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

Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

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.

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)

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