Can marriage work? That’s the subject we are trying to talk about together.
Can marriage work? I think some of us are in absolute despair about answering that question. Many of us have tried for years and years to make a marriage work that seems to have been falling apart from the very beginning. Others of us gave up completely and tried another person by marrying another person. Now we find it is falling apart too. Some of us have tried that two or three times. The statistics tell us that at least a third of marriages that are consummated this year will end up in divorce in a very short time.
Marriage is something that is in real trouble, especially when you consider how important it is to so many of us. Marriage is for many of us the most important relationship in the world that we enter into after we have left home. For many of us, including our home relationships with our mothers and fathers, marriage is the closest we have come to opening ourselves to another person. So it is vital to find out what is wrong with it.
Many of us have a total misconception of what marriage is.
What we have been sharing these past few weeks is that many of us have a total misconception of what marriage is. We have the idea that marriage is for our convenience. It’s for our comfort. It’s for our pleasure. We have the idea that marriage is something that we concoct out of our own likes and dislikes.
What we have in fact seen is that the experience we have is of falling in love — the experience that involves some kind of feeling of transcending our own wishes or our own personalities; the experience that transforms many of us who are down to earth, best friend, practical people into poetic mystics, who people describe as being in love. That experience suggests what we find in Jesus’ own teachings that marriage and falling in love is something that has been sent to us from outer space.
Marriage has to do with God’s will for us.
That is, we marry because it is God’s will for us to marry a certain person. It’s something God has planned way, way back. If you say then we are just robots — no, we are not. It’s obvious we are not. There are thousands of us that prove it every year by frustrating his will by divorcing and separating from our partner.
The fact is the original plan for us to marry a certain person is God’s. You may say that is foolish; we had no idea of God when we first married. We had no idea of believing in God when we married. Indeed we tumbled into bed with somebody — that’s how we ended up being married.
Jesus has taught us that God is working for good all the time in our lives. Even though you concocted your marriage or completed it before you ever knew of God or had any belief in Him, God was working in your life to bring it into the counsel of His will.
God will work for good in your marriage.
That’s how Jesus’ disciples described it. That God is working all things according to the counsel of His will. Even when you head towards a wrong relationship, God does not allow any relationship to occur in your life that He is not able to redeem. That is a help to some of us who feel we may be in a marriage that wasn’t in God’s will in the first place at all.
There is a very strong statement that Paul wrote to the people who lived in Corinth in the first century. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No trial has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tried beyond your strength, but with the trial will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” That’s pretty strong, isn’t it?
God will not allow any trial or temptation, even a wrong relationship or a wrong marriage, to occur that is beyond your ability to not only endure it but by His grace that He will give you to transform it to what he originally intended your marriage to be.
That is what we have come to over these past few weeks. Originally, your marriage was something God planned. Even if you got yourself into a marriage that was not His first ideal for you, He certainly did not allow you to get into a marriage that He could not make into His best for you. There’s no place for us to say I better throw this one up; this marriage I entered into before I heard this kind of stuff you are telling me.
Divorce is not God’s solution to a difficult marriage.
There’s no place for that. There’s never a place for doing what is evil in order to bring about what is good. That’s what you would be doing if you divorced. Jesus said to His disciples there is no reason for a husband or wife to leave their partner.
Paul put it very clearly that a man should never leave his wife and if he does leave her, he should remain single or be reconciled to her. 1 Corinthians 7:10, “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) — and that the husband should not divorce his wife.”
There is no place for you listening today saying, “I see what you mean — I should get rid of this one I’ve got and then start over again.” No! God is able to work that present relationship of yours according to the council of His will if you now turn to Him and begin to cooperate with what was His original purpose for your marriage.
God’s purpose for your marriage is to reproduce his image in the world.
You remember we started to outline that purpose and the first part of that purpose is that God planned us to be together with our husband or our wife to reproduce his image in this world. That’s it. Many of us have this idea that we reproduce our own image. No. God made us in His image — male and female. Male and female made he them. [Genesis 1:27]
In other words, God’s plan to make us in His own image to reflect His nature and character was tied up directly with making us male and female because the male can reproduce strengths, courage, determination and forcefulness that are part of God’s character; while the woman can reproduce a tenderness, kindliness, gentleness and sympathy — so that together they can reproduce the fullness and rounded character of God in a way that one cannot do on their own. So the purpose God put you together is to show forth the character of God in a way that no two other people can do in the whole universe and no two people will do in the universe.
That’s why you are together to reproduce His image, not so much to reproduce your own. Now that has certain repercussions and implications for us in our attitude in the marriage. I’d like to talk about that next time we come together.