I watched a television interview with one of the world’s top golfers. The question was, “Seeing how much the average golfer travels, how do you balance golf and family?” His answer, “You do the best you can.” After giving his testimony, I asked the same question of Ben Crane, a Christian pro golfer. His reply was different, “Oh, I purchased a motor home and I take my family with me. My wife home schools the kids.” Ben saw the danger and did something about it. The truth is that golfers travel as much or even more than evangelists. But as Christians we have to do more than, “you do the best you can.”
A few years ago, I received a call from a lady who was desperate. “My husband and I have been to counseling, we have filled out questionnaires, followed techniques but nothing has helped. I wish someone would just tell us what we are doing wrong so we can fix it.” Maybe a look at what God meant marriage to be would help.
For years, my wife and I have been doing marriage conferences in Latin America. However, inside I felt there was something missing in what we were teaching. I came to the conclusion that we were starting too far down the line, we needed to go back and start at the beginning and define what marriage is according to the Bible. That is the purpose of this article, start with what God had in mind when He designed marriage. I believe it will form the foundation that today’s marriages need.
What is marriage?
So, let’s ask the question, according to the Bible, what is marriage? Marriage used to be known as “the foundation of society.” It was common to hear, “As the family goes, so goes the nation.” In fact, God chose marriage to symbolize His relationship with the Church as seen in Ephesians 5.
I did not grow up in a Christian family. My dad had something in his background and would never talk about God or the church. My mother was brought up in—but never attended—a sacramental church. When I came home as a teenager talking about having faith in Jesus Christ it was new to them. In fact, my parents thought I had joined a cult!
As a result, I had no biblical examples in the home to follow. Later, when I went to seminary, we studied theology, doctrine, Greek and Hebrew, Church History, and preaching. Unlike today, there was little teaching from the Scriptures regarding the family. When my wife and I married, we had a five-minute chat with the pastor; premarital counseling was rare in churches 57 years ago.
During the following years I realized what I needed to know regarding marriage could be found in the Bible. If I looked closely enough and adhered to the principles that are found the God’s word, I would find what I needed. The following is some of what I discovered.
Marriage is good. “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him’” (Genesis 2:18).
Everything God created was good, except for the man not having a companion. According to Genesis 2:18 it is not good for the man to be alone. This first human enjoyed an intimate relation with God, but God was not done yet. To make it the situation good, God created woman. He could have created a buddy or a mate as they say in Australia, but He didn’t. The presence of the woman made the man’s situation GOOD. He created a wife. So when a man and a woman get married, it is GOOD! Marriage is good.
I discovered more verses:
“The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).
“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18).
“A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4).
“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10).
“Live happily with the woman you love … The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil” (Ecclesiastes 9:9). I also recommend the reading of the Song of Solomon in the New Living Translation.
Personally, I don’t like jokes that put marriage down. I loathe bachelor parties that insinuate this is the groom’s last day of freedom. In God’s eyes, marriage is good, and in marriage there is freedom!
A brief takeaway: your marriage is good, God said it! Find ways to reflect this in your daily life.
Second, marriage is for companionship. “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” (Genesis 2:24). Paul quotes this passage: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother. He shall be joined to his wife, and the two of them shall be like one person” (Ephesians 5:31 WE).
Marriage is two people walking together toward the same goals. It is a reciprocal companionship where each one has responsibilities. The man needs help, and the woman needs to be of help. To fulfill the work God has for the family, the man needs help, and that help, first and foremost, comes in the form of his wife.
A few years ago, “Mr. Evangelical” of a certain country ran off with his secretary. I received a copy of an open letter he sent out to explain his actions. In one part he said “it was only logical that I have this affair since during the last eight years I have spent more time with my secretary than with my wife.”
What the Bible views as companionship requires spending time together and marriage is companionship.
Take note of what 1 Corinthians 11:9 says: “And man was not made for woman, but woman was made for man.”
Right from the beginning men and women have been given a different orientation. The man is oriented to his work; his wife is oriented to her husband. He is called to work, and he desperately needs help!
It is biblical for man to work. It is never a question of the time he spends at work but what he does with his time when he is at home.
Genesis 2:18 explains that God made a “helper who is just right for him (“a help meet” ASV; “helper suitable for him” NASB, NIV). Woman’s greatest purpose—it is natural, it is from God—is to be a companion to and for her husband. But often it just doesn’t happen. Why? A companion is someone who knows you, who knows your hopes, your fears, and your failures but continues to be that faithful friend. To develop this type of companionship two people have to truly know each other. For men, sometimes it is difficult for us to open up.
A husband and wife came to me for counsel. The last of their seven children had just left the home. The wife was devastated! The husband asked me to tell him what was wrong with this wife. The problem was they had never developed a close relationship as husband and wife. He had his work and she had the children. When the last child left the home, she went into depression.
The concept of leaving father and mother is repeated in Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7 and Ephesians 5:31. When the Bible repeats something four times, it shows it is of vital importance and perhaps many are not giving it enough importance.
A couple of takeaways: God gave us our wives to help us in our work, in our lives, and to make wise decisions, etc. It was never God’s plan for the man and his wife to live in two separate worlds. She sees things from a different perspective and can help her husband to make decisions, to evaluate people, and to think things through. A wise man will take advantage of his wife’s intuition. Let’s face it, sometimes men have trouble accepting advice. However, if we continue to reject our wife’s advice, eventually she will stop giving it.
I have seen some outlandish examples of a husband and a wife living worlds apart. A young man came to me because the pastor was hitting on his girlfriend. The pastor’s marriage? His wife was pastoring a church three hours away from where he was pastoring. They saw each other about once a month!
Personally, I never prepare a message without letting my wife carefully go over it with me. She is truly my ideal helper. We have seen that marriage is good and it is for companionship.
Let’s Talk About Marriage (Part 2) will be up soon!
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