Thursday, August 27, 2015

Is Divorce the Greatest Sin in Marriage?

2Co 7:3  I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.

Paul’s use of the above verse is not concerning marriage but Christian love in general especially when it comes to the church’s love and commitment to Paul and his towards them.  It is an astounding statement of love.  As I was meditating on Christian love and commitment I naturally started applying it to the marriage relationship. 

True love is a commitment to the ultimate good of its object and so Christians should be committed to death when it comes to marriage.  When divorce is always on the table it will be difficult to take the time and make the effort to work through the problems that marriage will bring.  This is why living together without marriage is setting the relationship up for failure; it makes it easy to walk away instead of working through problems.  A spouse who knows that their partner is committed to them for life and will put forth the effort to learn how to live with them in love will find it much easier to respond in kind.  How many marriages would thrive if there is commitment to live and to die together? 

But there is a kind of twisted side to this that I have seen of late.  Sometimes it seems that the commitment is not to love your spouse to the end or not to love the Lord until the end but to stay married to the end.  Paul is saying above that he is committed to love to death, not to force his leadership over them until death.  If we have entered marriage committed to the fact that divorce is the ultimate sin then we might also be setting ourselves up for failure.  There is nothing more pathetic than for a couple to say that they don’t believe in divorce and so just endure each other in “obedience” to the Lord.  A commitment that doesn’t put the Lord and others first from the heart is just a miserable relationship.  Maybe too often we think we are honoring the Lord by staying legally married but we really dishonor him because we make little effort to lavish love on each other and have a good marriage and instead just “stay married”. 

I am certainly not advocating divorce apart from the biblical parameters, but the idea that all God cares about is not divorcing or separating but that it is okay to have an ungodly, unloving relationship is ludicrous.  I have seen too many men (and I have struggled with this myself) who think the key to a happy marriage is that their wives submit to them in everything.  But they don’t hold themselves to the same standard.  The key to a happy marriage is not for a woman to just do as she is told but to love your wife as Christ loved you.  For a Christian to say that divorcing me or leaving me is wrong but don’t expect me to do the right thing is just hypocritical. 

If we make staying together no matter how miserable the marriage is the ultimate goal, then we can be tempted to not work on being a loving spouse.  To be an unloving, harsh husband and father that brings misery and an unfulfilled life on your wife and family is every bit as sinful as divorce.  

Again, I am not saying that it is okay to divorce someone because they don’t love well, but husbands and wives must be held accountable to make their spouse want to stay married to them and not hold to the idea that divorce is wrong whether I change or not.  The greatest sin we can commit is to not love others as Christ has loved us.  Divorce is result of the failure to love like this in one way or another.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Men, What Does Your Marriage Say About You?

1Co 11:7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.

I have been thinking a lot about the relationship between a husband and wife and their roles in marriage lately.  And one of the verses that interests me is the one quoted above and in particular how is the woman the glory of man.  What follows is just some observations and is not being stated as a dogmatic interpretation; this is something that I look forward to studying further.  By the way, I don’t think Paul is referring to the fact that women are the fairer sex when he makes this statement even though that is true.

I guess the first question to be answered is how is man the glory of God and that will more or less answer the main question.  Paul does not say that woman is the image of man for both genders are created in the image of God.  And another thing that must be remembered is that the context is the roles of genders and specifically that the man is to be the head or leader of the woman.  So in part “she is his glory” must refer to the fact that she is under his authority.  But I think there is more implied at least in the whole of Scripture on this subject.  In fact, I hope to show that being under his authority is at the heart of this.

Man and, in a sense mankind, is the glory of God in that all that he is and does is because of God’s provisions, care and wisdom.  So as we serve him in his world and with those things he gives us, we reflect his wisdom, love and care.  This is seen also in the idea of being conformed into the image of Christ.  The more we look like God, the more we are going to display his attributes.

I think there is a sense in which this holds true in the marriage relationship.  Since man is the head of the home and for that matter, men are to be the leaders in the church; part of their leadership is to create a healthy, spiritual atmosphere in the home, and this will hold true in the church, that enables his wife and children and himself to have a proper relationship with the Lord.  They are to provide not only material needs but spiritual, emotional and psychological support so that their total persons, inward and outward are to be healthy.  Our goal as a husband and a father is to create a home with the help of our wives so that all might flourish firstly and most importantly spiritually.

I remember a college professor saying that if he wants to know what kind of husband a man is he looks at his wife.  Does she seem to be a joyful, content woman who is using her gifts?  Does she take care of herself; does she seem to have healthy self-esteem?  Or does she act like she is being kept down?  Is it obvious that her husband keeps his thumb on her and wants her to focus all his attention on himself so her gifts are being wasted on him alone?   

We must be careful of making snap judgments and we can’t infallibly figure everyone out; but I think it is an astute observation that will hold true in one way or another.  I have known women who are clearly unhappy in their marriage because their husbands expect them to be their servants and have all the influence over them and “protect” them by keeping them squirreled away in their homes as much as possible.  They haven’t made the home a place to serve the Lord but themselves and to that end everything must be done their way or all Hell will break loose. 

What I am simply saying is that a godly husband should want to display his wife because he has through his leadership helped her develop herself to be a godly woman.  It is to his glory if by his provision and influence he has helped her by the grace of God grow into someone who is thriving in service to the Lord both at home and at church and everyone else.   The question we husbands must ask ourselves from time to time is whether our wife and children are flourishing and being all they can be for Christ or are they supposed to serve only you.  It won’t take long before it becomes obvious to all what kind of home environment your headship is creating.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

The First Marriage

Gen 2:18  Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Gen 2:19  Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. Gen 2:20  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

We have in Gen. 2 a closer look at the creation of man on day six of the creation week.  God has already made the animals and sexual counterparts for each one but here we see that when Adam was formed from the ground he did not wake up and find a woman lying next to him.  In fact, this whole section makes it crystal clear that man is not another animal and that his sexuality and relationship with his mate is on a completely higher level than that of the animals.

It might look like verses 19-20 are out of place but actually this is integral to the whole section.  It is interesting that in the context of Adam needing a companion that he is prepared for this by naming the animals.  What the Lord is doing is teaching Adam to appreciate his wife, to see her as a wonderful gift from God.  Clearly God took an interest in Adam naming the animals and it wasn’t just a matter of him arbitrarily naming them.  There was a point in all this.  Adam was being asked to study the animals as they went by, noting their differences, similarities, nature and relationships and name them accordingly.  I spent many enjoyable hours with my dog, playing, hunting and sharing affection, but the fellowship never rose above that of a dog; we never talked; well, I did but he just looked at me. We learn at the conclusion of this exercise that Adam could not find a suitable companion for himself.  He is left wondering where is his counterpart; his completion.

Obviously, the reason was that while animals had bodies with many similarities, they did not possess the soul and spirit that Adam did; they were not created in the image of God.  This is what Adam realizes after he studies the animals, he needed someone like himself.  Here is yet another proof to discredit evolution.  We acknowledge similarities with other species on earth, but none were found like Adam.  Certainly he could not have recently evolved from them or his body and mind would be essentially that of the ape or whatever humanoid he would have evolved from.  His parents and siblings and others would have been present and it would seem strange that he couldn’t find much in common with them.  But that he didn’t makes it clear that Adam was no evolutionists. After he examined the animals; he knows he did not arise from any of these animals.  He realizes that he was of a vastly different sort; at this time he was the only human on earth.  There is sadness in Adam here as he realizes for the first time that he is alone on the earth.

Why didn’t God make Adam and Eve at the same time?  To emphasize the importance and uniqueness of this relationship.  We don’t just hook up with whoever is interesting and convenient like the animals do.  God teaches us that we complement each other and are built especially suited to fulfill each other’s needs.  So the Lord brings her to Adam and her alone and her for the rest of his life.  He joins them in marriage; they aren’t left to hook up like animals.

Gen 2:23  Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Gen 2:24  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Gen 2:25  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.  

Like I said earlier God didn’t make Adam and Eve at the same time so they would just go at it like all the animals.  The Lord brings her to him and has a little ceremony if you will.  He explains some things to them.  Yes, here is a gift for you; this beautiful woman is for you for fulfillment and companionship but there are some rules.  You are not animals but your relationship with each other carries some responsibilities and if you aren’t ready for them then don’t ruin someone’s life by marrying them.  Verse 23 reveals that when Adam sees her he doesn’t just coldly name her woman.  One literal translations put is like this, "At last! This is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh.”   They say that in the Hebrew it has the idea of finally; this is what I have been looking for!  So what does he do?  He finishes his work of naming everything by giving her a name as well. 

Both together are man.  Adam upon seeing her breaks out in celebration of their essential similarity and union.  Here is the Lord our Creator establishing the institution of marriage, one man, and one woman together for life; because she completes man.  They were made to complement each other.  All we have to do is look at ourselves to see that a man was not made to be with another man and the same for women both physically and emotionally.  

When people are ignorant or reject the first three chapters of Genesis, they are ignorant or reject who they are.  They have no idea where they came from, how they are to live or where they are headed but from the earliest chapters of the Bible these things are carefully and systematically laid out for us so that no one will have an excuse for not using their sexuality properly or anything else in life for that matter.