Tag Archives: marriage

God’s View of Marriage and Divorce — Gary Hampton

Man’s Need for Companionship

Marriage was designed by God to fulfill a basic need of man, companionship. The first five days of creation repeatedly have God observing his work and noting “it was good” (Gen. 1:9, 12, 18, 21, 25). The Almighty made man on the sixth day and noted, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18).

The Creator brought every animal he had made to Adam to be named (Gen. 2:19-20). “The relation of man to the animals of the field would not fill this loneliness of man. Adam knew this from his naming of the animals” (William E.Woodson Writings and Notes).

God’s revealing to man of the special creation who was to serve as his companion for life brought forth a wonderful statement from the man. “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Moses’ inspired addition seems fully appropriate. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:23-24).

God’s Law for Marriage

Jesus’ most thorough teaching about marriage arose because of the Pharisees’ question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Matt. 19:3). The Lord thought the answer was implicit in Moses’ account of the creation of man and woman. “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 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’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh” (Matt. 19:1-6).

God saw marriage as a permanent relationship, only to be severed by death. Paul explained, “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband” (Rom. 7:2).

God’s basic law for marriage is easy to see when one removes the exception from Jesus’ words to the Pharisees. “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife…and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9 with “except for sexual immorality” replaced by an ellipsis). God intended for marriage to last for life because it fulfills an important need of man, companionship. God’s law applies to “whoever,” not being limited to Christians. “There is not any indication of what is termed ‘covenant legislation’ which only applies to Christians; all others being free to divorce and remarry as much as they wish prior to conversion and remain with the last marriage partner before one becomes a child of God” (Woodson 4).

Divorce Is A Sensitive Issue

Divorce is nowhere to be found in God’s original plan. It is a difficult subject to discuss because it involves the pinnacle of human relationships. The failure of that relationship is painful to the most innermost core of a man’s heart. William Woodson observed, “It deals with matters which, with very few exceptions, are and can be known for sure only by a very small number of people” (1).

Divorce is very personal. “Nothing could be more delicate than the intimacies of marriage; nothing could be more difficult to discuss than those aspects of these intimacies which have been perverted and destroyed” (Ibid). It can become quite volatile as the extended families of both partners sense the pain their beloved is experiencing.

Divorce Was Not in the Original Plan

The Pharisees apparently understood Jesus to be saying that God intended for one man to be married to one woman for life. They were driven to ask, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” Jesus responded, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:7-8). There is a significant difference between their question and the Lord’s answer. They asked why Moses commanded, but Jesus said Moses permitted.

There were two primary schools of thought among the Jews. “Shammai interpreted Deut. 24:1 as follow: ‘The man is not to release his wife unless he have found something indecent in her.’’ In contrast, “Hillel allowed as a charge the fact that in cooking the wife had burnt her husband’s food” (Lenski 727). It is easier to follow the more lax view of Hillel, which is precisely what is represented in the Pharisees’ question. Jesus returns to the creation, making it clear that divorce was never part of God’s original plan.

Fornication, The Exception

Jesus set forth the only exception to God’s law for marriage when he included “except for sexual immorality.”  The word porneia is used “of illicit sexual intercourse in general” (Thayer 532). Some elaborate on all the possible sexual sins to violate God’s law regarding relations that are to be reserved only for one’s mate. It is sufficient to say that God only intended such intimacy for the two companions within a marriage.

Jesus was speaking to “Jews who knew nothing of a woman divorcing her husband, he naturally specifies only the case of a husband divorcing his wife. The fact that among us where also wives divorce their husbands his words apply to them equally, needs hardly be added; see Mark 10:12, who writes for Gentiles” (Lenski 230).

Paul’s Instructions

Part of Paul’s first epistle to the church of God in Corinth was written in response to questions the brethren had asked. One questions seems to be, “Should a Christian, who is joined to Christ, separate from the union of marriage?” (1 Cor. 7:10-11). The Lord had answered this, likely in the very verses we have already examined. The general rule was that they should not even separate. “If she and her husband cannot live harmoniously together let her remain unmarried. She is not permitted to marry again. That would be adulterous” (Lipscomb 98). The Christian woman who has separated from her husband, but found that she cannot live the single life and remain pure has only one path open to her. She is to be reconciled to the husband whom she has injured” (Ibid).

Paul went on to speak regarding “the rest,” which seems to involve the marriage of a “believer and an unbeliever (1 Cor. 7:12-13). Paul, as an inspired apostle, gave his divine instruction in reference to a situation not addressed by the Lord in his personal ministry. If the brother married to an unbelieving wife is pleased to dwell with her, he is free to do so; he is not to put…her away” (Woodson 3).

Verse 15 contains Paul’s instructions for a believing companion when the spouse chooses to depart. “The only terms on which he will continue the marriage is for the Christian to leave the Lord and become a pagan. The Christian has-not-been-and-is-not-bound-to-leave-the-Lord ‘in such cases’ [en toi toioutoi] to preserve a marriage the price of which is for her to” leave the Lord. The Christian “is not bound [dedoulotai]. The Christian is called…in peace, to be in peace with God whatever the difficulty imposed by impossible demands by another, husband or not” (Ibid). We might say the Christian is not enslaved to the unbeliever to whom he/she is married.

Conclusion

God gave man a companion for life when he made Eve and established the first marriage. He intended marriage to be for life. Divorce is a very sensitive matter involving many emotions. It was in no way a part of God’s original plan.

The Lord gave one reason for divorce, sexual relations that violate God’s law. Paul’s instructions regarding Christians married to Christians are intended to have them stay together. Separation would not allow one, or both, to marry another. Christians married to unbelievers can remain with them, yet they are not enslaved to them. The Christian should allow the unbeliever to depart in lieu of surrendering their relationship to the Lord. Doing such in the most peaceful way possible may ultimately lead to the salvation of the spouse (1 Cor. 7:16). 

Gary served as the director of the Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies in Knoxville, TN, for nearly six years and is now preaching for the Siwell Road Church of Christ in Jackson, MS.

Works Cited

Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Columbus, OH: Wartburg, 1960. Print.

Lipscomb, David, and J. W. Shepherd. First Corinthians. Vol. II. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate, 1974. Print. A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles.

Thayer, Joseph Henry. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1977. Print.

Woodson, William E. “The Problem of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage,” Writings and Notes of William E. Woodson. Henderson, TN: Tom L. Childers, 2013. PDF.

 

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Women: Their Role In The Church — Lucy Mitchell

The teaching of Jesus that we will keep His commandments if we love Him is the most fundamental basis for Christians.  However, will we still obey those very teachings if God’s Word teaches something which makes us uncomfortable?

When studying Genesis 2:21-22, we find that God created man and woman in a different way.  He first made man from the dust of the ground, then from the side of man He made woman.   Although God named Adam, notice that it was man who named her woman. “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh and she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man” (Gen. 2:23; 3:20).  God’s method of creation suggests the difference between men and women.

We have a blueprint for today, just as it was written in the beginning and put into action, about how to keep peace and harmony, both between man and woman and  also the family, society and the church that Christ was to establish.  As for the woman, God has molded her, given her an important role, and in Proverbs 31:10 tells her that “her price is far above rubies.”  When she was created, she was the crowning act of His creation.

Somehow, people today seem to dislike the original model and are trying to cheapen it.  Some have indicated that the teachings are “out of date for today’s woman” because of culture differences.  Some even say women should have more of a leadership role since there are more women than men in some congregations. However, God did not intend that the authority in the church be by popular vote or that we could add or subtract to fit our liking.

1 Corinthians 11:3 gave the authority that equates spiritual matters to the man over the woman with the same authority as He gave Christ to have over man.  He has already told us what He expects from men and women in worship. Do we disobey because we do not like His instructions?  1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 and 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 teach that women should remain silent in the assembly (except for singing—Eph. 5:19) and does not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

What then is the role of the woman in the church?  If we are honest in our searching we will find that the Bible speaks of women who have had very important roles in serving God throughout the ages.  Older Christian women have a duty to instruct the younger women, using Scripture and their own insights gained from years of service. In fulfilling the role that God established for her she is to act as a godly woman.  This role involves support, service and teaching younger women as Titus 2:3-5 instructs the older women to do.

She is to admonish them to exercise self-control, to be affectionate to their own husbands, to correct and admonish their children, to be restrained in their passion and desires, to be modest in how they dress and to have good character.  What better person to teach about these things than a godly woman who has herself weathered these circumstances, both good and bad, that constitute godliness, marriage and children?  The instructions were not limited to married women, however, because only four of the admonitions are directed to those who are married.

Sadly many families are swimming in a sea of chaos because men refuse to follow God’s instructions as to how to be godly leaders, husbands and fathers as shown in Scripture (Eph. 5:25-33; Col.3:19,21; Titus 2:2,6-8; Deut. 6:1-9).  When men are spiritually strong and obey what God has said, they find an outpouring of blessings in store for them.  But what happens when men do not stand up for the truth and choose to disobey God because they are not spiritually strong?   Here is when we begin to see women overstepping and reversing their role in the church, home and society in ways which God never intended.

Clearly God has said that men are the leaders in the home, the church and even in the way people live.  They are to be the head of the household and bind their families close in the teachings and love of Christ.  He used the word “husband” (meaning “house bound”) for this very reason.   As the father in the home, he should be F—faithful, A—in authority, T—a teacher, H—head of his household, E—an example, and R—redeemed.

Since men have been given those instructions by God to attend to the public worship assembly, sometimes a woman feels as if there is nothing left for her to do.  However, God has given her different talents which are vital for church growth that will help both others as well as herself to grow and serve.  Just as the men must grow to maturity, so must women.  Stepping out of our comfort zone is sometimes very difficult, but it is definitely needed so that our obligation and role as a Christian woman can be fulfilled.

God has given women a different set of talents which are vital for church growth that help them serve so well.  All women can serve in some of the following ways: visiting the sick and shut-ins, writing cards of encouragement, using their phone for both encouragement and edification, praying privately with other women, preparing communion, inviting others into your home, having Bible studies, teaching children and other women, visiting members, attending teacher workshops and gospel meetings, managing the church library and church bulletin, transporting the elderly and disabled, as well as many other opportunities (when made aware of) which would help the church to grow.  Women cannot do everything, but the things that can be done should be done with joy and gladness in their heart.

We have many examples of godly women at the church in Rome such as Phoebe,   Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena and Tryphosa and Persis (Rom. 16). Other examples are Dorcas (Acts 9), Lydia (Acts 16), the virtuous woman (Prov. 31) and the older women (Tit. 2:2-4).  These examples were given for our learning.  There is much for women to do and we must not allow the things of this world keep us from obeying God in doing our part.

In our society we are seeing some women forsaking what He said for them to do as a help meet to their husband.  That role was set in action from the day they were created and before the fall (1 Cor. 11:7-9).   From the beginning she was to support her husband.   The oldest institution isn’t the church, but marriage.   “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man put asunder (separate)” (Matt. 19:6b).    Titus 2:4 says that women need to be taught to love their husband and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 teaches us how to love.

Therefore one of the roles wives have in the church is to love their husbands and set an example to other wives to do the same.  This seems very obvious since we married them, but looking at it from the world’s view of the wife it appears that those teachings of how to love him are no longer taught.  Older women are commanded to teach the younger women these things as well as how to love their children.  As the most early and influential person in every aspect of a child’s life, mothers have an awesome responsibility to train, correct and help to direct their paths to Heaven.  What will be our excuse as the mothers of our children if we gain the whole world and, because of our lack of training, lose the souls of our children?

Reading again from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and applying it to the wife’s love for her husband, we find that we must be patient because it is difficult at times learning to live with someone who is different from ourselves.   Be kind rather than acting nicer to friends then to our husband.  Be happy instead of envious over his successes.  Do we act in an arrogant way toward him or are we humble?  Do we speak rudely to him instead of being courteous?  Love is not selfish, but are our own needs put before his?  Many do not know how to control their tongue instead of being easily provoked.  Love thinks no evil; therefore we need to keep pure thoughts in our marriage.  Love bears all things, believes, hopes and endures all things.  Therefore the Christian wife protects and has hope for what is the best in her marriage.  With these things in mind it is easier to endure all things during the good times and bad, when the kids leave home and just the two of you are left.  That is when the first part of verse 8 comes into view.  Then we can continue to renew that devotion to each other because we find that loves never fails.

Fifty-seven years ago I met and married Mike Mitchell, a godly man who had been raised in a strong Christian home.  As a new wife and Christian, I had no knowledge as to what God expected or had in store for me.  Because of my husband’s concern, I learned to participate in Bible studies and how to search the Scriptures.  A few years later, when he decided to leave the engineering field and become a minister, we were blessed to sit at the feet of many strong gospel preachers and their wives.

Many of those older godly women became close friends and have now gone on to their blessed reward.  By instructing me both by their example and the Word on how to be a better wife and mother to our children, I wanted to be a better example as well.  It took much courage for me to begin teaching the children’s classes at first and then the teenage girls.  My faith grew stronger as I began teaching ladies classes and conducting special ladies’ days throughout the country.  In doing this I have discovered many women who desire to better their knowledge, become a stronger Christian, be an example to others and to find a purpose in their life.  Women simply need and long to have encouragement from older women in today’s society.  We must not let them down.

Sisters, be that godly woman who desires to serve God and His church as instructed in His Word.  Do all that you can in serving others and in teaching what God has instructed.  Love others more than yourself.  Pray always for guidance.  If you are married, make it the strong marriage as God would have it.  Teach and train your children as the precious privilege it was intended to be.  Love your enemies and be willing to forgive others who have done you wrong.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.

My prayer is that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ (Phil. 1:9-10).

Lucy lives in Rickman, TN, and teaches a ladies’ class at church.

 

 

A Good Husband — Michael Grooms

It is not sufficient to simply be married. To be is to exist, and nothing more. For a marriage to be the kind of marriage God wants us to have, we must do more than simply exist in a married state. A godly marriage is the result of dedication to being the very best husband or the very best wife one can be. The Christian husband should have a desire to be the very best husband he can be for his wife. This pleases God. There are several terms that could be employed to describe how a man can be a good husband, such as love, faithfulness, godliness, and caring. These and others are certainly good descriptors of factors that help make a good marriage. There is one word that underlies all of these. When this concept becomes the desire and intent of a husband, he will usually find that his relationship with his wife becomes enriched as the love they share flourishes. What is this powerful word? It is “understanding.”

In 1 Peter 3:7 the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel…” This scripture demands of the reader to understand “understanding” as it applies to marriage and the will of God. There are several ways that understanding will help a man be the husband that God would have him to be, and to have the fulfillment of a happy marriage. In the scope of this article we will look at three things that a husband needs to understand in order to promote a healthier relationship with his wife. First, he must understand God’s purpose for marriage. Second, he must understand his role in the marriage. Third, he must understand his wife.

Understanding God’s Purpose For Marriage

The Christian husband must understand God’s purpose for marriage. Too often, marriages are simply a union of lives based on the attraction of the man and woman to each other. God has designed marriage to be so much more! The horrific divorce rate in our country demonstrates what happens when a marriage is simply based on attraction. Over time, the attraction becomes diminished and the desire to nurture the marriage fails. A marriage based on attraction is a self-seeking marriage. A marriage based on godly love and understanding will be able to withstand the challenging times. While physical attraction is important within a marriage, it is only one factor among many. A godly marriage is a marriage that begins with a love for God, and is built upon that love. When our love for God is as it should be, that love will culminate in a healthy love for our spouse.

One purpose that God has for the institution of marriage is companionship. God created the first woman (Eve) to be the companion for the first man (Adam). When God created man, He said It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Ge. 2:18, NKJV). Thus, God established the first marriage with the stated purpose of companionship. Husbands, are you a companion for your wife? Do you encourage companionship by spending time with her and giving her your full attention? Do you put her in a place where she feels like she must compete with your job, hobbies, friends, or other things for your attention? There is a reason women tend to be more affectionate than men, and part of that reason goes to the very purpose of their creation. The wise husband will value the companionship of his wife and seek to nurture that companionship. It is hard to “find time” to devote to these things, thus it is necessary to make time. Nurturing your relationship with your spouse must be a priority. It is essential to a healthy marriage.

Another reason that God created marriage is for physical fulfillment (1 Co. 7:1-4; 8-9; He. 13:4). 1 Corinthians 7:2 teaches that a man or a woman is to be married “because of sexual immorality.” The idea behind this is that God created men and women to have sexual desires, but intended that those desires only be fulfilled within the marriage relationship. It is, therefore, the responsibility of each spouse to be sure that they are attending to the physical needs of their spouse. The husband is to “render to his wife the affection due her” (1 Co. 7:3). The Christian husband who understands God’s will for him will attend to his wife’s need for affection and physical fulfillment (1 Co. 7:5). It may not be in your nature as a man to show affection, but if your wife desires your affection it is your duty as her husband. Your job is not to be sure you get what you want out of marriage. It is to be sure you are giving your wife what she needs! Far too often, marriages are destroyed because one or both of the spouses failed to meet the physical and emotional needs of the other. When someone else comes along who is willing to meet that need, the result is often disastrous. A garden needs to be nurtured. It needs weeds pulled and the vegetables or flowers fertilized. A marriage is like a garden in that respect. It needs to be tended. It needs nurturing. Sometimes the weeds must be pulled. Those things that harm or threaten the marriage relationship need to be removed. The love needs to be fertilized with selfless attention. It takes diligence and work, but the results are a beautiful garden of love!

Understanding the Role of the Husband

It is essential that the Christian husband has understanding concerning his role in the marriage. God has instituted within the family, roles which work according to His plan. When these roles are understood and honored, the family can function as God intended. Just as God has placed within the church certain roles of leadership and function that meet His design, He has done the same within the family. Neither in the church nor in the family do these roles indicate that one person is more important than the other. God has placed the man in the role as the head of his wife (1 Co. 11:3).

When a Christian man understands his role as the head of his wife (and thus his family), he will be better able to fulfill God’s purpose and will have a more fulfilling marriage. Too many men abdicate their role as the head of their family. When this happens, the burden of filling this role falls upon the wife or goes neglected. The man who understands his role as the head of his wife will not seek to lord over his wife, but rather cherish and honor her (1 Pe. 3:7). As the head of the family it is incumbent upon the man to be the provider for his family (1 Ti. 5:8). While this responsibility may be shared by both spouses, the burden lies upon the man. God has designed the role of the wife as the keeper of the home (Ti. 2:5; 1 Ti. 5:14).  In order for her to fulfill her God given role, he must fulfill his role as a provider. The marital relationship suffers when these roles are not fulfilled. Honoring these roles provides an environment that encourages the marriage to flourish.

Understanding His Wife

Lastly, the husband needs to understand his wife. The differences between men and women are manifested physically, emotionally, and psychologically. While these differences can contribute to misunderstanding and strife within a marriage, such does not need to be the case. God made men and women different for a reason, and that reason is seen in the roles in which God has placed them in the family. Women are physically and emotionally equipped to fulfill the role of the care giver in the home. Men are likewise equipped to provide for and protect the home. These differences should complement each other and when in harmony create a strong union around which the family prospers.

The Christian man should seek to understand how his wife thinks, what triggers her emotions, what her vulnerabilities are, and what she seeks from him in their marriage. Wives likewise need to understand their husbands. The key to such understanding is communication. With this key, a couple can unlock the mysteries that center around their differences, and learn to meet the needs and challenges that stem from these differences. Remember, she is your partner, your lover, your helper, your life companion. Seek to understand her mysteries. Seek to fulfill her needs. Talk to her. Provide for her. Protect her. Hold her. Cherish her. Reassure her. Affirm her. Love her. Lead her to Heaven. You are her man, but more importantly you are God’s man. God has blessed you with your wife and has given you a charge to be her head, and treasure her heart. Remember, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD” (Pr. 18:22).

Men of God, may God bless you with an understanding of His will for you as the husband of your wife and the father of your children.  May that understanding enable and empower you to be the man God would have you to be, and the man your wife needs you to be.

gospelpreacher@charter.net

Michael serves the Boiling Springs Church of Christ in Boiling Springs, SC.  He is on the board of directors for the Carolina Messenger.