Is marriage obsolete? A survey from the Pew Research Institute reports that 40 percent, that's 4 out of 10 people in the United States, believe that the institution of marriage is obsolete. The report noted that 31 percent of married people thought matrimony was obsolete. I think it's safe to say that those couples aren't experiencing a happy relationship.
We live in a society where traditional marriage is being redefined as nearly half of all new marriages end in divorce; couples opt to live together without being married; or many simply drift from one relationship to another without a lifelong commitment. A major political and social controversy swirls around the marriage institution. Some people feel that the concept of marriage as a God-ordained union between a man and a woman is archaic.
Is there a way to understand the true meaning of marriage and save your marriage? Or "Is Marriage Soon Obsolete?"
[Gary] As a pastor, I've listened to many couples explain why they got married and why they are having marriage difficulties. The before marriage and after marriage explanations go something like this:
Before marriage: I was attracted to him because he was so fun to be with and always liked to dance and go to parties.
After marriage: Well we're having problems because he's never serious and all he wants to do is party.
Before marriage: I was attracted to her because she was so close to her family.
After marriage: We're having marriage problems because her family is constantly interfering with our relationship.
Before marriage: I was attracted to him because he was his own man and nobody could tell him what to do.
After marriage: We're having problems because he's always in trouble with his boss, can't hold down a job and he won't listen to anything I say.
And the sad comments heard from so many women: I married him because I thought I could change him.
We're going to talk with three couples about these challenges, and how they divorce-proofed their marriages. You'll want to hear about their experiences.
[Charla] We talk all the time about God and His ways and bump it up against what's going on in the world and how, I mean we've got to have that anchor.
[Michael] I think God is the biggest part of my marriage. I don't want like to sound self-righteous but, without God I would not even probably be married.
[Cindy] Prior to marriage we had already established what we believed and that divorce was never an option.
[Gary] You know no one gets married planning to divorce. Every couple believes that their relationship is different and destined to create a lifetime of happiness. But, it's not long after the wedding that a couple faces their first difficulties over money, family, friends, intimacy or personality issues.
Why do people get married in the first place?
The reasons of course are varied: need for security, sexual desire, pressure from friends and family, financial stability, the yearning to have children. But most people say that they marry for love. Everyone hopes that he or she can find the perfect soul mate to live life together fulfilling a deep need to feel loved.
Most marriages begin with enormous promise. The bridesmaids cry. Everybody enjoys the reception and all agree that the bride and groom, well they make such a beautiful couple. But in the end, many couples separate in failure, anger and bitterness. Because of this high rate of failure, more people are voicing skepticism over the traditional idea of marriage. The Pew Research Institute reports that in the United States barely half of adults over the age of 18 are married; as compared in 1960 to when 72 percent of adults were married. In the United Kingdom, only 48 percent—less than half of all adults are married.
Now, what these statistics show is a growing trend to either postpone marriage or avoid marriage altogether. Many young couples don't want to suffer the heartache they saw their parents endure because of divorce. The argument, we don't need a piece of paper to declare our love, becomes acceptable when marriage is so devalued. You know in some states a couple can divorce simply by filling out a form online.
The desire to have an intimate friendship committed to each other in a lifelong union, is a deep longing at the psychological core and emotional core of almost all of us.
So why do so many marriages fail? The list includes personality issues, lack of conflict resolution, finances, loss of sex appeal, communication problems, differences over friends and family, even matters of religion.
I mean let's face it, marriage is a complex relationship. Successful marriages take a lot of work. The institute of marriage should be more than an economical, legal, social agreement made by two people who are in an exaggerated state of physical attraction.
To build a healthy marriage, you must understand the intrinsic reasons for marriage. Now those reasons are given to us by the creator of marriage. Marriage is more than a legal or social arrangement. Marriage is a divine institution created by the Almighty God.
If you are confused over the definition of marriage, if you want to save your marriage, or if you're single and would like to experience a blessed marriage in the future, then you need to understand the divine reasons for marriage.
So let's begin by going to Genesis:1:27-28: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"
There are three important points in these verses.
First, human beings are made in the image of God and notice "male and female He created them." It's a sad commentary on our secular society that many academics keep arguing that the differences between male and female are only biological. Male and female also describes deep psychological differences created by God, both by the way in His image. Now we're going to explore these differences in detail just in a little bit.
The second point in those verses is: God blessed the male-female union and told them to multiply. One of the primary reasons God created marriage is to provide a nurturing environment in which to raise children.
And then the third point: God gave human beings dominion over the earth. We are the proprietors of the environment God has given to us. God-ordained marriage supplies a strength to society that helps combat poverty, crime and immorality. It helps support a safer environment for all the members of society.
You see if your marriage is based only on social norms, feelings of attraction, the need to feel loved, or for financial security, then your relationship has been built on shaky ground. Now we're going to talk with three couples who are building their marriages on the God-ordained reasons we read in Genesis, and see how applying these principles has affected their relationships.
[Cindy] Marriage is not just a covenant between us but it is a promise that we made to God.
[Gary] We will also explore how you can, by understanding these three intrinsic reasons for marriage, divorce-proof your relationship.
Now before we go there, today we're offering a special study guide to help you discover God's purpose and future for your marriage. It's titled: Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension . This simple guide will help you find the keys to building the happy and fulfilling relationship God actually wants for you.
You can read Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension online at BeyondToday.tv . Or request your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.
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We have been looking at the intrinsic reasons for marriage found in the Bible. In this segment we're going to share with you the stories of three couples who are working to apply the principles of these verses to their marriages.
So let's go back and reread Genesis:1:27-28:
"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"
Now there are three important points in these verses. The first being that human beings are made in the image of God—"male and female He created them." Male and female traits reveal different aspects of God's nature. Understanding and appreciating these differences is very important to creating a divorce-proof marriage.
Now we sat down with three couples from Ohio: Jerry and Charla from Columbus, Troy and Cindy from Loveland, and Michael and Libby from Cincinnati—who are divorce-proofing their marriages by appreciating the God-created differences between male and female:
[Cindy] We're two different people but the fact that I'm a female, I have different strengths than Troy does as a male. So, one thing that we've learned to do throughout our almost 12 years of marriage is to be able to pull from each other's strengths. Instead of trying to go it alone, we work together and together we make a complete unit because his strengths are my weakness and my strengths are his weakness. So we create a complete unit.
[Libby] I think women were created to teach men the softer side, to teach men how to be gentle, to be patient, to be kind. Because men, I don't think they're born with that.
[Charla] I tend to be more emotional and sensitive, whereas he's not—at times. But we've learned to appreciate those differences and we've learned to grow from that.
[Jerry] Her differences in the way she looks at things helps me become a better person and a better man and a better father.
[Gary] Many marriages end up with the couple competing with each other. The man has his own agenda and desires, the woman her own ideas and needs, and they just can't seem to find the Rosetta Stone that creates happiness. To understand the intrinsic reasons and value of marriage, the male-female differences need to be understood and embraced as created by God, not to cause competition, but to create a complimentary relationship.
When we return to Genesis we find that after God created the first man, named Adam, He said, "I will make a helper comparable to him" and then He created Eve (Genesis:2:18). Now, what does it mean for a woman to be a man's helper?
[Troy] Cindy is so capable. She's smart and got so many good ideas and things. She's not at all diminished by being a helper to me. It's in fact benefits both of us cause together our marriage is stronger, our parenting is stronger, our influence on society, everything is enhanced by the fact that we work together as a team
[Cindy] And we both bring different perspectives to the table so we can have the same vision going forward. And he has a certain aspect that he brings to it and I can bring the other, and fill it in.
[Charla] Our marriage is based upon God-ordained principles and that ultimately it is, he is the leader so… But I still feel equal in my ability to give my opinion and that he'll take it seriously and that we'll work together and come to a conclusion and resolve things together, but he's the lead.
[Cindy] With the man being set as the head of the family, you know he gives, he sets a certain tone or direction for where myself and the children and all of us together are headed. And I can fall in behind him and help reinforce that with the different strengths that I do bring to the relationship, and reinforce that so we're a complete unit to the kids and everything.
[Jerry] I hate to use an old cliché but she completes me. But it does when as a helper, I know I have certain responsibilities as the man of the house and as the father, and she has always been there as a support for me.
[Charla] I feel like I'm like the co-pilot. I'm his assistant and I feel very confident in his ability to lead. He will always ask me my opinion on issues, on child rearing or if we're traveling or whatever decisions, big decisions, where we're going to live things like that. We always confer with one another. So I assist him, you know we talk a lot. But I feel very confident in his ability and I don't have a problem with following him.
[Gary] In Genesis 2, we have the account of when God presented Eve to Adam. Adam's response to seeing Eve was, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." God gave further instructions by telling Adam,—now listen to this—"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis:2:23-24). We asked our couples, what does it mean to leave father and mother?
[Troy] When we first got married, we often came back into Cincinnati—we lived a couple hours away—and we often would see her parents and things almost every weekend. And it wasn't until they were transferred and they moved all the way across the country, that we actually began having a marriage where we were the marriage and we left our parents. And when we did that, we finally realized we hadn't really become, we hadn't really ever left mom and dad. And so once we did that, we really became, developed a marriage that stood on its own.
[Michael] One flesh to me means you are the same page, you have God maybe in your life. I think God is the One that actually makes you one flesh. I feel that God is that third party in your marriage see. And I think He's the one that actually causes you to become one, in spirit, in mind and attitudes. So, I feel that to be one flesh you definitely have to have God in your life, in your marriage.
[Cindy] I think that that scripture really has to do with the establishment of a new family and if you never really leave the family that you were a part of, you can't establish a new family. So once we, once we really did break those apron strings, I guess, cut the apron strings a little bit—because we certainly didn't break those ties. We're still very close with our families but we're an independent family now.
[Charla] We're our own unit now. We're our own family and being together almost 30 years, I have gone to my parents for advice but ultimately we're a unit. We're a family. And I feel very confident in that and feel very satisfied.
[Gary] God created biological and psychological differences between male and female so that we can complement each other as, as sort of two halves of a whole. This is why we long for a soul mate. Now, we'll talk more about the God-created differences between male and female and how these differences reveal the intrinsic reasons for marriage, but first let me tell you about our free magazine.
When you order your free copy of Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension, we will also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine. The Good News contains articles on how to have a better marriage, manage your finances, discovering God's purpose for humanity as revealed in the Bible, prophecy, and how to make sense of an increasingly confusing world.
Request your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or you can read The Good News online at BeyondToday.tv.
A moment ago we talked about the intrinsic reasons for marriage stated in Genesis:1:27-28 and shared comments made by three couples who are working to make these principles the foundation of their marriages.
Now we need to continue to explore how the institution of marriage is more than just a civil union. It is the most basic of all social relationships created by God. Well since this is true, then the starting point to building a lifelong, committed, happy marriage is... a lifelong, committed relationship to the creator of marriage.
We asked our married couples, knowing that marriage is a God-ordained relationship, how this has affected the way they treat each other—especially when conflicts arise.
[Jerry] You're going to have some disagreements but you always have to remember that God's in there with us, and we try to say okay you know what, let's take this to God. If it's gone too far, you know let's get on our knees and let's pray about it and let's talk about it and let's open up our hearts to Him and ask Him to guide us in this direction. So we just always felt that He's been there, and that you better refrain your mouth from saying certain things cause He's watching.
[Charla] Right. We don't ever want to take it to that next level where it becomes, where there's stress or drama. It's not worth it. I mean it really isn't. At the end of the day you look at what the issue is and it's like, is it really worth it that we become this upset? And it's not.
[Michael] I would say that no matter what we might have argued about, I felt like commitment is so important. And I think patience too, see. And I feel that, she's entitled to her opinion. I'm entitled to mine. Hopefully there's a meeting point though someplace. But never divorce; would never be an option.
[Libby] We were married in the 60s and my parents before me were... You know, it was like you get married and you stay married, no matter what.
[Gary] So we see the first intrinsic reason for marriage is: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
The second reason is found in the statement, "Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply..." God created marriage as the incubator for children to be raised and nurtured. God is adding to His family, and marriage and children add a vital understanding of the eternal family that God is creating.
According to America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011 published by the U.S. government's Forum for Child and Family Statistics, the number one indicator that a child will end up in poverty is by living in a single mother household.
God ordained marriage between a man and a woman to be the best way to help children prepare for a lifetime of proper moral decisions and happiness. So how does family life affect the way we relate to God? Our couples talked about this.
[Cindy] Having married Troy, he brought a completely different aspect of you know sort of the same path, we're headed in the same path, but he had a really different perspective on it. So, after getting married both of us then brought everything that we'd learned from our families as well together and we were able to decide, what's good about what you bring to the table and what your family thought and what is maybe a little amiss. And what did my family bring that we can help round this out. And I think that we've really been able to maximize the gifts that we were given coming into the marriage that our family's established.
[Gary] The third intrinsic reason for marriage mentioned in Genesis, is God's command to "fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Unfortunately, you and I were born in a world that has little to do with the Garden of Eden. It can feel like we have little dominion over the corrupt workplace or political wasteland, but we can have dominion over our own homes. We can build a marriage and a family where God's Kingdom reigns. Putting effort into building a God-ordained marriage will bring stability to your life even in the face of a confusing and increasingly unstable society.
Our couples comment on how marriage has brought stability to their lives.
[Jerry] Our work out in the world and you know sometimes days are rough. You may get yelled at or you may not do something right but I always know that when you come home at night, you know she's going to be there. She's going to listen to me. I'm going to listen to her. And we have that relationship and you know as we get older, in our relationship, we spend more and more time just talking. You know we'll sit on the couch and talk. And we go for long walks and we talk. And I tell you, I look forward to that.
[Michael] Yeah a house is like a cocoon. It's a place of safety. I think it's a small kingdom right there within your family and when you go out into the world, I won't say everything that's possible that happens to you but, when you come home, I think that's like a mini-kingdom.
[Charla] I know I don't have to worry. When I go to work, and I face a lot of different challenges there—issues, I know that at home, my life, I know that my husband's priorities are my priorities and I know that there's no drama at home.
[Gary] The three intrinsic reasons for marriage aren't: I think I can change him into a real man; she really turns me on; and we're so much in love I know we will never have a disagreement.
The reasons God ordained marriages are:
One, human beings are made in the image of God—"male and female He created them." Male and female describes deep psychological differences created by God so a couple can help and compliment each other in a lifelong commitment to a God-ordained marriage.
Secondly, God blessed the male-female union and told them to multiply. One of the primary reasons for marriage is to create a family. Core moral values are passed on from generation to generation through the family.
And thirdly, God gave human beings dominion over the earth. Marriage supplies a strength to society that helps combat poverty and crime. Living a God-ordained marriage will bring emotional stability to your family in spite of the confusion of everyday life.
Today we've been able to look at just two verses in Genesis to see that from the very beginning God ordained marriage to reveal the most basic social building block of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Now remember to get your free copy of the study guide, Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension . This study guide will help you discover the real foundation of a happy and fulfilling marriage. And when you order it, we'll also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine.
You can read both the Marriage and Family study guide and The Good News magazine online at BeyondToday.tv . Or request your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.
In addition, I really encourage you to visit our website. We are now producing daily video commentaries on breaking news and important topics. Join us throughout the week for BT Daily and get additional material to help you better understand life and hear commentary and analysis on news.
When we marry, we are participating in an institution created by God. We are committed to love each other in the good times and the difficult times. Made in the image of God, we commit to create an environment where children are nurtured and loved.
Marriage is worth saving. Marriage isn't obsolete. In fact, it's a gift from the creator of life.
Now we'll be right back with one final comment after this.
[Narrator] Two men ran through the streets of the city each trying to be the first to discover if it was so. They turned the last corner and arrived at the tomb. They both stopped. One leaned over and looked into the space and noticed a neatly folded pile of linen cloths. He was astounded and backed away not believing what he saw.
Jesus was not there. He had risen from the dead. All things had changed.
Christ came to earth with a central message of the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? Most have never heard or understood what Jesus actually taught on this subject. The United Church of God is hosting free seminars held simultaneously around the world.
[Steve] That Kingdom is coming to earth—that was the message of Jesus Christ. It's not a Kingdom that's off up there in heaven but it's a Kingdom that Christ is going to establish right here on this earth.
[Narrator] Go to KOGSeminars.org for details to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars—giving the message of hope for tomorrow, beginning today.
[Gary] Sign up to attend these Bible seminars today and join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. We also invite you to join us in constantly praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Gary Petty.