a New Life together in Marriage
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.
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
And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the
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
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.
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
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
Marriage Requires Sacrificial
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.
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
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.
"leave his father and . . . mother"
"cleave to his wife"
shall become one flesh"
"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
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
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:
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.
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.
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...