If the institution of marriage is on a contemporary decline these post-modern days in terms of divorce and just plain co-habitation, it is because people have become willingly ignorant of God’s expectations.
Furthermore, even if people happen to know what God’s expectations are, in many cases the individuals of the union have quit applying the principles. What, then, are God’s expectations for a man and a woman in a marriage? What, then, are the principles?
The first point to honor about marriage is that God instituted marriage to be between one man with one woman. Any other combination is wrong because it goes against God’s revealed will. God reveals His will initially in the book of Genesis, and, when marriage is considered at other points in the Bible, His will is still the same. Marriages as a result of adulterous partnerships are wrong. Same-sex marriages and support of them are in effect rebelliousness against the revealed will of God.
This leads to a second consideration. It has everything to do with an understanding about commitment to the married partner. There are a lot of reasons for lust, which leads to the contemplations for infidelity for sure. But, generally, when two people come together to be married, they promise before God and witnesses to be true to the other. Each person of the marital union, therefore, must be committed to the principle that they will not allow any other person or thing to come between them and their spouse.
This leads to a third consideration because marriage depends upon the surrender of each partner to the other. We are to “submit ourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord.” Probably where this principle goes awry involves perspective. What happens is that in the beginning of a relationship leading to marriage, each looks real good to the other. Nothing is wrong with that. It is part of the process.
But, a problem starts to brew when sometime after the “I do,” perspectives change about the other. When that happens, willingness to be surrendered subsides and eventual problems emerge. Marital closeness and solidarity start to decline and erode when the initial perspective is allowed to be changed.
I saw Terry for the first time standing in line in our college’s cafeteria. Oh, she looked good to me. I was surrendered in my heart to her on that day. But, even 40 years later, she still looks good to me. My perspective of her has not changed other than the fact that she looks good-er to me. Perspective makes a difference in marriage. Keep a good perspective of the other.
As it involves the expectations and principles of God, the Apostle Paul elaborated on the role of the wife in the marital context. The wife is to reverence the husband in the same way as the Church reverences Jesus Christ. The Church is supposed to love and respect Jesus Christ for the redemption He has provided. In much the same way, the wife is to love and respect the husband for faithfully expediting his God-ordained responsibilities.
Elaborating on the husband’s responsibilities, Apostle Paul pointed out that a man is to love his wife with the same perspective as Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. If a man loves his wife accordingly, then the wife will have no problem in fulfilling the expectation of her role to reverence her husband.
Furthermore, a man is expected to not only love his wife, but he is expected to take care of his wife. Paul used the term “cherish,” which means to esteem as a priority. Nothing else, absolutely nothing else, should be more important to the husband than his wife. Paul points out that a man should be “glued” to his wife. If a man takes care of this point, everything else he might do falls into proper perspective.
Do not tell Terry I said this, but she has absolutely blessed me for 40 years.
I give her thanks for the 40 years we have been married. It has been a wonderful experience.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.