Divorce runs rampant today. So what's the problem? It's bad theology. If we would just get our theology straightened out . . . we could get our marriages straightened out as well.
“GOD’S DESIGN FOR MARRIAGE”
If you turn in your Bibles again to Genesis, chapter 1, as we are continuing our study: We have embarked on a journey that will take us through the Bible, and we’re not even going to guess how long that will take. We are thinking it might take five or seven years . We’ve just started at the beginning which has been an exciting thing, and I appreciate the response that I have had from you. I see you bringing your Bibles, I see you taking notes, and that thrills my heart to know that you are coming with the desire to study and to learn the Word.
We’ve discovered the amazing truths of the perfectly designed creation of God and especially last Sunday looking at the human body. “And God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.’” He had said previously over and over and over again as He saw what He had made, “It was good.” And He saw and , behold, it was good. It was good! It was good.! It was very good. As He summarized the six days of creation, and then He saysPRIVATE , “But something’s not good. And that is that man is alone.” And He says, “I will make a helper, suitable for him.” The name Adam comes from Adama, which I think I mentioned last week means earth. He had created man out of earth. The same chemical elements that make up mankind are in the ground. He will then take a portion of Adam’s side and create or literally sculpture a woman. “He will build her” is the literal translation of the Hebrew words. And God said in verses 18 to 20, He says, “I will make for man a helper suitable.” If your translation reads a helpmeet, you ought to just draw a line between the word help and the word meet, because it’s two Hebrew words that could be translated literally, “A helper suitable. One who complements. One who fills up the empty spaces of man. One who fits. Note, that’s not one who gives fits. That’s one who is fit to. In fact, the literal Hebrew, I discovered this past week, could be translated in this literal fashion. “One answering back to.” And don’t take that too literally either.
God knew exactly what He was doing when He sculptured into existence the first woman, Eve; and He introduces her to man in verse 22. “And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and He brought her to the man.” And the man caught his breath--the Hebrew, that’s in between the lines there. I think it took him a while before he could speak. If fact, I have an idea that they perhaps talked for hours until finally Adam, as we discovered last session, makes an introduction of this woman to the rest of creation. That’s exactly what he is doing here. He stands up, and he quiets down every animal, perhaps. And he says, “Look, this is now bone of my bones.” That could be translated after the word now, you could insert the two words at last! Adam is literally saying, “This is now at last, finally, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. I now have at last a counterpart, one answering to, one who will fill up the void. Flesh of my flesh!” “And she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.”
Now, in the session this morning I want to give you some things relating to the marriage relationship. Some principles that are taken right from the text that will make the marital relationship firm and enduring. It’s interesting that God will move directly into this after introducing Eve to Adam. These principles still apply today. They’re as powerful, they’re as timely, as they were centuries ago. I want to discover them with you this morning. So, if you’re taking notes, I want to give you the first principle.
Let’s call this THE PRINCIPLE OF CONSIDERATION. Verse 24:a--”For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother.” Now I want you to understand a couple of things. First of all, He is not speaking here in reference to a relationship with mother and father. In fact, wise is the individual who recognizes when he/she gets married that it is really two worlds merging into one larger one. The relationships of your wife become your relationship. The relationships of the husband are brought into that marriage. So now we’re involved with uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews and mother and dads in law, sons, brothers, sisters, perhaps, and all these involved in now this larger world.
He is not saying to abandon, which is a literal translation of the word leave. He’s not saying abandon them in terms of your relationship with them. That’s going to continue. In fact, you are creating relationships with another entire world, another family. He is also not referring, ladies and gentlemen, to the sense of responsibility. You and I do not abandon our sense of responsibility. In fact, Jesus’ harshest words were toward the Pharisees who would abandon their parents in taking care of them in their aged state. They were hoarding their finances so that moms and dads who were unable to take care of themselves were left alone. They were in poverty. The Pharisees were saying, “Well we’ve dedicated this money to God. So we can’t give it away.” Jesus Christ came and pointed the finger through their facade and said, “If you cannot take care of them, you are not religious. In fact, you don’t even know God.”
So he is not referring here in this passage, obviously, to a relationship--abandoning that--or to abandoning responsibility. What does He mean when He talks of abandonment? Let me give you what I think He is saying.
He is referring to priority--to the sense of direction. So that a man and a woman leave the nest and create for themselves their own purpose, their own direction. That marital relationship takes priority over any other relationship. The responsibility to the wife, the responsibility to the husband now has priority over every other relationship in existence. No human relationship, then, men and women, should have priority over your marital relationship. And that means that you may strike out on a different course than mom and dad would want. You will probably try some things that they may never try. You might go places they might never go. I think this also involves the parents of those who marry. This is not only in the case of newlyweds but, of course, in the case of as long as they live. This is the painful part because this means that fathers will have to suffer the pain of knowing their little daughters are now looking to another man. I get choked up thinking about it here. Can you imagine what it will be like? When my little girl marries? Forty years from now? She’s going to look toward another man for strength and guidance? It’s a riot being first place in her little life. I love it! There’s going to come a day when she’s going to say, “Dad, I want to introduce you to this guy. He now is my life--my world!” He will be unworthy, of course.
There will come a day when I may hear that they have purchased an automobile that I don’t think is a good deal. You know the temptations for all dads is just to march over there and give them that lecture. You know, the one on
fiscal responsibility 332. And you gotta bite your lip. Because they’ve got to learn. One of the difficulties I’ve been told is that many couples live with their parents’ values in mind, rather than formulating their own. You see, your children will marry. You may have children married now. You may be married and afraid to develop your own direction, your own values, because more than anything in the world you want to hear dad say, “You’re doing a great job!” You want to hear mom say, “I’m pleased with your direction.”
You know what God says? God says that now is secondary. You together strive to hear me say, “I’m pleased!”
It means, moms, that now your son is going to be cared for by a woman of different tastes. You know he doesn’t like to eat that food, but you better not tell her. Let her find out. You know how he likes to have his shirts washed and pressed. But don’t you dare advise. You let that girl find out for herself.
You see, what I’m suggesting to you men and women is that this message of abandonment is not just for the husband and wife. It’s for the parents. And the message is this: Let Them Go!! In fact, you will be doing a great service to your young people if you will allow them to develop their values, priorities, and direction.
There are several periods I have read and, of course, experienced a few of them that create a tremendous amount of stress on a marriage--the first few years, the birth of a child. It is in those situations that moms and dads who watch their kids who are married - who force their children together so that you ask that little girl when she comes to you and says, “Daddy, I don’t know what to do!” “Did you ask your husband?” “What does he think?”
“See, Mom, I’m not sure what I should do in this situation.” “Did you ask your wife?” You see that is where parents can have a tremendous impact in developing the direction of their young people. I know, I guess it’s hard to let go. I’ll discover that one day. Some of you could tell me by experience.
I can’t believe this is true, but I read this past week. You’re not going to believe this. But a mother called her son three times on his wedding night. Now come on, you know that’s kind of funny. You know, I thought about it. I thought what kind of mother would call her son on his wedding night? And then I thought about it a little longer and I thought what kind of dummy would leave his phone on the hook? You know? “Oh, it’s you again, Mom. Three times.”
You see, what God is saying here in the first manual on marriage is that your marital relationship takes priority. It may mean disagreeing with mom and dad. It may mean taking a different direction, establishing different values. But that marital relationship will take priority. That is the principle of considering that wife above all other women, or all other relationships. That husband above all other relationships. That’s the principle of consideration.
Let me give you the second key principle I think is in this text, and it’s found in the word cleave. Would you look back at your word there, chapter 2 verses 24:b. “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother,” that’s a.
b: “And shall cleave to his wife.” The word cleave could be literally translated weld, or grip.
The marital scene in America today would change drastically if couples coming into marriage would come in with one basic proposition--there is absolutely no way out! One man I read last week said that commitment is taking your hand off the doorknob to the backdoor of your marriage. There isn’t a way out, but there’s a way through. Because, men and women, if you have in your marriage a fire escape over here, there will come a time when you’re going to run for it. So you had better seal it up.
One man wrote that there are three things very important. In fact, this is right out of Scripture. I want to give you three things that are involved in a marriage that is including this principle of commitment. It involves three relationships. Let me give you the first one. That is between you and the Lord. If you’re going to have the principle of commitment in your marriage, it means you are committed to the Lord. This is crucial. Before you ever talk about a relationship with another human being, talk about your relationship with God. Because, husbands, there is no way in the world that you could ever love your wife without first understanding and experiencing the love of Jesus Christ. Because how are you to love your wife like Christ loved the church?
The second is, of course, the relationship of your spouse to the Lord. You’d better encourage it. Bless your heart if you get in the way of your spouse’s relationship with the Lord. God help you if your spouse has to wake you up and get you out of the bed in the morning to go to church. You are hindering the potential relationship. If your breakfast is late because she or he is reading the Word, FANTASTIC!! Encourage that relationship that they have.
A young man walked into my office not long ago and asked if I would perform his wedding. He had never attended Colonial. In fact, I’d never seen him before. So I just asked him a few questions about his relationship with the Lord. It was nonexistent. I explained to him the truth--that, look, if the Lord’s not involved in you marriage--He’s the one that designed it--He’s got the manual for it. In fact, if you build it without the Lord according to David, Psalm 127:1, you’re going to labor in vain. He wasn’t very interested. I shocked the daylights out of him by looking him in the eye, and I said, “Look, man, why don’t you just skip the marriage and just live with your girlfriend? “What? What are you suggesting that for?” I simply told him because, since God’s idea is marriage, and since God is not a part of your marriage, He’s not going to be involved. Why worry with appearances?
Having a ceremony in a church is absolutely meaningless. You want it your way, do it your way. But if you want to do it God’s way, then God has to be involved. You need a right relationship with Jesus Christ if you’re ever going to pull it off. Your spouse needs to have a right relationship with the Lord if you’ll ever experience the kind of commitment He wants.
Finally, the relationship needs to exist between you and your spouse. But I put this one last. You notice, because it hangs upon the balance of the other two. You show me a woman that is out of fellowship with Jesus Christ, and I will show you a woman out of fellowship with her husband. Show me a man who is in rebellious to the word of God, and I will show you a man who is impossible to live with. It hangs upon those first two being in proper perspective.
A respected professor of mine said that 85% of his marital counseling , as a man who has been teaching the Word for nearly forty years, involves a man or woman who walks into his office and says these words, That they’re not getting out of their marriage what they deserve. And he knows that they’re already in phase three in the deterioration of the marriage--when spouses begin to concentrate on I, me, my. You never hear the words we, us, it’s me. How could we ever circumvent the selfish nature of our own being by having a relationship with Jesus Christ and learning to die to self, to live to Him. Then we can live in the proper perspective of our horizontal relationship.
One more: Let’s call this the principle of companionship. Would you look at the last part of verse 24? Well, let’s begin with the beginning. “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife. And they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Now this union obviously involved physical intimacy, but it involves much more. That’s why I call this the principle of companionship. Because it involves spiritual, emotional, and mental unity. It involves two people going in the same direction. That’s the principle of companionship.
One man writes that this involves the complete identification of one personality with the other in a community of interests and pursuits. You know what is happening today? People get married, and the husband goes this way, and the wife goes this way. Separate directions, separate pursuits. So the days off are spent alone. There isn’t the pursuit of developing this companionship. At night, when they are together, the television is on, and very little conversation takes place. Then they separate to go to work, come home tired, the day off is for themselves. I want to say something to you men and women that may shock you. But I believe it is true. I believe many husbands and many wives today are lonely. I believe that, if you could evaluate most marriages in America, you would find the missing ingredient of companionship. Husbands and wives who are lonely. You see it is possible to live under the same roof with someone and still not have a companion--still not have that close friend that God designed.
One clinic took a survey, and nearly 95% of those interviewed expressed that they didn’t feel close to their mate, and that’s sad. You know why? Because what was the basis. What was the first thing that God said He would do for man? Alleviate loneliness. Man’s lonely. That is not good. And on the basis of that, then He built someone, He formulated, He created, He sculptured someone who would fill in the void, fill up the need, answer back to, complement.
Isn’t it interesting, my friends, that, when God sought to alleviate the loneliness of man, He didn’t create ten good friends? He created a woman. A wife. Now that implies something , men and women. Let me speak to just the men for a moment. If you are bored and lonely today, the solution is not a hobby. The solution is not a bag of golf clubs. The solution is not another friend. The solution is developing companionship, a warm and vital friendship with your wife. Ladies, if you are lonely today, you know what the solution implied in this text? That you develop companionship with your husband. That warm and vital friendship with the man that God intended to fill in your void and lonely places.
I want to give you three thoughts in developing companionship. Three words: jot them down into your notes--that will develop companionship with your spouse. The first word is confidence. Would you turn to Proverbs please. Let’s look at just a couple of verses here. Proverbs 17:9: Confidence is a key ingredient to developing companionship with your spouse. Proverbs 17:9: Draw a circle around that reference. “He who covers a transgression, seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates” - who? - “intimate friends” companions. You see the longer you live with your spouse, the more you will understand and know their weaknesses, their faults, their shortcomings. That is information that God intended for you to know. So many times when couples argue, the first thing that comes out is something that is used as a weapon that’s directed to one of the weaknesses. For instance, a man may open up to his wife and admit to her that he is incapable or finding it difficult to handle finances. The first time they’re in an argument, guess what comes out? “You never have a penny in your pocket.” Guess what? He’s going to clam up. A wife may admit to her husband that she really feels intimidated about being compared to her mother. Oh boy! We’ve got a weapon now. First that argument hits. Man, it reaches a peak, and guess what, “You’re just like your mother!” (Whistle) Guess what? You have just broken confidence. You know, wives, sometimes you know things about your husbands that you share with other ladies at work, and, men, you share things about your wives with other men at work, and, my friend, you are destroying the potential for companionship--because there is no confidence. You can’t trust each other. Solomon says that, in order to have companionship or confidence, you must cover transgressions and not repeat them.
Let me give you another word that I think is crucial in developing companionship, and that word is communication.
Communication. And let me give you two thoughts under that. These are all C’s. So hopefully you and I will remember them a little more easily. First is confrontation. That’s part of communication. You say, “Wait a second, I thought I wasn’t supposed to criticize my spouse.” Well, I’m not suggesting that you be critical, but might I turn your attention to Proverbs 27 and let’s see what he says here. Verse 5: You say that the reason you never say anything to your mate is because that you love them, right? The reason that you never confront them about something is because you just love ‘em. And aren’t you just supposed to accept everything? Well, what does he say in 27:5? “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” In other words, they are more productive in developing character than in the kisses of an enemy--because they are deceitful. You know, I have seen couples where the wife just doesn’t say a word--the model of passivity.
Some of you husbands say, “Well, I’d like to learn the secret of that one. No, you wouldn’t. Because you see what happened behind closed doors, behind the scenes, it may have even happened out in the open, is when the wife suggested something to the husband, and BANG! “Don’t you give me advice. I’m the commander of this ship. And he has squelched the potential confrontation that will ultimately sharpen him. Same way with the husband advising the wife. But I’ve seen it more in terms of wives advising husbands. They don’t want to hear it. They would rather their wives remain silent. And yet they have been robbed of one of the best things a marriage provides. That is a sharpening impact of that mate toward you in confronting you with things you cannot see. You’re blind.
I read a story that is kind of humorous and yet it isn’t. It talks about a husband and wife and they were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Everybody always admired their relationship because she was just the kindest thing and he could do just about anything he wanted to do and she would never say a word. They were asking her one day, “How did this happen? Boy, what’s the secret to that?” In fact, they asked her this question, and she said, “Well, it happened on our honeymoon. We went to the Grand Canyon and were taking two mules down the side of the Grand Canyon. My husband’s mule stumbled, and my husband grabbed him by the ears and shook him and said, ‘That’s once.’” A few yards further the mule stumbled again and her husband took him by the ears and said, “That’s twice.” Finally the third time the mule stumbled, the husband got off the mule and got out a pistol and shot the mule. The wife said, “I started to protest, and he ran over to me and grabbed me by the ears and said, ‘That’s once.’”
Would you look at verse 17 of Proverbs Chapter 27. Boy, if this isn’t talking about the marital relationship I don’t know why. “Iron sharpens iron. So one man sharpens another.” The spouse, the mate that God has given you is iron. Somebody said that a good marriage creates enough friction like sandpaper to round off the rough edges. That’s what he’s talking about right here. “Iron sharpens iron.” And by clamming your wife up when she advises. Wives, when your husband advises something perhaps you cannot see and you say, “I don’t want to hear that.” You know we’ve drawn lines around our marriages. You’ve seen it, perhaps you’ve been involved in it. You’ve got a line and, buddy, don’t step across that line, because, if you do, you’re on my turf. That’s mine. Don’t say anything about that. As a result, you have a blind spot in your life that your mate cannot help you with, because you refuse to hear. Confrontation is crucial and sharpening.
Let me give you the second word. That is counsel. Counsel. Turn to Proverbs 17. Look at verse 9. I like this verse. “Oil and perfume make the heart glad.” Something else does. “So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.” God has given the husband and wife an excellent source of objective wisdom. In fact, I think that a marriage is strong when the couple is literally counseling one another. You know when the husband wants something or wants some advice: now listen, if he asks you, and then if you respond, the husband shouldn’t say, “Well, that’s kind of dumb. I’ll do it my way after all.” No, accept the counsel. He says the counsel is sweet, and I think of course implied here is the attitude in which we counsel our mate. The attitude in which we confront. Confronting is never intended to tear down. It is always intended to build up.
So you may sit here and think, “Well, my wife never listens to my counsel.” Or, “My husband never listens to my advice.” Perhaps you ought to look at the way you give it. Is it sweet like perfume? Is it laced with love?
Well, in order to develop companionship, we need confidence, communication. Let me give you one more word. Caring. The word care comes from the Gothic root that means to lament, to grieve. Isn’t that interesting that from that history we get our word care. Why? Because to lament, or to grieve is to be emotionally involved with the effects, the situation, life of another human being. So, if I am to care for my spouse, that means I am emotionally involved in that which hurts, that which helps, that which brings joy into her life or into his life.
Caring is the tangible expression of love. Love in intangible. You can say, “I love my mate,” until you’re blue in the face, but, until you make tangible expressions by caring, it might be taking the garbage out, washing the dishes, a card, a note, a phone call unexpectedly. That is caring. That develops companionship.
I think we could best illustrate marriage by watching a child learn to walk. You know it’s been a joyful thing to see three of them learn to walk. And you’ve seen it happen. They’re sitting there on the ground, and all of a sudden they get the bright idea that I’m going to start crawling. After a while they get down on their knees and hands but they don’t have the motor running yet. They just kind of sit there and rock back and forth. Finally, somebody starts the motor, and they start crawling all over the house. Finally, they get the idea that, “Look there’s a couch over there. If I crawl over to the couch, maybe I can pull myself up and stand up there like my dad or mom or brother or sister or whatever.” And would you believe it, they finally pull themselves up and they’re standing. Boy the celebration begins. You break out the camera. You take 35 shots. Ten years from now you will wonder, “What are all those shots of this little kid standing at the couch?” But that was when it happened. Finally, the child sees dad or mom sitting across the living room floor and they say, “It’d be great if I could walk across there to them.” So you know what happens? They take their first step. Bang! And they sit there a while, and they think, “Well, let’s back up and try this again.” And so they take a couple of steps. Over a process of days and weeks and after they start walking you wish it had taken years--they finally take two or three steps into your open arms. You rejoice--another celebration. They’ve learned to walk. No matter how long you’ve been walking, though, you always have the capacity to stumble and fall. No matter how long you’ve been married, and that also is a process, you crawl, you pull yourself up, you take a step, and bang, you fall. You pull yourself up again and you walk a couple of steps, and you fall. You blow it, you ruin it. Wouldn’t it be foolish for that child to sit there on the floor after trying about 500 times and saying, “Well, Dad, I guess I’m not called to walk.” So many couples fall and stumble and get up and fall and some may come to the conclusion, “Well, I guess God doesn’t want us to walk together.”
My friend, the difference will be when you fall and stumble, and you will, because you will always have the capacity, the difference will be that you are developing a relationship. Built into it are the principles of consideration, commitment, companionship.
Where do we start? First of all, we start with our relationship to the Lord. And then we stop with our relationship with our spouse. We leave it up to the Lord how they will respond. But we do what’s right. May our marriages be characterized with the ingredients: confrontation, counsel, caring , companionship, consideration, and commitment.