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What God Has Joined Together …

January 2, 2015

praying-couple

Married couples are under assault from the enemy because it’s a God ordained union that is a catalyst in changing the world around them when they honor Him with their marriage.  It is forming and transforming lives around them as they raise godly children and demonstrate how a Godly couple should live in a fallen world.

In a world where divorce occurs in one of every two marriages, shouldn’t those who call on the name of Christ have a higher standard due to a higher calling?  Well, they should and we’re about to explore it a bit more in this last of three posts.

As I’ve mentioned in the previous two posts, this is not an all-inclusive look at marital problems couples face and I highly recommend several books for a more in-depth topic study for you and your better half.  My suggested list can be found at the bottom of this article.

The thought behind this series is to look at just three of the major problem areas faced in a marriage and help give some insight as well as a challenge.

In the first post I confronted wives and challenged them to be more open to meeting their husband’s needs.  In the second blog I addressed men who refuse to be genuine men in their homes to their wives and families.  In this final post I’m going to be speaking to both husbands and wives as a couple.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

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Most Christian couples are like anyone else.  Our society pushes an agenda where both husband and wife have full-time jobs.  While there are a lot that wish this wasn’t the case, tax and inflation rates have driven us to a point that if you want to tread water, both will spend 8-10 hours away from home five days a week just to pay the bills.  Add to that the stress of raising children in an environment that is hell-bent on defiance at every turn (socially, domestically, sexually) and the tension mounts.  There always seems to be too much month at the end of the money and too much mouth from kids who don’t need any extra push to defy and disrespect parents.  For many couples, Christian or not, it’s all they can do to hold it together.  If they can just make it one more week without a parent/teacher conference; one more month of squeezing the checkbook like a rung out sponge hoping to beat the disconnect notice; one more year to try and keep the car running; a few more years to pull in some odd and end jobs hoping to defray the college costs that are coming too quickly.

And somehow they must try desperately to stay connected to their spouse who is feeling every bit of the pressure themselves.  Instead of running to each other for strength, support, solace, they end up snipping, biting, scratching, and fighting with one another.  While he’s figuratively thumping his chest, demanding respect, and reminding everyone “he’s the man, the boss, the one in charge”, she’s sneaking, usurping, conniving, undermining OR just picking up all the responsibilities Mr. Boy ignores.  Ironically I don’t think either side does it intentionally, but it’s the attitudes brought out by a sinful heart and its a tragedy waiting for the right moment to explode.

By the way, while all this is going on, your kids, your family, your friends, and your co-workers are observing.  They’ll never tell you they’re watching, but they are.  We all look at other couples and wonder “how do they do it?” and when they fail, we tragically realize, “oh, they’re just like us.”

Before we get neck-deep into this issue I want to give a couple of cliché lines that I’ve heard over the years. The first isn’t as well known as the second.

There are five gospels that get read — Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and you.

The second is probably more well-known to you.

You’re the only Jesus some may ever see.

The reality of those two statements should shake your spirit to sobriety.  The same way you notice other people in both their failure and success, is the same way those others are watching you.  Why are you different?  Do you live what you say you believe?  Are you genuine or a hypocrite?  Now let’s take all of this and move it into a Christian marriage.

Let’s deal with the first aspect of being a Christian in marriage.  Your first responsibility as a Christian is to live a life of complete surrender to the Lord.  Fully, totally, completely bought and paid for, sold out, surrendered to Him.  The second responsibility is not to your job, your hobbies, your church, your community, or even to your children.  I’m not saying you should neglect any of those, but none of those are truly your second responsibility.  Your second responsibility is to your husband or wife.  Your spouse is the one you were united to before God and by God.

Genesis 2:24 — Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (ESV)

Some bible translations interpret ‘hold fast’ as cleave, cling, bond, or even united.  In all instances its used as a verb.  That means it’s not a noun or an adjective, but rather an action.  While we obviously see the wedding day as the ‘uniting’, we often don’t recognize this as an action that is ongoing throughout their lives together.  While the husband may take the macho “I’m the head of this house” approach he will quickly learn that if he wants peace in ‘his’ home, he’ll learn to listen more intently to his wife.

Likewise the wife will generally have an ongoing battle with ‘submitting’ to her husband because she may equate ‘submitting’ to slavery.  But neither of those approaches are biblical.  Let’s cut to the chase and just remind everyone that Jesus wasn’t asking His bride [the church] to be His slave — and that’s how husbands are to love their wives (as Christ loves the church).  And wives, like the bride of Christ, are to be as ‘in love’ with their husband as the church is to be to its Husband — so submitting shouldn’t be an issue either.  When both parties love the way we’re intended, almost any situation can be resolved quickly, but it will take a humble, loving, and forgiving heart for them both.

The one thing I’ve noticed most desperately missing in Christian couples is a lack of approaching their walk with the Lord together.  You see, I don’t think that the cleaving, clinging, holding fast portion applies to just their relationship to each other.  I firmly believe that is also how they are to walk as a couple before the Lord.

A Christian man may get up and pray for his wife and family.  He may spend time in the word and teaching in Sunday School and being a good father at home.  He may find homeless people to feed and share the gospel with those he meets in his daily life.  But is he doing any of that with his wife?

A Christian woman may love and care for her husband.  She may provide the stability he needs with his family.  She may be praying, studying her bible, teaching in Sunday School, being a mother to her children, and sharing the gospel with those the Lord brings into her life.  But is she doing any of that with her husband?

Both the husband and wife will equally say, and rightly so, “the Lord is the focal point” of their relationship, yet they both will approach their walks as individuals and not as a unified couple with God right in the middle ministering to both of them.  Have you ever noticed often one spouse is on fire for the Lord while the other is, well, less so?  They may not be cold as ice, but their fire definitely needs some stoking.

Maybe it’s just human nature or maybe it’s our American heritage, but we fight for independence.  We don’t like to be told what to do.  We fight God to live the way we want (without consequences) and we fight others because “we want to do it ourselves”.  We are a stubborn and independently driven people from childhood on.  We call it liberty or freedom.  But as we grow in Christ we find our liberty, real freedom, is living a life in complete surrender to the One who knows us best and loves us best.  And as a married Christian couple, we’re supposed to be lovingly submitted to one another with God as the centerpiece of our relationship.

Deuteronomy 32:30 — How could one have chased a thousand, and two have put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had given them up? (ESV)

I often wonder about that verse and how it relates to marriages.  Think of all the battles husbands and wives face; attacks against their marriage, against their children, against their family.  Approaching the Lord as an individual can put a 1,000 to flight.  But united, as God made them through marriage, they could put 10,000 to flight.  Tired of feeling defeated by the enemy?  Tired of letting Satan have the upper hand?  Then grab the hand of your husband or wife and start approaching everything about your walk unified.  Be united in your study.  Be united in your prayers.  Be united in seeking His will for your family — daily.

To me this seems such a simplistic response and idea yet very few marriages that I know have put this into practice.  And I can assure you none of the failed Christian marriages have taken and maintained this approach.  It’s nearly impossible for the enemy to get a foothold into a marriage if both husband and wife are praying, reading, caring, sharing, and seeking His will for them as a couple.  This isn’t to say disagreements won’t happen.  They will.  But with a heart of lovingly submitting themselves before the Lord together, problems will have a faster way of being worked out and it will be with gentle reminders to love and forgive.

Husbands and wives are a compliment to each other.  Husbands are incomplete without a good woman, a godly woman, their helpmate.  Wives are incomplete without someone to love who will love, cherish, and protect them.

Mark 10:7-9 — ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (ESV)

Let me challenge you to grab your spouse by the hand and agree together to seek God as a couple.  Put the Lord in the center of your growing relationship as a Christian couple.  Seek His will for your lives collectively.  Chase the enemy with a unified heart.  Study and pray together and see God’s hand of blessing in your marriage and on your family.

As I’ve stated several times throughout this series, this is not an all-inclusive look at marriage.  It’s a quick fly by hitting major points of contention and offering challenges I hope will help you and your God-given mate grow in His grace and peace.  May His love abound as you both, together, seek His will in your marriage and walk.

— Pastor Rick

 


I recommend the following books for further reading on Christian Marriages:

When Sinners Say “I Do” — by Dave Harvey
Married. Happily. —
by Greg Laurie
Real Marriage
by Mark and Grace Driscoll

His Needs: Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr.

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