From the Pastor’s Desk
Marriage Session 3
In a marriage counseling session, the main purpose is intervention, AND then help for the couple to take the first steps towards proper reconciliation. To a great extent we say, “Here is the ‘WAY’ walk ye in it!” In this strained setting, the circumstances are not usually proper for any type of in-depth Bible study. We are trying to do a salvage operation, and then head them in the right direction. I want, to some extent, to do the same thing in these classes. Some are at the point where intervention is needed. However, I want to do more than just intervene. I would like to show you the “why” some of these thing happen, and the “what” to do to help others. More marriage counseling is given by friend to friend, than takes place in all the counselor’s offices combined. That’s good and that’s bad.
IT IS GOOD in that it is the way it should be. There can be far more help given in this manner than can be given from the professional counseling approach.
Titus 2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-- 4 that they (older women) admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
IT IS BAD in that there has been more damage caused to marriages as women, in particular, give advice to one another concerning marriage. That’s not because men know more about marriage than women. It is that women talk about marriage and marriage problems more than men. When men get together they grunt a few words about the NFL. If the subject of marriage comes up with men, someone is sure to change the subject to the Chicago Bulls, and someone else will say lets go shoot some hoops, or something.
Most people do not have the slightest idea what is proper advice, and what is advice that will damage the relationship. So for the most part, when friends gives marriage advice to friends, they are, at best, simply pooling their ignorance. At the worst, they are giving the death-knell to that marriage. The latter happens far too often, and especially among Christian women. Somehow we seem to think that if we pray about it, or quote a verse of scripture along with our advice, it somehow makes it Biblical advice.
Some time ago, I heard of a couple of ladies who got together to share their marriage woes. One lady gave advice to the other as to how to fix her marriage. One problem... the one giving the advice had just threatened her husband with a divorce. Please! Give me a break! That doesn’t sound like real solid Biblical counseling, unless you count bad experience as a counseling plus. If you don’t have solid Biblical evidence for your marriage advice.., it’s best to stuff a rag or dirty sock in mouth. You see, the one taking the advice and the one giving the advice will have to answer to God at the judgment for every idle word. Your advice may be the last nail in the coffin of that marriage! Plus, you will be responsible for children left in the wake of such stupidity. It is far better to say, “I don’t have the vaguest idea what you should do”, than to give some non-Biblical advice that just may be accepted, only to cause even more damage.
For these and other reasons, I would like to, along with the marriage sessions, give enough background, and instruction so you can be equipped to properly give some help to those in need. In this manner you will also have information as to why and how marriage works. As a pastor, I should not be taking the time to do marriage counseling. I should be giving myself to prayer, Bible study and Bible teaching. It was never God’s intention to have “professional counselor” in every strip mall. There has been such a breakdown in the home that Biblical training concerning relationships is no longer passed from mother to daughter, from father to son and friend to friend. Therefore, if there were no “pastoral counselors” or “professional counselors”, our society would come unraveled. It is close to that point now.
For most of this session, I want to move back into the counseling mode with an interjection of training from time to time.
“All weddings are happy; it’s the living together afterwards that causes all these problems.”
“Puppy love leads to a dog’s life later.”
“After all if it weren’t for marriage, husbands and wives would have to fight with strangers.”
“Marriage is like a cafeteria.... You take what looks good to you now and pay for it later.”
“ Marriage is a give and take arrangement. You give and he/she takes.”
“Marriage is an adventure.... like going to war!”
These little “jabs”, clothed in humor, are so numerous that we could fill page after page with them, BUT a great deal of truth is revealed in this humor. Too often, these little “tidbits” express, if not the true feeling of many, at least the confusion that lurks in the hearts and minds of most married couples. The prevalence of this fact is clearly demonstrated in the too common saying: “Don’t wreck a perfectly good relationship by getting married.”
1 out of 2 marriages end in divorce -- Many divorces take place by or before 18 months of marriage -- The average length of a teen marriage is 4 years -- By the year 2000 (which is not far away), it is estimated that 50% - 75% of all children will be raised in a single parent home -- AND the list of these grotesque stats could go on and on. Many, if not most, of those who remain married are living a lie. They only have an empty shell.., a hideous mockery of the real thing. Most are so disenchanted or indifferent that they do little to change the situation. The few who would like to make a difference, do not know where to turn for assistance, because Parents, Schools, Movies, Friends, Churches, Etc. give either the wrong signal or no signal at all. The poor example is set by the parents, and is followed by the children from generation to generation deteriorating as it goes.
Weddings should be for adults.., AND marriage... REAL marriage is ONLY for adults. Sad to say, the term “adult” has come to mean almost anything but adult. Adult = Fully developed, fully mature; One who has arrived at full development in size, strength, intellectual capacity and maturity. Today the term “adult” is associated more with being SELFISH than with growing up.
Selfish = Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; Seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or well-being without the regard of others. You can check your “selfish level” in any situation by pausing mentally for a moment, and asking yourself: Do these actions consider the needs of the other, and do they benefit the well being of the other? OR Do these actions only benefit me at the expense of the other?
Nowhere is selfishness more evident than with Christians who are not engaged in a Biblical marriage. “IF IT FEELS GOOD, DO IT.” This is the “logo” of today’s Christian. A good place to take a test of your “selfish or selfless level” is in every day situations. Church is a very good laboratory for the “selfish level” test: (1) Are you most generally first in line for food (or very close to first) (2) Do you watch, or stand and talk while other move tables, chairs, do dishes, etc. (3) How does what you say and the way you say it effect others (4) Are you on time to meetings or do you steal time from others by being late (5) Do you always have to be “right” in the conversations (6) Do you cause distraction by talking, running around, etc. (7) The list could on and on, but you are old enough and mature enough to finish the list
(8) While your at it, add the Rules of Engagement given in the last lesson.
To be adult to some means: “To be able to do what you want, when you want, in the way you want WITHOUT accountability to anyone else. That concept defies the reality of anything adult. This attitude is an indication of a life out of the control of God and His Word. To the modern adult, accountability stops at the end of one’s own nose.., AND the measure by which a person is accountable is their own pleasure, and that accountability is only to themselves.
It is difficult to tell the difference between the average adult’s attitude and the attitude of tyrannical child. Both are self focused and both are focused on self. If marriage is to work..., there is NO room for such a childish --- no such a satanic philosophy and immature demonstrations. For there to be any Biblical development in marriage, both spouses must be able to at least consider the other as important as themselves, and be protective of the feelings and integrity of the other. The typical marriage counseling session reveals this immature attitude like no other place. The couple sits down in the counseling office, and one spouse tears away at the other’s reputation revealing things that need not be revealed just to “punish” the other spouse. One spouse tries to make the other look bad in the eyes of the counselor, and the list goes on and on. These actions are not tolerated in my sessions.
Whether a person approaches these sessions from the vantage point of enrichment of their marriage, or the preparation for marriage, or rebuilding the marriage they must be ready to answer at least two questions.... AND there will be many, many more question to answer, down the line: (1) What is worth living for? (2) What is worth dying for? You will find it much easier to die for some things than to live with and for those same things.
Outside of God, the most important word in the marriage relationship is “Commitment”... This is one of the dirtiest words in the human language for many Christians. The next most important word is “Responsibility”. The understanding of “Responsibility” usually must come before true “Commitment” can be given. If you are still looking towards marriage, check your “responsibility level”, and that of the one you are interested in. Let me suggest 2 checks for your responsibility level, AND I’m sure you can think of a lot more. By the way these are good for everyone, not just those looking towards marriage. (1) Do you or the one you are interested in look to see what needs to be done, and see how you can help? OR Do you wait to be ask to help, and then try to get out of it, or just give a half hearted effort? (2) If there is an assignment, do you or the one you are interested in follow through and get it done? OR Does someone have to keep after you to get it done? These things will not in some magical way change when the “I Dos” are said.
Oh yes! There is commitment in the marriage, all right.... Commitment to the T.V.; Commitment to Sports; Commitment to self.... etc. Selfishness, which has its roots in the Fall of Adam in the Garden, has in this day and age been elevated to the status of being both necessary, AND the best of all commitments. In the business world, in entertainment, sports, etc., it is what is best for me, what I want, etc. Someone said, and I don’t know who it was, but he/she said a mouth full. Commitment to others is blocked by commitment to self. Commitment to principle is blocked by commitment to pragmatism (“Whatever works is good”). Commitment to eternal values is blocked by commitment to the temporal world. These are not the areas of commitment that will make a marriage work. We will look at the commitment that is needed to make your marriage move beyond this present fizzle stage.
Some view marriage as only “Social Security”. Now that I am married I have someone to talk to, someone to sit with me at meetings (you know my personal mascot), and I don’t have to run all over the place dating or trying to date, etc. Plus, now I can have sex whenever I want it. If “Social Security” was your motive in marriage or even one of your motives, you will find that this “Social Security” SOON becomes a burden and millstone around you neck. This is true even in the area of sex. We have a very popular philosophy today that “sex is simply an activity, not unlike bowling”. It is not seen as gift of God given to enhance the marriage union, and aid in the process of the two becoming one. When we view sex from this satanic perspective, sex looses its spiritual quality, and soon becomes boredom, lust or even “wander lust”.
Someone wrote, and again I don’t know who:
Sexual sanctity can easily be soiled outside of marriage. It can also be shopworn within marriage. The true nature and purpose of the sexual union can just as seriously be mismanaged inside of marriage as outside. Simply to keep sex for marriage is not sufficient to make it immune from tragedy and betrayal.
Sex can be a sacrament or a sacrilege right within the marriage relation. It can be a hallowed thing or a hollow thing, a blessing or a burden.
It is either a physical act from which there emerges a spiritual value, or it is a physical act and no more. Either it brings a deep sense of mutuality and oneness in love and trust, or it stands alone as a symbol of the ease with which two persons can exploit a pleasurable experience for purely selfish ends.
It exalts and dignifies human personality, or it degrades the sacred worth of personality. It is a fine line that separates between the sexual expression of love and the sexual expression of contempt.
Lust is not ever far from love in human experience. Only Christian marriage fully guarantees the redemption of sexual expression from the realm of lust. --- Unknown
We will look at the role of sex in the marriage in a later lesson.
A successful Biblical marriage takes time and a lot of work. Marriage is not a romantic experience, although there should be much romance. Marriage is the commitment of two, husband and wife, to the working-out of life together. In a real marriage, the fascination with all those romantic expectations will give way to the realities of real life. Like the declaration of the husband one day when he came home from work, “Honey, I got a raise! Now we can finally pay last year’s taxes!”
Mankind is NOT just a higher form of an animal. Genesis 1:24 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so. Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (soul). When God created animals they were called “living creatures”. When God created man he was called a “living being”. The same expression and same Hebrew word.., BUT what a difference!!! God breathed into the nostrils the “breath of life”, and man became a living soul, created in the image of God.
Because mankind has a physical body similar, yet vastly different to that of animals, we can learn much about the physical from the animal kingdom. Any similarities and needs of animals and mankind stop with the physical. Even the needs of the physical are vastly different, and only slightly similar in some areas. Because we are physical beings it is easy and very natural to allow our physical needs to control our actions and attitudes. When we do this, we “shut off” the very essence that makes mankind mankind and not just another critter. As a human, we have physical needs. Yet, there are needs that must be supplied which are far outside of the physical. If these needs are not supplied properly, every aspect of our life will be out of whack, including our physical. Our behavior, attitudes and even our wants will be unfulfilling, perverting.., AND will lead or drive us to find a way to supply these needs from some source. If we do not supply these needs in God’s way, from the spiritual, that leaves only two other sources from which to draw, physical and demonic. The more we try to take care of these needs through the physical, the less they are cared for.., AND the greater the desire becomes to find fulfillment. This cycle can become so intense that we lose all form of reality, and become unstable in every aspect of life.
More often than not, our attention is turned to the most intense relationship known to mankind for the supply of our needs -- Our marriage. We have been told that marriage will bring great fulfillment, and we expect it to deliver as advertised. However, if these basic needs of our human life are not met properly, as an individual, there is no way a marriage or any other relationship can bring fulfillment. Instead, marriage or any other personal relationship will only complicate and intensify our need and unfulfillment.
If we do not have the basic needs of humanity met within our lives personally.., we have nothing to offer or contribute to a marriage relationship beyond the physical. We instead make marriage a one-sided supply line, through which we expect our spouse to meet our needs (which is impossible). We become a “leach” who is constantly draining the very life from our marriage in a desperate effort to fulfill the needs in our own life that should be fulfilled through our personal relationship with Christ. So the relationship that we should be contributing to and enhancing, we am destroying in an effort to meet some selfish needs.
Deuteronomy 8:3 "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
The “bread” has reference to more that just the two outside parts of a sandwich. “Bread” has reference to anything and everything physical. Notice, God did not say we did not need the physical. He said we could not live by the physical ONLY. If we are to know that “real living” intended by God, we must ALSO feed and literally live by every word that comes from God. Let me jump ahead a little in our teaching. Our daily living relationship with Christ is dependent on Words or Expressions..., those of God. The marriage relationship is to be patterned after our relationship with Christ. The marriage relationship will stand or fall according to the couple’s quality of expression (Don’t forget the “Rules of Engagement” that we looked at in the last lesson). (1) Each spouse must be personally fed and satisfied from God through His Word by the Holy Spirit (2) We must feed our marriage relationship by our words.
Jude 1:10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.
Corrupt = (Greek) To destroy by means of corrupting, and so bringing into worse state primarily through the effect of poor or bad association. This corruption is primarily within the mind or soul.
People “put-down” what they do not know or understand. In our study, what they don’t know is the spiritual aspect of marriage and the sexual relationship. Yet, their life and relationship is based on what they do know of the physical that is “like” the brute beasts. In this physical knowledge and practice they destroy their mental and soulish ability to respond spiritually in many areas of marriage and the sexual relationship. This comes because of the close and only association with the physical (or of “bread alone” Deu 3:8). God did not design mankind to live by the physical (“bread”) alone, BUT instead by a proper blending of the physical and truths of God. Without the truths or Word of God, mankind cannot live in the spiritual realm, nor can the physical realm ever be completely fulfilled.
If there is no proper blending of the physical and the Word or truths of God in marriage and especially within the sexual relationship.., the process of corruption starts. Within the heart and soul, the marriage relationship fades or corrupts FROM a hollowed thing with great excitement TO a hollow thing that is more of a burden than a blessing. Love in the relationship is replaced with contempt. Boredom sets in, and the mind and soul begins to “wander” to other physical creatures or things in the hope of finding that fulfillment which the marriage is not delivering.
I Timothy 6:5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Notice the parallels with our passage in Jude 1:10. “Corrupt minds destitute of the truth”.., sounds very much like the Greek definition of corrupt. These in I Tim were living by the physical, and only reaching out to godliness for their own personal gain. So many think that they can bargain with God to solve their marriage problems. They say in effect, “God I’ll go to church or give money, or something. THEN God, You need to do Your thing and make me happy in my marriage.” WRONG!!!! We are to live by every word of God, NOT use it as a bargaining chip.
Each spouse is to personally live in godliness, and each is to find within that living total contentment in God and godliness. When we are in that state of “godliness”, and are content with what we have in Christ, THEN we will know great gain in every other aspect of our living.., that includes marriage. The human life can ONLY find fulfillment and satisfaction in and through Christ. Once we know that contentment, THEN anything else we have is extra blessing. When we are living in this godly contentment, things, people, relationships become the icing on the cake.
If we try to “draw” our satisfaction form any physical source, we will only know frustration, because “man cannot live by bread (or the physical) alone. When we try to force our marriage relationship to provide us with contentment, fulfillment, etc., (which it is incapable of doing), we are left empty, and the degeneration process of our marriage starts, BECAUSE that relationship is being abused and misused. Our personal relationship to Christ is the most important component in any aspect of living, and especially in a Biblical marriage. So BEFORE you become concerned with whether or not your spouse is contributing their fair share to your marriage, make a personal check of your relationship with Christ.
Psalms 49:20 Man who is in honor, yet does not understand, Is like the beasts that perish. Honor = (Hebrew) Value; Dignity. Understand = (Hebrew) To separate mentally. Mankind is of great honor! We are the highest of all creatures. Man was made in the image and likeness of God. You can’t get much greater value than that. Certainly the dignity bestowed on mankind by being “like God” could not be higher. Yet, when we do not separate these facts mentally and live as though we are without that honor and dignity, and only better than the beasts because of some quirk of nature, THEN we are like the beast that perish. With that mind set, we will naturally turn ONLY to the physical to find our satisfaction and fulfillment. My friend, it ain’t there!!
To have a GOOD marriage simply requires common courtesy of caring for and protecting the other person
To have a REAL GOOD marriage simply requires common courtesy under the control of the Holy Spirit
That is exactly what it says in that great passage on the marriage and other relationships. We will look at this passage later, BUT unless you are planning to live by “every Word of God”, this passage will do you little good.
Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
© Clyde White
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