Category Archives: Marriage

Marriage & Money

When our enemy wants to defeat a church, he generally attacks in the area of doctrine or practice. Within the area of practice, he often zeros in on marriage and/or money. The author of the book of Hebrews prescribes a preventative defense in Hebrews 13. He addresses a number of specific issues of practice and lifestyle that are often the target of the enemy. In verses 4-6, he encourages us to have a high view of marriage and a right perspective of money. He encourages us to hold marriage in honor and to hold money loosely.

Hold marriage in honor (4). In the first century, marriage was dishonored through one of two ways. One approach was from those who believed it was more spiritual to stay single. The other position was held by those who saw marriage as irrelevant and pursued unbridled sexual fulfillment. In our culture, we have dishonored marriage by redefining it, making it easy to get out of, and rejecting it altogether.

We need to get back to having a high view of marriage. Marriage was established by God (Genesis 2:24-25). It is a covenant relationship between one man and one woman that should not be broken. Scripture indicates that there are two circumstances in which divorce is permissible after all attempts at reconciliation have been exhausted. First, an innocent person may divorce his/her partner if the latter has been guilty of sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32). Second, if an unbeliever refuses to remain in the marriage with a believer and chooses to desert the marriage, the believer is therefore free (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). Only in these cases or after the death of a spouse (1 Corinthians 7:39) is remarriage allowed.

All Christians are called to maintain a radical moral purity. Any form and/or practice of sex outside the marriage covenant is sin and deserving of God’s judgment. God will bring judgment on those who violate this command. It might be in this life—physical, mental, relational, societal—or it might be in the final judgment. God’s judgment should not be taken lightly.

Commit yourself to a high view of marriage. If you are engaged or married, commit yourself to building and maintaining a strong marriage. Whether married or single, commit yourself to sexual purity. Commit yourself to living a holy life.

Hold Money Loosely (5-6). Since some of these believers had lost possessions due to persecution (10:32-34), they may have sought greater material security.

We need to have a right perspective about money. Money itself is not the problem. It is the love of money that is the problem. The lure of money has led many people astray.

We must cultivate a spirit of contentment. Contentment has nothing to do with amount. It has everything to do with attitude. Contentment is the ability to be satisfied with what God provides. Contentment comes from knowing that we have God and that he will never leave or abandon us. Knowing God’s promises, we can face the future with confidence, regardless of how much or how little we have.

Commit yourself to trusting in God’s presence and his provision. Commit yourself to being content with what God provides.

Hold marriage with honor. Hold money with an open palm.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 12, 2020. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Last ditch counseling

Unfortunately, I’ve had some couples like this in my office. No matter what one agreed to do, it was too-little-too-late. Their mind was made up before they ever made the appointment.

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Posted by on October 8, 2019 in Culture, Marriage, Non-Sequitur


Cultural double standards

The writers of the B.C. Comic strip hit the nail on the thumb with this strip about the double standards of our culture.

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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in B.C., Culture, Marriage


Get the marriage you dream of

Book Review: The Intimate Connection: Secrets to a Lifelong Romance, by Dr. Kevin Leman

Is it possible to have a happy, lifelong marriage?  Is it possible to unravel the complex needs of men and women and learn to meet them? Is it possible to identify the warning signs of relational breakdown that might be creeping into a marriage, and then fix the problems? Is it possible for spouses to learn to communicate in such a way that their spouse actually listens?

Dr. Kevin Leman would say, “Yes,” to all these questions. That is the subject of his latest book, The Intimate Connection: Secrets to a Lifelong Romance. He explores 13 key secrets that will help create the kind of exciting intimacy, mutual respect, and fulfilling communication that couples crave.

Among the secrets Dr. Leman writes about are how to use acts of love to create an unbreakable bond, dealing with the outside forces that have shaped your relationship, how to better understand the differences between men and women, learning to communicate in a way that encourage your spouse to listen, and many more. In addition, the author includes several bonus sections such as questions for date nights and couples’ getaways, how to be your own counselor, and a communication exercise to help improve your listening skills.

Like all of Dr. Leman’s books, this one includes personal stories, biblical principles, practical advice, and doable assignments and exercises. The book is well worth reading for anyone who desires a stronger, lasting marriage.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on May 17, 2019 in Books, Marriage


God’s blueprint for a strong marriage

Book Review: Marriage that Works: God’s Way of Becoming Spiritual Soul Mates, Best Friends, and Passionate Lovers, by Chip Ingram

There are countless books and advice about marriage. Some are thoughtful, some are good advice, and some are pure fluff. Very few are based on the blueprint of the One who created marriage in the first place.

In his latest book, pastor and author Chip Ingram goes back to the Scriptures to unpack what marriage really is, why God created marriage, and the unique roles both a man and a woman play in their marriage.

The first half of the book is based on Ephesians 5:22-33. It explains what the Bible says about the roles of a husband and wife in marriage. The author also shows how our understanding of those roles has changed over the past 50 years. After laying the foundation, Chip spends the second half of the book explaining what a man is to do in marriage and what a woman is to do in marriage. He gives a number of practical ideas on how each partner is to fulfill their unique role and responsibility. Chip also explains that marriage is a lifetime commitment to a covenant rather than a contract that can be broken when we feel like it.

The author provides a candid look at his own marriage. He is honest about what he and his wife did right, where they failed, and how they learned from their mistakes to build a strong marriage.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on February 6, 2019 in Books, Marriage, Scripture


A tool to help couples prepare for a successful marriage

Book Review: Ready or Knot? 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage, by Scott Kedersha

Many couples spend more time planning their wedding than they do preparing for their marriage. They will spend thousands of dollars and countless hours picking the perfect dress, venue, flowers, and cake. If they want their marriage to last a lifetime, how can they prepare for a successful marriage before they tie the knot?

These are the convictions and concerns that lie behind Scott Kedersha’s book, Ready or Knot? 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage. From his experience as director of marriage ministry at Watermark Community Church, Scott has crafted a number of questions to get couples talking about twelve key issues of life and marriage.

In addition to the big 3—sex, finances, and in-laws—the author writes about communication and conflict resolution, roles and responsibilities, the role of faith, children, companionship, and being part of a community. Each chapter ends with “Am I ready?”—questions to answer personally; “Strengthening our knot”—questions to discuss as a couple; and “Closing prayer”—a prayer for growth in that area of the relationship.

The book is well written, funny, practical, and encouraging. It includes personal illustrations from the author’s life, interviews with other couples, and examples from history and current events. This would be a helpful tool for premarital counseling.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on January 31, 2019 in Books, Marriage


My Convictions About Marriage, Divorce, & Remarriage

When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.

Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

We live in a culture where the institution of marriage is under attack. Marriage is not valued and divorce is prevalent. As a pastor, I feel a responsibility and a burden to help people understand what Scripture says on this topic. The goal is not to heap guilt on those who have experienced the pain of divorce. Rather, I want to help affirm the sanctity and permanence of marriage so as to help build strong marriages and prevent future divorces.

The institution of marriage was created by God in order to display his glory to the world and to provide joy for his creatures. It provides a glimpse of the covenantal love of God for his creation.  The roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives reveal the relationship of Christ with the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Marriage was divinely instituted by God from the very beginning. According to Genesis 2:24-25, a marriage exists in God’s sight when a man leaves his parents, cleaves to his wife, and becomes one flesh with her.

The marriage union is exclusive (“a man . . . his wife . . .”), publicly recognized (“leaves his parents”), permanent (“cleaves to his wife”), consummated by sexual intercourse (“become one flesh”) and leads to intimacy (“naked … not ashamed”). It is a covenant relationship between a husband and wife and between the couple and God.

In principle, marriage is a permanent, lifelong union. Because God is the one who joins a man and wife together, no one should attempt to tear them apart (Mark 10:9).

Because God instituted marriage, he considers divorce a breach of covenant, an act of “treachery,” and something which he “hates” (Malachi 2:16).

Divorce is a violent act that tears people, families, and communities apart. Since marriage is designed to reveal God’s goodness, glory, and faithfulness, anything that disrupts a marriage—division, discord, divorce—should be taken very seriously and avoided.

Before discussing the possible situations when divorce might be allowed, it should be noted that divorce is nowhere commanded nor even encouraged in Scripture. While divorce was allowed, it was not prescribed or commanded. Since divorce was present in the Old Testament, Moses provided guidelines for how to handle divorce in order to protect the “innocent” party (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

In Matthew 19:8, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 24. He explains that Moses permitted, but did not command or require divorce. Divorce was merely a concession necessitated by individuals whose hearts were hard. Rather than seeking a divorce as the easy solution, repentance and reconciliation are always the best options. Even when divorce is possible in some cases, working towards reconciliation within the context of a faith community is always preferable.

Regardless of the symptoms of marital strife, the root cause is always sin and pride. It is always one or both spouses’ rebellion against God. Both spouses must respond to the gospel by faith and repentance. Thankfully, God has provided reconciliation with us through the person of his son, Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:1 speak of this reconciliation.

Since marriage brings together two imperfect people, it is a challenging endeavor that must have Jesus Christ at the center of the union. It requires the constant practice of love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and humility that were displayed in the person and work of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins in order to reconcile us to God.

As stated previously, divorce is never the best option. However, Scripture indicates that there are two circumstances in which divorce is permissible after all attempts at reconciliation have been exhausted.

First, an innocent person may divorce his/her partner if the latter has been guilty of sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32).

The term for “sexual immorality” is a broad one that includes things such as adultery, homosexuality, incest, and bestiality. In the case of adultery, the offended spouse is encouraged to offer forgiveness and restoration (though it might be a difficult and slow process). In the event that reconciliation is not possible, the offended party has the freedom to be released from the marriage.

Secondly, in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16, Paul discusses a situation where a believer is married to an unbeliever. The guiding principle is that the believer should not initiate the divorce if the unbeliever is willing to stay in the marriage. However, if the unbeliever refuses to remain in the relationship and chooses to desert the marriage, the believer is therefore free.

In the case of unrepentant and continued abuse, the abused is encouraged to immediately separate for the sake of safety and is also expected to inform the elders of First Central Bible Church. The elders will attempt to work with both parties in the hope of bringing about repentance and reconciliation. While we might counsel separation, we would not counsel divorce as it does not meet the criteria for a biblical divorce.

For all divorces which have occurred for reasons other than sexual immorality or an unbeliever deserting the marriage, the expectation for both parties is to pursue reconciliation. Until reconciliation with the former spouse occurs, both spouses are to remain unmarried as indicated by 1 Corinthians 7:10-11.

Where Scripture permits divorce, it presupposes the right to remarry. In addition to remarriage being allowed in the two situations mentioned above, a partner may remarry when their mate has died (1 Corinthians 7:39).

As a pastor, my responsibility is not to be preoccupied with divorce and its grounds, but rather with marriage and its institution. Because God’s purpose is marriage, not divorce, my teaching on marriage must begin with God’s plan for the permanence of the marriage relationship. However, when an individual has gone through a divorce, whether for biblical or unbiblical reasons, I must minister to them at their point of need. In such a case, the shepherding of the individual is essential, with the hope that the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation would take root. Even when the marriage covenant is broken, it should not lead automatically or necessarily to divorce, but rather be an occasion for caring instruction on the duty and way of forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation. Ultimately, my counsel must start and finish with the understanding that the foundation of a healthy marriage is a right relationship with God, with Jesus Christ at the center.


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Posted by on October 15, 2018 in Marriage, Scripture, Theology