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Marriage Sermons

For Weddings: Why Marriage is Important and the Five Pillars of a Successful Marriage

Rev. Cornell 'Corkie'  Haan

As we today celebrate the marriage of ________ and __________, let us reflect on  why marriage is important and what is important to remember in marriage.

Recent research is beginning to document that divorce in general is harmful to adults and particularly painful and harmful to children who are forced to live between two worlds and mediate those two worlds. Research (the Georgia research) shows that divorce and unmarried women having children are costing the government over $150 billion a year.

Research also shows that with community marriage initiatives, divorce in communities can be reduced by up to 50 percent simply by having churches do a better job. Lives are spared pain and suffering and taxpayer costs for damage control goes down sharply, but only if the church, including all those present, does its job.

That is why we are a church that takes seriously marriage and offers substantive marriage training for those that will be married, marriage enrichment for those that are married, marriage mentoring for marriages in trouble and marriage mentoring where there is divorce and remarried situations. This is in addition to sermons on marriage.

We need to understand the purpose of marriage and the five pillars of a successful marriage.

We need to underline the purpose of marriage:

  • Genesis 1:28 - "God blessed (the man and the woman) and said to them "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." This states that the ideal relationship is the marriage of a man and woman life long with the goal of having children. Commentators on this verse uniformly note that this is a rejection of all other types of relationships, particularly multiple relationships and cult prostitution at the time. In the 1st chapter of Genesis, the theme is that God is bringing order out of chaos. Divorce brings chaos out of order.
     
  • In Matthew 19: 4-6, Jesus said that "at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one." Jesus then added "Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate." Interestingly, in the next section, Jesus focuses on children and says, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19: 14. As one can see, divorce does hinder children from coming to God and thus something must be done by the church to NOT let this happen.

The church has a Biblical responsibility to do better and to uphold the marriage standard by 1) training couples interested in being engaged and married (note: it is best to do this before formal engagement), 2) marriage enrichment once married, 3) marriage mentoring when marriages are in trouble and 4) mentoring families that have experienced divorce.

What is important in marriage? The Five Pillars.

There are five pillars for a successful marriage that are mentioned in the Bible. It not only applies to those being married today, but to everyone who is married or who will get married.

The first two pillars involve communication, the next forgiveness, submission in the very good sense and ultimately teaching the next generation. Let’s begin:

1. Listen - "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." James 1.19. God gave us two ears and one mouth. But one would hardly know it. We are so anxious to talk that we are frequently get our next thoughts together even as we listen not so carefully to what is being said to us. We jump in with what we have to say and fail to listen.

For women in particular, having someone to speak to is important. When the husband comes home at night from work, a woman wants to talk about her day. The husband is often tired and tuned out. Yet, it is the process of listening, which can begin very simply by asking a question – how was your day? – that is an important part of the relationship.

When a couple fails to hear each other or talk to each other, they will tend to grow apart. Thus, it is critical every day to engage in conversation. It is one sign of love of one for another.

2. Listen to God – Jesus said "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they know me." John 10.27

Similarly, it is all too easy to rush into church and tell God what we need. God knows what we need even before we ask and God can provide it. But, have we really listened to God. It is important to note that when Jesus gave the disciples what we know as the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father, there are three petitions that start the prayer: First, “Hallowed be thy name”. Second, “Thy kingdom come” and Third, “Thy will be done.” Notice that these are prayers for God. It is only after we pray these prayers that Jesus bids us to ask for prayers for our self –our daily need of bread, forgiveness of our sins and guidance in on our way which covers the essentials of our present, past and future.

God can guide us. The Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple once said “When I pray coincidences happen. When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening.” If we listen to God and discern God’s will and we pray for the three petitions for God in the Lord’s prayer, then when we ask God for what concerns us, we can ask it in a much better way, one that is more consistent with God’s purpose in our life.

As any father, God does not grant everything that we ask for. Sometimes, God grants very little or even nothing at times. But it is amazing, if we only discern, what God does do for us if we are only observant.

God does know us. What we have to do is listen to God.

One great way to do this in marriage is to pray together with one’s spouse and later, if there are children, with our children. Families that pray together, stay together.

3. Forgive each other – "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect harmony." Colossians 3.13-14

Forgiveness can be one of the hardest things that we do. And yet, without forgiveness, there can be no reconciliation when we do something wrong and hurt our spouse. Forgiveness starts with true repentance and admitting to the other person that we have made a mistake and ask for forgiveness. Granting forgiveness can be equally hard, but is the only way.

One of the ways in making forgiveness easier to do is to remember what God has forgiveness much greater sins. But the two our linked. In order to get God’s forgiveness, we must forgive others.

Forgiveness is a unique feature of Christianity. It does not show up in other faiths. We must always remember to forgive.

4. Submit to each other – Love and respect – "Each of you also must love his wife as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5.33

Submission is a sign of both love and respect for others. Bill Bright, who with God’s help built one of the largest ministries ever – Campus Crusade, at the end of a meeting would always ask "what can I do for you." Imagine a busy founder and CEO of a major ministry asking the person he is talking to "what can I do for you." Yet, this is a sign of love and respect for the other person. It gets other people’s attention and it is amazing the results that submission to others can achieve.

Submission does have its limits. In terms of intimacy, one only submits to one’s spouse.

5. Teach the next generation – Deuteronomy 6. 4-7 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

This pillar hardly needs much explanation. However, it is hardly ever done. In years past, fathers and mothers would pray with their children and often at the dinner table would discuss some aspect of the Bible. Reading the Bible with one’s family was very popular in England in the early 19th century as a result of William Wilberforce and his friends.

Yet, we have stopped doing this for the most part. We need to Bible studies with our children and with our spouse so that we can grow together as a family. When one does that, it is amazing the results that it can have.

Teaching the next generation through Bible study though is one of the most important things that one can do. It is one of the few things that a parent should insist upon.

Why Marriage is important

Marriage is important because throughout the Bible the marriage relationship between a husband and a wife is a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the Church throughout the Bible. In Jeremiah 31:32, God says "The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand and to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them." Notice that God made a covenant with his people and then states that He was their husband linking the covenant between God and His people to the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. In Revelation 19, the wedding of the Lamb, which is Jesus, has come and his bride, the church, has made herself ready.

In Ephesians 5:28-32, marriage is discussed this way: "In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church –for we are members of the body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh."

Everyone present at this wedding by responding "I do" to the question "Will you do everything in your power to support these persons?" has an affirmative obligation to do so. The church will also do its part.
 

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Marriage Resources for Clergy
© January 2014
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