Restoring Marriage and Family

Marriage and family is the foundational backbone of any society. The family institution is vital to the overall security, prosperity and freedom of any group of people. When the family structure breaks down, society falls apart into chaos. Then safety, economy and liberty begin to disintegrate. According to the Creator's own words a family begins when a man and woman commit themselves to each other for life.

 

Matthew 19:5

Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife (“woman” verse 23); and they shall become one flesh.

Marriage was instituted between a man and woman from creation by the Creator Himself. In chapter 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”

Purpose and Definition of Marriage

Male and female together were created in God’s image. Female alone, or male alone is not the complete image of God, the Creator. For that very reason marriage was instituted. Marriage cannot be redefined by the ones created.

Multiplication of humanity was the basic purpose of marriage and family. The ultimate purpose is two-fold. First, helping each other in life in an intimate love relationship that pictures God’s incredible love. Secondly, passing on the knowledge of that intimate relationship as a legacy to children from one generation to the next. 

Marriage and Family: A Spiritual Connection

Happy Family Together OutsidePhoto by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash

Marriage was not created just for the purpose of two people to “live happily ever after”. A bedrock solid marriage is crucial for the successful raising of healthy children. A healthy family with sound minds and morals contributes to the well-being of the Church and society in general. That is the purpose of marriage and family, to bring up the next generation who will know and pass on a love relationship with God himself to following generations.

A sound marriage and family provide an opportunity for a vital spiritual connection between a man and woman and their children. If this connection includes the Holy Spirit, it involves the One who designed marriage and family. Children need to inherit and be taught this same spiritual connection. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind”. (Matthew 22:37) That describes a deep, intimate love relationship with the Creator himself!

It is the responsibility of parents to pass that on to their children, who will experience it and pass it on to their children and so on. If God is involved, the family of a single parent, as well as that of a believer married to a non-believer will also be blessed. However, we need to widely restore the sanctity of the God-ordained, ideal marriage and family. That is the best way to exemplify the love of Christ to the world.

When couples by-pass the commitment of marriage and simply move in together, they set aside the incredible blessing of God’s full embrace of that relationship. Co-habiting together as sexual and romantic housemates fails to embrace the God-ordained sanctity of marriage. The opportunity to experience the kind of all-in life-long, unrelenting love that pictures how God loves the Church will be missed.


Generational Legacy

Proverbs 22 says in verse 6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” That training is done best with a team of a loving husband and wife who together represent the image of God as best they can. The better the representation, the more solid that family will be for life. That incredible blessing can only be passed on generationally with great effort.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Mom and Dad walking along the way with toddler.

“These commandments” refer to the Ten Commandments and loving “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”. Note the New Testament instruction by Jesus in Matthew 5:21-32 that shows that the ten commandments have been magnified to thoughts, not just actions. In those same verses are Jesus’s words condemning the modern-day flippant attitude about divorce.

 The Ten Commandments are Old Testament commands. The New Covenant through Christ magnifies the law to the two “greatest” commandments. “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (See Matthew 22:36.)

Child reading a very large Bible.

The words and commandments of God are to be taught and discussed thoroughly and constantly by a family. It is to be done with a situational, experiential teaching method. Whatever is being experienced within the marriage and family can be related to the word of God. This responsibility cannot be relegated to the church organization.

Sunday school or vacation Bible school cannot perform that very continual teaching responsibility. That responsibility is not given to the church, but to the parents and family. That is done successfully through good family government. It doesn’t “take a village”. It takes a family. There is a great book by that name that we can recommend: It Takes A Family, by Rick Santorum.

Today, even among Christians, we find many who do not have a clear, accurate understanding of the critical role of a marriage and family. Their parents did not make the values of that spiritual connection clear. Subsequent generations have not received the wisdom of a triune marriage and family relationship whose focal point is God. Nor will the next generation, unless we effectively correct that lapse.

An Ultimate Purpose

Rings and defintition of marriage.

God, Himself, instituted marriage for a purpose. He didn't leave it open to redefinition. Since Adam and Eve, the definition of marriage has not been questioned. No society since has attempted to redefine what marriage is, until very recently. That foolishness needs to be overcome with truth.

At the heart of marriage is the spiritual relationship with God Himself. Again, marriage is not just for two people to "live happily ever after", until they don't! Marriage was meant to represent the enduring and unfailing love that Jesus (Who IS God and the Creator) has for the Church. He wants a relationship with "Her", the Church. He also wants His creation to learn to love one another.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God calls the Church, “the Body of Christ”. (1 Cor 12:27; Eph 4:12) He wants every human being that has ever been born to be part of that relationship with Him. To make that possible He became a part of the humanity He created in order to die for the sins of humanity. He could pay that penalty for each of us only because of His sinless experience as One of us.  Sin separates us from Him. (Isaiah 59:2) He provided a fail-safe way to end the separation for each of us.

1 John 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

At times throughout history that relationship has not been reciprocal. Many in the Church today have not returned that love to God, because they have not understood the sacred purpose and meaning of marriage and family.

The other side of the coin is true, as well. We don’t have good marriages, because we don’t grasp God’s love for us. For that reason, millions have not heard about or grasped the incredible opportunity that relationship with God provides. Until people know how much He loves us, true love is not “knowable”. It cannot be fully realized. Love is experiential. It is learned through experience.

Unconditional Love

Verse 19 We love, because He first loved us.

His love is unconditional. God doesn’t wait to love us until we love Him. That would never happen. He leads in love. We have the choice to reciprocate.

Marriage is no different. Reciprocal love occurs when either, preferably both simultaneously, choose to lead in unconditional love. “Conditional love” is not real love. We know love because God first, unconditionally loved us.

There are many scriptures condemning divorce. There are very few scriptures that allow for minimal exceptions.

  • Matthew 5:31-32
  • Matthew 19:3-9
  • Mark 10:11-12
  • Luke 16:18
  • Romans 7:2
  • 1 Corinthians 7:10-15

Marriages fail because the “love” in this society has become conditional. That’s not true love. True love is unconditional. I don’t care about any “buts” someone might have! You gave marriage vows to him or her, so it’s your responsibility to love that person unconditionally!

That said, sometimes you must love someone from a distance in order to be safe. Sometimes one spouse is given no choice by the other. Unconditional love does not mean, “I love you so much, I’ll even stand here while you beat me and the kids!” Or, “…even if you cheat on me.” However, mercy for anyone who has truly repented of past actions is the bedrock of God’s unconditional love for each of us.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And, yes, that forgiveness occurs upon confession of mistakes leading to the dissolution of marriages. That mercy should not be considered “cheap grace”. It is unconditional love expressed through the incredible sacrificial death of the One we know as Jesus. Jesus was God in human form. Response to that unconditional love should be to “go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

Cultural Problems in Ephesus

In Ephesians 5 Paul elaborates on how marriage between a man and woman pictures the complete love of God between the Church and Himself. The atmosphere of the culture of that area at that time was causing a serious disunity in the church and the home. Some women were being influenced by the Pagan temple prostitutes to be controlling of men. Marriage and family was being seriously attacked. 

In verses 22-24 of Ephesians 5, Paul gave a warning to the women of that culture to have a humbler attitude. Men were generally created to take the risks of a leadership role, but many women of that day in that area were in opposition to that role of the husband.

These women considered men to be little more than brute beasts that they should rule over. Modern day so-called “feminism” has the same goal; to blur and demean the complementary strengths and differences between female and male. Such thinking destroys the unity of a loving marriage and family.

In the pagan temple of Diana, the temple prostitutes shaved their heads and used sexual temptation to control men. Some temple prostitutes were converting to Christianity. 

It was customary in that day and area for women to cover their heads. Doing so made it clear that they did not identify with those prostitutes, especially if they once had done so. (Hence, they now had very short hair.)

So, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11 that these women should cover their heads in church meetings. This is not a requirement for us today.

In verses 22-24 of Ephesians 5, Paul gave a warning to the women of that culture to have a humbler attitude. Men were generally created to take the risks of a leadership role, but many women of that day in that area were in opposition to that role of the husband.

Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 (above) and concludes with verse 32 in Ephesians 5, This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Notice that Paul’s admonishment to husbands to love and care for their wives is lengthier than that to the wives. A godly, moral woman will find it easy to love and respect a man who leads with Christ-like love. That relationship pictures the love between the Church and Christ, as stated in verse 32.

Assault on the Sanctity of Marriage

Marriage has been attacked vehemently for the last century, or so, by watering down the sanctity of that God-ordained relationship. Infidelity, pre and extra-marital sex, lack of respect for the opposite sexes, pornography and immoral talk about sex has sullied that precious godly gift.

Ungodly influencers have made great effort to bring the sexual act down to a mere recreational activity not limited to marriage. Divorce used to be considered a shame and embarrasment, as was pregnancy outside of marriage. Both have become acceptable as normal through the last several decades.

A family without a loving father figure has a much greater chance of poverty and immorality. A mother with a strong faith-base can overcome this. An extended family with a strong father figure can, too. Since it is usually the father who leaves the family, the mother is ill-equipped to provide both roles. The opposite is also true, though.

Attack on the Sanctity of Sex

Sexual relationships outside of marriage cheapens the very act that was created to symbolize God’s own incredibly intimate love for us. Sex is meant to be a very tender, sacred expression of devoted love in a marriage relationship. It was not designed for the pleasure of just any two people who agree to use it immorally outside of marriage.

Satan himself wants the most intimate expression of love between a man and woman to be devalued into something of no importance beyond fleeting pleasure. In many cases that pleasure becomes quite selfish and perverted without love. That evil one doesn’t want the meaning of marital love to reveal Jesus’s sacrificial love for the body of true believers and followers.

Leadership and Love

Marriage and family government requires someone to lead. As in any form of government there must be one who leads. It is clear from the Bible that the responsibility of leading is given primarily (not solely) to the husband.

Men were created with a masculine need for adventure, a woman to love and protect, and for risk-taking battles against bad guys. (We can recommend the book, Wild at Heart- Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, by John Eldredge.) Leading is not domineering, demanding or controlling. A husband that does that is not loving his wife “as Christ loved the Church”.

Remember, true love is not an emotion. It is a verb. Jesus acted out that verb as fully as possible when He “gave Himself” for us. He even chose to die  through a horrible death by crucifixion, that we might know His true love. Let’s review some of the wisdom-filled words of Ephesians 5 in light of what we have discussed here.

Verse 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Pregnant Mom with loving son and Husband.Photo by Laercio Cavalcanti on Unsplash

Marriage and family are paramount to learning and understanding the love of God for us all. We have a great responsibility to showcase that love in our own marriages and families. Restoring the sanctity of this sacred unity is vital. Without it people will not be able to witness and experience true freedom in the unconditional love of God expressed by His unrelenting mercy.

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