Original Paradigm Of Marriage - A Brief Study
Marriage was never intended to be a constantly evolving institution that anyone can tweak to suit their needs at the moment. Our country is so diverse and freedom is so widespread that we are used to people doing their "own thing." We don't pay much attention to others. God intended the guidelines for marriage to be universal, no exceptions. Defined sciences were never to become the authority on relationships. College professors and judges were never meant to decide the direction of change in marriage. The concept that there is marriage is engraved in each person's mind. The problem is each "engraving" is allowed to be different and nothing resembling the original model at all. Each society has added tradition to flavor the event according to culture, some fitting the Biblical model and some not. In America, intellectualism and humanism is the flavor of the month and we are so used to how we do things that we wonder why anyone would choose to adopt so archaic a concept as is described in the Scripture. This article is not to make fun of, or belittle anyone because God recognizes all marriage vows a man and woman say as valid and binding before Him. What is intended is to show the marriage concept and how different we see the institution today.
1. Marriage Is Not A 50%-50% Proposition.
Societal norms would have you to believe that there is a dividing line between marriage partners. Be willing, professionals say, to contribute at least 50% to the effort of marriage. But whatever you do, don't give all of yourself, for if you give everything you risk losing yourself to the other person. "Losing yourself" means psychological damage. Divide your monies, invest in yourself "just in case" the marriage doesn't work. Have a prenuptial agreement in the event of the worst happening. And when all is said and done, divorce is not the disgrace it used to be, after all, in today's society people change directions so fast that growing apart is inevitable.
In the Biblical model, God's Word draws no such line between marriage partners. Marriage was created to be a forever thing. Marriage is a mystery in the same way salvation is a mystery. Marriage was to typify the relationship that Jesus Christ has with His church. Jesus doesn't stop with half an effort but gives His all for us including the willingness to bleed and die on Calvary's cross. I would say that is a 100% commitment, wouldn't you? To voice such a notion would bring laughter and scorn from the voices of advisers today. They would tell you that 100%-100% is ridiculous. They would say making yourself that vulnerable to another person, even a spouse, is insane. What happens if one person is a "giver" and the other a "taker"? Doesn't a person have to have some safeguards for themselves?
The Author and Creator of marriage describes two individuals joined by the institution of marriage as being essentially one person, mirroring the relationship between Christ and His church. He even goes so far as to say: "The two shall be one flesh," one body, the same person. (Eph. 5:31) Add to this, the fact that God and a born-again individual occupy the same space literally, for the Holy Spirit resides in the heart of the believer. If the relationship of marriage and salvation is supposed to reflect and each other, then the reality is, marriage should be a whole lot closer than 100%-100%. Let me explain. God indwells the believer. He lives inside them. He tabernacles in the heart. Also, the Bible says that at the moment of salvation, God immerses the person into the body of Christ. In very pointed language God says we occupy the same physical space as does God. Another point is, the Scripture says we as believers must have the mind of Christ. One mind, one space, one flesh, therefore no dividing line as to selfish need and ambition. All of the husband should be invested in the wife - all the wife should be invested in the husband, in order to conform to the spiritual model. This is only possible with the energizing power of the Holy Spirit. God accomplishes this all the while allowing each marriage partner more fulfillment and inner peace than they ever knew before.
2. Marriage Is Not An Easily Broken Contract.
The World would have you to believe that marriage is only a contract that grew out of the need to standardize laws regarding the rearing of children and to stabilize the concept of commitment between two people. They would say that this contract of marriage is like any other business contract in society. That this contract is binding in certain circumstances and is easily breakable in others.
The truth is, God is the Author of marriage and not some business major, expert, or idea man. He meant the institution of marriage to be a covenant (not a contract) between two people. There is a difference. He meant it to be a holy thing not a business thing. It was not to be for practicality only but to portray a "bridegroom" (Jesus) and His "bride" (the church). "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you so love his wife as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." (Ephesians 5:25, 32-33)
3. Marriage is not two (2) people living their lives together.
The current belief is that marriage is simply a living arrangement that involves two people living their lives together harmoniously in one household, that commonalty is more important than spirituality. There is a notion that individuality is as important (if not more important) than blending of two lives into one mind, one purpose and one flesh.
The actuality is, God intended marriage to reflect a great mystery. Jesus Christ redeemed his People with his own blood and we really don't know why other than He loved us. The love went beyond our sin and our attractiveness and was based on standards higher than man. Similarly, we are to love our wives in that manner. Even when they are not behaving as you think they should, or when they get up in the morning and they don't look as they do during the day. We are to love them - period. We are not to waiver in that love. Sometimes that's easy because God lets us see the beauty in our spouses and there is harmony between us. Those times seem sweet as candy. The talk is comforting and the sex is hot and passionate. And sometimes the state of marriage is hard. Sometimes there is nothing lovable about sharing your space with anyone, especially someone you know so well. What then? The Bible instructs husbands at that time especially, to love her on a plane higher than we are, based on spiritual things. We are to love her like Christ loved the church. God would never give us a command that is too hard or impossible to follow. Husbands, since you are what constitutes the church (that is, individuals like you), that should give you some insight into the role of your wife. You are to be reverencing God like a wife would a husband. You are to be a role model for your wife. If you won't reverence your "Husband" Christ how will she have motivation to reverence you? You are to submit yourself to your God and to your wife as she is to submit herself to her God and to you. (Eph. 5:21) Men, reflect for a second on how we treat our Lord sometimes. Haven't you fallen short of what He would have wanted you to do at times? Aren't you sinful and rebellious before Him at times? Hasn't your attitude been inharmonious and even incompatible at times? And yet your Lord loved you and forgave you didn't He?
"Okay", you may say, "but I'm not God. I can't stand what she does. She pushes my buttons and knows just what to say to do it. God is stronger than I am, I can't do it." You know, you are right. God is stronger than we men are. But again I say, why would God command us with an order that could not be obeyed? He wouldn't. How then do we accomplish this? In point of fact, we don't do it - God does. Our focus and role is simple and singular. You simply love your wife in the light of the Scripture, with prayerful acts of love, independent of her actions. You love her with more words of prayer and less rash words of mouth. You return good for evil and make an effort to notice any good she does. Pray and follow God's lead and He will love her through you with more love than you could ever manage alone.
If you husbands are thinking this will be no easy task, consider the plight of your wife. She must watch you and determine whether or not you are following the Lord. If you are not, she must do what is right despite anything that you do, say, or think. If you decide to act disobedient to God she cannot go along. Reverence has connotations of deep respect and let's face it, most men do little to warrant that kind of respect. Christian wives are so valuable to us husbands that Proverbs refers to them as more valuable than rubies. (Pro. 31:10-11) Likewise, I would say to you Christian women - encourage your man to be a man of God. Be thankful and love him as he loves Jesus. A true man of God is both rare and priceless. You husbands that read this, love your wives and you wives that read this respect your husbands. Love each other with prayerful acts of selfless love regardless of your spouse's actions. Grow in love with God and you will grow in love with each other.
If you now are pooh-poohing this article as impossible or foolishness, it may be that you do not have a relationship with Jesus. If you don't have that relationship, you will not be able to understand the spiritual side of marriage. It will seem like foolishness to you. In order to love in this manner there must be a fundamental change in each spouse. It happens in the heart and it happens in the mind. Sometimes men dismiss emotion and relationship talk as "woman talk" or "not manly." I have to disagree with that attitude. If the creator of marriage says this is important to the working of your marriage, it is not just a "woman" thing do deal with. You love and you feel, you just don't like to admit it. So turn your attention inward and you women do the same thing.
Has there ever been a time in your life that you have realized you need God and that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? If you have not ever called out to Him to become your Savior? It is very easy to do. Think for a minute because God has knocked on the door of your life many times and in many ways. He's been there in trials and victories, in sickness and in health. He lets you know at those moments that you are lacking something that only God can give. To reach out to God is a personal thing and all you have to do is to call out to Him in prayer. If you believe that Jesus is God in human flesh that came to earth to die for the sins of all mankind and if you believe you need that forgiveness because you are condemned before Him in your sin, pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I have heard You knocking at my life's door and I hadn't opened it until now. I believe in who You are Jesus. You are the Son of God who came to earth in human flesh and died on the cross for everybody, including me. Jesus You were buried and you rose from the dead and I believe that. I know I am a sinner and I need to be saved from my sins because I cannot pay for them myself. Please forgive me of my sin and save me. I turn from my sin and turn to You as the only way of salvation. Thank You Lord Jesus. I pray this in Your Holy name. Amen.
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