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Marriage is the Doing of God

We live in a time that does not greatly value the marriage between a man and a woman. A marriage can be easily dissolved when either person decides that the relationship in no longer meeting their needs. This was not unlike in the days of Jesus. After hearing Jesus' explanation of the meaning of marriage, His disciples said that it was "better not to marry" (Matt 19:10). Jesus' view of marriage described in Genesis was so different from theirs that they could not image it being a good thing. There is a great disparity between God's intent and the world's view of marriage. Today most people find God's divine design of marriage to be unintelligible.

The most foundational thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is God's doing. God created man in His image, both male and female in unity to reflect His glory (Gen 1:26-27). God created woman from man to be a perfectly suited counterpart to complete man (2:18, 21-22). God Himself, as the first Father, brought the bride to man (2:22). God spoke the ordinance of marriage into existence (2:24; Matt 19:4-5). And God performs the union in each marriage, forming the husband and wife into "one flesh" (2:24; Mark 10:8-9).

Marriage is entirely God's doing. It is from Him and through Him. The vision for marriage God has given us is greater and more glorious than anything this world could ever image. The greatness and glory of marriage is a gift from our Father that must be treasured and protected at all costs.

Marriage is the Display of God

God created marriage for many purposes. It provides companionship, happiness, spiritual growth, and an environment for child rearing. The ultimate purpose of marriage, though, exists to display God. Marriage was designed by God to show His glory in a way nothing else does. It is in marriage that the sacred covenant God has with His people is demonstrated to the world. Marriage is about the divine romance of God and His people.

In Genesis 2:24 the words "holding fast to his wife" and "they shall become one flesh" speaks of a commitment that that is unbreakable. After quoting this Genesis passage, Paul gives an interpretation that shows God's ultimate purpose in marriage. Paul declares that this marriage text is profound, but that he was speaking about "Christ and the church" (Eph 5:32). Marriage was designed by God to be a picture of the relationship of Christ and His bride, the church. The covenant union between husband and wife reflects and displays the spiritual union between Christ and the church.

Christ made an imperfect bride His own with the price of His blood and covered her with the garments of His own righteousness. The highest meaning and greatest purpose of marriage is to display to the world this loving relationship. Our marriages are to be patterned in unity and love after the marriage of Christ and His bride. Marriage is more than romance and love, it puts the glory of Christ's covenant keeping love on display. Marriage is about showing in real life the glory of the gospel and displays Jesus to the world.

Marriage is the Imaging of God

While all creation mirrors God's beauty and glory, mankind is the only created representation of the Creator (Gen 9:6). There is a moral likeness between man and God that allows for a personal relationship (Col 3:10, Eph 4:24). In creating the world, God declared everything good except for one thing, "it is not good that the man should be alone" (Gen 2:18). Man was incomplete, he was not whole. God knew this and Adam discovered it after seeing how all the other animals had mates. There was no one with a nature comparable to his. Adam had the fellowship of God and the company of animals, but he was alone. God was not enough for him. He needed someone else to bring him completion. He needed a woman.

God made woman from man so that they would be of the same essence, both created equally in the image of God (Gen 1:27-28; 2:21-22; 1 Cor 11:8; Gal 3:28). God created woman as a "helper suitable for him" to supply man with what he lacked, to complete him (Gen 2:18). She has strengths where he has needs. She supplies his deficiencies and fulfills his needs. And this holds true for the woman as well. Man needs woman and woman needs man. Woman is the female counterpart of the male man, a complement perfectly suited for him in every respect- physically, mentally, and emotionally. They are the same but very different. He is man, she is woman, he is masculine, and she is feminine. Adam found himself in Eve, which is why he greeted her in the way he did as "bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh" (Gen 2:23). Eve completed Adam. Marriage begins the journey of becoming one with each other and being immersed in the glory of God (2 Cor 3:18).

Man has been created to partner with another who is essentially like him and at the same time strangely unlike him. There are typical male or female traits which are misunderstood by the other. This difference is the source of much confusion and conflict in the relationship. We desire a spouse that understands us and one we can understand. But God gave us just the opposite. He created two different people to behold and reflect His image (1 Cor 11:7; 2 Cor 3:18). Both being equally created in the image of God, a husband and wife should look at each other with a sense of wonder and awe as seeing the face of God. The differences of men and women must be respected, affirmed and valued as our unique qualities make for mutual enrichment. The harmony and mutuality in your marriage will image forth to the world the glory of God.

Marriage is Two Becoming One

God's design for marriage is revealed in Genesis 2. We are told that He takes the woman from the man's flesh and then brings her back to him in marriage. In verse 24 we are given the blueprint for marriage- For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. This is the first statement in the Bible about marriage and the only one repeated four times (Matt 19:5; Mark 10:7,8 Eph 5:31). All these verses have the same three recurring themes- leaving, cleaving, and becoming one flesh.

The first step in marriage is a leaving. A man is to leave the close relationship with his father and mother to form a new relationship with his wife. While the relationship of parent and child is the closet natural blood tie, the bond between a husband and wife will be closer. The man's full committed obligation is now to his wife and the wife's to the man. Nothing else in life is to take greater priority than your spouse- career, house, recreation, hobbies, church work and even children.

Second there is a cleaving. The word cleave means to glue or stick closely like two pieces of glass. The word used is described in the passive voice, implying that an outside force is the active agent in the cleaving. This outside agent is God Himself as indicated by Christ in Matt 19:6 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. The covenantal commitment between the husband and wife as expressed in their vows is used by God to bond the two together. This bond is stronger than any other human relationship. It is one that cannot be broken. Your marriage commitment must be the most important commitment in your life.

And third there is a becoming of one flesh. Jesus declared to his followers that when a couple is married "they are no longer two but one flesh" (Mark 10:8; Matt 19:6). In marriage a man and a woman are no longer two separate people but have been formed by God into a new person. This union is symbolized and sealed by the sexual union, but it entails much more than sex. As with our own bodies, a union is created between the man and woman that is intimate and permanent. There is a fusion of two lives into one. Becoming one begins with intimate physical union between the couple and ends in a union of the body and soul by God. The husband and wife are now one and are to share their entire lives together as they are one- in ideas, beliefs, joys, difficulties, triumphs, failures, possession, minds and bodies. Your oneness must not be neglected but developed and cultivated as you live out what God has done. Anything that gets in the way of the oneness must be eliminated.

Marriage is a Picture of Mercy

Marriage finds its ultimate meaning in the Gospel. Marriage was designed by God to portray the covenant relationship of Christ and the church. A couple leaving parents, cleaving to one another, and forming a one-flesh union is patterned after the new covenant in Christ- leaving his Father, taking the church as his bride, and holding fast to her in a one-spirit union (Eph 5:31-32; 1 Cor 6:15-17). Marriage is not only about staying in love, but it is also about covenant keeping. It is through covenant keeping love that a husband and wife are able to deal with the sins and flaws that disrupt unity in marriage. The covenant relationship established by marriage is the main foundation of freedom from shame. Adam and Eve were holding fast to each other in a new one-flesh union of covenant love (Gen 2:24). This covenant love produced the situation where they "were both naked and were not ashamed" (2:25). This covenant love gave them complete trust and security with each other. From the beginning, the main foundation in marriage for the freedom from shame was the covenant relationship.

When Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, their eyes were opened and "they knew that they were naked" (3:7). Suddenly they became self-conscious about their bodies. They were immediately gripped by a sense of guilt that made them ashamed and fearful. They had rebelled and broke covenant with God (Hos 6:7). The basis of covenant love between a man and a woman is the unbroken covenant between them and God. The intimacy and trust they had with each other was shattered and the security of marriage disappeared. They tried to cope with this situation by covering themselves with leaves. They were attempting to remove the gap from what they were now and what they had been.

God in His mercy clothed them with better clothing made from animal skins, not to conceal their sin but to confess it (3:21). He covered them to confess that they are not what they should be. Clothing is a witness to the glory lost, but it is also a witness that God himself would one day make them what they should be. When God clothed Adam and Eve, He was pointing to a future day when His people would be covered with His righteousness by the shed blood of His Son (Gal 3:27; Phil 3:21). He restored their oneness and trust through a promised future new covenant (3:15). In the new covenant, Christ passes over the sins of his bride. The bride has flaws but is free from shame because she has no fear that her lover will condemn her. Marriage displays God's covenant-keeping mercy and redemption. The covenant relationship God established in marriage was designed to cover all sins and flaws and provides a couple freedom from shame. This is based on the gracious nature of covenant loves as covenant love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8, 1 Cor 13:6).

Marriage is a Showcase of Grace

Marriage is the closet and most intense relationship in the church. It exists ultimately to be a picture of the covenant love between Christ and his bride, the church. Marriage is based on the covenant made between a man and a woman to be faithful to one another as long as they live. This covenant is designed by God to showcase His covenant keeping grace- His good will that is undeserved. It is through God's grace that a husband and wife are able to be naked and not ashamed even though they have much to be ashamed of because of sinful thoughts, words and deeds. Jesus came into the world as a bridegroom to rescue His unfaithful bride from the wrath of God (Rom 5:9). Since God condemns and punishes sin, Jesus paid the ultimate price for His bride's sins by his death on the cross (Rom 5:8). He obtained and sustains his bride by grace alone through a blood-bought grace. A husband and wife are able to showcase this grace by resting in it and then turning it to each other.

Because of His wonderful grace, the record of our sins were canceled (Col 2:13-14). They were nailed to the cross with Jesus as our substitute. Christ suffered the penalty of the law in our place so that we could receive full and complete pardon for all our sins- past, present and future (Acts 13:38). God not only requires punishment for our sins, but he also expects us to live perfect lives (and we know that is not possible). Jesus was the perfect law-keeper who had never sinned. He obeyed the law perfectly throughout his life so that we could fulfill the righteousness of the law (Rom 8:3-4). Christ was our substitute in his suffering and death and become our curse and condemnation (Gal 3:13). And in his life of perfect obedience, he became our perfection. When we receive and trust Christ for our salvation, we are united to Him, and his punishment and his righteousness become ours (Rom 5:19). God forgives all our sins and declared us righteous on account of Christ through faith (Phil 3:8-9). This is known as the doctrine of justification and is the basis of the new covenant.

Living by grace is the Christian life. Our marriages are to showcase this new covenant grace by showering God's grace on our spouse. There is a huge gap from what God expects of us and what we are. God has filled this gap with His covenant keeping grace. This gap is much larger than the expectations we have for our spouse. God pours His grace on us and in turn we are to let it flow to our spouse. We are to take the forgiveness and righteousness we receive from God and turn it to our spouse. As God sees us righteous in Christ, we are to see our spouse righteous in Christ. As God has forgiven us of all our sins, we are in turn to forgive all the sins of our spouse (Eph 4:32). There will be many opportunities in marriage to forgive our spouse. We are different in so many ways and these differences will be the source of continual conflict. Marriage is living this truth day by day as we forgive and bear with each other (Col 3:12-13). This is as God does with us on a regular basis, forgiving and bearing. Start each day fresh in your marriage by giving hurts, irritations and hostilities up to the Lord so that you can demonstrate to the world the grace of God.

Marriage is about Forgiving and Enduring

The foundation of marriage is in the person and work of Christ, the Gospel. Marriage is based on grace. It is by grace that we are able to receive forgiveness from God and then turn it to our spouse (Eph 2:8 , 4:32; Col 3:13). Forgiveness is essential for a lifelong marriage as there will be conflict. While the power of sin has been broken in us, sin still influences our thoughts and behavior (Rom 7). When sin entered the world, the relationship between husband and wife was radically altered. Men and women were now corrupted by the sin of selfishness. Adam blamed Eve (and God) and Eve blamed the serpent for their sin. God than pronounced a curse on fallen man and woman that has resulted in conflict between the sexes, domineering men and devious women (Gen 3). Men exploit women for their purposes and women exploit men for theirs. The mutuality and partnership of marriage has been disrupted with elements of conflict and control.

Marriage is about two sinful people struggling to love each other. Selfishness is the source of much conflict in marriage. People respond to conflict in many ways. When a person is hurt they may sulk and give the silent treatment, or flee to escape the tension, or strike back with angry outbursts, ridicule, and sarcasm. If not resolved the hurt can turn into resentment and bitterness. It is a huge challenge to love a person when you are feeling angry, betrayed, hurt, and disgusted. When a conflict is resolved a couple grows closer together, but when ignored a crack is made in the oneness that if not fixed could eventually end the marriage. Most conflicts in marriage, though, don't involve sin directly; but is caused by the strangeness of each other. Most issues are caused by character flaws and shortcomings in our spouse. Men and women see the world and life differently, which often produces misunderstandings and conflicts. Forgiveness and endurance is critical to a lifelong marriage. Forgiveness is when you have been hurt by your spouse and you pay them back goodness without expecting anything from them. You will not treat him/her badly because of their sins and annoying habits. And endurance is acknowledging that the sins and annoying habits of your spouse really bother you and you won't hold it against them.

The Christian life is to put off the old self of selfishness and put on the new self of Christ (Gal 2:20). We are to put on, like new clothes, the inner condition of compassion, humility and patience (Col 3:12-13). It is patience that will allow you to endure and forgive. Patience is both the inner condition of the heart and a gift of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). It is patience that keeps anger from controlling you and disrupting the resolution of the conflict. When you are patient, you are slow to anger, quick to listen, and slow to speak (James 1:19). It is by sinking your roots into the Gospel that God transforms your inner unmerciful, prideful, self-centered condition to one of compassion, humility and patience. The main battle in marriage (and life) is the believing, trusting, embracing, and cherishing the Gospel as your sole hope and joy. As the Gospel fills you entire being and you rely fully on Christ for your life, you will be transformed in the inside so that you can endure and forgive in your marriage. As you work at enduring and forgiving each other, the love of God will grow in you and spill out to your spouse. And the ability of two imperfect people to have a life of faithfulness will give glory to God.

Marriage is about Maintaining Unity

Marriage is a picture of the unity and purity of Christ and His bride, the church. God has formed marriages by bringing two people together who are not only different in personality, upbringing and interests; but also in gender. This mix provides constant tension on the unity of the marriage that is both exhilarating and trying and often leads to conflict. A marriage is only able to persevere for a lifetime through the keeping of the covenant commitment by the means of forgiving and forbearing. This commitment gives a couple the security to address the problems in the relationship and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.

The Christian life is the working out of what God has already done in us (Phil 2:12-16). He has made us holy in Christ and we are to work out the holiness by putting sin "to death" (Rom 8:13; 2 Cor 7:1; Col 3:5-10;). While we have been delivered from the bondage and guilt of sin, we are still affected by its pollution. A marriage that is grounded in the gospel provides an environment where change can happen. God gives us grace not only to forgive and forbear in order to treat our spouse better than they deserve, he also gives us grace to change so that forgiving and forbearing is not needed as often (1 Cor 15:10; 2 Cor 12:9). God gives us the power to stop sinning. It is in marriage that "iron sharpens iron", "confessing to one another" and accountability all can occur on a regular basis to expose our sin. As our sinful behaviors and attitudes are exposed, we have the opportunity to address them before the Lord and each other.

We are often quick though, to point out the minor sins of our spouse while we are harboring major ones (Matt 7:1-5). During a conflict, pride and selfishness often manifests in angry outbursts, lies, and blaming against our spouse trying to win the conflict. Before addressing their sin, we need to examine our own attitudes and evaluate our fault and responsibility in the conflict. When you sin against your spouse in word or action, you must repent of it by confessing your sin and asking for forgiveness. If you spouse sins against you, you must go to them and gently and lovingly lead them to repentance (Gal 6:1). This will help them be cleansed and restored to a life of holiness (1 John 1:9; Heb 12:10). If they are unwilling to repent, you must bring a mature believer into the process to help resolve the conflict (Matt 18:15-17). Sin and conflicts in marriage must not be ignored and resolved quickly (Matt 5:23-24). They create a rift in our relationship, that if not mended, could destroy the marriage. Satan is actively seeking to destroy your marriage as well as your faith (Eph 4:27; 1 Pet 5:8).

The spiritual health of a marriage is a concern of the local body of Christ as it concerns the Gospel of Christ. When conflicts are resolved and unity and purity is reestablished, love is able to flow from a marriage and display to the world of the love of Christ and His bride.

Marriage is about Sacrifice and Service

God created the one-flesh relationship of marriage to mirror the relationship of Christ and His bride, the church. Christ's love for His bride and his bride's love for Him is the model for marriage. God's ultimate purpose is to make us more and more like Jesus in faith and character (2 Cor 3:18). Jesus showed us how to walk in love as He placed others above Himself. His life was one of sacrifice and service (Matt 20:26-28; 2 Cor 8:9). Jesus gave his all for His bride, including the ultimate sacrifice, His life (Phil 2:5).

When you enter a marriage you surrender your independence and join with another in a new dependence. Husbands and wives are equal heirs together of God's gracious gift of one life (1 Pet 3:7). In a sense, like in salvation, you lose your life for a new one. Each person complements and completes the other. Your spouse is your own body. When you love your spouse you are loving yourself (Eph 5:28). That is what it means when two becomes one. You give up your individual life and now share it with your other half. All aspects of your life- time, employment, and thoughts must be in consideration of your spouse. We are to surrender our individual wills, as we now have one will in marriage. Selfishness often produces a struggle of the wills. Marriage is not to be a battle of the will, but submission to each other so that Christ's love may flourish. This is what it means to live like Christ (1 Pet 13-22). Submission to one another is the heart of Christian love (Eph 5:21).

Christ is seeking the transformation of the church into a morally and spiritually beautiful bride (Eph 5:25-26). A husband, who is to love like Christ, is to seek the moral and spiritual growth of his wife. When a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church, he will give up everything for her. He will think first of her well being before anything else. A husband is to sacrifice their own interests for the benefit of their wife. And in the same way a wife, like the church, must deny herself to help and support her husband. A wife's desire for her husband to step up and take leadership of the family is to be done not by nagging and complaining, but by her sacrificial love for him (1 Pet 3:2). A husband is to sacrifice and serve his wife as Christ did His bride and a wife is to give selfless love to her husband as the church gives loving devotion to Christ. Serving your spouse should not be "tit-for-tat" where you repay what has been done for you, but your spouse's need defines your priority (1 John 3:17). No matter how you have been treated, you are to serve your spouse. Jesus washed the feet of Judas just hours from being betrayed by him. While it is hard to always be the giving one, the reward is great, following in the footsteps of Jesus (Matt 16:24; John 12:26). As the love of Christ fills you by the Holy Spirit you are able to daily serve your spouse (Phil 2:1-4). Marriage is about living for each other and both living for God.

Marriage is about Servant Leadership

The highest purpose of marriage is to display the relationship between Christ and the church. Marriage is a living picture of how Christ and His bride relate to each other. When a person comes to faith in Christ, he or she is joined to Him and to other believers so that they "are all one in Jesus Christ" (Gal 3:28). Believers in Christ are referred to as the body of Christ and Christ as their head (Eph 1:22-23). A husband and wife's connection in a one-flesh relationship is like Christ and the church's connection in a one-body relation. The church is the body of Christ and in a similar way the wife is the body of the husband. Christ is the head of the church and in a similar way the husband is the head of the wife. The one-flesh union between a man and a woman, in a sense, is also a one-body union. What a man does for his wife he is doing for himself (Eph 5:28-29).

While husbands and wives are subject to each other as fellow believers and equal heirs, they are to conduct their mutual service in different ways. Marriage was created on the pattern of Christ's relationship to the Church and should be patterned after this divine relationship. The roles of husband and wife need to be modeled after the distinctive roles of Christ and his church. As Christ is the head and the Church is the body, a husband, like Christ, is the head and a wife, like the church, is the body. The husband's love for his wife is to portray Christ's love for the church and the wife's love for her husband is to portray the church's love for Christ. The husband is responsible to lovingly give himself up for his wife and family in servant leadership and his wife is responsible to lovingly follow and support the leadership of her husband.

Christ is the model for a husband in being the head of his wife (1 Cor 11:3-5; Eph 5:25). Christ's sacrificial love for His bride is the standard for the husband to follow. Headship involves a responsibility to establish an environment of love in a relationship in which the basic physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of a wife, and children, are fulfilled and protected. As Christ nourishes and cherishes the church, the husband is to do likewise for his bride (Eph 5:29). As Christ guides his church with the use of the needs, desires, and abilities of his people, a husband is also to lead his family with the support of his wife. While he is to take the initiative in leading the family, God has equipped his wife with abilities, insights and gifts to be a perfect complement helper to him. As this responsibility is huge, a husband is not to fear as God has given him all that he needs to carry out the calling of being the head of his family and displaying to the world the love of Christ (Phil 4:13).

Marriage is about Companionship

God created Eve to complement Adam and help him fulfill his responsibilities (Gen 2:18). They were created equal, but with different roles for service to God. It was God's intent that these complementary roles be a living picture of Christ and His bride, the church (Eph 5:22-24, 31). While sin has distorted these roles in marriage, Christ has restored them to God's original design. God established a relationship of order in a marriage to mirror the relationship between Christ and the church. The husband, like Christ, has the responsibility and authority to lead the family and the wife, like the church, is to lovingly follow his leadership and assist in carrying out the tasks. When a husband leads like Christ and a wife responds to his leadership like the church, the gospel is displayed to the world. In a marriage grounded in Christ, there is a harmony that is a sweet fragrance to God.

A wife complements her husband and, with him, fulfills God's purposes and plans for their life together. God has uniquely gifted her to complete the spiritual character of her husband. It is God's plan for a wife to pattern her life after the church. As the church is subject to Christ, she is also to be subject "in everything" to her husband and as the church submits to Christ she is to submit to her husband (Eph 5:24). These instructions are repeated in five other New Testament books. This submission is the recognition and honoring of her husband's responsibility to be the leader of the family. It is an inner attitude and a voluntary willingness to be under his authority. In submission, there is a pouring of oneself into another so as to complete both in marital oneness.

Wives are to submit to their husbands "as to the Lord" (Eph 5:22). Submission in marriage is to be rendered as to God. A wife's submission is motivated not by her husband's deserving, but by God's purpose for marriage. The desire for fulfilling her relationship with her husband must be rooted in her desire to please God (Eph 5:1-2). A wife is able to fully submit and follow her husband's leadership only when she has placed her hope in God (1 Pet 3:5). When she puts her hope in Him, she is able to look beyond the troubles of the day and focus on the sovereign God who prepares and strengthens her for whatever comes her way. This produces a fearlessness that gives her incredible power to face the future and support her husband in the midst of great challenges (3:6). It is only by the grace of God that the wife is able to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.

Marriage is about Sexuality

The ultimate meaning of marriage is a picture, a portrait, a parable of Christ and his bride, the church; and the ultimate meaning of marital sex is to tell us something about this relationship. In the beginning, God created man and woman in His image as sexual beings (Gen 1:28). Sexuality was a blessing that not only brought children, but provided intimacy and physical pleasure. When sin came into the world, the true purpose of sex was corrupted and distorted. Satan has used sin to further pervert what God had created. All sex outside of the marital covenant is sin against God. With the coming of Christ, the true purpose of marital sex was restored. As the ultimate meaning of marriage is about Christ and his church, the ultimate meaning of marital sex is about the final delights between Christ and his bride. While a husband and wife find immediate benefit in physical pleasure and intimacy, they find the final meaning from what sex points to- ecstasies and immeasurable delights that we will have with Christ in the age to come.

In the Old Testament God uses sexual language and imagery to describe the love He has for His people (Ezek 16:6+; Isa 54:5+; Hos 3:1; Jer 31:21,22; Zeph 3:17). God created us in his own image as sexual beings so he will be known more deeply and fully. He made earthly marriage in the image of his own eternal marriage with his people. Throughout the Bible there is an interlacing of the themes of human and divine marriage (Hos 2:16, 19; Is 62:5; Jer 3:8). The "one flesh" union in human marriage unveils the relation of Christ and His bride (Eph 5:25-27). The one flesh union of a Christian couple is a demonstration of the greatest love story- of Christ giving himself up for the church and the church devoted to him. The deep intimacy of the sexual relationship in a marriage is also the kind of love and intimacy that Christ has for the church and that the church has for Christ. The sexual encounter is a prelude to immeasurable delights that we will have with Christ in the age to come. By a husband and wife knowing each other sexually, they have an idea of what it will be like to know Christ fully. The anticipation, encounter, and climax of the sexual union portray the coming event when we will be with our Husband in glorious union for all eternity. Marriage in this life is temporary and there will be no marriages in heaven (Matt. 22:30). But what marriage meant will be there. And the pleasures of marriage will be there. A husband and wife are meant to pursue the pleasures God has created for marriage on earth so that they are better able to understand that something infinitely greater is to come.

Sex can bring deeper intimacy to a marriage or it can bring great pain and division. A lack of desire for sex in marriage can be attributed to a number of spiritual issues including selfishness, guilt, anger, bitterness, anxiety and conflict. Time and poor health often play a factor. By making the sexual part of marriage a priority and a regular activity, a couple will continually be forced to examine their relationship and resolve issues. Marriage is the serving of one another both in and out of the bed (1 Cor 7:4). While the sexual relationship of a couple ends in intercourse; it begins hours, days, weeks and even months earlier with hugging, holding, hearing and words of love. The sexual relationship in a marriage includes all aspects of intimacy. Regular sexual relations between a husband and wife strengthen the one flesh union and the temptation of adultery is weakened (1 Cor 7:3-5). The withholding or denial of this most intimate area of the marriage, except for a season of prayer, can be dangerous. When a person's sexual desire is high, they are more vulnerable to Satan's temptations. Issues that would prevent this union need to be resolved. This must be the highest priority for a marriage and not neglected. While it is a small part of a couple's life together, it can have great impact on the oneness of marriage and the testimony of Christ and his bride.

Marriage is about Learning

God created Adam and Eve in His image. While He molded Adam out of clay, He crafted Eve (Gen 2:7,22). Adam and Eve were created the same, but they were very different. God created woman to rescue man from loneliness and to supply him what he lacked. A husband and wife were designed by God to be different so that they can complete and strengthen each other, thus "two becoming one". God created them different for His glory and their enjoyment.

These differences begin in the design of the brain. Women use both sides of the brain for verbal and emotional tasks which are well integrated. Men use each side separately; one for verbal and the other emotional tasks, and they are not well connected. There is an also major hormonal difference between men and women that drives them differently in daily life. These differences can be very evident at times. She likes romance, he likes action. She likes to talk, he likes to do. She wants to be heard, he likes to fix. She likes things put away, he likes them handy. She remembers details, he doesn't care. He has three pairs of shoes, she has thirty. She asks for directions, he won't. He reads maps, she can't. She has a lot friends, he has one. Sin has corrupted these differences which have put great strain on relationships in both marriage and society, often described as "the battle of the sexes". The differences in a husband and wife can cause a tension in a marriage resulting in emotional and often physical separation.

It is God's desire that anything which separates a husband and wife be dealt with and eliminated (Eph 4:26). Estrangement in marriage also affects a person's relationship with God (Matt 5:23,24). It is important for our spirituality and witness that it is a priority to keep our marriages healthy. It is by better understanding how God made our spouse that we are able to better understand how his/her differences is for our benefit. Through this knowledge we are able to appreciate and be thankful for what God has given us. We need to be students of our spouse. God has instructed a husband to live with his wife in an understanding way (1 Pet 3:7). And he has instructed a wife to learn to love her husband in spite of his differences (Titus 2:4). This is a more difficult task so He instructs older woman to teach the younger women about men (or perhaps it is the more achievable one). As we study our spouse and learn of his or her God given predictable patterns, it can become humorous and enjoyable. What once may have caused you frustration can now be a sense of wonder of God's creation of marriage.

Marriage is about Spiritual Warfare

Marriage was designed from the beginning to display the love and communion of God and His people. Because of this, it was Satan's desire to destroy the first marriage. Disguised as a serpent, Satan leads Eve into questioning her trust in God. He distorted the truth and deceived her about God's intentions. He ignored Adam's headship responsibility and focused his attack on Eve. Eve did not consult with her husband and Adam did not intervene and submitted to the sinful act. When confronted by God, Adam blamed his wife and God. Unity with God and each other was destroyed. Satan is still at work today with the goal to destroy marriages. Peter warns that Satan is like a ravenous, ferocious lion looking to devour people (1 Peter 5:8). Even though he is on a leash, he can cause great damage (1 John 5:18; 1 Tim 3:7). He is disguised as the angel of light, but he is the father of lies and the tempter (2 Cor 11:14; John 8:44; 1 Thess 3:5).

Satan is actively seeking to destroy your marriage. It is his strategy to disrupt both the emotional and physical unity of your marriage by weakening your faith and influencing you to sin (1 Thes 3:5). He often causes a rift in marriage through sinful emotions and improper sexual relations. Unresolved issues in marriage can lead to angry outbursts that gives Satan a foothold to work (Eph 4:26-27, 30-32). Quickly solving conflicts and confessing sin brakes any foothold he has. And Satan is able to disrupt the physical unity in marriage through the sexual relationship. God created sexual desire to bring a man and woman together physically for their benefit. Satan works to cut off sexual desire and destroy its true meaning and beauty. Regular sexual relations in marriage is a means of overcoming temptation to sin (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). It is a weapon against Satan's attacks. When a man and woman give as much sex and satisfaction to each other as possible they give Satan a severe blow. Ultimately though, Satan's aim is to weaken our faith in God's grace and goodness so that we are vulnerable to his arrows of self-love, self confidence and worldliness (Acts 13:10; 1 John2:15-16). To keep us from fully trusting God, Satan holds out alternative promises to the promises of God. Satan primary means of subverting faith is by promoting the lie that God is not the supplier of all we need.

It is God Himself who protects His children from Satan (1 John 5:18). He has given us faith as a shield for protection from Satan's attacks (Eph 6:16). When we are firm in our faith, Satan is resisted and thwarted (1 Pet 5:9; James 4:7). It is by not believing and trusting in God's grace and all that He has promised for us in Jesus that Satan is able to temp us to sin (Rom 14:23). When we reject Satan lies and embrace God's truth, we are able to remain strong in the battle for our faith. In fact, God uses the trials that come our way to perfect and strengthen our faith (1 Pet 1:6; 3:13-17). Your faith will remain strong as you meditate on His promises in the Bible and ask for the help of his Spirit in prayer (2 Thes 2:13). His promises will erase unbelief and his Spirit will ensure that faith will not fail in times of trials (Luke 22:31-32). Fighting the good fight of faith is a regular aspect of the Christian life as Satan is at work daily to destroy your marriage (1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7).

Marriage is about Fighting Your Nature

Marriage is about Perseverance

Marriage is about a Lifetime

Primary Reference

  • Piper, John, This Momentary Marriage

Secondary References

  • Engelsma, David, Better to Marry: The Mystery of Christ and the Church
  • Ortlund Jr, Raymond, God's Unfaithful Wife
  • Wheat, Ed, Intended for Pleasure
  • Allender, Dan & Longman, Tremper, Intimate Allies
  • Thomas, Gary , Sacred Marriage
  • Bromiley , God and Marriage
  • Cornes, Divorce and Remarriage
  • Chantry, Shadow of the Cross
  • Mason, The Mystery of Marriage
  • Piper, John, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ

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