Category Archives: 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


Sound advice on marriage

Blogger Tim Challies has published two helpful articles on the subject of marriage. One deals with issues that should be talked through before a couple says, “I Do,” while the other addresses the rationalizations individuals and/or couples use to break a marriage.

10 Issues to Work Through Before You Get Married

10 Common But Illegitimate Reasons to Divorce

Both articles are helpful and insightful. Couples would be wise to ponder the ideas and take them to heart.

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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Marriage, Tim Challies


What does Scripture say about marriage, divorce, and remarriage?

The elders & wives of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, meet monthly for dinner and Bible study. Over the past year, we’ve been working our way through the Minor Prophets. I recently asked if we could meet for an extended study on a Saturday morning to work through the biblical passages on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. We would then put our conclusions into writing in a position paper on the topic.

To prepare for the study, I gave our team a study packet. (Click on the link to download a copy of the study guide.) It included:

Key Scripture passages on marriage, divorce, & remarriage (3 translations & 2 paraphrases)

  • Genesis 2:23-25
  • Deuteronomy 24:1-4
  • Malachi 2:16
  • Luke 16:18
  • Mark 10:1-12
  • Matthew 5:31-32
  • Matthew 19:1-12
  • 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
  • 1 Corinthians 7:12-16
  • 1 Corinthians 7:39 (Romans 7:2)


  • Bible Knowledge Commentary (popular level, provides a good overview)
  • New American Commentary (more detailed and sometimes technical)

Taking personalities, biases, and culture out of the equation …

  • What does Scripture say?
  • While the commentaries should help us, they should not be a substitute for the Scripture passages.
  • Focus on the Scripture, not what your favorite author says.

I’ve written the first draft of the position paper, but we have not yet discussed it. In case you are curious, here are the bullet points of our conclusions.

  • Marriage is God’s plan; a spiritual dynamic; lifelong and permanent; challenging and takes work.
  • Divorce is not commanded or required. In fact, it breaks God’s heart. Rather than divorce, we should encourage couples to pursue reconciliation.
  • Divorce is allowed under two circumstances–adultery; desertion by an unbelieving spouse.
  • Where divorce is allowed, remarriage is allowed.
  • If the divorce is not for biblical reasons, the individuals should either reconcile or remain single.



Commune Occasion

Communication is one of the biggest challenges in marriage. It is compounded by the fact that men and women use the same words but with entirely different meanings. Here is a humorous resource Carol and I have used in sermons and conferences to illustrate the challenges of communication.


What men really mean

“IT’S A GUY THING” Means: “There is no rational thought pattern connected with it, and you have no chance at all of making it logical.”

“UH HUH,” “SURE, HONEY,” OR “YES, DEAR…” Means: Absolutely nothing. It’s a conditioned response.

“IT WOULD TAKE TOO LONG TO EXPLAIN” Means: “I have no idea how it works.”

“YOU KNOW HOW BAD MY MEMORY IS.” Means: “I remember the theme song to ‘F Troop’, the address of the first girl I ever kissed, and the vehicle identification numbers of every car I’ve ever owned, but I forgot your birthday.”

“OH, DON’T FUSS, I JUST CUT MYSELF, IT’S NO BIG DEAL.” Means: “I have actually severed a limb, but will bleed to death before I admit that I’m hurt.”

“HEY, I’VE GOT MY REASONS FOR WHAT I’M DOING.” Means: “And I sure hope I think of some pretty soon.”

“I’M NOT LOST. I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE WE ARE.” Means: “No one will ever see us alive again.”


Words Women Use

“FINE.” This is the word we use at the end of any argument that we feel we are right about but need to shut you up. NEVER use fine to describe how a woman looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.

“FIVE MINUTES.” This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so I feel that it’s an even trade.

“NOTHING.” This means something and you should be on your toes.  “Nothing” is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. “Nothing” usually signifies an argument that will last “Five Minutes” and end with the word “Fine.”

“LOUD SIGH.” This is not actually a word, but is still often a verbal statement very misunderstood by men. A “Loud Sigh” means she thinks you are an idiot at that moment and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over “Nothing.”

“SOFT SIGH.” Again, not a word, but a verbal statement. “Soft Sighs” are one of the few things that some men actually understand. She is content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe and she will stay content.

“THANKS.” A woman is thanking you. Do not faint, just say, “You’re welcome.”

“THANKS A LOT.” This is much different than “Thanks.” A woman will say, “Thanks A Lot,” when she is really ticked off at you. It signifies that you have hurt her in some callous way, and will be followed by the “Loud Sigh.” Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the “Loud Sigh,” as she will only tell you “Nothing.”

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Posted by on June 25, 2018 in Fun, Marriage