Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Marriage: Covenant or Status??

Today, Divorce is so easy. It is often not a surprise when we hear of someone getting a divorce. There is no longer any shame in it. People casually get married and just as casually get divorced. Today, marriage is easily disposable. Seems that one can justify divorce with just about any excuse.
Someone once said, “If a divorce cost as much as a wedding, maybe less people would get divorced.”

Why is it people can so easily undo their marriage? What was their marriage based on to begin with? I recently overheard, that the statistics show marriages last an average of 2 years. Is it really that hard to live with another person for a couple years? If so, what does it take to make a marriage last?

I’ve been giving this topic a lot of thought lately. I probably started pondering this because I recently read This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. It really made an impact on the way I look at marriage, what it is, what it means, and the necessary structure to built it upon.

Here are some quotes from Piper's and my thoughts on marriage:

“The most foundational thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is God’s doing. And the ultimate thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is for God’s glory. Those are the two points I have to make. Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God.”

Understanding that God created marriage, and He created it for Himself to reveal who He is, direct us to Him, and ultimately bring Him glory and what all that means will change your perspective on marriage.

“…the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of  Christ and his church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married. If you hope to be, that should be your dream.”

God created marriage and His intent for it was to glorify Himself by displaying His covenant of love and grace to us.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”  Colossians 1:16-18

All things are from Christ and for Christ!!

“Marriage is not mainly about being or staying in love. It’s mainly about telling the truth with out lives. It’s about portraying something true about Jesus Christ and the way he relates to his people. It is about showing in real life the glory of the gospel.”

We are very emotional and irrational too. We change our minds constantly. Go through phases and fads. Get bored with things and “need a change of scenery”. It is in our nature to be discontent with life and what it offers. We live in an instant gratification society that tells us we need more, bigger, better, stronger, faster, ect. So we easily are dissatisfied with what we have…. Including our spouses. We no longer feel in love, we no longer get butterflies, or there’s just no more excitement or “spark”. Whatever the reason may be. Our emotions change. So nobody would stay married if it were based solely on staying “in love”.
Think about and consider the relationship between God and his people. Throughout the Bible we see time and again that God willingly and forgivingly gives love and grace to His people for no other reason than He chose them to be His people, and has made a covenant promise with them to be their God and they be His people. Because of that He loves unconditionally even though they are not deserving of it.

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,”

God loves His people simply because He wants to. And has made an everlasting covenant with them to love them unconditionally no matter who they are, what they say, think or do.
God has designed marriage to be this kind of a relationship. And imitate how Christ loves the church and how the church relates to him.

“The Lord “bears with” us every day as we fall short of his will. Indeed, the distance between what Christ expects of us and what we achieve is infinitely greater than the distance between what we expect of our spouse and what he or she achieves. Christ always forgives more and endures more than we do.”

It is critical that we understand that the grace and forgiveness given to us daily, even hourly, by Christ must be bent from Christ to us toward others, especially in marriage. Recognize your own sin and Christ’s forbearance and forgiveness of it and then recognize that you spouse’s sins are no worse than yours and Christ, by His grace, has forgiven your spouse just as He has forgiven you! So you too must bear with one another with grace, forbearance and forgiveness.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts; to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. … Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:12-14, 18-19

“If there were nothing in the other person that really bothered us or hurt us, there would be no need for the saying “bear with one another.” “

It may be that you, or your spouse have things you/they must change in order to make your marriage work. This is only done through Christ working in you and/or the other. People only change for the better by the grace of God.

“Grace makes you change for the glory of Christ and for the joy of your spouse. And grace is the power to do it.”

“Since we believe in the absolute sovereignty of Christ to govern all things, this means that we look at the present situation that he has ordained, and we ask him to change it.”

“Keeping first things first makes second things better. Staying in love isn’t the first task of marriage. It is a happy overflow of covenant-keeping for Christ’s sake.”

**As far as roles in marriage of headship and submission are concerned I am not going to talk about much, since my main point I want to focus on here is the basis and foundation of what a marriage must be built on to succeed and last. But I will briefly tough on them and give a few quotes from Piper’s book on headship and submission.**

Keep in mind the example God has given for marriage of Christ and the Church and how they relate and love one another. This example is what headship and submission is patterned after.

“Foundations in the gospel are needed before these things can shine with the beauty they really have. There is nothing ugly or undesirable in these distinctions of headship and submission when they’re seen in the light of the gospel of grace.”

“Sin didn’t create headship and submission; it ruined them and distorted them and made them ugly and destructive.”

“Therefore, headship is not a right to control or abuse or to neglect. (Christ’s sacrifice is the pattern). Rather, it’s the responsibility to love like Christ in leading and protecting and providing for our wives and families. Submission is not slavish or coerced or cowering. That’s not the way Christ wants the church to respond to his leadership and protection and provision. He wants the submission of the church to be free and willing and glad and refined and strengthening.”

“When the ground of the wife’s submission is expressed as the headship of the husband, it is clear that headship involves the kind of leadership that a woman can affirm and honor.”

I hope this encouraged you and helped you.
I know I benefited greatly from reading Piper’s book and it has changed how I think and feel about my own marriage.
I pray that God reveal Himself to you and help you to know His love and grace and enable you to share that kind of love and grace with others, especially your spouse!

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21

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