This morning my message is entitled “Strong Marriages.” If you want to raise children who are followers of Jesus, you need a strong godly marriage as the foundation of the home. So, let’s begin this morning by looking at what Jesus had to say about marriage.
Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV) He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
In the beginning God created two and only two kinds of people, male and female. The same remains true today, there are only two genders, male and female. Everyone is either one or the other. Marriage is when a man and a women make a life-long commitment to one another and become one flesh through the consummation of the marriage. God is involved in joining the man and the woman together in marriage and the marriage bond should not be broken. Marriage as ordained by God is the foundation of the family, which is the building block of society. Strong godly marriages are essential for the well-being of men, women, families, society and children.
Yet, today marriage is under attack on many fronts in today’s culture. Besides the demonic attack on the very definition of marriage, divorce has grown to the point that around 50% of marriages end in divorce. Obviously, divorce is a violation of the life-long commitment of marriage and has devastating and life-long impact on the children involved. Children of divorced parents have decreased school grades, increased rates of crime, substance addictions, sexual promiscuity, suicide and emotional problems. The children of divorced parents have greatly increased rates of divorce in their marriages.
Another attack on marriage is cohabitation which is thought to be a good idea by 65% of Americans. Cohabitation is being sexually involved with your partner without the commitment of marriage. The Bible teaches that cohabitation is sin and the results are disastrous. The future divorce rate of couples who cohabit is 50-80% greater than those who don’t. Cohabitation leads to increased rates of domestic violence, sexual affairs and pregnancy leads to the man leaving in most cases. So, what are the ingredients in a strong marriage?
2 Corinthians 6:14a (ESV) Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
The first ingredient in a strong marriage is that both husband and wife need to be believers in Jesus Christ. The second ingredient in a strong marriage is that both spouses are involved in a Bible-believing church. The third ingredient is that both spouses need to be growing in their knowledge and application of God’s Word.
When those ingredients are in place, then you will have a strong marriage. That marriage will serve as a foundation to raise godly children who in turn will have strong marriages. Just as the sins of parents are passed down to future generations, so the godliness of parents can be passed down to future generations. So, this morning, let’s look further at what the Bible has to say about God’s design for a strong godly marriage in Ephesians chapter 5.
Ephesians 5:22 (ESV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
God has established three institutions: the family, church and government. In each of these institutions, God’s Words instructs believers to submit to the authorities that God has established. In marriage, the wife is to submit or to be under the authority of her husband. Notice the phrase “as to the Lord.” This means that the husband should lead his family in the ways of the Lord. A godly wife would desire to follow God’s plans. As with every other type of submission instructed in God’s Word, as believers, we only submit to earthly authority when it does not contradict God’s instructions.
Ephesians 5:23-24 (ESV) 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.
In these verses, the relationship between husband and wife is to be an example of the relationship of Christ to the church. In this example, the wife represents the church or bride of Christ and the husband is to represent Christ. We’ll talk more about the husband in the next point. The church obviously submits to Christ, so too should wives submit to their husbands. The last verse in this passage helps us better understand submission.
Ephesians 5:33b (ESV) … let the wife see that she respects her husband.
When a wife respects her husband, she will want to listen to him and follow His direction for the family. You see, there are not two directions of each family, one of the wife and the other of the husband and the wife must submit to the husband’s direction. There is one direction, one plan that God has every family. God will communicate that plan to the husband and wife and give the husband wisdom to lead in that plan. Now, as we’ll see, the husband must live worthy of respect.
This morning, we are going to assume that both husband and wife are believers and seeking to follow God’s plan for their marriage and family. In God’s plan everyone is in submission to authority. Not only is the wife to be in submission to the husband, both husband and wife are to be in submission to the Lord.
One example that I like to use to illustrate the relationship between the husband, wife and the Lord is a triangle. At top of the triangle is the Lord and at the bottom angles are the husband and wife. As the husband and wife move closer to the Lord, what happens to their relationship to one another? They move closer together the closer they get to the Lord.
The submission of the wife to the husband also serves as an example to the children. The Bible teaches that the children are to submit to their parent’s authority. Children of strong marriages with biblical authority in place will learn those principles of authority, both for children and ultimately their own marriages.
Ephesians 5:25a (ESV) Husbands, love your wives,
God’s Word doesn’t just stop with instructing wives, it moves on to instructing husbands with even more detail. Husbands are to love their wives. Of course, wives are to love their husbands as well. But the Bible goes on to show how husbands are to love their wives.
Ephesians 5:25b (ESV) … as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
How did Christ love the church and give himself up for her? He loved the church so much that He left heaven to come to this earth and die on the cross for her. Christ died on the cross for the church, the bride of Christ, so that He could meet her greatest need, the need for forgiveness and holiness. In the same way, husbands are to show their love by meeting their wives’ needs.
The end result for Christ in verse 27 was so that he could present the church to himself in splendor. So that the church, the bride of Christ, would shine with holiness. As a husband loves his wife in the same way, she also will shine with godly beauty.
Ephesians 5:28 (ESV) In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Remember that a husband and wife are one flesh. God sees them and they really are one flesh, one body. That is why divorce is so terrible, as it is tearing the one flesh marriage apart. This verse is saying that since husband and wife are one flesh, a husband should love his wife as he loves himself, for they are not separate but united. A husband who does not love his wife in this way would be doing himself harm.
So this is a great responsibility and challenge for every husband, to love their wives as Christ loves the church. When a husband loves his wife in this way, it makes it easy for the wife to submit to him. For everything that the husband does is done in love for her. Of course, there are no perfect marriages, we’re all on a journey. So there are no perfectly submissive wives, as there are no perfectly loving husbands. Yet, when husband and wife have these godly goals in keeping with God’s design for marriage, they will see God’s blessing on their family.
What is the result of walking in God’s design for marriage on the children? The children will see an example of submission, love and faithfulness that they will want to put into practice in their own lives and future marriages. Now, God’s design for marriage is diametrically opposed to what our society teaches. Yet, following God’s plan leads to blessing on both the parents and the children. Following our culture’s plan leads to broken marriages and damaged children.
Ephesians 5:32 (ESV) This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
The Bible here refers to marriage as a profound mystery. It is mysterious that human marriage refers to Christ and the church. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church and Christ and the church is an example for our marriages. Christ and the church are the perfect example for us to strive for in our marriages. Yet unbelievers and our children will first see the example of our marriages. Strong godly marriages will draw people to Christ, not turn them away. Part of the mystery of marriage is that …
Ephesians 5:31 (ESV) “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
The Greek word for “hold fast” means to be joined to or to be devoted to. In marriage, the two spouses become one flesh. The expression one flesh refers to the sexual aspect of marriage, yet it refers to a much deeper mystery. This is one of the reasons that sexual behavior outside of marriage is so damaging. It causes the two to become one flesh, yet there is no commitment and the union is broken. The purpose of this oneness in marriage is because …
Genesis 1:28 (ESV) And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,
Going back to the original command of God to the first family. In their oneness, they were to multiple and reproduce children who would in turn walk with God. So, the purpose of a godly marriage is not just to produce children, but to produce children who follow Jesus Christ. In the same way, the purpose of the church, the bride of Christ, is to have many spiritual children as it is a witness for Jesus.
Strong godly marriages are a powerful witness, first to the children and secondly to all who see it. Strong marriages display what God’s love is like. They show what a godly marriage is like Strong godly marriages serve as an example of the blessing that following God as a family brings. For those who are in a marriage with an unbelieving spouse, God will help you to raise your children for him, as you are connected with the church family.
Today, we’ve looked at God’s plan for strong marriages as a foundation for parenting. Strong marriages are built with a believing husband and wife submitted to following God together in His church. The divine order in families is for a wife to submit to a husband who is loving her as Christ loves the church. That kind of marriage will cause both husband and wife to raise their children in God’s ways.
The godly family that is a result of a strong marriage will be a powerful witness to all who encounter it. And the children raised in a godly family will be prepared to have strong marriages in the future. May God help each of us grow in building stronger marriages as we choose to follow His Word.