For those who don’t know, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood recently put forth a statement on biblical marriage called the Nashville Statement. Many are treating this like an act of the church, on par with the Westminster Confession of Faith, or the Apostles’ Creed. But there are many problems with this. Tony Arsenal points out that the main problem is that CBMW is not the church, and does not have the authority to speak for the church.
J.C. Ryle offers some excellent thoughts on good marriages in his commentary on Mark. He gives three rules that will help in marriage:
The first is to marry only in the LORD, and after prayer for God’s approval and blessing. The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels. The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are. “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify it” (Eph. V. 25, 26).
In an earlier post, I quoted the second paragraph of the Westminster Confession of Faith’s chapter on marriage and divorce. This was an attempt to shed some light on the complementarian/egalitarian debate. Here, I would like to expand the Confession’s take on marriage in paragraph 2, from the chapter on Of Marriage and Divorce:
Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife; for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.
The first line simply states that God ordained marriage for the mutual help of the husband and wife, but there are two things that need to be understood about this. First, God ordained this for marriage. This is His will for marriage made known to mankind. God, in His full right as Creator, declared what He wanted marriage to be. It is a union between one man and one woman. Secondly, we see in Scripture that the LORD ordained respective roles for the husband and wife.
I have to admit that the subjects of complementarianism and patriarchy are quite daunting. I am no expert on either one, and so far, feel like there isn’t an expert on either one. But while listening to Mortification of Spin on my drive into east Texas for an interview, I did realize that the focus needs to be on headship, not complementarianism or patriarchy. This is how Paul, in Ephesians 5, frames the relationship that husbands have towards their wives, and the safest course of action we can take is to look to Scripture to see what it says.
Therefore, for now, I will call the position I am taking biblical headship. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the LORD. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:22-23).
When we look at what the Bible says about our relationships in marriage, we are safe in saying what it says. It clearly says that I am the head of my wonderful wife, Heidi, and that she is to submit to me as to the LORD. This is not an act of dominion, but an act of grace and kindness. When it goes from grace and kindness to dominion (something that is out of accord with the creation mandate), then we are sinning against our wives and the LORD, for the LORD never acts in a manner of dominion over those who are His children. He will return in dominion over those who are not His children, and all those who refused the offer of the gospel, will be dominated by Christ when they are made into His footstool. That is not, however, something that Christ does with those who are His.
Concerning Genesis 3:16b
“Your desire shall be for[a] your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
It is customary to understand the woman’s longing for her husband to be one of sexual desire, or at least, one of great affection. But that is probably incorrect. The proper signification comes from comparing this verse with Genesis 4:7, which uses both verbs, to ‘long’ (desire) and to ‘rule’, from 3:16. Also, the proximity of the two verses is weighty. In 4:7, God tells Cain that ‘Sin is crouching at your door; it longs to have you, but you must rule over it.’ The issue for Cain is what will dominate him and have control and mastery over him. The same applies to 3:16: the woman will have an excessive desire and determination to dominate her husband. The man, however, will dominate her. Thus this verse describes the ongoing condition of marriage relationships which will exist after the Fall.
The nature of the new order is quite appropriate. It was Eve who led the family in the garden episode, who ate the fruit first and led the man to do the same. Adam, for his part, let woman lead, and he refused to take his mandated leadership role. God now proclaims that such struggles and tensions will always appear in the marriage relationships.
From John D. Currid’s An EP Study Commentary:Genesis Vol. 1, p. 133.
I know with a title like that there will be a collective feeling of disappointment among many, but this is the reality that Jesus gives us when He tells us that there will be no one given in marriage in the afterlife.
He reveals this truth to us in Matthew 22:30. The Sadducees have come trying to trip Him up with a deep theological question. They give a scenario in which one woman ends up marrying seven different brothers, none of which have any offspring. Their question: “…in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her.”
He then responds by rebuking them on “not knowing the Scriptures…” and then goes on to say, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”
The following is fictitious.
The two men climbed out of their Jaguar XJ, one of the finest machines on the road. When it came to doing anything, Ted was committed to the best. This is why he wasn’t the most impressed with the church building they were approaching. It was cute and quaint, but he had been looking for a church that was much more lavish. This one seemed like it would actually fit better in a small town, not a thriving metropolis where they lived.
Fred reached the door first. He was truly looking forward to finding the right place for their wedding and this building looked like it was the one. He knocked on the door, loud enough so it could be heard inside the building. A few moments passed, and he knocked again, this time louder. They heard the sound of feet approaching, then heard the door being unlocked. It opened.
With the recent news that Coeur d’Alene, Idaho city officials ruling that pastors either perform gay marriages or face jail time, it’s time for pastors to remove themselves from the civil function of marriage. Here is the following from the Washington Times:
Coeur d‘Alene, Idaho, city officials have laid down the law to Christian pastors within their community, telling them bluntly via an ordinance that if they refuse to marry homosexuals, they will face jail time and fines.
My suggestion might not avert the jail time, but I think it is time that pastors got out of the wedding business when it comes to the civil side of the institution. I’m not saying that we should quit performing marriages, but we should only do so for Christians before a Holy Triune God. This would mean that the couple would still have to go before the local justice of the peace to complete the marriage for governmental purposes.
I saw this process when I was living in Italy and it worked fine. By taking this approach, we would not be bound by civil authorities to perform that which we find abhorrent. I know this post does not address all the issues, but perhaps it will help us think through the entire relationship between the church and state, given that the state is turning on the church more and more.
My wife and I have had several people ask us about using Christian dating sites to find a spouse, since she and I used a Christian dating site to find each other. I guess you could say we were one of the success stories for Christian Mingle, the site we used. But allow me to stipulate that God was the One who was successful, not the website.
So the question is: Can God use a dating web site to bring two of His children together?
One of the reasons I was drawn to Heidi, my wife, is that I realized early on in our relationship that she was a woman of prayer. I must confess that when we first started calling one another, I broke it off for less than stellar reasons. What hit me a couple of days afterwards was the realization that she had been praying for me and my ministry all that time. My thought upon this realization went something like this: “Timothy, you’re an idiot if you pass up on this woman. She’s praying for you!” (And she was even praying for me during this break up).
I need a woman who is praying for me, and with me. Christ is the center of our relationship, and prayer has been the glue I’m not sure I’m wording that correctly, but we have had a lot of prayer time together, especially because of the number of trials we faced leading up to our nuptials, and the trials afterwards. Heidi has truly been a blessing to me, and given her words, I have been a blessing to her as well.
They labor in vain who build it.
Truly, we need these words in so many endeavors in our lives. How many relationships, job, projects, things we’ve set out to do, did we do without consulting the Omniscient God who is. Just in thinking about my first marriage has me asking the question: did I labor in vain in building that marriage?
The Psalmist could not be more clear. Everything we do, needs to be done with the LORD in view, seeking His guidance and direction. In fact, if the LORD is not in it, it is not worth doing, no matter what it is. We need to seek Him in all things. Jesus put it this way: seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you (memory version). He also said, He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing.
Sure, we can do lots of things without the LORD. But doing so leads to nothing. How many marriages are on the brink because those involved sought each other first, and tacked on the LORD like an iPhone app?
The LORD needs to build our homes, marriages and careers. To not seek Him or wait on Him, is to labor in vain.
I’ve read quite a few good articles on divorce and remarriage lately, one article being Matt Walsh’s piece entitled I’ve been divorced four times, but homosexuals are the ones destroying marriage. His premise is simply that it isn’t homosexuals that are destroying the institution of marriage. Those of us who are straight have done a pretty good job of destroying the institution ourselves. Given the high level of divorce even among first-time marriages, the divorce rate is staggering.
I let it slide for about two weeks but do so for two reasons. First, Toby B. Holt article Wedding Bells, Hell’s Bells: The Nightmare Of Being Unequally Yoked is one of those articles saying what really needs to be said about many of the marriages in the church: many are unequally yoked. Secondly, the article really helps explain the what and why of being equally yoked. Believers are ontologically different from non-believers. It is for these reasons we need the article.
I’ve really enjoyed the sermons by Voddie Baucham on Revelation, especially this three on Revelation 17. There we find the story of the beast and his counterfeit bride, the great prostitute known as Babylon.
In the beginning of chapter 17, the harlot is riding on top of the beast, at the end of 17, she is destroyed by the beast. It is almost shocking for anyone who reads such because they ask: “how is it that the beast that loved her, could destroy her?” The answer is found in the nature of the beast. The beast’s nature is to destroy and kill.
I have to give my kudos to Timothy Keller. He is willing to say about marriage what few are willing to say: You Never Marry the Right Person.
…some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.
What he is pointing out is that far too many people enter marriage so they can have their needs met, as opposed to entering marriage in order to give to the other person. The goals of marriage for many are off based and set up for failure. If we are looking to have our needs met, is there any one who can actually fulfill all those needs? It seems to me that if the needs are fulfilled on one level, then nothing will happen but the arrival of more needs needing to be fulfilled. This is because the needs of many are sinful in nature and sin is never satisfied.
Bill Smith, a fellow teaching elder in the PCA, has put together a great piece on divorce over at his blog The Christian Curmudgeon. The Westminster Confession of Faith has given two reasons for divorce. The first is that of adultery, in which the offending party has had actual physical relations with someone other than their spouse, thereby breaking the one-flesh union of the couple. The other is desertion, in which one spouse leaves the other.
He discusses both positions and shows that the two reasons are biblical. He also gives us a good section on the church’s responsibility in the matter:
What is the responsibility of the church? The church’s responsibility is (1) to train its youth according to the Biblical teaching regarding sexuality and marriage; (2) to do everything possible to strengthen the marriages of its members; (3) to uphold Biblical standards regarding the grounds for divorce; (4) to approach every troubled couple with love, understanding, and help with the goal of restoring the relationship; (5) to support the party who does not cause the divorce*; (6) to minister to the needs of children for whom divorce is almost always destructive; (7) to seek pastorally, with humility and showing grace, to help the erring party to repent and find forgiveness, according to his/her profession; and (8) as a last resort to use the Bible’s disciplinary process (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Galatians 6:1) to uphold the honor of Christ, to protect the purity of the church, and to reclaim the person who (it is be hoped) had temporarily gone astray.
Read the rest of the article here.
I know that many people are waiting with baited and stinky breath on the United States Supreme Court to tell us what the definition of marriage is according to the Constitution, but the Supreme Being of all eternity has already defined it for the Christian. In other words, it matters not what the Supreme Court says, as Christians, Jesus has done so for us.
Matthew 19:4-6 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The Bishop E.W. Jackson speaks out against the Democratic Party, saying that it is antithetical to those of us who are Christians. I’ve been saying it for years, how can the party that cherishes killing the unborn have anything to do with the Light of the World? How can the party that recognize two men in an unholy relationship have anything to do with the ONE who said it was an abomination to Him? How can the party the cherishes every level of sinful and rebellious behavior have anything to do with the One who submitted Himself to the death of the cross out of humble obedience?
The Democratic Party and Christianity are incompatible with one another. Christians should leave the party and not vote for those who stand with them.
Here is the Bishop E.W. Jackson saying the same thing from his perspective as a black Christian. I truly am encouraged by his words. Even though he is speaking mainly to black Christians, he reminds us that we need to stand with God, not some political party or candidate. God is the One who will take care of us, not the fallen government. Speaking of which see the second video in which Dr. Barbara Beller points out just how ridiculous it is for us to think that Obamacare will take care anyone at all.
Jerry Johnson, of the Nicene Council, does an excellent job of showing that true-biblical love has slowly died since the beginning of the Romantic age in literature. What has replaced biblical love is romantic love, based upon our base emotions toward a person instead of our covenantal commitment spoken of in Scripture. For example, we know that Christ died on the cross for the love of His people, who, were quite unlovable when He died for them. Had He waited for the modern-day emotion that so many base love upon, He would have bypassed the cross all together.
True love for a person is a covenantal commitment before God, not emotions that determine our happiness. After all, if we base our marriages on emotional happiness, what will happen when that happiness fades? The question isn’t: “will it fade?” But, “when will it fade?”
When it does fade, we need to remember that true, covenantal love is a commitment toward a person, not just an emotion toward a person. This is alteration of the definition of love is the reason so many have caved in the area of marriage, be it biblical marriage, or the current debate surrounding gay unions. Since so many believe that love is based on emotions and not commitment, then who are we to truly question the emotions of people who divorce and remarry, who marry people of the same sex, or marry their dog (which is coming next). When we return to the biblical understanding of love, and marriage, these arguments fall by the wayside.
Watch the video:
Here is the true definition of love according to 1 Corinthians 13:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I found these rules at Familylife.com, and thought I would pass them on to you. They are Dennis Rainey’s answer to the 11 rules of life that are so often attributed to Bill Gates. These are much better and he uses that term that is so popular today, to “man up.” Which is odd, because the only reason this term is needed is because of the wimpification and feminization of men by the women’s movement. What would be the alternative for women? “Women down!” Probably not.
Here is Dennis Rainey’s list:
Rule 1: Marriage isn’t about your happiness. It’s not about you getting all your needs met through another person. Practicing self-denial and self-sacrifice, patience, understanding, and forgiveness are the fundamentals of a great marriage. If you want to be the center of the universe, then there’s a much better chance of that happening if you stay single.
Rule 2: Getting married gives a man a chance to step up and finish growing up. The best preparation for marriage for a single man is to man up now and keep on becoming the man God created him to be.
Rule 3: It’s okay to have one rookie season, but it’s not okay to repeat your rookie season. You will make rookie mistakes in your first year of marriage; the key is that you don’t continue making those same mistakes in year five, year 10, or year 20 of your marriage.
Rule 4: It takes a real man to be satisfied with and love one woman for a lifetime. And it takes a real woman to be content with and respect one man for a lifetime.
Rule 5: Love isn’t a feeling. Love is commitment. It’s time to replace the “D word”—divorce—with the “C word”—commitment. Divorce may feel like a happy solution, but it results in long-term toxic baggage. You can’t begin a marriage without commitment. You can’t sustain one without it either. A marriage that goes the distance is really hard work. If you want something that is easy and has immediate gratification, then go shopping or play a video game.
Rule 6: Online relationships with old high school or college flames, emotional affairs, sexual affairs, and cohabiting are shallow and illegitimate substitutes for the real thing. Emotional and sexual fidelity in marriage is the real thing.
Rule 7: Women spell romance R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P. Men spell romance S-E-X. If you want to speak romance to your spouse, become a student of your spouse, enroll in a lifelong “Romantic Language School,” and become fluent in your spouse’s language.
Rule 8: During courtship, opposites attract. After marriage, opposites can repel each another. You married your spouse because he/she is different. Differences are God’s gift to you to create new capacities in your life. Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.
Rule 9: Pornography robs men of a real relationship with a real person and poisons real masculinity, replacing it with the toxic killers of shame, deceit, and isolation. Pornography siphons off a man’s drive for intimacy with his wife. Marriage is not for wimps. Accept no substitutes.
Rule 10: As a home is built, it will reflect the builder. Most couples fail to consult the Master Architect and His blueprints for building a home. Instead a man and woman marry with two sets of blueprints (his and hers). As they begin building, they discover that a home can’t be built from two very different sets of blueprints.
Rule 11: How you will be remembered has less to do with how much money you make or how much you accomplish and more with how you have loved and lived.
Also, I read somewhere that polls have shown that families that eat a normal meal together every day are much happier. The implication was that we should eat at least one meal together every day. But I wonder if eating a meal together every day isn’t the end product of families that are committed to one another. In other words, sitting down for a meal together is just a by product of those who are committed together through Christ. Just a thought.
BLOG NOTE: Sometime during the night this site crossed over the 20,000 hit mark. This is since April when I transferred my blog here.