Preparation for Marriage

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*Some time ago--Ann Landers (the “answer lady”)--wrote a column

                                --entitled “Answer Lady Has No Answers”

                                --acknowledged that after 36 yrs. of marriage, were divorcing

                                                --expressed her astonishment that it could happen

                                                --once had a very good relationship

Ann Landers perplexing question:  "How did it happen that something that was so good turned out so bad?"                            

                                --when they married, they enjoyed each other...liked each other

                                                ...were friends, lovers, confidants...were excited about each


                                --but over the years their relationship began to deteriorate

                                                --affection turned to apathy

                                                --excitement to exasperation

                                                --attraction to aversion

                                                --enjoyment to enmity

                                --so asked, “How did it happen?”

*Safe to say--most couples who marry do so because they really enjoy each

                                other...are excited about each other...don’t get married because they

                                hate each other!

                                --but all too often this has changed for many couples...Ann                                                                                  Landers’ situation is not an isolated instance...

*But I don’t believe this has to happen!  I believe it’s possible for married

                                people to remain “sweethearts” throughout their entire lives

                                ...IF ...they make and fulfill certain commitments

                                --That’s what marriage is in God’s eyes...a commitment...and

                                                marriage wasn’t man’s invention...something just for

                                                cave men...something socially convenient for a time but

                                                now outdated.   NO.



--But God created it to be a covenant.  This means a ““contract”

                                --It is a commitment...a covenant...made with God and with each

                                   other.  This covenant is not based upon feelings...but on the will

                                                --we live in such a “feeling oriented” society..self is at the

                                                   center...people act based upon how they feel at the


A couple can remain sweethearts throughout their entire lives if they will commit themselves to following God's blueprint for marriage.

                                --but a Christian marriage is based upon making and fulfilling

                                   certain commitments.  These commitments are found in Scripture

                                   as a sort of  “blueprint” for marriage...a blueprint for building a

                                   foundation which will last as long as God gives you life on this


                                --when a couple lives by these commitments, they will never

                                  cease to enjoy their marriage relationship...they will never

                                  simply coexist...they will remain “sweethearts”

You must be committed to fulfilling...




I.             The PURPOSES of God for marriage.

II.            The PRIORITY of  the marriage relationship.

III.          The PURITY of the marriage relationship.

IV.          The PERSPIRATION required for marriage.

V             The PERMANENCE of marriage.

VI.               The PREEMINENCE of God in the marriage.


I.        Commitment to fulfilling God’s PURPOSES for the marriage relationship:

Ask yourself, “Am I committed to these purposes?”

A.              Companionship      Gen 2:18; Prov. 2:17; Mal. 2:14; Dt. 24:5; I Cor. 9:5; 1 Pet. 3:7

1.        Implications

V  Time...

V  Common interests...

V  Activities...

V  Sharing...

V  Communication...

V  Holding things in common


The animals couldn’t provide these for Adam

2.       Definition

V  One with whom you have a deep friendship...

V  Not just based upon physical attraction (this leads to problems later)...but interested in the person


The second commitment to God’s PURPOSES is...

B.               Children________   Gen. 1:28; Mal. 2:15; Ps. 127; 128:1-4.

1.        Desiring

If at all possible physically, children should be desired...

V  may be temporary reasons to not have children...

V  but no such idea in Scripture of a couple not desiring children if God has opened the womb

V  any reasons except not being physically able end up being selfishness

2.       Raising

V  Ephesians 6:4 And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 

V  Deuteronomy 6:7 and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

!! C.              Co-workers   Gen. 1:26; Acts 18:1-3.

1.        Working

God blessed “them”...both given responsibility to take care of what God made and to use it for His glory

2.       Serving

V  Each has the goal of actively SERVING the Lord in Ministry

V  This includes SUPPORTING each other in ministry.

D.              Co-witnesses    Eph. 5:22-32.

V  Your marriage gives witness to the relationship between Christ and the                         church

V  In both OT and NT God uses marriage to describe relationship between Him and His people

V  Therefore, a couple living out their roles in marriage can be a powerful                            evangelistic tool—

1.        The husband loving as Christ loved                                           

2.       The wife picturing the church’s submission to Christ

E.               Comprehensive Partnership    Gen. 2:24c.

To become “one flesh”--this is a very comprehensive partnership

1.        What it doesn't mean.

V  Uniformity...loss of personal identity or individuality

V  can be one and yet be different in many ways...just like Romans 12...the church is made up of different parts

V  Husband and wife can have different ideas, interests, gifts, expertise, likes & dislikes, personalities

V  So not a carbon copy or clone

2.       What it does mean.

a)            Definitions:

V  “A lifelong comprehensive union of an entire man and woman to each other”

V  “A complete partnership of a man and a woman in every area of life as long as they both shall live”

V  “A relationship in which a husband and wife share their lives completely as long as they both shall live”

V  Unity not uniformity

V  Comprehensive sharing but not constrictive sameness

!!!! b)             Illustrations

V  Football team;

V  Orchestra;

V  A sweater that from a distance appears green, but up close is made up of blue and yellow threads

V  You give each other the key to “every room in your house.”  So you never say, “None of your business!”

c)             Applications

“One flesh” includes partnership and all of the following:

What every area of life includes:

V  Intellectual area--share thoughts & ideas

§  share what they are learning

§  consider one another’s insights

§  have a teachable spirit

§  study & reflect on same issues

§  seek to learn things together

V  Emotions--Rom. 12:15

§  honestly communicate feelings

§  allow other to express feelings

§  enter into the other’s joys & sorrows

V  Social relationships and activities

§  most of closest friends should be same

§  develop some common recreational activities

§  show interest in each other’s hobbies

§  extending hospitality to others together

V  Work--talk together about work related issues

§  working together on home projects

§  helping each other with their work

§  empathizing when have difficulty

§  ”proud” of their accomplishments

§  try to understand mate’s work

§  praying with mate about his/her work

V  Spiritual--praying together

§  reading and studying Bible together

§  discussing spiritual problems & truths

§  sharing common convictions and views

§  involved in church together

§  serve in some common ministries

§  discussing Christian literature

§  sharing what God is teaching you

§  exhorting and encouraging one another

§  seeking to be a witness together

§  raising children together

§  counseling one another

§  repenting of sins against one another

§  asking forgiveness of one another

§  granting forgiveness

V  Physical--concerned about mate’s physical well-being

§  watching out for one another

§  understand and adapt to one another’s physical strengths and weaknesses

§  willing to give assistance

§  demonstrating affection

§  appropriate touching, hugging, etc.

§  yielding to one another in expressing physical affection as long as conscience is not violated

§  openly discussing what pleases one another

§  being available to one another

§  agreeing on frequency of physical intimacy

V  Aspirational realm--united in purpose and goals 

§  goals for the family

§  goals for children

§  financial goals

§  the future...sharing dreams

V  In difficulties and trials

§  Prov. 17:17--knowing will be there

§  Prov. 31:11,12--husband can trust her

§  stick up for one another

§  protect one another from unnecessary difficulties

§  won’t condemn when makes mistakes

§  will pray for one another

§  take other’s problems and concerns seriously

The final PURPOSE to which you should be committed is...

F.               Completion    Gen. 2:18; Eph. 5:25-27

V  to minister to one another and help one another

V  you are not supposed to be exactly alike

V  you complete one another

V  you need each other just the way you are in some respects

V  focus not on what you can get but on what you can give

V  to the other person

II.   The PRIORITY of the marriage relationship.           

                Taught in many passages of Scripture:

A.              Ephesians: The husband / wife relationship pictures the relationship of Christ and the _church_____.

V  Ephesians Overview

§  Eph. 1-3 -- relationship with God

§  Eph.  4 -- begins to deal with our rel. with other people

§  Eph. 4:1-5:2 -- broad general principles

§  Eph. 5:22 -- becomes specific -- employer, parents & children, husbands & wives

V  More space to marriage than to others (12)

V  When becomes specific, husband/wife first one

V  Compares relationship to that between Christ & the church

§  Only the husband / wife relationship has this comparison

V  Primary relationship in life is the “vertical”--to God

V  Next most important relationship is husband/wife

B.               I Timothy 3:1-5: Qualifications for Leadership

V  Qualifications of elders

§  v. 1 -- desire

§  v. 2 -- “above reproach” -- umbrella term -- a general qualification

§  Then lists 12 or 13 specifics...1st one is husband/wife

V  Important for leadership (example to others) and as a measure of spiritual maturity.

C.              Gen. 2:24  (Matt. 19:5; Eph. 5:31): Leaving and cleaving

V  children must leave...husband/wife never to leave

V  leaving? -- must undergo some serious changes; leave a strong                                            word -- a radical change

V  “abandon”...but not totally...or break off all relations...or bear no responsibility

V  still commanded to honor...role of grandparents mentioned in Scripture

V  not talking about geographically (though almost always advisable)

V  In 17th and 18th centuries Puritans insisted young couples have own residence...until then, shouldn’t get married

V  but can move 1000 miles away and not “leave”

V  from “put off” perspective

§  means leave behind a dependency relationship with parents -- emotionally, financially

§  leave parents behind as authority figures

§  leave behind a parent centered and controlled manner of life...running to parents when hurt

§  leave behind unthinking imitative or reactionary relationship with parents

§  not threatened or embittered if parents disagree with you

§  should not depend on parents approval for their security and happiness

§  parents not the standard of how things done... “Mom cooked it differently.”

§  parents no longer chief confidantes

§  not allow fulfilling parental desires to be more important that fulfilling mate’s

§  ready to leave behind parental life styles if they hinder marital affection is shown, how job responsibilities are handled, etc.

V  from “put on” perspective

§  establish a peer relationship with parents

§  take full responsibility for life and decisions

§  look upon parents as advisors and resource persons

§  respectfully listen to parents’ views

§  objectively and realistically evaluate parents strengths and weaknesses, not overestimating either

§  love parents in spite of faults

§  forgive parents for any wrongs done

§  ready to examine own standards to see if they are really biblical or just a reflection of parent’s life style

§  discuss family backgrounds and manners without becoming defensive or engaging in attacking and demeaning their mate’s family background

§  prepared to accept new perspectives and behaviors if not unbiblical

§  make mate’s opinions, insights, concerns most important

§  accept and treat mate’s parents with the same respect and honor as own

§  (see Exodus 18:1-16--good In Law relations)

§  (possibly write “Declaration of Independence” letter)

cleave to wife...not wife and parents, wife and children --means “glue”

one flesh--never says this about parents and children

III.            PURITY in the marriage relationship.

V  Prov. 5:15-1 -- “drink water from your own cistern”

V  ”one flesh” is more than sex, but includes sex

--many who thought they would never fail in this area have

Involves commitment to purity in several areas:

A.              In Behavior

V  Won’t do anything to promote unfaithfulness in yourself or any one else...

V  Prov. 7 -- man went to certain part of city at certain time -- “lack sense”...

V  Prov. 22:3 -- “prudent sees evil and hides himself”

V  no flirting

!! B.               In Thought Life

V  Matt. 5:27-28--starts there

V  includes literature, TV, movies, beach

C.              In Affections--emotions, desires

V  lusts--getting even emotional and visual satisfaction from someone other than your spouse

must channel all your desire toward your spouse

V  Practical Applications of the Commitment to Purity...

§  Don’t meet with, travel with, or dine with an unrelated woman.  If business is necessary, make it a threesome.

§  Be careful with touching--only embrace dear friends or relatives.

§  Don’t compliment women on their appearance, perfume, etc.

§  Avoid flirtation or suggestive conversation, even in jest. Prov. 7:4,5,21

§  Remind your spouse often--in writing; orally--that you remember your vows.

§  When get home from work, till children go to bed, do no office work, etc.--spend time with the family and wife

§  Continue to court and date

§  Promise: 

Ø  I will never divorce you or leave you

Ø  I will not be unfaithful to you.

Ø  I will do whatever is within God’s will to please you.

V  Most affairs don’t just happen...they usually develop through stages.

§  There is usually a chain of events that lead to has several links...the further the chain goes, the more difficult to break it:

§  Chain of events

Ø  Emotional readiness (distance in present relationship).

Ø  Growing awareness of a particular person.

Ø  Time spent thinking about the attractiveness (physical or otherwise) of the other person.

Ø  Innocent meeting.

Ø  Time spent comparing other person with present mate.

Ø  Time spent thinking about the negative, unpleasant aspect of their present situation...thinking about how unhappy and unfulfilled they are.

Ø  Intentional playing, engineering circumstances so that they will meet but make it appear unintentional.

Ø  Public lingering.

Ø  Private lingering.

Ø  Time spent thinking about how good the other person makes them feel when they’re with them.

Ø  Purposeful meetings for apparently legitimate purposes.

Ø  Pleasurable embracing.

Ø  Affectionate embracing.

Ø  Denial, rationalization, justification.

Ø  Passionate embracing.

Ø  Sexual capitulation.

Ø  Deviousness, deceitfulness, covert meetings.

Ø  Struggle with conscience, vacillation (guilt and          blameshifting & justification, staying and leaving), especially If there are perceived familial, social, spiritual or economic consequences.

Ø  Living a double life, playing both sides of the fence, keeping up appearances.

Ø  The mate or some other significant person in their lives finds out and they are challenged about their unfaithfulness and sin.

Ø  Initially, they may deny the adultery and condemn the other person for being suspicious and judgmental.

Ø  Eventually, however, if they continue the illicit relationship they can deny the truth no longer and they are forced to admit what is happening.

Ø  At this point, they often do one of 3 things:

·         they decide that they will continue the affair and yet remain  married if the mate will allow it because of the children or  whatever.

·         or in some cases, they repent and seek help to deal with  the problems in their marriage.

·         or they make plans to separate or divorce thinking that this  is going to bring them a kind of happiness that they could  never have in their present marriage.

§  Deal with the early links--don’t let it happen!

IV.PERSPIRATION in the marriage relationship.

V  Proverbs 14:23 – “in all labor there is profit”

V  1 Peter 3:1,2,7 -- hard work

§  Look upon marriage as a garden—you can do nothing to grow weeds but growing flowers take work. Prov. 24:30-34.

§  Marriage brings a lot of adjustments that need to be made

V.    PERMANENCE of the marriage relationship.

V  Malachi 2:13-16 -- God hates divorce

V  Matthew 19:5-6  --  “what God has joined together”

V  Proverbs  5:19  --  “let her breasts satisfy you at all times”

V  Look at marriage

§  as if you are on the 10th floor of a building from which there are no exits when a fire breaks options except to put it out.

§  As if on an island 1000’s of miles from any other land mass.  You can’t escape!  If you have problems you must solve them!

V  The world says--cleave as long as good times long as you feel like long as their are no major conflicts.   The Bible says marriage is for life.

! VI.The PREEMINENCE of God in the marriage.

V  Colossians 1:18 -- 1st place in all things 

V  Matthew 6:33 -- Seek God first 

V  These Scriptures mean:

§  God’s Word is sufficient for all of life (2 Pt. 1:3-4)

§  Desire to please God above everything else (II Cor. 5:9)

§  Depend on God for strength.

§  Make prayer a very important part of your life.

§  Love the church and be involved in it.

§  Love God’s people and make them your best friends.

§  Desire God to be glorified in your marriage.

§  Eliminate anything in your life or relationship dishonoring to Him.

§  Don’t allow personal happiness and pleasure to be decisive factors.

§  Develop and maintain your personal relationship with God.

§  “Except the Lord build the house...” (Ps. 127:1)

§  Look to God for directions in life


| When both the husband and the wife are Godwardly focused; as they grow closer to God, they will grow closer to each other.





I.       Lover  (Eph. 5:25-33)

A.     Love Defined

1.       Popular views

V  American culture® weakness, physical contact, sexual conquests, “never having to say you’re sorry 

V  Feeling® fall into it (like a hole) (or out of it – like a tree) 

§  “You’ll just know” 

§  “Love is a feeling you feel when you feel you are going to have a feeling you’ve never felt before.”

2.      Biblical view – Jn. 3:16, Eph. 5:25

V  GIVING – meeting needs

-          sacrificing for others

V  a choice first, not a feeling

V  the real test of masculinity

V  Command to men – three times (25, 28, 33)

B.      Love Described

1.       As Christ Loved the Church

Christ’s love is...

V  I Jn. 4:19 – FIRST

Husband = initiator – aggressive

                                                (“she doesn’t want my affection” – only show it when you want sex?)

V  Eph. 5:25; II Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2 – SACRIFICIAL

§  Give up personal desires, goals, plans for her needs and desires

§  She’s more important

-          what’s more complete – your library or her wardrobe

                                                                                                - your toys or things she needs


When she fails – does something you don’t like

§  We were unregenerate and rebellious

§  Not 50/50 or 100/100 but 100/0

V  Rom. 5:8; John 3:16; 1 Jn. 3:18 – VISIBLE

§  Loving deeds

                                                “not with word or tongue, but in deed and truth”

                                                “all the kind words and all the fine wishes won’t replace helping your wife with the dishes.”

§  Does she know you love her?  “Told her the day we married”

§  1 Cor. 13 ® verbs

V  Rom. 8:39 – UNCEASINGLY

Based on obedience first not feelings

V  Col. 3:13, 19 – FORGIVING

                                                V. 19 – without bitterness

V  Eph. 5:26-27 – CONSTRUCTIVE

A positive influence    

§  purifying and sanctifying        

§  greater godliness                          

§  T.V. and movies?  Discussion?

2.      As you love yourself

V  Eph. 5: 28-29 – as own body ® we already love ourselves

V  Matt. 22:37-40 – only 2 commandments here



a)      cherishing          

V  Literally  “Warm her, ” “Keep her warm”

V  1 Thes. 2:7 – same word for “nursing mother”

Therefore ® TENDERNESS

b)     nourishing

Eph. 6:4 ® “bring them up”

                                                                                   ® provide for her

3.      Practical considerations

                                                So           -     tell her so

-          praise her

-          time for her

-          communicate, listen

-          share

-          make her feel special

-          loving deeds

II.   Learner (I Pt. 3:7)

A.     The Command – can’t squirm out of it

V  “Live with” or “dwell with” in “understanding way” or “according to knowledge”

V  American culture ® “can’t understand a woman”

                                        ® God ways you can and must

1.       Takes time –

V  We know everything about our sports teams, or hobby, or computer software

V  We must take time away from something else

2.      Takes effort

- study??  What?

a)      Your wife?

                “50 Questions”

-          What pleases her?

-          What annoys her?

-          What are her strengths and weaknesses?

-          What are her burdens, concerns?

b)     Also study godly women in Bible to know what God expects

- what’s important to her must be important to you even if not important to your logic  Phil 2:3,4

B.      The Result

1.       For her:  You will treat her as a “weaker vessel”.  Regardless of your interpretation of “weaker vessel” – treat with care

a)      Weaker position  

                Note:  diff

                JM –

(1)                phys/emotionally
(2)               prized vessel
(3)               emotionally
(4)              weaker position

b)     Prized vessel

V  Whichever view you hold, still necessitates treating her with care!

V  For you: ® affects your spiritual life:  “So prayers not hindered”  -- can’t be right with God if not right with wife

III.            Leader  (1 Cor. 11:3)

A.     What Leadership is NOT

1.       A dictatorship

V  Matt. 20:25-28

                                                                vv. 26, 27 ® meeting needs, serving

V  Are you leading in a selfish way for what you can get or in a selfless way for what you can give?

                                                - not demanding submission

2.      Making all the decisions alone

Gen. 2:18, 24

®a “team leader” ® use all the resources of the team

                                                                she is your best human counselor

!! B.      What Leadership Is

1.       Christ's example,

V  Matt. 20:25-28

V  Jn. 10:27 ® Christ’s example

                                                ® shepherd, not cowboy

V  Phil. 2:5-8

V  Leadership = CHARACTER

2.      Practically

a)      Focus on family’s needs

b)     Goal oriented ® help family be more like Christ

c)      Example    

® of self-control

® of priorities

® of love

® of humility

d)     Solution-oriented ® seek to solve problems

e)      Be pleasant to live with

f)       Spiritual leader




Wives Who are Like the Church



Confusion and wrong perceptions today due to:  - a major dislike for the concept of submission

1.                    Sinful rebelliousness in all human hearts to authority

·         think that true fulfillment and happiness is found in being free to do

whatever you want to do (1 Pt. 2:16)

                2.            Misunderstanding what headship of husband means and what

                                submission of wife means

·         wife relegated to the dirty work

·         wife relegated to life of misery and unfulfillment

Biblical picture ® Eph. 5:22-24, 33; 1 Pt. 3:1

I.       What Submission is NOT

A.     Putting Husband in Place of Christ

V  Col. 1:18

V  Husband is not to be an idol

·         Gen. 12:13 -- Sarah should have said, “No”

·         Ex. 1:17 -- midwives feared God and disobeyed King of Egypt

àno sin

·         Acts 5:29 – Peter – “must obey God”

B.      Giving Up Independent Thought and Becoming Intellectually Stagnant

V  Col. 3:16 – “Let the Word of Christ dwell within you”

                                                        "you" is plural

V  Prov. 31:26 -- “Opens her mouth in wisdom”

V  Prov. 1:8 -- “Don’t forsake your mother’s teaching”

V  Jud. 13:21-23 -- e.g. of common sense of Manoah’s wife

C.     Letting gifts lie dormant

V  Prov. 31

V  Rom. 12

D.    Giving Up All Efforts to Influence Husband

V  BUT…not main goal

·         Eph. 4:15, 25-27 -- to her also

V  Wife can learn to make an appeal through biblical communication

E.     Not Being Fearful of Husband

V  Prov. 29:25 – fear of man

V  1 Jn. 4:18 – love casts out fear

V  1 Pt. 3:6 --    not fearing being taken advantage of 

                                not fearing consequences if don’t give in to sin

F.     Doing Nothing to Protect Herself from an Unreasonable Husband


V  Church – Church elders should be willing to intervene and give a wife advice in difficult situations discipline may be necessary

V  Government – exists for the punishment of evildoers.  If a wife is in danger, she should not hesitate to call the police.

G.    Based on Husband’s Superiority or Worthiness

V  The husband is not infallible

·         Heb. 13:7 -- applies to submitting to church leaders who are also not infallible

V  The wife is not less important than husband

·         Gal. 3:28 – “neither male nor female”

·         1 Cor. 11:3 – Second person submitted to first person

! II.   What Submission IS

A.     Honor and Reverence

V  Eph. 5:33

V  An attitude first

                - show confidence in his decisions -- grateful

B.      Willing Choice

hupotasso     hypo = under tasso = to place

                “arrange yourself under”

                                                 middle voice implies the wife, herself, chooses to submit willingly

C.     Is a Spiritual Matter

V  Eph. 5:22 “as unto the Lord”

·         motive is obedience to God

·         can’t be right with God if don’t

D.    Comprehensive

V  Eph. 5:24 “in everything”

i.e. all categories of life obviously excluding sin (e.g. parenting, finances)

E.     Dedication to Her Husband

V  His teammate

V  Completes him

Gen. 2:18

V  puts her gifts at his disposal

V  Prov. 31:10-31

V  “a divine calling of the wife to honor, affirm, and nurture her husband’s leadership and to help carry it through according to her gifts.” Dr. John Piper

F.     God’s Way of Attaining and Maintaining Function and Order in the Home

V  Reversed roles cause turmoil in the family       


V  I Cor. 14:33, 40 ® not a God of confusion

G.    Best Way to Influence Husband

V  I Pt. 3:1

H.    Includes Being a Homemaker

V  Titus 2:5; Prov. 31

V  The home is her greatest sphere of influence... her primary domain... it is to be a priority

I.       A Way of Life for All Believers

V  Government

V  School

V  Church

V  Employment

J.       Not Always Fair

V  I Pt. 2:19-23

V  Must TRUST GOD (Discuss what it means to trust God)


V  A tremendous privilege

V  An important testimony

…to the world

…to the children

“Hands” illustration

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