It’s truly amazing how many books, videos, and teaching resources are available today on the subject of “marriage.” A quick search on Amazon.com will turn up more than 250,000 titles related to marriage. There are also countless marriage seminars and Conferences that take place where couples go to (quote) “recharge” their marriages, get tips and ideas on how to improve their relationships, learn to communicate with one another better, as well as how to better understand the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of one’s spouse.
My wife and I have attended several such Conferences in years past when we were much younger. Many of these featured well-known presenters -- “experts” in the field of “Marriage Improvement.” While I do not doubt that events like this are helpful to some, perhaps especially those who are newlyweds and/or have little to no understanding of the concept of a biblical marriage covenant, we found almost ALL of these events to be extremely basic, taking up entire weekends but failing to provide any real substance.
These seminars covered topics like love, romance and sex, learning to deal with those little idiosyncrasies that tend to bother us, what women want, what men want, how to meet the emotional needs of your spouse, how to deal with making major household decisions, finances, in-laws, children and household chores. Of course, these Christian Marriage Conferences usually always included the quoting of Ephesians 5, where we learn that the wife should submit to her husband, and the husband is called to love his wife. That’s good, but NONE ever explained the deeper concepts behind what Paul was trying to convey here. Then there were the inevitable silly “exercises” we were asked to participate in and workbooks we were asked to fill out, which were SO elementary, we wondered what the point of it all was. On at least one occasion, we actually left the Conference early; it was an awful waste of time.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I believe that EVERY couple should undergo good, biblical marriage counseling BEFORE the wedding, and I believe this counseling should be done by a competent Pastor -- hopefully the pastor that will be performing the wedding ceremony. Young people need to understand what “Holy Matrimony” IS, and what a marriage COVENANT is, ...what it means to make a “vow.” And counseling prior to the wedding is a time of discovery for the couple, as they learn about each other’s expectations, hopes and dreams and address topics together with their pastor that they likely have not discussed much at all before.... Good pre-marital counseling, will, indeed help to avoid almost certain disaster for those who are not solidly grounded in God’s Word, and if they’ve not thought- and prayed-through the covenant they are about to enter into.
And certainly AFTER the wedding day, there is a period of adjustment and growth as they learn to become “one flesh,” and begin living out their covenant marriage and learning as they go along; building their family together. It is essential to build that new family on a solid, biblical foundation with Jesus Christ at the CENTER of their new home. This is where ongoing counsel can be helpful, and a good, Godly support system will be critical. But the SOURCE of the counsel is extremely important... and that “support system” should NOT be the girl or guy’s best friends... more often than not, I’ve seen these “friends” BREAK MARRIAGES UP, rather than hold the couple accountable to the vows they made before God and to each other.
Often young couples choose their best friends to “stand up” as witnesses at their wedding. The guy chooses HIS best friend as his “Best Man.” The girl chooses HER best friend as her “Maid of Honor.” But when things begin to get rough in the marriage, each turns to their respective best friend for a shoulder to cry on, somebody to complain to, and seek advice from. More often than not, the advice they get from these “friends” is to do “whatever makes YOU happy!” So if the young, frustrated husband suddenly discovers marriage is not all he expected, his best buddy will encourage him to get out, if it will make him happier. Same with the bride... I’ve actually seen struggling marriages break up, because the new bride goes to her best friend to cry on her shoulder and rather than holding the young bride accountable to the vows she made before God, she says, “you deserve better than that.... you deserve to be happy. If he doesn’t make you happy, there’s plenty of fish in the sea!” So much for wise counsel!
Young people: choose your wedding party carefully. You see, they are not just there to wear a shiny dress or tuxedo and pose with you for pictures. They are there to be your WITNESSES... to WITNESS the VOWS you are making before God, and then, AFTER the wedding, to hold you accountable to those vows, to support and help you UPHOLD those vows... for a lifetime. They are not to “take sides” in an argument, and you are not to disparage your spouse in front of them, nor seek their approval for a divorce. But that is USUALLY how it works in most marriages these days.
And so we have more information, more books, DVDs, seminars, Conferences, Marriage Retreat Weekends and other resources than ever before to help people learn how to have a good marriage, and yet our divorce rates continue to skyrocket, and we’re seeing more and more couples choosing to just LIVE together, WITHOUT the sacred commitment of marriage. We’re also seeing pastors and church leaders simply choosing to overlook the fact that people in their congregations are living together outside the sacred bonds of marriage. Why is this? Has God changed His mind about marriage? Doesn’t it matter anymore? Or could it be that very FEW are willing to tell the truth about what God’s Word REALLY says about the sacredness of marriage?
I guess what I would like to impart to you here today, is that if you’re struggling in your marriage and your relationship is suffering, there is a very simple explanation. You’re DOING it wrong! Most likely you began with a bad foundation, and what you have attempted to build upon that foundation has failed.... as, of course, it would. Once again, there are a MILLION man-made resources and opinions and teachings... but only ONE WAY to do life right: and that’s GOD’s way. All the resources and counseling and Conferences in the world won’t help you if your heart is hard against God and you refuse to look to HIM as your source and your foundation. I can show you where to find the truth, but I can’t make you think. That part is up to you.
The good news is, God has revealed the truth to us in His Word. He has not made any secret of how to have a good marriage and it is not some un-knowable mystery. In the very first chapter of the Bible, He explains His perfect plan for Godly marriage and families: “In the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’” One man, leaving his father and mother and becoming united to one woman, for life, in a sacred bond, where two people become one flesh. Jesus Himself reminds His disciples of this most basic concept over and over again in the Gospels. THAT’S how important GOD’s plan for marriage and family is. Now, this sounds wonderful and beautiful and very romantic -- and it IS. But it is also a call to selflessness. In marriage, you are no longer able to just live for yourself... God has greatly blessed you with a spouse but that blessing also comes with a COST: to care for, serve and minister to your mate.
Now in my last message, I admonished husbands to be SERVANTS and ministers to their wives and families, acknowledging the great blessing their wives are to them. And as I predicted, and as ALWAYS happens when I do this, I get men emailing or calling me, asking me to condemn the women for not being submissive enough or obedient enough to their husbands. It happened again. One man wrote: “Men today are weary keeping the wife upon a pedestal and serving her and the family with no love or affection returned.”
Here’s the problem: people today think marriage is to be a 50-50 proposition. What a selfish concept, to keep track this way and make sure each is putting in “their fair share,” then withdrawing if they feel they are not getting what they deserve. This is not what the Bible teaches, nor is it God’s plan. It’s not SUPPOSED to be 50-50. Men, you are supposed to be the LEADERS in your home, and I cannot stress this enough: you are to be the MINISTERS in your home, which means YOU are to be the SERVANTS in your home. It’s NOT 50-50. God’s plan requires YOU to give 100% of yourself to your wife, Do not buy into the lies or deceptions of TV, movies, liberal new age teachings and things like that. Instead, read your Bible -- and follow it. Once again guys, if YOU lead, if YOU SERVE, she will naturally reciprocate and you will have a blessed, harmonious home. If your marriage is not like that, look INWARD first, and ask yourself if you have been the leader, minister and servant to her that you SHOULD be.
A lot of men would love to be in your position. Many would love to be married but have not been so blessed as you. If you are married, TREASURE your wife! Honor, respect and care for her. She is your WIFE! You are to be her provider, protector and defender. You are the one God placed in charge of seeing to her needs. Be humble. Serve her. Committing yourself to this discipline each day will banish selfishness from your heart, and you will become the man God has called you to be FOR YOUR WIFE. You’re in a very special position; a position of responsibility and you hold a sacred trust. Pray with her - and for her - each day. Open car doors for her. Help her with her work, make her life easier and more pleasant. Make that your goal in your marriage. Love her like Christ loves you. Ephesians 5 tells us, “Husbands, LOVE your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her...”
Now, you can agree with these things intellectually but still not “get it.” “Yes,” you say emphatically, “I would readily lay down my life for my wife!” Ok... Will you readily lay down the TV remote for her? Will you readily put down the game console, all you perpetually adolescent “men” who spend your lives “gaming” while your beloved, precious wife languishes, hoping for just a simple, loving touch or a kind word? Will you put away Facebook? Will you lay down the porn? Will you lay down your free time in order to serve HER needs? Are you ready to be a real man, ready to provide for her, protect her, defend her, honor, love, respect and adore her? I’M TELLING YOU, that if you DO these things, 99% of the perceived problems in your marriage will vanish
As for all the other issues in marriage, you do NOT need a thousand books, tapes, DVDs or seminars. You just need God’s Word, the Bible. There you will find all the answers you need. You’ll find God’s perfect design for marriage and family. You’ll find answers to your questions about sex, love, romance, faithfulness, self-sacrifice, servanthood and self-control; you’ll learn how God created and blessed each gender with specific roles within marriage. You’ll even learn about finances, how to work and be a good provider, you’ll learn about good parenting, and most importantly of all, you’ll learn the importance of keeping Jesus Christ, your Savior at the Center of your union. The nonsense the world offers and the foolishness of false religions can never come close to comparing to the ABSOLUTE TRUTH of God’s Word, the Bible.
One last thing guys: leaders never succeed when they “push,” demanding their own way. Instead, they must learn to “pull.” That’s what LEADERSHIP IS. You lead, and she will follow. You do your part; you MINISTER AND SERVE and she will be your greatest blessing in this life. If you want a great marriage, strive to be the world’s greatest husband! I urge you, humble yourself in service to your God-given mate -- and enjoy the boundless joyful blessings God intended when He created her as a special, priceless treasure just for you. Appreciate her. Thank God for her. And keep HIM at the center of it all. For a cord of three strands is not easily broken! DO THIS and you cannot fail. You will have the marriage, the family and the ABUNDANT LIFE God designed for us all to enjoy. Unlike so many unhappy couples out there, you will live together with your wife in a renewed love for the rest of your lives, ‘til death do you part - until at the final end, one of you lays the other lovingly in the arms of Jesus.
Audio CDs and transcripts of this message are available when you call me at Wisconsin Christian News, (715) 486-8066. Or email Rob@WisconsinChristianNews.com and ask for message number 194.
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