Marriage can be the most dangerous or the most blessed decision you make in life. You had better walk into it with both eyes wide open and with your mind and heart saturated in God’s Word.
In the following articles we deal with some of these truths: including romance, equality, submission, intimacy, compatibility, mystery and the metamorphosis that must take place in a husband if the marriage is to survive.
Young ladies, although this study on marriage is Biblically based; let me start by giving you my opinions on how to be attractive, opinions I have held since my teen years and opinions I believe are biblically-based. Learn from them or ignore them, whichever you choose.
The first principle that should determine your make-up and dress as well as your actions and attitudes is to do all to the glory of God. But that principle can be a little fuzzy to a young woman who is trying to attract a boy friend or husband. What does it mean to have an appearance that reflects the glory of God? Basically, it is the opposite of an appearance that attracts the fleshly lusts of men.
Using cosmetics to try to improve your appearance is not sinful nor worldy. When my wife and I were married, she didn’t wear lipstick, simply because I didn’t like it nor think she needed it. Later on as she aged, she showed me that a little make up improved her appearance and I agreed. Since then she has worn it, just enough to enhance her natural beauty.
It’s interesting to note that the only person mentioned in the Bible who painted her face was Jezebel, one of the most wicked women in the Bible.
It’s my opinion that girls and young women wear cosmetics primarily to impress other girls, rather than young men. Many young ladies over-do it and give themselves a plastic, artificial look. That does not attract spiritually-minded young men.
Girls and young teens have such fresh, beautiful faces that it is a shame to cover them up with make-up. If you must wear make up, do it artistically. The purpose of the make-up is not to call attention to the make-up. Rather, the purpose is to apply it so subtly that others are not even aware you are wearing it. The more natural you look, the more beautiful you look to men.
The same principles apply to your clothes. The more feminine you dress, the more attractive you are to a man. Femininity does not include trying to look sexy by showing as much of your body as you dare. Such appearance is a turn-off to spiritually-minded young men. On the other hand, you are not attractive by trying to dress like the Puritans or the Amish by showing almost no skin and no figure. The secret of being attractive to a young man is to keep a little mystery regarding your appearance. In fact, I believe I am accurate in saying that mystery as well as genuineness in a woman is what attracts men.
More important than your appearance is your heart. A pure heart reflects in your humility. Peter says it best when he speaks to wives in I Peter 2:1-4 Let me paraphrase some of it for you. “Wife, be in subjection to your own husband; that if he does not obey the Word, he may also without your preaching the Word, be won by the way you live before him; as he observes your pure manner of life coupled with the fear of God. Whose adorning, let not the focus be on the outward adorning: how you fix your hair, what jewelry you wear, or what clothing you wear, but recognize that your beauty comes from the hidden heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God ( and may I add in the sight of men) of great price.”
What Peter says to wives can be applied by young women seeking God’s will concerning a boy friend and eventually a husband.
Young people, yield yourself fully to God. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Ah, sweet romance! Every woman dreams about it, reads about it, cries over it and longs for it. Romantic feelings are the most natural thing in all the world. Yes, even men enjoy romance in their lives, though some very loving husbands don’t express it as well as they should. Some men are more romantic than others. Women, not all romantic men are loving and not all loving men are as romantic as you would like yours to be. Come to think of it, love, romance, boys friends, girl friends and dating, though very exciting, can be quite confusing for girls and for boys as well.
Three kinds of love
There are three Greek words that you ought to know about to help you sort out your feelings about love. The first Greek word is not in the Bible, although it is described in the Bible. It is eros and from this word we get the word erotic. Erotic feelings are those feelings that men can feel for an attractive woman. These feelings can be stirred up in a woman by a desirable man who makes amorous advances. The major difference between a man and a woman is that a man is “turned on” or aroused by looking at a beautiful woman, or even by looking at her picture. Isn’t it wonderful, men, that God made women so beautiful! On the other hand, a woman is not “turned on” by looking at a handsome man, but rather by his romantic touch and by the way he expresses his desire for her in the way he looks at her and talks to her. Fortunately for most of us men, we don’t have to be as handsome as a movie star to be attractive to our wives.
The second Greek word phileo, is found in the Bible. It is the word from which we get the name Philadelphia, city of brother love. This word expresses the normal, natural love that friends and family have for one another. Certainly every marriage should have a strong degree of this love. A husband and his wife ought to be the best of friends.
The third Greek word agape is the highest form of love. In fact, it is so high that only God has it by His very nature. and only God can put it in our hearts so that we can express it to others. Agape love is totally self-giving and sacrificial. “God so loved the world that He gave.” You know the verse, John 3:16.
Erotic feelings and activity within the bounds of God’s Law are good.
Now getting back to romance. How do these three kinds of love fit in? First, there is nothing inherently evil about erotic feelings. They are perfectly normal feelings, but they are feelings that are to be under the control of God’s Law. God’s Law clearly commands that erotic feelings are to be expressed only in the bonds of marriage between a husband and his wife. All other forms of eroticism have no place in our lives and God warns He will judge those who disobey His Law. Hebrews 13:4 That means that God is going to judge those guilty of pre-marital sex and other forms of sexual perversion. I didn’t write God’s Law, so if you have a problem with that, take it up with Him. Proverbs 5,6 and 7 go into more detail describing the dangers of sexual immorality.
The slippery rock
Romantic feelings, while beautiful in marriage; are no foundation for a happy, lasting marriage. If you build your marriage on romance alone, your marriage will dissolve just as soon as your romance disappears and in your rebellion to God and His Law you will probably do the same thing all over again by trying to build another marriage on the same slippery rock of romance.
Don’t get married without Him!
If you and your spouse have never invited Christ into your lives and into your marriage, the best you can hope for in marriage is some natural phileo love spiced with some erotic feelings. Although your marriage may last a lifetime, you’re still missing a wonderful ingredient of a happy marriage, and that is God’s agape love.
The foundation stone for a truly romantic, fun-filled, happy lasting marriage is for both you and your spouse to each know Christ as your personal Saviour and Lord. In fact, God clearly forbids a Christian marrying an unbeliever. I encourage you to read and study carefully I Corinthians 7 on this subject. There is given you clear direction as to what to do if you are already married to an unbeliever. However the warning is still clear to you who are still unmarried. Marry only in the Lord.
God is the author and designer of marriage. Marriage is a covenant that a man and a woman make together before Almighty God and in the presence of witnesses. It is a covenant for better or for worse and is to be honored as long as both parties to the covenant live. Malachi 2:14-15
Marriage is a picture of the Christian's relationship with Christ as described in Ephesians 5. We are His spiritual bride and He is our spiritual husband. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman in a total, intimate, physical, emotional and spiritual oneness. It is a relationship involving mutual trust, dependence, faithfulness, integrity and love. Christ is the foundation rock for a Christian marriage. I Corinthians 6:19-20 7:1-18 Christians should not consider marrying an unbeliever.
When a young man and woman enter the holy estate of matrimony, they cut the dependency ties with their parents and all others and learn to depend on one another under God for their physical, spiritual, emotional and financial needs.
Use courtship time wisely
The purpose of the courtship and engagement is to give the time needed to talk, to listen, to observe and to learn more about one another. Engagements should last long enough to know your future husband or wife. This is the time to frankly and honestly discuss all the important issues of life, including your relationship with God and your understanding of Biblical doctrines. This is the time to talk about where you will attend church together. This is the time to start praying together. Young men should take the spiritual leadership in the matter of praying together and spending time reading and discussing God's Word together. Young ladies, consider these questions as you date a young man.
1. Is this the man to whom I can look for spiritual leadership in my home?
2. Is this the man I want to be the father of my children?
This is the time to discuss everything in life that could possibly be a disagreement.
Do you want children? How many do you want? Are you in agreement concerning birth control? What about finances? What about the use of credit cards, a budget, investments, tithing? Where will you live? Will you both work outside the home or will the wife plan to be at home with the children when they come? What about education for the children? Will it be public school, private Christian school or home-schooling? What do you enjoy doing together in your leisure time? How will you spend vacations? Take time to talk these matters out together. If there are disagreements, discuss them now. If they are insurmountable, it may mean ending the relationship. Better now, than after the wedding. Observe how your boy friend or girl friend treats others. If they are disrespectful, rude or overbearing, they will eventually be that way with you.
"Don't sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate!" Dr. Bob Jones Sr.
Sexual impurity will be a strong temptation. I challenge you to keep yourself pure. It honors God. It enables you to concentrate on the important issues of life and it makes your wedding night even more wonderful!
Plan prayerfully together
Finally, make your wedding plans together. The average couple spends about 90 to 100% of their courtship planning their ceremony and honeymoon and about 0 to 10% of their time planning their life together as husband and wife. You need to reverse those percentages. You need to spend 90% of your courtship time planning your life together and about 10% planning your wedding. If you are Christian, you will no doubt want to plan a wedding in your church. Work with the pastor on this. Plan ahead. Don't approach your pastor with a request to marry you next week or next month. He will, no doubt, want to spend several weeks counseling you. A wedding does not need to be extremely expensive. Concentrate on planning together with your future spouse and with your families. With careful planning you can have a beautiful, Christ-honoring wedding.
In Ephesians 5 God gives husbands and wives some humanly impossible commands to obey. He commands wives to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord and He commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. But remember this. God never commands us to do anything without giving us the power to do it.
The Holy Spirit’s ministry
That power God gives us is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1. The Holy Spirit regenerates those who trust Christ as Saviour. Titus 3:5-6
2. He seals us, assuring we will arrive in Heaven. Ephesians 1:13-14 & 4:30
3. He baptizes us, uniting us into the Body of Christ. I Corinthians 12:13
4. He indwells our bodies. I Corinthians 6:19-20 Romans 8:9
5. He convicts us of sin. John 16:8
6. He teaches us Truth. John 16:13
7. He enables us to bear His fruit. Galatians 5:22-23
8. He helps us pray in the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
9. He comforts us. John 14:16-17
10. He gives us spiritual gifts for edifying the Body of Christ. I Corinthians 12
Be filled with the Spirit!
We are not commanded to seek for the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 teaches us that we already have Him as believers. However, we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. That is, we are to be surrendered to Christ so His Spirit can control our lives. Ephesians 5:18 When we are filled or controlled by the Spirit, three results are evident.
Evidences of being filled with the Spirit.
1. God puts a song in our hearts. Ephesians 5:19
2. He enables us to be thankful for anything and everything God allows in our lives. Ephesians 5:20
3. He enables us to submit ourselves to others. We no longer insist on having our own ways nor try to manipulate others. Ephesians 5:21
This is the power that enables us as husbands and wives to be submitted to one another. Now with this background, let us consider the commands God gives us in our marriage relationship. Having commanded us to be subject one to another, God commands wives in particular to submit themselves to their own husbands as unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:22-24
The tyrant complex
Now before any of you husbands get the tyrant complex, I have a word for you. God starts out this whole theme of submission by teaching all of us to have a submissive spirit. Therefore, as wives are to submit to the leadership of their husbands, so a husband is to submit himself to the needs of his wife. That means in plain English that you are to consider your wife’s needs, desires and feelings before your own. In fact, you and I as husbands are to be willing to live sacrificially for our wives.
When I proposed to my wife over 50 years ago, I asked her if she would be willing to go with me as my wife wherever God led me. She gladly said yes and she has faithfully followed as God has led me in the ministry. ( Recently Pat read this and reminded me that her answer was not “Yes” but “Anywhere!” ) And that has been the case. But through those years she and I have talked over every major decision in life and I have considered her needs and desires as I made decisions.
I do not command my wife to submit to me. The husband is not called to command his wife. Rather, God commands the wife to submit and because she is submitted to God, she offers glad, willing submission to her husband.
Consider your wife’s needs
So next time you are tempted to try to command or force your wife to give you a drink of water or do anything else for you, DON’T! Instead, get up out of your chair and go get your own drink and while you’re at it, ask her if you can bring her something.
Next time you plan your vacation, plan it together, considering her needs and interests above your own. Husbands, if you are surrendered to the Lord and if you will start submitting to the needs of your wife, you will be surprised how quickly your wife will turn around and start looking to you for spiritual leadership in your home.
Remember, none of us can be the husbands and wives we ought to be unless we are surrendered to Christ and filled with His Spirit. Only then will we have the power to surrender our wills to one another and live to please each other.
Men and women are equal in the eyes of God. The Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:28 teaches, "There is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." The Apostle Peter in I Peter 3:7 teaches that Christian husbands and wives are heirs together of the grace of life."
Women are not property!
Many do not know nor recognize this equality. They downgrade women and treat them as the mere property of men. I've heard men refer to women in derogatory language too vile to print. Christian influence on society sets a woman on a pedestal of honor. It's the influence of Christianity that causes men to be chivalrous and gallant in such things as holding the door open for women. The godless spirit of the age causes some women to be offended by these acts of politeness and thoughtfulness.
Who's the smartest? It doesn't matter.
Although men and women are equal, some husbands are more intelligent than their wives and some wives are more intelligent than their husbands. Some women walk closer to God than their husbands and some husbands walk closer to God than their wives. Men and women, though equal, are wired differently mentally and emotionally. A woman can never be as masculine as a man and a man can never be as feminine as a woman. Do you thank God for the gender God chose for you? I encourage you to read Psalm 139 and praise God for the way He made you.
Wife, are you a cheerleader?
God made the husband to provide for, protect and lead his wife and He made her to be a help, fit for her husband. Genesis 2:18-25 A good husband encourages his wife and has her happiness and satisfaction uppermost on his mind and a good wife is her husband's encourager and "cheer leader". She enhances her husband's image. Proverbs 31:23 says, "her husband is known in the gates when he sitteth among the elders of the land."
Compete or Complete?
In a healthy, happy marriage, the wife does not compete with her husband; instead she completes him. That is the great joy of her life. If a woman is stronger in certain areas, such as mathematics, it would be wise for her to manage the check book. However, the husband as protector and provider, can never abdicate his financial responsibility to his wife. If through mismanagement a family finds themselves drowning in debt, it is his responsibility to solve the problem. When husbands and wives communicate and work together, many financial problems will be avoided.
The most powerful position on earth
Mothers who carry out their responsibilities of child rearing under God hold the most powerful and influential positions in life. There is no work more important, more sacred and more rewarding than loving and training their children Nothing that money can buy is worth surrendering that responsibility and privilege to child care providers or to baby sitters. Truly, "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world". Women raise, train and shape the character of the next generation of mothers, dads, teachers, doctors, nurses, preachers, business and political leaders of the world. Don't underestimate the importance of this responsibility.
What is the fundamental need each of us has, whether we are single or married, whether we are age two, or twenty-two or eighty-two? Certainly food and water are up at the top; but perhaps right up there with food is intimacy. What is it that draws Christians to gather in churches? Certainly it ought to be to hear the preaching of God’s Word, but almost as important is the desire for intimacy. Intimacy is the universal desire that is deeper than the sexual relationship of a husband and wife. Even such a relationship is lacking and unfulfilling if it does not spring from a heart of intimacy and unselfish love.
Everyone needs intimacy.
The world cries out for intimacy. Mostly it is masked by callousness and self-confidence. When asked how we are; we answer with a polite smile, “Oh, I’m fine.” The reason we respond that way is because we have learned that most people who ask really don’t care. We human beings have the ability to build a shell around our hearts to keep us from getting hurt because we have been hurt in the past.
Everyone without exception longs for intimacy. Infants cry out for intimacy with their parents. Boys and girls desperately need to grow up in a home where love and intimacy flows between Mother and Dad and between brothers and sisters and other close relatives. Pre-school children have their imaginary friends, as well as their dolls and teddy bears that help satisfy the need for intimacy. School children have their friends at school. All children need a best friend with whom they can share secrets. Class activities, school clubs, choir, band and sports all help to meet the need to belong, which is another way of speaking of the need for intimacy. Teens who do not find intimacy at home or at school may seek it by joining gangs or by getting involved in sexual promiscuity.
What has gone wrong with this world?
Sin has ruined mankind and this world and robbed us, not only of innocence, but of intimacy. When God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the beautiful Garden of Eden, they lived in a state of absolute perfection and intimacy with their Creator. God walked and talked with them each day. They knew Him and enjoyed His presence. When they rebelled against God, they not only ruined their relationship with Him, but with one another. Furthermore, sin has ruined the whole creations. Romans 8:20-23 Man became estranged from God and from his fellow man. Psalm 58:3 says, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.”
Sin not only separates us from God; but sin ruins intimacy.
An unconverted married couple can never know the fullness of intimacy that God intended them to enjoy. A married couple; one a Christian and the other an unbeliever, live in two different worlds and although they reach out to one another in love; their intimacy is limited. The unconverted partner is incapable of sharing intimately and completely in the heart and life of his Christian spouse. I Corinthians 2:14 Ungodly singles, as well as married couples will go from one relationship to another; all in search of intimacy. God, the source of love and intimacy, has the answer.
God has answered our heart’s cry for love and intimacy by providing His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour from sin. Salvation opens the door to true intimacy with God and with His family. The Bible describes salvation as coming to the knowledge of the truth. I Timothy 2:4. It is more than objective, impersonal theological knowledge. It is a personal, intimate knowledge of God.
Jesus said in John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” Paul expressed his desire for a growing intimate knowledge of God in Philippians 3:10 “That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death.” This knowledge increases as we learn to walk with God. Colossians1:10″That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing; being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
You can enjoy intimacy with Christ.
Just before Jesus went to the cross to die for our sins, He met in the upper room with His disciples. The conversation is recorded in John 14-17. Here Jesus explained that after His return to Heaven He was going to send His Holy Spirit who would actually live in the believer. This is what enables us to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ than the disciples ever experienced when He walked with them on earth.
Because God is the author of sex and marriage and because He has given us His Holy Spirit, Christians can experience a depth of intimacy in marriage that unbelievers will never know.
What about Heaven? Will there by intimacy in Heaven?
Absolutely! The intimacy will be beyond anything we can experience on this earth. Jesus said in Matthew 22:23-30 that there will be no marriage in Heaven. Will we be male and female? I believe so. Jesus met with His disciples in His resurrected body and He appeared to them as a man. He had flesh and bones, but no blood. Luke 24:39 and John20:27In His glorified body He could pass through closed doors. John20:26 The Bible tells us in Philippians3:20-21 that our glorified bodies will be just like His.
In Heaven there will be no temptation, no sin, no failure, no heartache no sickness, no death. All of that, as well as Satan himself, will be banished from Heaven forever. Revelation 21:4
In our glorified, sinless bodies we will all enjoy a perfect, pure love and intimacy that is beyond our imagination. “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians13:12 Imagine; perfect, pure intimacy with one another forever! May you experience the intimacy of walking with God now and forever.
Intimacy with your Spouse
Unsaved couples can experience physical sexual relationships and even experience a degree of emotional closeness; but it does not begin to match the emotional oneness of a married Christian couple. For the married Christian couple living in fellowship with Christ, the sexual relationship is actually a worship experience itself as we give glory and praise to God during the experience itself.
I believe the intimacy of a Christian husband and wife is a type. a picture, a foretaste of the eternal perfection and joy that every Christian, male and female, will enjoy with Christ in perfection in Heaven forever.
So you and your wife are incompatible. That's not surprising. Did you expect a clone of yourself for a spouse? How boring that marriage would be. Of course, you are incompatible! You and your spouse are two different individuals. She likes it hot. You like it cold. She likes your living room arranged one way. You like it arranged another way. She likes the toilet paper to roll from underneath. You like it to roll from the top. She doesn't like the bathroom mirror spotted. You couldn't care less. She's fastidious about details. You drive her crazy with your carelessness about details.
The lovey-dovey days
Before you were married, you couldn't keep your eyes off each other. Now she has put on some pounds since the babies came and you're feeling sorry for yourself. Before you were married, you went to sports events together and had fun. Now that you're married, your husband sits in front of the TV and watches every basketball game and it's driving you crazy.
So you are incompatible! What else is new?
What can you do about incompatibility? Learn to live with it and quit feeling sorry for yourself. Ask God to change you instead of frustrating yourself trying to change your spouse. You'll never change him. Only God can do that and He will, if you allow God to work on you first.
My definition and description of marriage
Christian marriage is the divine art whereby God unites as one a Christian man and a Christian woman who have been drawn together by romantic love and by a growing assurance that God has fitted them for one another. Through the exchange of sacred vows before God and in the company of witnesses they promise to love, honor and be faithful and true to one another for as long as they both shall live. Miraculously the process of two becoming one has begun.
Shortly after the wedding, you begin to learn about each other's faults and soon discover you're incompatible. There are times when the romantic, emotional feelings of love temporarily fade and you begin to wonder if you've made a terrible mistake. It's at times like this that you need to remind yourself of the covenant you made to each other in the sight of God and before a company of witnesses. There is no incompatibility too big for God to solve in your marriage. He may not remove the problem, but He will enable you to live with it and at the same time deepen your love for your spouse.
Through a lifetime God takes a somewhat incompatible and immature Christian couple and does an ongoing work of sanctification in their lives so that their love and devotion to one another begins to reflect the holy, intimate relationship of Christ and His Church. It only takes about twenty minutes to get married, but it takes a lifetime to build a happy, blessed, God-honoring marriage
Are you compatible with God?
Your first step to compatibility is to become compatible to God and to His will for your life. As you draw near to God, you will find yourself drawing closer to your spouse. Husbands, it's your responsibility to seek the Lord for help in your marriage.
God gave you a beautiful bride who entrusted herself to you. What she becomes over the years depends on how you treat her. She can become a miserable shrew in old age or she can become the love of your life.
We discussed the three kinds of love in our first article entitled Romance in this Marriage series. Erotic love says, “I love you because you are so sexy.” Phileo love says, “I love you because you are so lovable.” Agape love says, “I love you because you are my wife and I vowed to love you and be faithful to you for the rest of our lives. Agape love is that totally, unselfish, unconditional love of God that Christians can experience and show to one another through the indwelling Holy Spirit. When agape love is foundational, eros and phileo love are not far behind.
Don’t be governed by your emotions.
A woman, because of the way God made her, is more governed by her emotions and feelings than a man. Although a husband can and ought to be emotional with his wife, he cannot allow himself to be governed by his emotions. He must show love to his wife whether he feels like it or not because God commands him to love his wife. Ephesians 5:25 The happy consequence of obeying this command is that God rewards him with tender loving feelings for his wife and he awakens a loving response in her.
Husband, if you love yourself, you are going to love your wife with unselfish, agape love. Ephesians 5:28 Wife, if you love yourself and want the warmth and intimacy of your husband, you are going to gladly submit yourself to him.
Understand this difference.
Men and women are so completely different. A wife never tires of hearing her husband say, “I love you.” She loves to be romanced by her husband. She loves to have her husband value her and consider her feelings in the decisions he makes. She appreciates knowing that she is important in her husband’s life.
A husband also appreciates the “I love you’s” from his wife; but far more meaningful to a husband are all those efforts a wife makes to please, honor and reverence him. Ephesians 5:33 Look at the qualities of a virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:10-31. Note she is other-centered rather than self-centered. She makes her husband look good before others. She prepares food that he likes. She wears clothing and wears her hair to please her husband. She can be trusted with the family finances. What’s interesting about this chapter is that there is not a word said about love or romance. It doesn’t mean that love and romance are not important, for they are; but love and devotion to her husband are shown in all she does for him.
Just as Jesus is more honored when we please him by the way we live than when we sing, “Oh, how I love Jesus”; so a husband is more honored and satisfied with his wife’s efforts to please him, than with her telling him continually how much she loves him. For us to sing of our love for Jesus when we ignore His commands is as meaningless as for a disobedient shrew of a wife to whisper sweet nothings in her husband’s ear.
Husbands, the responsibility for your home rests primarily with you.
The husband is the band of protecting, providing, caring love that holds the home together. Happy is the Christian husband and wife who work together in loving harmony to build their home.
Christ's goal for His Church is stated in Ephesians 5:25-27. There it says, "Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish."
This truth is taught right in the midst of this teaching on marriage. In this same passage it teaches husbands are to be like Jesus. Husbands are to love their wives just as Jesus loves His Church. Husbands are to give themselves for their wives as Christ gave Himself for His Church. The inference is that if husbands will love their wives with Christ's pure, selfless love, they will over a lifetime see their wives become all they could ever hope for or desire. That does not happen in marriages where husbands are cruel, selfish and demanding; but rather, where husbands are thoughtful, gentle, kind and loving towards their wives.
Husbands who are tyrannical, thoughtless and rude towards their wives are actually not wise. They are actually destroying themselves even as they are destroying their wives. Ephesians 5:29-30 A husband's wife is as much a part of him as any member of his body. When he finally grasps that truth, he will have made progress in his relationship.
Not only should his goal be to improve his relationship with his wife and have a happy, fulfilled marriage, but it should be to produce godly children. In Malachi 2:14-16 the Prophet Malachi charges husbands to be faithful.
Give your children what they deserve
The best chance for a child to develop normally, experience a happy childhood and grow up knowing, loving and serving God is to grow up in a home where both father and mother love the Lord and where they are setting the right example of a godly monogamous relationship. God in His sovereignty can and does take a child from the worst of homes and draw that child to Himself and greatly use that person for His glory.
Your responsibility as parents is to make sure that first of all you are rightly related to God through faith in Christ. Then it is your responsibility as Christian parents to teach God's Word to your children by your example and instruction. Deuteronomy 6:4-25
According to Exodus 20:1-6 if you fulfill this responsibility as parents under God, you will be successful and bless your children for generations. On the other hand, if you ignore God and fail to accept this responsibility to your children, you will be responsible for bringing God's curse on your family to the third and fourth generation.
The oneness of a husband and his wife in the marriage relationship; as well as the oneness of Christ and His relationship with His Church are both amazing, awesome parallel mysteries that only a Christian can understand and appreciate. The more you meditate on this, the more God reveals to you. The deeper your intimate relationship with Christ; the more capacity you have for intimacy with your wife and the more you bow in wonder, amazement and worship as you consider this parallel relationship: Christ and His Church and you and your spouse.
Humility and servanthood
Read again Ephesians 5:25 to see how the doctrine of Christ and His Church is related to our relationship with our spouse. What does Christ's love for His Church teach us as husbands? It teaches us humility and servanthood toward our wives. Philippians 2:5-8 It teaches us a willingness to give up our rights, our glory and our dignity and a willingness to suffer and die for our wives. Our primary concern is the good of our wives. Their needs, their satisfaction and their happiness affect all our decisions. Our own needs and desires pale into insignificance.
Love your enemies and love your wife!
When do we show love for our wives? We show Christ's love in good times and bad times; when they are happy and content and when they are upset and angry. After all, if Christ commands us to love our enemies and do good to them, don't you think we ought to be able to show Christ's love to our wives? In fact, when they are upset with us is the very time our love for them should be most evident.
Spots and wrinkles
How does Christ presently love us as Christians? We know He died and rose again for us, so we could be forgiven and cleansed from the guilt of sin; but Christ does more for us.. According to Ephesians 5:25-27 He loved us and gave Himself for us that He might sanctify and cleanse and perfect us by ridding us of moral spots and wrinkles and present us to Himself a glorious church, holy and without blemish. Paul teaches us in Philippians 1:6 that what God begins, He is able to complete.
So husbands are to love their wives, in spite of their spots and blemishes and wrinkles. Husbands are commanded in Colossians 3:19 :"Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter against them" Don't chide them about their faults. That only intensifies problems. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 7:3-5 to work on our own faults first. Then we will have the humility and wisdom and gentleness to help them with their needs.
Can we really change our mate?
Perhaps you are wondering whether this will really work. Can I really change my wife and rid her of her spots and blemishes? Let me ask you a parallel questions. Is Christ going to be successful in cleansing us of our spots and blemishes? Absolutely! Sanctification is not ultimately our decision; it is Christ's decision. You ARE going to be sanctified just as surely as you are justified and just as surely as you will one day be glorified in Heaven. Philippians 3:20-21 He accomplishes sanctification by His Word and through the work of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:26, John 15:3 John 17:17 Christ will even use suffering to accomplish his purpose in our lives. Hebrews 12:2-11
Now think about this. If Christ is going to be successful in loving us to holiness and perfection, and HE WILL be successful; and if His love for His Church is an example to husbands as to how to love our wives; then we can also be certain of success as husbands. We can so love and cherish our wives that the character flaws will gradually fade away and we can be used of God to help them develop those qualities that make them truly beautiful. Of course, that process all begins as we expose ourselves to God's Word and allow Him to work in our lives and rid ourselves of our own character flaws. As we pray and read God's Word together with our wives, He will do the work of cleansing and beautification
Are you getting the big picture of Ephesians 5? Our ability to love our wives rests on our surrender to Christ, and being filled with the Spirit and progressing in sanctification. Wives, your ability to live a joyful, thankful, submissive life with your husband rests on your surrender to Christ and being filled with the Spirit and your own progress in sanctification. A happy, successful marriage is totally related to our progress in sanctification and holiness. That's why most Christians just need Biblical preaching far more than they need marriage counseling. God, the author and designer of marriage has the answers in His Word for every marriage problem. He who is the author and finisher of your Faith is the author and finisher of your marriage.
Caterpillars and tadpoles
Metamorphosis is a biological term that describes the transformation in structure and form of some lower animals as they progress from birth to maturity. For example, a caterpillar changes into a butterfly and a tadpole changes into a frog by this process. In this article I want to describe for you the transformation of a little boy into a husband and father.
The apron strings are cut
A boy growing up in a Christian home has learned to live his life in submission and obedience to his parents. Now he is a grown young man standing at the altar beside his beautiful bride. There are lots of strong emotions at a wedding. There are no words to describe the joy and excitement and anticipation of a bride and groom as they stand there waiting to be pronounced husband and wife. There are no words to describe the love and pride and joy and the pain of parents as they sit there in the front row of honor watching their beloved children wrenched out of their arms to leave home and go and start their own home. It all happens in a moment of time as they make their vows to one another in the sight of God. Suddenly the apron strings are cut. The handsome young man standing there with his beloved bride is no longer to be the submissive little boy he once was. He is now the leader, lover, protector and provider for his wife. Later, as children come, he who was once commanded by his father and mother, now commands his own children. It is an amazing metamorphosis.
I pronounce you husband and wife.
I experienced it over fifty years ago as a young bridegroom. I experienced it a second time when I became a father. I experienced it again as I performed the weddings of each of our two sons and daughter. It was a deeply emotional experience as I cut the parent/child relationship. I sense the awesomeness of it every time I perform a wedding. Some of the most powerful words I ever say are these: “And now by the authority given me as a Minister of the Gospel, I pronounce you husband and wife.” These words always move me to the depths of my soul. I sense that I have just had a part in this great metamorphosis. In that instant, it’s as though I took divine scissors and cut the relationship of a young man and a young woman with their parents and took divine glue and united this young man with his bride.
Let them go!
Although the transformation is instantaneous; in another sense, it takes some time to adjust to this new relationship. The parents of the bride and groom can be a great help and blessing to their married children by letting them go and allowing them to stand on their own feet. They can still support them with their love and prayers, but leave them alone and let them go!
In many marriages the greatest source of discord is that of meddling parents who refuse to let go of their son or daughter. Mothers, especially mothers of sons, are notorious for interfering in the lives of their sons and daughters-in-law; causing much tension, friction and hard feelings. Happy is the young married couple who have parents who have learned to let go and not interfere in the marriage of their children.
Naomi must have been an amazing and wonderful mother-in-law. Her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, loved her so much that she was willing to give up her past and her people and go with her mother-in-law to a strange land. There God gave Ruth a wonderful second husband, Boaz. Read this beautiful love story here https://hiddentreasures.wordpress.com/category/love/
From a boy to a husband and father
Newly weds must cut the ties to mother’s apron strings. The bride and groom must learn to lean on one another for emotional support and not on their parents. A young husband must break away from the submissive relationship he had with his mother as a small child. This parental dependency can wreak havoc on a marriage. Little children who grow up in Christian homes have drilled into them the responsibility of obeying their parents. But when that obedient, submissive child grows up and stands as an adult with his bride at the marriage altar, a metamorphosis must start to take place immediately. That obedient little boy in a moment of time must stop taking order from his parents, and become the leader of his new home. If they are wise parents, they are going to stop giving orders and making strong suggestions as to how the new couple should live their lives. Even when asked by their son or daughter, they will offer advice and suggestions very cautiously and very sparingly.
Mother, don’t attack your child!
An unwise, meddling mother-in-law will tell her daughter-in-law how to redecorate her home, how to raise the children, what to eat, how to prepare it correctly, what to wear, where to attend church and on and on it goes. Her controlling attitude will drive her son and daughter-in-law farther and farther away. Such a mother fails to understand the awful strain she is placing on her children’s marriage as she gives her unsolicited advice. Remember this, parents, when you criticize or attack your son’s wife or your daughter’s husband, you not only attack the in-law, but you attack your own child. You are doing untold damage to your children and to the relationship you hope to have with them and with the future grandchildren.
Change your thinking, young husband!
Young husbands and wives MUST stop thinking of themselves as their parent’s submissive children. For twenty years or so they have had the parent/child mentality. Now they must start thinking of their new relationship as husband and wife. They must stop depending on their parents for emotional and financial support and develop a strong relationship with one another. Settle it now young husband. Determine to provide a loving, secure home for your wife and children and with your wife, provide a Christian heritage to pass on to the next generation.
We live in a world of troubled, unhappy marriages and divorces. One of the greatest ways we can be a witness to those around us is to have a happy, successful marriage. Such marriages open doors of opportunity to share Christ with others.
If you're not happy with your husband, don't change husbands, change him. I doubt there is a wife who would not like to make some changes in her husband.
You know about a makeover as far as your appearance is concerned. Let me show you how you can do a makeover on your husband so that he becomes the man of your dreams. As you read and consider these ideas, you will see again that it is God who ultimately does the makeover. You partner with God in the process.
METHODS THAT DON'T WORK
First, you can't change your husband by using methods that are contrary to the Bible.. For example, for a wife to preach to, coax, nag or hen-peck her husband never accomplishes anything positive. It only tends to irritate and alienate your husband from you and drive him into his own little world. What is it you want to do; irritate him or change him? Proverbs 19:13 describes the hen-pecker. "The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping." Proverbs 27:15 further describes a contentious wife and her negative impact on her husband. "A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike." A contentious woman is in a continual contest with her husband to have her own way.
Trying to impress him with your new hair style or a new dress does not work if you do not have a meek and quiet spirit. I Peter. 3:3 There is nothing more beautiful about a wife than her meek and quiet spirit.
Joking to others that your husband is the head of the house, but you are the neck that turns the head, is not going to help your relationship with your husband.
Sharing your husband's weaknesses with your girl friends or family under the pious excuse that you are praying for him, is betraying him and doing great harm to your marriage. Pray for him but keep the weaknesses between you and God alone.
Using your feminine wiles may temporarily get you what you want; but in the long-run, your husband will never be the spiritual leader you long for him to be and you will never be happy.
Perhaps the cruelest tactic of all is threatening to leave your husband, or withhold yourself from him, if he does not submit to your desires. Not only is it cruel, but stupid. You are encouraging your husband to become feminine and mousy. You will eventually despise him and you will become known as a shrew.
Why don't your methods work? Because he is male and you are female. He has testosterone and you have estrogen. As one writer puts it, he is from Mars and you are from Venus. You can never get him to think the way you think, so give up! When you are fighting your husband you are fighting God. When you are showing contempt and disrespect to your husband, you are showing contempt and disrespect to God. As you show contempt and disrespect to your children's father, you are teaching your children how to sulk and be rebellious to both you and your husband. Do you see how such behavior classifies you as a foolish woman who is destroying her home? Proverbs 14:1
THE METHODS THAT DO WORK
You change your husband by first allowing God to change you. You change your husband by giving up your struggle to change him and allowing God to change him. I Peter 3:1-6 gives you the steps you need to know and follow in order to change him. Only as you surrender to the indwelling Holy Spirit and allow Him to make the changes in you, can you have the ability to live by the directives of this passage.
Here are the steps you need to take.
Willingly submit yourself to your husband, trusting God for the results, I Pet. 3:1
Don't nag, coax, preach to or hen-peck your husband. The word "conversation" in the KJV means just the opposite of what it means today. It concerns our manner of life rather than what we say. Note that your husband beholds your conversation. He does not listen to it. If you've been married very long, you have perhaps learned that your husband's eyes work much better than his ears.
This attractive life that he observes makes a BIG impression on him, especially when you couple that submission with reverential fear. Look at Abraham's wife, Sarah, in verse 6. She called her husband "Lord". I don't believe God is commanding you to call your husband, "Lord" but if you honor and respect him, you will be surprised how that will help him become the man you so long for him to be.
Finally, concentrate your attention to beautifying your spirit, more than your body. It's not that your body is not important. It is very important that you keep yourself physically attractive for your husband. But it is much more important that you ask God to help you have a meek and quiet spirit. Without that meek and quiet spirit, all your efforts to be beautiful are in vain.
I challenge you to take these steps in your own life and watch God work through your submission to His Word to make your husband the man of your dreams.
HOW TO MAKE IT TO YOUR 50th
At our church’s annual Sweetheart Banquet I shared with them what I would like to share with you, practical pointers for a long and happy marriage. We’re not the perfect married couple. We’re still working on ours. On August 27th, 2005 God gave us the privilege of celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary. How can you reach that goal? It is to be understood that both partners must know Jesus Christ as Saviour and be surrendered to Him as Lord, living each day in obedience to God’s Word under the control of the Holy Spirit Here are some pointers from A to Z. To save the confusion of using him or her throughout this article, I will address the husbands. Wives you can apply this to yourselves also.
Appreciate your wife as a gift from God. Show her repeatedly in a thousand different ways how much she means to you. Adjust to her. We’re running a race together. If you’re holding hands, you have to adjust your speed so you run together. You’re imperfect. Allow your wife to be imperfect. Don’t make a big deal of her faults. Don’t try to change her. Work on yourself and allow God to work on her. Marriage involves a lifetime of adjustments with one another.
Build up your wife. We edify and build up one another at church. Surely, we can take the time and effort to build up and encourage our wives in our homes.
Character It takes character to stay married 50 years. See the article on Character on this web site. It also takes communication. That involves talking, but mostly listening to each other.
Determination It takes determination to make our marriage go when the road is rough. Settle it now. Divorce is NOT an option. My wife and I settled and agreed on that matter while we were courting. We promised one another that Divorce would NEVER even be a consideration in the future.
Empathy We need to empathize and be understanding of our wives. It takes time and effort to get to know them. Also keep excitement in your marriage. Don’t settle for boredom.
Faithfulness Be faithful to God and to the vows you made to each other before Him. God gives strength to Christians to do that. Ask forgiveness repeatedly when you fail to show her how much you love her.
Gratitude Show gratitude to her. Thank her for the 1001 things she does for you. each day. For example, do you thank her daily for the meals she prepares for you and for sewing a button on your shirt? When she is not all she ought to be, show God’s Grace to her as God has shown His Grace to you.
Honesty Be honest with her. Keep a sense of humor in your marriage, but NEVER make your wife the butt of jokes in public.
Intimacy Get to know your spouse and try to understand what makes her tick.
Jealousy God is a jealous God who will not put up with infidelity to Him. We need to have a holy jealousy for one another. We promise in our marriage vows “to keep thee only unto her as long as you both shall live.”
Kindness is love in small doses throughout the day. The best times to do this is when you think she is undeserving of it.
Love, Laughter. I deal with love at length in this MARRIAGE series.
Make Up immediately when you’ve had a fuss. Don’t wait for 30 minutes or a whole day. By all means never go to bed without making up. Think how silly and how childish it is to waste even thirty minutes of marital bliss when you could have humbled yourself and made things right with each other. Besides, it’s fun to make up!
Nourish your marriage by reading and discussing God’s Word together and praying together and being attentive to one another’s needs. Don’t ignore your spouse.
Open Be open with one another. Keep NOTHING hidden from one another. The ONLY secrets in your marriage should be the gifts you give each other for birthdays, Christmas, Valentines and for any or no occasion.
Pray together. Keep the passion in your marriage. Be patient with each other. We’ve always practised conversational prayer since our courtship days. In recent years, we’ve added a new twist to our prayer life. We have been going to our love seat in our bedroom after breakfast. As we sit together to pray, our little dog, Muffie, squeezes between us and we converse with God and with one another in prayer. I will talk to God about personal, family, church, and miscellaneous situations, even the physical needs of our dog. We mention her by name and she knows she’s involved when she hears her name. Pat will enter in whenever she wishes and shares her thoughts with God and with me. Sometimes we’re talking with each other, sometimes we are directing our concerns with God. In either case, He hears and is involved, as though He were in the room with us. Of course, He is right there listening and reading our hearts.
Quarrel You will quarrel with each other sometimes. Learn to quarrel fairly. Don’t hold grudges and keep scores of wrongs. Don’t throw up the past to one another. When God forgives us He forgets our sin forever. So should we. Don’t shout and scream at one another. That’s so childish. Learn to quarrel quietly as mature adults; not like little tots having a temper tantrum. In other words, instead of quarreling, discuss quietly and politely your differences of opinion. When you do lose your temper and say unkind things to your spouse, go back to, make up.
Romance Every wife needs it. After over fifty-five years of marriage, I’m still not quite sure what it is, but I do know my wife needs it. The dictionary says it is “in Roman fashion” “A dreamy, imaginative habit of mind tending to dwell on the picturesque.” Every wife knows if her husband is romantic or not. Wives, if you feel your husband is not romantic enough, just be thankful he loves you and shows it in a thousand different ways. If your husband is not romantic, just relax and enjoy life together anyway. Take time to do things together.
Savor every day, every experience together. Build the memories that you can reflect on in old age.
Thanksgiving, tenderness and thoughtfulness Always think of your wife and let her know she is on your mind. Wives need to be told repeatedly how much you love them. My wife, with a twinkle in her eyes says, “she tends to forget” ; so I need to remind her of my love daily.
Understand one another by listening to the words and feelings of your spouse.
Value, cherish your wife as a priceless treasure. Though some women are tough physically, a wife can easily be hurt by her husband’s carelessness about meeting her emotional needs.
Worship God together daily. Read the Bible and pray together and share your common concerns for your relationship and for your family.
X stands for the unknown. Your wife is a mystery. It will take you a lifetime to figure her out.
Yield Although God’s Word commands husbands to take the leadership in their home, as much as it is possible, yield to the desires and wishes of your spouse, rather than forcing your wishes and desires on her. If you are both yielded to and filled with the Holy Spirit, this problem is solved.
Zealous Be zealous to protect and nourish your marriage. If for some reason God does not permit you to make it to your Golden Wedding Anniversary, at least you will have enjoyed the years you had together.