Marriage

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Hosea's Story

 

It's much more than we can imagine....

 

Beren and Luthien

The Love Story of Hosea

Reflecting God's Unconditional Love

A Marriage Blueprint

What Does Marriage Represent

Ellen White on Divorce in the Church

Excerpt From Spirit Warrior by Stu Weber

Nancy Lea DeMoss on Marriage

Christ, His Church and Same Sex Unions

 


BEREN AND LÚTHIEN

 

"For if as seems probable I shall never write any ordered biography--it is against my nature, which expresses itself about things deepest felt in tales and myths--someone close in heart to me should know something about things that records do not record: the dreadful sufferings of our childhoods, from which we rescued one another, but could not wholly heal the wounds that later often proved disabling; the sufferings that we endured after our love began--all of which (over and above our personal weaknesses) might help to make pardonable, or understandable, the lapses and darknesses which at times marred our lives--and to explain how these never touched our depths nor dimmed our memories of our youthful love.  For ever (especially when alone) we still met in the woodland glade, and went hand in hand many times to escape the shadow of imminent death before our last parting."               -  JRR Tolkien

 

 

REFLECTING GOD’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

 Regardless of what Jesus says in the “exception clause” in Matthew or what Ellen White says about being “free to remarry”,  the question is not, “What will God allow us to do because of our imperfect understanding of His character or because of the hardness of our hearts?  The true question is, “What is in God’s heart, what is consistent with His character and what does He do in a similar circumstance?”

Every story, every fiber of God’s word shouts of His everlasting faithfulness and love…His commitment to us regardless of the cost to Himself.  Do we understand what self-sacrificing love is?  Do we comprehend unconditional love even a little? 

What are the conditions to the love that I have sworn to my spouse?  Will I turn from her if she is injured or gets sick? What if she fails to live up to what I expect of her?  Is my love for her based on whether she is faithful to me or not?  Will my covenant love for her remain even if she divorces me or reviles me or marries another man?

To the question of how God treats His bride the answer is:

Nothing can separate her from His love!  Nothing she can do can make Him love her less.   Unconditional love, then, means NO SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES can break me away from God’s love and the commitment He has made to me as his bride! In the same way, no set of circumstances should separate my spouse from the love and commitment I swore to her in my wedding vows!  If we stand by and pursue our spouse with a heart like God’s then the only point of separation is the loss of the lover’s soul.  Isn’t that the only thing that can separate us forever from God…the loss of our souls?

  "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy."                                               Ephesians 5:25-26

  God can never, never abandon us:

   “Christ will never abandon those for whom He has died.  We may leave Him and be overwhelmed with temptation but Christ can never turn from one for whom He has paid the ransom of His own life.”                                                            Prophets and Kings  176

If God says, “I will make an everlasting covenant with you that I will NEVER turn away from you to do you good…” then how can I EVER turn away from my spouse with whom I have made the same covenant?  If God’s covenant with us is unbreakable then so are our marriage covenants if they are to be a holy example of God’s character.

What we must understand is that this is not about what our spouses do or how they might or might not represent God but about our actions and whether we will be faithful to our high calling.

Remember, we said “for better or for worse….till death parts us.”  Aren’t covenants and promises made because there is a possibility that things could go terribly wrong…could get worse?  If there wasn’t that possibility then why bother with making them?  When we stand together at the alter on a sunny afternoon we can never guess a tenth of what the winds of the years will blow into our lives. 

But we don’t need to.  We make a promise.  We recite a vow.  In Tender Warrior, Stu Weber says, “Out of all the world, we choose each other.  It is only the covenant that keeps us…there will always be someone more beautiful, intelligent, wealthy, witty, competent, sensitive, or sensual.  But that doesn’t matter because the toxin of comparison has been utterly neutralized and washed away by the sacred anti-toxin of a promise.”

In Psalms 15 King David is asking, “What kind of a man or woman is a real, the kind who lives like You; who lives well in Your eyes?”  And God answers, “One who keeps his word, who makes and keeps promises.  One who ‘swears to his own hurt’.  One who stays.”

"If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it,   for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will   be guilty of sin."                                                                                                              Deuteronomy 23

Will we nurture a deep desire to obey and please God by honoring our marriage commitments?  Larry Crabb says in The Marriage Builder, "If we really believe that God is able to work all things out for our good then no collection of marital setbacks will prompt us to seriously consider divorce or withdrawal because the path of obedience will always lead to His intended purpose!"

I know I said it before but this covenant relationship is the story of the Bible.  It is the story of a people (us) who have forgotten God and His covenant and trusted in false gods…who have broken His great heart with “adulterous and lustful neighings and shameless prostitution”.  Jeremiah 13

But the story does not finish with their divorce.  True love never fails; it always perseveres.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not

  boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,

  it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does

  not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always pro-

  tects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never

  fails."                                          1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

God will fight for His beloved.  So the old testament ends with a promise of reconciliation:

"Therefore, behold, I will block her path with thornbushes, and wall her in so that she cannot find her way.   And she will chase after her lovers but not catch them;  She will look for them but not find them.   

Then she will say,  “I will go back to my first husband….”

Therefore, behold, I will allure her;  I will lead her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her…

In that day,” declared the LORD, you will call me ‘my husband’;                                                   you will no longer call me ‘my master’.”    Hosea 2

The way we must treat our spouses could not be set out in clearer stories or words.  God has led the way and set the example.  This is His transcendant cause for our covenants and relationships.

In the end, John Eldredge puts it better than I ever could:  “Some men are willing to go in and fight (for their wives) once, twice, even three times.  But a warrior is in this for good.  Oswald Chambers asks, ‘God spilt the life of His Son that the world might be saved; are we prepared to spill out our lives?’  Daniel is in the midst of a very hard, very unpromising battle for his wife.  It’s been years now without much progress and without much hope.  Sitting in a restaurant the other night, tears in his eyes, this is what he said to me:  ‘I am not going anywhere.  This is my place in the battle.  This is the hill I will die on.’  He has reached a point that we all must come to, sooner of later, when it’s no longer about winning or losing.  His wife may respond and she may not.  That’s really no longer the issue.  The question is simply this: What kind of a man do you want to be?  A young pilot in the RAF wrote just before he went down in 1940, ‘The universe is so vast and so ageless that the life of one man can only be justified by the measure of his sacrifice.’”

God is calling us to sacrifice.  God is calling us to a higher cause to reveal His character to a fallen world.  The full and final display of God’s character will be through His people.  Christ will reveal through them exactly what He personally revealed while upon earth.

“In order to endure the trial before them, they (the people of God who will live through the final time of trouble) must understand the will of God as revealed in His Word.  They can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government and purposes, and act in accordance with them.” 

Great Controversy  593

We let go of the arm of the Lord too soon and fall far short of revealing His character to the world by acting in accordance with His purpose!  We must reflect Him by standing firm by our families, praying and interceding until we see total deliverance and healing!  Do not allow the evil one to destroy that which is righteous in the eyes of the Lord.  We must glorify Him in our actions.  We must keep faith by honoring our irrevocable and unilateral marital covenant with God and our spouse.  There are many blessings in store for those who are obedient to God in this.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”                                         1 Peter 4:8

 

 

A MARRIAGE BLUEPRINT

Summary taken from The Marriage Builder by Dr. Larry Crabb

There are three dangerous trends in our thinking today that endanger our marriages.

1)         The first is that the Bible reduces complicated issues to a few easily solved problems.  The cure for the selfishness and fear that control so much of what we do cannot be reduced to shallow solutions.  We need to learn how our minds deceive us.  We need to understand the wrong goals we have set, honestly face how we feel, and deal with our sinful and painful emotions in a way that reflects our confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance.

2)         The second is the appealing emphasis on becoming happy and fulfilled.  Our peppy songs about joyful Christianity neglect the need to develop a holy, obedient walk with God no matter what personal suffering is involved.  Uppermost in the minds of  many Christians, perhaps unconsciously, is a preoccupation with following Christ to achieve the abundant life of pleasant, satisfying emotions and fulfilling, enriching opportunities.  “Fulfillment” has taken on greater urgency and value than “obedience”.   And fulfillment does have a place in biblical thinking.  But not the only place.  Scriptures about dying to self, finding one’s life by losing it, being crucified with Christ, and living only for Christ make it clear that realizing true fulfillment depends not on preoccupation with fulfillment but on preoccupation with knowing God through absolute surrender.  

In other words, the route to fulfillment is not the one with the road sign reading “Pleasure Ahead” or “If it seems to meet your needs, keep going”.  The only sure path to real and lasting joy is the steep, rugged road marked “Obedience”.   We have allowed a natural concern for our own satisfaction to slide into an ethic that says that whatever seems to bring happiness is right.  So many people close their Bibles tightly, then confidently assert that “God wants me happy and fulfilled, but I can find neither in giving myself to this marriage.”  How difficult it is to believe that a loving God with our deepest welfare in mind insists on painful conformity to the standards of His Word!

3)         The third is that psychological needs have taken over as the focus of our discussion of roles in marriage.  The Bible has been reduced to an optional guidebook as we look for ways to meet our emotional needs.  The value of a plan is measured not in terms of its fidelity to Scripture but in terms of its perceived effects on people’s needs and emotions.

The issue of authority is really at stake here.  “This will help your marriage” or  “This course of action will deepen your sense of worth as a person” carries more weight than counsel backed up by evidence that  “This is what the Bible teaches.”

The error is very subtle but serious.  After all, didn’t Christ come to meet our needs?  In this line of thought, needy people march onto center stage, the spotlight bathes them in absorbing attention, and the God of the Bible remains in the wings calling out directions as they search for fulfillment.  In biblical Christianity, it is the Person of Jesus Christ who fills the spotlight, and He graciously beckons the audience to find eternal fulfillment by becoming lost in His glory.  Paul well understood Christ’s terms for humanity’s fulfillment when he said, “For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21)

Sincerely trying to live by the Bible is sometimes hard, confusing, and disillusioning. Obedience to God will likely expose you to pain that could be avoided or at least numbed if your priority were “to feel good”.  As we face the choice of painful obedience or comfortable compromise,  listen to Peter’s words:  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  John 6:68 

So what does a biblical marriage relationship look like?  What must we understand and do?  How does it work?

Only Jesus can meet our needs.  The belief that Christ is not sufficient for our personal needs is a lie from satan.  Our spouse may reject us and if they do it will hurt, perhaps a lot.  But no matter how they treat us, we are totally and wonderfully loved by Christ.  So we are secure. 

We must trust His love enough to give ourselves fully to our spouses in an effort to minister to their needs and choose to continue our efforts to minister regardless of our spouse’s response to us.  Because we are secure in Christ, we can make ourselves vulnerable to our spouse’s rejection by doing this.  The fact that we have not done so till now is sin and must be confessed as such.  The change from manipulation to ministry requires supernatural intervention otherwise it cannot succeed.  When we choose ministry we are showing that we believe God.

But before any ministry can happen toward our spouses we have to jump off the cliff of “safety” that we are clinging to by committing to meeting our spouse’s needs no matter what the cost to us.  We cannot deeply know that Christ can meet our needs until we

leap from the cliff and are dangling over the abyss of rejection, held only by the love of

God.  We will never know that love until we depend on it to preserve us from destruction.

The condition for effective ministry is utter reliance on God that grows out of a sense of our inadequacy for the task.  Admitted weakness makes it possible for us to abide in Christ, trusting Him for fruit.

Through Jesus I am freed from self-centered preoccupation with my own needs because they are met in Him.  Now it is possible for me to give to others out of my fullness rather

than needing to receive from others because of my emptiness.  For the first time I have the option of living selflessly.  We must believe that in spite of our confusion and incompetence, our sovereign God hasn’t made a mistake in assigning us the ministry of touching our spouse’s deepest needs, regardless of the circumstances under which we were married.

And circumstances can become quite bleak as the marriage progresses because, although most spouses want sexual pleasure with personal meaning, for many the alternatives seem to be pleasure without meaning or neither pleasure nor meaning. 

Small wonder that professing Christians in increasing numbers are stepping across the line of morality, leaving behind a bad relationship and sexual frustration in search of something that at least feels good.  But pleasure, in a meaningful relationship, is what God intends for us. And when we do it God’s way, the oneness that we experience is felt subjectively as a relationship so intimate that only sexual intercourse can fully express it.  God can never endorse a counterfeit.

Christianity is poorly advertised by “Christian Marriages” that are no better than marital relationships governed by secular values and empowered by merely human energy.  The good news is that the required building blocks are few in number, available on demand, in plentiful supply, free for the taking and accompanied by instructions that are simple enough that only sincere motivation is required to understand them and yet profound enough to offer an unending challenge to the mature believer.

The building blocks required to build a marriage are Grace, Commitment, and Acceptance.

 

Building Block 1:    Grace  

The deepest question of many despairing and frustrated spouses is “Is there any hope?  Is there any point in obedience?  Is despair justified?”   There probably has never been a marriage that at some time has not reached a seemingly irredeemable low point.  We cannot cultivate interest in following biblical direction if we believe nothing good can happen.  Before the responsibilities of marriage will be regarded as inviting opportunities rather than pointless duties, the core of a person’s attitude must shift from despair to hope.  To be fully persuaded that there is always reason to live responsibly no matter what may go wrong is indispensable to the Christian life.  And the hope of the Christian is inescapably bound up in the grace of God.

In Leviticus, when the two sons of Aaron were killed by the Lord as judgment for sin, Moses quickly told Aaron not to tear his robes as was the custom or he would die.  Why?

A priest had access to the immediate presence of God and someone with that privilege never has reason to regard anything as a disaster.  If a priest were to tear his robes for personal grief, he would implicitly affirm that life presents problems for which God has no solutions.  And that is NEVER true. The God who is love, the God of eternity, the infinite, personal God who at once lives in the hearts of His people and sovereignly directs the flow of  history is sufficient for every situation.  Nothing takes Him by surprise.  No problem is beyond His power to master.  There is no possible event in life for which His grace is not sufficient.  People who can approach this god directly must not despair.  To do so implies that God is impotent to work for eternal good in our set of circumstances.

One of the most remarkable truths revealed to the New Testament believer is that every member of the body of Christ is a priest.  1 Peter 2:5  We are invited to come boldly before the throne of God, to approach Him with the confidence that He understands our problems, sympathizes with our struggles, and is adequate to work through our circumstances for His purposes and our blessing.  Because you and I enjoy this privileged position as priests, we must never tear our robes.  We must never regard any situation as bad enough to justify despair.  The choice is ours:  Tear our robes in despair and make it our top priority to find relief from our pain, or depend so completely on the grace of god that we steadfastly steadfastly refuse to comprise our commitment to live for the Lord.

Are we to tear our clothes by resigning ourselves to the living martyrdom of enduring a spouse “till death do us part”?  Should we rip apart our garments by escaping through divorce the awful ruin of our marriage?  Are we to cut up our suits and dresses by seeking the companionship  of someone more fulfilling to us than our partners?  Or are we to regard these alternatives as unworthy and unbecoming for a priest of the almighty Shepherd.  In His presence, there is never cause for despair.  There may be pain or hurt or sadness, but never despair.  Our spouses may not do what they should to restore our marriage to happy, fulfilling relationships.  But if we remain faithful to God, pouring out our emotions before Him, renewing our commitment to seek Him, trusting Him to guide us in our responses, then He will sustain us through our trials and provide rich fellowship with Him.  There is reason to go on.  There is hope.  God’s grace is sufficient. 

We can maintain our commitment—first to God and them to minister to our spouse through each opportunity that arises.  The result will be a better marriage and certainly a new level of spiritual maturity and fellowship with Christ.  And that is a compelling reason not to tear your robes!

God does not promise to rearrange our worlds to suit our longings but He does promise to permit only those events that will further His purpose in our lives.  Our responsibility is to respond to life’s events in a manner intended to please the Lord, not to change our spouses into what we want.

In our pursuit of marital oneness, we must never permit failure or disappointment or tragedy to rob us of our confidence that God can heal our marriage and that He will deepen our walk with Him.  No situation is so desperate that God’s grace is not sufficient.  Building a Christian marriage begins with a conscious confidence that a determination to live for God will result in something good.

 

Building block 2:    Commitment  

This building block involves a deep desire to obey God by honoring the marriage commitment, a desire growing naturally out of the conviction that God is good.

Once our confidence in God’s grace is sufficient to maintain hope when despair seems justified, then we are in a position to commit to doing whatever God says.  If we deeply believe that the Lord is able to work on our behalf in all circumstances, then no collection of marital setbacks will prompt us to seriously consider divorce or withdrawal.  If God is really as powerful as He claims to be, then the path of obedience will always lead to His intended purpose.  The hope (better, the certainty) that God is at work to accomplish His plan even in the most difficult marriages must remain firmly rooted in our awareness of His powerful grace.  If we truly believe that His purposes are always good, then from the depths of our being we will want—really want—to go His way….the decision to obey will be supported by a desire to obey. 

Our failure to readily follow His leading reflects a lack of deep confidence in His goodness.  We wonder whether He is merely using us or wants to bless us.  The problem with unsteady commitment is not centrally a problem of the will, but simply of unbelief.  We simply do not believe that the God who tells us to remain committed to our marriage partners is good.  If we knew that He was good, we would sense a deep desire to follow His leading because we trusted Him. 

So, the basic cure for weak commitment is renewed faith, not rededicated effort.

It makes sense to honor our marriage commitments because the God who tells us to do so is a good God who wants our best.  The path He is marking out for us leads to unparalleled joy for us and glory for Him. 

Honoring commitments because of a profound trust in God’s goodness will feel less like “doing one’s duty” and more like pursuing one’s deepest desires.  Sometimes it seems that when we place a greater priority on our spouse’s happiness than our own, we are the losers.  But if we retain this attitude, we will remain faithful to our marriage vows up to the point of diminishing returns:  that is, as long as giving to our spouses brings us what we want, we will gladly keep our promises.  The moment the choice becomes our happiness or theirs, the marriage commitment will feel like a prison keeping us locked away from freedom and joy.  If we choose to honor it, we will necessarily do so in a spirit of “doing our time”.

If we honor our commitment to be husbands and wives in a spirit of reluctant surrender and grudging compliance, we are not honoring our commitment at all.  Certainly we are people under authority and we are bound to do what God commands.  It is our duty.  But obedience is so much more than duty.  It is a privilege, an opportunity to enter into a depth of joy that makes every other pleasure seem shallow.

It is important to remember, as stated earlier, that all our needs are completely met in Christ.  If I have experienced the answer to my deepest longings in Christ, then I will be able to see past my longings and discern my spouse’s needs.  And when I see their needs, then me experience of satisfaction with Christ will create in me a deep desire to promote similar satisfaction in my spouse.  So a proper understanding of marriage is a high calling to ministry and it will cause us to look at the deepest needs of our mates and to appreciate our unique opportunity to touch those needs in significant ways.

Because we are not experiencing the satisfaction that comes from resting in God’s goodness, we look to our partners to meet our needs.  When they fail to do so, as inevitably they will, we retreat behind protective distance to minimize our discomfort. But, because we are “Bible-believing Christians”, we nobly carry on with the responsibilities of marriage in the spirit of obedient martyrdom (and rebellion), persuaded that God admires our devotion to duty.

Christians who have put God to the test by vulnerably surrendering to His will, examining their motives regularly to see where they are protecting themselves rather than ministering, are tasting the goodness of God.  These people more and more see their marriage commitment as an opportunity to pursue their deepest desires, to follow a good path, and to invite their spouses to walk with them.  Their marital vows are not regarded as a depressing duty to fulfull.

Lack of joy in honoring the marriage commitment cannot be blame on our spouses!  The fault lies in our failure to depend on the goodness of God.  Often we remind ourselves and our friend (and counselors) of all the things we must endure.  Behind this focus on our mate’s faults is a subtle, unbiblical assumption:  Our lack of joy can be blamed on our spouses.  I only they would change, then I could enjoy my role as a loving husband or submissive wife.  Joy is seen as a fruit of the partner’s attitudes and behavior, not as the fruit of the Spirit. 

We must follow God in ministry.   Although the pain of discouragement is real and can provoke spiritual struggle and self-examination, the faithful servant of God has reason for joy in the guarantee that every act of obedience done for the sake of Christ is accomplishing it’s intended purpose and brings a smile to the lips of the Savior.   The final basis for joy is our confidence that our faithfulness pleases Christ and is used by Him according to his sovereign plan.  Because His plan is good, obedience brings joy to the sincere Christian.

 

Building Block 3:    Acceptance  

Once we can maintain hope by God’s grace and have made a commitment to minister instead of manipulate, then we must accept the emotions, pleasant or unpleasant, that come to us from our spouse’s actions and by God’s grace forgive as we have been forgiven.

To accept your spouse means to minister to them with no resentment or pressure to minister to us in return.  In other words we decide to minister and have none of the feelings that interfere with ministry.  But we can’t just will away those bitter feelings on demand.  With characteristic simplicity, the Bible spells out the solution in a word.  The shift from bitterness to benevolence, from forced kindness to freely given love, requires forgiveness.  With the freedom that Christ provides in acceptance and forgiveness, we have the freedom to require nothing from our spouses.  We will hurt when our spouse rejects or disrespects us, but the Lord’s love and purpose for us enable us to continue giving no matter how little we receive. 

Our response to the behavior of our spouse depends on whether we have our needs completely met in Christ or not.  If not, enjoyment from a kindness from your spouse will rapidly slip into the derivative feeling of dependency on them to continue that behavior so you can have enjoyment.  And displeasure from an offence from your spouse will quickly shift to bitterness.  If our needs are met in Christ then our spouse’s positive or negative treatment will only be relative to our desires and not our needs.   Then enjoyment from kindness becomes a warm, non-possessive satisfaction.  And displeasure will develop into a sad, perhaps angry, disappointment.

So to accept our mates does not require that we enjoy everything that they do.  To accept our mates means more than remaining faithful to the commitment to minister.  To accept a mate involves deeper work than the decision to forgive when offended.

True acceptance requires a willingness to be vulnerable, to give oneself in a way that opens up avenues for painful rejection.  To achieve this acceptance, we must continually forgive our partners when they hurt us.  And the work of forgiveness requires that we regard the worst our partners can do as absolutely irrelevant to our basic personal needs.  To do this we must continually remember that:  1) Our needs are met in Christ by meditating on our riches in Him, aggressively telling ourselves that we are worthwhile even when we feel most rejected and useless, and choosing to live in a manner that reflects our position.   2)  We must reflect on the degree to which we have been forgiven.  Only one who appreciates God’s forgiveness can truly forgive others.  3)  Paul instructed us to look out for the interests of others, regarding them as more important than ourselves.  (Phil. 2:3-4)

  With these truths fixed in our minds, we will be able to minister freely to our spouses, without fear or pressure, even when they have offended us.  This is truly accepting you spouse.

 

 

What Does Marriage Represent?  

  Eze 16:8

Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

Isa 54:5

For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

Isa 62:5

For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

Hosea 2    

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her…. and it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call Me my Husband and shalt call Me no more my Master. …and I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt KNOW the LORD.

God’s plan for eternity encompasses far more than the intimacy between two humans. His plan for us now and in eternity is for intimacy with himself. We were created to be His bride.

Listen to David, who certainly knew about intimate human touch:

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Psalms 73

Paul calls marriage a great mystery in Ephesians 5:32. What is the mystery?   It is this: God did not create the union of Christ and the church after the pattern of human marriage; just the reverse is true! He created human marriage on the pattern of Christ’s relation to the church.

The mystery of Genesis 2:24 is that the marriage it describes is a parable or symbol of Christ’s relation to his people. There is more going on in the creation of woman than meets the eye. God doesn’t do thing willy-nilly. Everything has purpose and meaning. When God engaged to create man and woman and to ordain the union of marriage, he didn’t roll dice or draw straws or flip a coin as to how they might be related to each other. He patterned marriage very purposefully after the relationship between his Son and the church, which He had planned from all eternity!

Therefore marriage contains and conceals a meaning far greater than what we see on the outside. God created man male and female, and ordained marriage so that the eternal covenant relationship between Christ and his church would be imaged forth in the marriage union. “As God made man in His own image, so he made marriage in the image of his own eternal marriage with His people” Geoffrey Bromiley

So the man and the woman’s part in a marriage are not randomly assigned by God, but are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and his church. These things image forth stupendous divine realities, infinitely bigger and greater than ourselves.

It is not enough to say each spouse should pursue his or her own joy in the joy of the other. It is also important to say husbands and wives should consciously copy the relationship God intended for Christ and the church.

God wants to be our lover…He wants to hold us and kiss us and make love to us! This is all about Him!! His pattern of a man and a woman partaking of intimacy forever is an exact parable of the relationship He wants with each of us!

God created us to be His bride from eternity.…He has looked forward for a long time to becoming our Husband which will be consummated at the wedding feast of the Lamb.  Has He waited patiently for us?  Has He run off after another bride and forgotten us?  Did he destroy us and create another?   No   He will wait for  his bride and keep Himself only for her.  He will not give Himself for another but has given His life only for her.

   

Ellen White on Divorce in the Church

After rereading her comments I realize that the course of action to be taken on the matter of divorce in the church is very clear.  And there are serious and fearful consequences for taking the wrong road.  However, God's requirements are never unreasonable even though sometimes hard to do.  In this case, though, we must exercise much care, love and mercy. 

It is clear that those who break the seventh commandment must be suspended from the church and not have its fellowship nor the privileges of the house of God until they "have merited the confidence of the people of God by unqualified confessions, and a period of sincere repentance." 

Ellen White even mentions some who "if they were saved, they would have to be saved alone.  They could not be in the fellowship of the church because of what they had done for they would drag the reputation of the whole church down before the world."   

However, we must not interfer to break up marriages that began in adultery because we don't have the wisdom to advise that without someone being wronged.  Only God can advise a sincerely repentant seeker as to the right course.  They must be left to God and their own consciences.  They have created  for themselves a dilemma that no church or prophet can solveOnly the Lord can solve it and we must leave it to Him.  Only the Lord can fight the battle.

In one statement Ellen White said, "I would like to do something to help make things right for poor brother E but this can not be done as things are now situated (without someone being wronged)."  No matter what you do, it is wrong--you are in a dilemma that only God can solve and heal. 

But you know what?  God can change the way things are now situated no matter when we come to Him or how bad it is.  He can solve the problem and heal!

Even though we must take most repentant adulterers back into fellowship and allow them to humbly serve the Lord in His church, as well as leave them alone (to God) with their new marriages, we must not elevate them to positions of responsibility.  God, through Ellen White is very clear on this!  Maybe they did make a mistake, even years ago, but the unsciptural marriage has consequences.

 What is our current position in light of this?  Right now in the church we rarely expel adulterers from church fellowship.  We accept them back into church fellowship without a sign of sincere repentance.  But the worst possible blight on us is not that we have failed in these areas. Rather, the displeasure of God in upon us more fully because we elevate repentant adulterers to positions of responsibility.  And worse, we even allow those who have never repented of this to be our leaders.

Our church is impotent and lukewarm for a reason!  Will the true people of God, who hold His fire inside them, be able to throw off the crushing burden of this rebellion? 

We are not saying that such people are lost but they have gotten themselves in situations where they cannot do, in God's work, what they could have done otherwise.

So, we must do our part with church discipline and in prayer and, beyond that, leave them to God.  But the God that we are going to leave them to is all-powerful and He can solve the problem if we are willing to surrender all to Him.

It really is more simple than it appears to be.  At least our part.  So it is time for our church to return to a right course and to go forward in faith with the counsel that we have been given.

 

Excerpt from Spirit Warrior by Stu Weber p200-203

There is probably no greater satanic stronghold in our culture than the idea of disposable marriage.   Divorce hurts individuals, destroys marriages, scatters families, tears churches apart, and at this moment is eating away at the very heart of our nation.  

We know from Scripture that marriage is at the center of God’s plan to display His image.  Destroying marriage, therefore, is at the center of satan’s strategy to blast mankind and mar the image of God.

In spite of professional counsel, prayer by friends, weeping by children and families, and sometimes even against the desire of one of the partners, Christians are still walking away from their sacred vow of marriage in record numbers. 

But closing our eyes and wishing the subject would never come up will not make it go away.  Sometimes being soldiers means having to do the hard thing.

Understand that I have no wish to create currents of guilt or to put anyone down.  I do not want to “hammer” anyone.  I do not want to reject anyone.  I do not wish to heap guilt on anyone.  But people, we’ve got to face this—in ourselves and in others.  We cannot justify fighting other battles and running from this one.  Martin Luther said it well:

“If I profess with the loudest and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that…point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ.  Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.  And to be steady on all the battlefield [elsewhere] is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

Lifelong marriage is near to the heart of everything God is concerned about.  It is the centerpiece of civilization.  The marriage covenant is the zenith of God’s image glorifying Him.  If that is so, then divorce is not just one more sin in a long list of human shortcomings.  No, this one is somewhere near the magnum opus of human sin. 

When Jesus told us, ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free, He wasn’t just being poetic.  Jesus was saying that the truth, no matter how difficult it may be to swallow, will set you free.  The truth about divorce is a freeing reality.  It will liberate your spirit, free your emotions, and strengthen your heart.

So let’s look at some biblical truths regarding marriage and divorce.

Principle # 1: YOUR MARRIAGE DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU.

Your marriage belongs to God.  He invented it. He designed it.  He brought you together.  He delights in it.  He holds the papers.

Your marriage is a covenant of commitment you made before God.  To walk away from your marriage is to trample on the very core of God’s expectations of His children.  Please hear me on this: Breaking the marriage covenant is not a private matter.  It is a spiritual matter, a religious matter, a theological matter, a church matter, and a public matter before the watching world and the angels of heaven.

Principle # 2: GOD HATES DIVORCE.

God’s attitude toward divorce in the Scriptures is simple, direct, and impossible to misunderstand:  “‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord  (Malachi 2:16) Which part of “hate” don’t you understand?  Hey, God said it, not me.  In our permissive, politically correct, I’m-my-own-god, no-fault society, we can believe anything we want about divorce, but, before God, it is an act of the gravest consequence.

Principle # 3: THERE ARE NO LEGITIMATE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Deuteronomy 24:1 says a man may divorce his wife if “she finds no favor in his eyes.”  The Jews of Jesus’ day used this as an excuse to divorce their wives at the drop of a hat.  Wives must’ve lived in constant fear.  But Jesus brought the Jews back to the heart of God: 

“Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but form the beginning it has not been this way.  And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except of immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”  Matthew 19:8-9

Principle # 4: JESUS OPPOSED DIVORCE.

To the shock of His disciples, Jesus opposed divorce.  They lived in a world where divorce was commonplace, so they were stunned to discover Jesus had no room for it (Matthew 19:1-12).

Our Lord’s teaching on this issues is simple:  “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced form a husband commits adultery’  (Luke 16:18).  What is there to misunderstand?

A thorough search of the Bible will reveal that the only legitimate grounds for terminating a marriage are:

·        Adultery

·        Desertion on the part of an unbeliever

·        Death

And even in the case of adultery or desertion, I believe God’s heart is for the marriage to endure and be rebuilt by His power.  

(consider Hosea   1-3).

I’ve said it before:  Eternity is too long and this life is too short to do something foolish here.  Your marriage is your greatest opportunity on earth to reflect the glory of God, in whose image you were created.  Don’t walk away from it.

 

 

Nancy Lea DeMoss on Marriage

I came across a very interesting thought from Nancy Lea DeMoss in her journey with God. 

She says, “Years of compounded hurt, if not dealt with God’s way, can lead a person to rationalize things they thought they would never believe and to justify choices they thought they would never make....The only way to break the cycle and be set free is to dwell on the truth, as God has revealed it in His word.

“The truth is…

·        There is no marriage God cannot heal.  There is no person God cannot change.

·        The primary purpose of marriage is not to be happy, but to glorify God and reflect His redeeming, covenant love.

·        God uses the rough edges of each partner in a marriage to conform the other to the image of Christ.  Your mat’s weaknesses can become a tool in God’s hand to make you into the woman He created you to be.

·        True love—God’s love—is unconditional and never fails.  We cannot love another human being perfectly on our own.  But God can love anyone through us, if we are willing to let Him.  Love is not a feeling; it is a commitment to act in the best interests of another.  By God’s grace, we can choose to love anyone, even if we do not have worm feelings toward that person.

·        Marriage is a covenant.  God is a covenant-keeping God.  He kept His promises to the nation of Israel, even when they were spiritually adulterous and pursued other lovers.  The Lord Jesus keeps His promises to His bride—the church—even when we are unfaithful to Him.  Because He is faithful to keep His promises, it is never right for us to break the marriage covenant that was intended to be a picture of the redemptive relationship between God and His people.

·        God has commanded us to forgive without limit.

·        Your faithfulness and willingness to extend sacrificial love to your mate may be the means of his\her spiritual healing, even as Christ’s suffering was the means by which we were healed.

·        You don’t solve your problems by putting another pair of shoes under the bed.

·        God’s grace is sufficient to enable you to be faithful to your mate and to love and forgive without limit.

·        God will never forsake you.  Regardless of what you must endure, He will be there to carry you through.

·        The rewards of faithfulness in this life may not be fully experienced until eternity.  But faithfulness will be rewarded and it will be worth the wait!”

 

“The enemy has made a mess and a mockery out of marriage.  His lies have resulted in countless fractured lives and homes.  Only the Truth has power to redeem, restore and renew.”  

 

Christ, His Church and Same Sex Unions 

There are many views on both sides as to the scriptures intent when it comes to same sex relationships, particularly focusing on Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10.  While I find both sides of the debate interesting, my understanding of what God intended comes from a different place. 

I believe the answer is bound up in what marriage symbolized.  Throughout scripture marriage is used as a picture of Christ and His church.  (Ezekiel 16:8,  Isaiah 54:5, Isaiah 62:5, Hosea 2, Ephesians 5 among others.)  This union of a man and a woman, which Paul calls marriage a great mystery in Ephesians 5:32, was created on the pattern of Christ’s relation to the church.  The mystery is that it is not the other way around: God’s intention for His relation to His people was in place long before He created marriage.  This of course means that each piece of the picture is very specific and very important because marriage, as God created it in Eden, is essentially a detailed representation of something that already existed.  God’s plan for us encompassed far more than the intimacy between two humans. His plan for us, before marriage was ever instituted, was for intimacy with Himself that He had planned from all eternity!  We were created to be His bride.

Therefore marriage contains and teaches something far greater than what we see on the outside.  Geoffrey Bromiley writes that “as God made man in His own image, so he made marriage in the image of his own eternal marriage with His people.”  So God created man male and female, and ordained marriage so that the eternal covenant relationship between Christ and his church could be clearly seen in the marriage union.

One of the more stunning things that I have noticed in studying the bible is God’s attention to detail.  Everything fits together beautifully in purpose and meaning, from the littlest thing to the biggest.  This must certainly be the case in the creation of marriage.  Consequently God did not create the existence, characteristics, relationship and roles of men and women haphazardly.  Each of these things specifically displays important parts of the picture. God did not randomly assign the parts that men and women play in marriage but their parts are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and His church.        

The upshot of this is that to make even minor changes totally skews the portrait.  More specifically, to change the woman to a man is not just a minor alteration of this image.  With that revision to the paradigm the meaning and understanding is radically shifted and can no longer reflect the truth that God is seeking reveal to us in marriage.  God created a woman in the relationship of marriage for a reason and to replace her with a man changes everything in the picture.  The same is true with an attempt to replace a man with a woman.  

These relationships and roles are so thoroughly entwined in the fabric of marriage—into our nature and myth—that to try to change them often results in one partner taking on the characteristics that are not his sex in order to imitate that which God intended to be in the picture when He created it.  

God's pattern of a man and a woman partaking of intimacy forever is an exact parable of the relationship He wants with each of us and to try to repaint it is not productive or wise.  This is the reason I believe that same sex unions are not God’s intention for intimacy on earth and do not reflect God’s truth.  If they do not reflect truth then they reflect a lie and are sinful in the eyes of God and should not be pursued.  Also, for this reason, husbands and wives should consciously and intimately imitate the descriptions of marriage throughout the bible because these so closely represent and are so important for an understanding of the relationship God intended for Christ and His church.