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Showing posts with label Marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marriage. Show all posts

Monday, October 2, 2023

What Jesus Really Said About Divorce

We are working our way through Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Today our subject is a sensitive one:  divorce.  The experience of divorce is described by many as one of the most painful experiences of life.  It is something that affects not only the divorced couple, but also their children, families, and friends.  And just based on statistics, it’s likely half of the people reading this have been through a divorce or will sometime in their lifetime.

Jesus had some important things to say about marriage and divorce.  He spoke the Truth with genuine love.  Please know upfront that is my intention too—to speak the truth in love.  I’m not here to judge anyone.  I think if we really understanding of what Jesus said about divorce and how it should be interpreted in our world today, we will find an incredible amount of God’s grace and love as well as Truth that can change our lives forever for the better.

So what did Jesus say?  It is found in Matthew 5:31-32.

Matthew 5:31
“You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ 

Jesus is talking about an Old Testament law in Deuteronomy 24 that says, “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her…” he can give her a written certificate of divorce and send her away. 

The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus day debated a specific clause in that statement quite a bit: “if he finds something indecent about her.”  What does it mean to be indecent?  There were two popular interpretations in Jesus’ day.  A famous rabbi named Shammai said the only indecency that could lead to divorce was a serious transgression.  For example if a woman was stealing her husband’s money or flirting with her neighbors or walking around exposing herself in public, this was serious indecent behavior that were grounds for divorce.  Another famous rabbi, rabbi Hillel said a man could divorce his wife simply because she burned his toast!

So the religious Jews of Jesus day generally grouped themselves into one or the other school of thought about divorce.  One said you can divorce your wife for almost any reason at all and a stricter belief that it had to be a serious offence.  I should point out here that it would not be necessary to divorce your wife if she cheated on you, because the Old Testament penalty for adultery was death.  So if your wife cheated and was put to death, no divorce is necessary.

But Jesus, who is God, says:

Matthew 5:32
But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.

People has often used this passage to prove Jesus forbids Christians to divorce or to remarry after a divorce.  On the surface, that’s what it seems like Jesus is saying.  But if you only read the passage this way, you are misunderstanding the point Jesus makes.  Throughout this chapter, Jesus uses real-life examples to show people are utterly helpless to fulfill God’s perfect and holy Law.  Remember what Jesus said in the passage last week about lust and adultery?  If you even look at someone else and lust in your heart you’ve already committed adultery in your heart and broken God’s law.  And since hardly anyone can honestly say they haven’t ever lusted, we are guilty.

The Jewish religious leaders knew how hard it was for people to stay married to the same person their whole life.  So they were always looking for exceptions.  One group said “if she burns your toast, you can divorce her.”  Another group said, “No.  It has something serious.”  Jesus said, it was never God’s intention that anyone get divorced, and if you do you are breaking God’s law (see Matthew 19).  The point is, once again, Jesus is saying we are unable to fulfill God's Law.  That’s why Jesus came to fulfill the Law for us, to die on the cross to pay our penalty, and offer us God’s grace and mercy to restore our broken relationship with Him.  This passage is not directly about divorce.  It's about how Jesus came to save us from out sin.  He's using a practical example from life to show how helpless we are.

But What About Divorce?
Well, that’s a fine biblical theology lesson.  However, what we all still want to know:  Is it OK for Christians to divorce and remarry.  I get it.  Divorce is heart wrenching.  And genuine Christians who want to be faithful really struggle when it comes to divorce.

Methodists accept that divorce is sometimes necessary.  This is true of the two largest Methodist denominations—United Methodist Church and the Global Methodist Church.  And as far as I know, divorce is allowed by all the other major Methodist traditions of which I'm aware.  However, I want to state clearly that we believe this not in spite of what Jesus and the Bible says but because of what Jesus and the Bible says.  How can that be when Jesus clearly seems to prohibit divorce?

The Bible’s laws about divorce, laws that Jesus confirmed, were specifically designed to protect women in the ancient world against abandonment.  Since most women in Jesus’ day could not work to provide a living for themselves (unless they turned to prostitution), God did not want women to be abandoned.  So, God gave strict laws to forbid divorce so women could not be cast out and left destitute.

In a perfect world the way God intended it to be, divorce would not be necessary. A man and woman would be faithful and loving to each other their whole lives. But we all know we don’t live in a perfect world.  Sometimes divorce is necessary.  Sometimes, in our modern world, divorce is the way to protect women (and also men). 

Look at an example:  What if a man is abusing his wife?  There is no way in the world Jesus would tell that woman she must stay with her abusive husband.  Jesus’ teaching about divorce was there to protect women, not hurt them.  And this goes for mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse as well as physical abuse.  Jesus wants more than anything to protect the vulnerable.

And it also goes both ways—for both men and women—because Jesus wants to protect men too.  In our modern world where women can leave their husband and make it on their own, men need protection from abusive relationships too.  Sometimes divorce is the only way out of a abusive marriage for a husband.  And if Jesus was here today speaking to you, He would say the same thing.  So don’t let anyone twist what Jesus said to protect women 2,000 year ago to hurt women (or men) today.  God’s Law and Jesus’ teaching is meant to protect the vulnerable from abuse.

Now, that is not to say Christians should take marriage lightly or use divorce as a excuse not to work through tough marital issues.  Marriage takes a lot of work and faithful spouses should be committed to do everything possible to stay together if they can.  The truth is, divorce is so difficult and expensive and painful, I don’t think too many people out there take it lightly. 
Our goal should be to marry for life.  And I think two faithful people who are truly committed to each other and to Jesus can find a way to be together for life.  But it takes both the husband and the wife to make that happen.  And if it can’t happen and staying married is more harmful than good, then divorce is permissible—maybe even advisable.

In first Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul also taught about divorce.  He said if your spouse is determined to leave, you should let them go.  You aren’t bound to try and force them to stay.

There is much more that could be said on the subject of marriage and divorce than we can address in a general message like this.  Marriage and divorce are complex and every case is unique.  If you are struggling in your marriage or contemplating divorce, come talk with me (or find a good pastor or marriage counselor to talk to.)  Many times marriage problems that seem too big to be worked out can be overcome with a little help from a counselor.  And if your problems are truly cause for separation or divorce, a wise counselor can help you determine that too and you will have the peace of mind knowing you did everything you could to save your marriage.

We Live In A Broken World
We live in a broken world.  The Bible tells us our spiritual ancestors, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and brought sin into the world.  All of creation has suffers the consequences.  Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  We see the results all around us.  There is sickness.  There is war.  There is famine.  Even our marriages fail because the world is not the way God intended it or wants it to be.  

That’s why Jesus came.  He came to fulfill the requirements of the Law when we couldn’t.  Jesus gave His life on the cross to atone for our sins.  Jesus rose from the grave to prove God’s promise of reconciliation and eternal life for all who repent and call on the name of Jesus to be saved.  So remember what Jesus did for us and follow Him as Lord and He will strengthen you to live for Him until we realize the healing and restoration of the coming Kingdom of Heaven.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Love Endures Forever

How do you know if someone is really a Christian?  What evidence that proves it?

If you asked 10 different people, you might get 10 different answers.

Some might say, “You know someone’s a real Christian if they pray for someone and actually heal them or prophecy about the future and have it come true.  That’s a real Christian.”

Others might say, “A real Christian reads their Bible and knows what it all means.  They can explain how Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. They are a real Christian because they know Christian doctrine.”

Another person might argue, “No.  It all comes down to faith.  It is only by faith that a person is a real Christian.”

Yet another person might retort, “Yeah, but what about good works?  People must do good and give to the poor and help the needy.  That shows they’re a real Christian.”

Someone else would say, “Yeah but what about the martyrs?  Someone who dies for their faith, surely that’s undisputable evidence they are a real Christian—the best Christian of all.”

The members of the 1st Church of Corinth were arguing about these things.  In fact, some were saying, “I’m a better Christian than you, because I can do this or I’ve done that…”  And in answer, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, and we find a good summary of Paul's response in 13:1-3.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

So Paul says it’s not supernatural power, it’s not knowledge of the Bible, it’s not doing good or being good, it’s not even dying as a martyr for your faith that proves you’re a Christian. Paul says, it all comes down to love.  Love is what proves you are truly a Christian.  When the love of God lives in you and you love others, that’s proof you are a Christian.

But the kind of love we’re talking about is not necessarily the type of love the world talks about.  So Paul goes on to explain what God’s love is like—the kind of love we are to have and show.  And today, I want to finish our series on Paul’s words about love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Today, we learn that love endures forever.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

One of my church members, Kate Roberts, achieved a personal record at her cross country race this weekend in South Carolina.  Cross country racing is an endurance sport.  The runners push themselves to their physical limits racing long distances, competing as a team.  They train their bodies everyday to endure the pain and strain of physical exhaustion from running 3 to 6 miles as fast as they can.  I think Kate was able to run 3.1 miles in less than 20 minutes this weekend.

Endurance is the ability to withstand hardship or adversity.  How in the world does endurance belong in a definition of love?  If you are young and "in love" you tend to focus on all the ways the person you "love" makes you feel good.  When you've been married a long time, you understand much better about the "endurance" element of love.

Of course, I hope by now in this series, you understand that real love (God’s love) is not about how someone makes us feel.  Love is not a mere emotion or a pleasure we derive because we like being around someone.  Love is a gift we give to others regardless of whether we get anything at all in return.  And sometimes love—real love—has to endure many things we don’t like about others.

As a parent, I can tell you I didn’t enjoy it at all the time I took my young kids to see a movie and one of them got sick and threw up on me.  And I had to take one kid to the bathroom and get her cleaned up.  I had a change of clothes for her in the diaper bag, but not for me!  So I had to wear that filth all the way home while trying to comfort a sick child.  Yeah, that was not fun and I didn’t like it at all.  But I loved my child and cared for her.  I “endured” the disgust and discomfort of “wearing” vomit soaked clothing until I could gather up my kids and get them home, cleaned up, and then clean myself up.

But that was just a hour or so of endurance.  I think about my own Mom’s enduring love over the years with me and my siblings.  I know we have all done many things to disappoint her and even break her heart at times.  Yet she has endured.  Now, as my mother is growing older and her health is declining, we are taking loving care of her more and more (especially my older brother and younger sister, because they live closest to her).

Redefining Romantic Love
As I have told you in previous blogs, 1 Corinthians 13 wasn’t originally written about the romantic love between a husband and wife.  Yet this passage is often read at weddings, because it is such relevant advice for newlyweds. 

Our society is infatuated with the concept of romantic love.  Unfortunately, popular culture—through movies and music—has degraded the idea of romantic love to be all about how a person makes us feel.  We have taken the greatest godly virtue of all and turned it upside down.  Love in the world is not about selfless sacrifice, but about deriving pleasure at the expense of the person we “love”.

It is no wonder that so many people experience broken relationships, broken marriages, and are extremely confused and scarred when it comes to romantic love.  Our culture has created an idealized fantasy about love that does not exist, and when people fail to achieve or maintain the “feeling” of love, they feel cheated, become disillusioned, are broken-hearted, and wonder “why can’t I just find true love like everyone else?”  

Can you imagine how it would revolutionize the world and our romantic relationships if the prevailing notion of love became the biblical view of love?  If it wasn’t about how another person made you feel, but about how we gave ourselves to one another sacrificially? 

Ironically, you are more likely to find “feelings” of love more often when you stop chasing them.  When you give yourself to your spouse sacrificially, you are more likely to have romantic feelings.   And when the husband and wife are both loving each other sacrificially, they will both likely feel more intense attraction to each other. 

God’s Enduring Love
Now I want you to consider the never-ending, enduring eternal love of God for the world.
God created the universe and everything in it—the stars in the sky, the land and the sea, the plants and animals and us.  In sacrificial love, God gave us life.

When humanity broke God’s heart by turning against Him, He didn't give up; God continues to love us because His love endures forever..  God made ways to protect us—even protecting us the best He could from our own sin, while still allowing us the freedom to choose how we live.  People often get frustrated or angry with God because bad things happen to them or God.  God didn't cause those bad things.  We cause them by our sin (or they were caused because humanity has been wrecking God's perfect creation for thousands of years).  It is a miracle of God's love that we are still here and haven't completely destroyed ourselves and that God has still preserved our freedom to choose how we live.  Unfortunately, our choices cause a lot of hurt and suffering, but God still preserves us through HIs enduring love.

4,000 years ago, God chose a man of faith named Abraham to begin the process of saving the world—even saving you.  4,000 years ago.  Think about how long ago that is.  The American Revolution was 245 years ago.  That seems like a long time to a lot of us, but it is only a blip on the timeline of God's love story told in the Bible.  4,000 years ago, God was thinking about you and working to save you when He called Abraham to begin the rescue mission for humanity.

Even when Abraham’s descendants were slaves in Egypt 600 years after Abraham, God's love endured and He kept working through the Israelites to save the world.  God used Moses to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

3,000 years ago, God made David the king of Israel and said, “I will raise up one of your descendants… I will secure his royal throne forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12-13)  God was talking about Jesus, who is David's great great great... grandson.

Jesus was born 2,000 years ago.  He lived as the perfect lamb of God, without sin or blemish.  He gave his life sacrificially to atone for our sin (showing God’s perfect, unconditional love for you and me).

Through all of these thousands of years, God’s love endures.  We've given God a million reasons to give up on us, but He hasn't and He won't.  God is hoping beyond hope that people will finally hear Him calling and turn from their sins, receive His love, and be saved.

And God is hoping beyond hope that we will all start to love God and love our neighbor just as Jesus did and that our love will endure in every circumstance because real love endures forever.

My mission, the reason I’ve devoted my life to work as a pastor, is so that more and more people will turn to God and receive His love and in turn love others the way God loves us.

1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!”
All the things in this world we think are so important now will pass away. 
It won’t matter what kind of clothes we wear, or the car we drive, or which house we lived in.
It won’t matter which flag we saluted or whether we were democrat or republican.
It won’t even matter if the Braves won the world series in 2021.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that [we] know now is partial and incomplete, but then [we] will know everything completely, just as God now knows [us] completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

Monday, July 31, 2017

Proverbs Day 31

Read Proverbs 31
If you choose to get married, the person you choose will be the greatest influencing factor in your life.  Marriage is far deeper than romantic feelings and passion. It is a partnership for life.  It is two people becoming one flesh.  It is a symbol of Christ's love for His church.  Choose wisely or choose not to marry.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 31:10-12
10-12 A really good wife is a truly rare treasure. She’s worth more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her with his whole heart and she blesses his life. She helps and never hurts him all the days of her life.

Everyone puts a lot of pressure on you to get married and they have all these oversimplified sentiments about marriage that have very little to do with the reality of married life.  Don't fall for the world's folly.  A wise person knows marriage is not required (Jesus never married).  It is perfectly normal and acceptable and often best to remain single and celibate.  If you choose to marry, choose a godly spouse who shares your core values and compliments you well.  Love your spouse like Jesus loves you.  They are the single most important thing in your life--more important than your kids, your job, your friends, your family, your hobbies, your possessions, or anything else.  A really good wife (or husband) is a truly rare treasure.

"Loving God, you know everything about me and my spouse.  Help us to love each other the way You love us so we can help each other become all that You want us to be.  Amen."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ask Pastor Chris (a short, quick answer to a question about being single or married)

Here's a quick answer to a question I received Sunday.  The question: "Does God ask us to get married and raise a family?"

My answer:  Not necessarily.  American society puts a lot of pressure on people to find their "true love" and get married and raise a family.  Unfortunately, churches usually follows society's lead on this without really thinking what God wants.  God has a better plan.  Both remaining single and getting married are equally acceptable to God.  Marriage and children are the more usual path people follow and can be a beautiful expression of God's love.  Furthermore, a healthy marriage can help with spiritual growth, is God's plan for enjoying the gift of sex, and provides the best means for conceiving and raising children.  On the other hand, remaining single is also a valid and helpful expression of the human experience.  Jesus remained single and said, "...some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 19:12).  The Apostle Paul reasoned that a married person has to divide their attention between their spouse and serving God; however, a single person can focus all their attention on the Lord's work (see 1 Corinthians 7:32-35).  Whether or not to have children can follow a similar line of reasoning.  A couple can be married and not have children. This could be by choice or because they are unable.  Raising children can be a wonderful blessing.  It is a great honor to love your children unconditionally and it is perhaps the greatest way to evangelize the world, as we teach our children to have faith in Jesus Christ.  On the other hand, raising kids is difficult and requires a lot of time, energy, and resources.  A couple without children can devote more to each other and to God's work.  Christians must understand life with more clarity than the unbelieving world around us.  We should take the lead in accepting, valuing, and supporting people in the variety of ways life is lived--single, married, with and without children.  Each is a beautiful gift from God to be embraced (not merely endured until we become like everybody else says we should be). 

For more information about what the Bible says on the subjects of singleness, marriage, and raising children, see:  Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 19:1-12, Hebrews 13:4, Mark 10:1-12, and 1 Corinthians 7.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

10 Things Important for Marriage (and Life)

10 Things Important for Marriage (and Life)
Adapted from Advice Given by Ron and Marianne Snyder
1.    Put God First – There are only 2 ways to live your life, with God and without God.  Living life without God will not work.  You are not God and you do not have all the answers.  You have limited strength and resources and at some point they will run out.  You need someone bigger, smarter, and stronger; and the only one who can do that is God.

2.    Embrace your real identity and the fact that you have a perfect heavenly father – Your earthly father is likely to have failed you at some point—even if they were a good father,  That’s because our earthly father is not designed to be everything for us.  No one is—not your parents, friends, or your spouse.  You may have an earthly father that you see as less than perfect, but remember you have a perfect heavenly father who loves you and is always there to provide for you.  Remember who God says you are as His child, a Prince of the King of kings.  Everything He has is yours.  Seek to know Him better and those riches will be your blessings.

3.    Love one another – From Ephesians 5, we learn:  Man is the head of the marriage as Christ is the head of the church.  Man is to love his wife, the way Christ loves you unconditionally—putting her first in all things.  Loving your wife unconditionally, it is the greatest gift and lesson you could ever give your children. 

Marriage is a covenant, in Hebrew that covenant is called a berit.  It means fused together like superglue.  When you get married, you and your wife become one—together forever.  You are the same in that you have 3 basic, God-given needs:  love, acceptance, and worth.  But keep this in mind:  even though you together, you are still different and have different needs.  A man’s #1 need is respect.  A woman’s #1 need is security.  Men tend to see things in black and white.  Women see everything in the middle.  Those are just a couple of differences that are important to recognize.

One more thing:  You don’t need to solve everything.  Sometimes, just be a good listener.  But if you do need to say something—as Ephesians 4:15 says—speak the truth in love.

4.    Never go to bed mad – Ephesians 4:26, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.”  Women (and men) can be difficult when they’re upset.  They can say things they don’t really mean.  Words are weapons, especially for someone who feels helpless.    There will be many times you’ll have to take the high road and overlook the emotions that are going on and not play into them. Being the one that stays calm and reassures that everything is ok can go a long way in keeping the peace.

5.    Put away the past – Make sure your baggage stays as empty as possible.  Learn to forgive.  You know they say “harboring forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person t die.”  Address any issues you may have and heal them before you start out together.  You have heard it said, “Time heals all wounds…”  Not so.  Time only heals clean wounds.

6.    Divorce is not an option – Pledge that to each other from the beginning.  It’s important.  God’s desire is for husband and wife to stay married for life.  And accept for extreme circumstances—such as adultery and abuse—a couple should do everything possible to keep the marriage together.  There will be times that are tough, but the grass is never greener and someday you’ll look back and see that it was the storms you conquered in uor marriage that made it stronger. 

7.    Live within your means – This is big!  Money problems are the biggest reason for divorce.  If you can’t pay for it, don’t buy it.

8.    Guard your heart – Satan will always be after you and your marriage.  He will work hard to tear you apart.  One fo the ways he does it is by getting you to compare yourself to others.  Your marriage will be unique to you.  Don’t compare yourself or your marriage to anyone else.  Guys, guarding your heart also means don’t look at other women or pornography.

9.    Compliment and show each other love – There are 5 main love languages.  They are:  words of affirmation, spending time together, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts.  Know what yours are and those of the people you care about (including your kids).  That way you’ll know how to speak love to them.  If you concentrate on giving gifts but your spouse’s language is acts of service, you will miscommunicate and they might not hear you telling them how much you love them.  Make sure you know and are speaking their love language.

10. Have fun – Your spouse should also be your best friend.  Spend time together going to concerts, hiking and traveling, the movies, bowling, cooking together, whatever… 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Biblical Advice for A Better Marriage

Genesis 2:18-25

We were made for deep relationships.  A deep relationship is a profound, caring connection of mutual support, cooperation, and trust.  Deep relationships can be with family, friends, someone we date, a spouse, or a co-worker.  However we find them, our souls yearn for deep relationships.  Today, I want to offer some biblical advice to help strengthen the deep relationship between a husband and wife.
In the beginning, God created a man named Adam as a living, breathing being to have a deep relationship with God.  God also made a woman named Eve because God wanted people to have relationships with each other.  Let’s read the story from Genesis of how God made the first woman.

Genesis 2:18-25
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone,
    and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
    because she was taken from ‘man.’”
24 This 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.

Women and Men
God made Adam and Eve because deep human relationships are as important as a relationship with God.  Adam and Eve were so much alike.  The story says Eve was made from Adam’s own rib.  Yet Eve was also different from Adam.  She was a woman, not a man.  Even young children splashing around in a bathtub together perceive there is a very basic physical difference between boys and girls.  Then as they grow up, they perceive the differences are more than just physical appearance.  For instance, men tend to be logical and rational and women tend to just be completely crazy...  :)
Of course, I jest, but jokes like these are funny because of the deep differences we perceive in the way men and women tend to think, communicate, and view life.  It almost seems as if we are from two different planets and speak different languages and have different customs.  Yet, these mysterious differences between the sexes makes for one of the most complicated and rewarding deep relationships known to humanity.
It’s important to remember that the differences between the sexes was designed by God.  So when you get frustrated that your spouse thinks or acts so differently from you, take a moment to relax and remember God made them that way for a reason.  Ultimately, you need them to be different and their differences enrich your life.  Yet it also means you have to be patient and be diligent to build a deep relationship with your spouse. 

Biblical Advice about Marriage
            The best very place to get marital advice is from the God who designed the human heart and created the institution of marriage.  Here are four passages from the Bible about marriage I think will help improve your marriage. 

Matthew 19:6 – "Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 
These words, spoken by Jesus, remind us that God unites husband and wife as one in marriage.  It is a deep and mysterious union meant to last a lifetime.  Therefore, when it comes to your spouse, keep a lifelong perspective about everything.  As you are choosing a spouse, understand that you will be with this person for the rest of your life.  As you argue with your spouse, remember you will be with them for the rest of your life.  As you make decisions about your friends, your career, your children, your church, remember you will be with your spouse for the rest of your life.  Always have an attitude of life-long commitment in your marriage.  Avoid people, situations, or attitudes that threaten to split apart what God has joined together.  Work hard to invest in a happy marriage, knowing you are investing in your own happy life. 

Ephesians 5:21 – "And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
The love between a husband and wife is meant to be an illustration of the way Christ loves the Church.  Remember, Christ laid down his life in sacrifice for the Church.  That was true, sacrificial love.  And that is the kind of love we aim for in our marriage. 
Sacrifice for your spouse as service to Christ.  You won’t always feel like it, and your spouse won’t always deserve it.  Do it anyway, out of reverence for Christ.  Make your own desires secondary and put your spouse ahead of yourself.

Hebrews 13:4 – Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.
Honor your spouse.  Speak well of them—to others and to them.  Point out the very best in them and look for ways to show them how much you appreciate their best qualities.
And be faithful to your spouse.  It almost goes without saying that you shouldn’t cheat on your spouse.  Few would argue with that.  But faithfulness is deeper than just sexual faithfulness.  Guard your eyes that you don’t seek enjoyment from other people in ways you should only find in your spouse.  Guard your emotions; don’t seek emotional and relational fulfillment from other people in ways you should only receive from your spouse.  Be faithful to protect, honor, and respect your spouse.  Be faithful to the life-long partnership you are building together.  Ultimately, don’t put anyone or anything above you marriage—not kids, not parents, not friends, not hobbies, not anything.  Only God has primacy over you marriage.  And the truth is, God is not really above your marriage, but an equal part in it. 

Proverbs 5:18-19 – "Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.  Rejoice in the wife of your youth.  She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.  Let her breasts satisfy you always.  May you always be captivated by her love."
That verse is a little risque for church! But it’s from the Bible so...   Find reasons and ways to keep falling in love with your spouse.  Meditate on the ways you are attracted to them.  Remember often the qualities that initially attracted you to them. 
I once had a husband and wife come to me for marriage counseling.  The husband wanted a divorce because he said he no longer loved his wife.  He admitted he had already kissed another woman.  His wife was devastated, but she still loved her husband and they came to their pastor as a last resort.
I asked the husband what initially attracted him to his wife and what he had loved about her before he "fell out of love".  He talked about the way she had made him feel special, the way she had made him feel like her hero, and many other qualities that he had been so important to him.  Through our discussion, I helped the husband to see that his wife was the same person she had always been and he just had to remember not to take those important qualities for granted.  The couple agreed to give the marriage another try.  They both spent time intentionally loving each other and focusing on what they loved about each other and it brought real healing to their marriage.  It has been several years and I still get emails from the couple sharing how happy their marriage is now.
Remember why you fell in love and find ways to let your spouse know how deeply attracted you are to them. 

            You will struggle to have a good relationship with God if you do not have deep relationships with other people.  If you are married, work diligently to have a strong, healthy relationship with your spouse.  If you are not married, work diligently to have strong, healthy relationships with other people—friends and family.  God designed you for deep relationships with other people and you will not find satisfaction in life without them—even if you have a relationship with God.
You will also struggle to have deep relationships with your spouse or with other people if you neglect your relationship with God.  He is your creator and you will not find true satisfaction in life without a deep, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Yet when you submit and let Jesus be your Lord and Savior, all your other relationships will begin to fall into place.
So I encourage you today, get your heart right with Jesus and then delve deeper in your relationships with other people.

Click Here for more advice about marriage shared by other people - 62 Words of Advice About Marriage

62 Words of Advice About Marriage

The following excerpts are advice about marriage that was shared via email, Facebook, and handwritten notes.  Some statements were shared by people from Pleasant Grove UMC; others came from people outside of our congregation.  The advice is not in any particular order and I make no claims about the accuracy of these statements.  I simply share them for your consideration.  I would welcome the opportunity to counsel with you privately about how to have a happier marriage. For Biblical advice about marriage, click here.

How do you have a life-long, happy marriage? What marriage advice would you give to a young couple? What advice helped you most in your marriage?

1.     Open communication, honesty, teamwork, forgiveness, and common interest/hobby.

2.     Do not be jealous or do anything to cause your spouse to be jealous.  Think “we” not “me.”  Support your spouse.

3.     Marriage is NOT a 50/50 relationship.  Both have to commit 100% to the marriage and keep God at the center of everything.

4.     When things get tough go straight to his (God’s) word and read and pray together.  Talk about everything even if it is uncomfortable.

5.     Do you want to be "right" all the time or do you want to be happy?

6.     I can tell you what my Dad told me 47 years ago, "Never go to bed mad at each other. Even if you have to sit on the side of the bed for hours to work it out." We have done just that a few times.

7.     Marriage is not just a covenant between you and your spouse but between you, your spouse and God.

8.     And, marriage is not 50/50. It's 100/100. You give 100%. That's your end of it. You, however, are not the judge of whether or not your spouse is giving their "fair share".

9.     Marriage and love is about taking as much heart ache the other person can throw at you and still love them at the end of the day.

10.  Take a good long look at the baggage you bring into your marriage. Don't punish your partner for something someone else did to you. Work hard to make sure you both mean the same thing. Words can mean different things to different people. You are building a brand new world; make sure it's one you both love.

11.  Just because you are talking to each other doesn't mean you are communicating. So many times [my wife] and I have had a conversation come back later wondering what happened. After further discussion it turns out the words and phrases we used meant different things to each of us. Keep talking and clarifying with each other.

12.  Talk about your family of origin and how they did things and said things. It matters more than you think.

13.  Don't always be right, and make a scene to prove you’re right, learn to say I am sorry, I was wrong!

14.  Our question we add to pretty much every stress event going on in our life is: what can we do about it right now? And more times than naught, it's absolutely nothing. Example: It's Monday and I don't get paid until Wednesday and I get a cancel notice in the mail, is there anything we can do about it right now? No. But we can sit down and work out a plan of action for tomorrow. My point is, there's no since in arguing about something you cannot solve right now. It serves no purpose.

15.  Never go to bed mad at each other or without praying together.

16.  That Christ's (and the Bible's) command to love our neighbor with self-sacrificial love applies to the neighbor with whom we share a life, a family, and a bed.

17.  Be the first to forgive...  everyone makes mistakes even yourself...  so don't forget to forgive yourself.

18.  Learn the concept of sacrifice! Love is about sacrificing the "mine" for the "ours". Right & wrong doesn't matter. What matters is what you can do for the other part of the marriage. Learn to swallow pride.

19.  Go to church regular & move away from family for a while so you can stand on your own 2 feet & figure it out for yourself.

20.  GOD: put him smack dab in the center. Think of your marriage relationship the same way you think of how your relationship with God should be!

21.  Pride: move it aside. No room for pride in a marriage.

22.  Selfishness: no room for that either! Be willing to move yourself out of the way and really think about your spouse.

23.  Percentages: marriage is not 50/50. It is 100/100. And there will be times one spouse is 170 and the other is 30. You lovingly help carry their load!

24.  Respect: seriously important!! No explanation necessary!! If you want it, give it-even when it isn't deserved!!

25.  LAUGH! LAUGH!!LAUGH!! It makes everything better!! Be willing to laugh at yourself!! And about the craziest little thing!!

26.  Humble: be humble!! Humility is a powerful thing! You are no better than your spouse and all sin is the same.

27.  Speech: if you got nothing good to say then shut your pie hole. It is perfectly ok to walk away from an argument and not have the last word. What if your last word was truly your last word that you ever said to your spouse? Could you live with the guilt? It is ok to walk away, leave the house, do whatever is necessary but ALWAYS come back!! Leaving forever isn't an option (except in abusive situations of any sort)!! And yes, sometimes going to bed angry will happen but tell your spouse you guys need to shelve the discussion until you can both pray and then speak out of love and not anger. This is coming from a couple who has been married for 21 years not including time off for bad behavior. We divorced for a year and a half and have been married longer this time than the last. The Lord has had His work cut out for Him but oh what a blessing this second chance has been. He really did a work on both of us and changed our hearts!

28.  If you argue, argue naked. It won't last long. J

29.  If the person you married got cancer right after your first anniversary and EVERYTHING changed, could you stay and cope with a totally different, difficult life? If not... Don't get married!

30.  Couples fall in & out of love. The key is to be patient to fall back in love stronger each time.

31.  Always say I love and I sorry and mean it!

32.  Do not marry someone you don't know. If you haven't had a fight, a real fight, you do not know one another yet.

33.  a. With life comes growth, and growth isn't always at the same time. Your spouse won't always be the same person you married, and neither will you. You have to wake up every day and remember to fall in love with that new and different person every single day! Change is inevitable, learn to love the changes or ignore them one (just kidding on that last part!).
      b. Sometimes you just have to pick up the slack... And remember your partner will have to too.
      c. The most intimate thing you can ever do with your spouse is pray together. It improves ALL areas of your marriage. 
      d. marry someone who doesn't chase after your heart, but chases after the Lord’s.
      e. Most importantly, remember your spouse cannot "complete" you or your life, only God can. You can improve each other's lives, but you can't complete each other.

34.  When you’re mad at your spouse, pray for them. It's hard to be mad at someone once you start praying for them.

35.  Define love: tangible, sacrificial, committed, and compassionate. God has displayed His love for the world by giving us Jesus Christ. (God's love is tangible). Jesus gave His life as a ransom. (God's love is sacrificial.) Jesus loved us all the way to the cross. (God's love is committed.) God offers us forgiveness before we even ask. (God's love is other directed - compassionate). Those same four attributes should be displayed in marriage - you can't just say "I love you" and not tangibly display it. You must be willing to lay aside your desires for your spouses - be sacrificial. You must be committed thick and thin, good and bad, like or dislike, feeling "in love" or not. You must realize the other person will not always live up your dreams or be perfect. Thus be compassionate.

36.  Obviously God first. After that, life will bring its own struggles; there is no need to fabricate them. Don't assume that your spouse is acting maliciously; if they upset you, they might not be aware of it. Discuss the issue rationally in lieu of emotionally. Treat your relationship as a team effort working towards the same goal. Forget about my car and your car, or my keys and your keys, it's all ours. If he scratches the car you both have to pay for it. If she loses her keys you both have to replace them. In the end it's just a car, they are just keys. We took a class at our church a few years ago and were surprised at the insignificant things couples argue about. Life will bring significant struggles; there is no need to spend much time on the insignificant. If you respect each other and collectively work towards established goals there is little you cannot achieve.

37.  NEVER go to bed angry with, or at, each other, and always kiss each other goodnight! It has worked for us for 24 1/2 years!

38.  Be patient and understanding.

39.  It's not always about love sometimes it has to be about commitment because you don't always love the other person.

40.  I have always remembered the advice of Tom Lanford, the pastor that married us; don't run to your parents tattling every argument because they will remember it long after you've both forgotten it!

41.  Live within your means. Financial worries put extra stress on a marriage. Work as a team and set goals together. Pray about your decisions.

42.  Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition. It takes both partners giving 100 percent all of the time. Listen to your partner and stop thinking of the next thing you want to say in a disagreement. Stop and think how you would feel if your partner never came home again.

43.  Budget together. When both of you try to actively stay on the same page with the household finances, it leaves much less room for an argument to start over money.

44.  Remember that your roll is to be their spouse, their sidekick, NOT their parent! The concept of being a team has worked for us for close to 35 years.

45.  Don't be a quitter...things are not gonna work out like you think they should in your head...reality TV is not real...50% divorce rate is real...communication is good even if it gets loud hard to guard your heart....Pray for your spouse...give grace...never give up!

46.  Two things I have learned:  First, seek ye first the kingdom of God and all other things will be added unto you!!  Second, when one spouse is having a tough time the other spouse has to be strong and vice-versa.  Never fall out of love with each other on the same day!!!!

47.  Date night matters more after kids. You have to remember to be a couple.

48.  Putting God first and tithing together with money and service. I watch money and the pursuit of material goods become the most important thing in a relationships and it destroys marriages.  Find out what really makes each other feel loved and do those things each day.  Love language is really important especially to us girls!  There is even a book "The Five Love Languages".

49.  In all things be evenly yoked.

50.  Of course never go to bed angry! Always be able to apologize without a "But" afterwards!

51.  "Do you want a personal victory or a closer relationship?" I ask myself that question often. Serve your spouse. Don't keep a ledger and keep on serving.  "A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers" Ruth Graham SO TRUE. Forgiveness.

52.  If you get stuck in "something" in your marriage, get help right away, don't wait until a little thing becomes a BIG thing and it is too late. As a pastor, I could have saved a lot of marriages if they would have just come to me sooner.

53.  Never say or do something that you wouldn't say or do in front of your wife/husband!

54.  Marry your best friend. You can love someone but if you don't like them very much it isn't worth it...and pray to continue to love each other till death do you part.

55.  Be a good listener for each other. Communication is key to a healthy relationship.

56.  Never stop courting.

57.  When you marry someone, you become one with them.  To have a good and happy life, don't down grade each other, build each other up.  Love is never mean.

58.  It's never 50/50. Some days 80/20. Others 20/80. From my Daddy. 52 yrs. marriage to my dear mama.

59.  In fairy tales the stories always end and they lived happily ever after.  Know in life once you say I do that is when the real work begins.  Remember each day to give your partner the best of you.  Times will be hard; don't let divorce be an option.

60.  When your spouse walks through the door, give them a warm greeting! Plant a big kiss on them or give a great big hug. Remind them why they come home every night and that they are appreciated. Also, make sure you kiss them EVERY day. Not a grandma kiss either... give them a 3-6 second "Knock Your Socks Off" kiss and occasionally do it in front of your kids, because it's important that they see that their parents are in love! Lastly, learn what makes your spouse feel loved and appreciated!  Is it bringing them a gift, spending time together, doing something sweet for them, whatever it is...DO it and do it often! 

61.  I believe a couple has to take a long term view of the marriage. Will today's "crisis" really matter a year or two down the road? If not, then it has to be viewed in the proper perspective. Very few things are really as bad, or as good, as they first appear.  I also believe that it very important for wife and husband to stay tuned in to each other during the child rearing years. It's very easy to let our children take over our lives. But then they grow up and leave to start their own lives and wife and husband are left looking at each other and asking, "Who are you?"
62. My marriage advice, love is a choice.  Honoring your commitment is a choice.  Honoring each other is a choice.  There will be ups and downs, peaks and valleys.  At the end of the day, you just have to decide that come hell or high water, you are going to hold yourself accountable to the choices you made.  God first, marriage second, kids third, then everything else.  Oh... And you can save yourselves decades of heartache and hardship, by taking this to heart before you make a permanent choice.  2 Corinthians 6:14 NASB  “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
The best very place to get marital advice is from the God who designed the human heart and created the institution of marriage. Click Here to read about four passages from the Bible about marriage that will help improve your marriage - Biblical Advice for A Better Marriage.