By Edwin Christiaan
There is a saying that says: ‘Hollywood stands for the breaking of marriages’. However, it is the divorce rate among Christians that is on an all-time high. Unfortunately, this also includes pastors and ministers.
The reason for all of this, I believe, is not only because of the broken society we live in which produces broken relationships, but also because of a lack of knowledge concerning the real meaning of marriage, and what it stands for. As it says in Hosea 6:4 NKJV:
“My people are being destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
God Himself said that He hates divorce. (See Malachi 2:16)
Based on my own personal experience and the experience in counseling many couples over the years, I want to give you a perspective tour on this issue:
The intention from the beginning
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27 NKJV
In other words, the union of a man and a woman is a reflection of God Himself, and a Christian marriage is meant to be a reflection of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the church. It is therefore clear, that God’s intention from the very beginning was that we would be in a heterosexual, monogamous marriage.
“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.” Matthew 19:5-6 NLT
Because of God’s plan for a man and a woman to find each other and live together in a marriage covenant – which will have God’s blessing and approval, enjoying the protection of God’s promise not to be separated – I believe the institution of marriage is being attacked and defiled, and especially so by the gay and lesbian agenda.
Wrong reasons for entering into marriage
Let’s discuss some of the wrong reasons or motives why people get married:
1. Loneliness or solitude – having a great need to be with somebody or otherwise not feeling complete.
2. Out of guilt, pity, or feeling sorry for – You are not at peace, but feel obligated into committing, even fearing that you might miss God’s will, since the partner or family continuously confirm that the relationship is meant to be, or ordained by God.
3. Because of age – getting older and desperate to have your own family.
4. Pressure from the family – they look forward to having grandchildren.
5. Impulsive love – being overly in love, and consumed or obsessed with the other person.
6. Sex – fueled by lust and pornographic fantasies. Using somebody for the fulfillment of self-centered desires, and having unhealthy ideas about rights for sex within the marriage.
7. Single parent with Children – in need of a mom or dad. The man or woman becomes a replacement for a missing parent.
8. Feeling obligated to get married after premarital sex or pregnancy.
9. For the sake of looking good and successful – because of an inferiority complex and a low self-esteem.
Making it last
The desire to be loved, to be ‘special’ to someone, is inherent to the human condition. God who created us knows exactly how to fulfill that need. Having this knowledge will make us understand that marriage will not solve loneliness, one’s deepest emotional needs, unhealthy sexual desires, or life’s difficulties. Marriage itself does not hold people together, but the commitment to the marriage, in the understanding of God’s purpose for your life, does.
Many couples go into their marriage without a proper preparation and understanding. I believe the ingredients that are needed for a successful marriage are such as: emotional stability, maturity, and flexibility. Functioning well together is difficult when one or both of the partners have these issues: Is easily rejected, compares self to others, holds on to offenses, is overly insecure, suffers from bi-polar disorder, has a borderline personality, is codependent, is being controlled by parents, has anger issues, is dominating/controlling, or has a great need for constant affirmation. These issues require the appropriate counseling.
Note: The focus of those who are hurt and offended is to guard their rights. Their energy is consumed with making sure no future injuries will occur to them. If we don’t risk being hurt, we cannot give unconditional love, because unconditional love gives others the right to hurt us, and even in them doing so, we still need to always be ready to forgive easily, and let go of any residue of bitterness. True love never seeks its own, but offended people become more and more self-seeking and self-contained.
It is essential to be able to have mutual respect for one another without manipulating each other or being selfish. Instead, we need to feed and care for the other, so our spouse will grow and become the person God wants them to be, without demanding too much. This will take real dedication.
There needs to be a deep friendship, saying: “I’d rather spend my time with my spouse than anyone else, and not only to discuss our differences.” Love needs time to grow to maturity.
During difficult times and situations in the marriage, people should not forget the love. They should work toward staying together and work through the problems. It is through forgiveness that we solve problems and differences. Use words like: “I understand how you feel. It was not my intention to hurt you. I am sorry. Forgive me. I love you.”
The Bible encourages reconciliation:
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 5:32 NLT
“For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and the two will be one flesh.” Matthew 19:5 NKJV
This Scripture talks about a fulfillment that takes place when a man and a woman joins in marriage. Being “one flesh” doesn’t mean we lose our personality or personal rights. There has to be good communication and understanding of the emotional, mental, and physical differences of each other. For instance, a man is visual and goes by what he sees, and a woman is emotional and goes by her feelings.
The spiritual aspect
There has to be spiritual unity. The understanding of the spiritual dimension in marriage will have a tremendous outcome in our lives. The Bible speaks about not being unequally yoked together with an unbeliever:
“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?” 2. Corinthians 6:14-15 NLT
“But people who aren’t Christians cannot understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. We who have the Spirit understand these things, but others cannot understand us at all.” 1. Corinthians 2:14-15 NLT
Christ and His bride, the Church
It comes down to this; the comparison between Christ and His bride, (the Church) and the husband-and-wife relationship.
“And further, you will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the Church; He gave his life to be her Savior. As the Church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything. And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the Church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word. He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious Church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.
In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the Church. And we are his body. As the Scriptures say, “a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the Church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:21-33 NLT
Just like Jesus was in His relationship with the Church, so should a husband behave towards his wife; loving her, sacrificing for her, listening to her concerns, taking care of her, and being sensitive to her needs and hurts as he does to his own body.
And it goes further to say in 1. Peter 3:7 NLT:
”…You husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard.”
And the wife should look at the bride, the Church, in her relationship with Jesus Christ as the example; respecting her husband, acknowledging his calling as head of the family, listening to him, and responding to his leadership, speaking encouraging words to him and over him, being unified in purpose with him, being a true helper. This is also in effect for those who are married to an unbelieving husband.
“In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands, even those who refuse to accept the Good News. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior.” 1. Peter 3:1-2 NLT
In other words – actions speak louder than words!
Note: This doesn’t mean that one has the right to expect or force someone into doing something that is not according to the Scripture or that goes against someone’s conscience.
“We must obey God rather than human authority.” Acts 5:29 NLT
In essence, we are talking about a marriage that is not only beautiful from the outside, but also from the inside — a good quality marriage that includes real love, intimacy, and sexual commitment.
“The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband also gives authority over his body to his wife. So do not deprive each other of sexual relations. The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time, so they can give them-selves more completely to prayer. Afterward they should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt them because of their lack of self-control.” 1. Corinthians 7:4-5 NLT
The underlining point of this story comes down to achieving a giving, serving, and humble attitude in our relationship!
As Jesus stated in Matthew 20:28 NLT:
“I did not come to be served, but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”
This is in contrast to those who are looking for a glamorous, self-fulfilling, and romantic fantasy marriage. We all need to follow Jesus’ example of how God wants us to conduct ourselves.
“Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s troubles and problems, and this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody. Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:1-5 NLT
“…Don’t be mislead remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters.” Galatians 6:7-10 NLT
God, who is Love, is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love believes the best about others, credits them with good intentions, and is not suspicious. Love hopes all things, never gives up on people, but affirms their future. It is love that endures all things, perseveres, and remains loyal to the end. (See 1. Corinthians 13:7)
Copyright©2008 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan