Sermon from February 19th, 2017

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“Growing Faith #5 - What God Wants You to Know about Marriage”

Ephesians 5:21-33; Matthew 19:1-6

By Pastor John Bent

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Sermon Text
Good morning and a belated Happy Valentine’s Day! Our focus today is what God wants us to know about marriage. I know not everyone here is married, but that doesn’t change the reality that marriage affects us all.

Almost very social problem we face as a nation can be traced to troubled marriages. As goes the marriage, so goes the family, as goes the family, so goes the nation. Half the marriages in America are ending in divorce. Many young people are so disillusioned with marriage that they’ve given up on it completely.  Many seniors are attempting to meet their needs for companionship and intimacy outside marriage. But the problem isn’t marriage.
The problem is our miss-understanding of what God created marriage to be.  We’ve either lost or rejected God’s blueprint. Marriage is God’s idea. And like the rest of creation, marriage is not only good, it’s very good!
In the same way human beings were created in the image of God, so marriage was created in the image of God. It’s a beautiful part of the created order. When we ignore it or try to redefine it, our families, our culture ends up in chaos and our children are the victims.

The very first marriage occurred in the Garden of Eden. The Creator said, “It is not good for man (Adam) to be alone; I’ll make a helper for him.” So God created a woman, not to be under Adam, not to be over Adam, but to be alongside Adam. 

Eve was like Adam, but completely different. Then God said, “These two will become one.”  They will maintain their uniqueness, yet the two will become one, just as the Father and the Son are distinct persons, yet one.  As the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, in the family, children proceed from the father and the mother.  God created the family in his image, the image of trinity and it is very good!

The Trinity is also a model for how husbands/wives, parents/children are to relate to each other. As the Father loves and glorifies the Son so husbands are to love and glorify their wives. Husbands are to love their wives with the same love that caused Jesus to lay down his privileges in heaven and give his life on a cross for us.  What Jesus did for his bride, the church, husbands are to do for their wives.
Wives are to respond to their husbands love by trusting and obeying their husbands in the same way Jesus responded to his Father’s love by trusting and obeying him. If we used the example of the Trinity as a model for how we behaved as husbands or our wives, how would it change the peace and joy in our homes?

If husbands and wives were to respect and defer to each other’s needs, if we were to honor one another in the same way we see in the Trinity, how might that change the atmosphere in our homes?

So why can’t we do this?  Why is our life together so hard? Let’s go back to the beginning and see what we can learn from our parents Adam and Eve. Absent husbands and fathers are a major problem in America today. Many men are AWOL on their responsibility. Where did this all begin? Maybe the Lord wasn’t the first one to say, “Adam, where are you?”
Did Eve ask Adam for help when the snake showed up and started bugging her “Adam, where are you?  I need to talk about something that happened to me today.”
Adam was the first husband to neglect his wife in her time of need and then blame her when things went haywire. Men, have we done the same thing to our wives? Do we need to ask forgiveness?

But Adam isn’t the only one who messed up. Mother Eve was the first woman who allowed her desire to tempt her into making a decision to do something she clearly knew was wrong. Women, do you need to ask your husband’s forgiveness?

It seems we’ve inherited the problems we face in our marriages today from our first parents. So how do get back on track? How do we recover the joy God intended for marriage?

To recover a Biblical understanding of marriage, let’s begin at the beginning. “The earth is the LORD’S and everything in it!”  Psalm 24:1  My wife, my husband, my kids, my neighbor, belong to God, not me.  God has called me to love his stuff. That means he expects me to love my husband, wife, children with the same honor and respect that belongs to the Lord himself.
When Jesus was asked, “What’s the greatest commandment?”   He said, “Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  Then he quickly added, “The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Who is my neighbor?  Your first neighbor is your spouse. Your second neighbor is your kids. The circle of love in a healthy marriage begins with the Lord, then your spouse, then your kids, and goes out from there. If we refuse this order, we sabotage our marriage.

Why? Look at these words from 1 John.  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love…”

“… This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear children, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear… We love because he first loved us…” 1 John 4:7-21

This is very different love than what is promoted by the secular world. The world’s understanding of love is rooted in self-indulgence and narcissism. We marry with the expectation that it’s our partner’s responsibility to meet our deepest need. And when our partner fails to meet our need, we think we made a mistake and married the wrong person.

The world tells us the primary purpose of marriage is happiness. People often justify bailing on their marriage vows by saying, “I just want to be happy.”   The truth is, no human being can fill the emptiness in our soul or meet our deepest needs. Only God can do that. To expect another person to do that is to set them up for failure. To put a person in God’s place is just as idolatrous as putting anything else in God’s place.  A good marriage begins and ends with the first commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  Then “Love your spouse as yourself.”
The Biblical model for marriage isn’t about getting, it’s about giving. It’s loving, serving, forgiving, honoring our spouse in the same way God loves, forgives, serves, honors us.  Our sinful nature rebels against this. We object, “Yeah but, what’s in it for me?”

Does our Heavenly Father ever ask that question? How about Jesus? It should be obvious; Satan is the source of that question. Satan hates marriage and does everything he can to destroy it because he knows a healthy marriage is a sign of the coming of God’s kingdom.

A healthy marriage is a sign of the intimacy God wants to have with his people. The Bible begins with the creation of human marriage.  It ends with the marriage feast of the Lamb when the Creator and his people are joined together in a relationship of joy and fulfillment and intimacy that will deepen through eternity.
So how do we live out this reality in our marriages today? Let’s remember the model:

Husbands, you are called to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her. You are called to be there for her For a woman love is spelled LISTEN and TIME.
Remember, Jesus laid down his glory to be born into this world as a servant. He’s our model for what a husband is to be for his wife. Our job is to love, cherish, serve our wives in such a way that they are transformed by our love.

This can only happen when we first submit ourselves to the Lord and allow his supernatural love to flow through us to our wives. We don’t love them because they are loveable, sometimes they aren’t. But because God has called us to love them as he loves them.

Wives, you are called to love your husband by honoring, respecting, trusting, submitting to him in the same way you obey and submit to Jesus whether your husband is worthy of or not, sometimes they aren’t.  Ask the Lord to help you love him in such a way that he begins to become what God created him to be. For a man love is spelled RESPECT.

We can’t do any of this in our own strength. We need to submit to the Lord before we will ever be able to submit to each other.  We must allow him to take the throne in our heart. We must give up our right to bitterness and un-forgiveness before we will be able to forgive. We must be willing to trust the Lord to fill us with his transforming love, before we have any transforming love to pass on to our spouse and children.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for thinking that it’s my job to fix my spouse or my spouse’s job to make me happy. I ask that you will fill my heart with your love so that I can love myself, my spouse, my children as you love me. I also ask that you would help me die to my own selfish desires so that I might live in submission, obedience and trust before you so that my marriage might become a sign to the world of the coming of your kingdom.


Christ Lutheran Church • 5150 River Lakes Parkway, Whitefish, MT 59937 • 406-862-2615

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