1. Marriage, How IT Works (Genesis 2:18-25)
Socrates once said,
By all means marry. If you get a good wife, twice blessed you will be. If you get a bad wife, you will become a philosopher.
By the looks of things in our nation today, we are raising several generations of philosophers. There’s no doubt that a difficult marriage will turn anyone into a philosopher. And there’s no doubt that the thought of becoming a philosopher is enough to drive anyone to save a marriage.
It’s amazing that any marriage survives when we consider the kind of preparation we receive to get married. It seems to me that large numbers of people enter marriage without having the slightest idea what they are doing and, as a result, exit marriage without having the slightest idea of what just happened to them. We require hours of training for a driver’s license and years of training for a medical license, but all we require for a marriage license is a few dollars and clean blood.
How can we be so casual about the most central relationship in our society apart from our relationship with Christ?
The family is the most essential social structure we have, which means that marriage is the most important decision we make in life apart from our decision for Christ.
The family had to come before anything else could.
The family is the core of every society.
Before there could be business or education or politics or anything other social structure, the family had to be. The structure and flow of the Ten Commandments shows us how important the family is. Jesus told us that the Law consists of two major responses, love for God and love for neighbor.
The Ten Commandments break down in this way.
The first four commandments tell us how to love God and the last five tell us how to love our neighbor.
In between these two sections, right at the fifth commandment we read the words, Honor your father and mother.
How do we learn to relate to God and neighbor? Where do we learn how to love God and neighbor?
In our homes.
Over twenty years ago I had a chance and random conversation with a man named Steve.
Steve was a young man, a counselor, who worked with troubled youth. I met him one day in a park in San Jose when he was there with some troubled young people and I asked him, How many of these children come from happy homes?
I have never seen a happy home, he replied.
I wonder how many millions of others in our country would agree with him and say, I have never seen a happy home.
How do we respond in light of such desperate need in our land?
We must know and commit to God’s purposes for marriage and the family.
We must make the decision to understand God’s intention in creating marriage and the family and commit to fulfilling it as fully as He enables us to do so.
We must recognize that apart from our decision to trust Christ, the decision we make to get married is the most significant decision we make in our lives. Only our decision to receive eternal life is more important that our decision to marry.
Some of you have made that decision and it did not work out well. I’m not interested in laying a guilt trip on you when I say what I am saying today. I am interested in showing others in this room, some who have never been married, some who may be planning to be married, some who are widowed, and the rest who are married that we must take this commitment as the most serious human commitment we ever make.
I am convinced that marriage is a legitimate test of character, that, for example, the ability of a man to govern effectively does relate to his ability to be faithful to his wife and the marriage vows he took on his wedding day. I also believe that if you have been divorced you must make every effort to learn and grow from the terribly painful struggle that you face. It is more important that you grow from what you have experienced than that you remarry happily. In fact, unless you do grow you cannot remarry happily.
So, for the good of our own lives, for the good of our children’s lives, and for the good of our nation’s life, we must understand,
Marriage, How IT Works!
It is at this that we look this morning by going all the way back to the beginning of time.
We begin where God began, with Genesis 2:18, and His conclusion that, It is not good for man to be alone.
Man and Woman Were Made for One Another
A. “Alone” Was the Only “Not Good” in God’s Creation.
1. Everything else was good.
2. Everything else had a counterpart.
3. Only man was alone, isolated, with no one to relate to.
4. Even God wasn’t enough for man because man was incomplete and lacking.
B. Woman Was Made to Complete Man.
1. Woman was man’s exact counterpart, exactly what man needed to be complete.
2. Woman was everything man was.
a. She was made in God’s image and likeness.
b. She had body, soul, and spirit even as man did.
c. She had mind, will, and emotion even as man did.
d. She was man’s equal in every way.
e. She was the crown of creation, not the after thought.
3. Woman is man’s helper.
a. This is not a second rate term, a term of inferiority.
b. This term is used to describe God as our Helper (Ps. 33:20; 70:5; 115:9).
c. Unless we think of God as inferior because He is our Helper, we cannot think of woman as man’s inferior because she is man’s helper.
d. Woman is in an exalted, God-like position of being exactly what man needs to become himself.
e. Without woman, man cannot be man.
4. Woman completes man whether married or not.
a. Men are dependent on women in ways other than marriage.
b. This is obvious when we think of the role of mothers, but this still does not exhaust woman’s role as helper.
c. Think of life in a neighborhood or in a work setting and think of what it would be without the presence of women.
d. Man needs woman to be himself.
e. This puts woman on an exalted position, and she should be treated according tot he position God has given her.
God now takes another step and marries man and woman.
Men and Women Were Made to Fulfill One Another in Marriage
A. Men and Women Must Leave to Fulfill One Another.
1. Marriage demands a commitment of the deepest nature because it requires a total identification between husband and wife.
a. Before this identification can take place, there must be a separation from other relationships which have given identification previously.
b. Because total identification is required for a true marriage, there must be some kind of a separation from any other relationship.
2. For this reason, “leave” is a very strong word.
a. It means to depart from, even abandon.
b. Obviously, it does not meant hat we should abandon our parents.
c. But it does mean that there is a change in the way we relate to our parents.
d. It does not mean that we abandon them, but that we change the way we relate to them.
e. It means that we give up our child-like relationship with them; that we no longer obey them or depend on them for our emotional strength and stability.
f. It means that we should seek to respect them in every way, but not that we obey them or allow their thinking to control us
g. It is interesting in light of the ancient culture that God speaks of a man leaving his father and mother.
h. In those days, the woman left her family and went to live with her husband’s family.
i. This meant the man stayed where he grew up.
j. It meant that there would be a tendency for life to continue exactly as it had been from his birth.
k. This meant a definite leaving of mind and heart and soul, even if his body stayed where it always had been.
The failure to do this results in disaster.
“Jimmy, can’t you do anything right?”
A woman molested by her uncle.
“There’s an ugly little girl inside me (Jan).”
“I don’t matter.”
“You’ll never be anything but a jailbird.”
B. Men and Women Must Cleave to Fulfill One Another.
1. “Cleave” portrays a vivid picture.
a. It describes glue.
b. When we marry we are stuck to (not with) one another.
2. For glue to work, there must be pressure applied to the joint where the two elements are joined together.
a. The pressure throughout history has always been society.
b. For this reason, we must restore the pressures of society on marriages so more of them stay together.
c. I do not believe women should stay in abusive situations in which they risk their lives and the lives of their children.
d. But we also do not find no-fault divorce working as everyone thought it would.
e. We must make divorce more costly, more difficult, if for no other reason than so people will think longer about getting married in the first place.
3. “Cleave” means commitment to God and one another, if for no other reason than to obey Him, help children, and maintain health in our society.
C. Men and Women Must Become One to Fulfill One Another.
1. Oneness allows for individuality.
a. The word literally means to unify, i.e., to bring multiple parts together in a whole.
b. The basic meaning is to be untied.
c. It describes things which consist of unified parts, e.g., morning and evening which are one day.
2. Oneness allows for individuality.
a. We don’t cease to be ourselves when we marry.
b. Marriage is a uniting of ourselves with each other, a merger of ourselves in which we take the best we have (we hope) and get rid of the worst.
c. In our oneness, we retain our individuality.
d. We don’t cease to be ourselves when we marry.
e. We cannot demand changes in our mates in order to become one.
f. We only become one with one another when we commit ourselves to something greater than we are.
3. To achieve oneness, we must commit to marriage and all that God wants in it.
a. We must commit to His values, even when this means giving up our wills.
b. We must commit to His purposes, even when this means giving up our way.
c. This is not a 50/50 arrangement, but a 100/100 commitment.
4. Although one of the ways to experience this oneness is through a sexual relationship, this is not the only way by any means.
a. There must be spiritual oneness.
b. There must be intellectual oneness.
c. There must be emotional oneness.
d. There must be volitional oneness.
e. Only then does physical oneness take on true meaning.
… two persons share everything they have, not only their material possessions, but also their thinking and their feeling, their joy and their suffering, their hopes and their fears, their successes and their failures. “To become one flesh means that two persons become completely one with body, soul, and spirit and yet there remain two different persons.”
D. Men and Women Must Pursue Openness to Fulfill One Another.
1. Openness is the ultimate in marriage, the greatest intimacy possible.
2. Openness means there’s nothing hidden because there’s nothing to hide.
3. It means there is a total revelation of all that is going on inside of us.
4. It also means there is total freedom because both are feel totally safe.
5. There are many forces that go against openness.
a. Men live in a world where they cannot possibly be open.
To be open is to expose themselves to great loss, loss of face, loss of power, loss of position, loss of opportunity, loss of promotion, loss in every way.
Yet, this is exactly what wives hunger for more than anything else in the world.
Often, wives are hungering for something a fallen man cannot give them.
b. Women live in a world in which they are open by intuition more than by communication.
This often results in confusion in marriage.
Wives expect husbands to know things no man can ever know without help.
Most often, openness is helped if wives can learn to “bottom line” things more readily.
The greatest help to openness is to have nothing to hide.
Few realities better illustrate the ultimate reality of God’s purpose in marriage. Marriage works when we pursue LEAVING, CLEAVING, ONENESS, and OPENNESS. Then marriage accomplishes God’s intention for all of us.
Marriage Brings Fulfillment and Freedom Through God’s Enablement.