Wednesday, September 05, 2007

(III) Marriage outside the garden of Eden. Settling down as exiles

Lets make a good marriage better and Let’s grow old together; The best is yet to be.

There is a couple staying in a corner house at the end of our row. They are retired – but they keep themselves busy. The husband spends time gardening, wife religiously walks every afternoon, rain or shine. They are healthy, interact well with one another and are friendly with the neighbours. Picture of a couple in idyllic retirement.

Being the best of friends and enjoying the autumn and winter years of our lives together do not take place automatically or naturally. In fact the opposite is true – couples at best grow distant from one another. In many cases years of hostility boil over and couples in their late 50’s and 60’s end up divorced or with one parent staying with a son and the other in the home of another sibling.

In order to for us to grow old together, with the best as yet to be, couples has to work very hard. Primarily it requires the hard work of :

· Community

· Couple


Good biblical teaching on marriage

The sanctity of marriage

Gen 2 24This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. 25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

“Marriage is an exclusive heterosexual covenant between one man and one woman, ordained and sealed by God, preceded by a public leaving of parents, consummated in sexual union, issuing in a permanent mutually supportive partnership, and normally crowned by the gift of children”.

John Stott Issues Facing Christians, 4th Edition, p 361


heterosexual, monogamy. It is the exclusive union of one man and one woman

publicly acknowledged – needs the sanction and protection of the law, leaving of parents with its legal implications – ownership or property, children, profession of faith, financial obligations to family….

permanently sealed (cleave to his wife) marriage is a loving, cleaving commitment or covenant

physically consummated (one flesh)

Scriptures envisages no other kind of marriage or sexual intercourse, for God provided no alternative

“ the fact is every kind of sexual relationship and activity which deviates from God’s revealed intention is ipso facto (by that very fact) displeasing to him and under his judgement. This includes polygamy and polyandry, (which infringe the one man, one woman principle) cohabitation and clandestine unions (since these have involved no decisive public leaving of parents with its legal ramifications), casual encounters and temporary liaisons, adultery and many divorces ( which conflict with “cleaving” and with Jesus’ prohibition let man not separate ) and homosexual partnerships (which violates the statement that a man shall be joined to his wife) .” Stott op cit p 458

I hate divorce

Mal 2.13Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, Why? It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.15 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 16 I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel, and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment, says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

Mt 19 1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. 2 Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick. 3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’[a] 5 And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’[b] 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?”[c] they asked. 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. 9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.

Practical steps as a Community

Good preparation of couples for marriage and good continuing pastoral care of the young

Couples. (Personal and institutional or corporate) Care Group for young couples.

Continual involvement of an older mentoring couple

Marriage renewal weekends and follow ups

Reconciling ministry

Pastoral care and ministry to the divorced

Community and Character building

Good teaching, modelling, mentors and counselling within the community will help couples have the determination to keep the vows we have made to our spouse before God in the presence of his people. The keeping of our vows has the effect of building character in us.

Secondly, as mentioned earlier, the restrains and disciplines of a strong community life will be infinitely be helpful to couples in their marriages – not just one lonely couple struggling to make their marriage work all by themselves.

Finally, belonging to and having a meaningful involvement in a community of faith will help couples form habits of obedience, make and keep commitments to honour, cherish and unconditionally love one another.

Through all this we become the people of God.

This is where the skills come in (place of seminars, conferences, etc) not necessary exclusively of one another but inclusively and at the same time as character building


Equipping couples with skills

The individual – Myers Briggs Temperament Indicator, or other personality and temperament tests

Individuality and influence of family of origins

Communication skills

Language of love - cf Gary Chapman's Five Languages of Love

Conflict resolutions – need of humility, forgiveness and repentance

Bonding time


Anniversaries – red flags – nothing to talk about, or same old, same old (haven’t grown, or grown apart, too self centred, not other orientated enough….)

Holidays (unrestricted, time of attending to and listening to one another)

Blocking out the dates

Weekly (M&Ms the candy that melts in your mouth and not in your hands!) – weekend activities …….

Daily (hot cuppa)

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