More indepth Christian teaching
I enjoy being married to you
Chapter one: God’s Blueprint for Marriage
Chapter two: The Biblical Blueprint for a Christian Home
Chapter three: God’s Order for the Family
Chapter four: The Role of the Husband
Chapter five: The Role of the Wife
Chapter six: Communication is the Key
Chapter seven: The Physical Relationship in Marriage
Chapter eight: Husband – Wife Time Alone
Chapter nine: Where Do We Go From Here?
Appendix: A Concordance on Marriage
There is no more critical step in our lives than marriage. Marriage is a giant step either into a life of deep fulfilment or desperate frustration. Sometime ago I had the privilege of taking part in a marriage seminar. I believe the seminar was a blessing to those who attended and I know my wife and I benefited greatly from that time together and are still growing in our relationship.
The title of this thesis came just as I was finishing writing it. My wife walked into the room where I was sitting and quite unexpectedly said, ‘I enjoy being married to you’. The comment really encouraged me and then I said that I would use that as the title of this thesis.
Since these notes were not initially planned with a view to printing, I have not been able to make adequate acknowledgements of all the sources to which I am indebted in one way or another.
My desire in these studies is to share with you some of the rich blessings that have come to my wife and I as we have grown in our marriage. We will be looking at ‘God’s blueprint for marriage,’ what a Christian home is. We will see what the role of the husband and wife is, and the need for communication in marriage. A good, healthy, practical relationship will lead to a good, healthy, sex relationship. The two combined together will result in a fulfilling marriage relationship, which will bring glory to God. At the end of these notes I have put a Bible concordance on marriage within the appendix and it is intended to be help for finding verses that will give guidance on different areas in the Christian marriage.
Success in marriage is much more than
finding the right person;
it is a matter of
being the right person
Today we are having some serious marital and family problems. There is more of an open acceptance of temporary marriages. Some people have said that in the foreseeable future there will be an apprenticeship period for people contemplating marriage after which there will be an option to either renew or cancel the marriage contract with foster parents ready to take over the children.
The family will only succeed when it reflects God’s original design. Even when we know the basic principles for family living there will be no effect until we let the Holy Spirit control our lives to give us the ability to put these truths into action.
But principles, even biblical principles, can be wooded or legalistic in themselves. It is only the Lord Jesus Christ Himself present in the home through the Holy Spirit who can give these truths the kind of life and flexibility that renews family relationships. We need to KNOW HIS PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE HIS PRESENCE in our homes and daily lives.
In these pages we want to look at marriage from the biblical point of view. We need to be prepared to re-examine some of our most basic habits and beliefs about family life. The highest love of God to man was shown in the sacrifice of Christ. Through that sacrifice the church came into existence. Between the Church and Christ there exists a bond of love more holy, more tender, and firm than any which ever existed between God and man. In Christianity, there is set before man and wife the task of representing on earth the image of this union between Christ and His Church. An image of self-sacrifice, devotion and fidelity. In ancient times marriage, at its best, had been a moral relationship. In Christian marriage we see something higher still – a mystery Ephesians 5:32.
The family belongs to God, He created it. He determined its inner structure. He appointed its purpose and goal. By divine permission a man and woman may co-operate with God’s purpose and become part of it, but the home they establish remains His. ‘Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it’ (Psalm 127:1). So it is not our marriage but His marriage, not our home but His home, not our children but His children, not our family but His family. For if he is Lord of our family it will influence everything from the way we talk to each other to the way we look after the home and spend our spare time.
The secret of a good family life is extremely simple: cultivate the family’s relationship with Jesus Christ. There is no phase of the family life left outside this relationship, there is no problem a family might face which does not find its solution within the scope of this objective.
So then let us together look at the biblical principles for marriage and seek to have them affect our lives daily. This is an adventure of becoming sensitive to the presence of Jesus Christ in our home, learning the practical ways in which we may intensify our awareness of His ways and His will for our family. It is only as we practice His presence that our homes become what He wants. Yet knowing God’s blueprint helps to create an atmosphere where we are able to practice His presence. The Holy Spirit then is able to do His work of teaching and leading us into the kind of family for which God created us.
Acknowledgement is gratefully made to many people who have spoken and corresponded with me over the past several years on the subject of the Christian family. I also gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to the many publishers and/or authors for quotations from their works.
makes of two fractional lives
it gives to two purposeless lives
a work, and doubles the strength
of each to perform it;
it gives to two
a reason for living,
and something to live for;
it will give a new gladness
to the sunshine,
a new fragrance to the flowers,
a new beauty to the earth,
and a new mystery to life.
God's Blueprint for Marriage
One plus one equals one. The union of a man and a woman involves two distinct processes. On the one hand there is the ‘leaving’, and on the other hand there is the ‘cleaving’. Today we are faced with a problem regarding marriage but I believe if we get back to God’s principles as laid out for us in His word we will find all the help and guidance we need in keeping the union of marriage as both a commitment to permanence and a commitment to excellence. Not just a marriage of endurance but of enjoyment, final and fulfilling.
But what is happening to marriage? The picture of marriage and the family in present society is a gloomy one. Family life seems to be cracking at the seams. Today there is an open acceptance of temporary marriages, people are living together with an option to either marry or separate.
History records that no nation can survive the disintegration of its home life. One of the factors in the downfall of the Grecian and Roman empires was the break-up of a meaningful home and family life. The real problem is not marriage, but the individuals who are married. The tendency with couples today that hit troubles in their marriage is to bail out and seek separation or divorce.
What happens then, when a marriage runs into serious difficulties and how do we get the help and guidance we need? What we need to do is to re-examine our priorities. We need to examine ourselves in the light of the Word of God. In the course of these studies we will see that our first priority is that of husband and wife and secondly parent child after that come our relationships within society.
WHY MARRIAGES BREAK UP
What are some of the reasons for the state of affairs that we are in today? We will see that there are several identifiable factors that we will now look at. We will see what the WORLDS CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE IS.
- Temporary commitment.
In his book ‘Marriage as God intended’ Selwyn Hughes says ‘At one time society viewed a married couple who were not living together or divorced with a good deal of displeasure and suspicion. Not any more.’ The family of today is in trouble, marriages are hurting and it is hard to find a happily married couple. Divorce has touched the life or family of almost everyone we know. We encounter all kinds of diverse views, from ‘we must try’, ‘we should do it for the sake of the children’, ‘they made their beds let them lie on it’, and to ‘well if it doesn’t work we can always divorce ‘and’ let us try and see if it works. Temporary commitment. This is the world’s standard of today. We will stay together unless we disagree.
Let me encourage you with the fact that the relationship you would like to have can happen, but it will not happen by accident. A good marriage relationship seldom improves spontaneously, and a troubled relationship almost never gets better on its own. If we follow the principles laid down in God’s word we will see how a good relationship can be established and that it can become so much better that we will be thrilled and amazed.
- Divorce rate of nearly 50% and getting higher.
This is because of a lack of commitment and Biblical principles. There is the thought; if it does not work we can quit.
In his book ‘For every cause’, John Williams says, ‘Today we are faced with a seemingly impossible and deteriorating situation in the area of marriage and divorce’. In North America for example, there are almost as many divorces and separations as there are new marriages every year.
- People just living together with no marriage vows.
This seems to be becoming the norm rather than to actually get married. Just living together until it becomes inconvenient. I know of someone who has lived with several of the opposite sex and thinks nothing of it.
- Infidelity to partners.
With many partners this is not only accepted and condoned but also enjoyed and expected. The wives of some men actually have relationships with people they work with while the men do also, yet they still feel they are happily married. This extramarital relationship they say enhances their love for one another.
- Alternatives to marriage – homosexual behaviour, separation, extramarital affairs.
Some people say that because marriage has failed it is no longer a valuable foundation for the future.
Lesbianism and homosexual behaviour also seems to be a norm among many and they are seeking to have their own rights and privileges in society. Single and married couples are not free from this. If a marriage does not work they will separate or have an extramarital affair.
What is the answer to all this? The word of God sets forth for us principles for a happy Christian marriage. The world does not have the answer; the Scriptures do.
- Inadequate preparation for marriage.
Why do many marriages run into trouble? It is because people do not get the help they need about marriage either before they begin or after they get married. Generally speaking, young people about to be married do not get adequate preparation either from their parents or from the Scriptures.
A factor in the failure of some marriages is sexual involvement prior to marriage. pre-marital sex undermines the foundation of a marriage. Fornication (sexual relationships prior to marriage) undermines the foundation on which a marriage must be built. Connected with this is romantic love. A certain amount of romantic love is an important aspect of marriage, but by itself, is not a sufficiently strong base on which to build a marriage. The love that survives the problems of marriage is a love that has in it commitment.
In conclusion God has a good deal to say in His word about how to build a good and happy marriage. And yours can be one if you will learn to practice the Biblical principles that relate to marriage. Let us now look at the Biblical blueprint for a Christian home.
Marriage is given,
that husband and wife may comfort and
help each other,
living faithfully together
in need and in plenty,
in sorrow and in joy.
It is given,
that with delight and tenderness
they may know each other in love,
and, through the joy of their bodily union,
may strengthen the union
of their hearts and lives
The Biblical blueprint for a Christian Marriage
There is no more critical step in our lives than marriage. Marriage is a giant step either into a life of deep fulfilment or desperate frustration. Which type of life we have is largely determined by our concept of the nature of marriage. So for that reason let us look at Genesis chapter two and look at the correct concept of marriage and perhaps correct some concepts as we may have viewed marriage. Let us look at some basic principles that relate to marriage. In Genesis Chapter 2 and verses 18-23 we will see the principles that will help us see God’s design for marriage.
- Not good for man to be alone.
Man did not think up the thought of marriage for a particular period of time. it was instituted by God, for it was God who made Adam. it was God who said that it is not good for man to be alone. ‘And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him’, (Genesis 2:18). Before we continue let us notice some thoughts here: –
- It is the first thing said not to be good, Genesis 2:18
- Adam did not complain about being alone.
- All the other creatures were created male and female.
- Man naturally is lonely and lacks full satisfaction.
- He was created for fellowship and companionship. Mal.2: 14; Eccl.4: 10.
It was God, who made Adam, and it was God, who made Eve, and it was God who brought Eve to Adam, and it was God who gave Eve to Adam. So we see God was there at the marriage of Adam and Eve. Adam did not take a wife to himself he received a wife. So we see society did not invent marriage it received it from God.
So with that being the case there are four implications that we cannot discard. Yet that is precisely what is being done today by society. Marriage is going out of style. Many people are saying that marriage is no longer important to them. Because of the pill and legalised abortion they are also saying marriage is not needed for them. Because God has set up marriage we have no right to discard it. So then we must define marriage as God defines it. People today want to redefine it rather than to see what God says about it.
What then is God’s definition? We will be seeing that it is: –
- A personal relationship. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife. This involves SEVERANCE, ‘Leave his father and mother’.
- A permanent relationship. He is to cleave to his wife. He is to cling to her, to be glued to her. This then involves PERMANENCE ‘cleave to his wife’.
- It is to be an exclusive relationship, between one man and one woman. This EXCLUSIVENESS means ‘they shall become one flesh’.
- An intimate relationship, between the husband and wife. INTIMACY ‘both naked and were not ashamed’.
To make a marriage a Christian marriage we must heed God’s directions and as we have said we will read these directions in Genesis 2:24-25:
‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed’.
This is a very important verse and we will be looking at it. This verse is quoted four times in the New Testament. The first time we notice it is in Matthew 19:3. It is quoted by the Lord in answer to a question raised by the Pharisees in relation to the subject of divorce. This is what the Lord said in verse five, ‘for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh?’. The second time we see it in Mark 10:5-9. The Lord is the speaker again and it is the same context, worded slightly differently. ‘For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept; But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh; So then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder’. The third and fourth times this verse is quoted the Apostle Paul speaks it. The first one is, 1 Corinthians 6:16. In this chapter the apostle is rebuking the Corinthians for continued participation in the immoral conduct of the temple in Corinth and in order to correct them he says, ‘What? Know ye not that he who is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh’. The last verse is Ephesians 5:31. The verse is quoted in the relationship of the husband to his wife. He is pointing out in this section that the husband ought to love his wife as Christ loves the Church, and as he loves himself. From verse 28 we read: – ‘So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church; For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh’.
So then we have come to see that Genesis 2:24 and 25 are the most important verses in the entire Bible on marriage. Yes, it is the most important verse on marriage yet the most misunderstood and ignored and neglected. So we need to look at it closely, because this is clearly God’s desire for us. These two verses then can be seen in four parts. There is the LEAVING, CLEAVING, BECOMING ONE FLESH AND INTIMACY. Let us look at each of these.
- A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. This involves, Leaving, ‘Leave his father and mother’.
In his book ‘Strike the Original Match’, Charles R. Swindoll says, ‘In order for the new relationship between bride and groom to flourish and their home to begin correctly, the cord must be cut with the parents. This does not mean abandoning our parents or ignoring or mistreating or cutting off all contact with them. To ‘leave father and mother’ means to break the parent-child bond, to sever the tight, emotionally dependent strings that once provided security, protection, financial assistance, and physical needs. All or any of these ties, if brought over into marriage, will hinder the bond of marriage from sealing. So God mentions this first, even before He talks about ‘cleaving’ to each other.
What then is involved in leaving? As we have seen there can be no real leaving without a severance from one’s parents, Geographically, Economically and Psychologically. Let us look at these briefly: –
- Leaving Geographically. When a couple get married they are to leave their home and establish a new family unit, and he is to become the head of that unit. It is very difficult for a man to become the head of that family unit until he leaves his father and mother geographically.
- Leaving Economically. A man will never become the head of the home unless he becomes economically independent of his parents. That headship can only come when there is a leaving economically. That is when he becomes independent financially of his father and mother.
- Leaving Psychologically. The husband and wife should recognise in their minds that they no longer have the same relationship to their parents and should not have the mental attitude, ‘If things go wrong I can always go home to mother and father’. So your husband/wife relationship takes priority in your human relationships.
So then we see that to leave father and mother means: –
- Not an abandoning of one’s parents – But it does mean a change geographically, as soon as possible.
- It means a break in the emotional and financial dependence on parents.
iii. The relationship to ones parents is an adult-to-adult relationship.
- Your mate’s ideas are now the most important.
- Your affection, approval, etc. must come from your mate.
- Your husband/wife relationship is the first priority in all your human relationships.
- A PERMANENT RELATIONSHIP. This involves Cleaving ‘Cleave to his wife’.
Just as leaving is essential, so is cleaving. The Hebrew word translated means ‘to stick’, or ‘to be glued to’. The second step then implies cleaving to his wife, not to his wives; and this teaches against polygamy. To have one wife is the norm. In each of the four New Testament quotations the verses are arranged slightly differently. Look for example in Matthew 19:5, where we read, ‘and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?’. See also Mark 10:7 and 8, ‘a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh’. The two shall be one. One man and one woman cleaving together. The second implication then is that marriage is to be a permanent relationship. The Lord uses these verses, as his proof text that God’s ideal for marriage is that it is to be a permanent relationship. The Lord continued to say that, ‘What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder’, (Mark 10:9). The relationship is till death do us part.
Have you ever tried to tear apart two pieces of paper that have been glued together. If you try you will tear both pages, and that is what divorce does. It tears both parties. So we need to be prepared to cleave for the rest of our lives. Many people enter into marriage with the idea that it can be terminated. That is not a biblical idea. Be prepared to cleave for the rest of your life and be sure that your partner is committed to the word of God before you enter into a marriage relationship. Marriage is not a trial or an experiment but A COMMITMENT FOR LIFE, because that is what Christian marriage means. A good marriage then is based on commitment. When two people get married they promise that they will be faithful to each other regardless of what happens.
What about divorce?
As I understand the word of God I see that God never commands divorce. God never approves of a divorce. He never condones it. In Malachi 2 God says, ‘I hate divorce’ (N.I.V.) Divorce is always wrong, it violates God’s divine ideal. And there is a biblical answer to the problem you have in your marriage. Whatever the problem is, I assure you that divorce is not the solution. Some of you may be divorced. But when a Christian begins to discover the Word of God in this area one of the things that he or she should want to do is to seek reconciliation with the separated partner. I know that sometimes this is not possible; there has possibly been a re-marriage. Perhaps after that re-marriage you became a Christian. It seems to me that in that situation what one must do is to take the principles of 1 Cor.7 where the apostle Paul says to abide in the state in which God called you to salvation, and to remain in that situation. Accepting the providence of God that has brought you to that place and from that point on to move forward to the establishment and making of a Christian marriage.
Let us see some conclusions then to this are of cleaving.
- Cleave is from the word that means to glue.
- We enter marriage as a permanent bond, ‘Till death do us part’ (Rom.7: 2).
iii. Separation and divorce are not options, Matt.19: 5,6.
- Wayne Mack in his book ‘One and One equals One’ makes the following comment. ‘A good marriage is based more on commitment than feeling …’. Let me quote three things he says: –
- ‘The wife promises that she will be faithful even if the husband is afflicted with bulges, baldness, bunions and bifocals; even if he loses his health, his wealth, his job, his charms; even if someone more exciting comes along’.
- ‘The husband promises to be faithful even if the wife loses her beauty and appeal; even if she is not as neat and tidy or as submissive as he would like her to be; even if she does not satisfy his sexual desires completely, even if she spends money foolishly or is a terrible cook’.
- ‘Marriage means that a husband and wife enter into a relationship for which they accept full responsibility and in which they commit themselves to each other regardless of what problems arise’.
- God’s kind of marriage means that people know that they must face problems, discuss them, seek God’s help in them, resolve them rather than run from them, because there is no way out. They are committed to one another for life. They must cleave to one another today and tomorrow, as long as they both shall live.
- AN EXCLUSIVE RELATIONSHIP. It is to be an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman. This exclusive relationship means, ‘they shall become one flesh’.
We read in Genesis 2:24-25 ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed’. We see now that the pattern for marriage that God established at creation will produce something quite remarkable if it is followed. TWO WILL ACTUALLY BECOME ONE. This is more than togetherness they actually become one. Although it goes far deeper than the physical, becoming one flesh involves intimate physical union in sexual intercourse. And this is without shame between marriage partners. In his book ‘Love life for every married couple’ Dr E Wheat says, ‘Shame in marital sex was never imparted by God! Instead, the biblical expression for sexual intercourse between husband and wife is ‘to know’, an expression of profound dignity. ‘Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived…’ (Gen. 4:1). ‘Then Joseph … took unto him his wife: and knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son’. (Matt.1: 24,25). In this divine pattern of marriage, sexual intercourse between husband and wife includes both intimate physical knowledge and a tender, intimate, personal knowledge. So the leaving, cleaving, and knowing each other results in a new identity in which two individuals merge into one – one in mind, heart, body and spirit. In the New Testament, The Holy Spirit uses the Genesis mystery of becoming one flesh with its dimension of sexual intercourse to picture an even deeper mystery: that of the relationship between Jesus Christ and his bride, the church. ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church’ (Eph.5: 31-32).
Let us then sum up what we have been talking about.
- Becoming ‘one flesh’ is a life long process, not something that happens at the wedding.
- The two people become one – not two different people.
iii. 1 Cor.7: 3,4 is a picture of total unselfishness. Two people fulfilling their duty to their partners.
- This relationship produces marital harmony. The late Peter Marshall describes it this way:
‘Marriage is not a federation of two sovereign states.
It is a union –
domestic, social, spiritual and physical.
It is a fusion of two hearts-
the union of two lives –
the coming together of two tributaries,
which, after being jointed in marriage, will flow
..in the same channel
in the same direction …
carrying the same burdens of responsibility and
- Hebrews 13; 4 – involves a oneness physically.
- Marriage is a total commitment and a total sharing of the total person with another person until death.
vii. A sharing of everything – hopes, dreams, troubles, ambitions, ideas, success, and failures.
- AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP.
They were ‘both naked and were not ashamed’.
In Genesis 2:25, immediately after God spoke of the husband and wife becoming one flesh, the scripture says, ‘and the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.’ Wayne Mack says, ‘the nakedness of Adam and Eve is not a recommendation of public nudity. This happened before there were any other people around. Adam was the only human being who saw Eve naked, and Eve was the only person who saw Adam naked! And furthermore, this happened before they sinned. After they sinned we read that ‘the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings’. As soon as sin entered the picture they began to cover up.
The Hebrew term translated ‘naked’ suggests the idea ‘laid bare’, emphasising total and completely nakedness. When the verse adds that Adam and Eve ‘were not ashamed’, the idea is that they were not ashamed before one another. No hidden areas. No hang ups, no embarrassment. No fears. There was total transparency. The complete absence of self-consciousness. The absence of sin allowed this. It was when sin entered their lives that they covered up. Their unguarded transparency prompted the intimacy with each other. That is exactly as God originally meant it to be. We see then that:
- They were the only two people around.
- They were naked – ‘laid bare’ – were not ashamed before one another.
iii. Totally transparent with one another.
MARRIAGE IS A BLESSING FROM GOD.
Before we pass on to the next chapter it would be good to note that the first phrase in verse 18 says ‘then the Lord God said, it is not good for man to be alone’. God is in the process of creation and this is the FIRST NOT GOOD THING that God has seen in all of his creative work. When we look at the chronology of the six days we see that at the beginning of the sixth day God made the animals and then He made man and He saw Adam alone and He said it is not good for Adam to be alone so he made woman to be with Adam and having made the woman he completed His work and saw all that He had made and concluded it was very good. And one of the things that was included in the ‘very good’ was marriage. Marriage is something that God says is very good.
We ought to speak of marriage respectfully and ought to esteem it highly and honourably. Some say that there is something inferior or defiling about marriage because of the physical relationship. Yet it is interesting to see that God had instituted the physical relationship and that He saw that it was good. To underline this we read in Hebrews 13 that marriage is to be regarded as honourable by all and that the marriage bed is undefiled. What this is saying is that sex within marriage is very good, there is nothing defiling and nothing inferior with it.
In concluding then we see that the planner of the partnership is God. He saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone so made a helper fit for him. God made Eve so Adam might not be alone. So the purpose for marriage is for THE COMPANIONSHIP OF THE MAN AND THE WOMAN. Made to be companions, enjoying each other’s company.
A Gift of God
It’s all very well for them to say that it’s in
the Bible, but what did God mean by it?
how can two people become one person?
the joining of our bodies in physical love
produces a fleeting oneness – and that can
be fantastic. But most of the time we are
just two people who love one another, but
are so different. We have different
jobs, different likes and dislikes, different
abilities and very different ways of doing things.
So if we are to be ‘one’, which ‘one’ are
we going to be? I certainly don’t want to
fade out as an individual – not to be ‘me’
any more. That makes marriage sound like
a take-over bid! But perhaps it is not meant
to be a take-over so much as a merger.
A fusion of our lives, so that one person’s
weaknesses are compensated for by the
other person’s strengths; an adding-to
rather than a taking away, for both of us.
Rather than cramping and confining us,
perhaps this oneness is intended to bring a
new dimension to our lives. For if we are
secure in the certainty of each other’s love
and understanding, maybe we can enjoy a
special kind of freedom. The freedom to
fulfil our potential; to live to the full in a
way that we could never do alone.
God's order for the family
‘Divine order,’ is an order of authority and responsibility that is spelled out in the Bible. ‘The head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God’ (1 Corinthians 11:3). ‘Children, obey you parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord’ (Colossians 3:20). God has ordered the family according to the principles of headship. Each member of the family lives under the authority of the head whom God has appointed
- God’s Order For the Family
And head of the family
1 Cor.11: 3,
Head – the body is dependent on the head.
Body – is subordinate to the head.
|Gen.3: 16||Husband the head of|
the wife chief authority over children
Not superior to wife. A place of authority and responsibility.
|Wife – helpmate to husband|
second authority over children
|Children obedient to parents||Eph.6: 1,2.|
Wife is not inferior to husband but she does have a different position.
The head of the home – who is that?
The traditional view of the husband being the leader and the wife the follower is coming under heavy fire in today’s society. Yet the Bible is quite clear on this issue of marital roles, and addresses it very clearly. When we look into the book of Ephesians we see that the first three chapters show us what we believe and the last three chapters show us how we should behave. In the latter part Paul gives us help in understanding the role a man and a woman should have in marriage. The husband, he says, is the head of the wife and must love his wife as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:23,25). The wife, on the other hand, is to submit herself to her husband in the same way that the Church is subject to Christ (Ephesians 5:24).
The husband then lives under the authority of Christ and is responsible to Christ for the leadership and care of the family. The wife lives under the authority of her husband, and is responsible to him for the way she orders the household and cares for the children. The children live under the authority of both parents.
So the husband/wife relationship is the primary relationship. Some of us have tragically dealt with that when we put our relationship with our work before our relationship with our wives. Perhaps some of us have been involved in something much more subtle but no less dangerous and that is putting our parent/child relationship before our husband/wife relationship and that is tragic because our attention is placed on the children rather than on our partner. That can lead to tragic consequences for the child. Because he never grows up in a home seeing a mother and father that are loving each other. The best way to be a good father is to be a good husband to your wife. The best gift we can give our children is loving our wives. We need to love our children as well, yet our primary relationship should be to love our wife and in doing that we will love our children.
Paul in Ephesians makes it quite clear that God has given the husband the responsibility for leadership in marriage. But it must be more than just leadership. It must be loving leadership and that is what we will bring out in the next chapter.
Memo to Wife
You asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Any gift from
the list that follows would ensure that I’m the happiest of men;
Please greet me with a smile and a kiss when I come home, and act as if
you’re pleased to see me, even if it’s been ‘one of those days’.
Give me time. Time to make the mental switch from work to home at the
end of the day. Time to potter, or even do nothing at all, without
making helpful suggestions about the jobs awaiting my attention.
Time to talk about the things that bother me and sometimes
time to do nothing – except to be with you.
Please remember that often I would rather have you in my arms
than in the kitchen baking my favourite cake.
When I make a suggestion, look for the
possibilities rather than the difficulties.
Tell me my faults, if you must, but do it
gently and in private.
When I ask you to do something, please put
it somewhere near the top of your list.
Let me know that I am still important to
you, that you need me.
Say ‘I love you’ – and mean it – every day.
The role of a Husband
In the majority of books on marriage, the role of the wife is considered before the role of the husband. When we look at creation, we see that man was created first and woman was created to be his help-meet. In the New Testament, we see that the husband’s relationship toward his wife is compared to that of Christ and the church. The apostle John writes that ‘We love him because He first loved us’. So in the husband-wife relationship we see the wife as the responder. If the husband is all that he should be in being the head of his home and loving his wife, then his wife is more likely to respond. What we will seek to do in these next two chapters is to look at the role of the husband first and then that of the wife.
What God wants for every husband is that he be a better one. And it all begins with love: ‘Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. he that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it even as the Lord the Church’ (Eph.5: 25,28-29).
Notice the ways in which the husband is to love his wife. First, he is to love her in the same way that Christ loved the Church. This meant self-sacrifice, the giving of Himself completely for the Church. Second, the husband is to love his wife as he does his own body. no one likes to inflict pain upon his own body. People try to take care of themselves. Third, he is to love his wife as he loves himself, how does he love himself? ‘He nourisheth and cherisheth it’ (Eph.5: 29). (We will be looking at these two words to see what they mean in this chapter). This kind of love is not dependent on feelings. It is dependent on our will as we yield to the Holy Spirit in our lives.
God’s word to men is that not only should a husband love his wife, he is to rejoice in her as well. When Adam awakened from sleep and saw Eve, he was able to say, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh…’ (Gen.2:23). The husband’s role then is threefold. Let us look at this in a little more detail.
THE HUSBAND HAS A THREE-FOLD RESPONSIBILITY IN RELATIONSHIP TO HIS WIFE.
A key person in the family is the man. Yes, if the husband and father is willing to recognise the position God has given him, and if he is faithful in being what the Lord wants him to be, the chances for successful living are increased tremendously. If he fails, however, his wife and children are going to suffer the tragic consequences right along with him.
- THE FIRST ROLE: The husband is the head of his wife and his home.
Someone has said, ‘The best way to be a good father to your children is to be a good husband to their mother’. He needs to be the head of the home and be the leader of the home. So we see that the husband is the head of his wife and ultimately of his home. J Adams in his book ‘Christian living in the Home’, says what primarily is involved here is the idea of being the manager of the wife in the home. There is a vital union, they have become one person and he is the manager and establishes the policies and may delegate authority but he is ultimately responsible.
We as husbands are responsible as the head and we should not pass that responsibility off to the wife. There is coming a day when we will stand before the Lord and we will be responsible to give an account as to how we have been the head. Being the head is not something that he should be but what he is, and he is that because God made it that way. And because of that we will be accountable to the Lord when He returns.
THE HUSBAND IS TO BE HIS WIFE’S LEADER
The Bible is very clear when it says that the husband is the head of the wife and must love her as Christ loves the Church. The wife, on the other hand, is to submit herself to her husband in the same way that the Church is subject to Christ (Ephesians 5:24). The husband then is to be the loving leader. In his book, ‘Marriage as God Intended’, Selwyn Hughes makes this comment, ‘Some husbands I know view leadership in the home in the same way that drill sergeant surveys his men on the parade ground. He struts up and down in front of his family, barking orders and shouting, I’m head of this home’. That’s not leadership – that’s dictatorship. Some men take Paul’s teaching and deduce that, ‘I’m boss in my house. My wife has to obey me. Scripture is on my side’. But notice in Ephesians 5:22-23 Paul does not emphasise the husband’s authority over his wife. Instead Paul focuses on the husband’s responsibility to have a self-giving love for his wife.
As the husband, you do not demand obedience. You do not order your wife to respect your authority. You do not say, ‘You be submissive and obedient and then I will love you as Scripture tells me to’. Instead, you focus on your responsibility to give love. You give your wife the freedom to decide to submit to you. Submission, according to Paul, is her responsibility not yours. And, of course, as she submits, she returns your love freely and joyfully, and because she knows she is loved.
So then today, when we speak of leadership, the first thing that comes into our minds is an idea like that of a boss giving orders. Not so when we begin to think Biblically. Matthew 20:20-28 gives us the Bible’s concept of a leader. According to this passage, a leader is first and foremost a servant. His concern is not for himself: his concern is not to give orders to boss other people around, to have his own way. His concern is to meet the needs of others. If the best interests of others are not on his heart, if he is not willing to sacrifice himself – his personal needs, wants, desires, aspirations, time, money – if the needs of others are not more important than his own, he is not qualified to lead.
John 13:1-15 gives us the same picture of what it means to be a leader. In this passage, the emblem of leadership is not a throne or a club but a big towel and a basin. In other words, a leader must have a servant’s heart. And if he has a servant’s heart, he will act like a servant and react like a servant. So when we apply this Biblical principal of leadership to the husband, we see that being the leader means that he must be the family’s biggest servant.
- He is to be the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the Church
- His model is the Lord, who made himself a servant. Phil.5: 23.
- He keeps his wife’s best interests at heart.
i He will spend time with her.
ii He will instruct her.
iii He will trust her and will delegate responsibility to her.
iv He will not make the decisions for her, but with her.
v He is responsible for everything that happens in the home. He does not do everything, but is responsible for everything.
We have seen what it means for the husband to be his wife’s leader. But let us see what leadership isn’t:
- It is not crushing the wife’s talents.
- It is not making all the decisions without reference to the wife’s thoughts and feelings.
- It is not being a dictator.
- It does not mean that he will never give in. But there will be discussion, and as a result the wife may have an idea that the husband will want to follow.
The natural inclination of a wife is to follow her husband. So the husband needs to be aware of that and adapt his leadership to be the help to his wife that God wants him to be. Yes, the husband is to be the head of his wife. He is also to love her so let us look at his second role which is loving his wife.
- THE SECOND ROLE: The husband is to love his wife.
If we were to ask the average husband, ‘Do you love your wife?’ he would reply with, ‘Certainly! Of course I do.’ In his book ‘The Christian Family’, Larry Christenson says, ‘In saying this, he means what he feels toward her; or perhaps what he does for her, by the way of care and consideration. But the love which the Apostle Paul speaks about … ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her … husbands love your wives, and do not be harsh with them’. Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:20. This kind of love is measured not by what one feels or even by what one directly does, but is measured by how much one is willing to sacrifice oneself.
We have said earlier that the husband is to be the loving leader. He is not only to lead but he is to lead by love. The original language of the New Testament has different words for love and we will be looking at these when we come to the chapter on the physical relationship in marriage. The one Greek word that is used overwhelmingly in the New Testament to describe the love of God is the word ‘agape’. This is the love of John 3:16, Romans 5:5, and 1 Corinthians 13. It is the word ‘agape’ which the Apostle Paul uses when he says, ‘Husbands, love your wives’. And he clearly means a love that is ready to sacrifice, for he continues, ‘As Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it’. So the love the husband is to show to his wife is a love that is rooted in a willingness to sacrifice for her.
WHAT THEN ARE SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH A MAN GOES ABOUT THE GOD-GIVEN TASK OF LOVING HIS WIFE?
Selwyn Hughes in his book, ‘Marriage as God Intended’, brings out five ways in which a man can love his wife. He says, ‘Firstly, he must express his love’. Women like to hear words such as, ‘I love you’, but they also like to see expression of their husbands love. That small gift, a nice word, a telephone call, washing the dishes. One thing my wife really appreciates is an early morning cup of tea in bed – little things mean a lot. Let us not forget that tenderness, a tender word or touch moves a wife very deeply. ‘Another way in which a man ought to go about the God-given task of loving his wife is by sacrificing for her’. This means going to some extra special effort to help her, going out of your way for her. Giving up something you enjoy for her benefit. ‘A third way in which a man ought to go about the task of loving his wife is by holding her in high esteem’. If you treat your wife like a queen then she will treat you like a king. ‘A fourth way in which a man ought to love his wife is by making allowances for her deficiencies and mistakes’. We are all human and make mistakes, our wives may be late, fail to have a meal ready on time, and sometimes the house may not be as tidy as we would wish. Let us not be critical and harsh; let us remember that we make mistakes too. Selwyn Hughes makes this statement, ‘One of the reasons why men find it difficult to allow for their wives’ mistakes and failures is due to lack of humility. A man who knows true humility will realise that he himself is imperfect, and this knowledge will temper is judgement when dealing with his wife’s failures and mistakes’. Let us not always look at the negative things; let us see the positive things also. It is a scriptural principal that what we focus on greatly affects our attitudes and feelings. What we think about affects the way we feel and act. This is why the Bible encourages us in Philippians 4:3 to ‘Think on these things’. When we focus our thoughts on positive things, we come out with positive feelings. When we focus our thoughts on negative things, we come out with negative feelings. ‘A fifth way in which a man ought to love his wife is encouraging her to share her view of things’. Some men feel that leadership is the husband making all the decisions without asking the wife’s help. Women do generally have a different perspective on things and by discussing things together one can come to a better understanding on a situation and then be able to make a better, wiser decision. Encouraging a wife to share her viewpoint on things does not simply mean tolerating her, but it does mean listening to her sensitively, recognising that she may provide you with the other half of the wisdom that God had in mind for you in your decision-making.
What then is love? It is an act of the will and not just feelings.
(Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR LOVING ONE’S WIFE.
We have been seeing that the second role the husband has is to love his wife. We have also looked at ways a man goes about this God-given task. Let us look at the Biblical principle that the apostle Paul lays down for us. Ephesians 5 verses 25, 28 and 29, says, ‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it;’ (5:25), and ‘So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies, He that loveth his wife also loveth himself for no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church’.
The way we are to love our wives then is described in two ways: –
- Just as Christ loved the Church, and
- Just as we love our own bodies. Let us look at these two points briefly.
- A man should love his wife just as Christ loved the Church.
My responsibility is to love my wife just as Christ loved the Church. Now what kind of love is that? Ephesians 5:25 continues to say, ‘He gave himself for it’. The husband’s responsibility then as we have been seeing is to give his life for his wife. For what purpose? Have you ever wondered why Ephesians 5 verses 26 and 27 are there? Notice that Christ gave Himself for the Church that He might progressively sanctify the Church, so that He could ultimately present the Church perfectly sanctified to Himself. This is teaching us then that our responsibility as husbands is to give our lives to see our wives progressively sanctified and reach the spiritual maturity God intends them to reach. This says to me that I am responsible for the spiritual development of my wife. , It is our responsibility as husbands to bring our wives to spiritual maturity so that they may be what they ought to be as women of God.
- A man should love his wife as his own body.
I am not only to love my wife as Christ loved the Church but also as I love my own body. Now how do I do that? What it implies is that just as my thumb is part of me, so my wife is part of me also. That is why I love her. Now the question is how do I love myself? Ephesians 5:29 says that I love myself in two ways: –
- I nourish myself, and
- I cherish myself. Let us look at these.
I NOURISH MYSELF. What this means is, as we meet the material and spiritual needs of ourselves we are responsible to do that also for our wives also, because they are part of ourselves. It is my responsibility then to meet the material needs of my wife. We are to nourish her as we nourish ourselves.
I CHERISH MYSELF. The word ‘Cherish’ in classical Greek means, ‘to cuddle, or to warm, or to heat’. We are to love our wives, that is to meet their physical and spiritual needs. A woman has needs that only her husband can meet, and that is our responsibility as husbands. Our wives have become part of us. We are to love our wives and cherish them just the way we nourish our own bodies, and just the way we cherish our own thumb when we hit it with a hammer. Just that way we are to nourish and cherish our own wives.
HOW DO WE LOVE OUR WIVES?
- We love our wives in the same manner as Christ loved the Church.
- Unconditionally Eph. 1:3
- Continuously Jer.31: 3
- Particularly Eph.1: 4
- Objectively Eph.1: 5 – predestined
- Possessively Eph.1: 5 – she has my name
- Graciously Eph.1: 6 – overlooking imperfections
- Forgivingly Eph.1: 7
- Intimately Eph.1: 9 – sharing and confiding
- Benevolently Eph.1: 11
- Proudly Eph.1: 22 – compliment our lives
- Faithfully Eph.1: 13
- Sacrificially – Christ gave up His self-interests
- Tender-heartedly – Sensitive to needs
- Practically – Can be seen
- Love your wife as you love yourself. Normally, a man uses a lot of time and gives a great of thought, effort, and money to take care of himself. His needs, his desires, his aspirations, his hopes, his body, his comfort are very important to him. The husband is to: – Nourish his wife, cherish her, protect her, satisfy her, provide for her, care for her, sacrifice for her to the same degree and extent and in the same manner as he does himself.
The husband should be: –
- Be thoughtful in little things.
- Tell her often that he loves her.
- Give her plenty of physical attention. (not just sex).
- Make her feel needed.
- Maintain a happy day-by-day relationship.
- Take time to be with her.
- THE THIRD ROLE: The husband should live with his wife in an understanding way.
1 Peter 3:7 says, ‘Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered’. Peter says then that husbands are to live with their own wives in an understanding way as with a weaker vessel; and grant her honour since she is a woman. GRANT HER HONOUR, I am not only to love my wife and manage her but I am also to grant her honour. Now let us notice that there are two ways to do that: –
- We are to know our wives.
1 Peter 3:7 begins by saying, ‘dwell with them according to knowledge’. The success of my dwelling with my wife will be in direct proportion to my knowledge of her. Knowing my wife includes those things about her that others do not know and will not know. Her fears, cares, her disappointments as well as her expectations. Knowing her secrets, her thoughts, and her dreams.
We are to honour our wives as a weaker vessel. Now the phrase, ‘weaker vessel’, is a very beautiful phrase, and does not necessarily imply that she is physically weak. It implies that she is a very delicate, a very valuable and priceless person. We are to honour her as we would a very valuable ornament. We prize it, we value it, esteem it very valuable. That is the responsibility of the husband, he looks upon his wife as a very delicate person, and he honours and esteems her of great worth and treats her that way.
- We are to grant our wives honour as fellow heirs of the grace of life.
Peter says that we are to grant her honour as unto the weaker vessel as being heirs together of the grace of life. This means that she has the same kind of spiritual life that we have. God has given to her the same quality of life that we have, and we esteem her, we value her, we prize her, not only because she is a delicately put together person but she is also an heir of the same life we have. Peter concludes here, that their ‘prayers may not be hindered’. What that means is that God does not answer the prayers of a man who does not know how to treat his wife, or who does not recognise that God has given to him the most valuable person on earth. This is the role of the husband then. He: –
- Manages his wife.
- He loves his wife as Christ loved the Church, as he loves his own self.
- He honours his wife, as a very priceless, valuable, delicate object. And as somebody who is the possessor of the same quality of life that he has.
In concluding the role of the husband we see that he is to (1) Know his wife. (2) Understand his wife and (3) Share with his wife.
- Know your wife.
- Dwell with her according to knowledge (in an understanding way)
- Women are sensitive to unkind works, and remarks so let us be sensitive.
- Husbands can hurt a wife by unintentional or thoughtless remarks.
- It is important to know how a wife feels about things.
- Understand your wife.
- We need to communicate by words.
- We need to meet her needs, physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual.
- We need to help in the home when it is needed.
- We must not compare our wife to other women. That is cruel.
- We need to express appreciation for her, and be willing to sacrifice for her.
- If we understand her we will realise we need to take the leadership in the home.
- We will want to know our wife’s fears, secrets, dreams etc.
- We will respect her frailty, and realise she is not as strong as a man and treat her as such, i.e. opening the car door for her.
- Share with your wife.
- ‘As being heirs of the grace of life’.
- We will share our faith with our wife, we will talk about the Lord and pray together. Lack in this area will hinder our prayers.
- We will realise that spiritual instruction in the home is the husband’s job.
In conclusion if you do not think your wife is feminine enough, the problem could very well be that you are not treating her like a woman.
ALL HE EVER DREAMED
Let me be all he ever dreamed
of loveliness and laughter.
veil his eyes a bit
there are so many little flaws;
please let him see
only the bride I long to be,
remembering ever after –
I was all he ever dreamed
of loveliness and laughter.
Ruth Bell Graham
The role of the wife
We mentioned at the beginning of the last chapter that in the majority of books, the role of the wife is considered before the role of the husband. We also said that if the husband is all that he should be in being the head of his home and loving his wife, then his wife is more likely to respond. We have looked at the husband’s role. Let us now look at the role of the wife.
To do a thorough study on the role of the wife we need to look at least two passages of Scripture: –
Genesis 2:18 ‘And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone: I will make an help meet for him’.
Ephesians 5:22-24 ‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything’.
As we progress through the wife’s role we will also be referring to Proverbs chapter 31 and Titus 2:3.
WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL ROLE OF THE WIFE?
The passages we just read in Ephesians and Genesis with Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 contain the clearest definition of marriage roles. Genesis 2:18-20 teaches that the woman was created to be a ‘helpmeet’, one who is to be a complement to the man and assist him. In a real sense the wife is a fulfilment of the husband’s life. Ephesians 5: 22-24 teaches that the wife is to be ‘subject’ or ‘submissive’ to the husband. How are these concepts put together, how can the wife complete her husband and also be submissive to him? In looking at the role of the wife in her relationship to her husband, we will see that it is fourfold. There are four relationships that the wife plays in relationship to her husband.
- We see that the wife is to be the HELPER of her husband.
Genesis 2:18 is the key to this thought. God said that He would make a helper suitable for him. So the first role of the Christian wife is that she is the helper of her husband. We looked at this a little in chapter 2 and point one when we discussed that God said that it was not good for the man to be alone. But what does this mean in a practical sense? The woman is called a help to the man, and she is a help that corresponds to him. This means that she realises her highest destiny when she is a help to him. She is to be one who can share her husband’s responsibilities, respond to his nature with understanding and love, and wholeheartedly co-operate with him in working out he plan of God. So we see that: –
- A helper is -someone who ‘assists another to reach complete fulfilment.
- It means that she will not do anything that would be a detriment to her husband or that would cause her to neglect her responsibility of being a help to her husband.
- She will be a help to her husband in the following ways: –
- Making the home a place of encouragement and a refuge – she will not belittle her husband. She will keep a neat house, but not a show place.
- She will be his helper in managing and in running the home. Implementing the policies that he has established (in fellowship together in the home).
iii. She will help in entertaining his friends.
- She is the one who will give him the encouragement he needs in particular times of need and stress. (This of course is mutual).
- She will show an interest in his problems and concerns, because she understands him and his needs and understands his emotional needs. She will create an atmosphere in the home that will refresh and revive him.
- She is his helper in his role as a Christian. She will help him in his spiritual gifts. There is no better person to help him in his ministry than his wife. It is tremendous to have a husband/wife team in the ministry.
- In her own personal life she will: –
- Be open in communication.
- Be satisfied with her position, possessions and tasks.
iii. Keep herself looking nice.
- Offer suggestions, advice, and corrections when needed, in a loving fashion.
- Maintain a good Spiritual life.
- Show confidence in her husband.
In concluding the point that the wife is the helper of the husband we see then that THE WIFE’S PRIMARY MINISTRY IN LIFE IS HER HUSBAND.
‘Some women work so hard to make good husbands,
that they never quite manage to make good wives’.
- We see that the wife is to be SUBMISSIVE TO HER HUSBAND’S LEADERSHIP
From Ephesians 5:22 we see that wives are to submit themselves to their own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the Church. So we see then that the wife is to be his subordinate, (his supporter).
One of the reasons we so often rebel against a passage like this is because we have a misconception of the Biblical concept of submission. The very thought of ‘being subject to’ or ‘submissive to’ one’s husband will stir up negative feelings. Yet if we see submission as God sees it, we will see that God designed it for the woman’s protection, not to make her feel insignificant. In his book ‘The Christian Family’, Larry Christenson says, ‘To God, submission means to yield humble and intelligent obedience to an ordained power or authority. The example he gives is that of the Church being submissive to the rule of Christ. Far from being degrading, this is the Church’s glory’!
Submission does not imply inferiority. Primarily it implies as we have said, subordination. This word comes from the military life of the Roman Empire. The word ‘Submit’ (Hupotasso, in the Greek) means ‘under’ ‘to line up, to get in order, to be arranged’. In a military sense the idea is ‘to rank beneath, to rank under’. So the person who was what this verb says, was a person who acknowledged that in the rank of the military he was subordinate to a superior. And so when Paul speaks of the wife being submissive it does not mean that she is inferior or that she has no role to play in the home, that she has nothing to contribute to the marriage. He is saying that in the order of the home life she is subordinate in managing the home and in the relationship within the marriage.
SUBMISSION, WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT.
God has given wives the opportunity to choose freely the submissive role, even as Jesus chose to be submissive to the Father. God does not honour those who cling to their rights but those who freely choose to obey Him. Submission does not mean that the wife is insignificant –
‘Husband, husband, cease your strife,
No longer idly rave, sir;
Though I am your wedded wife,
Yet I am not your slave, sir!’ (Burns)
It is one thing to believe in the Scriptural principle of submission; it is another to carry it out in daily life. How then should a wife go about submitting herself to her husband? We will first look at what it is to be submissive and then what it is not.
- What submission means.
Paul in Ephesians 5:22 says, ‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord’. The wife then is to submit herself to her husband (only). We see here that it is not the husband’s job to make the wife submissive. The wife should let her husband make all the final decisions. If after sharing her views she feels the husband is making the wrong decision, she should tell him so gently, in love, and if he disagrees let him have the privilege of implementing that decision in a way he believe is right, and rest in it.
I would like to bring out eight points that show what submission is: –
- The wife is to be submissive to her own husband.
- Submission is to be continuous,
– the verb submit is in the continuous tense.
- Submission is mandatory
– the verb is in the imperative mood.
– submission is not conditioned by the way her husband treats her.
– 1 Peter 3:1 was written to wives with the wrong kind of husband.
- Submission is a spiritual matter – done as ‘unto the Lord’. As a woman is submissive to God so is she submissive to her husband. It is an act of obedience to God.
- Submission is an attitude as well as an action. Psalm 40:8
– a delight in doing His will.
- Submission is extensive. It affects every area of life.
(i) Submitted in everything – not just in areas that you like.
(ii) Col.3: 18 ‘As is fitting in the Lord’ – a wife must not disobey a clear command of God in submitting. Acts 5:29.
- The secret of submission is a servant’s attitude.
- Submission does not enslave but gives security in the bond of love.
We have been looking at what submission means, let us now look briefly at what it is not.
- What submission does not mean.
A wife is more than a mother, a housekeeper, and cook. We have seen in 1 Peter 3:7 that the husband honours his wife. So she is not just a cabbage. She is a person of great value. So let us see what submission does not mean.
- It does not mean that the wife gives up all initiative and creativity. If you look at Proverbs 31 you will see the character of the virtuous woman. (We will be looking at some of the characteristics of the woman in Proverbs 31 when we look at ‘Examples of godly wives’).
- It does not mean that the wife will lose all her freedom. A train is free to run only when confined to the tracks.
- It does not mean that she is inferior, but that she is under the authority of her husband. Jesus was not inferior to God, even though he was subject to Him.
- It does not mean giving up offering her thoughts, insights and feelings. Proverbs 31:26; Acts 18:26. A wife should offer her suggestions, and then let the husband make the decision.
We have been seeing that the wife is to be submissive to her husband’s leadership, and we saw what it meant and what it did not mean to be submissive. There is one more point I would like us to look at before we move on and that is in Ephesians 5:33. Paul says that along with being submissive the wife should reverence her husband, ‘… and the wife sees that she reverence the husband’.
THE WIFE SHOULD REVERENCE HER HUSBAND.
The word is usually translated fear, but it means to respect your husband. The Amplified Bible makes it very clear. ‘However, let each man of you (without exception) love his wife as “being in a sense” his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband – that she notices him, regards him, honours him, prefers him, venerates him and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly’. So we see that this is a command that the wife submits to and respects her husband. Titus 2:4 adds a little to this as Paul says there that the wife should, ‘Be a husband lover’. Her desire should be to her husband. Genesis 3:16 ‘Her desire [longing] shall be to her husband’.
HOW DOES ALL THIS WORK OUT IN PRACTICE?
It is interesting to see how this works out. The sphere of the wife’s subordination is to her own husband. While the motivation for her subordination is, ‘as unto the Lord’. She takes this position as a ministry to the Lord. It is something she will do as she walks with God.
It is not the worthiness of the husband that is the issue here. It is the worthiness of the Lord. It is not for the wife to be submissive to the husband if he deserves it. It is that she is called to be submissive to her husband as to the Lord. And the thing that motivates the wife to take the place of submission is the worthiness of the Lord in her life that simply reflects the fact that her relationship to Christ is manifested in her relationship to her husband.
A woman who speaks about the Lord in her life but does not reflect that in her submission to her husband, has not learned the Lordship of Christ. It is as the Lord becomes the Lord in her life that she takes that place of submission as a service to the Lord Jesus Christ, and it will affect her daily life. There are six points about this area that we can look at: –
- The sphere of her subordination – it is to her own husband.
- The motivation for her subordination is as to the Lord.
- The basis of her submission is the fact that her husband is the head of the wife.
- The standard of her submission is the submission of the Church to Christ.
- The extent of her submission is that it is to be in everything.
- The enablement for that submission comes from the Lord, ‘Be filled with the Spirit’ (Eph.5: 13).
We have seen then that God has placed the husband in the position of headship. The reason for this is that God wants the wife to be relaxed and free from strain. It is truly wonderful the freedom that we will be able to enjoy when we accept the position that God has designed for us. Well let us go on and look at the third relationship that the wife plays in relationship to her husband.
- We see that the wife is to be A HOMEMAKER – HER ROLE AND HER CHARACTERISTICS.
In Titus 2:5 we see that the priority for the wife is to be a homemaker. ‘ … keepers at home’. In the first six verses of 1 Peter 3, there are some practical suggestions for the wife. let us look at these.
KEEPERS AT HOME.
Let us consider first, Titus 2:5, ‘To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed’. Let us look at the phrase, ‘keepers at home’. What does it mean? The word comes from the Greek word (oikourgous) that means ‘workers at home’. The emphasis is that wives ought to work at home. John MacArthur Jr, brings out that, ‘In New Testament Greek it involves a specific job, a task, and can be translated “employment”. The word does not refer to the quality of work but to an assigned task. So a woman is to be employed in the assigned task of working at home’. The use of the Greek word can be seen in the following passages: Mark 13:34; John 4:34; 17:4; Acts 13:2; Philippians 2:30; and 1 Thessalonians 5:13, where the word is related to an assigned employment, task or work. See also 1 Timothy 5:14 which says, ‘I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house …’. So what is a wife and mother to do with her life? She is to love her husband, and love her children and do her assigned tasks at home. So then we see that keeping the home, which involves her relationship to her husband and her children is her responsibility.
Qualities of a good wife.
In 1 Peter 3:1-6 God talks about the behaviour. In verse one we read the word ‘conversation’, in the Greek the word means, ‘a careful observation, a close look’. When a wife puts into practice verse two, having a ‘chaste and respectful behaviour’, consistently on display the husband will notice. This for her is the silent preaching of a lovely life.
There are three points that I would like to bring out from this passage about the wife’s behaviour: –
- Her appearance – verse 3.
She will not go overboard in her external appearance. She will keep herself attractive. There is nothing wrong with make-up etc. as long as it does not draw attention to oneself. Some ladies spend more time fixing up the outside than the inside. Yet Peter says here the most important thing is the inward and not the outward appearance. Notice the woman in Proverbs 31. She was nicely dressed.
- Her attitude – verse 4.
Peter says, ‘But let it be the hidden man of the heart’. The hidden person of the heart is very valuable in God’s eyes. There will be a meek, genuine humility. Not fighting against God and man. She will be tranquil, under control. Quiet, causing no disturbance to others. This means that: –
- She is learning to be tranquil and constant in the face of all circumstances.
- She has an inner beauty that depends on her relationship to the Lord.
- This development is a lifelong process.
- Her response – verses 5 and 6.
This means that she will be in subjection to her own husband. She will pay close attention to him. Attend to his needs. From this verse we see that the first person you obey or attend to is your husband.
Before we pass on to the next section in our study on Communication in marriage let us look at an example of a godly wife and then end with a few characteristics of a godly wife.
Example of a Godly Wife.
Proverbs 31:10-13, explain how a creative wife can live within the framework of submission.
- HER VALUE (v10) ‘Her price is far above rubies’. She is a woman of many parts. The rest of the chapter shows the parts (gifts etc).
- HER TRUSTWORTHINESS (v11) ‘The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil’. She will not waste what he has.
- HER SUPPORTIVENESS (v12) ‘She will do him good and not evil all the days of his life’. In other words she is orientated towards her husband.
- HER PRODUCTIVITY (vv13-14) ‘She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar’. She does her work at home with a willing attitude. No self-pitying attitude.
- HER SACRIFICE (v15) ‘She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens’. She takes care of the food needs of her family.
- HER ENTERPRISE (vv16-190 ‘She considereth a field, and buyeth it …’. This means that she is wise in business matters, she buys it after considering it. She spends long hours at work.
- HER PRIORITIES (vv20-24) ‘She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea she reacheth forth her hands to the needs …’. There is a great progression in these verses. We see that she works and is then able to help others. She makes nice clothes. Also since he has a wife like her, he has risen to a place of leadership. Notice also that the business she engages in does not hinder her family.
- HER RESULT (VV25-31) ‘She looketh well to the ways of her household’ (v27). She is not a dull wife but one of wisdom. People want to hear what she has to say. She takes care of the house and is rewarded by praise of her husband and family. ‘Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her’.
What a wonderful prize and all as a result of the wife fitting willingly into God’s perfect plan.
Let us conclude these thoughts then by looking at some: –
CHARACTERISTICS OF A GODLY WIFE.
- A meek and quiet spirit. 1 Pet 3:4.
- Desire for her husband. Gen 3:16
- Consolation and support |(loyalty). Gen 24:67 and Prov 31:11.
- Willingness to be of help and helping children to understand what she is doing. Gen 2:18
- Reverence and obedience. Eph 5:33 and 1 Pet 3:3,6/
- Strength of body. Prov 31:17.
- Strength of mind. Phil 2:5 and 2 Cor.10: 5.
- Keeping the home as a place which he is happy to come to. Tit 2:5 and Prov 31:27.
- Having an open house attitude towards his friends. Prov 31:20 and Rom 12:13.
- Finally in all her life she will be crown to him. Prov 12:4.
Let us go on and look at the fourth relationship that the wife plays in relationship to her husband.
- We see that the wife is to be A TEACHER.
Note what Paul says in Titus 2:3-4. ‘The aged woman likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children’. We see then, Paul speaks to the mature women and encourages them to teach the young women, and encourages them to teach the young women to love their husbands. God’s place for a woman in the home is one of tremendous influence. What the husband is, is greatly affected by the wife’s influence. Someone has said, ‘Behind every Great man is a great woman’. She is the one who completes him. His helper. She is subordinate in the home, makes the home, she is to teach the other woman to love their husbands. This then is the role of the wife; she is an essential person in the life of her husband.
A WALLED GARDEN
My sweetheart, my bride, is a secret garden,
a walled garden, a private spring …
Song of Songs
‘Your marriage’, he said, ‘should have within it,
a secret and protected place, open to you alone.
Imagine it to be a walled garden,
entered by a door to which you only hold the key.
Within this garden you will cease to be
a mother, father, employee, homemaker
or any other of the roles which you fulfil in daily life.
Here you are yourself – two people who love each other
Here you can concentrate on one another’s needs’.
And so we made our walled garden.
Time that was kept for us alone.
At first we went there often,
enjoying each other’s company,
sharing secrets, growing closer.
But now our days are packed
with plans and people
Conversation has become a
message scribbled on a pad.
The door into our garden is almost hidden
by rank weeds of busyness
We claim we have no time
because we have forgotten.
Forgotten that love grows if it is tended,
and if neglected, dies.
But we can always make time for
what is most important in our lives.
So take my hand and let us go
back to our garden.
The time we spend together is
not wasted but invested.
Invested in our future and the
nurture of our love.
Communication is key
‘But why can’t we communicate?’ A familiar question isn’t it? Is it not one that you have asked your husband or wife. Are there times when you do not communicate effectively? Perhaps you have never taken time to find out what communication really is. If you were asked to define communication what would you say it was? There are many definitions of communication. One definition is that it is a process (either verbal or non-verbal) of sharing information with another person in such a way that he understands what you are saying. Talking and listening and understanding are all involved in the process of communication.
One of the greatest obstacles to a successful marriage is an inability to communicate. Communication is important because it is the basis of a successful marriage. A couple should keep open, at all costs, the lines of communication between them.
One of the key problems in communication is making yourself understood. We have a saying on the door of our fridge that says, ‘I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure that you realise that what you heard is not what I meant’. We often think we understand what our husband or wife is saying, but often what we heard is not what they meant. Norman Wright in his book on ‘Communication’ has this interesting comment. ‘When you stop to think about all that’s involved in getting our message across it’s apparent why misunderstandings often occur. Communication specialists point out that when you talk with another person there are actually six different messages that come through: –
- What you mean to say.
- What you actually say.
- What the other person hears.
- What the other person thinks he hears.
- What the other person says about what you said.
- What you think the other person said about what you said.
TALKING – LISTENING – UNDERSTANDING
Successful communication involves, talking, listening and understanding. When we talk we should not talk just for the sake of talking which often results in little or no meaning. Effective communication always involves a point and a purpose. The experts in communication tell us that listening is something that does not come naturally to us. Most people prefer to be talkers rather than listeners. Someone has said, ‘The reason we have two ears, two eyes and one mouth, is so that we would listen and see twice as much as we speak’. Proverbs 18:13 gives some good advice on the importance of listening, so does James 1:19. According to Scripture, listening means making an effort to concentrate on what a person is saying, and be as eager to listen as you are to speak. The third part of communication involves understanding. if we spent as much time trying to understand each other as we do wanting to be understood there would be a lot less difficulties in our relationships. Sometimes our partners behave in a perplexing and strange way and we don’t seem to understand. But Paul has given us some good principles for understanding this in Ephesians 4:2 and Philippians 2:2. Let us give time and attention to talking, listening and seeking to understand each other. This will set us in good stead for a transformed marriage.
Let us look now at some basic principles for communication and then at some levels of communication and we will finish this section with some practical suggestions for developing and maintaining good marital communication.
BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR COMMUNICATION
We read in Amos 3:3 that two people can’t become one unless they communicate so it is necessary for sharing our lives. Problems pile up and barriers form between husband and wife without it (Prov.18: 17). Let us look at some principles as seen in Ephesians 4:25-32.
- Be open and honest – Eph.4: 25
We should talk to our mate the same way as we would to others. Paul said in 2 Cor.6: 11,12; 7:2,3 ‘I have been open with you’. He also said in 2 Cor.6: 12,13 ‘You be open with me’. There is no way we can get to know each other apart from openness. ‘I didn’t know you felt that way’ and other such things reveal a lack of openness. Barriers to each other form slowly, unless actively worked upon to avoid it. in talking about things there are some questions we should ask ourselves first.
- Is it true?
- Is it profitable? Constructive?
- Is my attitude right?
- Have I prayed about it?
Let us be committed to openness and honesty.
- Talk up instead of blowing up or clamming up – Eph.5: 26
We need to realise that anger closes off communication. When angry you are saying exactly what you feel inside. There is a destructive power in the tongue (Prov.12: 18; 16:27). When this power is unleashed it affects our partner. hasty, careless, vindictive words hurt communication. On the other hand silence is just as harmful as blowing up. ‘What is wrong?’ your mate might ask and you often answer, ‘Nothing’, (yet you know there is). Turning on silent tears (nearly all the time, self pity) does not help communication. Anger crushes your partner (Prov.18: 19; 18:14). We also read that Proverbs says that ‘A soft answer turns away wrath’. When we get angry we tend to use words like ‘you always’ and ‘you never’. Words like that should never be used (Read Prov.15: 1). ‘You are right’ or ‘I am wrong’ are good ways to cool anger.
- Take full share of responsibility – Eph.4: 28
Paul not only says that we should not steal, but that we should no something positive. When discussing with your mate give a suggested solution, this will give you some guidelines to work on and overcome the hurt.
- Edify by what and how you speak – Eph.4: 29
Corrupt means rotten and putrid. Bitter, angry, sarcastic, cutting and blaming words are corrupt. In his book ‘Strike the Original Match’, Swindoll says, ‘Tactfulness is an approach to another human being which involves being sincere and open in communication while at the same time showing respect for the other person’s feelings and taking care not to hurt him unnecessarily. Tactfulness involves an implicit trust or faith in the other person and communicates the message: “I trust that you will be able to handle what I’m going to tell you, as long as I respect your feelings and do my best to guard against my own destructive tendencies so that I don’t hurt you unnecessarily”‘.
The tone of voice we use says as much as the words we say. Yelling never gets across the proper message. We need to major on saying encouraging things to each other and our speech should be fitting to the need and the occasion. We should remember we want to deal with the problem not the person.
- Be forgiving and tender-hearted (understanding)
Let us put off bitterness and put on tenderness, accept your mate as he or she is, not as you want them to be. Paul says in Ephesians 4:2 – meekness and patience is what we should become. Let us be willing to forgive before we go to sleep, this kind of spirit will inevitably lead to good communication and will eliminate unresolved issues.
- Be a good listener
Communication involves two people talking with and listening to each other. Messages must be sent and received. Looking at your mate in the eyes helps them to know that you are listening. You cannot effectively listen and read something else. Give your undivided attention. This is one area where I have had to learn the most. It is also good to be reminded that one who talks a great deal is often a poor listener. Being a good listener helps the other person to talk. We are reminded in Proverbs 18:13 that we should let the other person finish before we begin to speak. Before we move on and look at some levels of communication may I just finish with the thought that we should not think up what we want to say next while the other person is still speaking. That shows we are not really interested in what the other person has to say!
LEVELS OF COMMUNICATION
I want to look briefly at three areas. In any area of communication there seems to be at leas three levels. First there is the information level. Then the feeling level and if this is not dealt with correctly it will lead to conflict: –
The best place to start improving communication is to communicate the right information. The simplest way to begin is to start talking about every day events. it is true to say that wives are more interested in the small details of life than husbands, and this is where men need to learn. We need to be willing to talk about the things our wives want to talk about. You probably won’t go any further to other levels until you feel comfortable at this level. This must become a regular part of your life.
This means expressing emotions: fears, joys, needs, and weaknesses. Sharing these with your mate and trusting your mate to hold these things in confidence. To do this you will feel that your mate is truly interested and concerned. Expressing frustrations and joys gets across the message that you really care for your mate. Life is meant to be shared.
When we take that important step of growth and learn to share the secret attitudes of our heart with our mate, then they will feel free to tell us how they feel. Often we can overlook things that are very important to them. When we do this there will be more of a oneness in heart, mind and purpose. The shared life is richer, broader, deeper, and stronger than being isolated. When our two lives merge, we are more balanced. We develop a wider viewpoint. We can see ourselves as our partner sees us. We gain a better perspective of ourselves.
All marriages have disagreements. I personally believe that there is nothing wrong in having difficulties but it is important how we deal with them. We must be willing to remain calm and cool during these times and respect the other persons’ convictions and feelings.
Regrettably, some couples try to solve their differences by arguing, forgetting that ‘he who is soon angry dealeth foolishly’ (Prov.14: 17). The reason people argue is that their pride has been hurt, and an argument furnishes them defence or cover-up. But to argue is to forget that ‘a soft answer turneth away wrath’ (Prov.15: 1).
How do we solve conflicts? ‘I’m sorry’, ‘Yes, you are right’ (Matt.6: 24) take care of today’s conflicts today.
Let us conclude this chapter then by looking at: –
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR DEVELOPING AND MAINTAINING GOOD MARITAL COMMUNICATION.
- When there are problems, each must be willing to admit that he/she is part of the problem (Gen.8: 8-19; Prov.20: 6)
- Each person must be willing to change (John 5:6; Matt.5: 23-26)
- Avoid the use of emotionally charge words – ‘You don’t really love me’, ‘You always do…’ ‘You never do anything right’, ‘I don’t care’.
- Be responsible for your emotions, words, actions, and reactions. Don’t blame them on the other person. Recognise that it was you yourself who got angry, lashed out, became depressed, etc (Gal.6: 5; James 1:13-15)
- Refrain from having reruns on old arguments (Eph.4: 26)
- Deal with one problem at a time. Solve one problem and then move on to the next (Matt.6: 34)
- Deal in the present and not in the past. Hang a ‘No fishing’ sign over the past unless it will help you to solve your present problems (Phil.3: 12-14; Jer.31: 34; Isa.43: 25)
- Major on the positive instead of majoring on the negatives (Phil.4:8)
- Learn to communicate in non-verbal ways (Matt.8: 1,2,14,15; Ps.32:8)
- Express your thoughts and concerns to each other. Relate your activities, listen, understand, and respond to the meaning behind what a person says.
11.Practice the golden rule – Matt 7:12. What would you like your mate to do to you? Would you like your mate to: Tell y9ou the truth? Ask your opinion? Help in time of need? be natural around you? Thank you for your help or services? Well, then do the same for him or her.
12.Practice the principle laid down in Luke 6:35 – ‘Do good – do that which will help others; and lend expecting and hoping for nothing in return’.
As in all other areas in a marriage, communication is the husband’s responsibility. Time must be set aside for communication to take place. It will not happen naturally.
THE MYSTERY OF MARRIAGE
‘To become one flesh’ … means that two
persons share everything they have, not
only their bodies, not only their material
possessions, but also their thinking and
their feeling, their joy and their suffering,
their hopes and their fears, their successes
and their failures. ‘To become one flesh’
means that two persons become
completely one with body, soul and spirit
and yet there remains two different
persons. This is the innermost mystery of
marriage. it is hard to understand, maybe
we can’t understand it at all. We can only
Love is not the feeling of a moment, but the
conscious decision for a way of life.
THE PHYSICAL RELATIONSHIP IN MARRIAGE
We have said before that marriage is a giant step into a life of deep fulfilment. This is also true in the area of sex. It can be the greatest fun of all in life. When God created man and woman, He created them male and female; as God looked out over His creation, he said, ‘Behold it is very good’ (Gen.1: 31). God designed intercourse for at least three reasons; for the propagation of the human race, for the expression of the kind of love between a man and wife that nourishes true oneness, and for pleasure. The idea then of male and female was God’s idea. Marriage was designed by God to meet the first problem man had and that was loneliness. When God brought Eve to Adam His plan was for their perfect happiness. Dr Charles Ryrie makes the interesting suggestion that the Hebrew word for woman, ‘ishah’, may come from a root word meaning ‘to be soft’ an expression, perhaps of the delightful and novel femininity of woman. So God the Lord brought the woman to Adam, he provided, ‘an help fit for him’ (Gen.2: 18), someone suited to him so that he would not be lonely. ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh’ (Gen.22: 24). We have already seen in our studies that this first involves a leaving (leaving mother and father and re-focussing their lives on each other). Cleaving, they will spend their lifetime together (the word means to adhere, to stick, to be attached). In every detail of life they will be together. Then there is the intimate physical union. ‘And they shall be one flesh’ (Gen.2: 24-25). The two actually become one. Although it goes far deeper than the physical, becoming one flesh involves intimate physical union in sexual intercourse. There is no shame. In God’s divine design, sexual intercourse between husband and wife includes both intimate physical relationships and a tender, intimate personal relationship. So leaving, cleaving and becoming one flesh means the two people are merged into one person. Practically, spiritually and materially. Sexual intercourse is more than a physical act: It is a symbol of a spiritual relationship and the expression of the complete oneness of two people in married love. it is an act of sharing. it is an act of communion.
MEANINGS OF THE WORD LOVE
Before we go right into the physical relationship in marriage let us look at the word ‘LOVE’. It is a word used a lot today in various ways. By understanding it from God’s perspective we will find our love relationship very much enriched. Dr E Wheat in his book ‘Love life for Every Married Couple’ says, ‘The Greeks of the New Testament era had at least five words that we can use to distinguish and describe the various aspects of love in marriage’.
The first word is ‘Epithumia’, a strong desire of any kind. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. It means to set the heart on. In marriage the husband and wife should have a strong physical desire for each other that expresses itself in pleasurable sexual intercourse. Sex is not the most important aspect of the marriage relationship but it is a definite indicator of the health of your marriage.
The second word is ‘Eros’. This word carries with it the idea of romance. Dr E Wheat says, ‘Eros, is romantic, passionate, and sentimental. It is often the starting point for marriage, being the kind of love that lovers fall into and write songs and poetry about’. Dr Wheat continues to say that this kind of love has a problem, it needs help and cannot last a lifetime all by itself. Every one of us longs for the thrilling love relationship that involves this oneness with the excitement that goes with it. Has the romance gone out of your relationship? You know what your mate appreciates. You know the things that you do and say that please each other. That kind look, that tender word (harsh words will send away romantic love quicker than anything). Remember romantic love draws your partner to you not away from you.
The third word is ‘Storge’. Dr Wheat says, ‘This could be described as a comfortable old-shoe relationship comprised of natural affection and a sense of belonging to each other. This love referred to several times in the New Testament is the kind of love shared by parents and children and brothers and sisters; the kind of love Robert Frost described when he called home, ‘the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in … sometimes you don’t have to deserve’. ‘Storge’ love in marriage meets the need we all have to belong, to be part of a close-knit circle where people care and give the utmost loyalty to each other. When the world shows itself as a cold, hard place, ‘storge’ offers emotional refuge. The marriage lacking this kind of quality of love is like a house without a roof, where the rain can pour in. But when present, ‘storge’ provides an atmosphere of security in which the other loves of marriage can safely dwell and flourish’.
Paul in Romans 12:10 encourages this kind of love when he says, ‘Be kindly affectionate one to another’. This is the love husband has for wife and vice versa. Genesis 2:24, ‘They shall be one flesh’. How does this work out in practice? Because we are one then I will not want to do anything to hurt the other part of Myself (My mate is part of me). I will be kind and do those things that I know will please and be supportive. Because we belong we will trust each other and express this confidence. Because we are available for each other there will also be a caring for each other. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 describes the benefits of this love, ‘Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat; but how can one be war alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken’. This is a wonderful gift. Belonging to each other yet also knowing the active presence of our Lord Himself with us.
The fourth word is ‘Phileo’. This love cherishes and has tender affection yet it always expects a response. It is a love of relationship, sharing, communication, and friendship. The person who has ‘Phileo’ love is someone who enjoys closeness and companionship, sharing each other’s thoughts and feelings, attitudes, plans and dreams. The most intimate things that they would share with no one else. it takes two to enjoy ‘phileo’ love.
As our marriage progresses we grow together and begin to like the things our partners like. We will want to spend time together, talk more together. We will confide in each other and will count on each other’s help and loyalty. In fact we will become the best of friends.
The fifth word is ‘Agape’. This is the best of the words used for love. The other words have had more to do with the physical and this word has more to do with the spiritual aspect of love in marriage. For ‘agape’ love is totally unselfish, it has the capacity to give and keep on giving without expecting in return. it is a love that is measured by sacrifice. This is the word that is used overwhelmingly in the New Testament to describe the love of God. This is the love of John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 13. It is the word that Paul used when he says, ‘Husbands love your wives’. And he means a love that is ready to sacrifice as he continues by saying, ‘As Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her’ (Eph.5: 26).
AGAPE LOVE COMPARED TO THE OTHER WORDS
‘Agape’ love has a strong desire to serve while ‘Epithumia’ has a strong desire that expresses itself in its own pleasure.
‘Agape’ love desires the best for the other person and delights in giving while ‘Eros’ love is the delight of romance.
‘Agape’ love wants to give while ‘Storge’ wants to belong.
‘Agape love values and serves while ‘Phileo’ cherishes and enjoys.
The above loves are dependent on feelings whereas ‘Agape’ love is not. It is a giving love. All of the above words are needed and are expressed in any marriage; yet let us desire to have agape love as our primary goal. A marriage that possesses agape love can survive anything. A love that survives on feelings will be quick to fail. Agape love is different; it will keep on flowing because it is unconditional. Dr Whet has made seven observations about ‘agape’ love: –
- Agape love means action, not just a benign attitude.
- Agape love means involvement, not a comfortable detachment from the needs of others.
- Agape love means unconditionally loving the unlovable, the undeserving, and the unresponsive.
- Agape love means permanent commitment to the object of one’s love.
- Agape love means constructive, purposeful giving based not on blind sentimentality but on knowledge: the knowledge of what is best for the beloved.
- Agape love means consistency of behaviour showing an ever-present concern for the beloved’s highest good.
- Agape love is the chief means and the best way of blessing your partner and your marriage.
We need to remember that agape love gives the very best to the one you love. In your own marriage, your partner needs one thing from you above all else – unconditional love. I can promise you that when you practice agape love in your marriage you will truly have a happy fulfilled marriage. It will result in a new romance knowing you belong to each other; you will become very close, nothing will separate you from each other. This will result in a rich relationship culminating in a deep sexual relationship. In spite of the clear teachings of Scripture, many think that sex and holiness don’t do together. That is very far from the truth. Sex is to be enjoyed and when two people are married it is perfectly natural and the result of a healthy relationship. Sex is God’s idea! He thought it up at the beginning. In fact the very thing that God draws attention to, following the creation of Adam and Eve is their sexuality: ‘male and female created he them’ (Gen.1: 27). I am sure that if a man and woman set out in their sexual relationship to bring pleasure to the other partner rather than to gain pleasure for themselves, it will bring love making into a new and thrilling dimension. Something for them both to enjoy equally.
Let us then look a little deeper into the physical relationship in marriage. First let us look at the fact that it is God ordained, then what it means to a man and what it means to a woman. We will then conclude with some things that hinder lovemaking.
- Love making is God ordained.
We have said that God ordained sex, so it is good in His eyes (Gen.1: 28,31). It is part of the ‘one flesh’ relationship of a married couple. Let us have a look at some scriptural comments on lovemaking. First of all we read in Hebrews 13:4 that ‘Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled’. The word for bed is the Greek word for intercourse. The word undefiled means to be free from contamination, not soiled. This assures us then that God views the marriage bed as undefiled. It is something that He holds in honour. So sex was created for pleasure. If we pass on to Proverbs 5 and verses 15-27 we will see that sex was created for mutual enjoyment, not just for child bearing. Verse 18 encourages us to rejoice, this means to have a smiling, cheerful countenance and to be glad, see Ecclesiastes 9:9. The hind and roe were objects of special delight, verse 19, so are your wife’s breasts, they are to be enjoyed. Two points are brought out here, first that her breasts should satisfy you at all times and secondly you should be ravished or be intoxicated with her love. The Song of Solomon is a book about married love, see Song of Solomon 1:2,13-17; 2:6; 4:1-7; 5:10-16; 7:1-10.
There are certain principles that we should look at in relation to love making. There is – according to 1 Corinthians 7:1-5: –
- The principle of need. We need to meet our mate’s sexual needs, we need to be unselfish. This is two ways. Marriage is the only way these needs are to be met.
- The principle of authority. A married person does not have control over his own body. Withholding love for whatever reason is wrong. A married person should not say no except by mutual consent. We should love and care for our mate’s body as though it were our own.
- The principle of habit. This means, as we have said, that one should only abstain if it is by mutual consent. Abstaining can cause one to fall into temptation. So regular, enjoyable sex should be a part of every marriage. The frequency of sex and the liberty that you can have is regulated by the needs of your mate. Any method of sex is acceptable as long as both partners are agreed, and it should always be in private. Make sure the curtains are drawn and the door is locked, and then enjoy each other. Remember it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
- What lovemaking means to a man.
Sexually men and women are different, and their bodies are only a small part of that difference. So the way we approach our mates, and our responses need to be in relation to the fact that they are different. Let me explain what I mean. To a man sex is an enjoyable change in the day yet to a woman it is part of her whole day. A man will turn on like an electric light (comes on immediately) yet a wife will turn on like an iron, (takes time to warm up). What happens through the day and her husband’s attitudes to her affect her desire for sex. The husband is generated by physical and emotional needs while a wife’s needs stem from the emotional. A man is stimulated by sight but a wife is slow to be excited and needs to be stimulated. Especially by tenderness. Realising these differences let us then look at the needs of the man. We see that:
- It satisfies his sex drive.
We see that lovemaking satisfies his sex drive. The male sex drive is stronger than in the female and is continual. It is a part of the aggressive nature of the man. Frequent lovemaking helps the male show in practical ways his love and need of his wife and also helps to control his thought life.
- It fulfils his manhood.
The sex drive is often linked to the male ego. Sexual frustration is often a cause for insecurity. If a man fails in lovemaking he often feels a failure in life. A husband likes to know his wife enjoys his love making, and so talking to each other about your love for each other and your enjoyment of sex is essential.
- It enhances his love for his wife.
We have said that marriage is the only legitimate way to release sexual tensions, and only a wife can fulfil this need for love, without producing guilt. A man feels release by showing sexual affection to his wife.
- It reduces friction in the home.
A sexually satisfied man is usually contented. Sex will not solve major problems but to a man it makes him secure when he knows he can have his wife’s love. A fulfilled sex life helps to make small irritations stay small. They will stay small and will get dealt with.
- It provides life’s most exciting experience.
Lovemaking is the most exciting repeatable experience for a man, and it is an experience to be shared only with ones wife. Lovemaking will help the husband to work hard for his family.
- What lovemaking means to a woman.
We have seen that men and women respond differently but for a woman lovemaking is different. It: –
- Fulfils her womanhood.
If a major part of married life is unsatisfactory her self-image suffers and she will have very little if any desire for sex. Being a wife and mother is top priority for most women. Yet being a good sexual partner is part of being a good wife. So when the husband makes sure the wife is secure and protected and he is what he should be to her she will then respond sexually.
- It reassures her of her husband’s love.
All people have a basic need to be loved. This is especially true of women. We have looked at the types of love and the wife responds to all of these. There is the love of companionship, compassion, romance (which includes opening doors, treating her like a lady), affectionate love then as these are met comes the passionate love. A wife takes longer to get to this point but when she does her lovemaking is really enjoyable.
- It satisfies her sex drive.
The wife’s sex drive is not as strong as a man’s but it is there. Her sex drive is cyclical. It has taken me a few years to fully realise this. When we realise the sex drive our wife has and respond to her we will see that her drive tends to grow with age and our response.
- It relaxes her nervous system.
Frigid women tend to be nervous. The woman’s reproductive organs are tied to the nervous system. When a woman is fulfilled then she is relaxed and can enjoy and will enjoy the sexual advances of her partner.
- The ultimate experience.
As with the man when a woman is fulfilled she will find this the most exciting experience.
- Things that hinder love making.
Yes, sex is one of the most exciting of life’s experiences, yet before we close let us just be aware of some things that can hinder a good love relationship. First, if there are troubles in other parts of your married life. Sex problems are like red lights on the dashboard of a car to make us aware that something is wrong. Another problem is the lack of understanding of the difference between male and female temperaments. We need to keep in mind that a husband may be too quick to make love, because he is stimulated by sight, and the wife is slower to reach a climax, she needs soft words, caresses, kindness, tenderness, to prepare her for love making. This is called foreplay and the husband needs to be aware of his wife’s need for this. Another problem can be ignorance of the biology of your mate, or yourself. Be careful of overwork, fatigue, or having too much on your mind. All of this can and will hinder a good sex relationship. One difficulty some people have faced is unresolved guilt about sex relations before marriage. Remember all that has been confessed has been forgiven. There needs to be no fear of the unknown. Let us each have a good free relationship with our mates. Open communication means a good relationship.
MARRIAGE IS …
Marriage is a dynamic process of discovery.
Marriage is a journey, not an arrival.
In marriage, being the right person is as important as finding the right person
Marriage is starting to love, over and over again.
Marriage is a life’s work.
Marriage is an art … and like any creative process, it requires active thought and effort. We have to learn how to share on many different levels. We need to practice talking from the heart, and understanding attitudes as well as words. Giving generously and receiving graciously are talents that are available to anyone. But all these skills need to be developed, if the marriage picture that we paint is to be anything approaching the masterpiece that God intends.
HUSBAND – WIFE TIME ALONE
Recently in a Marriage Seminar we had a time when the husbands and wives got together on their own and asked each other the following questions. May I suggest you get with your husband or wife and answer these questions honestly yourselves. I believe it will help you to learn more about each other and become closer to each other.
- Write down four things you appreciate the most about your mate. Share these with each other, the husband speaking first.
- Using 1 Peter 3:1-7 as your guide, admit the one trait or habit you would most like to see the Lord change in your life. Declare your desire to co-operate with His changing you.
- Set at least two major goals for your marriage. Write them on paper. Pray together and ask God to make them a reality.
- Make a list of things you can do to please your mate. Discuss them together.
- Discover and list the following things about your mate: –
- Chief interests.
- Greatest fears.
- Greatest likes.
- Goals for the future.
- Greatest disappointments.
- Discuss what has hindered communication in your marriage.
- Discuss with your mate any unresolved conflicts in your marriage.
- What pleases you about your present sexual relations?
- Is there anything about your sexual life you do not enjoy? When? How? Frequency? Etc?
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Perhaps you may have other questions you may like to ask each other.
During your time discussing together you may like to discuss the following principles of conduct.
Principles in conduct in Marriage
- Suggestions and criticisms should be carefully given in private.
- Courtesy at all times, please.
- Absolute loyalty and devotion in marriage.
- Hold in confidence personal marriage matters.
- Decisions should be made together.
- Keep each other informed regarding schedule and whereabouts.
- Devote most leisure time to the family, not to former friends.
- Do not ride alone with someone of the opposite sex.
- Do not lightly suggest the unloyalty of a marriage partner.
- No jokes at the partner’s expense.
- Do not correct your mate in public.
- Do not discuss your spouse’s faults in public.
- Do not argue in public.
- Do not talk against in-laws in public.
- Do not argue in the presence of your children.
- Respect each other’s parents.
The Bible does not say very much
it says a great deal
about the things that make them.
It speaks about life and love
and joy and peace and rest.
If we get a house and put these into it,
we shall have secured a home.
John Henry Jowett
Where do we go from here?
We have been seeing that God has a standard that can make marriage and the family what it ought to be if we as Christians follow it. This does not mean that people who are not Christians cannot have meaningful relationships. They can – up to a point. But they will never know total fulfilment, because as an individual finds fulfilment only in relationship with God so also a family finds fulfilment only in Him.
What is the key to having a good relationship with God then? Where does the ability to put into practice all we have been looking at come from? I believe the key to all this comes from Ephesians 5:18-21. ‘And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God’. The key then, is to be ‘filled with the Spirit’. To be living under His control in our lives daily.
It is interesting to note that all the teaching on the family in Ephesians 5 comes from this passage. Verse 18 is the key then to having a Spirit led marriage. We will see that the filling of the Spirit produces at least four results. The first two are directed towards ourselves. In verse 19 we read, ‘Speaking to yourselves’. The Word ‘to’ means among yourselves. The first thing that a Spirit led person will want to do is communicate with his partner and the family and with others in the body of Christ, we are exhorted to ‘exhort one another daily’, Heb.3: 13. We will want to talk of our Saviour and His love together. We will want to communicate. If you are filled with the Spirit this is the first thing that will be true of you. Do you love to be in the Word, do you share the Word with your mate? Do you love being in the psalms, and singing hymns, and do you have a heart for spiritual songs? We also read in verse 19, ‘Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’. The Spirit filled person will also possess an inner peace, inner contentment, inner joy that results in a song. Whatever the situation you know all is under His control and there is rest. Compare Col.3: 15 where we read, ‘And let the peace of God rule in your hearts’. To rule means ‘to referee’. He has the control and you leave it to Him. Are you doing that, do you know His rest? The third result is directed toward God. We read in verse 20 ‘Giving thanks always for all things unto God…’ A Spirit controlled person will not only be in the Word and share it, he will not only have a melody in his heart, he will be able to give thanks to God as well. Are you thankful that your Lord has the control and will not let anything come to you without Him knowing? The fourth result of a Spirit filled person is in verse 21, and it relates to his relationship to others, ‘Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord’. This fourth result of being filled with the Spirit is a willingness to be sensitive to each other and be willing to be what the Lord wants for me where I am. This particular thought takes up nearly two chapters and deals with how submission works, wives should submit to their own husbands, husbands should love their wives. Children should obey their parents, servants should be obedient. Paul ends by saying, ‘Finally … be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might’.
Where then does the ability to have a fulfilling marriage come from? It comes from knowing God’s word, and following it in the power of the Spirit. This will result in us being in His word, having a melody in our lives; being thankful for the situation He has put us into, being submissive to one another. This then is the key to a fulfilled marriage.
WHERE CAN I FIND AN ANSWER?
This chapter is a concordance on marriage and family life and is intended to be a help for finding verse on God’s blueprint for marriage.
Life is a gift from God
Genesis 2:7: Psalm 139:13
God plans pregnancies
1 Samuel1: 19
Life in the womb
Considered as a person
Humans created for eternal life Psalm 139:16
1 Timothy 2:4
Life and death belong to God
Life of others not to be taken away
See also Birth Control, Children
Breaking God’s law
Punishment for both parties
Spoils ‘one flesh’ relationship
Evil thinking is adultery
Divorce and adultery
Spoils a person’s life
Wrong use of body 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Marriage is for life
1 Corinthians 7:10-16
How to overcome temptation
1 Corinthians 10:13
2 Timothy 2:22
Forgiving is more important than judging
See also sin sex, prostitution
- Arguments in the family
Some examples in Scripture:
Cain and Abel. Genesis 4:1-12
Esau and Jacob. Genesis 25:27-34, 27:1-28
Joseph and his brothers. Genesis 37
Sons of David. 2 Samuel 13
Not pleasing to God
Not to be for the church leaders
1 Timothy 3:1-5
Settling an argument
See also Harmony in marriage
- Birth Control – see family planning
A gift from God
Genesis 21:1-4; 30:22-24
1 Samuel 1:11, 19-20
Psalm 113:9; 127:3,5
Care for children
1 Samuel 2:19
Mark 5:23; 10:13-16
Honouring and obeying parents
Proverbs 1:8,9; 6:20
1 Timothy 5:4
Training and discipline
Proverbs 13:24; 22:6
Belonging to Christ
1 Samuel 1:22-28
2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15
Not make angry
Place of children in marriage
Psalm 127 and Psalm 128
The result of love of husband Genesis 3:16; 24:67
and wife 1 Samuel 1:8
See also Parents
- Choosing a partner – see courtship
- Communion – see talking together
The joy of young love
Need for high standards
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; 5:22
2 Timothy 2:22
Finding God’s will
Genesis 24:14, 21, 48
Psalm 25:4-5; 37:3-5; 73:24; 119:9-11, 103-105, 130
The Lordship of Christ
Body as the temple of the Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20
see also Sex sin, Purity, Temptation, Ideal partner
Not allowed for Christians
1 Corinthians 7:10-11
Old Testament allowed only for hardness of hearts
Only for adultery
Matthew 5:31,32; 19:3-9
Remarriage of divorced
persons is adultery
Not pleasing to God
Condemned by Jesus
Matthew 5:31,32; 19:3-12
Hosea’s example of overcoming the problems
Hosea 1 and 2
Christ does not divorce us
- Disease – see 47Venereal disease
- Duties in marriage
1 Corinthians 7:1-5
1 Corinthians 7:10-11
1 Corinthians 11:3
Ephesians 5:21; 25-33
1 Peter 3:7
1 Corinthians 11:3
Ephesians 5:21-24; 33
1 Peter 3:1-6
see also Husband, Wife.
- Family planning
Need to care properly for
2 Corinthians 12:14
children 1 Timothy 5:8
Accept children as God’s gift
Psalm 113:9; 127:3
- Forbidden marriage (incest)
Marriage inside one’s own family forbidden in the Law
Wrong in the Church
1 Corinthians 5:1-3
Examples of incest
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
One partner for another
Christians must not do
1 Corinthians 6:18
- Guidance – see Courtship
- Happiness in marriage – see Harmony in the family
- Harmony in the family
Needed in leaders
1 Timothy 3:4-5, 12
A blessing from God
Love is the way
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
- Headship by husband – see Duties in marriage
Christ in the home
Luke 10:38-42; 24:28-35
Centre of Christian example and witness
Luke 10:38-42; 19:5-10
Acts 12:12; 18:1-3, 16
Christian marriage the foundation
1 Corinthians 7:14
Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-3
Making own home, leaving parents
1 Timothy 3:2
1 Peter 4:9
3 John 5:8
- Homosexuality – see sex sin
The head of the family
Duty of husband
1 Peter 3:7
Need to love his wife
- Ideal partner
see also Marriage love, respect in marriage, Courtship
- Incest – see Forbidden marriage
God gives children
Psalm 113:9; 127:2
Marriage is not only for producing children
Examples of having no children
Genesis 15:1-6; 25:21
1 Samuel 1:11
2 Kings 4:11-17
Results of wrong attitudes
2 Samuel 6:16-23
see also Sex in marriage, marriage
- Image of God
Both men and women in God’s
Genesis 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6
1 Corinthians 11:7
Relationship of men and women teaches about God
Men and women equal in God’s sight
- Immorality – see Adultery, Fornication, Sex sin.
- Love – see Marriage love.
Different kinds of love:
Galatians 5:13, 16-17
1 Thessalonians 4:5
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
- Male and female – see Image of God
Three parts – leaving, cleaving, one flesh
Cleaving to partner, being one flesh
1 Corinthians 6:16
Given by God
Picture of Christ and the Church
Picture of God and Israel
Isaiah 54:5-6; 62:4-5
Good and clean
1 Thessalonians 4:4
Must be kept pure
1 Corinthians 6:13-20; 7:1-7
For all life Matthew 19:4-9
1 Corinthians 7:10-16
For fellowship and companionship
For preventing sin
1 Corinthians 7:1-9
For producing children
Genesis 1:27-28; 4:1
Genesis 2:18, 20-23
1 Peter 3:7
Spoiled by sin
- Marriage love
Duty of husband and wife
1 Peter 3:1-7
This kind of love can only be for one person
Involves the whole life, not just sex
1 Peter 3:7
Christ’s example is the pattern
- One wife
One wife is God’s way of marriage
1 Corinthians 7:2
Important for church leaders
1 Timothy 3:2,12
More than one wife was not allowed in the Old Testament
because of the hardness of hearts
Deuteronomy 17:17; 21:15-17
- Parents, parenthood
Honour and respect by children
see also Children
- Partnership in Marriage
1 Peter 3:7
Attitudes, work, Christian lives
1 Peter 3:1-4
1 Corinthians 7:3-5
1 Peter 3:7
A sin against the body
1 Corinthians 6:13-20
Condemned by God
Leviticus 19:29; 21:7-9
See also Adultery
Sexual purity Important
1 Corinthians 6:17-20
1 Timothy 5:2
1 Timothy 4:12; 5:2
After the death of a partner
1 Corinthians 7:39
- Respect in marriage
Husband for wife
1 Peter 3:7
Wife for husband
1 Peter 3:1-2
Children for parents
- Sex in marriage
Bodies and desires made by God and are good
Genesis 1:31; 2:25
A gift from God
1 Peter 3:7
To bear children
1 Corinthians 7:2,5
Not just one’s own pleasure
1 Corinthians 7:3-5
An act of love, sharing bodies with each other
1 Corinthians 7:3-5
Consideration of partner 1 Peter 3:7
Sex outside marriage
- Sexual intercourse
Only for marriage, a sign of love, wrong to avoid except for
a special time
1 Corinthians 7:3-5
- Sex sin
Wrong in God’s eyes
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
A sin against the body
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Examples of sex sin
2 Samuel 11
Sex before marriage
1 Corinthians 6:18
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
How to handle temptation – see Temptation
- Single people (unmarried)
Free to serve the Lord
1 Corinthians 7:8, 32, 34
Better to marry if can’t exercise self-control
1 Corinthians 7:9
Not a sin to marry
1 Corinthians 7:36
Free from worldly and family care
1 Corinthians 7:32,34
Not wrong to stay single
1 Corinthians 7:37,38
A special gift or calling
1 Corinthians 7:7,17
- Submit (be subject to, obey)
Wives submit to husbands
1 Corinthians 11:3
1 Peter 3:1
Be subject to one another
- Talking together
A husband and wife must know how to talk together
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Where it comes from
How to overcome it
1 Corinthians 10:13
2 Timothy 2:22
Examples of overcoming
- Unequal partnership
Women married to non- Christian
1 Peter 3:1-6
1 Corinthians 7:12-16
Wrong for a Christian
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
- Venereal disease
Destruction of our bodies as a result of sin
Proverbs 5:11; 6:32
To be cared for by their children
1 Timothy 5:3,8
To be cared for by the church
1 Timothy 5:9-16
To be respected
1 Timothy 5:3,5
Allowed to remarry
1 Corinthians 7:8-9,39
1 Timothy 5:14
see also Remarriage
Submit to husband – see Duties in marriage, Submit
Duties to wife – see Duties in marriage
Care for husband
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Looking after her home
Looking after the children
1 Peter 4:9
see also Home
- Will of God – see Courtship
It is difficult to list all the books that have helped in these studies as others have helped in getting material together. Below are books that I have found helpful on the subject of Christian Marriage
The Christian Family, Larry Christenson. Kingsway Publications
Marriage is for Life, Ossie and Jenny Fountain. Christian Books Melanesia
Marriage as God Intended, Selwyn Hughes. Kingsway Publications.
How to be Happy Though married, Tim LaHaye. Tyndale House
How to Develop Deep Unity in the Marriage Relationship. Wayne Mack. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing.
Marriage Takes More Than Love, Jack and Carole Mayhall. Navpress.
Sexual Happiness in Marriage, Herbert J. Miles, M.D. Zondervan.
Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, Anne Ortlund. Word Books.
Strike the Original Match, Charles R. Swindoll. Multnomah Press.
Love Life For Every Married Couple, Dr. E. Wheat. Marshalls.
Communication, H. Norman Wright. Regal Books.
Acknowledgement is gratefully made to the Lion Publishing for allowing me to use poems from the book, The Gift of Marriage by Marion Stroud, published in 1982. The material used is as follows: A Marriage by Mark Twain; Together; A Gift of God; Memo to my Wife; All He ever Dreamed by Ruth Bell Graham; A Walled Garden; The Mystery of Marriage by Walter Trobisch; Marriage Is; Inside Story by John Henry Jowett