Tag Archives: Marriage

Emotional Arguments About Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

Another Tuesday is upon us, and just like last week, we’re adding another book to the rapidly-growing Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary!

This week, a topic that has touched almost every person in one way or another: divorce and remarriage.  As with all books written by man, make sure to compare what is written with the word of God–don’t take someone’s word for it.

I could write a lot more, but I think I’ll stop now and let you just read the book for yourself.  🙂

Click the link below to read online or download to your computer/phone/tablet/whatever:

Divorce and Remarriage – Some Emotional Arguments Considered (Lynn Parker)

Are You Behaving Unseemly?

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Over the past several weeks, we’ve been posting articles on how to have a great marriage.  We’re continuing that theme again this week by looking at the ways the Bible describes love.

Unseemly

If you’ve got a King James Bible, and you look at I Corinthians 13:5, you’ll see that charity [love] does not behave itself unseemly.

Now what exactly does this word mean?

Unseemly is acting rudely. It’s making snide comments under your breath as you walk off. It’s mocking your spouse.  But this word also includes the idea of behaving disgracefully, indecently, or dishonorably.

I hope you’re starting to get the picture here. This covers a LOT.

It’s being out in public and being loud and obnoxious—embarrassing your wife. Belching loudly, getting drunk, making a spectacle of yourself.

It’s engaging in lewd behavior, telling inappropriate jokes, flirting with other women or men, letting other men or women flirt with you.

It’s wearing clothing in public that is too tight, or too short, or which are open down to the top of the breasts.

You might say, “wait a minute. What does wearing low-cut shirts have to do with love?”

If you love your husband, you’ll keep what’s his covered, and you will not be showing it off to anyone who happens to glance in your direction. Your body belongs to HIM. Letting other people peek at your body because you’re not covering it up enough is the opposite of love.

What about homosexual marriage?

You might wonder why I’m even bringing this up here, especially since we covered that pretty clearly in this post.  It all has to do with that word “unseemly.”

This same basic Greek word also appears in Romans 1:27. There, God says, “Likewise also, the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with me working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error that was due.”

So, let’s make a sound, logical, Biblical argument here.

1. Homosexuality is called “unseemly.”
2. True love does not behave “unseemly.”
3. Therefore, homosexuality is not truly “love.”

Or, to put it another way, homosexuals have completely lost any right to claim “love” as an excuse for their sinful behavior.

You want a good marriage? Then don’t behave unseemly.  That is, don’t be rude. Don’t be obnoxious. Don’t give undue attention to people of the opposite sex other than your spouse. Don’t show off your body.

In short, put your mate first.

Don’t Do This…

Me, me, me. I, I, I. I’m the one who matters. I’m the one who’s important. Let’s focus on me!

That’s so annoying! We don’t like being around people who always focus on themselves.  No, we want to be around people who will focus their attention on US! Because we’re the ones that should be focused on, right?

One person recently said that he was trying to do a comprehensive sermon on the topic of sin, and asked what he should include in it.  One of the answers was, “All sin is self-centered. It’s all about me. It’s focused only on what I want. That’s why there’s an “i” in the middle of “sin”.”

And that’s absolutely true. We are all tempted when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed. And when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And when sin is full grown, it brings forth death. (James 1:14-15).

Love is the opposite of sin.  Love—true love—is selfless. It is focused on the needs of others. It is putting other people first.  It’s true in every relationship. And it’s especially true in marriage.

We’ve looked at a couple things that love is. You’ll remember, “if you REALLY love me, you’d be patient with me,” and “If you REALLY love me, you’d be kind.”

Starting today, we’re going to look at some things that love ISN’T.

That is, these are things that will be noticeably absent from a great marriage.  So, if you want to have a great marriage (you do, right?), read on:

Don’t be envious

Look at I Corinthians 13:4.  Love is not envious (KJV) Love is not jealous (NASB).

These are two very similar ideas.  Jealousy is feeling bitterness at others because of what they have.  Envy is wanting what someone else has—their success, their money, their looks, their life, etc…

The Corinthians had a real problem with this. People were jealous—envious of other Christians who had supposedly “better” miraculous gifts. So, really, Paul’s using this opportunity to show them that when they’re envious, they’re not obeying the command to “love one another.”

But how does this fit in marriage?

After all, I don’t think a single one of you guys wishes you looked like your wife. And I know that not a one of you women wish that you had your husband’s looks.

But there is jealousy and envy in marriage ALL THE TIME.

The wife who stays home is envious of her husband because he is able to interact with real adults during the day. She’s jealous of the fact that he gets to go somewhere to work while she’s stuck at home. Some wives are jealous of the attention that their husbands get from others—he is praised for his accomplishments and she feels ignored by comparison.  Many wives feel a resentment to their husband—a feeling of envy—because of these things.

On the other side, husbands can be envious of their wife because she gets to stay at home all day and do nothing. One man made it very clear that he’d love to trade places with his wife because she only had to take care of a couple kids, and meanwhile he had to do “real work.” Other men hear their wife get complimented, and they are bitter because she’s getting attention and they’re not.

It goes both ways.

You can’t be envious.

You have to be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5).  The basis of envy is that you aren’t content with what you already have.  It’s having a poor self-image.

Hey, Jesus died for you. He thinks you’re pretty important. And for some reason, that’s not good enough for you? You still want more? You still want what someone else has?

It’s time to change your focus to what you HAVE instead of what you DON’T have.  Instead of being jealous, wanting what your spouse supposedly has, be happy for them!  If your spouse is getting complimented because they’ve lost weight, or they’ve gotten a promotion, or they’ve accomplished something, BE HAPPY for them!

Realize that the things you’re jealous of might not really be the way they seem.  Oh, he gets to go to a job and interact with adult people every day. More likely, he’s going to a frustrating place and dealing with people who frequently don’t know how to do their job, and it is a place of immense stress.

Oh, she gets to stay home and do nothing all day except watch the kids. Yeah, if you think that, you need to get something called a “clue.” She’s home dealing with immature children who require constant supervision, and she’s deprived of any real intellectual interaction during that time.

If you want to have a great marriage, and one that is also pleasing to God (double bonus!), you need to kick envy out of the house.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Be Nice…

a.k.a. “How to Have a Great Marriage (part five)”

If You Love Me, You’ll Be Nice to Me

Love is kind (I Corinthians 13:4).

Kindness is one of those things that can be hard to define, but you know it when you see it.  It’s being friendly. It’s smiling. It’s showing someone that you are interested in them as a person. It’s taking time to be there for them and lending a helping hand. It’s taking the time to listen to what they have to say. Not just sitting there while they’re talking, but actually listening.

Kindness is not these things:

  • yelling at someone.
  • being mean.
  • treating them like they’re worthless.

In order to have a great marriage, a God-honoring marriage, you must be kind to your spouse.  You want your spouse to be nice to you, right? You don’t want a mean husband or a cantankerous wife. So, you be the kind spouse YOU are supposed to be.

You have no right to tell your wife to be kind to you if you’re a jerk to her. And vice versa.

Some husbands ignore their wives–not paying attention to what they say, not paying attention to what they need. In short, they aren’t being kind to their wives, and they need to repent.

Kindness means you give your spouse a smile. Kindness means you stop what you’re doing and listen to her when she needs to talk. Kindness means you listen to him talk about sports, even if it’s more boring than reading stereo instructions. Again, it’s not just being quiet; it’s actually listening to them.

You have to show your spouse that you care.

Get out your steel-toed boots, because it’s toe-stomping time! Let’s notice how God put this together.  Love is patient and is kind (I Corinthians 13:4). He connected these two.

When your spouse does something you don’t like, you’re supposed to be patient with them. And you’re supposed to be kind to them.

Do you realize what this means? This means, even when you’re mad at your husband, you don’t yell at him. You don’t scream at him. You don’t ignore him. You don’t treat him like he’s scum. You don’t make out like he’s the most horrible thing since moldy bread. You don’t decide it’s a good time to bring up all of his past mistakes.

This means when you’re upset with your wife, you don’t insult her. You don’t yell at her. You don’t throw things. You don’t berate her. You don’t say things like “you never do this,” or “you ALWAYS do that.” You don’t start bossing her around.

And—whether you’re the husband or the wife—DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT say, “If you REALLY loved me, you wouldn’t do that.” That’s an emotional attack and an insult to them, and it is NOT showing love or kindness or patience when you say it.

Instead, you treat your spouse with kindness—even when they’ve messed up.

The question now comes up, what if your spouse has stopped trying? What if your spouse has shown over a period of time WITHOUT QUESTION that he/she doesn’t care? That they think you’re unimportant? That they think you’re not worth trying for?  Are you still expected to be patient and kind to them then?

And the answer is this: the Bible says to love one another. It’s a command. It doesn’t say, “Love one another so long as it’s convenient.” It doesn’t say “love one another so long as that person is trying”. It says “Love one another” PERIOD.

So, since we are commanded to love one another, we must be patient with our spouse.  Since we’re commanded to love one another, we must be kind to our spouse. ALL the time, not just when it suits us.

Because, let’s be honest. Yelling and being mean isn’t going to get anyone to change.

If you want your spouse to change, I guarantee you that yelling, screaming, berating, or being mean is NOT going to get it done. But patience and kindness can.  They are much more powerful than anger.  “God has called us to peace. For what do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, oh man, whether you will save your wife?” (I Corinthians 7:15-16).

If you REALLY love me, you’ll be kind.  Because love is kind.

Putting It Into Practice

Now if you put your boots away, get ’em back out because here is where it REALLY starts to hurt.

You’re in the middle of a head-butting session with your spouse. They’re being unreasonable. They’re being hard-headed. And you’re ready to just put them in their place, Bible-style! So, you open up your mouth and say, “Hey, the Bible says that if you love me, you’ll be kind!”

And you know that will completely fix things immediately. Your spouse will stop and look at you and with a bright sincere smile on their face say, “you’re right. I’m sorry. I should never have been fighting with you.” I hope you’ve caught the sarcasm there.

No, that’s nothing more than using your own bad attitude to attack someone else.

Instead, you need to talk to yourself (you’re the only one you can control) and say, If I really love her/him, I’ll be kind.  If I really love her/him, I’ll be patient.

See, they’ll have to answer for their own attitude problems. You have to control what YOU are doing.

If you REALLY love me, you’d be patient and kind to me. That is 100% true. But you must first start with the log sticking out of your own eye and admit, “If I REALLY love you, I’ll be patient and kind to you.”

YOU need to be the one to start. YOU need to be the one to take the first step. YOU need to be the one who shows patience and kindness—because if you don’t, it means you don’t really love them.

Love is patient. Love is kind.

Think about it.  It’s worth the effort.

“If You REALLY Loved Me, You Would … “

a.k.a. “How to Have a Great Marriage (part four)”

There’s a game that gets played at church camps and other youth gatherings on occasion, and here’s how it’s played:

All of the kids, except for one, will sit on chairs in a circle. The person who is “it” stands in the middle of this circle, and he looks for a place to sit down—someone whose chair he wants to take. In order to do this, he has to go up to one of the people sitting down and—without touching them—get them to smile by only saying the words, “Honey, if you love me, you’ll smile.” The person sitting down has to reply—with a straight face—”Honey, I love you, but I just can’t smile.” If they crack a smile at all, they have to give up their seat.

It’s funny to watch them struggle against smiling, and it’s also just as funny to see how dramatic the person can get who is asking them to smile.

But there’s something I’d like for you to think about…

People try to make demands of love all the time.

  • IF you love me, you’ll smile.
  • If you REALLY loved me, you wouldn’t complain about visiting my parents.
  • If you REALLY loved me, you’d take me out to eat.

Those might seem kinda funny. But how about these:

  • If you REALLY loved me, you’d become a Baptist (this happens)
  • Or when a couple is dating—before they’re married—if you REALLY loved me, you’d have sex with me.

And you want to know what most of this boils down to? Someone being self-centered and saying, “You don’t really love me if you don’t do what I want to do.”

YOU DON’T REALLY LOVE ME if you don’t give in to my demands!

Talking like that is hypocritical. It is egotistical. It is mean-spirited. It is emotional warfare. And it is something that can destroy your marriage.

Why? Because most of the time when people use this phrase, they’re trying to manipulate their spouse. Because most of the time, when people use the “If you love me…” they are demanding something that has nothing to do with love at all! Because most of the time, when someone says, “if you really love me…” they’re showing that they don’t really love the person they’re talking to.  Because many times, when people say “If you love me…”, they’re trying to get the other person to sin.

They’re asking you to prove your love by doing something that doesn’t prove love at all!

Satan used this tactic when talking to Jesus. (Matthew 4).

  • If you’re REALLY the Son of God, prove it by jumping off a building.
  • If you’re REALLY the Son of God, prove it by doing a selfish miracle.

These things wouldn’t have proven Jesus was the Son of God. It would have proven quite the opposite, because He would be sinning.

God says there are things that you will do if you really love your spouse.

It’s not wrong to say, “if you REALLY love me you will _____.” That is, so long as you fill in the blank with something actually that the Bible says about love.  After all, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.”

If you REALLY love me, you’ll be patient with me (I Corinthians 13:4).

“Charity [Love] suffers long.”

The word “charity” is AGAPE, or love.  It’s the love we are commanded to have for each other (John 13:34).  As we mentioned last week, we are all supposed to have this kind of love for our spouse.

So, in order to have a God-honoring marriage, a marriage that is pleasing to God, a marriage that is happy and enjoyable and GREAT, we will “suffer long” with our spouse.

The phrase “suffers long” is the same word which is also translated “endured” and “patient” in other verses.  In order to have a God-honoring marriage, you have to be patient with your spouse.  You have to be long-suffering with your spouse.

What’s that mean? It means you may have to suffer for a long time with your spouse.  People don’t change overnight. Bad habits take time to overcome. Love is a learning process. People make mistakes.

As a spouse, you MUST exercise patience. You HAVE TO give them time to get things right. You may have to endure a lot, but if you do, your strengthened marriage will be worth it.

A woman confessed to a marriage counselor, “I love him, but I can’t stand it. He’s always messing up. I’ve been after him for years to improve himself. He still says things sometime without even thinking. I’ve had it up to here with him!”

The marriage counselor shook his head and said, “You don’t really love him.” Shocked, she said, “Of course I love him!” He repeated, “You don’t really love him. You said yourself that you constantly criticize him because he hasn’t changed enough for you yet.”

“So? I still love him.”

“You’re not patient with him. And love is patient. No patience? That means you don’t love him.”

If you aren’t patient with your spouse, it means you don’t really love him/her.

Now, I understand, it’s easier said than done. But do you really think God’s going to accept your excuse of “he keeps messing up” when he asks why you weren’t patient with your spouse?

After all, YOU keep messing up too, and God is patient with you.

A comic strip I read a couple years ago had two women talking to each other. One of them says, “What’s that smoke?” The other one says, “Well, Ole Ben burned dinner.” “And what’s that big stain on your shirt?” “Well, Ole Ben spilled grape juice one me.” Why didn’t you get it cleaned?” “Well, Ole Ben cleaned it for me. And then he dropped it in the mud when he was hanging it out to dry.” “Sounds like your husband messes up everything he touches. I’d be furious!” “Naw, I love him.” “How could you love someone who keeps destroying your stuff?” ” I love him because no matter how much he messes up, he keeps trying.”

When YOU keep trying, regardless of how much you mess up, God will forgive you.  When YOUR SPOUSE keeps trying, you should have patience with them.

Even when it seems like your spouse ISN’T trying, you need to have patience with them.  You can’t expect him to become a perfect husband overnight. If you start trying to change everything he does, you know what message that sends to him? I don’t like you the way you are. If there are things that need to be changed, you need to be patient, realizing it may take years before it finally takes hold; before he finally “gets it.”

And husbands, if you want your wife to change the way she does some things, you have to be patient too. It takes time to change and to get used to doing things differently. BE PATIENT.

“If you love me, you’ll be patient with me.”

This is true, because “Love is patient.”

How to Have a Great Marriage (part three)

A couple posts ago, we mentioned that love is not a requirement for God to recognize a marriage as valid.  And that’s true. Love isn’t a requirement for God to join two people together (Matthew 19:4-5).

However, it IS a requirement for your marriage to be pleasing to God, to be a God-Honoring marriage.

Love your spouse.

What kind of love?

Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I love pizza. They’ll also tell you that I love my kids. But obviously these aren’t the same kind of love.

Even in the Bible, there are different kinds of love.

  • The Pharisees LOVE to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners (Matthew 6:5).
  • Thou shalt LOVE the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37).
  • Beware of the scribes which LOVE to go in long clothing, and LOVE salutations in the marketplace (Mark 12:38).

Three different verses, three different Greek words that are translated “love.”

In the New Testament, there are generally two different words for “love.”

Agape – This is the most common word which is translated LOVE in the New Testament. It means a conscious decision to put someone else first. It is sacrificial. It is what God has towards us (John 3:16) and what we are to have towards God (Matthew 22:37).

Phileo – This word shows friendship. It shows enjoying something. It might be better translated as “like”, as in “I like this.” We sing, “I’ll be a friend to Jesus,” and that is exactly what is commanded of us (I Corinthians 16:22 – If any man does not love [LIKE–phileo] the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema). It is what Jesus is to us, if we obey Him (John 15:14 – Ye are my friends [LIKED ONES–philos] if ye keep what I have commanded you).

But what kind of love are you supposed to have for your spouse? The answer may surprise you!

You must show agape love towards your spouse.

Husbands are commanded to AGAPE their wife (Ephesians 5:28).

Husbands must stop thinking about themselves and put their wife’s needs first. That means her physical needs (provide food, shelter, clothing). That means her emotional needs (which falls under showing her “respect”). That means her spiritual needs—many women are not being led spiritually by their husband.

How can a husband show this love?

Lots of ways—but it’s not the one-time acts that matter. It’s the constant, day-in and day-out acts that show you truly have AGAPE for your wife.  Changing diapers. Carrying the groceries. Helping with housework. Turning off the TV and just talking with her. Taking care of the kids so she can rest.

And it’s doing these things with no strings attached.

John spent a couple hours cleaning the kitchen and living room of his house. Then his wife comes home, and he helps her carry in the groceries. She smiles, and he says, “I’m going to the ballgame with the boys.” She objects, “but we were going to have a nice quiet night at home.” He says, “Look, I cleaned the living room and the kitchen. What else do you want from me?”

He did those things, not out of love, but because he expected something in return.

Wives must show agape love towards their husband (John 15:12).

Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  This applies to everyone, including wives.  This means that wives are to show AGAPE to others—including her husband.

It is interesting that there is no direct command “wives, AGAPE your husband.”  We can deduce that it’s necessary from other passages (love thy neighbor as thyself, for example). All the “love one another” passages prove that a wife must show AGAPE to her husband.

God made a specific command for husbands to AGAPE their wife. In fact, it’s stated point-blank multiple times in the Bible (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33, Colossians 3:19).

A marriage where both spouses show this love for each other will grow, and it will be a blessing to both of them.

“The Gift of the Magi” is a great story about a man and his wife. It’s Christmastime, but they are very poor. They want so desperately to get a gift—a meaningful gift—for the other, but neither can afford it. The husband has an old gold pocket watch that he got from his father. It’s the most important possession he has in the whole world. But he takes it and pawns it so that he can buy his wife a new hairbrush to use on her long hair. A bit later, the wife comes into the house. He presents her with the brush and she begins to cry. She takes the scarf off of her head, and he sees that her long hair is gone. She had cut it off and sold it so she could afford to buy him a gift—a gold chain to use for his pocket watch.

Love is putting your spouse first.

You must show PHILEO love towards your spouse.

God commands that you be friends with your spouse. God commands that you enjoy their company. God commands that you LIKE them.

Wait a second, how can God tell me to like them if I don’t like them?

You know, if you become the spouse YOU’RE supposed to be, it’s likely that they will be more like the spouse THEY’RE supposed to be. And liking them will come naturally.

And honestly, especially in America, if you’re married to them, that means you like them—or at least you did at one point. God’s just telling you to keep liking them.

Wives are to LIKE their husbands (Titus 2:4).

The older women were to teach the younger women to love (PHILEO) their husbands.

In a society that encourages women to complain about their husbands, to stand up to them, don’t take no garbage from them, women’s lib and all that stuff…it’s important that we teach our girls that they are supposed to love their husbands—to like their husbands. To enjoy their company. To be friends with them.

Sometimes that’s a hard thing to do. More than once, you’ve probably heard (or maybe even said) the words, “I still love you, but I don’t like you right now.”

If you don’t like your husband, then repent and start being his friend again.

Acts 28:2 translates this same word as “kindness.” It means showing kindness—being a friend.

Husbands are to LIKE their wives.

Just as there is no direct statement that wives are supposed to AGAPE their husbands, there is no direct statement that husbands are to LIKE their wives.

However, if both are Christians (which is how it should be), the following verses settle the matter:

  • Be kindly affectioned one toward another with brotherly love (PHILEO for your brethren in Christ) in honor, preferring one another. (Romans 12:10)
  • Let brotherly love continue (Hebrews 13:1).

The Scriptures specifically say that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

The Scriptures also tell us that Christ is a friend to His people—the church (John 15:15).

If you love your spouse with AGAPE love, true love with no strings attached, your marriage will be happier and healthier.  If you make it a point to be a friend with your spouse, your marriage will be stronger for it.

Now don’t go home today and say, “honey, you need to read this article on TheCobbSix.com. You need to start loving me better and being a better friend.”

DON’T DO THAT!

It all starts with YOU. YOU do your part. No strings attached. YOU do it. YOU be the one you’re supposed to be.  If you do that, you may be very surprised at how much they start to change as well.

Almost all troubled marriages are missing something. Respect has gone AWOL. Love—both kinds—has been replaced with anger and hatred. And if those things aren’t changed—if love and respect aren’t brought back into the marriage, it will fail.

A man and woman are sitting at the kitchen table. On her plate is a piece of toast—the end piece. She hates the end piece, and finally, after years of her husband giving it to her, she erupts. “Why do you hate me? You give me this stinking end piece of the bread every time. I HATE the end piece, yet you insist on giving it to me for the whole ten years we’ve been married. Why? WHY?!?” After the initial shock subsides, he looks over at her and says, “I didn’t know you didn’t like it. You never told me. I wish you would have. The end has always been my favorite.”

Jesus loves you. And He expects you to show that same love to others—especially your spouse.

How to Have a Great Marriage (part two)

I was 7 years old when I heard some people talk about a local preacher.  They had been over to his house, and apparently he decided to tell some stories. Now, these weren’t just any stories. These were stories that made his wife look ignorant. And he laughed and laughed, even though no one else did.

And I’ll never forget what they said next in this conversation: She looked like she wanted to crawl under the table and hide.

Of course, when I was 7, I was trying to figure out why she’d want to play hide and seek during dinner. But as I got older, those words stuck with me, and I came to understand that she was embarrassed by the stories, ashamed by her husband’s behavior, and hurt that he could laugh while tearing her down.

My friends, that is not a God-honoring marriage.

Last week, we examined some requirements for a God-honoring marriage.

  • You have to leave your mommy and daddy and be joined to your spouse.
  • You have to be committed—100% to your spouse and your marriage.
  • You have to be faithful—and not just physically. Be faithful with your eyes and your thoughts.

When you do these things, divorce should never come up in the conversation.

This week, we’re continuing the same theme.  In order to have a great marriage, and a marriage that is pleasing to God, this ingredient must be present.

Respect for your spouse.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people bad-mouthing their husband or wife.  It’s nothing but complain, complain, complain to everyone. It’s like they can’t do anything right. All you hear is about how awful their spouse is ALL THE TIME! He’s a lazy jerk. She’s a horrible cook. She doesn’t clean. He won’t help with the kids.  And what’s worse is when they say those things in public while their spouse is right there.

That is not showing respect to your spouse AT ALL.  And let me assure you, the Bible commands that you show respect to your spouse.

Husbands, give honor to your wife (I Peter 3:7).

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

That word honor means to value them. It means to show deference to them. To reverence them. To esteem them. To treat them with dignity. In short, it means to RESPECT them.

Husbands, show respect to your wife! Treat them like the weaker vessel.  Fine china is precious, expensive, and you have to be careful with it or it will break.  In the same way, your wife is precious, valuable, and you must treat her with the kindness and respect that she deserves, otherwise she can break.

Her self-esteem can be broken by a husband who doesn’t treat her with respect. Her will to work can be broken when she’s treated like she’s nothing special. Her desire to try to make the marriage better can break when the husband lets her know he doesn’t respect her.

Husbands, treat your wife kindly. Treat her with respect!

That means that you don’t treat her like she’s stupid—especially in front of other people!  That means you don’t mock her or ridicule her.  It means that you treat her like the gift from God to you that she is.

You should show her respect because she is also an heir of the grace of life.

What does that mean? It means that she has been given the gift of life by God, just like you have. She’s made in God’s image.  She is someone for whom Christ died.  And if you treat her like she’s unimportant, then you’re saying that you’re also unimportant–you can’t have it both ways. Ultimately, if you treat God’s creation disrespectfully, you can expect the same treatment from Him.

You should treat her with respect because if you don’t, you can’t get forgiveness of sins.

This goes hand-in-hand with what we just finished saying.  If you don’t treat her with respect, God will not hear your prayers. If God won’t hear your prayers, then you cannot have your sins forgiven. If you can’t have your sins forgiven, you’re going to hell. DO I HAVE TO MAKE IT ANY CLEARER?

Treat your wife with respect or you go to hell. Period. No exceptions. You have no hope—AT ALL.

Wives, reverence your husband (Ephesians 5:33).

Let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and that the wife see that she reverences her husband.

The word reverence means to show them honor. It means to show deference to them. The Greek word (phobos) actually means to fear them—as in show them respect. In fact, the NKJV, NIV, NAS, ESV all translate this word as respect.

This means that the wife isn’t going to go around bad-mouthing her husband. She won’t be complaining about everything he does. Even if there are things that her husband needs to work on, she’s not going to make that public knowledge. She’s not going to berate him for his mistakes. She will show him respect.

Thayer defines the word here as showing reverential obedience.

You should respect your husband because he is the God-ordained head of the household (Ephesians 5:23).  God has given him the responsibility of leading the family. Of providing for the family. Of caring for the family’s spiritual and physical needs.  These are heavy responsibilities, and he deserves your respect for taking them on.

You should respect your husband because God said so.  Regardless of how you may feel towards your husband, this is a command of God. And if you refuse to obey it, you have just forfeited your soul. Intentional disobedience is an automatic ticket to hell (Hebrews 10:26-31).

Whether you are the husband or the wife, RESPECT YOUR SPOUSE!  It may be hard, but if you want a happy marriage, you’ll do it. If you want a marriage that helps you grow as a person and as a Christian, you’ll do it. If you want to go to heaven, you’ll do it.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

But, if you want a mediocre marriage filled with yelling and screaming and constant complaining–one that makes you feel stifled and trapped–then go ahead. Don’t respect your spouse. If you want to go to hell, feel free to ignore God’s commands.

How to Have a Great Marriage (part one)

It’s amazing when you consider that God’s commands for marriage are all ones that–when followed–improve your married life.  So, by following God’s commands, you are making your marriage better!  So, we could call this “Requirements for a God-Honoring Marriage” and it would be absolutely true, but it is also just as accurate to call these next four articles “How to have a Great Marriage!”

Over half of all marriages are ending in divorce. These messes leave sadness, broken hearts, hurt, anger, frustration, distrust, and disaster all around. These messes ruin the lives of children who often times cause the same messes in their own marriages later on. People shake their heads and wring their hands—what can you do?   You know that God doesn’t approve of all these rampant divorces, because God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).

In the last post, we talked about the things that were absolutely required in order for God to recognize a marriage as valid. It must be between a male and a female, and the parties must be eligible to be married. Any marriage that doesn’t meet God’s definition and pre-requisites isn’t a valid marriage, it’s nothing more than “shacking up.” God calls it fornication, which is a sin that will keep you out of heaven (Galatians 5:19-21).

This week, we’re going to take a look at what is required for a God-honoring marriage—a marriage that pleases God.   These are things that—if done—will guarantee a happy home life, and will keep divorce from happening.

Leaving Father and Mother (Matthew 19:4-5).

“Haven’t you read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female? And He said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh?'”

The people Jesus is speaking to claimed to be experts in the Law, yet He says to them, “haven’t you read?” It’s like he’s saying to them “It’s right there in the Bible—you know, the one that you claim to be experts in? Haven’t you read it?”

He said that a marriage involves leaving father and mother behind and clinging to your spouse. But one of the biggest causes of marriage problems is when one or the other (or both) have never actually left mom and dad.

Constantly saying, “well, my mother says this,” or “my dad does it this way,” is guaranteed to cause resentment. It also shows that you haven’t left mom and dad behind. And people wonder, “Why do you hate my parents so much?” It’s because the parents have been brought into the marriage. It’s because the husband is always running to his mommy to complain about his wife. It’s because the wife is saying, “that’s not how my daddy does it.”

God, from the very beginning, said that a marriage involved LEAVING mother and father and CLEAVING (clinging) to your spouse. When you get married, you must start your own family unit. This doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do with your parents, but it must be made clear that your spouse is the most important person in the world to you.   It must be made clear that when there are problems that arise in the marriage, arguments or whatever, that you deal with it with your spouse—don’t go off running to mommy and daddy. That shows an incredible lack of maturity. If your spouse doesn’t respect you very much, this may well be the reason why.

If you want to have a marriage that honors God—a marriage that will make you happy—then make your spouse the focal point of your love and attention. The marriage should be a safe haven in the midst of a troubling storm. And frequently, that storm is called “Hurricane In-laws.” If your parents talk bad about your wife, stand up for her. If they talk bad about your husband, stand up for him. Many marriages are doomed to failure because one or the other still wants to be daddy’s girl or momma’s boy instead of being a good husband or wife.

A God-honoring marriage is one that obeys God’s command to leave the father and mother and cleave to your spouse. And if you haven’t done it yet—do it now! It is a violation of a direct command of God if you don’t! It is a sin to remain tied to your parents when you’re supposed to be tied to your mate!

Parents, this is something that you need to keep in mind as well. Because immediately after Jesus mentioned the whole “leaving parents” and “cleaving to the spouse,” He said, “what God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). Far too many parents are trying to run their kids’ marriages. Telling them where to live. Telling them what job to get. Telling them that they aren’t doing enough. Telling them that they need to start having kids. Telling them that they need to stop having kids. I know of one man who basically told his son and daughter-in-law that they needed to have an abortion when she got pregnant.

Some parents try to drive a wedge between the man and wife. The mother doesn’t think the daughter-in-law is good enough for her little boy. The dad doesn’t think his son-in-law is good enough for his little girl. And so they try to tell them what to do. They try to pit one against the other.   They bad-mouth them. Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight. And it brings horrible stress on a marriage, because they won’t let their kid obey Jesus by leaving the parents and cleaving to the spouse.   Unless you see them engaged in sin, then don’t be telling them what to do. Be there for them if they ask for advice, but don’t let them come to you complaining about their spouse. That’s gossip. And that’s sinful.

Commitment to Each Other.

A man and woman were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.   There was a big party for them. And one of the people in attendance asked them, “What’s the secret to staying married for 60 years?” And the wife gave a very deep, profound answer: “don’t die.” This answer represents commitment.

Years ago, people actually meant it when they said, “I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife, for richer or for poorer, through sickness and in health, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, until death do we part.” For them, their attitude was that they were going to stick together no matter what!

The Bible teaches that marriage is a life-long commitment. Matthew 19:6 – What God has joined together, let not man tear apart (that command is for the husband and wife just as much as it is any outsider who might try to break up the marriage). God hates divorce. In fact, God commands “Let not the wife depart from her husband…and let not the husband put away his wife” (I Corinthians 7:10-11). One way that God describes divorce is “dealing treacherously” with your spouse (Malachi 2:16). It is when the spouse dies that the marriage ends (Romans 7:2).

If both the husband and the wife lived out a life of commitment to each other, there would be no danger of divorce at all. The husband loving the wife (Ephesians 5:25). The wife loving the husband (Titus 2:4). This “love” is the conscious decision to put your spouse ahead of yourself. To put their needs first. To put their wants ahead of your wants. To show them kindness, respect, and compassion. It is a decision that you make.

If you don’t go into marriage with a firm commitment to your spouse, then you are sinning. Prenuptial agreements (If this doesn’t work out, here’s how we’ll split things) are just planning in advance to fail.

If you’re married, and you’re not committed, then you’re sinning. A man who was tired of being married to the same person went to the preacher and said, “I just don’t love my wife anymore. We don’t get along. We fight all the time. And I’m ready to quit.” The preacher looked at him and said, “Well, I guess there’s only one thing to do, then.” The man’s eyes lit up—the preacher was about to tell him to go ahead and get a divorce…at least, that’s what he thought. The preacher looked him in the eyes and said, “Yes, only one thing to do. You get yourself home and repent. Pray to God for forgiveness and beg your wife for forgiveness for not being the husband you ought to be.”

If you’re married and you aren’t committed to your spouse, then you have some heavy duty repenting and begging for forgiveness to do.

Faithfulness to Your Spouse.

Both cleaving to your spouse and being committed to your spouse involve being faithful to your spouse. God designed marriage to be the place where sexual desires can be satisfied (I Corinthians 7:1-9). Any sexual activity outside of a God-authorized marriage is sinful and can cause you to lose your soul eternally. When you get married, God joins you and your spouse together, and you two are to become one flesh (Matthew 19:5-6). No one else is allowed in this union.

Sexual activity outside of the marriage is condemned by God, and has always carried a very harsh punishment. In the Old Testament, both the man and woman were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). It is called “adultery,” and Galatians 5:19-21 states very clearly that those who commit adultery will go to hell. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was described as God’s bride, but they had gone after other gods. God describes what they did as adultery. And as a result of what they did, God utterly destroyed them.

Not only is adultery sinful, Proverbs 6:32 says, “he who committeth adultery with a with a woman lacketh understanding. He that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.” ISV says, “Whoever commits adultery with a woman is out of his mind!” The CEV says, “But if you go to bed with another man’s wife, you will destroy yourself by your own stupidity.” Basically, God says if you go sleeping around, you’re stupid! I didn’t say it, God did!

Sexual unfaithfulness is so wicked that it is the only reason that God allows someone to get a divorce and then get remarried (Matthew 19:9). When someone has sexual relations with someone other than their spouse, they have destroyed the union that God joined together. This, and this alone, gives someone the right to leave their spouse and get married to someone else. And according to Jesus, if you cheat on your spouse—they can divorce you, and you can never get married to anyone else again.

But, let’s dig a bit deeper—what about the whole argument of “well, I never CHEATED on my spouse”? Does the fact that you never physically cheated on your spouse mean that you are faithful in your marriage?

The Bible demands COMPLETE faithfulness to your spouse—or you will burn in hell.

  • The Bible demands faithfulness with your eyes (don’t even stare or lust after another person—Job 31:1, Matthew 5:28).
  • The Bible demands faithfulness with your thoughts – same verses.
  • Pornography is a sin! Having sexual conversations with someone other than your spouse is sin! That includes conversations in person, conversations on Facebook, “Sexting,” sending pictures, etc—all of them are sin.

And if you’re doing any of them, STOP IT! For crying out loud, STOP IT! You’ll go to hell because of it, so just STOP IT!

The Bible demands COMPLETE faithfulness to your spouse—in who you sleep with, who you look at, who you think about—it had better be your spouse!

Conclusion:

If you want a good marriage, a happy marriage, a marriage that honors God, a marriage that will never be destroyed by divorce, then you have to do what God has commanded: Leave your parents and cling to your spouse. Be 100% committed to your spouse and your marriage. Stay faithful exclusively to her/him.

And if you aren’t doing these things, then START doing them now! Don’t wait! If you refuse to do them, you make yourself an enemy of God, and He will destroy you (Hebrews 10:26-31). Do it for your soul. Do it for yourself—be selfish about it. You want to be happy, and the easiest way to be happy in your marriage is for your spouse to be happy with you. So, make things easier on yourself by being the spouse God wants you to be. Do it for your spouse—they deserve it. Whatever reason you want to use for doing it, just do it!

Pre-Requisites for a God-Approved Marriage

In this messed up country that we live in, people have confused the topic of marriage to the point where no one seems to know what marriage even means! Just look at some of the definitions that people give for marriage:

  • It’s a man and a woman who commit in a civil ceremony to live together and share last names until they decide they don’t want to anymore.
  • It’s two people (gender doesn’t matter) who commit in a legally-binding civil ceremony to live together until they decide they don’t want to anymore.
  • It’s a man and however many women he wants, joined in religiously-binding ceremonies to live together as man and wives until death.
  • And of course, there are variations on each of these.

Some are already pushing for marriage to animals, marriage with multiple men and women all joined in one blob of a family unit, and who knows what else!

Though the people here on planet earth might be confused, God isn’t. God knows exactly what marriage is, and what it isn’t. And if we bother to look at the Bible, we can have the same knowledge.

This is the first in a series on marriage, and deals with the question of “What is required for God to approve or recognize a marriage?”

A God-Ordained Marriage Requires a Man and a Woman.

In the beginning, God created a male and a female (Genesis 1:27-28). Adam and Eve were the first married couple. In fact, if you go through the entire Old Testament, you will never—not once—see an instance of a man being married to another man or a woman being married to another woman. In the Old Testament, marriage is ALWAYS, 100% of the time, when a man is married to a woman.

But let’s go to the New Testament and see what Jesus has to say about it.

I want you to look carefully at just how many times Jesus shows what He thinks about marriage in Matthew 19:4-9.

  • And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female [MALE AND FEMALE, did you catch that?]
  • and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife [A MAN SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE—male and female]
  • and they two shall be one flesh [Which two? A man and his wife—not a man and his husband or a woman and her wife, but a man and his wife]
  • Therefore they are no more two, but one flesh [Who is the “they”? A man and a woman! Only a man and his wife are authorized by God to be one flesh].
  • What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder [God only joins male and female, the only marriage recognized by God is a man and his wife].
  • And I say unto you, Whoever shall put away his wife [HIS wife. Not HER wife, but HIS wife. Again, only a male and female!], except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery.

Six times in those few verses, Jesus makes it clear that the only marriage recognized by God is between a man and a woman.

Therefore, in order to have a God-ordained marriage, there must first be a man and a woman—and ONLY a man and a woman. Not two males. Not two females. Not one human and one animal.

A God-Ordained Marriage Requires Eligibility.

Some people are not eligible to be married, and thus any marriage involving these people is not ordained (approved) by God.

Children are not eligible to be married. One of the commands given to the first married couple was to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:27). This absolutely rules out anyone who is not old enough to bear children. It is noteworthy that every instance of marriage in the Bible uses the term man (as in, adult male) and woman (as in adult female). Of course, when someone becomes an adult can be debated, but there can be no doubt that a 10-year old is not eligible to be married.

Mentally incapable people are not eligible to be married. The Bible commands that husbands “love” their wives, as in make a conscious decision to put the wife’s needs above his own (Colossians 3:19). The Bible commands wives to reverence their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). Some people are mentally handicapped to the point that they are incapable of following God’s commands for marriage. If it is physically impossible for the person to follow God’s marriage laws, then that person is not eligible to be in a God-ordained marriage.

Already-married people are not eligible to be married again. If someone is already in a marriage, they cannot get married to someone else as well. I know what you’re thinking. “But what about polygamy in the Old Testament?” Yes, God tolerated it, but it was not His plan. After all, Jesus said that from the beginning, it was “they TWO shall become one flesh,” and that the husband should cling to his WIFE (singular). Under the New Testament, the Bible is clear—each woman shall have her own husband (singular), and each man shall have his own wife (singular)—I Corinthians 7:2. Polygamy is a violation of the New Testament and is not authorized by God.

When someone who is married is widowed—that is, when that person’s spouse dies—that person is indeed eligible to marry again (I Corinthians 7:1).

Those who have divorced for a reason other than fornication are not eligible to be married. Jesus said, “Whoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another commits adultery (Matthew 19:9). And we all know that adultery is something condemned by God (Galatians 5:19-21). That means that unless a person got a divorce because his spouse was cheating on him, he is not eligible to be married to anyone else. The only divorced people who are eligible to be married are: (1) Those who divorced their spouse because they were being cheated on (Matthew 19:9). Or (2) those who wish to marry the one that they had been married to in the first place (I Corinthians 7:11).

Some Things that are NOT a Pre-Requisite for a God-Ordained Marriage.

Being in love. While it’s not a bad thing to really enjoy the company of the person you want to marry, it’s not a requirement for a God-ordained marriage. In many cultures, the marriages are arranged by the parents. I can imagine that most of the younger people find that idea repulsive. But guess what, it’s biblical!

I Corinthians 7:36-38, NASB – But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

According to the Bible, whether or not a girl gets married (and to whom) is up to her father. That’s why we have the custom of the man asking the father for permission to marry the daughter. That’s why, in a wedding ceremony, the preacher asks, “who gives this girl to be married?” You’d better keep that in mind before you decide to announce to your parents that you’re getting married.

A man named Doka Obadiah, from Kenya, told me that his friends picked out a girl they thought he’d like, and then he went to the father and bought her for the hefty price of a cow and four bushels of corn. There was no “being in love” first. No dating first. Just an agreement between the man and the father, and a commitment to be the husband God wants him to be. And they are happily married and working in God’s kingdom there in Kenya.

Dating. It sounds strange to Americans, but dating isn’t required in order to get married. In fact, dating is never once mentioned in the Bible.

Physical attraction. Just like the whole “being in love” thing, it’s nice to have a physical attraction to the person you’re going to marry, but the Bible nowhere makes that a requirement.

Conclusion:

Marriage is a wonderful thing, created by God. But it has been abused and misused and twisted by people who don’t respect His word. God has created specific parameters for who can be married, and if we have any desire whatsoever to go to heaven, we will stay within them.

God didn’t create these rules arbitrarily. No, in fact, these rules are there for our own well-being. If everyone just stuck with God’s rules on marriage, the divorce rate would fall to zero, and people would have happy marriages.

-Bradley Cobb

Give it Up Already!

We praise people who are willing to act on their principles and conviction.  When someone is willing to give up a job, or money, or other “important” things because of their moral convictions, we look up to them as a person who has great character.  One person said, “character is what you stand for.”  We might add to that definition that character is being willing to give up anything in order to stay true to your convictions.

If I were to ask 100 Christians, “What would you be willing to give up to get to heaven?” I would be willing to wager that most of them would reply, “anything.”  However, if you were to get a truly honest answer from them, you’ll find that there are some things that they’re not really all that interested in giving up.  Mentally, we are ready to say “I’ll give up anything!”  But like the apostle Peter, when it comes down to actually doing it, it is a different matter (see Matthew 26:35 and verses 69-75).

In fairness to Peter, the Scriptures teach that he was willing to give up his livelihood in order to follow Jesus (Mark 1:16-20).  The same can be said of Peter’s brother, Andrew, as well as two other brothers: James and John.  They left their fishing business behind in order to follow Jesus.

Are your convictions that strong?  If the place where you worked began selling pornography or supporting sinful behavior, would your convictions be strong enough to quit?  Or would you rationalize it away and say, “well, I’ve got to pay the bills”?

Jesus made a promise to all of us that if we put Him and His kingdom first, everything we truly need will be taken care of by God (Matthew 6:33).  When God Himself (in the flesh) makes a promise, it’s one we can depend on!  Do you have enough faith in God to trust that promise–even if it means quitting a job you may have worked at for decades?

Most of us will never be in a situation where we may be forced to quit our jobs over such things.  But what about other things in life?  Do you spend more time on Facebook than you do in prayer and Bible reading combined?   If you realize that doing things online is keeping you from focusing on God, do you have the convictions to do something about it?

But let’s make it even more practical.  How much time do you spend on the computer compared to the time you spend with your children?  or your spouse?  It’s a commonly reported sight to see a husband and wife out to eat with each other, but both are so busy doing things with their phones that they aren’t actually spending time together.  If things continue like this, I won’t be surprised if 80% of American adults end up with a condition I like to call “texter’s hunch”…but I also won’t be surprised if most of the marriages have major problems because of a lack of real communication.

Take a look at your relationship with God and Christ.  Take a look at your relationship with your spouse and your children.  Then take a look at the things in your life that are keeping those relationships from being what they should–and give them up!

If it’s a hobby, give it up!

If it is unnecessary time on the computer, give it up!

If it is a relationship with someone else, give it up!

You may say I’m being harsh, but I ask you this: what is more important to you, God or your stuff?  your marriage, or your stuff?  your kids or your stuff?

What kind of character do you have?

–Bradley Cobb