Posted by: Brad Beaman | October 14, 2007

Christian Marriage

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I remember standing before the congregation in Scotland. I announced the subject of my sermon. Today I will be preaching on marriage. I could see smiles and hear laughter coming from the congregation. I do not like to be laughed at, but I suppose on this day I should have expected it.

In response to the laughter, I told them, “I know what you are thinking. You are standing before us ready to speak about marriage and you yourself were married only eight days back in America. Now you have come to Scotland on your honeymoon and are speaking on marriage? Come back after you have been married ten or eleven years and then we will listen to what you have to say about marriage.”

In all fairness to the people who were laughing that day, there is a different dynamic to marriage now, than I experienced eight days following my wedding. A teenage daughter, child in elemntary school, and toddler at home all bring new challenges that a newly married husband does not face.

However, now the years have passed since that day in Scotland when I spoke on marriage, just eight days after my wedding. A lot has changed in those years, but my message on marriage, and the thoughts I want to share now, are basically as it was many years ago on the honeymoon. Why? Because the message is based on what the Bible says about marriage and that does not change.

Read Colossians 3: 18-19
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

Marriage is a subject that is greatly influenced by cultural practices. In America we practice the pattern of Love marriages. In Asia you practice arranged marriages. I know that I must treat this subject carefully because I come from such a different cultural background than most of you who I am addressing.

To speak on marriage in a culture other than your own requires distinguishing between what in marriage is based on cultural heritage and what is Biblical mandate. There are unique practices in every country that are morally neutral.

Both of these practices I have mentioned, arranged marriages and love marriages can be found in the Bible. Ruth and Boaz had a love marriage. Isaac and Rebekah had an arranged marriage (However, after the arranged marriage the Scripture says Isaac loved Rebekah, Genesis 24:27).

In the Hebrew culture today men pay dowry to the girl’s family, as was given from Isaac’s family to Rebekah’s family. On my trip to Israel the Israelis made mention of a girl bringing so many Camels that will go to the girl’s family, for a good wife! Now compare that to the opposite practice in Asia where the Girls family gives gifts to the grooms.

There is also, I have found, no culture that has a monopoly on sin and total depravity of man. Many people in Asia question me about the high divorce rate in America. They are correct that the divorce rate in America is high and that this high divorce rate is an indication of a moral crises in America.

Before those from Asia become too puffed up about a lower divorce rate, they should remember the serious moral problems regarding marriage in Asia. When I found out that Christian leaders in the village were having two wives, I asked my teacher how common this is. She became quiet. Why? It was because her own father had two wives.

There are, as you know, serious problems too that arise over demands of more dowry after the marriage and abuses that occur if that demand is not met. I have sensed from conversations with many people that there are many cases at the hospitals that are because the hardness of hearts in the marriage

In the Old Testament when Moses gave a certificate of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1), it was because of the hardness of hearts (And Jesus answered and said unto them, for the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.” Mark 10:4-5).

People everywhere ignore God’s design for marriage. Today this hardness of heart is still with us. It manifests itself differently in different cultures, but the hardness of heart, sin and depravity of man crosses all cultural barriers.

What we must do, is find the clear teaching of scripture on the subject of marriage. Where the cultural practice in marriage does not contradict scripture, let’s embrace that cultural practice. But, where the cultural practices in marriage contradict scripture, then let us use that as our opportunity to stand by scripture and be different from our society.

The Lord has called us to be salt and light. We are to bring every area of our lives into subjection under the lordship of Christ that people can see the difference that Jesus can bring to an individual, a family and to society. We have an incredible opportunity to show the difference that Jesus can make when we bring our marriages under the subjection of Jesus Christ.

Our neighbor began to ask my wife about our family. She commented that she saw our marriage as good. She said she believed it was because of Christ and the Bible making a difference in our lives. This is exactly the kind of testimony we are hoping to have as we seek to bring our marriage under the Lordship of Christ.

What symbol is used in the Bible to be a visible representation on earth of Christ and the Church? It is marriage! (Eph 5:22) Christian marriage should be an earthly demonstration of the relationship Christ has with the church.

Our marriages should reflect the kind of commitment Jesus demonstrated when He went to the cross and gave himself up for the church. We have in Scripture, instructions to both the wives and the husbands to let us know what is needed to bring our marriages under the Lordship of Christ.

Wives:
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18

The Bible instructs the wife to submit to her husband. This should come from a desire of the wife to serve the Lord. This is a submission that is based on love. (I Corinthians 13:5 Love does not insist on its own way).

Here in Colossians we come to find out the reason why it is good for the wife to submit to her husband. “It is fitting in the Lord.” In Ephesians the motivation is stated as, “out of reverence for Christ.”

Whether it is here in Colossians, I Peter or Ephesians the instruction for the wife is consistent. The idea is to be willing to give up something for the sake of others. The wife gives respect and honor to her husband. This submission means the wife is building up her husband, not tearing him down.

To obey this instruction means the wife is giving up some rights. This is done in the context of sacrificial love. The Bible exhorts the wife to a loving relationship with her husband. We are told to love, as Christ loved the church. In this analogy the wife represents the Churches loyalty and honor for Christ. Paul says this specifically in (Ephesians 5: 24) the wife submits to the husband as the church submits to Christ.

The way the wife relates to her husband should be “as fitting to the Lord.” Wives, the scripture exhorts you to think of the needs of your husband, more than your own needs.

I Peter 3:1-6
In like manner, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your won husbands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behavior of their wives; 2 beholding your chaste behavior [coupled] with fear. 3 Whose [adorning] let it not be the outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on apparel; -4 but [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible [apparel] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5 For after this manner aforetime the holy women also, who hoped in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose children ye now are, if ye do well, and are not put in fear by any terror.

Peter wrote not only to Christians that were scattered among people hostile to Christianity, but some of these scattered Christians were women, whose husbands did not believe in Christ. Still, this same Biblical pattern exists where wives submit to their husbands. This is the way an unbelieving husband can be won.

Even husbands must sometimes be faithful when an unbelieving spouse makes the marriage difficult. My friend Devaprakash became a believer, from a non-Christian background. His wife told him at the time she would never believe in Jesus Christ. It was ten years of patient lifestyle witness that won his wife to Christ. The way to win the spouse is by a life that honors Jesus.

Wives are called to an Inward beauty that comes as an outflow of your relationship with Christ. The Bible calls the wife to be adorned by the jewels of inner beauty. This inward beauty is more important than outward adornments of gold. This adornment of the heart is what really counts. In First Peter, Sarah is sited (Gen 18:12), as a biblical example of a wife with the proper attitude toward her husband.

In the main passages in the New Testament on marriages, all of them have council to the wives. Yes, they all also contain intructions to the Husbands too!

Instructions to Husbands
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

There is no male superiority in the eyes of God. Husbands should remember (Galatians 3:28), that male and female are equal under the Lord.

The scripture does however, acknowledge the obvious fact that men are physically stronger (I Peter 3:7). But husbands are instructed not use this superior strength as an occasion to abuse the wife. Not at all.

The Love referred to here is an Agape, unconditional and sacrificial love. A husband’s love is the, God so loved the world, selfless love.

The Christian husband has a concern for the feelings of his wife. His call is to be tender, caring and to support his wife. The teaching in First Peter touches on this issue of abusing your wife. It is detrimental to your Spiritual life (I Peter 3:7). Your prayers will be hindered if you abuse or mistreat your wife.

As a husband you are called as the Spiritual leader in the home. (Eph 5:26) It is your responsibility that God’s Word has a central place in the home, having its cleansing power in the marriage. Husband, your commitment to your wife is a symbol of loyalty that Christ has for the church.

In the first century culture, wives were considered almost like property. This Biblical call to sacrificial and genuine concern was radical departure from the culture at large. Husbands are called, in Ephesians 5:28 to be as concerned for your wife as you are for yourself.
Love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. (Eph 5:25)

These few verses, applied to the marriage relationship can bring a powerful testimony to the transforming power of Christ in the marriage relationship. Jesus called the husband and wife to become one in the Lord (Matthew 19:5).

Years ago, when I spoke on marriage soon after my wedding, at least one person did not laugh. It was my wife. She asked me to give the message on marriage every year. I have done this as often as possible. I am thankful to have the opportunity to share what the Bible says about marriage In the process I am remind myself again how important it is to honor God through our marriage.

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Responses

  1. this is a powerful message on marriage.It is heart touching, heart warming and scrpiturally based. God countinue to empower u more and more. Fresh oil for you.Amen


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