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Category Archives: Marriage

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)

Commentaries

  • 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.

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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.”

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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

 

The role and responsibility of a husband

It should be no surprise that men are confused today about what their role is. TV portrays men as idiots and women as strong. Movies and magazines tell us the measure of success is how much money you make, how fast your car is, how many women you’ve taken to bed, or how high you’ve climbed on the career ladder. Christian books and speakers tell us to be radical and wild at heart. Churches promote Bible studies for women and children, but leave men to fend for themselves.

What’s a man to do? What is the role and responsibility of a man in marriage?

Scripture explains that the role of the husband is to be the head of his wife (Ephesians 5:23, 25-27; 1 Corinthians 11:3, 8-9; Colossians 3:19). Headship communicates the ideas of one who is superior in rank, responsible for those under his headship, and the one who has been delegated the authority to decide and to act. By God’s design, the husband is the head of the wife and lovingly exercises his delegated authority.

1 Corinthians 11:8-9 gives two reasons why the husband is the head of the wife. Verse 8 explains that God created the man first. Verse 9 explains that the woman was created for the man. You have both the priority of creation and the purpose of creation. Headship is not dependent upon the capability, conduct, or character of the husband; rather, the husband is the head by God’s design from creation.

As the head, the husband is to be the active leader who lovingly manages and provides. Manage means “to stand before” and care for the family (1 Timothy 3:2, 4-5). The husband is to superintend and care for his family. Part of his care may be to protect his family much like a Secret Service agent is willing to take a bullet for the President. In addition, the husband is to “plan before” and provide for his family (1 Timothy 5:8).

Rather than “lording it over” or “exercising authority” over his wife, a husband is to lead “with consideration” and “respect.” “Lording it over” abuses personal power while “exercising authority” abuses personal position. Instead, we are to be considerate and understanding of our wives. We are to grant them honor and respect.

Biblical headship is countercultural. Today, we are told to pursue our own interests and be all we can be. We are entitled to our rights and privileges. However, Scripture tells us that the husband is to devote himself to his wife above children, friends, recreation, ministry, or work (Ephesians 5:25-29).

Far too often, our wives grow spiritually in spite of us rather than because of us. In contrast, we are to mentor our wives to become blameless, holy, and glorious (Ephesians 5:25-27).

While the role of the husband is to be the head, the responsibility of the husband is to love his wife (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29, 33; Colossians 3:19). As head of the wife, the husband chooses to love his wife unconditionally and sacrificially as Christ loved the church. Nowhere is a husband to become harsh and bitter towards his wife. There is no excuse for any kind of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse.

Rejoice regularly that God called you to be the Head of your wife¾and as you lead, “do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Colossians 3:23). Overcome any feelings of inadequacy, fear, and anxiety about your role through Biblical solutions. Enlist several respected married men to meet with you regularly for support and accountability. Take responsibility for your spiritual life and the spiritual lives of your wife and family. Demonstrate your love so that your wife feels loved.

If you choose to practice these principles, don’t be surprised if your wife doesn’t recognize you.

A man at work decided to show his wife how much he loved her, and before going home, showered, shaved, put on some choice cologne, bought her a bouquet of flowers. He went to the front door and knocked. His wife answered the door and exclaimed, “Oh no! This has been a terrible day! First I had to take Billy to the emergency room and get stitches in his leg, then your mother called and said she’s coming for 2 weeks, then the washing machine broke, and now this! You come home drunk!”

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 24, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

How marriage grows us

Today is our daughter Amanda & her husband, Phillip, third anniversary. In her latest blog post, Amanda writes,

Tomorrow is anniversary day! 3 years ago I married my best friend and have never been happier?

Yes, question mark.

The LEGO movie LIED! Everything is not awesome. It is not cool to be part of a team. It’s like a three legged race from summer camp but we are running in opposite directions.

Marriage is $@&#*% hard. And lonely. And inconvenient. And annoying. And exhausting. And everything is awful and the world is ending.

But is it? Is it marriage or my husband that is the issue or have my issues always been there and the nature of the relationship exposes them like a diva in a spot light?

Click on the link to read the rest of the post. In my highly biased opinion, it is quite insightful.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2018 in Family & Friends, Marriage, Quotes

 

Who takes the first step in the marriage?

Studying the biblical passages on marriage, you discover that God has designed husbands and wives with specific roles and responsibilities.

 

Wives

Husbands
Role Helper

Genesis 2:18

Leader

Ephesians 5:23

Responsibility

Submit & Respect

Colossians 3:18

Ephesians 5:22-24, 33

1 Peter 3:1-6

Love & Honor

Colossians 3:19

Ephesians 5:25-29, 33

1 Peter 3:7

Results

Effective Witness

1 Peter 3:1-2

Effective Prayer Life

1 Peter 3:7

Demonstrate reality of the gospel to a watching world

Ephesians 5:32; 1 Peter 2:11-12

While we may acknowledge these things, we tend to put the onus on the other person to play their part before we play our part.

If

Then

My husband were a better leader

It would be easier for me to submit to him
My wife would be more helpful

It would be easier to lead my family

My husband would love me sacrificially

I would be willing to respect him

My wife gave me more respect

It would easier to honor her

My husband were more considerate

I would be more helpful

My wife wouldn’t challenge my ever decision

I would be more considerate when she shares my opinion

Scripture calls us to fulfill our biblical roles and responsibilities, regardless of what our spouse does or does not do. The only question is, are we willing to be a biblical husband/wife?

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2018 in Marriage, Scripture

 

The Role & Responsibility of a Wife

Two generations ago, women were told to aspire to be a wife and mother. One generation past, women were told they could have it all—marriage, motherhood, and a fulfilling career. Today, women are told to ditch the husband and kids and focus on personal fulfillment. After all, marriage only exists to enslave women. Or so “the experts” tell us.

But if a Christ follower chooses to get married, what is her role and responsibility within marriage? What does Scripture say about these questions?

In Genesis 1:27-28, God gave Adam a task to carry out. He was to do the work of God by the will of God according to the word of God. He was to fill the earth and rule over it. But he couldn’t do it by himself. He needed someone to help him carry out his assignment. According to Genesis 2:18-20, Eve was created to help Adam do the work of God by the will of God according to the word of God.

From the very beginning, it was God’s design for the wife to be her husband’s helper, to actively assist, encourage, and support him in carrying out God’s task. It was God’s design. While men and women are equal in status, they have different roles and functions. The role of the wife is to help her husband accomplish what God has called him to do. (This means, gentlemen, we need to be in tune with God and know what his plan for us is.) The key recipient of her help is her husband. Oftentimes, the greatest competitor to the wife fulfilling her role is her children. While motherhood is important, helping her husband is her primary role.

While we might grudgingly agree that a wife’s primary role is helper to her husband, we balk at the idea that she is to submit to her husband (Colossians 3:18). When we think of submission, we jump to slavery or inferiority. But the primary meaning of submission is to arrange oneself under authority. In marriage, a wife is to arrange her life in an orderly manner underneath her husband.

From a biblical viewpoint, a wife voluntarily submits to her husband by respectfully bringing all areas of her life under his headship. It is a voluntary action. Her husband does not demand or force his wife to submit. She makes a voluntary choice. A woman is not to submit to all men, but only to her husband. Rather than do it grudgingly and resentfully, she coats her actions with the attitude of respect.

A wife submits to her husband “as to the Lord” because it is “fitting in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18). When she places herself under her husband’s authority, she is ultimately submitting to Christ. This is fitting and appropriate because it is God’s design.

A wife submits to her husband “in everything” (Ephesians 5:23-24). If he asks her to do something illegal, immoral, or life-threatening, she should follow God’s instructions. But outside of those exceptions, “everything” means “everything.”

She practices her submission with “a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:1-4). The word “quiet” doesn’t mean a wife doesn’t express her viewpoint and challenge her husband’s thinking. Rather, it means a sense of calmness and peaceableness. She doesn’t strive to take over when she feels her husband is making a mistake. She has a quiet trust that God is still in control.

Here are some principles to help put these ideas into practice:

  1. Rejoice regularly that God called you to be the Helper of your husband¾and as you help, to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).
  2. Communicate your submission and respect so your husband feels respected.
  3. Forgive your husband for any past hurts blocking your submission.
  4. Depend upon the Holy Spirit to empower you to submit.
  5. Enlist spiritually mature married women to encourage you regularly for support and accountability.
  6. Pursue your own spiritual growth and don’t harbor resentment regarding whether or not your husband is the spiritual leader that he should be.
  7. Trust God to change your husband (1 Peter 3:1-2).

About 300 years ago a man lost his job in a customs house. He went home, broken-hearted, to tell his wife Sophia. To his astonishment she only beamed at him. “Now you can write your book!” He answered, “Yes, and what will we live on while I’m writing?”

Sophia quickly went to a drawer and took out a cache of money. “I’ve always known that you were a man of genius,” she said. “I knew that someday you would write an immortal masterpiece.”

“So every week out of the money you have given me for housekeeping, I have saved something. Here is enough to last us one whole year.”

That amazed husband went to his study and began writing. His name was Nathaniel Hawthorne. His book was The Scarlet Letter.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 17, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

The Concept of Functional Subordination

Each one of us has different roles and responsibilities. The pattern for these differences is rooted in the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit modeled the concept of functional subordination for the church, marriage, and the family.

  Equality Function Order
Trinity The Father, Son, and the Spirit are equal as persons.

John 6:27; 10:30; Acts 5:3-4

The Father, Son, and the Spirit have different functions.

John 16:7-15;

Col 1:15-18;

Eph 1:3-14;

1 John 2:1-2

The Father has leadership and the Son and the Spirit submit.

John 17:1-5;

1 Cor 11:3;

Phil 2:5-11;

John 14:26

Church All members are to be considered without distinction in the Body.

Gal 3:28

All members have been given spiritual gifts to serve the Body.

Rom 12:6-8;

1 Cor 12:4-11;

Eph 4:7-11;

1 Pet 4:10-11

Christ has the authority and leadership is delegated to elders and pastors.

Heb 13:17;

1 Pet 5:1-4;

1 Tim 5:17

Marriage Husbands and wives are viewed as co‑heirs of the grace of God.

1 Pet 3:7;

Gal 3:28

Husbands and wives have unique functions in the family.

Gen 1:26-31; 2:18-25

The husband is given the role as the leader to which the wife is commanded to submit and respect.

Eph 5:22-33;

Col 3:18-19;

1 Pet 3:1-7;

Prov 31:10-31

Family All members stand in the place of equal responsibility before God.

Ezek 18:1-32 (20, 30)

Different members have different roles and responsibilities.

Col 3:18-21; 1 Thess 2:7, 11

Parents have the authority in the home and the children are to obey.

Eph 6:1-3;

Col 3:20;

Proverbs

(Dr. Mark Bailey of Dallas Theological Seminary introduced this chart at the 1996 Couples Conference hosted by Crossroads Bible Church at the Inn at Semi-ah-moo. I found it to be extremely helpful in understanding submission and have used it ever since.)