Week 3 - Binding together in Marriage
Sunday’s question, ‘What happens when two imperfect people set out to live a perfect life?’ can only truly be answered one way-- ‘then they better build their marriage from the template of God’s design and in a permanent covenant with Him.’ Couples who set out to live a perfect life, but do so relying only on their abilities and aptitudes, while neglecting God as the base from which all marriages are meant to be built--will quickly reach the end of themselves when their ‘love’ wanes and they realize that they have nothing permanent to fall back on.
As a group discuss the root of marriage. Is it love? romance? the desire to have a family?
Why do you think that the “world” has such a “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude toward marriage?
Many people often cite “changing conditions” for difficulties in their marriages. This is the equivalent of saying, ‘we have fallen out of love’, ‘we are not attracted to each other anymore’, ‘the romance is gone’, or ‘I have found someone better’. As a group, discuss the dangers of founding a marriage on feelings or emotions and not on a covenant with God.
Let’s now look at sanctification. As a group read the following verses and point out the process of sanctification in each:
2 Pet. 3:18
Let’s return to the identification of marriage as the ‘ultimate journey’. Based on the verses above, shouldn’t we expect ‘changing conditions’ in our marriage. Discuss as a group.
In closing, discuss these two quotes and how they reflect the manner in which we should build our marriages. What should be the essential component of our marriage?
“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
So I argue that staying married is not mainly about staying in love. It’s about convenant-keeping. If a spouse falls in love with another person, one profoundly legitimate response from the grieved spouse and from the church is, “SO WHAT! Your being in love with someone else is not decisive. Keeping your covenant with GOD is decisive.” John Piper
Marriage is the ‘ultimate journey’. In a marriage between true believers, each day both spouses should wake up to face a spouse who is different--because in the process of their sanctification they should have become a little more like Christ. When we add up all of these daily processes of sanctification over the years of marriage, we should find that we are married to quite a different person than we were when we exchanged our vows. So, in this sense, changing conditions are not something to be feared or avoided--they are something to be embraced as a sign of sanctification. The world would tell you ‘if your spouse isn’t the same person that you married’ then you have grounds to end the relationship. However, the bible would tell you that if your spouse is still the ‘same person’ that you married the evidence would suggest that they may not be a true believer experiencing the gracious sanctification of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In our culture’s view, the foundation of marriage is love or maybe romance. Love and romance are important, but they are not always present. In fact, they are often absent during the heat of a fight or disagreement. When love and romance are the foundation of our marriage and we encounter a prolonged period where we don’t feel loved or like loving our spouse--we can quickly question why we are with this person. But when God is the foundation of our marriage--our minds cannot question the relationship, rather we are easily drawn back to God’s plan for marriage to be covenant-based and glorifying to Him.