The Sanctity of marriage

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- The Sanctity of marriage

Post by Christ is My Life! on Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:59 pm

When we were created, God had made a covenant with mankind. God also gave mankind free will. Our relationship with our Father is that of a marriage, thus when God unites a man and a woman, the covenant becomes a new type of trinity, GOD/MAN/WOMAN. God blesses the union of man and woman through the ceremony of marriage. Within its vows includes, in simple terms, "Stickin it through the roughest of storms through the quietest most peaceful and precious moments." As God sticks by us at our highest through our lowest moments, He requires us to do the same for those whom He has chosen for us.

Quite often, the beginning is so incredible, a woman feels like Cinderella whom finally found her prince. A man can't stop thinking about this dream that he has found that makes him feel wole and complete. As often we feel when we meet and understand God's power.

The dating begins, the courtship, the gifts, the "Spoiling" showing each other that YES, I am the one for YOU! All with some life tests to see if yes, the man and woman can stick it out together.....then the engagement. Like a confirmation before God in church....Devoting the self to another being, forsaking all others ad promising oneself to this beloved partner. After time, becomes the wedding. ......to be continued.....due to reasons of a family emergency...
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- Re: The Sanctity of marriage

Post by texastig on Sun Aug 19, 2007 12:40 am

I never thought of a marriage as a trinity. But it's true.
A threefold cord is not easily broken.
Our relationship to God should mirror our relationship with our spouse.
Thanks,
TT

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- Re: The Sanctity of marriage

Post by Christ is My Life! on Fri Sep 14, 2007 6:33 pm

The big wedding day...Perhaps some would consider it our baptism. We prepare. We put on our best hair, dress, attitude to greet our husbands and wives to be...heart beating while awaiting our bride or walking towards our groom. Excitement from each patron whom comes to glimpse into the love of a new couple...tears flowing from joy...the pastor awaiting to begin the new covenant under God.

This covenant...to be unbroken. Like God's covenant with us. To honor, to love, to obey until death do us part. If we each looked at our spouses as God looks at us, we would understand the covenant goes very deep. In the beginning...it is easy to please our spouses. The honey moon seems to have only just begun. Then after time, the honey moon feelings fade. The face that used to light you up at the thought, becomes regular...used to. Sometimes the voice becomes annoying. But the passion is still there. Then, after more time, things start getting noticed. The cooking isn't like Mom's...socks are on the floor...dust under the bed...razor left overs in the sink...toilet seat left up/down.

And the face, that used to light up your soul, no longer shines like it used to. And doubts begin.

But a covenant was made....

I want each of us to look at our lives and the covenant that we have made with God, and His with us...and the people in our lives. And remember...that God does not look at us the way we look at each other. Oh how glorious it would be if we could look at each other with God's eyes. His creation...the eyes of a parent upon their newborns.

Take a deep breath and step back. It is time to look at our families with new eyes and remember and focus on our covenant with our Father in heaven. Oooh
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- Re: The Sanctity of marriage

Post by Christ is My Life! on Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:39 pm


A
Godly Woman





The Bible
speaks to everyone who follows in the way,

But some parts
are specific in the things they have to say.

The fathers
are encouraged, and those alone in life,

And there
are admonitions for the mother and the wife.



I always linger
over these; they speak to my estate.

They offer
me direction in the small things and the great.

To be a goldy
woman is the goal I want to reach,

And so I need
to study what the Scriptures have to teach.



A woman who
is called to be a mother and a wife,

Who takes
the cross and purpose to live a godly life,

Is ever growing
in the faith she's chosen to profess,

And there
are certain qualities she covets to possess.



The godly
woman stays at home, her duties keep her there.

She rises
while it yet is night and gives herself to prayer.

Her days are
full of service and her heart is full of love;

Her mind is
full of gratitude and praise for God above.



Though not
employed outside the home, she has no mind to shirk,

She eats not
bread of idleness, but fruit of honest work.

Her brother
and her sister, her parents and her neighbor,

Her husband
and her children share the blessing of her labor.



The love her
husband feels for her is easy to reflect,

And she not
only loves him, but she gives him her respect.

In her his
heart may safely trust; she does him only good;

When he confides
his inner thoughts, he finds them understood.



She's mindful,
too, of Eden, where the woman was deceived,

She knows
it's not her place to teach, as others have believed,

Nor to usurp
authority, but listen with subjection,

In meekness
and humilty, accepting his direction.



When all the
church assembles in a solemn, formal way,

The godly
woman listens to what the brethren have to say;

And if she
hears a statement made that makes her sit up straighter,

The question
forming in her mind she asks her husband later.



Still, there
is a congregation where her voice is often heard,

And her children
are attentive as she teaches them the Word.

When she sits
within her house, and when she walks along the way;

When she lays
them down at night and when she rises with the day.



The godly
woman isn't gay; she's left all that behind.

She's pleasant
and she's cheerful, but she has a sober mind.

Her covered
head, her simple dress, her modest mien are one;

Her singular
adornment is the good that she has done.



When years
of faithful laboring have bent her body low,

She'll teach
the younger women in the way that they should go.

And verily,
I say to you, she'll have a rich reward.



Oh, make of
me that woman, Lord! And guide me in that way,

Behold, Thou
art the potter, and I the softened clay.

Encourage
me where I am right; rebuke me where I'm wrong.

I read these
Scriptures often and I ponder on them long.



~Janice Etter~



Titus 2:3-5

Proverbs 31:10-11

Ephesians
5:24,33

1 Peter 3:1-6

1 Corinthians
14:34-35

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- Re: The Sanctity of marriage

Post by Christ is My Life! on Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:47 pm

What
increases the likelihood of a child living in poverty, dropping out of
school, and becoming a juvenile delinquent? What increases the
probability of a child abusing alcohol, taking drugs, becoming sexually
promiscuous, and committing suicide? What cripples hundreds of
thousands of young people when they marry and creates


fear, insecurity, and a higher likelihood that their marriages will not
last a lifetime? It's divorce, divorce, divorce. And divorce is killing
both America and the church. Broken
promises...mistrust...instability... shattered people. Divorce has
created a national disaster. An enemy. Marriage is not just a private
experiment, littered with prenuptial agreements and an attitude of "Try
me! If it doesn't work, you can always bail out!" Marriage is not some kind of social contract-something you just "do" for as long as you both shall "love."


Marriage is a sacred
covenant between one man and one woman and their God for a lifetime. It
is a public vow of how you will relate to your spouse as you form a new
family unit.
Any
covenant-including the marriage covenant-is a binding, weighty
obligation. In Proverbs 20:25, we read, "It is a trap for a man to
dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows"(NIV).
God says, "I hate
divorce" (Malachi 2:16). The Lord didn't stutter when He spoke these
words. It is time for each of us to embrace and proclaim God's sacred
view of marriage, as well as His corresponding hatred for divorce.
Reclaiming the sanctity of marriage begins with several commitments:


Commitment #1: Do Not Get Married Unless You Plan to Keep Your Vows.
Both churches and
individuals have a holy trust and responsibility to take radical
measures to restore meaning to the covenant of marriage. Churches, for
example, could refuse to marry couples who will not take a
church-prescribed marriage preparation course; marry only couples who
agree to sign and be held accountable to such a public document, and
assign a mentoring couple to all newlyweds before they get married. Before they are
married, individuals could agree to faithfully fulfill all the church's
requirements for marriage preparation, including the signing of a
marriage covenant. They could refuse to sign any type of prenuptial
agreement. And they could pledge to each other, to their new extended
family, and to the community to never divorce and to solemnly fulfill
the marriage vows.
By no means is this
a comprehensive list of all that needs to be enacted, nor will it
eliminate failure, but it does give us a helpful proactive starting
point.
Commitment #2: Fulfill Your Vows by Staying Married.
If you are married, you have a sacred covenant obligation. Fulfill it.

Too many marriages
begin to unravel when one of the spouses mentally entertains the
possibility of divorce. The notion that divorce is a solution must be
rejected. We must fight tenaciously to restore the ideal of marriage
for a lifetime. Marital commitment demands perseverance.
The church needs to
restore the model of one man and one woman bound together before God
for a lifetime. We need more couples like J.L. and Hilda Simpson, godly
Christians who wrote me a profound note:
September 9, 1995,
made us 46 years together. I was 15 and J.L. was 17 when we married. We
are now 61 and 63. We could have divorced dozens of times but because
we love each other deeply, and because God hates divorce, we didn't
want to bring the curse of divorce into our family, so we didn't.
Barbara and I have
been married since 1972, and we have had our share of illness, tragedy,
and disagreements. But the word, "divorce" has never passed through our
lips. May I challenge you to do the same?
You need to keep
your covenant. You must keep your covenant. Your children's marriages,
your legacy, and the strength of the church depend upon it.
Commitment #3: Fulfill Your Vows by Maintaining Emotional and Moral Fidelity.
For too many people,
adultery is the first step out of a marriage. An emotional or sexual
attachment to someone other than your spouse creates intense passions
that sabotage trust and steal marital intimacy. To maintain
emotional and moral fidelity to your mate, you need to, first, maintain
a healthy sexual relationship. Lovingly study your mate to learn what
will keep him or her interested and satisfied. Cultivate the fine-and
often forgotten-art of romance.
Second, you need to
guard your heart in relation to the opposite sex. Restrict your gaze
and refuse the temptation to look longingly at members of the opposite
sex. Don't fantasize about someone else. Build boundaries around your
heart by making yourself accountable to a friend for your secret
thoughts.
Commitment #4: Fulfill Your Vows by Praying Faithfully With Your Spouse.
Why do so few
Christian couples pray together? What could seem more natural than
husband and wife talking intimately together with the One who provides
the glue to hold a relationship together? Yet prayer is one of the most
challenging disciplines for any married couple to practice.
I think I know why.
The enemy of our souls, Satan, also knows how effective prayer is.
He'll do anything to prevent it in a marriage. And our flesh gets in
the way, too, because prayer demands humility before God. It's hard to
be in the midst of some selfish behavior and then pray with your
spouse-I know, I've tried and failed! Daily prayer
prevents divorce and makes marriages stronger. A national survey
commissioned by FamilyLife in 1995 discovered that couples who pray
together frequently (at least three times per week) have higher levels
of marital satisfaction than those who don't.
What would happen to
the divorce rate in the church if husbands and wives would consistently
pray together? I believe that the number of divorces could be cut in
half within months, and that within a decade, divorce would be uncommon
in the Christian community.
If there's one
practical action step you can take to divorce-proof your marriage, this
is it: Begin praying daily with your spouse. Adapted from One Home at a Time by Dennis Rainey, Focus on the Family Publishing.


Oooh

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- Re: The Sanctity of marriage

Post by Christ is My Life! on Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:55 pm

COMMITMENT IN MARRIAGE




Doug Goins



In 1 Corinthians 7:10-24 the apostle Paul confronts a provocative issue
in the life of the church and a major social problem in our world today:
the growing challenge to commitment in marriage that is represented by divorce.
In the United States, approximately every other marriage ends in divorce.
In California the rate is even higher; there are nearly as many divorces
each year as marriages. Love is praised and espoused everywhere you look
in the media, and yet it's sadly lacking in terms of committed marriages.
Unhappy marriages are much too common, even in Christian circles.

That was illustrated to me last week by a tragic account that a man who
goes to this church shared with me. Recently, his brother-in-law, who supposedly
had been a Christian at some point in his life, died of a stroke as a relatively
young man. He spent the last few days of his life in a coma at a hospital
in Reno. He was surrounded during those last days by five women: His mother,
his ex-wife, their daughter, his then-current wife, and the woman he was
having an affair with when he was taken ill. How tragic for each one of
those five people, the tangled web that was woven out of frustration, unhappiness,
and lack of fulfillment in marriage.

Difficult marriage relationships and the problematic solution of divorce
are not unique to the twentieth century. We are repeating the conditions
that existed in the Roman Empire in New-Testament times. In the great cosmopolitan
cities like Corinth, divorce was very common. It was simple to obtain for
both men and women, just as it is today.

This entire seventh chapter of 1 Corinthians focuses on problems relating
to marriage, singleness, and sexuality. In verses 10-24 Paul emphasizes
the pressures behind the breakup of marriage. He is thoroughly familiar
with the acceptance of divorce by the Greco-Roman world, and he understands
the temptations this creates for Christian husbands and wives to take what
looks like the easy way out of a difficult marriage relationship.

These verses speak to couples today who are unhappy and frustrated in
their marriage relationships, who don't think they can live with the conflict
and difficulty anymore. I would appeal to you, if you are a follower of
Jesus Christ and you see little chance for the survival of your marriage,
to ask God, as you interact with the word, to "enlighten the eyes of
your heart," in Paul's words. And if you feel that you made a bad choice
in getting married, then please listen to God's word with special attention.
And if you somehow think that you could serve the Lord more effectively
without the bondage of marriage, then ask the Lord to teach you through
this inspired text what true freedom is. And if you feel hopeless about
your marriage, then hear this divine word of hope, because that is what
it is: hope in hopelessness.

This text is divided into two sections. Verses 10-16 are a call to faithfulness
and commitment in marriage. Paul first addresses Christian couples, then
Christian believers who are married to unbelievers. The second section,
verses 17-24, presents a universal spiritual principle behind Paul's challenge,
the secret to remaining faithful in a difficult relationship.

CHRISTIANS COUPLES ARE TO STAY MARRIED

Verses 10-11 give us guidelines for Christian married couples:


But to the married I give instructions, not I, but
the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave,
let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that
the husband should not send his wife away.


To Christian husbands and wives, Paul says, "If you're married,
stay married." There is no distinction made here as to the type of
marriage involved, whether it was Jewish or Roman, formal or common-law,
civil or religious. These new converts in the church in Corinth would have
marriages representing every kind of arrangement practiced in that day,
every type of marriage that we can imagine. It's clear that Paul is addressing
his instructions to marriages in which both partners are Christians in these
two verses, because Paul never gave apostolic commands to non-Christians.
Unbelievers don't have the internal spiritual resources to obey the commands
that God lays down in his word. Also, beginning in verse 12, Paul is going
to deal specifically with marriages in which only one partner is a believer.


So that there is no doubt as to the source of this call to commitment
in marriage, the apostle adds the phrase, "Not I, but the Lord."
In Matthew 19:4-9 Jesus has already taught this truth during his earthly
ministry. In verse 5 Jesus quoted the creation orders of marriage from Genesis
2:24: "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and
shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh." Then
in verse 6 Jesus made some inferences for us: "Consequently they are
no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let
no man separate." In answer to a specific question that the Pharisees
had posed to him, he went on to explain that God directed Moses to permit
divorce only because of his people's hardness of heart, or sinful stubbornness.
Divorce was established to guard innocent people who were being taken advantage
of in the rush to put spouses, usually women, away. Jesus added that divorce
was allowed-not commanded-only in the case of adultery. Verse 9: "And
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries
another woman commits adultery."

Speaking through the Old-Testament prophet Malachi, God thundered, "...I
hate divorce...." (2:16). Divorce is contrary to his plan for us. It
violates his good gift, which we talked about in the last message. It's a rejection of his grace. But
God hates divorce mostly because he loves people and he loves relationships.
He knows how foolish the idea of no-fault divorce is. Divorce is always
violent and wrenching, and God hates to see people victimized by that. Jesus
makes clear that when divorce is allowed in cases of adultery, it's only
as a gracious concession to the innocent party in an irreconcilable case
of unfaithfulness. When the sinning spouse repents before the Lord and before
their husband or wife and comes back, God can bring healing and reconciliation.


We don't know why some of the Corinthian believers wanted to divorce
their Christian marriage partners. In light of 1 Corinthians 7:1-9, they
may have been moved by the super-spiritual, ascetic group in the church
who said that the best way to live was not to have any kind of sexual interaction
whatsoever. "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" was their
slogan. Perhaps they thought that if they could get out of a bad marriage
to a Christian spouse, they could stay celibate and somehow glorify God
to a greater degree. But Paul strongly refutes that ascetism and says that's
not how we were created as men and women in God's image. And most of us
today wouldn't identify with that perspective. But we might identify with
some in Corinth who wanted to leave their mates because they felt unfulfilled
in their marriages. Or perhaps they developed infatuations with others in
the church in new relationships that they wanted to justify as being more
spiritually fulfilling or satisfying.

Whatever the reasons, they were not to divorce. Again, verse 10: "...The
wife should not leave her husband." And verse 11: "...The husband
should not send his wife away." The terms "leave" and "send
away" are interchangeable in the original Greek for divorcing a husband
or a wife. Paul is not discussing here the concession that Jesus made for
adultery. He is only talking about divorce for other reasons, even supposedly
spiritual ones.

"...But if she does leave, let her remain unmarried, or else be
reconciled to her husband...." This suggests that some of the believers
in Corinth have already divorced, or are moving in that direction. Paul
says that if that happens, then they must not remarry. They've got to wait
for the other one to want to come back, holding out the hope that God can
reconcile the relationship, because in God's eyes the union has never been
broken. God's expectation of this kind of physical separation is always
hopeful. You see, God is not a "cosmic killjoy." He desires the
door to always be open for possible reconciliation between the estranged
partners.

The language is very strong here. These are not suggestions from a marriage
counselor. These are divine commands from our Lord Jesus, reinforced by
Paul's apostolic authority. His instruction to Christian married couples
is to face into the difficulties and work out the differences. There are
three imperatives of faithful commitment that are very strong in those two
verses: "Do not leave," "Be reconciled," and "Do
not send her away." The apostle is not the least bit sympathetic toward
irreconcilable differences between Christians.

There was a couple sitting in the front row here earlier this morning.
Twenty years ago, one of the first weddings I was involved in at PBC was
to remarry them. They had been divorced. Alcohol and infidelity were involved.
Yet the other spouse waited and prayed and left the door open. The Lord
brought me into the situation when they were seeking reconciliation, and
I had the joy of remarrying them before their families, their grown children,
and their grandchildren. Twenty years later, they're still ministering and
serving here. God has honored that choice to be reconciled. I talked to
the husband this morning, and he said, "You know what? We're stronger
than ever." God is true to his word. He is the God of reconciliation
and hope.

A CHRISTIAN'S MINISTRY TO THEIR UNBELIEVING SPOUSE

Now in verses 12-16 Paul is going to tackle the issue of newly converted
Christians in the church in Corinth who are married to people who didn't
respond to the gospel when it was preached. (He is not talking here about
Christians who choose to marry non-Christians. Paul is very clear that a
believer is not to marry an unbeliever. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul says,
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers....") Let's look at
verses 12-14:


But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother
has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, let
him not send her away. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and
he consents to live with her, let her not send her husband away. For the
unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving
wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children
are unclean, but now they are holy.


This was written in response to honest questions raised by some of these
new believers. Were they free to divorce someone with whom they were unequally
yoked, and then perhaps remain single to serve the Lord, or to remarry a
Christian they had met? Paul had taught them in Corinth what he wrote to
them in chapter 6, that their bodies were members of Christ, and they were
sanctuaries of the Holy Spirit. So there would be understandable concern
about whether or not to maintain marital union with an unbelieving spouse.
Some may have thought that such a union joined Christ to Satan, or that
it was defiling to the believer or to their children. Were they dishonoring
God with their bodies by staying married to an unbeliever? Perhaps some
of these new Christians were intoxicated with the wonderful new community
of faith, and became attracted to new brothers and sisters in Christ. Understandably,
they would strongly desire to have a Christian marriage partner.

Jesus didn't talk directly about this problem in the gospels. So the
statement that Paul makes there at the beginning of verse 12, "...I
say, not the Lord..." is not denying apostolic inspiration or suggesting
that he is only giving his human opinion. It's just saying that God hasn't
given previous revelation on this specific subject, and now Paul is doing
just that, as an apostle of the Lord. And Paul is very clear in verses 12-13
that a Christian husband or wife who is married to an unbeliever must not
initiate a divorce if the unbeliever is content to stay married.

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- Re: The Sanctity of marriage

Post by Christ is My Life! on Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:57 pm

Continued....

The Christian doesn't have to worry about whether they or their children
are going to somehow be defiled by the unbelieving spouse. As a matter of
fact, verse 14 says that just the opposite is true. The Christian can bless
them and having a life-changing effect on them.

Now, let's be realistic. I know that being unequally yoked in a one-flesh
relationship as a Christian with a non-Christian can be difficult. It's
complicated, discouraging, and frustrating for both parties. Some new believers
have driven their spouses nuts with their impatient zeal. Understandably,
there can be a backlash to that. Sometimes the unbelieving spouse treats
the Christian unfairly and ungraciously, even persecuting them for their
faith.

But the good news Paul is proclaiming here is that the Christian spouse
will not be spiritually defiled or polluted by staying in the marriage.
The promise in verse 14 is that there is a wonderful new spiritual dynamic
at work in the relationship. The Christian's presence in that marriage can
be wonderfully life-changing. The non-Christian spouse is going to talk,
eat, work, play, and make love with someone who is indwelled by the living
Christ. The Christian spouse is, in Paul's words, "...a fragrance of
Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:15) in their nostrils every day.

If you as a Christian are in such a marriage, Paul is encouraging you
not to underestimate the spiritual blessing you can bring to your unsaved
spouse. Your spouse is going to have to put up with all the tender, loving
care you can give them in the Lord Jesus Christ! Your loving witness can
be very difficult for them to resist, and may very well lead them into relationship
with Christ. The apostle Peter held out that hope for Christian wives in
the churches in Turkey that he wrote to:


"You [Christian] wives,
be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient
to the word, they may be won
[to faith in Christ] without a word
by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful
behavior." (1 Peter 3:1-2.)


The other good news is that your children are folded into the promise
as well. You don't have to fear some kind of defiling influence from your
non-Christian spouse on your children. God graciously offers the hope that
since one of their parents is a Christian, they will be protected from undue
spiritual harm. Your spiritual presence and witness will speak in clear
contrast to their unbelieving parent's life. And that could lead the children
to salvation.

This brought to mind a number of histories of spiritual influence that
folks among us have had in their families. I've also heard stories of the
influence that just one other family member had on folks who are now followers
of Jesus Christ among us. That's all it takes-a majority of one person who
stands for Jesus Christ. It might have been a grandparent, a spouse, a sibling,
or a favorite aunt or uncle who loved Jesus. Because of their faithfulness
in the family, others received the spiritual blessings of God and eternal
life. I know of men and women in our body who are married to unbelievers
and who are faithfully serving those folks. They are a tremendous witness
and example. My wife told me of one of the dear women in our church who
said that her unbelieving husband has become her best friend. That isn't
a statement about him. That's the evidence of Christ at work in her, because
God has changed her on the inside.

PEACE IF THE UNBELIEVING SPOUSE LEAVES

Now, what do you do if the non-Christian spouse wants to leave the marriage?
That's addressed in verses 15-16:


Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the
brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called
us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband?
Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?


When the unbelieving spouse wants to leave the marriage, the believer
often has no control over the outcome. And Paul says that the Christian
spouse should not insist on the other spouse's staying if he or she is determined
to leave the marriage. Listen to how The Message paraphrases verse
15:


"On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you've
got to let him or her go. You don't have to hold on desperately. God has
called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can." (1)


Paul says that if the non-Christian divorces the believer, the marriage
bond is broken. That's what "not under bondage" means. In the
Scriptures, this abandonment by an unbelieving spouse is one of only three
harsh realities that dissolves a marriage. The other two are death and adultery.
Paul will address the issue of death in verse 39: "A wife is bound
as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to
be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord." And we heard the
words of the Lord Jesus about how adultery destroys the marriage bond. And
throughout the Scriptures, whenever a divorce is allowed legitimately, then
remarriage is assumed.

In the last phrase of verse 15, Paul suggests another reason why God
allows divorce in the case of desertion. He says that God has called us
to peace. If the unbelieving spouse can't tolerate the Christian faith,
and if they really want to get out of the union, it's better that the marriage
be dissolved so that peace can be preserved. Fighting, turmoil, bickering,
criticism, and frustration disrupt the harmony and peace that God wants
for his children. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, "If possible,
so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (12:18.) But
if an unbeliever wants out of the marriage, then peace no longer depends
on the Christian.

The Christian spouse has no assurance, anyway, that continuing the marriage
will save the non-Christian. Regardless of their motives and hopes, the
likelihood of leading a partner to Christ is minimal if the partner is forced
to stay in the marriage unwillingly or reluctantly. Paul's bottom line here
is that we can't force people into regeneration. And the call to peace in
the dissolution of a marriage is important for the Christian spouse. They
must be Christ-like through the process of dissolution, as painful and difficult
as it might be. There is no place for revenge, spite, or recrimination.
They must ask the Lord to make them a peacemaker.

God takes a very high view of marriage in this section. He wants us to
stay committed to our marriage relationships as believers, even if we are
married to an unbeliever, because God himself is so committed to marriage.
Hebrews 13:4 says that God has declared marriage honorable. The Amplified
New Testament
(2) defines that as esteemed, worthy, precious, of great
price, especially dear. We should never underestimate what God desires to
do in our marriages. No matter how difficult the relationship, the good
news is that God can be honored and glorified.

"BLOOMING WHERE YOU'RE PLANTED"

In the last section, verses 17-24, Paul explains the general principle
on which he has built his argument in verses 10-16. He generalizes far beyond
the specific issue of remaining faithful in marriage. He illustrates the
principle with a couple of other relationships: that of Jew to Gentile,
with the big, divisive issue of circumcision, and that of free men to slaves,
who were trying to be unified and live together in the body of Christ. Paul
makes the point three different times in verses 17, 20, and 24 what God's
perspective is on how we should respond to difficult circumstances. Let's
read each of the principles first:


Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God
has called each, in this manner let him walk. ...Let each man remain in
that condition in which he was called...Brethren, let each man remain with
God in that condition in which he was called.


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- Re: The Sanctity of marriage

Post by Christ is My Life! on Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:57 pm

Continued.......

We could paraphrase these verses like this: "Do not be in a hurry
to change the external circumstances of your life simply because you have
become a Christian." We've seen the difficulties that these Corinthians
were having with their marriages. Some of them believed that if they changed
their marital status, they would be happier, more fulfilled, perhaps even
more spiritual. The phrase in verse 17, "Let him walk," has the
same meaning as the phrase in the New International Version (NIV), "Retain
the place of life." It means the circumstances that you are in, the
external setting-our marital status, physical setting, or socioeconomic
status. These three verses imply that whatever state we were in when we
came to salvation in Jesus Christ, we should seek to function faithfully
there without trying to change it.

All three of those verses talk about the call that we heard in Christ
Jesus to salvation, to new life. That call in Jesus Christ transcends all
physical circumstances. It makes them irrelevant. Being a new creature in
Christ has so radically changed our relationship with God that we don't
need to try to change the relationships around us. The life of Christ is
so transforming, both to us and to all the people that we interact with,
that whatever frustration or friction there is in the difficult relationships,
God by his Spirit in us can ease and soften.

The challenge is to find contentment in Christ, whatever the difficult
relationship. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, who was struggling as a
pastor in a difficult church in Ephesus: "...Godliness actually is
a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment" (1 Timothy
6:6). It's hard to be contented in difficult circumstances, isn't it? And
yet the call of the apostle is, in a sense, to bloom where we are planted.
God knows what he is doing in the planting. We don't like to remain, do
we? All of us envision how it could be better in some other setting, some
other place, or some other marriage relationship. But the call in all three
verses is to stay where you are and see what God will do in the circumstances.

WHAT MATTERS IS OBEDIENCE

Paul illustrates the principle twice, and in each case the relationship
is much more extreme, in terms of loss and limitation and frustration, than
marriage is. The first setting has to do with circumcision. In verses 18-19,
Paul says that our identity in Christ transcends the difficulties of racial
and religious conflicts.


Was any man called already circumcised? Let him not
become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? Let him
not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing,
but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.


This was an explosive issue in the church of Christ. There was a great
barrier to unity between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. There
were Judaizers trying to force Gentile Christian men to be circumcised,
and there were many Jewish men who sought acceptance in the Greco-Roman
world with a minor surgical procedure that made them look like they had
never been circumcised. Circumcision was one of the most fundamental requirements
of Judaism, but Paul says it's a matter of moral indifference for followers
of Jesus Christ. And it's practically wrong to change the external sign,
because it unnecessarily separates believers from their families and friends,
and makes witnessing to them that much more difficult. What matters is obedience
to the Lord, the apostle says. That's the only mark of faithfulness that
God recognizes. Obedience is costly and difficult, but it is possible by
the power of the Spirit. We can be obedient anywhere and in any circumstances.
It's really an internal issue, not an external issue.

TRUE FREEDOM AND TRUE SLAVERY

The second illustration is that of slavery in the Roman Empire. We see
in verses 21-23 that our identity in Christ transcends the difficulties
of socioeconomic conflicts.


Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it;
but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was
called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who
was called while free, is Christ's slave. You were bought with a price;
do not become slaves of men.


Paul says it's fine if you're offered a chance for emancipation-go for
it! But it won't make any difference ultimately in terms of relationships.
You belong to the Lord Jesus whether you're free or in bondage. And it's
that ultimate relationship that's defining, not the human relationships.

This was also a tremendously divisive issue in the Christian church.
There were poor slaves who had no resources and no claim to their own lives,
and there were wealthy free men in the church. They were called to oneness,
but this tremendous gulf was difficult to bridge. Again, what Paul says
is that neither slavery nor freedom affects our identity in Christ. Neither
state makes serving the Lord in relationships inherently easier than the
other. In reality, in the spiritual sense, the literal slaves are free in
Christ, and the literal free men are slaves to Christ.

Now, let's think about a situation or relationship in which we feel in
bondage or enslaved. If we focus on our spiritual freedom, and then on our
slavery in God, then our freedom or slavery among people is much less important.
We need to look at it from the right perspective, in the right attitude.
Then it doesn't matter if we're bound in some sense or free in a human relationship.
It's a wonderful, mysterious paradox in the gospel of Jesus Christ that
we are all, men and women, free, but we are slaves to Jesus Christ.

We've heard a call to commitment and faithfulness in relationships all
through this passage. What this is really about is finding the key to making
our present difficult circumstance count for the Lord, being God's man or
woman, allowing his kingdom to come in our life. The issue is counting on
God to change us. He is the one who gives us joy, not the human relationships
or the circumstances. He is the one who delivers us. God is sovereignly
at work, changing things for his honor and glory. Our circumstances are
not an accident or a bad break.

And as we have seen, no matter how wide the gulf between Jew and Gentile,
between slave and free, God can bridge it and bring unity and harmony. And
he wants to do the same thing in our difficult marriage relationships, whether
our spouse is a believer or an unbeliever. The distance can seem impossible
to bridge. But God in his faithfulness is able to enter into the conflict
and frustration and resentment, and fill us with joy and peace in the midst
of the struggle.

GOD'S FAITHFULNESS

Paul has talked about this issue of God's faithfulness from the very
beginning of this letter. First Corinthians 1:9: "God is faithful,
through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ
our Lord." His faithfulness was at work when he first got our attention
and offered us salvation. That was a miracle. This verse tells us that he
is also present; we have intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is in the middle of our difficult marriage relationship. Proverbs 18:24
says he is "a friend who sticks closer than a brother." He understands
the difficulties. The issue for us is learning to trust his presence and
his promises.

Listen to the great words of Jeremiah the prophet to the people of Israel
in the middle of the Babylonian captivity, written when they had no opportunity
to change their circumstances. They were in bondage and slavery. God says,
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'Plans to
prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
(Jeremiah 29:11, NIV.) When it seems hopeless, God speaks hope. About seventy
years earlier, Jeremiah had watched his nation literally die around him.
He had watched the siege of Jerusalem, and it was a horrible scene of starvation
and cannibalism. He had watched the city fall to the Babylonian armies and
had seen all the atrocities of war. The book of the Lamentations expresses
his almost unbearable grief and mourning over the carnage. And yet, in the
middle of that book, he writes these words (3:21-23):


"This I recall to my mind,

Therefore I have hope.

The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease;

For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

Great is Thy faithfulness."


God promises that every morning in the difficult relationship he will
be faithful to us, one day at a time. We can remain faithfully committed
to our marriages no matter how difficult they are, because we can count
on God's faithfulness. He will give us his loyal love, his compassion, his
merciful heart toward our spouse, who is so desperately in need of the love,
mercy, and grace of God.

NOTES

1. Eugene Peterson, The Message, 1993, NavPress, Colorado
Springs, CO. P. 347.

2. The Amplified New Testament, 1995, Zondervan Publishing
House, Grand Rapids, MI. P. 590.

Scripture quotations taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION are identified as such herein. 1973, 1978, 1984 International
Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All other
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE.
1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission.

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