Laura and I are currently taking a Family and Marriage class at the Bear Valley Bible Institute. One of our assignments was to write a paper *together* on marriage. So...hear it is...enjoy. Its rather lengthy, but if you get through it let me know what you think. Thanks!
God’s perfect and purposeful design of marriage begins in the Garden of Eden. God revealed to Adam that he needed a helper and that this unity was essential for God’s plan for mankind. The fruitfulness of their relationship would not only fill the earth but allow for man to continue to rule over all of God’s good creation (Genesis 1:27-30). Just as God planned for man to have the closest of relationships with Him, God designed the marriage covenant to simulate that relationship by joining man and woman in one flesh (Genesis 2:23-24).
Our marriages should be used to help each other grow closer to God. Through proper devotion to God, our marriages will stand through fiery trials and unexpected temptations. The Lord’s church is in need of couples who have withstood such incidents to help encourage those who are in weaker relationships. A strong marriage also sets the stage for children that may be born into the family. Children with parents who are wholly committed to God and their marriage covenant will benefit greatly in their own walk with God and future relationships. We believe the Lord’s churches can grow exponentially as a direct result of stronger marriages.
Not only is the Lord’s church suffering from weak marriages, we see a trend in the lack of longevity or duration in these marriages. In Glover Shipp’s Book, Marriage Is A Covenant, Not A Contract, we read, “This state of our nation has come about in part from the throwaway mentality, in part from our lack of commitment to anything at all, and in part from a false concept of marriage. Many look on marriage as no more than a civil contract, easily entered into and easily broken. Many more look on it optimistically, but with the out of divorce, if it doesn’t succeed” (10).
Both of us have come from broken homes. Early on in our marriage we vowed to never even use the word divorce. The tragedy of divorce is heartbreaking for adults, but it is earth shattering for children. Their very foundations are rocked and nothing is ever the same again. The selfish act of two adults preferring their own happiness over the security of their children has been accepted over time because society has abandoned The Lord’s teaching’s on this subject. Married couples have been tricked into believing that if they are not happy, their children cannot be happy. Satan is still the Great Deceiver just as he was in the Garden of Eden.
God’s Word is so very clear on this subject. Romans 7:2-3 says, “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is not adulteress, though she has married another man.”
Bill Stewart teaches us very clearly that marriage is a covenant between God and our spouse in his book, Building Bridges in Marriage Communication, “The Bible states that marriage is a covenant: ‘[Wisdom] will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God’ (Proverbs 2:16,17, NIV). God calls the marriage vows a contract made by the wife. The same holds true for the husband: ‘…the Lord is active in witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant’ (Malachi 2:14, NIV). God not only expects us to keep the covenant of marriage, He demands it!” (24-25).
God gives the husband and wife specific responsibilities within the marriage. When both take their responsibilities seriously, God blesses the marriage and both the husband and the wife are fulfilled. God created the man and the woman to have certain needs and he knew that it was only within this marriage relationship that these specific needs would be met. Society would have us believe that women can be the leaders within the marriage relationships and that men should be the followers, but this is not how God created us. This is not to say that some people were not planned to remain single throughout their lives, but within the marriage relationship, God had a plan for the husband and the wife.
In Ephesians 5:22 we read, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” Notice that this does not say that wives should obey and respect those husbands who deserve it. God’s Word specifically tells wives to be subject to their husbands as to the Lord. A woman must submit to her husband with as much respect as she would be willing to give the Lord Himself!
Often, the very act of receiving respect from a loving wife gives a husband the courage and desire to be a godly leader. It is within the nature of a man to desire the respect of his family and specifically his wife. A good wife will not only submit to the will of her husband, but she will respect him with her words and actions. It will be her loving words of praise that will fill his heart and ears and he will not have the need to hear flattering words elsewhere.
A husband who loves the Lord and loves his family will choose to give his family godly leadership, thereby eliminating the temptation that many wives have of taking over the God given leadership role of the family. Even more than leadership, which should come naturally to a man, God gives the responsibility to the husband to fill the emotional needs of his wife. More than respect, women desire tenderness and love. The very Creator of woman knew this and lovingly advises the man how to love his wife: Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
This, in Jon’s opinion, is by far the greatest command given to a husband. These words cannot be understood any other way than what they actually say. When a man and a woman commit to one another in a marriage covenant, their relationship resembles that of the Lord Jesus and His church. The Lord has made a covenant with His bride, the church, which cannot be broken by Him. The husband shall serve his bride to the best of his ability, which embodies the husband’s knowledge of Scripture and his understanding of It.
We love the example God gives us in Aquila and Priscilla. The book of Acts does not give detail into their marriage but all indicators point towards a love of the Lord and that they serve Him as a united couple. Along with their commitment to the Lord and His church, they are willing to go where the Lord needs them. This is shown by their various locations throughout the New Testament (Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus). They are soul winners for Christ as a couple. We, as ministers of the Lord’s Word, have a great responsibility to deliver His truth to congregations. But just as we see in the New Testament, Aquila and Priscilla are a team in their local congregation. Husbands need to understand that their spouses and children are their first ‘mission field’. See Acts 18:2, 18 and 26, Romans 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:19 and 2 Timothy 4:19 regarding Aquila and Priscilla.
All married men with children should aspire to be elder qualified. 1 Timothy 3:2, “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” The initial qualification, besides having the desire to be an elder, is to be faithful to one woman in marriage which, of course, is another responsibility within the marriage relationship. This qualification cannot be compromised in any way, shape or form. If one man cannot be committed to his God-given spouse, what will he do as an overseer for God’s church? A one woman man shows his determination to work through the hardest of times with his mate. He must serve her as he will be serving the flock of the Lord’s church. More importantly, the husband should serve his wife as Christ has served the church.
God purposed from the beginning of time for the covenantal relationship between the husband and wife to model Christ and His church. God’s Word specifies the purpose, duration and responsibilities that both marriage partners have very clearly. When His Word is obeyed, a husband and wife who are devoted to a lifetime of serving each other will learn to serve any children that the Lord blesses them with and persevere through any trials that life sends their way. Through a lifetime committed to God and the covenant that they have made with Him and each other, they will grow spiritually and will serve to strengthen each other, their family and the congregation that they worship with.
Shipp, Glover. Marriage Is A Covenant, Not A Contract. Joplin: College Press Publishing Company, 1999.
Stewart, Bill. Building Bridges in Marriage Communication. Kearney: Morris Publishing, 2001.