Marriage

In our last post we talked about the road leading to marriage. In this post we ask ourselves, what is God’s plan for marriage?

Ephesians 5:22-23 states, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”

Here we see that wives are to submit to the spiritual leadership of their husbands just as the church is to submit to Christ. We also see that husbands are to love their wives and give themselves freely for them just as Christ gave himself for the church.

Husbands are to lead with the best intentions in mind for their wives. They are to give of themselves for the benefit of their wives, and this kind of servant leadership is what makes it possible for wives to trust their husbands as they make spiritual decisions for the family.

Genesis 2:24 reads, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

God intends for marriage to be a permanent commitment. The two are to become one. Separation is not part of  God’s perfect plan for marriage, but in order for any marriage to work, both parties have to be willing to continually work at making it work. Marriage takes hard work but it is worth it because when both parties put the effort into their marriage, they experience a unity beyond anything else they can experience in life.

Hebrews 13:4 states, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

God intends for husbands and wives to be faithful to one another.

So What does God’s Biblical plan for marriage look like?

  1.  In the Biblical view of marriage, husbands and wives are to view their commitment as a permanent commitment before the Lord.
  2. Ideally, Christians are only to marry Christians. In cases where someone becomes married and then becomes a Christian, both partners may not be believers, but those who are already believers are not to marry non-believers.
  3. In marriage spouses are to remain faithful to one another. They are to put the others needs above their own. They are to treat each other with respect. They are not to cheat on one another or take advantage of one another. They are not to use one another or abuse one another. They are to cherish one another so that their actions towards one another are categorized by love.
  4. Additionally, in marriage spouses are to pray for one another and help one another draw closer to the Lord. In the Christian view of marriage a commitment is being made between one another and before the Lord. As such, Christ should remain at the center of the marriage relationship.

Dating Vs. Courting

The Bible states that a man and woman are to be joined together and that the two are to become one. We know that marriage is typically part of the plan that God has for the lives of human beings and especially his followers. Throughout history and in different cultures, the road to marriage has been varied, and today many Christians are left wondering how they should go about getting to marriage.

In the Bible, some marriages were arranged, typically characters in the Bible were married in the middle of their teenage years. Today, many people do not marry until they are in their mid to late twenties. While this leaves more time to find mister or misses right, it also leads to more confusion and in some cases, more heartache.

In our culture, Christians tend to do one of two things: Court or Date.

What is the difference between dating and courting, and what should Christians do?

Some have argued that dating is random and that it neglects to protect the heart. Some have also argued that the goal of dating is romance while the goal of courtship is marriage. These people see dating as practice for divorce while courtship is viewed as a more natural setting for real life and family.

Some have argued that courtship is too restrictive or oppressive because those who court typically do not hold hands, kiss, or spend time alone (without other members of the family present). Others argue that time alone while dating can lead to the temptation of doing physically inappropriate things prior to getting married.

So should Christians date or court?

To answer this, it must first be stated that the Bible does not provide a model for either courtship or dating, but it does list out several moral commandments dealing with human relationships.

The Bible states that we are not to have sex with anyone other than our spouses. This means that we are not to have sex before marriage or outside of marriage after we are married.

The Bible states that we are not to be driven by lust and that we are to be faithful to our partners.

Husbands are to love their wives and care for them. Wives are to trust their husbands to spiritually lead their families. Thus, women are to seek out men willing to spiritual lead and care for their families. Men are to seek women who are faithful to the Lord and who will encourage their spiritual leadership.

We cannot be dogmatic about whether or not one should court or date, but in either route, for Christians several things must be in our focus:

  1. We should only date/court those who we are seriously considering to be a potential marriage partner.
  2. We should protect our hearts in the process by not giving too much of ourselves away too quickly (emotionally or physically).
  3. We should strive to know the other person for who he or she really is and we should see the person in multiple situations to see how he or she handles things like stress and life changes. We should also see how the person chooses friends and relates to others.
  4. We should be able to see how the other person relates to God and how he or she lives spiritually.

For more information on the differences between dating and courtship, view the links below. In the next post we will talk more about what the Bible says about marriage.

 http://iblp.org/questions/how-courtship-different-dating

http://www.gotquestions.org/difference-dating-courting.html

Here is also an article on the rules of courtship for the Dugger family:
http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/michelle-and-jim-bob-duggar-reveal-strict-rules-of-courtship-no-holding-hands-no-kissing-201424

Trusting God

We have all been told to trust God, but do we really trust him? What about when we do not feel like he is there? What about when bad things happen?

This world is fallen, corrupt, and full of evil. How do we trust God knowing that he causes or allows so much suffering?

We all have bad days. We all go through times of trouble. People mistreat us, we are faced with cancer, we are involved in accidents, we get hurt, and sometimes our hurts leave permanent scars. How do we trust God in the midst of all that?

Well, first we need to ask what the Bible has to say about suffering and trusting God.

Proverbs 3:5 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

God’s ways are not our ways. He transcends our human logic and even when we do not understand why things are the way they are, we can trust that God is in control.

Romans 8:28 states,”And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

But just because things work out for good, it does not mean that there is no suffering.

1 Peter 4:12-13 reads, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

Here we are told that Christians will suffer for their faith.

Revelation 21:4 reads, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

In the end, when God renews all that has been corrupted, there will be no more suffering.

Conclusion:

As Christians we trust in God, because God is good. We trust in God because he always does what is best for his creation. We trust in God because he makes our paths straight. We trust in God because he mends things that are broken. We trust in God because he suffered and died for us on the cross. We trust him because he walks with us when we suffer. He knows our pain and he understands what we are going through.

Why does he allow us to go through such suffering and why is there so much evil? In short, I believe that evil is in the world because we chose to sin. With free will comes the ability to do things that do not glorify God. If God had made it so that everyone would love him, no one would be able to choose to love him. Furthermore, if we had no freedom to choose to love God, we must ask what other things we would not have a choice on. Would we be able to choose who to love humanly speaking? Would we be able to choose a vocation? Would we be able to choose our friends? Would we be able to choose what kind of car to drive? When our ability to choose evil is taken away, what other choices must also be taken away? Our fallen world does not keep us from trusting in God, but we must realize that much of the problems in this world our our fault. They are results of our choices, not the result of God lacking goodness in his character.

Legalism and Judgment

Have you ever been involved in a legalistic church? A church that tends to require conformity to a set of practices that is so dogmatic that people are frequently reprimanded for any variance to the commonly adhered to norms? Have you ever witnessed the oppression that comes with people, in essence, trying to live up to a perceived standard of holiness that true Christians should have no problem doing? Have you ever seen that same standard used to condemn and cause Christians to doubt their salvation when they fail to meet that standard? Have you seen people beat themselves to death trying to earn God’s love through their actions?

These are characteristics of legalism. Let me say it as plainly as I can: Legalism is no friend of true Christianity.

In short, legalism is trying to earn God’s acceptance of us without remembering that he accepts us through Christ already. (To read more about this visit this blog: http://beautifulinhistime.com/2013/06/16/what-is-legalism/).

So how do we live the Christian life without becoming legalistic?

I think it begins with our mindset. We don’t obey God’s commands so that he will save us, but we obey his commands because he has already saved us. We desire to live in obedience to him because he already loves us. When we fail…and we all fail…we know that God loves us no less for failing than he did before we disobeyed. As parents we love our children. We are not always pleased with their actions, but nothing they do can make us love them less. In the same way, God may not always be pleased with our actions, but nothing we do can make him love us less. While we were still lost in sin, he already loved us and desired to save us. When we accepted Christ and were saved that did not change the nature of the love that God has for us.

The Gospel is freeing. We are free from sin. We are free to live to the gory of God. But we still have a sin nature and it causes us to do things we do not want to do and it sometimes keeps us from doing what we do want to do. That is a state of being we will continually be working through until we are resurrected and receive our new bodies.

When we are chained to legalism, we tend to judge others and cause people to believe that they are not accepted by God or the church unless they are following everything they are taught to do. People under the yoke of legalism are frequently shamed, held to impossible standards, and the subject of great prejudice for questioning the system.

So how should Christians expect others to act and how should they react to others when they stumble?

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul commands the church at Corinth to kick a man out of the congregation for his blatant refusal to repent of a sin. According to 2 Corinthians, this man was convicted of his wrongdoing and accepted back into fellowship with the church once he repented.

The difference between committing a sin and being judged and what this man was doing is that he was openly living in sin and even boating about his immoral actions. He was causing problems in teh church because he embraced immorality.

When most of us sin, we tend to regret our actions. We tend to confess to the Lord and we try to keep from falling into the same sin again. See, we have an attitude of repentance that should preclude us from needing church discipline. Instead what we really need is accountability and help apart from judgment. We are all fallen and we all make mistakes. The difference is that when those in legalistic congregation sin, they are typically placed under harsh rebuke. When those in Gospel believing churches sin, they are loved in spite of what they did and they are given the attention they need to mend their hurts and to heal.

Summary:
Here are several principles that I believe will help people live authetically Christian lives without being put under the burden of legalism:

  1. Christians should view the church as a hospital where hurting people come so that God can heal their spirits.
  2. Christians should realize that we are not perfect and that we cannot expect others to be perfect either. We should lovingly hold each other accountable without condemning one another but through encouraging and lifting one another up in prayer and conversation (as opposed to lecturing through rebuke).
  3. We should spend time reading God’s Word regularly. God’s Word helps us know how to live, it also comes to our minds when we are tempted to disobey God. Sometimes remembering his Word helps us keep from falling into temptation.
  4. We should spend time with the Lord and with one another in prayer. Prayer is a way that we can listen to God’s convictions and discern his will.

We need remember that we do not have to be at church every time the doors are open. We need to remember that we do not always get an answer to our prayers right away. We need remember that we do not always feel like we are close to God, but this does not mean he is not there. We must remember that sometimes bad things happen.

We see people who love God who suffer. Suffering is not always the result of sin. When bad things happen it does not mean that God is not there, but we do not always get an answer from God as to why certain bad things do in fact happen.

God is always at work around us and throughout his world. We tend to see him better when we do not place heavy burdens on ourselves. When we do not understand why certain prayers are not answered, it is not wise to chalk it up to God’s will. The world is fallen and corrupt and as such, some things happen that should not be. In those times, God walks with us in our suffering.

What are your thoughts on legalism? What are your thoughts on accountability?