April 23, 2023
Wedding Plans – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 5: 22 - 33
Scripture: 

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

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Transcript

Take your Bible and turn to Ephesians 5:22-23. We’re in a series on the book of Ephesians, life together, because one of the great themes of Ephesians is unity. One father over all, one Lord, one baptism, one faith, one hope. How all things are going to be united someday at the end of time, in the beginning of eternity under Christ. So, there’s this great theme of Christ reconciling and uniting people now and forever, life together. As we live life together we’ll do it as the church and we’ll do it as married couples and we’ll do it as families. And we’re about to get into a section here in this letter that I think we’ll spend some time in. I’m going to begin a two-part sermon this morning. It’s simply an overview of Ephesians 5:22-33 in terms of God’s purposes for marriage.
And then in a couple of weeks we’ll look at the role of the wife in submission. We’ll look at the role of the husband in loving leadership. Then we’ll look a couple of weeks after that at the role between children and parents and the need to school. We’re all homeschoolers in the sense that we are got to bring our children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord and the first education takes place at home. And so this is just an exciting passage. I might even go on some side roads. We’re addressing marriage here and parenting, but I might just do a message on singleness for those that are not yet married, or what their role is in their singleness. We’ll wait and see how the weeks unfold.
But starting today and next Sunday, we’re looking at what I call wedding plans. What’s God’s wedding plans for your wedding, for your marriage? What’s God’s purpose for the institution of marriage? Let’s take time to read the text. Ephesians 5:22, stand in honor of God’s word and move your position a little bit. Follow along and we will begin our exposition. Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church. And he is the savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and give himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word. That he might present her to himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself. And let the wife see that she respects her husband.” So reads God’s word. You may be seated.
It goes with saying that Vince Lombardi was one of the great American football coaches. He led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships in the space of seven years, and he won the first two Super Bowls. That’s why the Super Bowl trophy is called what? The Lombardi Trophy. This man’s iconic in the world of football and coaching. In a biography his biographer records this of one of the keys of his success. “He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge of the season before. He reviewed the fundamentals of blocking and tackling, the basic plays and the study of the playbook. He began with the most elemental statement of all, with players gathered before him. He would hold up a pigskin and say, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”
That’s how Lombardi began every season, “This is a football. Let’s get back to the basics.” Now listen, back to basics is never a bad idea. Mastering fundamentals is always a good thing. Keeping the main things the plain things is a winning strategy. It was for Lombardi and it can be for us. Whether we’re playing sports, flying an airplane, adjudicating the law, developing a business, teaching a discipline, or strengthening a marriage. First things first. Must always be number one when it comes to life’s responsibilities and life’s relationships.
Whether you’re starting marriage here this morning as a young couple, or whether you’re strengthening an already existing marriage that’s years old, I want to commend to you mastering the fundamentals. I want to remind you that sticking to the basics is a must. And so with that in mind, I want to come and look at Ephesians 5:22-33 for a number of weeks. And we’re going to do a flyover in this study and next Sunday morning, it’s going to be more topical by nature as we think through the basics of marriage. Especially as it relates to God’s purpose. See, when it comes to marriage, we can answer the what question, what is it? How do you define it? We can answer the how question, how do you go about achieving it, accomplishing it, letting it flourish? And we can ask the why question, why does it exist? Is there a purpose attached to this institution?
Now, Ephesians 5 certainly deals with what marriage is. It gives us a good definition and we’ll look at that shortly. It also helps us think through the high. Where wives submit and husbands lead and both love, so on and so forth. But this passage also begins to answer the why. Of those three questions, why is often the Cinderella. But it really should be the first. Why does marriage exist? Now remember, we believe it’s the divinely designed. God came up with the idea of marriage. Therefore, as you and I said about doing his will, living our purpose, our created purpose, we’ll want to know the why of marriage, so that we will marry our marriages to the purposes of God. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Ephesians five, let’s just putting the text in its context. It’s a Christian version of what they called household codes. If you read about the culture they’re in either Hellenistic Judaism or Roman culture, there were these household codes, rules on how a house ought to be governed and a marriage established. And I think what we’ve got here is a Christian version of that. I don’t think that Paul borrowed a lot from the outside. This is a gospel-centered, biblically defined understanding of marriage.
And we’ll see here that one of the great purposes of marriage is a portrayal of the gospel. Look at verse 32 of Ephesians five. “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” That’s one of the purposes of marriage. Your love for each other is to be a reflection of a greater love, one that started an eternity past between Christ and his people. In chapter one we learned about election and adoption and redemption. And how that before time began in eternity past, God betrothed the people to his son and his son purchased that people in his death upon a cross. History will end in a marriage, the marriage supper of the lamb in the Book of Revelation between Christ and his church.
And so one of the great purposes of marriage is to reflect the love of God for us in Christ and Christ’s love for his people. That’s only one of seven purposes I’m going to give you. But before we get there, let’s just again put the text in its context quickly. This passage in Ephesians 6:1-4 about parenting is still the outworking and the outlining of what it means to walk worthy of your calling in Christ. Ephesians 4:1. That was the tipping point in the book where we moved from indicative to imperative, from gospel doctrine to gospel duty. But you’ll notice here in verse 22, wives, there’s no conjunction. I think that’s significant. Because that would seem to tie the verses we’re about to look at to the immediate verses that preceded them. And if you go to chapter five, verse 15 and following, this call for wives to submit and this call for husbands to love and lead is tied into the doing of God’s will.
Back in verse 15 we’re told what? Redeem the time, the days are evil. Find out what the will of God is and do it. And certainly for the majority of us, marriage is God’s will. We all started out single. Some of us will be single for a longer season in life. Some of us will remain single. But God’s rule for most of us is marriage, and that’s God’s will for mankind. Hebrews 13:4 says something very interesting. “Marriage is honorable among all men and the bed undefiled.” Marriage is a creation ordinance for all of mankind. It’s not a Christian ordinance, it’s a creation ordinance. We want what this passage teaches for all men and all women and all nation. Now, doing the will of God in the immediate context meant obeying the command to be filled by the Spirit. And if you’re filled by the Spirit, we saw there are several marks to that and one of those is submission.
Verse 21 tells us what? Submitting to one another in the fear of God. That’s submitting to one another in terms of the authority figures that God puts over us. Could be government, could be one’s husband, could be one’s parents, could be one’s pastor. We’re to submit to that, that’s one of the fruits of the spirit. And being filled by the spirit is one of the aspects of God’s will for our life. That’s where we’re at. So, he goes on now to talk about wives submit, children obey, servants obey. Little sidebar here, and the filling of the Holy Spirit is not lived in a vacuum. Did you notice that? What I love about this is that the filling of the Holy Spirit is immediately attached to marriage, not speaking in tongues, not serving in the church. We often limit the filling of the spirit to like service time in the church and among believers.
But no, the filling of the Holy Spirit is not lived in a vacuum. It’s not contained in a slice of our Christian life. It filters out into every aspect of life. It will take a spirit-filled woman to submit. It will take a spirit-filled man to love and lead. I like what Harold Hoehner in The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, taught at Dallas Seminary, “It is relatively easy to exhibit a spirit-filled life for one or two hours a week in church. But it takes the work of the Holy Spirit to exhibit godliness not only on a Sunday but also in everyday relationships between wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves and masters.” I like that. The filling of the Holy Spirit is necessary for all aspects of life. One of the best things you can do for your marriage is get filled by the Holy Spirit, come under his control, be influenced by his influences.
I like the story of Bishop Festo Kivengere in Africa who told him a time when he was heading off to preach, but before he left the home he had just had a row with his wife. And the Holy Spirit impressed upon him, “Go back and pray with your wife.” And see how he get into a bit of an argument with the Holy Spirit, so to speak. And he said, “Well, I’m due to preach in 20 minutes, I’ll do it afterwards.” To which he sends the Holy Spirit respond, “You go and preach and I’ll stay with your wife.” Woo, you can’t separate the filling of the Holy Spirit from any aspect of your life. Of course, you need the filling of the Holy Spirit to preach, but you need the filling of the Holy Spirit to be a good husband.
We’re going to look at God’s purposes for marriage this morning and next Sunday morning and we’ll want to listen hard. I love Acts 13:36 where it says, “And David served the purpose of God in his generation.” That’s a good definition of one’s life. You’re born to serve the purpose of God. You’re born to live your created purpose. And for most of us that will be marriage. And if God purpose is marriage, I want to know his purposes for marriage. Now, one more thing before we get there. Tragically, we’re watching and witnessing the deconstruction and the destruction of the first and foremost institution in God’s creation, marriage in our day and in our generation, and I just underscore the importance of the home. It is the first institution from which all other institutions come. It’s the baseline, it’s the bottom line. Think about this. The earliest education was done in the home as mothers and fathers instructed their children to eat and walk and behave and work.
And from that basic responsibility came other formal centers of learning as families got together and communities got together and established schools and academies and colleges. But the first schoolroom was the living room. Two, the earliest healthcare was developed in the home. And out of that came hospitals, clinics, and hospices. Think about this too. The home was the earliest center of human government. As a husband exercised authority over his wife and his children in loving care and concern and selflessness. The wife submitted learning authority and was governed, so to speak by her husband. The children submitted to mom and dad and learned authority as they submitted to parental government and control. The first human government was the family, and then patriarchal or monarchical or democratic forms of human rule flowed from that. But we’re watching the first institution from which all other institutions come be demolished in our day.
Today we have homosexual marriage. Today we have lesbian marriage. Today we have gender rebellion and reassignment. Today we have trial marriages through cohabitation. Today we have no-fault divorces. We’re told even that divorces can be positive. Abortion, out of wedlock births. We’re even told that adultery can be healthy for a marriage. Pornography, women’s liberation and fatherlessness resulting in delinquency. It’s a train wreck. Today we have sex without children through birth control and we have children without an assigned sex. Crazy, bizarre, sad, wicked. Each of these factors are a strand in the noose that is rapidly strangling marriage and family.
I want to tell you something that’s not going to stop. We’ve gone off a cliff. I’m not sure how we get back. Listen to Al Mohler in a book that you should read, We Cannot Be Silent. He says this, “The logic of same-sex marriage cannot end with same-sex marriage. Once marriage can be anything other than a heterosexual union, it can be eventually anything and everything, from polygamy to any number of deviant understandings of marriage. It’s just a matter of time and the progressive weakening of moral resolve, there’s other forms of deviant marriage coming.”
See his point. When that domino fell, other dominoes will fall. Give it time. When you can redefine marriage to be something other than it ought to be, at some point it can become anything you want it to be. He goes on, “This has all been made possible by a breakdown in the moral immune system of human society. And this breakdown was no accident. Immunologists explained that one of the wonders of human life is the fact that each of us receives from our mother an amazing array of defenses within our immune system. Throughout time we develop further immunities to disease, or we grow sick and vulnerable. A severely compromised immune system leads to chronic disease, constant vulnerability, and potential death. If this is true for an individual, it is also true for a society and for civilization.
“Western civilization has forfeited its immunity against the breakdown of marriage, the family and the integrity of human sexuality.” Our immune system is down. It crashed with the establishment of same-sex marriage. In fact, as I was studying this week, I was flabbergasted to learn that when same-sex marriage was being argued in the Supreme Court before its establishment, Chief Justice Roberts reports that the lawyers who petitioned in favor for same-sex marriage conceded they were, “Not aware of any society that has permitted same-sex marriage before 2001.” You need to hear that again. The guys and the girls that argued for same-sex marriage in the Supreme Court acknowledged that no society ever codified it, ever embraced it in law before 2001.
Folks, we’re in uncharted territory. We’re in the twilight zone. We’re going backwards fast to a very dark place. That’s why the light of God’s Word. That’s why this passage is so critical. Now again, by way of introduction a little longer than normal, but I want to get this in. Let’s just take in where we’re at and what’s going on all around. As we are watching, we are witnessing the destruction of marriage. And it’s tragic, but I want to add something else. It’s Satanic. It’s Satanic. It’s tragic, it’s bizarre, it’s sad, it’s evil. Do you know how the devil’s described in John 10:10? “As one who likes to come and steal, kill and destroy.” He’s a destroyer. He’s a waster. Revelation 9:11 tells us that he is Apollyon, the destroyer. I want to tell you this, the stench of hell hangs over all that is taking place within our society in the demolition of the home and the remaking of marriage.
The devil cheers when homes are ruined, and hell celebrates when homes are ruined. The devil fights to make families feeble. Why? Because God has put a premium on the home. And what God bills he loves to destroy. Think about this. The home is the building block of society in a God ordered society, a heaven blessed community. The family is the first institution and it’s treated with respect and priority. The family is a bulwark of authority. It’s where law and order is established. It’s were children learn authority and obedience. And when they do it at home, they’ll do it in school. They’ll do it on the street, they’ll do it in the company of a police officer. It’s the incubator of godliness. Malachi 2 tells us that God wants us by his grace and with his help to raise godly seed. If we want to disciple the nations, begin with your own child in this nation.
Ephesians 6:1-4, we’ll see it in a few weeks. “We’re to bring up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.” The home is a nursery of leadership. What does 1 Timothy 3 teach us? “That if a man doesn’t order his home, if a man can’t take care of his home, he’s not worthy to lead the church.” Leadership among man is fashioned in the home. That’s the measurement of a man’s leadership for a good part and for good reason. The home is a school of masculinity and femininity. God created them male and female and a man is meant to model masculinity and a woman is meant to model femininity and motherhood to her children.
And then lastly, we see it here, we’ll get to this more fully next week. Our marriages are a picture of the gospel. Husbands love your wives because Christ loves his bride. He died for her. He give himself up for her. And if you’re a bride, won’t you submit to Christ and your husband who’s modeling himself after Christ? Because you know what? He’s bought us and we’re not our own. But you get the point. As you and I live out these God-given roles, these distinct callings, we portray the gospel and we remind people that before there was a marriage between a man and a woman, there was a marriage between Christ and his bride, the church. In fact, every one of our marriages points to something beyond it. And something that will outlast it. We’ll get to that, John Piper’s idea, This Momentary Marriage.
Satan is hard at work. Satan got between Adam and Eve and sought to separate them from God, Genesis 3:1-7. In the context of marriage and family life here, Paul says, “Look, you need to be filled with the spirit so that you can submit as a wife, so you can lovingly lead as a husband because the devil works against you.” You gets to that in Ephesians 6:10-18 where we’ve got to put on armor if we’re going to stand in the evil day. If you go to 1 Corinthians 7:1-7, Paul talks about intimacy sexually between a husband and wife and the need for that to be regular and authentic and healthy. He says, “Should a husband and wife decide to not engage in that intimacy for a period of time with consent from one another, he recommends that period of time maybe for the purpose of fasting or seeking God in a more intense way that it not be long, because Satan will tempt.”
The only reason I go to that passage as I did the others to show that in passages related to marriage, Satan is around the edges seeking to angle his way in. I remember a pastor in Belfast telling of a doctor in his church. He was doing the rounds in a hospital in Belfast, and engaging one of his patients he learned that the patient was fasting and praying. And when he asked him if he was a Christian, assuming given the fact that he was fasting and praying, the man replied, “No, I’m a satanist and I’m fasting and praying for the destruction of Christian homes.” That’s real. That’s why Nehemiah 4:14 is not a about verse, although is to do with a physical building and an historic situation. We can apply it secondarily to the idea, Nehemiah says to the Israelites, “Fight for your family, for your wives and for your children.”
So, all of that said, what we’re going to do now and next Sunday is go through these seven purposes. God’s wedding plans for our wedding. We’re going to trace over several principles both in this passage and in other passages so that we might marry God’s purposes within our marriage. When I was at The Master’s Seminary, I remember a class by Dr. Wayne Mack, who was a wonderful biblical counselor. And then he told a story about a young seminarian who was in a class in pastoral theology, and that included how to lead a funeral and how to officiate at a wedding. And as the teacher went through what you ought to do, this young seminarian put his hand up and says, “I live in fear of doing that someday. I’m a bit of a nervous type and realizing the salinity of a funeral and the celebration of a marriage, I fear that I’ll mess up and spoil it all.”
And the professor said, “Well, we’re all capable of that.” And here’s what I would say, “Should you lose your way a little bit? Best thing to do, just catch your breath, try and get back to where you were. And maybe in the in-between just quote a scripture, it’s never wrong to quote a scripture. And so he does his first wedding out of school and part his way through and he loses his way. And he’s beginning to sweat a little bit under the collar and then he remembers what the professor said. And so he decided to quote a scripture and in front of the couple that were getting married in front of the congregation he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” That’s probably not a good scripture for that occasion.
But Wayne Mack reminded us, is that not true of so many when it comes to marriage? They don’t know what they’re doing. We live in a culture doesn’t even know what it is. It’s anything you want it to be. No. It’s what God has determined it to be. Let’s go through these. I’ll give you the outline upfront, partnership, prosperity, procreation, pleasure, protection, piety, picture. Those are the seven purposes. Now, just tracing over Ephesians 5 and 6, you’ve got those, you’ve got the two becoming one. There’s partnership. You’ve got the pleasure of intimacy in becoming one, and the nourishing and the cherishing of one another. You’ve got procreation in the bearing of children. You’ve got prosperity in that if the child obeys their parents and does the will of God, there’s a promise attached to that. It will be well with them. Family life brings prosperity and wellness, and then you’ve got picture, this whole thing’s a mystery. In fact, your marriage points to another marriage, greater, eternal.
But let’s pick the first two. Partnership and prosperity. One of the purposes of God in marriage is partnership. Two persons, a man and a woman becoming one in complimentary unity for the purpose of strengthening each other and serving God. That’s what the partnership’s about. The husband and wife coming together in a covenant relationship that they might strengthen one another, support each other, and serve the purposes of God within creation. And in Proverbs 2:17, a wife is described as, “The companion of my youth.” There’s a word companion, partner, friend. In Song of Solomon, chapter five verse 16 the wife is described as a friend to her husband. Love that.
But this is best seen back in Genesis chapter two. Genesis chapter two, all good theology begins in Genesis and in verses 15 to 25 we have the creation of Adam. We have the establishment of marriage, we have the promise of children. Now, initially Adam had animals for companions. And you know what? As we’ve said, a dog can be a man’s best friend, but let’s be honest, as good as animals are and as much fun as we have with some of our pets, it’s not enough. Let me remind you. I hope it’s not enough. You were made for something more than pooch.
Here’s Adam with the animals as companions, but it’s not enough. In fact, Adam names the animals if you read the passage. And he goes, “There’s Mr. Hippo and Mrs. Hippo.” And he works his way down the line and end of day there he stands all by himself and God looks at Adam by himself, chapter 2:18. And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper. Suitable, comparable, complimentary to him. The word there in the Hebrew and comparable or suitable is opposite to or comparable to.
And the woman was a match for the man biologically. The woman was a match for the man in terms of what she brought in complimentary gifts. In one sense they’re the same, in another sense they’re not the same biologically, calling, contribution. But one of the great blessings of marriage is friendship. It’s not good that man should be alone, so God gave Adam a helper, someone comparable to him, complimentary to him. And then we have the establishment of marriage by God. Marriage is God’s idea, verse 24, quoted by Paul in Ephesians 5, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.” Leaving, cleaving. You know what? And weaving. That’s what’s going on here. Now, it shouldn’t surprise us that God would say about Adam that it’s not good that man stands there alone, because man was made in God’s image.
You go back to Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man,” notice the plural, “in our image.” Or let us make man seems to be a hint at the triunity of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Man was made in the image of God and God exists in relationship. You know that? I mean, the doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery, but it’s a reality. And we know that there are three persons in the one God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and they live in community with each other. Coessential, coequal, coeternal. Now, man was made in the image of God. Man was made to be relational. And I think that’s somewhere at the heart of Genesis 2:18. It’s not good that man should be alone. We’re not alone. We can’t leave him alone. And so God made Adam a helper comparable to him and woman came from man. And it’s part of our human DNA that we desire companionship, we’re more fully human in the company of others.
That’s one of the beautiful things about marriage where you get to enjoy someone in intimacy for a lifetime as it deepens and broadens. Yes, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 is right. “Two is better than one.” Now, we know this negatively, right? Counter-terrorism shows us the use of isolation cells as a means of breaking down the will of a person from whom we want to extract information because isolation is cruel, it’s demeaning, it’s dehumanizing and it’s effective. And we know that negatively. You see, isolation, aloneness, cuts across the grain of the human being. I just re-watched Castaway with Tom Hanks. Remember that story? He’s a FedEx troubleshooter and he’s traveling the world fixing things for that company and the plane goes down somewhere over the Pacific. He’s doing a survivor. He lands on an island all by himself until he is eventually rescued and one of the days a football bobs up onto the shore from the wreckage and he takes the football and we know he draws a face on it and he names the football what?
Wilson. And him and Wilson live on the island together until he’s rescued. There’s not much companionship in a football. But even that was symbolic about the fact that he needed someone to interact with, this imaginary person. And that’s what’s going on here. Now, here’s another thing. I think this is important. If you look at the fuller context of Genesis 2 and the creation mandate, it suggests that Eve was given to Adam as a helper for more than simple friendship, more than simple companionship. She was to be his companion in the fulfillment of God’s stated will for him as a man and for mankind as a whole. Go back to Genesis 1:28 and you’ll read these words, “Then God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth, subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the Earth.'”
There’s a verse that should help you interpret your environmentalism. Man’s dominion over the earth. But the point is this, man and woman were called to be fruitful, fill the Earth, subdue. Exercise dominion, create community, make discovery, bring about advancement. Chapter 2:15. “Then God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Listen to what Tim Chester, a British evangelical says, “The woman is not only a companion for man’s aloneness, she is a helper for man’s service. They are partners in the task God has given humanity.” I think that’s so important. Marriage is not about self-fulfillment. Marriage is about the doing of God’s will as the two come together in marriage and join hearts, gifts and passion to pursue the will of God.
One, in children and the discipling of the next generation. Two, in helping facilitate a better society. Three, in doing whatever the garden is in terms of God’s will for them. Together and complementarity they would accomplish more. Together they would bear children. Together they would fill the Earth. Together they would reflect the image of the creator. They would develop culture, make scientific discovery, push the boundaries of knowledge, establish community, and reflect the glory of God throughout the Earth. Together, partners. Together they will stand taller, reach further, and do more. Later with the story of sin and redemption the task will turn to recreation through the authority and lordship of Christ. But it’s good to be reminded of this. This vision of marriage challenges anything that’s introverted. If your marriage isolates you from the church, your parenting isolates you from the church, or your relationship isolates you from other relationships, I think you’re beginning to turn marriage on its head. Because marriages we’ll see in a moment is for the public good. And marriages certainly has an aspect of benefiting each other, but it’s true in, the true partnership is doing God’s will.
The aloneness there is not so much loneliness as alone he won’t pull that off, but together they can. Now, just studying this this week has been refreshing. It’s also been helpful, because I’ve suffered a lot of guilt with regards to proposing to June. Because June, if she was telling you the story would tell you it wasn’t very romantic. It could have been better. Basically we were sitting in the car, not a beach, not sunset, not serenaded like you young people are doing today. Sickening it is, I’m telling you. I’ve told the young guys in the church office, “Stop it. You’re embarrassing me.” Because there it’s choreographed, it’s music. They stop at the right spot and all the friends on the cliff face, all waving I’m going brother. Mine was in a car. It only took about five minutes. There was no music and June said it was rather disappointing.
Okay, so here’s the point. I told her, “Look, if you want the romantic thing, you should have married an Italian. The Irish are for fighting, man.” But the point here basically don’t believe me, I told her I loved her. And I told her a few things that I liked about her, but basically it came down to this. This is how she interpreted it. Do you want to be a pastor’s wife? Now, this passage helped me. I feel a lot of relief, because I was really doing God’s purposes. Because I said, “Hey, God’s put me on this Earth to do something. I need a partner. You want to join?”
And the little princess was looking for something much more than that. I could have been a better Prince Charming, but on the other hand, she’s turned out to be a phenomenal helper. And we’re living our hope as best we can in our fallenness. This idea, hey, I was at Bible college. She was at Bible college. God brought us together, we were attracted and all of that, but our hearts were united in serving the Lord. And I looked and I said, “She’s a good one.” And kind of, “Yeah, you want to be a pastor’s wife? Let’s join together and fulfill the will of God.”
That’s partnership. Yeah, there’s self-fulfillment. I hope she’s more fulfilled through my love. I’m certainly because of hers. But the real purpose of our marriage is to portray Christ and serve the church, and be a benefit to whatever street we’re living on, whatever zip code we live in, or whatever country we have adopted or they have adopted us. Partnership.
Let’s move on to prosperity quickly for a few minutes. Prosperity, kind of touched on it, right? Ephesians 6:3 or 4. “Children, obey your parents.” This is the first commandment with promise. Do you want to live long and well on the Earth? Now, of course there’s exceptions to that. But generally speaking, God blesses children. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. In fact, at my father’s 90th birthday, my brother said him, “Dad, you may have lived this long because you honored your mother and father all the days of your life.”
I think that’s true, Lord measure. So, there’s wellness involved here with mom and dad and children and the family. Prosperity, human flourishing, marriage benefits mankind relationally, materially, spiritually, societally. That’s a fact. We see that wherever we go and whatever we look at. In fact, research has shown that married men and women usually are healthier, live longer, have fewer emotional problems or less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, report higher physical and emotional satisfaction sexually. Research also verifies that families intact are better for children. These are just facts that can’t be ignored, can’t be denied. They’re empirical. Because you see, God established marriage for human flourishing. It’s not good that man should be alone. Genesis 2 is a contrast to the affirmations of Genesis 1. Seven times God said, “It was good, it was good.” Then abruptly, astonishingly says, “Not good.”
The Hebrew is strong actually. It’s the opposite of good, it’s bad, detrimental. And so God said that, “I’m going to make you a helper, partner, someone that will come alongside you and serve with you and under you. Someone comparable to you but complimentary to you.” God didn’t clone Adam. God made a woman, biologically different. Different purposes and functions and calling. That woman completed that man and together they became something more than they had ever been apart. And that was good for society. In fact, without that, that they known as society because two have to leave mother and father, they have to become one and then becoming one socially, spiritually, sexually. Children result and society begins to expand. And when that’s managed and protected and valued, good things result. Good things will not result from what our country’s doing. Marriage is foundational. We all know foundations are everything, aren’t they? I mean, I’m no architect, but I know that a building can only go as high as its foundations are deep.
Psalm 11:3 hints at the importance of a foundation. “If the foundation be destroyed, what will the righteous do?” Things crumble when there are no foundations. And the foundations are crumbling within our society. Going back to the idea that marriage is the first and primary institution, we deduce that it’s the cornerstone for a prosperous society. In fact, Hebrews 13:4 tells us that marriage is honorable among all men. When it’s weak, everything begins to crumble and tumble. Listen to John MacArthur, “Families are the building blocks of human society. And a society that does not protect the family undermines its very existence.” When the family goes, everything else of value goes with it. When the cohesiveness and meaningfulness and discipline of the family are lost, anarchy will flourish. And where anarchy flourishes, law, justice and safety cannot. The family nourishes and binds society together were heirs, the anarchy that results from its absence only depletes, destroys, and disrupts.
I don’t know if you watched the news a week or so ago in that mob of young people running through New York, breaking windows, destroying cars, and assaulting people. And one bystander asked this question, “Where are the parents?” That’s the symptom. The disease at home, the breakup of the family, fatherlessness, the redefining of marriage. We’re tinkering at the baseline of all that’s good. And we’re destroying things that will destroy us. But if you and I seek to live God’s will, we understand that you know what, marriage was giving for the flourishing of mankind. Nation are strong when families are strong. I love Psalm 127, Psalm 128 as we begin to wrap up. “Blessed is the man who has a bunch of children. They’re like arrows in the hands of a warrior. They’ll defend him. Later in life they’ll come back to protect him.”
Psalm 128, you want to know the highest happiness? Well, there’s a picture there of it. It’s a dining room table, and at the head of it is a father, at the bottom of it is a mother, and around it are the children who are like olive plants and everything’s flourishing. No deeper, higher happiness than that. In fact, if you read those Psalms, the word happiness extends to both family and nation. And because they’re married to each other and one builds from the other. Strong families where happiness reigns brings about a strong and prosperous nation. Barbara Bush was right. “What happens in your house is more important than what happens in the White House.”
Let me squeeze a couple of things in. I think we sometimes shudder or we are disturbed a little by the severity of Old Testament laws with regards to immorality, whether it’s adultery, or whether it’s homosexuality, the death penalty were attached to that, those things. In fact, the rebel both in the home and society also lost their lives. And we look back and we realized, in the New Testament things have changed to some degree. I mean, the church is not a government, doesn’t administer the death penalty. But you’ll notice too, but in 1 Corinthians 5, those who are immoral in the church are to be put out. The point is this, these severe actions and these severe laws, I think here’s what I take from it. If marriage is a protection, then marriage has got to be protected, because it’s marriage that protects society, and therefore societies ought to protect marriage, because it’s the protector of society.
That’s why it’s unbelievable that our country embraced an idea of marriage that has never been codified in any cultures up until 2001. Have you ever thought about the public good of marriage? I’m just going to run down a list. Marriage is good, it’s honorable. It ought to be treasured and valued among all men. It offers unique friendship. Well, you can enjoy friendship outside of marriage. Before you were married you enjoyed friendship. But I’ll tell you, marriage is a unique friendship where you share a bed, and you share life 24/7, and you create life and share life with children. It’s a unique friendship. It offers discipline and joyful sex. It’s super glue. Children result, and the nurturing of those children is a priority. Every family helping other families creates a better society. Family regulates and establishes authority and is a bulwark against anarchy.
A good marriage produces blessedness and wholeness. In the Song of Solomon, Solomon calls his wife the friend of his peace, is the Hebrew word shalom. It’s more than just peace, it’s wholeness. “She produces wholeness in me.” It’s the beauty of it all and it provides the greatest legacy. Spurgeon said, “Carve not your name on marble, but on hearts.” Our greatest legacy will be our families. And if we bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, we will die with some satisfaction that the torch of Truth is being carried forward for the glory of God.
As the team gets ready to come up, I like the story that Kent Hughes tells of a little 4-year-old Jean who had attended the nursery school, and the story for the day was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and she’d never heard it before. And so she was all eyes and all ears as she learned about this young, beautiful girl who had been poisoned with an apple pie, an old witch, and had fallen into a deep sleep. And the only remedy was this Prince Charming coming and kissing her and restoring her life. She loved it. Couldn’t wait to get home and tell her mom. And she got home and she says, “Mommy, let me tell you a story. You’ll never believe it.” And she began telling the story of Snow White and all the different parts of it. Then when she got to the end, she said, “And mom, Prince Charming kissed her back to life. And guess what happened?” And mom said, “Well, honey, they lived happily ever after.” To which she replied, “No, they didn’t. They got married.”
Now, we like to make jokes about marriage just like that one. A marriage is like a bath, not so hot after a while. Marriage is like a violin. When the music stops, the strings are still attached. A man may be a fool and not know it, but not that he’s married. A husband is someone who stands by you in troubles you would never have had if you hadn’t have married him. Marriage isn’t a word, it’s a sentence. You know what, Abraham Lincoln who knew firsthand about a difficult marriage spoke for millions when he observed, “Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it’s just purgatory.” Well, all of that said, no, marriage is no joke. In fact, properly ordered with the help of the Holy Spirit and the pattern of the gospel it’s the highest happiness and the deepest joy. Purposes of God in marriage, partnership, prosperity.
Father, we thank you for our time in the Word this morning. We thank you for the practicality of this passage. We pray for those who are single among us. We pray that they would aspire to marriage, that they would make it a priority, that they would prepare themselves to be the kind of man they would need to be and the kind of woman they would need to be to accomplish a marriage that brings about human flourishing and divine joy. May they keep themselves pure. May they seek you in seeking a spouse. Make them content in the in-between.
Lord, for those of us that are married, we thank you for this encouragement. Thank you for this reminder. Too often we get to the how and the what and we forget about the why. Lord, help us to get back to basics. Help us to learn the fundamentals all over again. Help us to work out our partnership. Help us to serve one another. May husbands lead, that’s how they serve. And may wife submit, that’s how they serve. And together may we seek to accomplish your will. Forgive us for allowing our marriages to become introvert and indulgent when marriage is really about others. It’s about children, it’s about society, and it’s about the gospel.
Lord, frankly we don’t know where we’re at in the curvature of history. Maybe we have gone over the Niagara Falls culturally. Lord, we’ve certainly got to a place this nation and no nation’s ever been to before, and we’re seeing the results. Suicide, violence, anger, the hatred for what is good, the bullying and hounding people that disagree. Lord, but whatever the culture does, may we be the counterculture. Help us to be a pure church. Lord, before we wag the finger, may we look in the mirror. May we thwart divorces in Christian homes. May we seek a lifelong partnership that projects the gospel and the love of Christ for us. May we do all we can to show the good of this institution, and the health and holiness and happiness that results. For we ask it all in Jesus name. Amen.