God’s Purposes for Marriage
We’ve seen a lot of changes in the last 30 years, especially when it comes to American families, and most of these changes have not been real good. We now see over 1,250,000 divorces each year, and since 1997, about half of those people claim to be Believers in God. So, the divorce rate within the Church is about equal to the divorce rate in non-religious couples. The primary reason for this is the ignorance of what God’s will is for marriage. We haven’t been trained, discipled, or taught what the Bible has to say about marriage.
We’ve also witnessed a 400% increase of unmarried couples living together. We’ve seen the advent of same-sex marriages. We’ve seen women getting pregnant outside of marriage with the sole intention of becoming a single parent. Today, 40% of families in the U.S. are single-parent families. Just shy of 39% of today’s families are blended families. Just under 3% of today’s American families are centered around grandparents raising the children instead of their parents.
All this adds up to less than 20% of American families falling under the description of “traditional, nuclear families”. We’ve seen the family, as God originally designed it, under a lot of attacks and going through an incredible amount of changes. And a lot of these changes are affecting the body of Christ as a whole.
In 1944, Webster’s dictionary defined marriage as this:
1) A state of being married, being united to a person of the opposite sex, as husband or wife. 2) Mutual relationships of husband or wife for the purpose of founding or maintaining a family.
However, in 1996, this definition has been changed to:
1) The state of being married; 2) Wedlocked; 3) The act of marrying or a ceremony of being married; 4) Close union.
Now, what has changed?
Firstly, the phrase “being united” has been taken out. This means “being made one”, which comes straight out of the Word of God.
24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. (Genesis 2:24)
The word marriage and the meaning of marriage has been diluted over time because of our culture.
Yet, God is the Creator of marriage. And His will and purpose for marriage had never changed. And, as you learn His will for marriage and as you apply His principles, marriage – no matter how tough it may seem – gets sweeter!
And that’s what God wants. As our marriages grow stronger by His design, He is glorified.
Still, most Christians today have never taken the time to learn God’s purposes for marriage, and this is the cause for many unhappy and unfulfilled marriages; as well as the cause for many divorces within the Christian community.
What Are The Right Expectations For Marriage?
When I first got married, my expectations for marriage were not even close to what God’s were.
One of the misconceptions I had was that “she was lucky to have me”. I thought I was a catch – man, was I wrong. SHE was the catch! I also thought that weekends were mine. At the time, I had a boat, I was into diving, I loved fishing and hunting and many other activities; and I told her before we got married that we could do things on weekends when I didn’t have anything planned. But otherwise, the weekends were mine to do the activities that I wanted to do.
I actually told her that.
And she still married me!
I also believed that it would be appropriate to spend my money any which way that I wanted to without any involvement from her. I also wanted her to stay young and beautiful and meet all my physical needs. Additionally, taking care of the kids was to be her department, as well as keeping the house clean.
This all sounded fair to me.
Those were just a few of my expectations that I had for married life. I didn’t know anything else. I wasn’t taught how to be a husband. I basically just watched how my parents did marriage and followed their lead.
But that’s not how God wants us to operate.
For the first two years of our marriage, my wife worked every day to change me. She kept pointing out all my weaknesses and tried to convince me to change from who I was into who she wanted me to be. This irritated the heck out of me! I had made myself crystal clear before we got married in regards to my expectations, so why was she trying to change me?
22 years ago, we finally went on our first marriage retreat. When our church first announced that it was coming up, I was on board immediately! Finally, my wife was going to hear all the things that she’s been doing wrong!! Because I knew that the Bible didn’t tell wives to continually try to change their husbands… at leas I thought that was in the Bible.
What I didn’t know was that my wife was also thinking the same thoughts about me.
What we learned that weekend didn’t come from our own understandings of marriage. It didn’t even come from what the speakers understood. The lessons we learned came straight from the Bible. And it blew our minds! We had no idea how much God has to say about what it means to be a husband and a wife.
I knew right away that I needed help.
So, I started meeting with a guy from our church on a regular basis for a year-and-a-half; and I humbly allowed him to teach me about what the Bible has to say about marriage. I knew that my own thoughts and expectations were so far away from what God’s will was that I needed much more than a single weekend retreat.
I say this because many men are like me – they attend a weekend conference and they think they’ve got God’s design for marriage down. But how much do you actually apply to your daily life?
Over the next several months, God miraculously transformed my wife and I in such a way that we then were able to teach and disciple other people who were struggling in their marriages. Going into ministry had never even crossed my mind, but here we are today… all because we chose to follow God’s direction instead of our own.