If you have come here hoping to find lurid script or lewd pictures, please do not leave frustrated. Stick around and read the following blog about what marriage is supposed to be and you may find you did not come here by accident simply because of the title, but destined by a Divine appointment. These are important ideas anyone considering marriage should know. This is not comprehensive as there are many good books covering this material, but my 1000-word blog might get you started on a good path. Next week I will discuss issues for satisfying sex and the third week will describe the difference between lust and temptation to lust.
Consider that most of what married couples do for each other can be hired out without serious consequences and without judgment from God. I hire a young man to do my lawn mowing and paid someone to replace my gutters. A couple could hire a maid to fix meals or a housekeeper to clean. Professional ‘organizers’ can come to your home to do everything from sorting your library to setting your computer files in order. Nannies can take over most, if not all, of the discipline and raising of children. A man and woman not married to each other can take a necessary road trip and even sleep in the same hotel room without sinning. Not that I am recommending any of these options! Just laying them out there to show what makes a marriage relationship different from the one you have with your landscaper, nanny, or business associate.
There is only one function of a husband or wife that is not a payable one without incurring significant problems: sex. The problems come even in so-called “open marriages,” where trust is defeated, security destroyed, and personalities are warped. The Designer of marriage knew what He was doing.
Sex was not attached to Adam’s and Eve’s sin; it was not why they were expelled nor is it part of the punishment. It was not even their idea! The God Who Is There came up with the idea and gave the command and description of sexual union in marriage before the fall (Genesis 2:21-25). The two dimensions of marriage were evident right then:
1. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother . . .” – social and legal dimensions.
2. . . . “and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – personal and relational dimensions.
The social and legal implications are complex but can be summarized to say that every society has held certain regulations for marriage, whether it was as simple as Isaac bringing Rebekah into his mother’s tent (Genesis 24:67) or as complicated as the negotiations between European countries to marry their royals. There is a social side which is to say that the couple is recognized as an exclusive relationship by the society in which they live. This has usually been supported by legal constraints that rewarded marriage with special rights and privileges and penalized violations of whatever vows were promised in the ceremony.
The personal and relational implications begin with a husband and wife entering an exclusive physical relationship. No society has endured more than a few years that allowed any man or woman to share any member of the opposite sex he or she wished. The sex act has always been recognized as the epitome of the marriage relationship, i.e. what makes the marriage a marriage.
Adultery (sex with someone who is married to another) and fornication (sex with someone who is not married) are both condemned as abnormal behavior which the Designer did not plan. Yet the drive for sexual satisfaction has been at the root of innumerable conflicts between husbands and wives as well as the cause of wars and plagues.
The Bible is very clear that sexual immorality should not have any part of the life of a Christ-follower (Proverbs 6:20-35; Romans 13:13; Colossians 3:5). At the same time, it elevates the sexual act to more than just a physical experience (1 Corinthians 6:16-20; Ephesians 5:31-32). The Holy Spirit is somehow present in the physical union of two people even if they do not want Him to be. The result of immorality is to twist something that is supposed to be a human representation of spiritual realities into a defiled temple. There is no case for having sex and not having consequences, even if no child results from the union, even if they do not know each other’s names and never see each other again! The damage to God’s temple is done in a way that no other sin effects!
James brings an equality to sins that we have a difficult time understanding. He says “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law” (James 2:10-11). The focus of James is on Who the offended party is when we sin, as we tend to rank sins by offensiveness to our senses. But there is definitely a difference in the characteristics of sins and their consequences (See John 19:11 and Mark 3:29). Sexual immorality is thus condemned by the Bible and immoral practitioners are in serious danger of missing eternal life (Revelation 22:15).
Sexual union is recognized in the Bible as the plan for married couples whether procreation is part of the package or not (Proverbs 18:22; Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:25-33). The Ephesians passage is the basis of Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ excellent book, Love and Respect, to which I will refer more fully next week. The essence of it is that a husband is to unconditionally love his wife and a wife is to unconditionally respect her husband.
Part of the Good News is the redemption of marriages that changes them into models of Christ and His Church, just as much as it is about His redemption of all the evil we do before we become Christ-followers. Many believers have noted, after deciding to follow Jesus, how events of their past without Christ were woven into their lives so that the very sins that the devil wanted to use to destroy them became the leverage to turn them to the Lord. He can redeem your marriage as well and bring you to a place of peace and satisfaction that you have not known before.
Just A Weaver
by Benjamin Malacia Franklin
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.