahead here?:

  • Before getting married listen and glean as much wisdom as possible. Be prepared for what is ahead. Have time with another godly couple. Do a course such as following the book “No Longer Two” by Brian and Barbara Edwards. Available here
  • When married make sure that you keep open to advice. Keep learning together about marriage; your marriage. Get others involved as necessary. And if you feel you are the only couple having problems in their marriage remember that, that is likely not true.

The Purpose Of Marriage.

Marriage is a God-given institution provided by Him for the benefit of humanity. In this post I want to consider more fully the purpose of marriage. From Genesis 2 I want to assert that there are two primary purposes of marriage.

Companionship.

In Genesis 2:18 we read The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Then after Adam had the living creatures brought to him and he had named them, we further read in Genesis 2:20b-22 that for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.  Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. As Adam scanned those living creatures he found he could have no fellowship with them; there was no deep companionship to found in interacting with them. Adam was lonely. Adam was then provided with Eve who was to be a companion for him. Marriages are then meant to be places of companionship where a man and a woman can share the full depths of their lives.

Serving God together.

As Adam was given someone to be with him, it is critical to observe the role that this person who was called to be his wife was to have. She was to be his helper. In Genesis 2:18, as we have already mentioned, we read that  The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’  If we go back earlier in the passage we notice that God had given Adam work to do. The command is stated like this : The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Gen. 2:15). Adam had been given responsibility to serve God in looking after the garden. Eve was given to him as one to help him in this task of serving God. She was his helper. At the very heart of marriage then, is the call of God for married couples to serve God together. That was what the intention was when the Lord gave Eve to Adam. The book “Married for God” by Christopher Ash wonderfully develops this idea (see here).

All married couples need to remember these two reasons for God giving marriage. Marriages are at their strongest and healthiest when husband and wife are serving God together as companion delighting in each others company and presence.

(Originally posted at Venabling on 15/12/2014)

Looking For a Husband?

If so, dare I say, look for a Psalm 23-like man. Yes! This is of course, the Lord who is on display. But if you are a woman with a heart for God you will be wanting a man who is modelled on your Lord. And if you are a man the greatest gift you can give to your wife is to be of a character likened to that of the Lord in Psalm 23. So as we think of that man he is to be:

  1. A Provider: He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters (v2). He will self-sacrifice so that his wife can have time with the Lord each day. He will make sure that they togther are receiving good teaching and enjoying good fellowship in a godly church.
  2. A Refresher: He refreshes my soul (v3a). He will not be a parasite, depriving his wife of spiritual energy. Rather through his desire to engage with the Lord, His Word, His Church and His Service he will be a refresher into the life and soul of his wife.
  3. A Guide: He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake (v3b). He will guide himself, his wife, his marriage and his family in right ways because he always wants to honour the Lord. So he will pray, study the Word and seek godly counsel over all decisions.
  4. Reliable: Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (v4a). He will be there with his wife in times of danger, struggle and darkness. He can be trusted not to desert her in her time of need.
  5. Thoughtful: Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. He knows what is best at all times for his wife. He knows his wife so he knows when to be gentle and when to be firm because he cares for her.
  6. Selfless: You prepare a table before me  in the presence of my enemies (v5a). He will be consistent in providing for his wife even when times are risky for them. He does not think of his own welfare before that of his wife. He wants her provided for.
  7. Blessing: You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows (v5b). He is determined that she will be blessed. He will do all in his power to make sure that she knows the favour of the Lord in her situation.

And such a wife will prosper and be content. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (v6). She will not have fear of the future with such a godly man at her helm.

And young man if you wnat a good godly wife, humble yourself before God now and start living so as to seek to be a Psalm 23-like man.

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