Marriage is more than an agreement. It is a covenant that involves God and reflects the covenant we make with Him at baptism. How do we honor that covenant and make it work and our marriage prosper? What are our roles as husband and wife that build a right and successful marriage relationship?
These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.
Marriage is a union between two people. It is often attacked and put off as much as possible. It is sometimes feared. Yet, within marriage, we find some of the greatest potential for human fulfillment. The greatest is from the relationship with God, but this is next. Does everyone have a happy marriage? Does everyone have a good relationship with God? Sometimes marriages aren’t good. Why? I want to read about why. We don’t often think about reading this about marriage. But half of this chapter is devoted to marriage. Malachi 2:15, 14 Vs. 15 – There is a way that a relationship can sour and go bad: When one deals with treacherousness. That means treason. Vs. 14 – This is what makes it bad; when you deal treacherously with you mate. Why divorce? Statistics show that most marriages will end in divorce. Why is yours any different? Of all the people in a survey, on 5% had a truly happy marriage. That is staggering. There are two things that threaten marriage: 1. Satan. Marriage portrays something good. When that happens, Satan likes to get his mitts in there to mess it up. 2. Our human nature. It is full of self-seeking. Those two things work together to break down a special covenant made a marriage. Satan and human nature can mess with the engine. Marriage and relationships with God can be hampered by Satan and human nature. Yet they hold the greatest potential for happiness in life.
Proverbs 5:18, 15-17 Vs. 18 – Our marriage can be seen in these terms. This references vs. 15. Vs. 17 – Otherwise, treason occurs. We deal treacherously with our spouse if we find water from other cisterns. We are encouraged to drink only from within our marriage covenant. Vs. 18 – It is to be a joyous relationship, not only when you are young, but throughout light. Vs. 19 – This might be the easy verse to follow. “Always be enraptured” – a dreamy type of phase. A mental delirium. That is what we are supposed to be. Not just the first year – the honeymoon. Or the first five years. But we are to be enraptured with her love. Not just when we are young. It is said that if you took all the marriage scriptures and flipped them for the wives, the Bible would be twice as long. This applies to the wives as well. She should also have this mental delirium toward her husband. So why should I stand here before this mixed audience and say it has such potential? Simple, God created us this way. He made us half, each. When we are joined with somebody else, those two create a whole.
Genesis 2:21-24 Vs. 22 – Have you ever thought about why God needed the rib? He could have created woman right from the dust of the ground, like Adam. But He didn’t. He took Eve from Adam. Vs. 24 – We were created in a way to support another person. It is not required that we are married, but that is where we have our maximum potential. God gives instructions about how to have a happy marriage – the ultimate type of marriage. I want to consider some biblical principles about how to have a happy marriage – a bullet proof marriage. God wants marriages to last. He hates it when they fail. To begin, let’s review scriptures that support that marriage is a covenant. It is not an agreement. An agreement is something that mutually benefits both parties. One might enter an agreement to use the resources of the other. When they use them up, they move on. But marriage is a life-long covenant. God holds us to that covenant unless certain situations arise. Malachi 2:14 Marriage is a covenant, not only with the other person, but with God. It is important because it is similar to another type of covenant. Something greater. Ephesians 5:31 Vs. 31 – At baptism, we make a covenant with God. We promise to strive to overcome our sins. Vs. 31 is a repeat of what we read in Genesis 2. It is interesting that God doesn’t say we are to become two or three or four fleshes. Those that practiced polygamy throughout the Bible always paid a high price for it. Vs. 32 – Here is the other side. Our marriages are a reflection of something else. Those that are married have entered a covenant. Those that are baptized have entered a covenant.
Revelation 19:7 Vs. 7 – Here we catch a glimpse of something we will celebrate Thursday (Trumpets). Here we see the fulfillment of actual marriage to Jesus Christ. Jesus will marry those that are faithful. Again, it is “wife”, singular. Even if we are not married, it is important for us to understand what marriage is, and why God puts such importance on it. If we are currently married to another God-centered person, we have the opportunity to fulfill this. This weekend, we have a marriage here. Two people what to make a covenant before God. In my counseling with them, I found myself reflecting on my own wedding day. It was a busy time. It was crunch time. It was a crazy couple of weeks. I showed up in this odd outfit that was rented. It was stiff. Our wedding was supposed to be outside, but it rained all morning. A church had an indoor ballroom. We had about the right number of seats. At the right time, I was allowed to go into the ladies’ dressing room and see the most beautiful woman. I don’t think the room was any bigger than this, but it seemed huge. There was RaeAnn. She was gorgeous. I was thinking, “Can I kiss her now?” (Laughter.) I was up there, and everyone was looking at me. Finally, a lady in white appeared at the back. I was trying to make sure I was standing in the right place. Am I allowed to scratch my ear? It was a beautiful ceremony. I just wanted to get to the kissing part. There was the ring.
Finally, we got to the kissing part. Then, we were off to the airport. We took cabs. We got to the hotel in the early AM hours. We sat on the beach and wondered what we agreed to. Neither of us could remember much besides, “I do” and “can I kiss her now.” We had just entered a covenant, and it seemed we didn’t hear it, even though we were there. Maybe your wedding was like that. A whirlwind of a day, and you don’t remember what you agreed to do. I want to read the ceremony. I faithfully promise and covenant with God to take this woman to be my lawful wedded life. To love her, to honor her, to cherish her and to provide for her. I faithfully promise and covenant with God to take this man to love him and honor him and as God has ordained to submit myself to him.
[Editor’s note: I think this is more accurate text than I was able to type during services; it was published in the July 2003 United News, in the Treasure Digest column: Actually, there are several more excerpts from the ceremony there. You can read them all at: http://www.ucg.org/un/un0307/treasuredigest.htm#5.
Do you then [his first name], faithfully promise and covenant with God, in the presence of these witnesses, to take [her full name] to be your lawful wedded wife—in sickness and in health, in good times and in difficult times, for as long as you both shall live—to love her, cherish her, honor her and provide for her? [Groom answers.] And do you, [her first name], faithfully promise and covenant with God, in the presence of these witnesses, to take [his full name] to be your lawful wedded husband—in sickness and in health, in good times and in difficult times, for as long as you both shall live—to love him, cherish him, honor him and, as God has ordained, submit yourself to him? [Bride answers.] ] We make these vows, and then soon forget them. We don’t post them next to our door and read the ten covenants we made with our wife. This covenant is not just in effect when we remember it. That is the same as our covenant with God. That covenant at baptism is in full effect throughout life. So it is with our covenant at marriage. It is required regardless of its convenience. We are not to be Christians with random outbursts of loyalty. Meaning, “I’ll obey God when it is convenient.” Likewise, our marriages shouldn’t consist of random outbursts of love. That is not a formula for successful marriage. How do we honor that covenant? John 17 talks about how God and Jesus Christ are one. Not only are they one, they want us to be one as well. They want us to be one with them as well. In a physical marriage, oneness is vital. In Genesis 2, it says man must leave his parents. Marriage is not a family venture. The man is to cleave or join to his wife.
The Hebrew word for cleave means to cling to or keep close. H1692 דּבק dâbaq daw-bak' A primitive root; properly to impinge, that is, cling or adhere; figuratively to catch by pursuit: - abide, fast, cleave (fast together), follow close (hard, after), be joined (together), keep (fast), overtake, pursue hard, stick, take. BDB Definition: 1) to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick to, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to cling, cleave to 1a2) to stay with 1b) (Pual) to be joined together 1c) (Hiphil) 1c1) to cause to cleave to 1c2) to pursue closely 1c3) to overtake 1d) (Hophal) to be made to cleave Part of Speech: verb Modern Hebrew defines it as “to stick to”. It uses the analogy to glue. Think of some extremely pungent type of glue. You could get your fingers stuck together for life. That is the kind of relationship we are to have. We should be glued together so you can’t separate those two items. That is the kind of marriage we should have. When we cleave to our spouse, we are unified in mind, will, deed, purpose, and goals. We join mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually with that person. We make lifelong commitments to that person. That glue also pertains to that covenant we make with God. We should cleave to Him so we can’t be separated regardless of the situation. This is not the phileos kind of love; this is godly agape love. That is the only place this oneness can come from. Marriages that practice agape love can really take off. But it is only possible by having the love of God in us.
Ephesians 5:22-25 Vs. 23 – Here we see a little insight into what God’s expectations are for the structure of that marriage. The husband is the savior of the wife. He must do all he can do to save that wife from harm. Just as Christ is the head of the Church and the savior of it. Vs. 25 – This is godly love. This is not I’ll rub your back if you rub my feet. This is the ultimate love where Christ gave his life for those that follow Him. Love your enemy is something Christ said. Hopefully, we are not married to our enemy. Regardless of that, we should love our spouse. Give to them. If they want your jacket, give them the whole top half too. Here, be warm. Bring this kind of love to the marriage. Vs. 25 – Christ died for our sins. Something He didn’t do, but He took on the penalty. He paid that price for her. As a physical nation, Israel didn’t appreciate what blessing could come from that. Humanity today is still rejecting God. The opposite is true. It is important that the wife show agape love back to the husband. Ephesians 5:28-31 Vs. 30 – We are to love our neighbor as much as we love ourself. Our spouse should be at the top of that list. Sometimes we ignore our spouse or belittle them. That is not what we find here in Ephesians. Vs. 31 – We are to leave our old selfish relationship of me, myself, and I behind and glue ourselves to that individual. Love is a choice. It is not automatic. Ask, will I love or will I be self focused? Will I be unconditional? Or will I evaluate my needs up against what I’m about to receive? Love is not an emotion. This is where most marriage problems come from. I’m not getting enough; tell her to give me more. Before the marriage, there are so many things to do. But after the marriage, reality sets in. The alarm clocks goes off. There are business trips to take. There are bills to pay. There is night school. Then there are the kids. All of a sudden, there is no more “me.” There is no more time for “me”. Paul describes agape love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 On the way from Salina, RaeAnn and I were talking about showing agape love. 1 Corinthians 13 is what we will be doing. Vs. 4 – Yes, love has a lot of suffering. It last a long time in many cases. But through the suffering, it is kind. There are some aspects of this oneness principle that can be annoying. Things that bother you about the person you sleep next to at night. The proper agape response is kindness. The socks on the floor. The dirty dishes on the counter right over the dishwasher. Why do they behave that way? Why can’t they do it like this? The proper agape response is kindness. Despite the things that creep up, the response is kindness. The carnal response is change; do it now and do if fast. The godly response is kindness. Love doesn’t envy. If I could remake you, I would take some of the muscles off this guy and the eyes off that one. Agape love doesn’t envy. It doesn’t seek to take body parts off different women and say this is what I want my wife to look like or act like. Vs. 5 – Love isn’t offended. Jesus Christ wasn’t offended. They tried, but they couldn’t offend Him. We get offended, but that is not the example of Jesus Christ. Vs. 8 – This is what a happy marriage needs: The type of love that never fails. With agape love at the controls, we have everything we need to have a happy marriage. Love is the most important component. Godly love is the key. It takes determination.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 In marriage, we have to resolve to persevere when evil is done. Or when it is said to you by the other person. What typically happens is that you repay evil or evil. Most marriage problems are people problems. Think of a neighbor. They TP my house; I’ll TP theirs. But what if your neighbor is the one you sleep with? You shouldn’t repay evil with evil. We are to return good. That is the godly principle. That is what we need to strive to implement in our marriages. Instead of evil for evil, return good. Remember the two obstacles to a happy marriage: Satan and our nature. Neither likes to return good. Colossians 3:18 Vs. 18 – Here we see how the leadership model fits in the family. Leadership is in this type of structure. Serving one another. It is structured perfectly by design from God. If we can’t lead our own family and marriage, how can we lead others? The short answer is, we can’t. If we can’t lead our own marriage, when Christ returns, how can we lead? We can’t. If we can’t show agape love to our mate and kids, what does that say for us? Without love, the husband can’t lead the wife. Without love, the wife can’t help the kids. But with love, everyone feels secure. It makes it much easier for everyone to accept the leadership. The husband’s role is to look out for the good of the family. It is never for any sort of personal benefit. A husband is under authority. They must submit to someone. Mr. Armstrong summarized the entire Christian duty as submission to authority. God has rules and laws; we are expected to obey them. We have to comply, or God waves goodbye, and we are counted as goats.
1 Corinthians 11:3 Vs. 3 – It is not that we guys are in a special category. Every man is under Christ. There is authority up and down in this chain. Being the leader doesn’t mean you make all the rules. That would be foolish. God made the woman to be his helper; she brings a lot of wisdom and insight. A man must wisely include his wife. Remember Genesis 2; we were made half. If we ignore the wife, we are making half-brained decisions. But when decisions must be made, God says the man has the authority. 1 Peter 3:7 Vs. 7 – “Dwell” means “to reside together”. “Understanding” is Greek meaning a difference in needs. G4924 συνοικέω sunoikeō soon-oy-key'-o From G4862 and G3611; to reside together (as a family): - dwell together.
Thayer Definition: 1) to dwell together 1a) of the domestic association 1b) of intercourse of a husband and wife Part of Speech: verb G1108 γνῶσις gnōsis gno'-sis From G1097; knowing (the act), that is, (by implication) knowledge: - knowledge, science. Thayer Definition: 1) knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding 1a) the general knowledge of Christian religion 1b) the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced 1c) especially of things lawful and unlawful for Christians 1d) moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living Part of Speech: noun feminine Husbands and wives are physically different; emotionally different. It is what brings the attraction to the relationship. Opposites attract. But those differences bring in the frustrations. The oddities. Men don’t appreciate what the woman does for the family. In many cases, she outworks the man during the day. Men toss that out and say, I do all the important stuff. You take care of the dusting and the groceries and that second job. But I do the important stuff. Peter is talking about vessels that carry food and water. Some are more valuable. The man is like the cast iron pot. Stuff you aren’t so careful with. He is the water pitcher with nice heavy sides. The woman is more like the china on the shelf. The more precious stuff. If it breaks, the whole world stops. What Peter is not saying is the wife is the lesser. Our potential in the kingdom is the same. He is not trying to dictate strength. It is difficult to honor something that is physically weaker. The man is to honor the wife as he would a fine piece of art or a fine piece of china. We need to give honor to that most worthy co-host of our house. You can gauge you marriage by the comments you make to your spouse. Positive comments indicate a strong relationship. Criticism indicates a poor relationship.
A study in US News and World Report found that the more people argued, the more often they divorced. Those that stayed together verbalized 95% positive comments. Those that didn’t were only 90% positive. That is a fine line. Disagreements happen. But when they do happen, go back to the Bible to find out how to show humility and harmony and work through this. We realize we can’t get offended. We need to think highly of that other person. We can’t change that person. We can’t say we’ve been married for years, and I’m still working on changing him. He will wear down. Philippians 2:4 We must be careful of saying, now that I’m married, I’m going to do this. This is what I’ve always wanted to do; I’m going to go do it. This applies to successful marriages. If we look out only for our own interests, pretty soon, we are going in different directions. We meet for dinner and that is about it. The key is to develop your life together. It should not be just the man with his toys and her with her hobbies and never the two mix. It is more like you both have the boat. You go together and have fun. You develop and strengthen that relationship. If you do different things, you will find yourself as far apart as the shores of the sea. A reporter wanted to sail around the world. You take the boat out to be sure you are ready and you know how to run the GPS. He was ready to take the trip. He sailed around the world. He learned about himself. He was asked about the trip. He said it was great. But the downside was that he came home and found his wife married to someone else. We have to set aside the things we want to do in order to be with this person. Personally, I’ll never sky-dive. If I did, I would be sleeping with the dog. But I will go camping. We will do it together. The key is that we need to develop our life together, with our spouse, not going in opposite directions.
Luke 6:37-38 Vs. 37 – These are things that are easy for humans to do. It is easy to pick on the habit that gets under our skin. But in doing so, we have a rotten marriage. Vs. 38 – But, to have a happy marriage, give. Regardless of what comes back, give. Give and give and give. What is given back to us is not just a little bit. It will be good measure. Where you press down and get as much as you can take. If you want a happy marriage, practice agape love and give. Give and it will come back in heaps and bounds. In conclusion, a happy marriage is absolutely possible. So is an unhappy marriage. Which will you choose? Our marriages are symbolic of a future marriage between us and Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:7 Our destiny is that have a marital relationship with Christ. We have the opportunity to practice a lot of the same principles. Are you ready to say, “I do” the relationship here? When Christ returns, which we will celebrate on Trumpets, are we ready to commit to that relationship? By our marriage, we reveal how committed we are to this covenant. Regardless of our physical marital status, we are engaged to the Messiah. He is expecting a beautiful marriage. Have fun practicing God’s perfect marriage formula.