Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me for the Monday Marriage Message. Last week I spoke about marital conflict from an unusual perspective. I wasn’t talking about the conflicts between spouses but rather the conflicting schools of thought about marriage. I spoke to the fact that worldly wisdom or common knowledge on the subject will provide answers, though often leading to greater marital problems, but that God, the initiator of the institution offers flawless information that will guide a couple into an awesome marriage.

God’s word includes many instructions intended to help a man and a woman enjoy the best marriage has to offer. Human beings have a propensity to develop their own answers to marital difficulties, most of which conflict with what the Bible tells us we should do in those very situations. I will spend the next several weeks identifying several marital difficulties, and the human common knowledge intended to “fix” the problem. I will also share with you the biblical concepts and scriptural references to God’s solutions to those same concerns. God is spiritual; therefore, marriage, created by God, endorsed by God, and given to us by God, for us to experience, is a spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences must be guided by spiritual principles. Bearing this foundational truth in mind, we need to know what the spiritual principles that govern marriage are, and how to employ them in our own marriages. Marital statistics abound, and the vast majority of them point out an important corresponding truth…Worldly wisdom, human understanding, common knowledge, whatever title you give it, is not serving us well when it comes to marriage.

As I said a moment ago, I will be highlighting several of these marital conflicts and the opposing disciplines they present when attempting to reconcile our marriages to their proper condition. In order to do that well, I believe we need to begin with the foundational marital conflict that must be corrected if any of the others can be viewed accurately. When a marksman goes to the range, the first task that must be completed is sighting in the scope. If the scope is not properly adjusted every shot fired will miss its intended target. Every other function the sharpshooter employs may be accomplished perfectly, but if the scope is off every attempt to hit the target will be as well. As couples if we do not have the scope of our marriages sighted in correctly, we will fail to attain the intended result. This primary marital conflict is one I have spoken of before, but it is so key to correctly assessing every other marital conflict that I believe it bears repeating.

Each time I attempt to prepare a couple for marriage through pre-marital counseling, I ask the following question within moments of beginning our first meeting. “Why did the two of you decide to get married?” I usually get various answers all of which would make for a wonderful greeting card, romantic novel or love song. I hear things like, “I just feel so loved whenever we are together” or, “He or she completes me”. They may tell me they are marrying to have unending companionship or, that they find happiness with each other. Over the years, I have received many different answers to my question, I even hear sometimes that they feel the Lord has led them together to be joined in marriage. I know that my wife Lynn and I certainly felt, and still feel that way to this day. Almost all of the answers I get to that question are from the school of worldly wisdom. Most of them come from the very sources of influence I named a moment ago. Many of those couples decided marriage was right for them because the way they feel in that moment, reflects their interpretation of what so many songs, books, and movies about love must be describing. Because they are experiencing such a deep “love” for their future spouse, they decide marriage must be intended to be the result of that love, and the target is to maintain that feeling toward that particular person for the rest of their lives.

Gary Thomas wrote an amazing book entitled The Joy of the Sacred Marriage. The entire book is dedicated to answering just one question that embodies this primary marital conflict. The question: Is your marriage intended to make you happy or to make you holy? It is a great question, and I encourage everyone to read his book. Common knowledge certainly makes the case that marriage is intended for our happiness. All one has to do is look at the stated reasons for divorce in our society to recognize that worldly wisdom dictates that when happiness is no longer the result of a marriage, divorce is the answer to that problem freeing the contestants to try again with a new partner. For these, marriage is akin to the lottery, some win, more lose, but if you don’t win this time…no worries, you can always try again tomorrow.

Lynn Anderson made famous a song entitled Rose Garden the song began with these lyrics…I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometime. While not a biblical song about marriage, it did come from a time when we exercised a little more patience with the institution than we do today. The fact of the matter is that God never made any ironclad guarantees that marriage would bring us happiness or any of the other outcomes people have in their sights when they marry.  The Bible does make the point that there is a specific outcome God intended, and the natural consequences of achieving that goal in our marriages are likely to be peace, joy and yes, a sense of happiness. It is imperative to recognize however, that those are the results of fulfilling the goal…not the goal itself.

So what is the stated goal of marriage found in God’s word? What is it that the Bible tells us we should be looking for from our marriages? If the answer to the question Gary Thomas poses is holiness, how does marriage do that? Genesis 1:26 & 27 references God’s decision to create human beings. 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. From this scripture we can easily see that when God decided to make mankind, that the intent was that we would be in His image and according to His likeness. Simply stated, the idea was that the creation (mankind) would be reflective of its creator (God). This scripture also points out another important fact. When God created beings that would reflect Him, He created two things that are similar in some ways, and yet completely different in others. He created both a male and a female, two beings to reflect one God. Genesis chapter two gives us further information concerning Adam and Eve’s creation. There we learn that Adam was created first. We also read in Genesis 2:18 that The Lord God said “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him”. What this statement actually means when we look carefully at the original Hebrew is that God was saying Adam was not complete for the purpose for which he had been created. In other words Adam alone was not capable of comprehensively reflecting God, and so God said He would create a female to help the male fulfill their intended purpose and reflect God more completely. Verses 21-23 describe the creation of Eve. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” These verses are imperative because they reveal a subtle and important truth. When God presented Eve to him, Adam made a critical declaration. Adam noted that Eve was bone from his bones and flesh of his flesh. Essentially Adam said that He and Eve were “One flesh”. In making that statement, Adam acknowledged that he and Eve were married; they were created “One flesh”. In the next verse, God confirmed Adam’s observation. 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. God was pointing out that it was not only this first union of a man and a woman that would be considered “One flesh” but that in fact because of the special ability their union gave them to be reflective of His image and likeness, every marriage between a man and a woman going forward would have the same purpose. In Ephesians chapter five Paul made the point that this miraculous or as he put it mysterious occurrence of recreated “One-fleshness” continues for the very same reason today. The intended purpose of marriage according to the word of God is to create “Oneness” between a man and a woman giving them exponentially greater capacity for reflecting God than they possess alone.

The purpose of your marriage is the same. You and your spouse were joined together by God for the intended purpose of reflecting His nature, His character, and His ways. When we begin to understand that and furthermore, accept that as our purpose, viewing marital difficulties and their corrective measures gains a whole new clarity. The more we operate our marriages with reflecting God being our primary concern, the more peace, joy, and yes…happiness will result. God understands the spiritual principle that glorifying Him fulfills our purpose, and when we accomplish that which we were created to do, contentment and all of the positive emotions it brings are ours.

Now that the scope is correctly sighted in, join me next week as I begin to target other marital conflicts, and the answers God provides.

Questions to Answer:

  • Why did you and your spouse choose to marry?
  • When you look back, do you see God’s hand in bringing you together?
  • Do you now believe that you were created “One flesh” for the purpose of reflecting God better than either of you could alone?
  • What do you think it means for a marriage to reflect God?

Actions to Take:

  • Discuss ways you see your marriage as an entity that can reflect God.
  • Talk about ways the two of you feel you do this well.
  • In a non-judgmental way, talk about ways you feel you could reflect God as a couple, better than you do now.
  • Talk about dreams the two of you have that could be realized that would be great at reflecting God.

So now, recognizing the true intended purpose for your marriage, choose to fulfill that purpose together…and Go Be Awesome