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Recreating a New Life together in Marriage

Ephesians 5:25-31

Jim Davis

Marriage is the most sacred relationship on earth. It is second only to our relationship with God. When Paul seeks to express the relationship of marriage he compared it to Christ’s relationship with the church.

Ephesians 5:25-33
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church- 30 for we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. NIV

Christ has a profound sacrificial love for the church. When Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper he said, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19) Paul told the elders at Ephesus that Christ bought the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28). We were redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as a lamb without blemish (1 Peter 17-21). He did not come to earth to be served, but give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

It was the submissive sacrifice of Christ that qualifies, enables and motivates us to be a kingdom of priests to serve God.

Revelation 5:9-10
And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.

10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth." NIV

Christ willingness to give himself as a ransom to rescue us from this evil world (Galatians 1:3-5) must motivate us to become one with Christ as we seek Christ’s rule in our hearts.

Galatians 2:19-21
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" NIV

Baptism has been referred to as a believer’s marriage ceremony with Christ, for it is in baptism that we enter into Christ’s death and are raised to become one with him in purpose (Romans 6:3-4).

However, I am not wanting to talk about the church, I want to talk about marriage. I am merely trying to reveal that our relationship in marriage is like our relationship with Christ.

Marriage Requires Sacrificial Love

A successful marriage isn't finding the right person-it's being the right person. Being the riht person involves developing a sacrificial love for each other. Being the right person involves becoming what you must become regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in.

A marriage relationship requires death to self as two people enter into a relationship for the purpose of become one with each other.

Genesis 2:23-25
3 The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man."

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. NIV

Four basic principles for every home are found within these two verses.

Separation "leave his father and . . . mother"

Bonding "cleave to his wife"

Purpose "they shall become one flesh"

Candor "both naked and were not ashamed"

Separation—leaving father and mother is no easy task. It requires more than moving out of the parent’s home into your own apartment or house. Leaving father and mother has to do with recreating a life of your own independent of father and mother.

The first stage of courtship and marriage is usually oblivious to our differences. Initially, you may think that you and your partner are so much alike, you may think that you have some many things in common that there will never be any problems.

The idea that "love is blind" must have arisen from the romantic period of courtship that takes place previous to marriage and extends through the first few months of marriage. During this period leaving father and mother is a cinch, but eventually we leave the period of courtship and enter into the realities of marriage as we try to blend two hearts together so they beat as one.

After courtship and the honeymoon we begin to realize one another’s personality quirks when our unrealistic expectations of one another emerge. We begin to realize how different our backgrounds are and how that affects our marriage.

This is the stage of marriage where marriage satisfaction tends to take a plunge. In fact, satisfaction declines at this point more sharply than at any other. It can continue to decline until the children are in their young adult years.

Bonding—cleaving to one’s wife is a very important part of leaving mother and father. The KJV uses the word "cleave" rather than the phrase "united." The Hebrew words means to cling or adhere, to catch by pursuit. That is, we must leave our fathers and mothers and pursue a life with our spouses.

Oneness in marriage is accomplished through becoming one flesh; this involves uniting ourselves together as one in body, mind and soul. Throughout the Bible we are admonished to have the mind of Christ. This is what it means to be truly saved. This is our purpose for entering into the body of Christ at baptism as Christ enters our hearts through faith. This is our purpose when we immerse ourselves in our marriages. We belong to each other just as we belong to Christ. We enter into one another’s hearts to express our love for each other.

Candor—"both naked and were not ashamed." There must be openness about one another’s needs in marriage for needs to be fulfilled.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5
7:1 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. NIV

Although Paul is telling us how to avoid fornication, he is also telling us what it means to belong to each other as we seek to become one flesh. This union that Paul describes involves body, mind and soul as we seek to give ourselves to each other in marriage. We come together with the other person’s needs foremost in our thoughts. In doing so we discover the happiness marriage brings.

Facing Our Differences to Become One

When we pursue a life with each other it forces us to face the realities of our differences constructively. This is the stage in marriage where we seek to recreate a life our own together. It should be a period when we discover a freshness in our relationship with each other.

Husbands and wives cleaving to one another involves realizing the differences of our family backgrounds and deciding what part, or if any part of those backgrounds will become a vital part of our marriages.

I think this is why Paul compared the husband and wife’s relationship to Christ relationship with the church. Christ had to die to himself in an effort to become one with us. We must die to ourselves to become one with each other. We die to ourselves when we decide to recreate a new life together as we cleave to each other in marriage.

This period of recreating a life together may require us to develop new ways of communicating our needs and feelings in a much different way than we communicated them in the families we grew up in.

What we tend to do is to reproduce this system within the new family unit as children leave the homes of their fathers and mothers and cleave to their mates. This may be a source of difficulty as we tend to build a new home on the rules we learned from our birth families. This is an easy trap to fall into since these rules are second nature to us.

Three major areas of communication in each family are:

How we communicate verbally.

How we communicate emotionally.

How we communicate our love and affection.

How we communicate verbally is critical because styles of communication within family units differ. Each family has its on distinctive ways of communicating because each family is made up of a complex system of behaviors that affect our interactions within that family. They may be rules we can articulate, but just as often the rules are understood without having to articulate them. Some show their live by hugs and kisses, others show their live in more subtle ways. There is a multiplicity of others ways that we show our approval or disapproval within the family unit. These behaviors may be expressed in the presence of those outside the family without them realized what is being communicated.

How we communicate emotionally is critical. Some families communicate their feelings by yelling and screaming. This will leave those unaccustomed to this type of communication completely crushed by harsh words.

How we communicate our love and affection is also critical. One family may use hugs and kisses; others may use more subtle ways to communicate love and affection. My grandmother lived with our family for many years. She never expressed her love through hugs and kisses, she never really expressed her love verbally, but she demonstrated her love by how she treated us. This may leave some overlooking the love expressed in subtle ways because it is too subtle. As a result one may feel unloved.

Recreating a life together may require us to live by different values than our birth families. The values we have accepted from our backgrounds may be offensive to our spouses. If so, we must make a decision together as to what values we will live by. In these decisions we must pursue a relationship with each other as we separate ourselves from our fathers and mothers.

This is where in-laws are perceived as outlaws. This is especially true when our in-laws don’t understand that we must recreate a life together. This new creation in marriage requires a couple to develop their independent value system that determines what is important to them and what isn’t. In the process we may shun what our parents deem sacred for their marriage. In doing so we may fray the feelings of our parents.

Marriage necessitates recreating a life for ourselves as we separate ourselves emotionally from the families we grew up in. If we have more emotional attachment to our parent’s values and concerns than we have to one another, there will always be friction. There may or may not be anything right or wrong with the values of either, but they may be offensive to the other.

The new family must develop its own personality. Each family has its own personality. It is negative or positive or some of both. Family personalities are described as rich or poor; close or not so close; it may be a family that fights all the time, or a family without conflict. It may be an intelligent family, or a humorous family. It is these characteristics that bind the family together as a unity.

Each must determine its own characteristics. A couple may accept the good characteristics of the birth families while rejecting the bad.

We may need to redefine the roles in our new family. The roles that each played in our birth family may be foreign to our spouses. The roles within each family may differ tremendously. Who made the rules? Who made the final decision? Did the family make decisions separately or together? How were the finances handled? What kind of discipline was administered in the home? Was it loving or harsh? Were your parents strict? Permissive? Or erratic?

We can begin to understand why it is absolutely essential to keep the lines of communication open as we strive to leave father and mother to make a home for ourselves. Without effective communication a marriage will fail.

Conclusion:

Love is an activity; if I love, I am in a constant state of active concern with the loved person." (Erich Fromm, "The Art of Loving (New York: Harper & Row, 1956), p. 56.

A Christian marriage is a total commitment of two people to the Person of Jesus Christ and to one another. It s a commitment in which there is no holding back of anything. A Christian marriage is similar to a solvent, a freeing up of a man and woman to be themselves and become all that God intends for them to become. Marriage is the refining process that God will use to have us develop into the man or woman he wants us to be." Norman Wright.

Some marriages are made in heaven, but they ALL have to be maintained on earth...

 

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