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Real Marriage - LOVE & MARRIAGE
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We’ve been talking a little about law and really, probably will be for the next year. What is law?
The simplest answer would be it’s some standard or regulation that society regards as binding like
the 30-mile speed limit. That’s a law that you ought to obey because our society regards that as
binding. Last Sunday, we discussed a more internalized definition of law — it’s that that we feel
after we’ve lied to cover over a missed assignment, or after we’ve taken someone’s money that we
have no real right to. That evening when we go to bed, we feel some guilt inside in our conscience
because we have a kind of internal sense of obligation to live up to certain standards. That’s
something that all people everywhere throughout the whole world feel. It’s a universal sense of
obligation to live up to certain standards.
It doesn’t matter where you go. It is bigger than education. It is deeper than instincts. It is
deeper than society’s convention. It’s just a fact that throughout all nations, everywhere in the
world, there are certain things that all people feel they should not do. All people feel they
should not be selfish. All people feel they should not be cowardly. All people feel they should
not be traitors. Quite apart from some law that the courts pass or that the legislature passes,
this internal sense of obligation that all of us feel, whether we live in a state governed by law or
not, is so universal that men have called it “the law of nature” because everybody seems to feel it.
Even cannibals feel it. Even savage primitives have certain things that inside they feel obligated
to do. It’s amazing that some of the most primitive tribes have set some of the highest laws
regarding husband/wife relationships. So, that’s another definition of law, the internal law of
nature that all of us feel.
There’s another law that I think, you’d agree, which we call a “law of science” or “scientific
laws”. One of them would be the law of gravity. You have this book that is heavier than air and
you don’t need to say to it, “You must observe the 30-mile speed limit. You must observe the
30-mile speed limit. Oh, you must not steal. Oh, you must fall. You must fall. Now book, you
must fall do you hear that?” No, I mean it has no trouble — it just falls. It just falls and yet,
we call it a law. The book doesn’t have any trouble obeying the law. There, law seems to mean
something different doesn’t it? Law, in a sense of a law of science, seems to mean a description of
the way this book behaves. It’s a description of what is natural for a heavier-than-air object to
do in that situation. That’s a third meaning of law. There’s no sense of obligation, no sense of
being bound by it. It’s simply a description of what is natural for certain people to do.
Brothers and sisters, that’s really what we mean by “the laws of God”. The laws of God are the laws
that describe God’s own nature — truly. I mean, the other idea we have of them is utterly
prejudice, “Oh no. The laws of God are things we have to struggle to obey.” No. The laws of God
basically are descriptions of God’s own nature, and they’re actually descriptions of the nature of
anybody who trusts God or who treats God as God.
So really, if you treat God as God or if you trust him as your Father, the laws of God describe the
way you behave. You don’t have to TRY to obey them. It’s just like the law of gravity. It describes
the way you behave. Let’s take an example, it’s Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not be
anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you
shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Now to one person that
comes as a binding law. To a person who says to himself, “I’m here in this world — my success is
up to myself. I have to make my own money. I have to look after my own clothes. There is no God
anywhere, or anybody else who cares about me.” Then that is a binding law that is almost impossible
for him to obey.
Somebody comes along to a person who is a self-made man like that and says, “Do not be anxious about
your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, or what you shall put on,” — and he says
immediately, “Well, who else is going to worry if I’m not? I have to worry.” Then you give that
law to another person who really believes that the Creator who made them loves them, has counted
every hair of their head, notices when a sparrow falls to the ground, and knows exactly what they
need and is not going to let them down in order to destroy his nature that he has built up over
centuries, then to that person this comes as a description of their lives. If you say to them, “Do
not be anxious about your life,” and they say, “That’s it. I don’t. I’m not. Don’t worry. You
don’t need to tell me. I trust the Father.”
Now loved ones, it’s like one person having a millionaire father and the other having not a penny in
his pocket. You come to the one person without a penny in his pocket and you say, “Do not be
anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall put on.” He says, “Boy, I have to,
otherwise I’m going to die.” The other person has a millionaire father who owns General Motors or
something else and you say to him, “Do not be anxious about your life,” and he says, “I’m not.
Don’t worry. I’ve plenty in the bank. My dad will give me whatever I need.”
Now do you see that a law of God really is a description of what God himself is like? Therefore, it
is a description of the lives of those who treat God as God and who trust him as their Father. Now
let’s try to apply that to this law that we’re reading today. In Romans 7:2, Paul uses as an
example in his discussion of law and our attitude to law, “Thus a married woman is bound by law to
her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning
Now the fact is that that’s the normal pattern for a marriage between two people who treat God as
their Father and who trust them as their Father. That’s the normal pattern for their marriage.
They’re together for life. Now two people who don’t treat God as their Father or people who have
gone into marriage by not trusting God will find that that’s a law that binds them. They’ll be
finding out how to get out of it and how to wriggle out of that law, that a man and woman are to be
together for life.
We’ll look at that situation in a moment. But dear ones, first of all, it’s important to see that
the normal pattern for a husband and wife who trust God as their loving Father is that they’re
together for life. It runs through the whole wedding service. Friday night I married Jorn and
Barbara. This was what Jorn said to Barbara as he held her hand, “I call upon these persons here
present to witness that I, Jorn, do take thee Barbara to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to
hold from this day forward for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish till death us do part according to God’s holy law.” Loved ones, that belief
runs right through the wedding service — that people who trust God as their Father find that their
marriage is forever and that it cannot be broken whatever happens.
That runs through all of scripture. If you look at Matthew 19:7-8 where Jesus talks about divorce
— and I hope that we’ll talk a little about divorce next Sunday — even there, Jesus emphasis that
this is something that has come in the meantime. But at the very beginning, the normal pattern that
God set was for a permanent relationship that lasts forever and that that is in fact, God’s plan for
a marriage. Matthew 19:7-8, “They (the Pharisees) said,” “Why then did Moses command one to give a
certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart Moses
allowed you to divorce your wives.’” And then the important words, you see, “But from the beginning
it was not so.” You find that God is always pointing us back to how things were at the beginning,
before we made such a mess of our society.
Loved ones, if you really treat God as your loving Father and don’t think of him as a deistic God
away out there somewhere who can’t affect your life, then you’ll find that your marriage will
automatically be a permanent thing forever. That runs right through scripture. You see it in 1
Corinthians 7:39, “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives.” That’s it. “If the husband
dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” But a wife is bound to her
husband as long as he lives.
Actually, it’s almost boring when you keep going through the wedding service, especially, if you go
through it as often as I’ve done it. But really, when you go through it dear ones, it’s just so
plain. It’s written right into the thing again and again. The pastor gives a charge to the bride
and groom and gives a question to them. This is it, “Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife,
to live together according to the law of God in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her,
comfort her, honor and keep her; and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her so long as you
both shall live?” And it keeps on coming in.
I use an old Irish wedding service. It has an old Anglo-Saxon phrase at the very end where you make
your vow to the bride, and the bride makes a vow to the bridegroom, and says, “And thereto I plight
thee my troth.” Any of you who know anything about old English or Anglo-Saxon know that “troth” is
a covenant, I make an agreement with you. You’re making an agreement with the person: “I’m staying
with you for life, not, “as long as I love you” not, “as long as you love me” not, “as long as we’re
enjoying it”, but, “I make a covenant with you for life because I trust my Father in heaven to give
me sufficient grace to live with you in love and in peace for the rest of our lives.” It’s all
built, loved ones, on trusting God as your Father in your marriage. You can see that a “Christian
marriage” is one that lasts forever, whatever. I really will try to be honest next Sunday about the
divorce situation, and I do think that you’ll see that God’s plan is for us to live together forever
if we’re both trusting God as our Father — and where divorce comes in is where one or the other is
Now brothers and sisters, you might say to me, “But brother, let’s face it that is not a description
of many Christian marriages. There are many so-called “Christian marriages” that have not stayed
together for life, and there are many of them that aren’t happy even though they are staying
together, They may as well be apart because they’re doing more harm to God’s word and his name by
the way they live together than if they did part.” And isn’t that so? That often, that law in
Romans 7:2 is not a description of many marriages.
Now why is it not so? Well dear ones, it’s because many of us don’t trust God as our Father going
into marriage. Many of us end up married to the wrong person. Many of us push ourselves into
marriages that we shouldn’t be in at all. In other words, in our whole approach to marriage, many
of us here in the theater are not trusting God at all. We’re not treating God as a loving Father
who will set it all up for us. Many of us simply don’t live like children of God in regard to our
marriage, and so we get into marriages in a way that is not characteristic of children of God and we
find that the laws that apply to the children of God don’t apply to us.
Now you see, it is true in scripture, brothers and sisters, that God plainly tells us that he will
take care of leading us to the right partner. The Father sets that down repeatedly both in word and
example. Let’s look at one plain example of it. You’ll find it there in Genesis 24. More of us
would find our marriages falling into the pattern of that law if we would allow God to lead us to
the right person in marriage, but many of us, even as we’re looking for a partner, are not at this
moment trusting God in regard to it. Genesis 24:42 (Abraham’s servant was sent out to find the wife
for Isaac), “I came today to the spring, and said, ‘Oh Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now
thou wilt prosper the way which I go, behold, I am standing by the spring of water; let the young
woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, ‘Pray give me a little water from your jar to
drink,’ and who will say to me, ‘Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,’ let her be the woman
whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’”
“Before I had done speaking in the heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her
shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Pray let me drink.’ She
quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels drink
also.’ So I drank, and she gave the camels drink also. Then I asked her, “Whose daughter are you?’
She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on
her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed
the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who led me by the right way to take the daughter of my
master’s kinsman for his son. Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me;
and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.’ Then Laban and Bethuel
answered, ‘The thing comes from the Lord; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is
before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.’”
Now don’t get caught up in the sign business. In the Old Testament days, the Holy Spirit was not
abroad as he is today and so God led people by signs. But brothers and sisters, the promise is
plain that if you trust God as your Father to choose the right partner for you, then he will send a
servant-angel through the Holy Spirit before you to lead you to the right person and that your job
is to do what was Isaac doing back there? He was carrying on with his responsibilities. He wasn’t
sitting at home hoping, “Oh, I hope my father’s servant gets the right wife.” No. He was carrying
on with his duties. He was carrying on with his responsibilities to God.
Now brothers and sisters, the whole matter of guidance goes utterly astray when you stop being
concerned with the Father and with the things he has given you to do, and you stop your normal
responsibilities to him, and you give yourself over to this whole business of getting some girl or
some fella to marry you. It just all goes – it’s perverted. The whole thing becomes completely
perverted because the whole basis for God’s guidance is that you trust God with it. That you treat
him as a Father who is concerned about whom you marry and who is anxious to get you into a marriage
that will last forever, effortlessly and with ease.
Now you can see that’s the basis of God’s guidance, dear ones, that quiet spirit. If you look at 1
Kings 19, it’s a very kind of picturesque example of how God guides. Elijah was running in fear of
persecution and he was actually at this moment hiding in a cleft of a rock. This is the basis of
God’s guidance to us. 1 Kings 19:11, “And he said, ‘Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the
Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in
pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an
earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord
was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” Or the Hebrew means a sound of gentle
Now our Father guides us in a sound of gentle stillness. He guides you when all your own desires
are quiet and at peace and when you’re in a real place of neutrality and trust — then the Father is
free to guide you either in regard to what brother was saying, whether he should leave Macalester
college or in regard to a partner for your life. The Father guides when you yourself are quietly
trusting him and about your Father’s business.
Now you know that so often that’s not the case. The poor sisters, as well as the brothers, go home
for Christmas vacation. You just get the bags down on the floor and the earthquake hits you. “Jean,
I asked John to come over on Christmas Eve after church.” Or, “Jean, you’re 25 now. Don’t you
think it’s about time?” And it’s not even just with the sisters because the dads are a wee bit
clumsier about it but they do the same, “John, that girl, what’s her name?” And he knows her name,
“What’s her name? She called here last weekend. I think she’s really fond of you.” Ah loved ones,
with that kind of earthquake you couldn’t hear a sound of gentle stillness if you tried!
So let me first say to the dear moms and dads, I know you love them. I know you love them, but
don’t you see loved ones, that that’s human affection? I know you want the best for them but in
wanting the best for them, you’re driving them into a kind of panicked earthquake situation where
they have all these kinds of feelings running through their minds and they feel, “Well dad said it.
Well mum said it,” and they do love you. They love you and respect you and so your words mean a
Brothers and sisters, ignore them. Ah yeah, loved ones. If dad and mom won’t learn, then you have
to walk in faith yourself. Yeah, 25, 35, 45, the Father can bring you a beautiful person whenever
he wants. You need to rest in it, loved ones. You need to reject all that pressure that comes from
parents or from peers that you ought to get married.
Loved ones, I remember a tragic situation, oh about four years ago, and I was involved in it because
I was trying to counsel in the divorce situation. I met the mother. Without talking to the mother
very long, I saw who had made the marriage. Not only had this mother made that marriage that wasn’t
right at all, but she was already planning another marriage for the daughter after the divorce was
over. Now loved ones, that’s pitiful.
Your mom or your dad, they’re dears and they can give you general advice, but there is only One who
can choose a partner for you that will be a good life partner and that’s the Holy Spirit, that’s the
Father. So relax, it is no big deal that you’re an old maid at 20 years of age – it is not. It is
no big deal that you aren’t married at 24, 25, 26. The Father knows when is the time, so don’t
listen to the earthquake. Don’t listen to that earthquake — just be quiet before the Father. Say,
“Lord, I know everybody else seems to be getting married at this time, but I’m trusting you. I’m
trusting you for the right person. If I drive myself into some relationship through the earthquake
of my parents’ desires or my own feelings that I ought to be married now, all I’ll do is get myself
Loved ones, most the marriages that do not find themselves abiding by this law of God that they’re
together for life are due to somebody forcing themselves into a marriage that they shouldn’t have
been in the first place. Rest before the Father. Reject all that kind of pressure. There is
pressure of “wind” as well — and the sisters can create this kind of feeling themselves. They can
begin to talk among themselves. They start looking at a fellow and they say, “Well, maybe this is
the one. Maybe this is the one.” And the whispering and the wind starts going around in the
dormitory at night. They start discussing this fella and that fella, and they start talking about
what their feeling is towards this one and what their feeling is towards that one. Loved ones, I
can guarantee this, you’ll never be able to have honesty with that fellow if you ever marry him if
you’ve discussed him so freely with everybody else.
Brothers and sisters, do you not see that the late night dormitory discussions do not lead to peace,
and quiet, and rest? There’s some of them that are just fun, but you know a lot of them that are
just fun have a lot of hard seriousness down here in the heart. Now dear sisters, I think it’s
better to trust the Father, especially if you have a good open honest relationship with a brother in
Jesus. I think it’s really important to trust the Father and trust God to tell him. Don’t try to
pray that God will give him light. We’re stupid people, but even God can get through to us. Don’t
try to talk the other fellow into it. Don’t try to pray him into it. If you’re beginning to sense
that maybe that’s the person for you, then leave it with the Father. Let the Father do it. Trust
him with it.
Often what you do is you expose your own lack of trust in God by the subtle devisings and
manipulations you go through. Often you spoil good honest relationships with brothers whom God
never intended you to marry but he wanted you to be their friend for life. You often destroy good
relationships which you could enjoy and where you could derive a lot of love. The sisters need not
to listen to the wind.
I think the brothers need not listen to the fire. I think brothers, we too often allow the old fire
of lust to govern our choice of a partner, and too often our eyes are set on what a person looks
like outwardly. We’re looking completely at the physical appearance. We’re looking completely at
how much we might enjoy them physically or emotionally. Brothers and sisters — and the other
brother and sisters who are married would reinforce this — whatever you may think, sexual
intercourse is a very small part of a real marriage. Whatever the books may say, we are not all
hopping in and out of bed every night or even every week.
Marriage is much more than physical satisfaction and more than sexual intercourse. Loved ones, you
want someone whom you’re going to enjoy being with forever. If you lay your whole plans on the
basis of their looks, or their appearance, or how they can turn you on emotionally or physically,
you’re going to end up sitting with someone 12 years hence who absolutely bores you to tears and who
is beginning to have to use a lot of makeup to look like they used to look when you first met them.
Loved ones, that’s not the way to come to a marriage. The Father really wants the brothers to be
content and maybe to never have sexual satisfaction from their partner. That is really the only way
ever to go into marriage, to be satisfied never to be satisfied physically and emotionally — and
then you’re in a real place where you can love the dear person. Because dear ones, it’s not the
body’s satisfaction that makes the marriage. The only reason that has any meaning is because it’s a
dear person whom you have come to love over years and years that is inside that body, because of the
dear mind you’ve come to know and respect, because of the dear emotions that have often expressed
themselves to you. That’s what gives any meaning to any kind of physical intimacy.
So brothers and sisters, I think it’s very important to trust the Father in choosing your marriage
partner and to not listen to the earthquake, or to the wind or to the fire.
One other reason I think why many of us end up in marriages that are not God’s will for us, and
therefore which are not described by God’s law of permanence and staying together forever, is our
whole attitude to celibacy.
I think a lot of us feel that the only ones who ought to be celibate are sisters in the Catholic
Church or brothers in the Catholic Church, nuns or priests. Dear ones, that’s not what God says.
God says in his Word that some of us are meant not to be married. Loved ones, it’s a totally
unscriptural and untrusting attitude that our society has encouraged that obviously, everybody is to
Loved ones, it’s God’s plan that many of us should not be married. That’s the problem. Some of us
who ought not be married and who should be carrying out a special ministry for the Father have
pushed ourselves into marriage because society says everyone should be married. Now, you see it
there [Bible]. We kept treating Paul as a pure old neurotic who didn’t know what he was talking
about despite of the fact we listened to him on every other issue. When it comes to celibacy we
kind of say, “Oh Paul got a bit off there.” It’s not him. It’s society that got a bit off on the
Would you look at it dear ones in 1 Corinthians 7:8, “To the unmarried and to the widows I say that
it is well for them to remain single as I do.” And Verse 7, “I wish that all were as I myself am.
But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” God is plainly
teaching that some of us are given the gift to remain celibate. I think this is one of the problems
— we all feel everyone is getting married so we must get married. Or some of us feel, “Well, I
don’t feel very much that I need to be married — but I need security”, or, “I need company. As the
years pass by I want to have somebody of my own who is with me, and who can be my friend, and who
can understand me and who can take care of me.”
Loved ones, is there God or is there not a God? Is there a dear Father who loves you and has
promised that he’ll look after you — or is there not? You know, we keep on saying, “Oh yeah, yeah
brother. There’s a God but I just like to have somebody that I can touch that can give me
security.” But loved ones, do you see that many of us lead ourselves into marriages that aren’t
God’s will because of a general feeling that, “Well, we’d like to have children”, or, “We’d like to
have somebody to keep us company”, or. “We’d like someone to give us security.” Brothers and
sisters, it is the Father’s will that many of us should not be married.
I think one of the problems is that we have a misunderstanding of the love that exists between a
husband and a wife. I think a lot of us feel a husband and wife marry because they love each other
more than they do anybody else. I think most of us think that. A man and a woman marry each other
because they love each other more than they do anybody else in the world. Some of the husbands and
wives sitting here are probably thinking, “Yeah, well, I think that’s why I did it.” Well that’s
terrible if that’s the situation, isn’t it? That’s terrible if the only way to have somebody that
loves you more than anybody else in the world is you have to marry them. It really cuts out an
awful lot of people. It certainly means that a husband and wife have great difficulty convincing a
third person that they love them as much as they do each other.
Dear ones, husbands and wives don’t marry because they love each other more than they do anybody
else. They marry because they’re God’s choice for each other. That’s what makes them so precious
to each other. They are together because God planned for them to be together. God put a spark of
love in each of their hearts for the other and that’s why they’re together. That’s why their
relationship is unique. You’re right, it is unique, but it’s unique because it was God’s will for
them to be together, not because they love each other more than anybody else in the world.
I think a lot of us fight celibacy. We fight the single life because we think, “Oh, we want
somebody to love us as much as everybody else is loved.” Really, God’s plan is what he has begun
among us, a family of brothers and sisters who love each other as much as husbands and wives love
each other — not a church where the single lady or the single man is kind of “out of it” and they
do special extra jobs because well they have more time than those of us who are fortunate enough to
be married — but a church where brothers and sisters love each other as much as they love their
husbands and wives. It’s a family where it would be possible for sisters to grow up feeling not
that they had one husband, but that they had many husbands, that they had many brothers who cared
for them and loved them, and who would take care of them, and brothers who would not have just one
wife but many sisters who would love them, and be kindly to them, and be gracious to them, and
express the gentleness of Jesus to them.
Really dear ones, that’s the plan that the Father has for us. That we would have such a body of
brothers and sisters here that a person would not be driven into marriage because they needed more
love, but they would really be free to listen to God and to marry the person that God wanted them to
marry, or not to marry, if that was his plan for them. Loved ones, if you would begin to trust God
that way for your own marriage, you would find that that was not a binding law upon you at all in
Romans 7:2, but it was a beautiful description of your own marriage: that a woman is bound to her
husband as long as she lives. Oh, there’s such a confidence when you know that your partner thinks
that and your partner knows that you think it. It brings a lot of peace and a lot of quiet — yet,
the same quietness and confidence is meant by the Father to be experienced by all of us here in this
So, if I could do it, if I could get each sister here and give you a good shake and say, “Rest in
Jesus and stop destroying yourself and torturing yourself,” — if I could get each brother here and
tell you to, “Rest back and be content never to be married if that’s Jesus’ will for you,” — I’d
do that, except that it would take a long time to get around to you all! You know that it’s really
what’s needed, brothers and sisters, because all of us in this theater have suffered agonies because
we will not trust the Father with this whole business. So why not get out and enjoy ourselves in his
world and trust him to take care of this thing. Let us pray.
Why Not Divorce? - LOVE & MARRIAGE
Why Not Divorce?
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Last Sunday you remember, we talked a little about marriage and about how permanent God taught us
marriage should be. And you remember we got that from Romans 7:2, if you’d like to look at it.
Romans 7:2, “Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her
husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband.” And you remember we quoted
various parts of the wedding service. You probably remember the part where towards the end of the
service the bride and groom would be standing there after the vows and then the words run, “For as
much as John and Mary have consented together in holy wedlock and have witnessed the same before God
and this company by joining of hands and by pledging together with a ring, I pronounce that they be
man and wife in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Then I say these
words, “Those whom God has joined together let no man put asunder.”
So the whole wedding service is filled with this biblical teaching that marriage is forever. Now
you remember we shared last Sunday how it comes that man or woman at times, puts asunder a marriage.
And you remember we shared that often that happens because it is a marriage that God did not join
together in the first place and that’s often why a man or a woman can put asunder a marriage.
Actually you cannot put asunder a marriage that God has joined together. And we shared last Sunday
how vital it was for us to really live as children of a dear Father who looks after us and a Father
who is interested in whom we are going to marry. And that it is our place to treat him like that
and to treat marriage like that and not to scurry around together with our mums and dads trying to
find the right partner, but to really trust the Father to lead us to the right partner. And then
the person to whom he joins us we cannot put asunder from that person. And you remember we shared
that kind of thing two Sundays ago.
And dear ones, that’s the basis of all the marriages of past generations. That’s why great great
grandparents of ours were together year, after year, after year without half of the problems that
seem to crop up in these days. It wasn’t because they had never any disagreements. It was because
as far as they were concerned their marriage was forever. God has intended them for each other.
That was it they stuck with each other whatever happened. And it’s amazing loved ones, how much you
can make of a marriage if you have that attitude towards it. But that’s why marriages seem so firm
and so well cemented in those days. Because, our great grandparents accepted that if God joined
them together that was it, they were together forever.
In other words, divorce was not negotiable. Do you remember at the beginning of the Cuban crisis,
old Adlai Stevenson said something that looking back on it now seems rank superior imperialism but
still he said, you remember, “Communism is not negotiable in this hemisphere.” And looking back
that seems a little naïve. But that’s what holds a marriage together and that’s what kept old
marriages together. We would negotiate down to that line but below that line divorce was not
So you would argue with each other, you would discuss with each other, you would talk with each
other, you would even bicker with each other, but below that line you did not go. And oh loved
ones, I really trust that God will set up that criterion among us here in our body at least and that
you’ll understand that at least you’ll have my wrath to face and you’ll probably have God’s wrath to
face as well. But that we’ll enter into marriages that are forever and we do not negotiate under a
Now dear ones, to get into the nitty gritty of it, why are half the marriages in our society not
like that because at least half of them end up in divorce? Now why are marriages not like that
today? Well, I think there are lots of reasons but one reason is because men and women do not trust
God to fulfill all their intellectual and emotional needs himself. And they marry in order to get
their intellectual and emotional needs fulfilled. So many people destroy their marriage from the
beginning because they expect more from their marriage than God ever intended them to get from it.
And in fact, they end up doing really what God said we shouldn’t do, if you look at it in Romans
1:25, you’ll see it there they end up doing this in their marriage. Romans 1:25, “Because they
exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the
Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.” And that’s what many people do when they enter into
They expect from the creature the intellectual, and emotional, and physical satisfaction that
actually at the end of the day only the Creator can give them. And so they expect too much from
marriage, they expect things from marriage that they should get only from their Father in heaven.
Now in actual fact when you think of it, if you really analyze it fairly you can see that marriage
at the first step means not an expansion for you, it actually means a contraction. That’s why I say
the only reason you should marry is because you know this is God’s person for you. You should never
marry just for the fun of it because at first step, marriage is a contraction it’s not an expansion.
For instance, what kind of ice cream do you like? Chocolate chip? Okay, she likes vanilla.
Alright, before you could buy a whole quart of chocolate chip, it didn’t matter. Now you
negotiated. Okay, this week we’ll do it this way and next week we’ll do it the other way. Where do
you like to go on vacation? Well before you marry you have nobody to consult but yourself, you just
decide where you want to go on vacation. When you marry you have two people to consult.
Now brothers and sisters, I know it seems a very elementary thing but I think a lot of us get into
trouble because we marry thinking that marriage will be nothing but an expansion and a fulfilling of
our needs. Loved ones, at first step marriage is a contraction. It is a lessening of your freedom.
So the only good reason for going into marriage is because the Creator of the universe wants you to
be married. What kind of car do you like to buy? Well, at the moment you’ve only to consult
yourself and the Father. When you marry you have another person to think of.
In other words, do you see it means you begin to live your life in the light of another person’s
wants, and desires, and preferences? And that is a basic condition for a good marriage that you’re
prepared to at least half, and I suspect it’s more than that, but at least half your preferences and
your wishes. Now you see this is part of what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 7:4. “For the wife does
not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own
body, but the wife does.” And the Father was speaking there particularly about intercourse and
physical intimacy but you can see that it applies right through marriage, that when you marry
somebody you’re giving up really the control of your body and the control of your clothing, and your
food, and what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. You’re giving that up to another
Now many marriages don’t stay together because of course today that isn’t a popular view at all.
Today many husbands and wives regard that as an unjustifiable infringement of the freedom that they
expect when they go into marriage. And many husbands and wives marry today for the very opposite of
that, not so that they will lose something but so that they will get something. And so many
brothers and sisters seem to marry in order to get emotional and intellectual satisfaction from the
other person and so they really marry for a kind of “philia” love. “Philia” is the Greek word for
love that you get in the city Philadelphia which is love of brothers. And “philia” love is where
you love another person because you’re interested in the same things that they are. Many brothers
and sisters marry for that reason.
Loved ones, it’s not a good enough reason because “philia” love is basically selfish. You love her
as long as she’s interested in bowling. You love her as long as she’s interested in skiing. But
there comes a time when the poor thing can’t ski anymore. But you love each other as long as the
other person does what you enjoy doing, or thinks about the things that you think, or talks about
the things that you talk. But loved ones, there comes a time when the other dear person wants a
little freedom not to have to talk about politics, not to have to talk even about church all the
time, not to have to talk about sports all the time, not to have to talk about your career all the
time. And many husbands and wives come into trouble because they don’t realize that and they regard
that kind of expression of love as an unjustifiable infringement of their freedom. And they really
base their marriage on “philia” love that their partner is almost a convenience to them that their
partner ought to talk about the things that they’re interested in talking about. Their partner
ought to be interested in the things that they’re interested in.
Now dear ones do you see that that is totally opposite to the kind of love that Jesus outlined
through Paul in Ephesians? Maybe you’d look at it because it’s a piece of scripture that is read
often in wedding services. Ephesians 5:25-28 expresses a kind of love that is utterly different
from that selfish “philia” love that wants the other person only because he or she is convenient or
is interested in the same things as you are. Jesus expresses on the other hand this kind of love,
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives,” what way? With “philia” love? No, “As Christ loved
the church.” And what was the heart of that love? “Gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify
her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to
himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without
blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves
himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, as Christ does the
In other words, the kind of love that God works in a marriage if you let him, is the love that is
preoccupied with the other person’s needs, not preoccupied with your needs. A kind of love that is
willing to give itself up for the sake of the other person. A kind of love that isn’t always
looking in and saying, “Well, what do I want to do tonight? Do I want to go bowling, or do I want
to go skiing, or do I want to go to a Bible study group but rather what does my partner want to do?”
And it’s that kind of love that Jesus says the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in marriages that are given
fully to him.
Now you know that that is just idealism today where we are taught that husbands and wives exist for
the benefit of each other. You know that many husbands and wives not only expect from each other
intellectual and emotional satisfaction that they should get from God, but many of them expect
emotional thrill and physical satisfaction whenever they want it. And so many husbands and wives
think that that kind of description of giving yourself and your own wishes and desires up for the
other person is ridiculous.
They on the other hand say, “The other person exists for my benefit. When I want intercourse they
ought to be prepared to have intercourse. When I want intimacy it’s their job to give me intimacy.”
They’ll even quote bits of the Bible, they’ll talk about their marital obligations and you have a
right to give me this. And so many husbands and wives they actually married in the first place
because they wanted to be able to express this passionate side of their own physical nature freely
and without feeling any guilt or sin for it. And so many marriages are based on that kind of
Now loved ones, all that is what is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:5, this regarding the other
person as someone who ought to provide you with your physical and natural necessity and right. This
attitude is described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:5, where he talks about choosing a wife, and he
says you remember in 1 Thessalonians 4:4, “That each one of you know how to take a wife for himself
in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God.” But many
husbands and wives exist together in the passion of lust.
It would be interesting to find out how many long moments of cold war a husband and wife have gone
through because he didn’t want physical intimacy when she did, or she didn’t want it when he did.
It would be interesting to count up the hours they have spent in resentment on each edge of the bed
because they didn’t want to do what the other person wanted at that time. And yet loved ones, do
you see that that is the very heart of lust, that kind of attitude to one another and yet you
husbands and wives, isn’t it true that often we’ve spent ridiculous hours, ridiculous times of cold
war that the brothers and sisters here don’t really understand who aren’t married. We’ve spent
times in coldness not speaking to the other person at all. Why? Because they wouldn’t do what we
wanted them to do when we wanted it.
But loved ones, that is plain lust, it’s not love. The only kind of love that makes a marriage stay
together forever is the kind of love that flowed from Jesus on the cross. And he looked at the
Roman soldiers who had just put a spear into his side and there wasn’t a touch of resentment coming
from his heart towards them. And he looked at Peter and the others who had deserted him immediately
trouble began to show up on the horizon and he had nothing but love and affection for them. And he
looked at the mob that had crowned him king as he entered into Jerusalem and were now insulting him
and shouting at him and had just exchanged him for Barabbas a robber and he had nothing but love and
kindliness towards them.
Now that kind of love is the love that God sheds abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit when you
die to your rights. And he did not feel for a moment, “I have given so much time to Peter, and so
much time to the disciples, and I’ve explained it all to them, and now they’ve betrayed me and
they’ve abandoned me after I had explained it all to them.” There wasn’t a touch of that in Jesus.
When he looked at the mob there wasn’t the least feeling of resentment or criticism, “Oh, they’ll
follow someone else the next day. They followed me today somebody else the next day.” There was
only a love that came out from him because he did not believe that he had right to anything from the
crowd. He did not believe he had a right to anything from the Roman soldiers. He did not believe
he had a right to anything from his disciples.
Now brothers and sisters, when you marry and you die to your right to receive anything from your
husband or your wife, and you really do trust the Father to give you all the emotional consolation
and comfort, and even all the physical satisfaction that you need and that God wants you to have,
then you’ll find the Holy Spirit shedding abroad in your heart a love for the other person that
keeps on whether they’re loving you or not, that keeps on whether they’re affectionate or not, that
keeps on flowing out from you whether they’re showing any love or affection to you at all. It’s the
kind of love that Jesus had for the leper. The leper he looked on him, the leper wasn’t attractive
to him at all. The leper didn’t fulfill any physical or emotional need that Jesus had Jesus just
loved the leper because his heart was filled with love.
Now the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in your heart that kind of love when you’re willing to die to your
rights in marriage and to be prepared to regard the other person as an opportunity to express Jesus’
love rather than an opportunity for you to get love. There is I think one other big reason why many
husbands and wives don’t stay together forever and it’s a total, I would say misunderstanding, but
at times I think they must be drunk when they repeat the words. It’s a total failure to understand
the promises that they make to each other and it’s a total misunderstanding of the place of trials
in their own life.
Here’s what you promise. So, those of you who are going to go into it you ought to practice these
words, these are the words you promise, the traditional vows, “I call upon these persons here
present to witness that I John do take thee Mary to be my lawful wedded wife.” Then here are the
words dear ones, “To have and to hold from this day forward for better, for worse.” Now that means
for better for worse. That means whether you’re better or whether you’re worse than you are at
present. That means whether circumstances are better or whether they are worse than they are at
present. It means whether I’m better or worse than I am at present. It means for better for worse
whether it seems good or whether it seems bad. Whether the marriage seems happy or whether it seems
unhappy. We’re together to have and to hold for better for worse because if we keep this vow God
can at least do something. But if we part once it becomes worse and once it’s not as good as it was
at the beginning then God can do nothing. “For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness
and in health to love and to cherish till do us part according to God’s holy law.”
Now loved ones, the reason God joins us together at all as husband and wife is clearly stated in
Genesis if you’d like to look at it here. Genesis 1:27 and I’ll connect it up with what we just
shared. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.” God made us male and female because he wanted us to be in his
image. And so he knew the man would set forth the courage and the strength of Jesus and the woman
would set forth the gentleness and the loving kindness of Jesus and he knew that when they got
together these characteristics would begin to cross over. And all you husbands and wives that have
been together for years know how alike you are to each other. It seems that you become like each
other as the years past and that’s why God made us man and woman, to make us more and more into his
Now will you look with me at one of the chief ways that God has of making us into his image, James
1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing
of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be
perfect,” that you may come into the image of God, “And complete lacking in nothing. That’s why you
promise for better for worse.
Do you think that you can possibly live with another human being as imperfect and limited as
yourself for 40 years and never expect or experience any trials because of them? But many husbands
and wives do. Many husbands and wives regard a trial that comes through their partner as an
unjustifiable interference with a continual calm sea of marital bliss. And they believe that, “This
is unjustifiable. I ought not to experience any kind of trial from my partner, she’s here to help
me, he’s here to help me.”
Now loved ones, one of the reasons God joins you to a certain person is because that person has
exactly what you need not only in some of their good characteristics but you need to suffer some of
their bad characteristics. And so loved ones, there are bound to be trials because God uses trials
to make you like himself and there are things that God can get at in you through trials that he
can’t get at through any other way. And so often God will allow you to come into trials in your own
marriage. And brothers and sisters what it does is produce backbone.
One of the great difficulties today is that once a person begins to experience any kind of limiting
from their partner, or any kind of trial, they fly away to the lawyer or the attorney. And it’s as
if we are so weak kneed, and so soft, and we are so fearful of getting hurt that we can experience
nothing like a trial from the other person. I know wives who have brought up sons and daughters in
the fear and the love of God, and those sons and daughters have become like Jesus and that woman, I
think of a particular woman in Belfast, has been married to an alcoholic for 40 years. But she
didn’t run at the first sign of the gunfire but she stayed with it.
Loved ones, I’m not saying that’s always the right thing to do but I’m suggesting to you that there
is something other than running that you can do and that God can use trials. I know husbands who
have a woman that is like Shakespeare shrew you remember, in the Taming of the Shrew and she
berates, and she nags, and she shouts at him day, after day, after day and the man is a man of God,
gentle like Jesus and with love and understanding in his eyes and has been a tremendous blessing to
hundreds of other people because of the trial that he has undergone.
I have one that is kind of a hero, John Wesley, kind of a hero. And old John God used him in the
18th Century you remember, to bring about that revival. And old John used to preach and his wife
whom he married late in life used to sit in the audience and make faces at him. Yeah. She took his
letters, changed them and published them in the English newspapers with the changes. She dragged
him around the kitchen by his hair. Yeah. Yeah.
Now do you see brothers and sisters that I know that there’s a time to break but really we often
call uncle long before the Father wants us to. And the fact is that any marriage is going to have
some trials and God is clear about trials, “Do not regard them as unpleasant interludes in an
otherwise happy life. Greet them as pure joy my brethren when you enter into various trials,”
because God is trying to get at something inside you that needs to be changed. Well loved ones
those are some of the reasons why marriages that are made by God last and why marriages where there
is no trust in the Father for your needs do not last.
Nevertheless, it is true that God sets forth two plain situations where divorce is permissible and I
think we should look at them and just be clear about them in our own minds. One is Matthew 19:9.
Matthew 19:9, “And I say to you,” Jesus is speaking, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife,
except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.” And it is important to see that the
main statement concerns Jesus’ proclamation against divorce. Nevertheless he does use that phrase
you see which is in the manuscript, “Except for unchastity.” So it seems plainly logical that what
Jesus is saying is, “If you divorce your wife and marry another you commit adultery unless that is
your wife has committed unchastity, committed adultery herself, been unfaithful physically. Then in
that case you can divorce your wife and marry another without committing adultery.” So it seems
that unchastity in the partner is a justifiable reason for suing for divorce, unchastity in the
Nevertheless, brothers and sisters you have to see in Verse 8, that though Jesus is saying that’s
permissible he’s not saying that that’s the ideal situation. “He said to them, ‘For your hardness
of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.’” So one
needs to see that honestly that Jesus is saying, “Look, I believe you should be together for life,
this is a justifiable reason for divorce but from the beginning it was not so.” And in God’s own
mind he wants you to be together.
Now is remarriage permissible? Well, you can see that it is in Verse 9, “And I say to you: whoever
divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.” Presumably Jesus
is saying, “But if she is unchaste then you can divorce her and you can marry another without
committing adultery.” On the other hand I think one has to see that Jesus is urging you to stay
with the person.
Now would you look at the other example in 1 Corinthians 7:15, “But if the unbelieving partner
desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. For God has
called us to peace.” And so the Father sets for the second justifiable reason in scripture in
divorce where the partner is not a Christian and does not want to stay and wants to leave. Now, on
the other hand it is important to see that Paul urges you to stay with that partner if that partner
will, by any means, stay with you. But if the partner won’t stay then you should let that partner
go and you are not bound. And yet you have to see in 12 and 13 that the ideal is that you should
stay with a person even if she isn’t a Christian or he isn’t a Christian, “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, he
should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live
with her, she should not divorce him.”
So still the Father is saying, “Look, stay with each other that’s the ideal. Stay with each other
whether the person is a Christian or a non-Christian. But in a situation where he or she is a
non-Christian and wants to leave you then you are not bound.” What about remarriage? Well, you
find it in 1 Corinthians 7:15, “If the unbelieving partner desires to separate, let it be so; in
such a case the brother or sister is not bound.” And it would seem there is not bound in such a way
that they cannot remarry.
On the other hand, brothers and sisters, you have with this remarriage business to see scripture’s
plain message and its plain message obviously is you should be very careful before you go into
remarriage even if it is on one of these grounds that are outlined here. You get that emphasis in 1
Corinthians 7:29-35. 1 Corinthians 7:29-35, “I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very
short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as
though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those
who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no
dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord,
how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his
wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs
of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly
affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay restraint upon you,
but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
The Basis of Marriage - LOVE & MARRIAGE
The Basis of Marriage – Complete Service
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Now, brothers and sisters I would really encourage you to take part in the conversation with me, and
we’ll just trust the Holy Spirit to show me when to stop talking, and when to let us have questions,
and go back and forward a little. I say that because, we in this society, have been so brain washed
with wrong concepts of marriage, that it is very important that I don’t just try to brain wash you
with another concept, but that we have a real opportunity to interact with each other on the whole
subject, so that we really are convinced of what God’s plan is.
I’d start off by making this statement, that the basis of marriage is not love. The basis of
marriage is not love. The basis of marriage is God’s will. Now I think the Holy Spirit will show
you a modification of that as we go on, but I think that’s the first truth for us to receive into
our hearts. And I know all your happy little hearts are rebelling like mad against it. But loved
ones, the basis of marriage is not love, as we so often think of love. The basis of marriage is
God’s will, and that’s the truth you have stated clearly in that Old Testament scripture, and it’s
the truth that is taught repeatedly through the Bible in regard to marriage.
Abraham, when he required a son, a wife for his son, did not tell Isaac to go out and put a
telescope on the girls going to the well, and notice the one with blonde with hair, or the one that
walked especially attractively, or the one that looked as if he could live with her satisfactorily
for life. Abraham did not do that. Abraham’s first concern was, “What is God’s choice for my son?”
And that is the whole basis of the story loved ones, and it’s even the basis on which the in-laws
agree to it. If you like to look at it, it’s Genesis 24:50, and Rebekah’s father treats it that
way. Genesis 24:50, “Then Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘The thing comes from the LORD; we cannot
speak to you bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife
of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.’” Now that‘s the only basis for a good marriage,
that God wills for two people to be husband and wife.
The basis for marriage is not that you look at the girl, or you look at the guy and you think,
“Yeah, I’d love to live with her for life,” because let me tell you a secret, and I’m only 15 years
married, but a secret that many people here who are 20, 30 years married could also tell you, you
don’t know what they’re going turn out like. You don’t. You don’t, you just haven’t a notion. You
may look and you may think, “Awe, she’s going to be just wonderful,” and you may look at him and
say, “Awe, he’s just going be the most steady fella that you could imagine.” You cannot tell what
we’re going turn out like. You can’t, you just cannot tell. Especially, of course when you marry
early on, but even if you marry towards 30 you still can’t really tell how a person will behave how
a person under all the strains and under all the pressures of life, and especially under all the
advantages that they will begin to experience as life gets steadier and more stable.
So loved ones, it is madness to look at a guy, or girl and try to judge from your own point of view
of your foresight, and you’re guessing what they’re going to be like, it’s madness to try to judge
will they be suitable for you. The only way to start a marriage is to know that God wants this
person for your wife, and God wants this person as your husband, and that’s the only basis for
marriage. That’s why the wedding service has those words in it, “I take thee to be my lawful wedded
wife to live together according to the law of God in the holiest state of matrimony. I undertake to
love her, keep her, and then I plight thee my troth. There to, I plight thee my troth.”
And plight is the old English word ‘I make’, and troth is the old word for ‘covenant’. And there to
I make a covenant with you. And that’s the basis of the wedding, that because God has indicated
that you should be husband and wife you make a covenant that, that’s it. “Lord, I don’t care what
she does; I don’t care what he does. Lord God, you’ve indicated that we’re to be man and wife, I
make a covenant here in the presence of this congregation, and in the presence of the angels, and
arch angels, and all the company of heaven, and I make it in the name of Jesus, your only begotten
Son, and I call heaven to witness that I make an agreement with this women, that I stay with her
till death us do part.” Why? “Because I think she’s going to turn out right, because I like the
look of her, because I like being with her?” No, no. All those things are uncertain, and none of
them may obtain, but because you have indicated Lord God, that we should be husband, and wife
Now loved ones that’s the greatest reason for being husband and wife in the world. And you dear
wives are saying, “Oh, would you shut up? I want him to love me more than everybody else in the
world.” It can’t be, it can’t be, it can’t be. He can love you differently from everybody else in
the world. He can express that love to you in a unique way because your husband and wife. She can
express that love to you in a unique way you’re her husband, but it can’t be because you love each
other more than anybody else in the world, because at least the children are going to have as much
love from you. But if you’re in Jesus, you’re going to be called upon to love many other people
with the same degree of love, though you’ll express it in a different way. So it can’t be that
Anyway, that’s a very fickle basis for marriage, because there come days when he’s not so sure if he
loves you as much as he loved you before, and there come days when you’re not so sure you love him
as much as you loved him before, and love is a fickle thing from the point of view of human
expression. And the only basis for solid marriage is God intended us to be together, husband and
wife, and we have made an agreement that will prejudice our sole salvation if we break it.
Loved ones, that provides a security that is not like anything else in the world. That gives your
loved one a security that no one else can give. That no declaration of your fickle feelings at that
particular moment can improve on, and that’s really the only basis for marriage. Loved ones, it
just cannot be, “I want security,” it can’t be, no. The basis for marriage can’t be, “I want
security. I need somebody to look after me in my old age. I need somebody to provide for me. Well
I’m tired working, I need somebody to earn the money so that I can have children, and I always like
playing with dolls, and playing with homes, and I want to be free to do that, so I want somebody to
provide for me while I do it.” Loved ones, it can’t be that, don’t we see that? It can’t be that
he will give you, your security, because then you quake every time the poor fella loses the job.
You quake every time the recession hits. You drive him crazy every time he doesn’t seem to be
giving you what you think you should have, materially.
It can’t be security. It can’t be dear brothers, it can’t be, “I’ll marry her so that I’ll feel
some significance, so that I’ll have children, and I’ll at least be able to reproduce myself, and
make a little bigger splash in the world, or maybe I’ll have somebody that will look up to me when I
come home, and get my slippers out, and make things right for me. “ Loved ones, it can’t be that.
You can’t marry the poor dear, because you expect her to give you the significance that maybe nobody
else gives you at work. And it’ll just fall apart, if you continue to look to her for that
It can’t even be for happiness, loved ones, it really can’t. It can’t be marrying so that she’ll
give you a happy life, or marrying so that he’ll give you a happy life, because I would imagine most
husbands and wives here will agree, there are many times when it is not happy, happy, happiness, it
just isn’t. There are hard times. There are times when the greatest thing that you have is that
dear one, who just stays with you through it all, but she can’t give you much happiness at the time
and you can’t marry for happiness.
Now loved ones, that’s the difference between a Christian marriage and a non-Christian marriage.
And it’s stated there in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification:
that you abstain from unchastity; that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in
holiness and honor.” That’s because God wants you. “Not in the passion of lust like heathen who do
not know God; that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an
avenger in all these things, as we solemnly forewarned you. For God has not called us for
uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who
gives his Holy Spirit to you.” And the point of the whole statement is that each one of you know
how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not on the passion of lust like heathen.
So for the great mass of us who married because she looked good, or married because we thought she
would give us emotionally, or physically the satisfaction that we felt we deserved, or for those
sisters here who married for that reason that you thought he would give you the emotional
satisfaction, or the physical satisfaction that you wanted out of marriage, do you see that, that’s
what the heathen do? That there is little difference between the heathen and the animal kingdom,
that they all marry because of the sexual satisfaction that they will get from each other. And
loved ones, it can’t be the basis of marriage.
And every husband and wife here who are married even more than five years will attest to that that
you can’t live on physical lust and physical excitement. That there comes a time when you can no
longer, if you even like to put it as bluntly as this, you cannot work out enough permutations of
physical interaction with each other to keep you interested in each other. You can’t, loved ones.
There’s a certain limit to how much excitement you can get from each other’s bodies. And I think
everyone of us who are married even more than four or five years would say that has faded. That
whole thing has faded into the background.
It’s certainly an element in our marriage, but a rare element; it’s not the basis of our marriage.
Besides loved ones, even us wonderful guys who remain continually young and handsome while those
poor old wives get so dowdy looking, even we do not remain continually attractive, and that’s pretty
obvious. You just don’t loved ones; you’re dear to each other because you’re precious to each
other. So all of us who have wives here this morning, think of those wives as the most beautiful
women in the whole world, but it’s because of what we see in their hearts. It’s because we’ve
traveled with them a long time, and they’re dear and precious friends who have stuck by us through
all kinds of experiences. That’s what makes them beautiful. And so if you’d ask us, “Are they
really beautiful?” We’d say, “Yeah, sure they are,” because in our eyes they are really beautiful.
But that’s where the beauty is. It’s not in the physical satisfaction that comes from each other.
And if there is any physical joy at all it comes because of the inner love you have for each other.
It really does. And loved ones, if the older brothers and sisters will forgive me a little here,
because I think we are under tremendous pressure in this generation to believe that unless the
marriage is good in bed, it isn’t good. That’s foolishness, absolute foolishness. There are dozens
of us here who will attest to the fact that what makes a good marriage is that you know God intended
you to be together, and you respect, and love each other, and you trust each other, and that’s the
basis of the marriage.
At times it’s good in bed, at times it’s bad in bed, and that’s incidental and it doesn’t matter.
It has little to do with it. Now I press you on that, because I think a number of you have wild
ideas about what marriage is. Loved ones, the physical fades into the background. In fact it’s
like this, shaking hands with a loved one, is a way to express friendship. Now that’s all it is.
Now sexual intercourse is a way to express friendship. Once the shaking hands becomes the center of
everything, there’s no longer any friendship, there’s no longer any real relationship, there’s no
longer any right perspective or right balance left in the relationship. And loved ones, that’s
true, the shaking hands is precious because of the love in each heart, so it is with the sexual
intercourse. But the thing itself has no meaning.
And so I press it upon you loved ones, and those of you who read all these books that are
preoccupied with the nonessential side of marriage, and I press you on that, it is the nonessential
side. There are many of us here this morning who have happy, and good, and satisfying marriages, and
we’re not preoccupied with the physical side of the marriage. There are many loved ones here who
have been preoccupied with the physical side, and the thing has fallen apart. So loved ones, really
the basis of marriage is, Gods will for you to join your life to this other loved one, and your
attitude of love and respect to that other loved one, and then what comes from that is beautiful and
Now loved ones, there are many other topics and if you ask me questions regarding the other topics,
will you let me postpone them until next Sunday, so that at least we could deal with that just up to
this point? Because I think from the sound of this that it will maybe take us three or four Sundays
to cover it. So now any questions loved ones, up to that point? So, if you guys and girls say,
“Well then how do we chose our mate?” Well it’s vital to come to the place where God’s will is
dearer to you than physical satisfaction. That’s really the first step anyways.
Question from the audience:
Can you suggest any ways in which we could explain to non-Christian families, that God intends us to
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Loved ones, I think I speak for most mums and dads here this morning, that parents are always
impressed when there is a balance, and a restraint, and an exercise of discipline, and will power in
a relationship. So if you are at the moment going with someone and you’re sure that God wants you
to be together with that someone, then your parents will be more easily convinced of that if your
relationship expresses a balance, and a restraint, and a will power, and a self-discipline. I think
parents are most concerned when you seem to be a wild fanatic convinced that, “I cannot live without
this person, and the wedding has to be before this spring.” I think parents always get nervous when
that kind of thing operates, because loved ones, I would testify from our own experience that we
knew that God wanted us together. We happened to be on scholarships to University in Ireland, and
you’d simply lose your scholarship, and you can’t work your way through school in Ireland, you need
the scholarship money, we’d have lost the scholarship money if we’d married.
We married three and a half years later, but there was absolute contentment in our hearts. We knew
God wanted us together, we knew it was going to come about, we knew that it was going to happen, and
there was no reason to rush or push. There was no feeling that you might lose each other if you
didn’t do it quickly. It seems that parents are especially impressed if there’s that kind of
patient, contentment and readiness to wait in the brother. I think sis that is one of the big
things. If it’s God’s will it’s going to come about anyway. And I find what a lot of you loved
ones do is, you maybe are meant to be together, and you know that, and God does intend you be
together, but then you run out of his will by the way you run the relationship. And you say, “Lord,
this is your will so I am going to bring it about in my way.” But it seems very important not only
to know God’s will but to have it done in God’s way, and in God’s time.
Question from the audience:
How do we know God’s will?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Really, brother at the end of the day, God is always sending his Holy Spirit down to every one of us
in this room, even those of us who may be almost atheist. God’s Spirit is always trying to get
through to us. And the truth is if we will tune out all the other strong desires that we have, God
will make his will known. So hearing God’s will is a little like trying to tune in the right
station or channel on a CB radio. If you tune out all the other interference, then the station
comes through loud and clear. It’s a bit like that with the Father’s will, if we will only die to
the tremendously strong lusts I would almost call them, because lust in its real sense does not
apply only to the physical, but a lust for power, or a lust for money, is something also that is
real in us. If we would die to those tremendous lusts, and those tremendously strong desires, then
God would make his will known brother.
But I think what happens to many of us is, we get brain washed with Playboy, we get brainwashed with
the movies that we foolishly go to see, because some of them are just, I think straight from the
pit, and I think I’m liberal about the whole business of movies, but I think we go to these things
and we become brainwashed with the idea of what the girl has to look like, and the kind of way she
has to behave, and our desires are filled with those thoughts. And so those are so loud and strong,
brother, that God cannot get his word in at all, and so the passage and scripture is the place where
Elijah you remember, heard the thunderstorm, and the fire, and God was not in the thunder, he was
not in the fire, but he was in and then King James says, “He was in the still small voice.” But the
Hebrew says, “He was the sound of gentle stillness.”
And it’s the sound of gentle stillness that the Holy Spirit brings into a heart that wants God’s way
more than their own way, that reveals God’s will. And the trouble loved ones, with us is you see,
we’ve been taught to fall head over heels, or to get utterly caught up with the way the person
looks, or the way the person can sing, or the abilities they have, and we’ve been tuned into all of
that, so that is so strong in us that we can experience no sound of gentle stillness. Loved ones,
the truth is; if it’s really God’s will, then you should be willing to break up with the person if
God tells you. That’s the test. If this relationship is really God’s will then you should be
willing to break it if he tells you to, or to initiate if he tells you to. That’s the key. And I
would ask you to ask yourself that and don’t just answer it in a prejudice way.
Question from the audience:
Is God’s will decided at any certain time in a person’s life?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Obviously, there come real moments of decision and I do think you have to very seriously remember
those words of Sir Thomas Moore in “A Man for All Seasons”, that there do come moments when a person
has his whole life in his hands like water, and if at that moment of decision he dares to open his
hands, his life slips through them, and is gone forever. And sis, I would have to say, first of
all, that most of us would testify the fact that there are real moments of decision when it’s vital
for you to make the right decision. But it does seem that God’s will usually is revealed in a
gradual way. And really if you keep on following him, you find yourself being lead gradually into
this plain and obvious way to go.
Now, I think for many of us the trouble is, we’re not following out God’s will in the little things.
He tells us to stop wasting our evenings, or he tells us to start applying ourselves to our
studies, or he tells us to start reading the Bible, and we keep grieving him, and grieving him
saying no to all these little decisions and so actually what we’re doing is walking more and more in
our own way. And then we demand that he super imposes a kind of overdrive on us to pull us out of
our own way into his way. And that’s I think, where many of us live our lives in confusion, because
instead of opening out to God more and more in little decisions and therefore naturally coming into
his will for us, we’re opening out more and more our own way in little decisions and then we’re
asking him to almost come down in a helicopter and take us out and put us over there. And he
refuses to do it because he will not overrule our free will. So I would say sis, gradual opening
out towards God in the little decisions. You’ll make a decision after lunch today; you’ll make a
decision that will either move you towards life and God, or towards death.
Question from the audience:
[Question Inaudible 26:59].
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Well brother, I will get in great detail to that next Sunday, but I would remind you loved ones,
that Paul was talking I mean, the betrothed are those who were engaged, you know. And he is talking
about engaged couples who had already moved well towards marriage, and he was speaking to them
rather than to guys or girls who were absolutely unattached, and that’s why he tries to make those
concessions, look if your relationship has gone to the point where obviously it should open into
marriage then by all means marry, you do not sin. And of course, we ourselves get all caught up
with Paul’s prejudices. He hadn’t prejudices, it’s simply he was speaking to engaged couples in
much of those verses in 1 Corinthians 7.
Question from the audience:
[Question Inaudible 28:16]
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
The qualities you’re looking for in the person’s life? Yeah, I’m with you brother, there’s no
question loved ones, you’ll get – it’s really interesting you know, but the old psychologists here
will say, “You get the children you deserve.” And the truth is you’ll probably get the wife you
deserve. It’s interesting that God – there’s a verse of a hymn, that’s says, “Prayer is the soul’s
sincere desire uttered or unexpressed.” Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire. And I think, you
see, a lot of us pray very holy prayers. We pray Lord, for a woman who is pure, and has a gentle
heart, and has a heart for your kingdom, and we pray that prayer. But inwardly our sincere desire
is for a woman that will give us satisfaction physically, and emotionally, and God answers the real
prayer of our hearts, you see.
There are laws built into the universe, loved ones, that means that you will get what you really
want. And there’s no question brother that, that’s I think one of the needs that you have to meet
before you can receive God’s choice for you, and that is to begin to want the kind of women or the
kind of man God wants for you. And I agree with anyone here who says, “Isn’t that difficult in this
society?” I think it is, but I think that’s why God has called us together as a family like this,
so that we will begin to treasure the values that are real and eternal in each other. And so that
we will begin to learn not to judge each other by the outward appearance, but by the inward beauty
of each other’s hearts, but it is necessary to come to that.
Now loved ones, could I finish on just one emphasis that I know God wanted me to share today? I
think there are many of you here who say, “What, what if we married and we weren’t even Christians?
So how could we even know that it was God’s will for us to marry?” Or, “What if we married and we
were Christians but we aren’t really sure that it was God’s will to marry each other?” Loved ones,
the meaning of Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God,” or, “God
works together for good in them that love him.” The real meaning of that is that God never lets
anything take place in your life that he is not able to redeem. God does not permit anything to
take place in your life that he is not able to redeem. And so it is a charge against God to say,
“Maybe we should never have been married?” God over saw your life even when you were not a
Christian, that’s the meaning of verses like this. [Audio file ends abruptly]
The Purpose of Marriage - LOVE & MARRIAGE
The Purpose of Marriage
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Loved ones, I’d like to continue the conversation that we began last Sunday morning. And I’d really
encourage you to make it a conversation. I’m game to give a kind of introduction to the subject but
I really do ask you to ask questions, and questions that are really on your minds. And not because
I think I can answer them all, or not because I think that my opinion is so important, but because
we have so rarely discussed Christian marriage and God’s idea of sex and love, that really we’ve
been deluged for years by society’s opinions. And I think it’s vitally important that a group of
us, such as we are this morning, discuss freely and openly what God believes marriage, and love and
sex should be.
And that’s why I think we need to discuss it, because I think if we’ve had any kind of teaching on
the subject it’s been one way stuff, some Moses like creature telling us what we should do and many
of us have had questions in our hearts that we’ve really wanted desperately to ask. Or at least,
we’ve wanted to have some kind of feedback, or at least just put up our hand and say, “I disagree.”
And so I’d really plead with you to be real this morning, you know, and don’t clam up on me after I
give my introduction because it’s your questions that really make the thing real.
One of the reasons we need to discuss it is because we have failed utterly to distinguish between
two types of marriages that exist in our society. There are two very different types of marriages.
Now, they both stem loved ones, from God’s own plan in Genesis. So maybe you’d look at that, it’s
Genesis 2:24 and it’s right there you know, in the first days of creation that the Creator laid down
the plan for marriage. And it’s from that plan that two developments have taken place: one, that is
corrupt; and the other that is correct. Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his
mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” That was God’s plan.
God was the one who thought up the lovely idea of marriage and the beautiful idea of love is his
idea and sex is his idea and we need to hold onto that. That he started the whole idea and it was
his plan. But the first development that has followed from that is the corrupt version of his plan
called civil marriage. I don’t want to knock it and say it shouldn’t exist; I just want us to see
that civil marriage is not the same idea that God had in mind when he made that statement at the
Civil marriage is a physical and mental joining together of two personalities primarily for each
other’s sake. That’s civil marriage. It isn’t primarily for God’s sake; it’s for each other’s
sake. They see each other at school, or they see each other at work, and they like the look of each
other and they think they’d enjoy each other and so they get together and they marry. And it’s a
physical and mental union and it’s primarily for the sake of each other. It may have the trappings
of a white church wedding. I think, many times it does in our western society, many civil marriages
have all the trappings of a Christian marriage, but inside in the heart of the union it is really
just a civil marriage because it is founded on the same selfish love that is at the heart of civil
Now, that’s one kind of marriage. The other kind of marriage is Christian marriage and there are so
many differences between the characteristics of Christian marriage and civil marriages that it is
really important for us to study it this morning and to look at those differences and see them
clearly. So maybe we could just take up from where we started really last day.
The first big difference is the basis of the marriage. That’s the first big difference between a
Christian marriage and a civil marriage. It’s the basis of the marriage and the basis of the
marriage in Christian marriages is not love, but God’s will. Now let me elaborate that a little
from last day. You remember, Abraham was looking for a wife for his son Isaac and so he sent his
servant off to find a wife, and the servant chose the woman that God chose. He set up some
circumstances, you remember, whereby God would be able to show him which was the woman that Isaac
should marry. And in other words, Abraham let God choose, through his servant, the wife that Isaac
was to marry.
That’s the pattern throughout the Bible. The people that others marry who are part of God’s family
always allowed God to do the choosing and that’s the basis of Christian marriage and it’s from that
that real love stems. Now in civil marriage that isn’t the way it works. It’s interesting, at the
beginning most of us even in a civil marriage or an ordinary non-Christian relationship, it’s
interesting that most of us experienced part of the gracious gift of love. God does try to get us
on the right track. He does try to get us on real love. He does give us a gracious generosity in
our attitudes to each other.
And you know we’ve often joked about it. You remember where you were so anxious to please the other
person that you don’t care what you want yourself. And it gets really funny when you are asking
each other out, and you say, “Where would you like to go?” And the other one says, “No, where would
you like to go?” And he says, “No, where would you like to go?” And she says, “No, where would you
like to go?” And then he guesses where you would like to go and she guesses where you would like to
go and you end up somewhere where neither of you wanted to go.
But it is beautiful. I mean, it is for a momentary experience of unselfish generous love that God
actually gives to people who base their marriage on his will. And most of us, it’s interesting
isn’t it, God is so good to us, even those of us who don’t care about God, even those of us who
don’t care about Jesus have a strange experience of love for a moment at the beginning of a
marriage. It doesn’t last too long because we then become consumed with what we really want and
what we would enjoy, and either that happens during the courtship or it happens soon after we marry.
We stop being interested in the other person, we say the magic has gone out of the relationship but
really it is that we have ceased to love.
We have begun to concentrate not on giving which is the heart of love, but we have begun to
concentrate on getting. And you know how, because we have an uneasy conscious after certain
experiences, we have to say, “I love you.” But really we know fine well we don’t mean that, we
really mean I want to get from you, or I need you. And so most marriages that are not based on
God’s will after an initial experience of unselfish giving love, sink into just downright lust,
desire, wish for the security, significance, and happiness that they should get from God and they
concentrate on getting it from each other. And most civil marriages sink down onto that level and
that’s the basis of most civil marriages.
I need you. I want you. I enjoy the praise that you give me or the sense of position or importance
that you give me as a provider and a father to your children, or I enjoy the security that you give
me and the money you provide, and the good home that you’ve given. Or, we both enjoy the thrill or
the exhilaration that we give to each other physically as long as we give it to each other. And
most civil marriages are based on that.
Whereas, a Christian marriage is based on the will of God and as a result of that of course, God
gives real giving love to those two people. That’s why loved ones, the marriage service goes like
this, “I call upon these persons here present to witness that I take thee to be my lawful wedded
wife to have and to hold from this day forward.” And then towards the end of this, “And to cherish
till death us do part according to God’s holy law and thereto I give thee my troth.” And troth is
the old English word for covenant and that’s why in a wedding in a Christian marriage you say, “I
make a covenant with you this day because I understand that the Creator of the universe wants you
and me to be together for life, and I understand that that is his will, I abide by his will for us
and I tell you in his name and for his glory that I’m staying with you until death.”
It’s if you like, a very cold blooded covenant and promise not on the basis of your transitory likes
or dislike physically or emotionally which civil marriages like to call love. But it’s based on the
fact that you know this is God’s will for you and you’re agreeing with this loved one that you’re
going to stay together because of God until death. And that’s the basis and the solid basis of a
real marriage. The other is no basis as you see. I mean, 50% of the marriages in our country are
ending up in divorce so obviously the other idea of love which is really lust, or I need you, or I
want you, or I get from you that is no basis for lasting marriage.
The only basis for lasting marriage is that you know it’s God’s will. And what we said last Sunday
was you can only find out which is the person that God wants you to marry if you’ve at last died to
getting security, significance, and happiness from other people. Only when you’ve died to that will
you be like Elijah, able to ignore the earthquake of the old physical desires and the fire of the
old emotional needs, and be able to hear the sound of gentle stillness that is God’s voice. So in a
very real sense, only when you’ve died to your need to marry are you in a position ever to find out
from God whom he wants you to marry and that’s the basis of Christian marriage.
Maybe we should just comment for a moment on those loved ones here this morning, because I know some
of you are here who have married years ago and are wondering, “But was that God’s will for me? Was
that God’s will for me?” And you wonder that either because you weren’t Christians when you
married, or because you didn’t know what Christian marriage was about and so you married in
ignorance and you sit here this morning and wonder yes but was that God’s will for me? And loved
ones, there’s a clear word from God to those of you who are like that this morning because honestly
I think that many of us wonder that at times and we allow Satan to get in with real doubt because of
our wondering about what we did so many years ago. And God has a clear word – now, I’d like you
just to look at it so that you see it is from him.
1 Corinthians 7:27a, “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free.” That’s it loved ones. At
this moment as God’s word comes to you are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Why?
Well, because of Romans 8:28 if you look at it. Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works
for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” You remember the King
James Version reads, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
You remember we said last Sunday that God never allows anything to happen in your life that he
cannot redeem. He never allows anything to happen that he cannot redeem and that he cannot work
into his plan for your life. And there’s just one other strong verse that it would be good for you
to look at. 1 Corinthians 10 it is, 1 Corinthians 10:13, because I think many of us find ourselves
in relationships that don’t seem ideal. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation,” and the Greek word
means trial also, “No temptation (or trial) has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is
faithful, and he will not let you be tempted (or tried) beyond your strength, but with the
temptation (or trial) will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Not
only endure it but redeem it and transform it.
And I know some of you feel, “Well maybe the way of escape is divorce?” But do you see that God
would never have you disobey him in order to obey him and there is no ground for divorce in the
Bible that is based on the fact that the relationship is hard or impossible, or that is based on the
conviction you have that you made a mistake way back. There is no ground for divorce like that in
scripture and so whenever you try to get out of a marriage by excusing yourself on the ground that
you were not a Christian when you got into it, or that you did not know what Christian marriage
really was supposed to be like, really you’re just retreating into the selfishness that is the heart
of sin and you’re retreating from what God has allowed to come into your life in order to make you
like himself. And loved ones, you’re actually not only retreating but if you walk towards divorce
you’re walking into further disobedience simply because there’s no ground for divorce that includes
the idea that you made a mistake way back, or when you said, “I take you to be my lawful wedded
wife,” you didn’t really mean it.
Then how is God going to know that you really mean it this time? Do you look up and say, “Lord God,
I didn’t really mean it this time but I’ll really, really mean it this time.” No, you’re just
taking his name in vain a second time. That’s all you’re doing when you try to give up what he has
allowed you to come into.
Just to go on a little further then before maybe we’d open up into conversation, the attitude
underlying that is an attitude that is one of the greatest misconceptions about marriage. That is
the attitude that wants to get out of a relationship that has got a bit hard. That attitude is one
of the biggest misconceptions about marriage, and here it is, “That marriage is for my happiness and
Now really loved ones, that is dumb. Honestly, but I know it strikes you almost silent because you
think, “Of course, that’s why marriage.” But it isn’t, that’s an absolute misconception about
marriage; that marriage is for your happiness and comfort. It isn’t and that’s where all of us are
getting into trouble. We are all utterly convinced that the purpose of marriage is to make me
happier, or to make me more comfortable, or to help me to enjoy life more and that’s why you have
such a hard time with marriage as the years pass because, you find that in fact it doesn’t always do
That is a misconception about marriage. What is the purpose of marriage? It’s very clearly stated
in scripture loved ones, if you look at it. Genesis 1:27 and it has nothing about your comfort and
happiness in it. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created
him; male and female he created them.” That’s the first purpose of marriage.
The whole purpose of God creating the world was to express himself as he really is. To express his
own tenderness, his own justice, his own righteousness, his own mercy and immediately he thought of
his own image he thought male and female. That’s the way that verse runs. In the beginning God
created us in his image male and female he created us. Immediately God thought of his own image he
thought male and female and all of us understand that. That it requires male and female to express
the full beauty of the God who is the Father of Jesus. All of us that is who have ever been in a
men’s locker room, or who have ever been in a women’s club, or who have ever attended a boy’s
school, or ever attended a girl’s school. All of us know fine well that it takes male and female to
express the beauty and balance of Jesus’ character and the determination, and the flexibility, and
the strength, and the tenderness is contributed by each one. By one at one time and by one at
another until the full balanced beauty of God is expressed to the world and that’s why God made us
male and female.
That’s why even in this group this morning there is a more balanced picture of God because there are
men and women here; there are brothers and sisters here. And that’s the primary purpose of God
drawing a man and a woman together. Not for their sake at all, but so that the world will see his
beauty in two people, because God himself of course said to his Son, “Let us make man in our image,”
and God’s own beauty can only be seen in a communion of at least two people with each other. But so
full and so complete is his character that it requires the tenderness at times of a woman and the
strength at times of a man. The determination at times of a woman and the flexibility at times of a
man, it requires – you didn’t think I’d say it that way? But it requires both and that’s why God
made us man and woman and that’s why a body of Christ needs men and women equally united and equally
Now in a deeper way loved ones that works in individual marriages because believe it or not,
horrible little thought it may be to you, God will probably guide you to marry your own weaknesses,
really, your own worst points. At times some of your own strengths, but probably you will marry
your own worst weaknesses. Each of you, not just we perfect men. But really loved ones, you’ll
probably marry your own worst weaknesses and do you know why?
So that every morning you get up you’ll see that mirror staring you in the face and you’ll come up
against it again, and again, and again and if you have little ones without dealing with those
weaknesses, those little ones will reproduce those weaknesses and God is determined that you will
not evade the need to die with Jesus and be resurrected new with Jesus. So he has planned marriage
to bring before you constantly and repeatedly in the strongest form possible the ways in which you
yourself have to become more like his son Jesus and that’s why part of the marriage vow runs, “I
take you to be my lawful wedded wife to have and to hold from this day forward for better for worse
in sickness and in health for richer for poorer.” And our mistake is we slide over the worse. We
do. We say, “For better for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer.”
Now loved ones, why did they put it in? Why did they put “for worse” in? And the truth is that
when the other one is at her worst you are driven to grasp most vehemently for the peace, and the
gentleness, and the long suffering, and the love of Jesus and no Christian marriage can exist
without the supernatural power that you draw down from Jesus at the right hand of the Father as you
at last die to whether this loved one is blessing your life or cursing it and you grasp for Jesus’
life so that you can be a blessing to her or to him. And so in individual marriages loved ones,
those sore spots are rubbed again, and again, and again until you see there’ll be no heaven for me
until Lord Jesus, you’re able to transform me so that I can bear this loved one with love and so
that I can bless her when she perhaps curses me, or so that I can bless him when he perhaps curses
me. But loved ones, the purpose of marriage is to reproduce the image of God in us and that’s the
primary reason for it.
Now loved ones, you wouldn’t believe it but really we’re only about half way through but I think I
should stop for a moment and we’ll continue next Sunday on the other reasons for marriage. But,
would you like to question at this point? And maybe not, and that’s alright.
Question from the audience:
What about loved ones who were divorced a few years back?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
It seems to me brother the same verse applies, “If you’re married do not seek to be unmarried. If
you’re divorced do not seek to be undivorced unless you can reconcile.” We’ll deal with divorce,
I’m afraid it will be two Sundays on now, but the Bible clearly encourages you to be reconciled to
the one from whom you were divorced so undoubtedly one should do that. But I was taking it that you
were saying what about a loved one who divorced years ago and the partner has married again, or they
have married again, then you cannot go back and create all the chaos and unhappiness that would come
from breaking up marriages and remarrying. But where it was possible to be reconciled either
because you yourself had no married again, or because the other person had not married again then
God says we should do it. Really it is important loved ones, just to speak.
Question from the audience:
In the example that you used of unselfish love about one going where the other wanted to go, and the
other going where the other wanted to go, and ended up where neither of them wanted to go is that an
example of Christian love?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
No, no, that’s no doubt an example of infatuation. But sis, it is interesting that even in that,
even in that perverted as it is by our own selfish wills or by our own wills even in it is a seed of
the concern for the other person that is at the heart of a mature marriage. And that at least is a
beautiful side of it. No, it isn’t all beautiful and it isn’t all as it should be because both
people aren’t completely under God’s guidance in that case, even a desire to please the other is in
that case not under the control of Jesus. But at least it has the element of concern for the other
person which is so much of an improvement on what many of our marriages are about later on.
Question from the audience:
Should you be able to love everyone as much as you love your wife?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Jeff brings up the awkward one that I know it gave me trouble with my wife when I said on a radio
program that one should be able to love everyone as much as your own wife. And even though my own
wife is somewhere here I still say it, yeah, that the heart of married love loved ones, is not that
it contains more love – how you would measure love anyway is difficult but the heart of married love
is not that you love your wife more than you love everybody else in the world, but that you express
that love in a way that is appropriate to your wife or to your husband, and that the precious thing
about being someone’s wife or being someone’s husband is not that he loves me more than everybody
else in the world, or that she loves me more than everybody else in the world because there’s
something wrong if that’s the case. But that the mighty God of the whole universe when he was
establishing Mount Everest and when he was establishing the bounds of the Mediterranean Ocean
decided that I should be the wife, I should be the husband of this dear person and that is a
steadiness and stability that is ah, just beyond anything that the mere love of a human being could
bring to you.
And so it is important loved ones, to hold to that because I think very often we’ll be talking about
celibacy maybe three Sundays from now, but the heart of celibacy and beauty of celibacy is made
possible because husbands and wives are not little closed enclaves that make everybody else feel the
third man out or the third woman out. But in fact, they are dear partners who make everybody else
know that they love them as much as they love each other. And so yes Jeff, I think it is important
to see it.
Question from the audience:
Some loved ones say that you could marry many different people but that God just zeroes in on one
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
It seems to me it’s an academic question in a way, could you marry many people because what we
believe is the one that we are led to if we’re dead to what we want out of it is the person that God
has chosen for us. Now, whether many people could be our wives or our husbands or not is therefore
a little academic. I think it is important that from the point of view of living with each other it
is important to see that people who are in Jesus and who are dead to themselves should be able to
live together in perfect peace and that is the basis of our own fraternity houses on campus, that we
– in those homes, live together in peace because God has really begun to deal with our own desire
for our own ways and our own wishes. So that is true but the other is an academic question I don’t
know – I can’t answer it.
Question from the audience:
Does God ever will a Christian to marry a non-Christian?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
All I could quote you is that verse “be ye not unequally yoked” and testify loved ones that there
are many of us here in this group this morning who would say for goodness sake and for God’s sake do
not be dumb enough to think that you can be happy in an intimate relationship with another person
who differs from you on such a basic subject as what you’re attitude to God should be. And loved
ones, all of us who are married would testify to the truth of that verse “be ye not unequally
yoked”. We would say, “Listen, many of us have found enough trouble just because we come from
different backgrounds.” Many of us have found enough trouble just because we have different
interests. But if we differed on such an intimate basic topic as what our relationship to the
Creator of the universe should be, there would be no peace between us at all.
Question from the audience:
What does it mean to be married to your own worst weaknesses?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Well, all of us who are married get rather embarrassed when we think of this but it is interesting
brother that after three or four years you begin to talk like your partner. It’s terrible. And you
begin to have the same gestures as your partner and then it’s not long before you either begin to
see your own weaknesses mirrored in them, or you begin to see that deep, deep down without really
knowing it you married something of yourself in them. Some of it was your own strength, but some of
it was your own weakness. It’s interesting that God almost seems to use that you have in common to
draw you together and it’s then that you begin to see yourself in an objective way in the other
And so it’s just a fact, it’s just a fact that many of us would have discovered in our wives the
very things that we had wrong in ourselves except that we are not always such good judges of them.
I mean, we can always condemn it so clearly and plainly in them but we are always so poor at
condemning it in ourselves. And I think it’s just a beautiful plan that God has to get around our
hypocrisy. I think it’s just a fact loved ones, I think the husbands and wives will probably
testify to it. Maybe just one more question.
Question from the audience:
What about several verses down from what we read in 1 Corinthians where it says “Let those who have
wives be as though they had none.” How would you interpret that?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
I think Anita, it might come into studies in future Sundays but I could briefly comment. I think
that many of us here would have come to the point in our own lives where we do put Jesus first in
our hearts and it has brought a balance and perspective into our attitude to our marriages where
before we were looking to our marriage for all the security, significance, and happiness that we
needed, now we are able to get it from God and so we are able to live free from the binding of
purely human love. And loved ones, isn’t purely human love as opposed to spiritual love is binding,
You know, where you love the person but there’s something of self in it and I’ll try to talk about
the three loves the next Sunday where there’s something of self in it and so you love them partly
because they’re loving you and so you’re afraid not to love them in case they won’t love you and so
it becomes a binding thing. So it seems to me that as we come into the position that God wants us
to be in, in regards to Jesus we come free of that and we’re able at last to love the other person
freely. Not so that they love us back, but because we just love them and then it is that we live as
if we were not married in the worldly sense, that is not bound by the world’s idea of marriage but
more faithful than ever before to our married partners. I think we’d testify, those of us who have
begun to deal with Jesus in our own lives, that the only result it brings in marriage is a more
tender and a more kindly, and a more thoughtful, and unselfish love for our dear ones.
Well loved ones, we’ll try next day to continue talking about the purpose of marriage and so if you
have questions will you note them down, or you can put them into the reception office at the end of
this service if you want. Let us pray.
Dear Father, thank you for your plans and Lord, we would ask you to make your plans for us clear and
clearer in these coming Sundays and by the power of your Holy Spirit to undeceive those of us who
want to be deceived, and to clarify for those of us who cannot see clearly, and to change and
transform those of us who need to be turned upside down and made more like you in our marriages.
And Lord, I pray especially for those loved ones who are not married and are wondering about the
whole question of whom they are to spend their life with. Dear Father, I trust you to assure them,
“As I looked after Abraham and Isaac so I will look after you and I will prepare the way before you
so that your life will be much better than you ever thought it could be. I love you with all my
heart and I will not let you down in regard to marriage.” Thank you Lord, thank you. Amen.
Love & Marriage(1) - LOVE & MARRIAGE
Love & Marriage
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
For the past two Sundays loved ones, we’ve been carrying on a conversation about marriage. And I
say conversation because I’ve tried to introduce some of the topics that we would talk about and
then given you the opportunity to ask questions. It’s not an ideal way to run a conversation but
it’s the best approach we can make with about a 1,000 of us here. And so I ask you to try to help
me to do that again this morning.
It might be good first of all, to stand back together and look at the subject from a distance and
see that there are two ways to approach it. We could approach marriage here together empirically.
That is, we could look at what society has done with marriage here in America, what it has done
successfully and what it has done unsuccessfully. We could look at what society has done with
marriage in the past and what it might do with it in the future. That is, we could share a lot of
human opinions here.
We could give the opinions expressed in the Hite Report, give the opinions expressed by Masters &
Johnson, and give the opinions expressed by Alec Comfort. We could share even what Hugh Hefner
thinks about it, and maybe even what old Dear Abby thinks about it. But I think that most of us
here are kind of anxious not to know what other human beings think about marriage, but we’re anxious
to find out if there’s any authoritative basis for marriage itself beyond what we human beings
And I think most of us are anxious to know not what marriage is like but what marriage is meant to
be like and that’s why we’re approaching it doctrinally. That is, we’re discussing what the Creator
of the universe’s plan for marriage is. Most of us here believe that Jesus is the unique Son of the
Creator of the universe. We believe it because of his resurrection from the dead, because of his
miracles, because of his perfect life. We believe that what he says is the real explanation of
reality and the real meaning of life. And so we believe what he has described about marriage is
what our Creator wanted marriage to be.
And though most of us here, I think, agree there are some elements of success and some elements of
good in secular or civil marriage, yet we believe that it is a poor shadow and a poor imitation of
what real marriage is. And I think most of us here really believe that Christian marriage is the
only marriage that is real in our Creator’s eyes. And so loved ones, if you’re here this morning
and you’re anxious to say, “Oh, but isn’t there other marriage besides Christian marriage?” Sure
there is, there are all kinds of ideas of marriage depending on the society that you live in. But
what we’re saying this morning is there is really only one marriage that was meant and planned by
our Creator and that is what we have described in this book here. And that’s the marriage we’re
discussing loved ones.
So undoubtedly there is secular or civil marriage and there is Christian marriage. What we’re
discussing here is Christian marriage not because we’re just a little ghetto group of Christians who
have a little story that suits our personalities, but because we believe that is the meaning of
marriage in our Creator’s mind. That is what marriage was planned to be, and actually at the end of
the day it’s the only way it’ll work. And so we’re not saying that many secular or civil marriages
do not appear to work, but we’re saying that there’s only really one marriage that works deep down
in private as well as outside in public, and that is the marriage described in this book, the
marriage described by Jesus.
Now loved ones, we’ve said that secular marriage differs from Christian marriage very, very much.
First of all, it differs in it basis. The basis really for secular marriage is man’s will. It just
is. It’s man’s will. You see a nice girl in the class at the U, or you see a handsome guy in the
office, and you decide, “That’s the kind of person I’d like to spend some time with.” And deep down
really what you want from that person is some kind of happiness. And later on as you get more
serious you really want some kind of security from them. And later on as you get into a close
relationship you want him to give you some sense of importance. And so the basis of secular
marriage is that. Most people who involve themselves in secular marriage whether it’s a white
church wedding or not, and therefore in name a Christian wedding, secular civil marriage is based on
man’s will. It’s what man wants to get from a woman, or it’s what woman wants to get from a man,
but it’s based on a man’s will.
Now Christian marriage is based on something entirely different and you remember, we discussed it in
connection with Abraham’s search for a daughter for his son Isaac. And you remember, how the
servant prayed, “Let the woman whom the Lord chooses for my master’s servant speak certain words to
me.” The basis for Christian marriage is God’s will. In other words, it is a person coming to the
place where they die to getting happiness, security, and significance from some other person and
they agree that they can only receive it from God. And that brings instead of the tremendous
emotional furor that drives so many of us into wrong relationships, that brings a deep peace where
at last the sound of gentle stillness that is God’s choice can be heard inside our spirits.
And so really, there is a tremendous difference between secular and Christian marriage and Christian
marriage is based on God’s will and comes when a man or a woman is really ready in a sense never to
be married if that’s what God wants for them. Is ready for whatever he wants, and is ready to
receive what they need from he alone and is not looking for something from a partner, but is looking
for, “Lord, who do you want me to marry?”
It differs immensely loved ones, in regards to the purpose of the marriage. A secular marriage,
even though it may initially experience something of unselfishness in the courtship time, secular
marriage usually deteriorates into a claustrophobic in turned selfish and rather boring experience
of trying to make the other into your image. That’s right, trying to make the other person into
your own image. And that’s why so often secular marriage ends up in a standoff, because the other
person will only become like you up to a certain point and you’ll only become like them up to a
certain point and then you go no further. And that’s usually where developed intimacy ceases and it
becomes a quite cold war, a life of just desperation, quiet desperation where you stay together for
the sake of the children or for the sake of the appearance.
A Christian marriage is based on the plan that God has to create his image in a man and a woman
living together and sharing more and more of each other’s qualities, experiencing more and more of
each other’s good qualities and each other’s bad qualities because sometimes the other’s bad
qualities are planned by God too to conform you to the image of his son. And that’s why in the
marriage service we promise to take each other for better or for worse, because sometimes it’s the
worst in the other that makes you grab most for the patience and the love of Jesus that transforms
your own character. And so Christian marriage is based on the expression of God’s image in a man
and a woman being recreated into one person that reflects their good qualities and reflects all the
beauty of Jesus and so Christian marriage differs a great deal, as you can see, from secular
Now, that was the first part of the purpose loved ones, of Christian marriage. The second part of
the purpose of Christian marriage is found, if you’d like to look at it, in Genesis 2:18. “Then the
LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”
Now, a helper fit for him and then for him to do what? Well Genesis 1:28 explains the commission
that God has given to each man. Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be
fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea
and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
Each one of us here, men and women, are exactly right to bring some part of God’s world into his
order and under his will. That’s why we were put here. We weren’t put here to milk the earth for
our own benefits. We weren’t here to make as much money as bankers, or as carpenters as we possibly
could. We were put here to bring the world into the order of God’s will. That’s what that great
commission means, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” Don’t fill it with
smog, don’t fill it with coal dust, subdue it in the sense of bringing it into my order. Use the
lakes, and the wind, and the solar energy to reproduce my plan for the kingdom of heaven here on
earth. Now, that’s why we’re here.
Now loved ones, the woman that God has allowed you to meet and fall in love with, is exactly right
to be a helper to you in that task. That’s what it means. The second purpose of marriage is that
the one would help the other to fulfill the purpose that God has for that person here on this earth.
That’s what it means to be a helper fit, a helper exactly right. Now, you husbands and wives who
are married, would you accept that? That the loved one that you have by your side is exactly right?
You can argue as you want, you can say, “No, no brother he made a mistake in my case.” But loved
ones, God knows what he is doing and he knows what he has allowed to happen and that loved one of
yours is exactly right to help you fulfill the purpose that God has for you in this world.
Now maybe you’re involved in the wrong purpose at the moment. Maybe you’re in the wrong job or
something like that, but there is a place for you where God will use you to bring his world more
into the order of his will and that partner that you have is exactly right for that purpose. That’s
why brothers and sisters, those of us who aren’t married, it’s really important when you consider
marriage that you think together of what you want your future to be, or what you’re planning for
It’s alright to be boy and girlfriend and not take each other’s job seriously. But it’s very
important, once you begin to think of marriage to consider, “Is this person thinking of spending
their lives the same kind of way that I am?” And loved ones, those of us who are married, the
person that you have with you is exactly right to help you fulfill the purpose that God has for you.
How often if you wives would take that position, how often could you save us dumb men from so much
of our misspent energy and our misdirected energy, from our misspent time? How often you could save
us from the frustrations we get into because we don’t have someone else who knows us well, and knows
what we’re doing to share with us?
But loved ones, how often would our wives enter fully into the experience of our jobs if we would
stop ignoring them and if we would begin to talk and discuss with them? But do you know the
tragedy? The tragedy is that we brothers have read only the first part of that great commission and
we let the little women, we let the poor sisters that have married us, take part in only one part of
that commission. That’s the ‘be fruitful’ part. And then when the children are grown up we no
longer have anything in common with each other and we begin to have our troubles. Is it any wonder?
Because, we’ve shut the loved one out of the thing that we spend eight hours a day doing.
Now all you brothers who sit there and say, “Brother, my wife wouldn’t understand the first thing.
She’s not even interested.” Would you take my word for it that she loves you and she wants to be
part of what you’re doing, and she does not like to be treated as an alternative to a Whirlpool
washing machine, or as an alternative to a clothes dryer, or as an alternative to a babysitter? She
does want to be part of your job and part of what you do, and maybe you should begin to wonder if
your job is what God wants you to do if she cannot in some way share with you about it.
But loved ones, that’s why God has put you together and you’re missing half of marriage if you keep
treating her as just the one who can produce babies, or can look after the home, or washes your
clothes. She is a helper fit for you. And then dear brothers and dear wives, the brother is a
helper fit for the wife. The brother is someone who can take part in the things that the wife does.
The reason the whole woman’s liberation thing has got so unbalanced is because we have not entered
into this concept of marriage, and we have not treated each other as helpers fit for each other, but
loved ones, that’s God’s plan.
God has given you a helper that is fit for you and if you would begin to share with that loved one
at least the things, I know we men are doing such deep and complex things that what could a mere
woman understand about it. I know that, I know we’re quite brilliant but it may surprise you that
God has given you a dear wife that probably knows you better than you know yourself. And she may
not be able to go into all the details of the computer, or all the details of the last contract you
completed, but she knows you and she can speak to you about your human performance in your job, and
that’s why the Father has put her there. So that in every way you’ll have someone who knows you
intimately who can speak about you from an objective point of view. That’s the second purpose of
Now the third purpose loved ones, is there in that same verse if you’d like to look at it and it’s
Genesis 2:18. You see it’s Genesis 2:18a, the first part of the verse, “Then the LORD God said, “It
is not good that the man should be alone.” And the Father decided that for fellowship he would give
the man a wife and give the wife a husband and that’s the third purpose stated in scripture for
marriage, for fellowship, for real love.
Most marriages stop their intimacy at the point of physical intercourse, or at the point of
understanding that they had a week after the first child was born. And the point is God gave you to
each other for fellowship for interaction with each other, for intimacy with each other that would
pass beyond just physical things. He gave you to each other to love each other. That’s really it.
And the love has a purpose; the love is stated clearly in Romans 8:29. It’s the purpose that God
said all things work together for good for, and the purpose is that they may be conformed to the
image of his Son. And God has given you to each other to love each other into the image of God,
into the image of Jesus.
He’s given you to each other to make sure that the other person gets into heaven. That’s why you’re
together. You’re together because nobody can pray for you, nobody can think for you, nobody can
want for you, nobody can listen to you as intimately and as correctly, and as precisely as your dear
wife, or as your dear husband. Loved ones, there’s nobody can pray for you like your husband or
your wife because there’s nobody who knows you as clearly as your husband or wife does and you’re
given to each other to get each other into heaven.
That’s why you’re precious to each other. That’s why it is madness to ever think of divorce and
I’ll try to show you the grounds, there are grounds for divorce in scripture, but it’s madness ever
to think of divorce purely on the level of selfishness whether you enjoy the other person or not.
You’re not given to each other to enjoy each other. You’re given to each other to get each other
into heaven and that’s why always loved ones, you should do everything to avoid parting from each
other. You’re together so that someday you’ll walk through the gates of heaven together and that’s
why he has put you there.
For fellowship with one another, for a constantly increasing intimacy and you know if you say, “Oh,
for goodness sake we’re different. I don’t understand her. I don’t understand him.” That’s right.
That’s right, that’s why God put you together because there’d have to be a stretching, there’d have
to be a stretching and an exercising of patience, and an exercising of gentleness and long suffering
to get to know the other person. So sure, sure he sits there and doesn’t say a word, just looks at
her like Archie. Just looks and doesn’t say anything. And sure, you talk 20 to the dozen, that’s
right. That’s right, that’s why God put you together because somehow you have to get that
gentleness, and that love, and that kindliness of Jesus into your voice so that you can get into
that dear old fella’s heart and it’s the same the other way around.
That’s why you’re put together because it’s going to stretch you. It’s going to stretch you big
enough so that you’ll be at home in heaven. It’s going to stretch you big enough so that you’ll be
like Jesus. But that’s what marriage is about. It’s about patience, and kindness, and you go
around that way and you can’t get to them so you go around the other way and you try to get to them.
And you can’t go around that way so you go over that way. But you don’t like dumb idiots try once
and say, “No, we’re not the same kind of people.” No loved ones, that’s not what marriage is about.
Marriage is there to stretch you and to change you and as you endeavor to love the other person in
truth and in spirit, that’s what will happen to you. But loved ones, it’s a stretching. I’d plead
with you, I’d plead with you, what’s killing our world is that nobody will stretch over to the other
person and eventually you know, Tennessee Williams is right, you remember in his preface to that
‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ he said, “We’re all condemned to solitary confinement within our own skins,”
and that’s the way society is going. It is you know that. It’s going more and more to isolation.
And do you see it’s because people won’t stretch over to each other. Sure it takes dying to what
you want and dying to your own convenience, but that’s why the Father has put you together, to
stretch over to each other and to love each other.
I’d just like to summarize it really and it is easily summarized loved ones, because you can say
that the difference between secular marriage and Christian marriage is one is getting and the other
is giving and that’s it. Love is giving, it’s not getting and you can see that clearly outlined if
you realize that the Greek language is much richer than the English language as you probably know
and we have only one word for love and that covers Liz Taylor’s seventh husband and her attitude to
her seventh husband. And that word love covers the attitude of a man or woman to their God, and it
covers the attitude of a son to a father, and it covers even what a prostitute would have said to
her on certain occasions. And it’s really a very poor way to describe the many facets of love.
Greek has three different words and the first one that I’d like you to look at it is the word “Eros”
and it looks like that in Greek and in English letters it’s that. “Eros” it’s the name of that
statue you remember, that is in Piccadilly in London. And “Eros” is the concept that is found there
in that verse we looked at before in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 and it’s the word that gives rise to words
like erotic. 1 Thessalonians 4:5 and Verse 3 you remember gives the syntax a little better, “For
this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from unchastity; that each one of you
know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor.” And then Verse 5, “Not in the passion
of lust like heathen who do not know God.”
“Eros” is sexual love if it ought to even have the word love. It’s sexual love or sexual desire.
It’s preoccupied with getting what it wants, emotional satisfaction or physical satisfaction or
exhilaration and “Eros” is sexual love. It’s an utterly selfish thing that’s why really you had
better put love in parenthesis or at least in quotes because you can hardly call it love because
love is giving. The heart of erotic love is getting. It’s getting emotional satisfaction or
exhilaration or physical satisfaction or exhilaration for yourself and that is the basis of what 80%
maybe of marriages and that’s why the seven year itch becomes a joke, and that’s why the 45 year old
running around after the secretaries is a joke. Because, there comes a time in marriage where that
is not the center of the relationship at all and so “Eros” is no basis for marriage because it’s a
preoccupation with getting for yourself.
The second type of love is “Philia”. It looks like that and comes out in Philadelphia you remember,
the love of brothers and that’s really what it is. It’s the love of two people for each other
because they have the same interests. So it’s common interest. Two men could have it for each
other because they both like football, because they both like fishing and it’s a common interest
thing. They’re drawn together – many of us had those experiences in school, many of us have friends
who are drawn together with us because we have a common interest.
It’s still a selfish thing because you – it only lasts as long as the common interest is there and
that’s the kind of love that is hinted at in 1 Corinthians 7:12-13. 1 Corinthians 7:12-13, “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, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he
consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.” If it was just “Philia” love, of course
they’d divorce immediately because they’d have nothing in common and “Philia” love runs out after
she ceases to take an interest in his bowling, or he ceases to take an interest in the children, or
they both cease to play tennis together, or they both cease to be interested in building a home, or
building the house together. And so “Philia” is a selfish love and is preoccupied with something in
the other person that you’re interested in.
The only love that really works is “Agape” love and it looks like that in English letters and is the
kind of love that is talked about in Romans 5:5, and it’s the kind of love that is described in 1
Corinthians 13. And Romans 5:5 runs like this, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love
has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” “Agape” love
is a gift from God shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit, but not arbitrarily. But that love
is given to any person who is willing to obey God, any person who is willing to die to what they
want and what they think they should have and is willing to want what God wants. God then sheds
abroad in your heart “Agape” love.
It’s the love that Jesus had for a leper. He looked at the leper with the withered flesh and in no
way was that leper useful to him emotionally or physically. In no way had that leper anything in
common with him and yet Jesus’ heart was filled with God’s love for that leper. It’s a miraculous
desire to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and really see things from where they see them,
really understand things as they understand them, really feel for them. That’s what love is.
Love is not a big complex thing. Love is a very practical interest in knowing what the other dear
person is feeling and in seeing things the way they see it so that you can really understand them
and sympathize, and empathize with them. Now that love is shed abroad miraculously in the heart of
any person who is willing to die to themselves. You do have to be willing to die to yourselves
loved ones and just one or two things then to comment on that. That love does show itself in
physical expression because I think a lot of you listen to that and you say, “Oh yes, it’s a very
spiritual thing but it never shows itself.” Of course it does, that’s what gives intercourse its
beauty because “Agape” love is preoccupied with the other person rather than their body and that’s
what makes the physical expression of love such a beautiful and such a right and appropriate thing
It’s what brings physical intercourse into perspective, “Agape” love. It’s what enables the woman
to know that you’re not just making use of her body. It’s what enables the man to know that you’re
not just depending on his virility. It’s a concern for the person and a desire to even die for the
person if need be and that’s what “Agape” love is. Ephesians 5 you see describes it, “Husbands
should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” And that’s what
“Agape” love makes you want to do and so it does express itself in physical ways in a husband wife
relationship but it’s a desire to give, and a desire to put the other person before yourself.
Now loved ones, there are just a few minutes so do you want to ask any questions? I’ll try to talk
next day about physical relationships inside and outside marriage, and try then to go gradually on
to celibacy and to divorce, and then to authority and submission but that would be maybe two weeks
hence. But are there any questions?
Question from the audience:
Would the “Agape” love operate here where perhaps one would have an interest that was different from
the other and would the “Agape” love then prompt one to lay down their interest and begin to be
interested in what the other was doing?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill
Yeah, “Agape” love is beautiful because it makes you ready to give up what you yourself want to do
and enables you to want more what the other person wants. And so the beautiful thing about it is
that the Holy Spirit is able perhaps to change both your apparent interests and to bring you into
something that he wants you to be interested in.
Question from the audience:
Does the “Agape” love then correspond to the promise two shall become one?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Yes. It’s the only way two can become one brother, because two can only become one if there’s a
readiness to die to what you want, and what you want to be and do and be prepared to become what God
wants you to be. Yeah. And the beauty of a marriage which, loved ones you husbands and wives,
we’ve made of a mess of it you know, because we don’t see it in all its beauty. It’s a new
creation. It’s a new creation but you know how stiffed neck we are, we don’t want to lose what we
are and we don’t see what God wants to create is a new creation that two shall become one. That
means there’s a new person who comes about you know. But we spoil it because we won’t let her touch
what we are, or we won’t let him touch what we are. And we’ve missed it you know.
Well loved ones, those of us who are married, I would ask that we would seek the Holy Spirit.
Really, and I’m saying this to myself as well as to you others who are married, that we’d seek the
Holy Spirit and ask him to give us light about our own attitudes. I’ll talk about us guys, let the
ladies take care of themselves, ask the Holy Spirit to show us men in what way we are not loving our
wives as Jesus loves them. And you dear sisters, I’d ask you to do the same thing. Oh so often
loved ones, you sisters you’re to be – we’re dumb I agree we men we’re the dumbest creatures alive
and we need you. And we need you not to criticize us.
Do you realize that one of the beautiful things about physical intercourse is you open yourselves
completely to the other person and that really symbolizes the opening that there is intellectually
and emotionally in a marriage. That means that a person is lying open to you and if you cut in with
criticism you cut that dear fella deeper than anybody else can. So dear sisters, you’re not there
to slash us, you’re there to help us, encourage us, not always agree with us but help us to see what
you can see. But you know so often, do you see what it’s like? Your wife is your right hand your
husband is your right hand. Now whoever saw someone taking a sword in his left hand and cutting his
right hand in ribbons?
You don’t do it. You’re weakening yourself when you do it. Every time you criticize your dear
partner, every time you criticize what he’s involved in you tear apart your own personality. So I
do ask you, you dear sisters don’t criticize it’s of Satan, and you dear guys, don’t criticize what
she is doing but begin to love each other and begin to build each other up and you’ll be amazed at
the liberty that that begins to bring to you.
Let us pray.
Dear Lord, I would pray for every dear husband and wife here in this place. Lord, I would pray that
by your Holy Spirit you will give us eyes to see. Lord, those of us brothers who have become
insensitive and who have become incapable it seems of appreciating the pain in the heart of our
wives, Lord we would ask you for light so that we may see it. And Lord, those wives among us who
have become drivers or who have settled for something second best for our marriage, Lord help us to
see that we’re stealing from our menfolk, we’re stealing most of all from God. We’re preventing
something beautiful coming about that he planned when we first fell in love.
And then Lord, I’d pray for my brothers and sisters who are not yet married. Lord, I’d pray that
they’d see it as beautiful, and as magnificent, and as dignified as you intend it to be. And Lord I
would pray that you would help us to see in the right perspective the whole physical side of
marriage. Help us to see Lord, that first comes the spirit, first comes the mind, first comes the
emotion and then after that the physical has meaning. Lord, I pray that even in the man woman
relationships that obtain in this room at this moment, I would pray Lord, that you’d pull any that
have gone the wrong way back into line with your will and that you’d enable us to step forward
towards marriage as you see it and as you have planned it.
We ask this for your glory Lord Jesus, and now the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of
God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and throughout the days of
this week. Amen.
Physical Relationship in Marriage - LOVE & MARRIAGE
Physical Relationship in Marriage
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Today loved ones, I’d like to try to introduce the subject of physical relationship in marriage and
then if we have time this Sunday, but at least next Sunday, I’d ask you to put questions that would
help us to clarify what we all believe or what we really understand about this. I’d just remind you
that we are discussing Christian marriage not secular or civil marriage.
In other words, most of us here believe that Jesus is the unique Son of the Creator of our universe
and that his description of marriage, and his apostles’ description in this book is marriage as it
was intended by the one who made us all and so that’s the marriage we are discussing. We’re not
discussing secular or civil marriage. Society has taken this gift of marriage and has corrupted it
and modified it to suit itself in different countries according to the cultural backgrounds. But
what we’re talking about here this morning is marriage as we believe it was intended to be by our
Creator and therefore really, marriage as we were made for it. And then the necessary conclusion of
that is the only kind of marriage that will actually work is marriage as it was intended by our
So, whether you were married in church, or whether you were married by a justice of the peace, or
however you were married, you ought to be able to tell this morning whether your marriage is a
Christian marriage or a purely secular marriage by simply looking at the characteristics of secular
marriage and the characteristics of Christian marriage. And I’d really encourage you to do that.
Do not get so uppity that you say, “Mine is a Christian marriage you just don’t see it right. You
don’t see the true characteristics.”
Loved ones, a Christian marriage is not one that has a priest or a pastor pray over it. A Christian
marriage is one that works the way God intended it to work. So I’d ask you to be really serious and
sensible this morning and not to become egotistical and say, “Look, mine is a Christian marriage.
Our church was a good church and my marriage was well done it’s just my marriage doesn’t have the
characteristics that you talk about.” No loved ones, if it doesn’t then it’s a secular marriage.
And what we should do this morning of course is ask God’s Spirit to enable us to transform it into
what he meant it to be.
So I’d just remind you very quickly of the very plain distinction that there is really in scripture
and in experience between a secular and Christian marriage. You remember there’s a tremendous
distinction as far as the basis of Christian marriage is concerned. The basis of a secular marriage
is the human will. The man sees a woman that he thinks would give him a lot of happiness either
emotional or physical, or a lot of comfort, and would take care of his needs, his dirty socks, and
his dirty dishes, and he says, “That’s the kind of woman I want to mother my children.”
Primarily a selfish thing. Primarily his own will. Or, the woman looks at a man and sees, “Boy, he
will give me security in my old age. I don’t want to be lonely, I don’t want to be left on my own,
I want somebody. I kind of like housekeeping and I would like somebody to provide the money so that
I could do my thing.” Or, she looks at him and says, “I’d like somebody who would really give me a
position or significance in society and this man will do it.”
Often the man has that attitude, “I would like somebody of my own who would really look up to me.”
A little like old Touchstone you remember, in Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream and he presents
to his friends this poor old peasant girl and he says, “A poor thing sir but mine own.” And many of
us have that kind of attitude, “Well, we don’t care really what he’s like or what she’s like but
it’s somebody that I belong to.”
Now it’s primarily a human will thing as opposed to Christian marriage which is based on God’s will
where a loved one comes to the place where they receive all the security, significance, and
happiness that they need from their Creator and they die to getting those things from anybody else.
And in the peace and quietness of their will that results from that, they sense God wants them to be
husband and wife with this dear person. It’s based on God’s will.
There’s a difference in the purpose. The purpose in a secular marriage becomes the reproduction of
one’s own image. Often it becomes in fact, a defensive attitude to your own image. You’re fighting
to keep your own personality, you’re fighting to keep yourself from being overwhelmed by the other
person and a secular marriage is often ends up as a battle to maintain some kind of superiority for
the other’s personality. It’s also a preoccupation with reproducing one’s own image in the
It’s entirely different from a Christian marriage whose purpose is to reproduce God’s image.
Genesis 1:26, you remember, says, “That God made us in his image male and female made he them.” And
there the preoccupation is to allow God to work through the other person to transform my rather
selfish life into an unselfish life. For many of us it’s the first time we had to take anybody else
into consideration besides ourselves. For many of us it’s the first time we ever had to wonder,
“Maybe we shouldn’t go to the show we would like to go to? Maybe we should go to where they would
like to go.” And for many of us it’s the beginning of the transformation of a very selfish self
centered life into something that is unselfish and of course, you remember, we shared that that was
why in the marriage service we promised, “I take thee for rich, for poorer, for better, for worse.”
Often it’s the worse in the other person that drives us into Jesus for gentleness, and love, and
patience, and kindness. And so it’s primarily the creation of a new personality entirely that is
the heart of a Christian marriage. That’s the exciting thing about it, not the preservation of each
other’s personality but the creation of a new one completely.
Often in secular marriage it’s to fulfill ourselves. We marry primarily to have a good home, have a
two car garage, have good vacations, have some children that we can call our own, have good
Christmases, good Easters, and primarily fulfill what we want to do in life. A Christian marriage
is a combination of two unique personalities to bring the world more under God’s will in the unique
way that he intended them to do it and so it’s a Christian marriage exists for a purpose outside
itself. A secular marriage gets very claustrophobic especially towards the end. It seems to exist
only for itself and seems to get rather boring at the end actually. But a Christian marriage always
exists for a cosmic purpose outside itself and that always lifts it into a magnanimity and
Secular marriage, you remember, is primarily concerned with getting love. I want your attention. I
want more attention from you. I want more respect from you. I want more emotional and physical
stimulation and satisfaction from you. Christian marriage exists to give love. To give love to the
other person, first of all in fulfilling the main purpose of love which is to conform us to the
image of the Son of our Maker, and that is to get us into heaven. And Christian marriage is
primarily concerned with loving each other into the image of God and getting each other into heaven
and giving rather than getting.
Now loved ones, you can check out your own marriages in the light of those characteristics which are
very clear. You remember we talked about the way the three Greek words illustrate those concepts.
“Eros” is sexual love primarily concerned with getting satisfaction from the other’s body, primarily
concerned with getting emotional stimulation from the other person. It doesn’t last long, really.
“Philia” love is based on common interest. It’s the kind of love that two brothers can have; two
sisters can have to each other because they’re interested in the same things. Interested in
fishing, or bowling, or flying, or motorcycling, and it’s the kind of love that many loved ones try
and build their marriages on and then they’re disappointed when the other person ceases to have the
same interest as them.
It’s still a selfish love, because you like the other person because they like the same things as
you. Many loved ones have married mistakenly because they thought that was a good basis for
marriage. “Agape” love is the kind of love that Jesus showed to the leper. The leper hadn’t the
same interest as Jesus, the leper provided no physical or emotional satisfaction for him but his
heart was filled with love and it just poured out to the leper whether the leper was loveable or not
and that’s the kind of love that God gives you remember, to people who choose him above people. Who
die to people as the source of their security, and significance, and come alive to God. God gives
them the gift of the Holy Spirit and that Holy Spirit sheds abroad a divine, selfless, disinterested
love that keeps pouring out even when she comes down in her rollers, and even when he comes home
broken because he’s lost his job. And that’s the kind of love of course, that gives life to the
sexual love completely.
Now loved ones, those are the characteristics then that we talked about. When two people who have
been regenerated in their spirits by receiving the selfless uncreated dynamic energy that motivated
Jesus, God’s Son. When two people are enlivened and regenerated in their spirits by that
supernatural life, and are beginning to be governed by it, when they first sense that God wants them
to live with another person for life, their hearts are filled with a great sense of gratitude to
him, and a great sense of respect for the other person. They think of the other person as a son or
daughter of the most high God that has been given to them and they have a tremendous respect for
them and a great desire to protect the other person’s dignity as long as they live on this earth
And when they sense that they should be together, there comes inside in their spirits, a great sense
of fellowship. And so their spirits really begin to interact first with each other and the Holy
Spirit has come into each of their spirits from God and regenerated them, and then their two spirits
join together. That’s the first great delight they have in each other. Great enjoyment in studying
his dear word together, great enjoyment in praying together, a great excitement that the God of the
whole universe has a purpose in bringing them together and so their spirits join together first and
that’s the very first intercourse that they experience, just a delight in being together in the
So the first time they go out together that’s really what they do, they pray at the end of the date
or the beginning of the date and they enjoy that most of all and it’s their spirits that develop and
strengthen each other. And then as their spirits begin to influence their minds, and to create the
image of Jesus in their minds, so they find that journey into each other’s mind that becomes
satisfying in itself, and they begin to get to know each other as far as their thoughts are
concerned. And they begin to discuss what they think of God, what they think of life, what they
think of the world, what they think of politics, what they think of books, what they think of ideas,
and the two minds begin to come together. And the mental intercourse is not just something that is
an enclosed system but they find that the Spirit of Jesus in the other person coming through their
mind with a slightly different flavor and fragrance to the way he is in their mind begins to correct
them at times. It begins to drive them more into Jesus at times and they find that there is a real
intercourse that takes place, an intercourse that originally comes from Jesus’ Spirit in the other
It is so with their emotions. The Holy Spirit begins to inference their emotions and their emotions
begin to interact with each other and they begin to enjoy beautiful spring mornings together, they
begin to enjoy summer afternoons together, they begin to enjoy painting, and music. Their emotions
begin to interact with each other until gradually they become more and more one person. One person
that is stronger than they were individually. And so that mental and emotional intercourse follows
the intercourse of their spirits and so for them the backseat of the car is not the main purpose of
a date at all because they are a son and daughter of the most high king of the universe and they
know how precious they are to each other, those parts of them that will never fade away because
they’re both so conscience that these bodies will fade away in 70 years and eventually they won’t
exist at all. But these spirits of theirs, and these minds and emotions, and then these dear wills
will live forever.
And gradually of course, the Holy Spirit begins to move through their wills and their wills begin to
interact with each other and they begin to correct each other through their wills, and they begin to
correct an overabundance of strength in one will, or a weakness in the other person’s will and their
wills begin to want not only to get each other into heaven but their wills begin to unite in the
purpose that God has put them here to fulfill. And so the woman begins to compliment the man’s
insight into his job and the man begins to share in the woman’s responsibilities in her job or at
home, and so there begins to be a volitional intercourse that begins to affect their outward life.
And so before anything happens they have begun to have an intercourse that is intimate and that is
personal, and that is filled with life.
So when these two people hold hands the world might look at them and see the hand holding, but for
these two children of God the hand holding is only a physical expression of a complete mental, and
emotional, and spiritual, and volitional intercourse that has already bound them as one and that is
always there whether they hold hands or not. There’s that sense of intimacy together and that
sense of unity that makes them one. So for them, the hand holding is really just a physical
So it is when they kiss and when they embrace. The exhilaration and the eternity of being
completely and intimately known by another person is not in the kiss, or in the embrace, it’s in
this whole interaction that takes place underneath that. And it’s in that mental and emotional
unity that is there all the time. And the kiss or embrace can be there or may not be there, but for
them it’s just the physical expression of their spirit continuing to come out through their bodies
and everything that they do with their bodies is governed by that intercourse that has taken place
So it is when at times the Spirit of Jesus in each of them directs them to draw both bodies together
in physical intercourse. For them it doesn’t matter whether it’s once a night, or once a week, or
once a month. Indeed, increasingly as they mature together as a personality, they realize that it
is a kind of clumsy way of expressing the infinite depths of unity that they have come to sense in
each other and they begin to find more and more that it is really a very inadequate way of
expressing the intense intimacy and unity that they feel.
For them it’s not some kind of complex physical technique whereby you stimulate the other’s body to
a point of climax. For them it is not a preoccupation with really how we do it, or the way that we
do it. For them it is just an automatic expression of a great unity that is dearer to them than the
joining together of the two bodies. So loved ones, in a way the very relaxation, and the peace, and
the confidence in their spirits that they are really meant for each other by the Lord God of the
universe and the great certainty, and confidence, and peace, and relaxation that that brings, that’s
what stimulates the secretion of the right fluids. That’s what stimulates the relaxation of the
It isn’t so much the other person stimulating the body as this deep certainty and confidence that
this is from God, and a great relaxation that comes from that, a great awareness and assurance that
they are bound together from the very depths of their being. And so the bodies are prepared for
physical intercourse in a loving, gentle, relaxing way.
So really for them, you know, physical orgasm is not at all the culmination of union. For them that
culmination of union took place when at the very beginning they sensed in their spirits they were to
be joined together in God’s eyes and in God’s purposes. Physical orgasm for them is really a
relatively incidental and unimportant physical event that takes place last because it’s least
important. That is best when it is least thought of and it’s something that they can have or can do
without. For two such children of God there is no fretful, anxious, calculation of the right time
of the month. There is no fretful, concern that they do it right or that they not do it wrong. For
them there is no preoccupation with virility or impotence, with whether the other person is good in
bed or whether they’re bad in bed.
Those things are so pitifully childish compared with the deep things that they have experienced with
each other that really they do not concern them. And so if they are guided by God not to have
children and therefore never to have intercourse that is a small thing because they know that
eventually it will pass anyway and this is the depths of their unity that will last forever. And
indeed, as the years pass and they mature more and more in spirit, the exhilaration that comes from
being fully known by another person, and the great sense of an eternal moment that comes from that
is something that they experience just sitting side-by-side in a room, and something that when they
are 80, 90 years of age is as real to them and as alive and vibrant as it was when they first met
and the love remains fresh and new.
And really loved ones, that is the place honestly of physical intercourse in the marriage of a son
and daughter of God and it is really as real as that. Such a contrast, and you know it will startle
you even as I use the phrases but I use them to bring before you how far we’ve got from that, such a
contrast to kinky sex, to whipping bodies, to abusing and manipulating bodies. It’s such a contrast
to the concentration on trying to get the physical thing right. And you see that’s the pathetic
state of sex in our society and that’s the reason for the pathetic state. It’s the idea that
somehow by working on the other loved one’s body you can create the security, and the sense of
value, and the sense of unity, and safety, and intimacy that can only be created when you’re joined
together by God, and you’re joined together in spirit, and in mind, and in emotions.
It’s the pathetic misunderstanding that somehow by acting upon the body you can perhaps act upon the
will, and the emotions, and the mind and if ever you do think of the spirit you can somehow act upon
the spirit. And that’s why we experience such disintegration of our personalities. That’s why we
experience such conflict because in here all the time our conscience is saying, “No, no it’s not
meant to be like that. It’s not meant to be like that.” That’s why even when the husband comes
home even with his flowers the wife often refuses him physically, because he sees the thing as just
making something up that he made go wrong. He sees it as something that he ought to do that she can
see outwardly and it should make everything right in her own personality.
Well, that isn’t the problem at all. The problem is that there’s no unity in there at all and they
never share that unity and they’re trying to impose a unity by motivating each other’s bodies in
different ways. It’s really the cause of the animalish horror of a husband forcing himself on his
wife. You can see, it’s just so ridiculous, it’s so grotesque in the light of what God has planned
here, and that it isn’t even worth thinking about. It’s something to be drawn back from in horror
because of course the beauty of real intercourse is that it’s a deep, relaxing, mutual desire that
comes from the very depths of people’s spirits and if there’s ever any forcing then there’s nothing.
It has nothing to do with marriage. You may join two bodies together but it has nothing to do with
marriage as God planned it to be and it has nothing to do with happiness of course, as God planned
it to be as all of us know who have ever experienced that. How the thing bursts like a soap bubble
in your hands and you have nothing at all left, and you look half at guilt with the other person.
So different from this that lasts forever. That’s why it is such abject foolishness for the girl
who uses her body as a trap or as bait. It has nothing to do with marriage. It has nothing to do
with partnership as God planned it. All you’re doing is trying to use the body to somehow stimulate
the other person to love you, and to care for you, and it can never be.
So it is really in courtship. The priorities of courtship are plain in the same way. You will
never loved ones, by working on each other’s bodies, you will never produce the intimacy, and the
unity, and the sense of absolute peace and relaxation in the other person’s eyes, and in the other
person’s mind. You will never produce that security by stimulating each other’s bodies. And so the
whole problem of courtship is that we’re playing – we’re like little children playing with bodies.
We know really nothing of what union or marriage is about. We’re like little children playing with
the least important part of each other’s personalities and ignoring the only part that is going to
And so really, the whole question of how far should you go is really simply answered if you remember
that the principle that God has ordained is from the inside out. And so if you take that famous
line, its easy there’s no legalism about it. There’s no need to make rules for each other, all you
have to reflect is am I expressing to the other person what Jesus in his Spirit, wants me to express
and what they are able to receive without it absolutely dominating and overwhelming what is coming
from within them?
In other words, all you ask is does holding hands, does kissing, does embracing, does prolonged
embrace, does prolonged kissing, does petting begin to force their personality to be driven by the
passions of the body? Are we driving them out of self-control? Are we driving them out of what
they really want to express and what is really appropriate to express by the degree of commitment
that we have made to each other legally and civilly? Or, is it something that is inappropriate?
Are we in fact stimulating, and motivating, realizing that love play is a preparation for
intercourse and intercourse is a preparation for children, are we beginning to stimulate in order to
disappoint? Are we beginning to start physical feelings within a person that we then cruelly and
heartlessly cut off in frustration?
Well there you can see whether you love a person or not, because love is not lust and it’s not
getting satisfaction for myself for my own body, and it’s not stimulating their body to see what
kind of things it will do. Love is wanting to share the Spirit of God that has come from us with
them, and to build them up into that image. And so really, there is no legalism, there is simply
mature reflection on what affect I am doing is having on the other one. Is it encouraging them to
be in control of themselves? Is it encouraging them to do only what in their sane and sober moments
they will be glad they did? Or am I in fact beginning to create unbearable conflict? It is God’s
will that their personalities would work outwardly and am I doing the work of Satan by trying to
make them work from the outside in and therefore creating unbearable conflict in them?
Now loved ones, I think maybe I could take about maybe two questions but I think that would be it
probably. But I think it’s – or, if you want to think of questions then for next Sunday, we can
spend a good deal of the time on questions. Brother?
Question from the audience:
Most of us would find that there are some qualities perhaps of each of those in our relationship and
in our marriage and maybe we would start at the level of the spirit?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Loved ones, then you deal with whatever is next. I would share with you that this is really God’s
order and I would point out that loved ones, you’ve allowed – we have allowed satanic society to
destroy a beautiful experience that was God’s idea. And I would encourage you, if you’re beginning
to sense that you should be together with another person, will you for goodness sake give yourselves
a chance when you go out on dates? Will you stop the business of not planning where you are going
to go, or planning that all you’ll do when you go out is eat? Will you plan to do something that
does involve your mind in some way, or the rest of your personality in some way, but something
beyond the old body?
Will you in fact, do something that begins to take you into the next realm, whatever that may be in
your relationship? And it’s the same with the husbands and wives loved ones, we make our own
troubles. We do, we make our own troubles because we think in our jobs – if we’re school teachers
we think as to how we’ll organize the children, but it seems when it comes to our marriages we stop
thinking, and we stop planning, and it seems we plan beautiful experiences for everybody else but
for the dear one who deserves it more than anyone else.
And so brother, I would say that you work on whatever is the next area that you know there is
absolutely no intercourse in and you begin to develop that. And for many of us, of course it means
stepping back because many of us sensed this and then went straight to the bodies and were
absolutely overwhelmed, and it just made no sense at all. So brother that’s it, yeah. Just one
Question from the audience:
Do you want to get into the place of birth control in Christian marriage?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
I think it will be good to start next day on those big questions. So loved ones, I will come with a
very brief presentation next day, much briefer than this and will you bring the questions? I will
not answer them but I will share what I can see through Jesus’s Spirit. Okay? Let us pray.
Dear Father, we thank you for the beautiful gift of marriage and Lord, we apologize for the way we
have corrupted it, and mocked it, and destroyed it, and spoiled it, and dirtied it. Lord, sorry.
Father, we want from now on to begin to live our marriages, and our courtships, and our dating in
the way that you want them lived. And Holy Spirit, I would pray for every dear one here this
morning who might see it just beyond them Lord, I would pray that you would whisper in their hearts,
“It is possible. It is possible. It is possible to get out of the gutter and it is possible to get
into the palace of the king.” And Lord, I would pray that you would assure them that there’s more
joy and exhilaration and love in the palace of the king than there is in any gutter.
Lord, I pray that you’ll impress that upon all our dear hearts that we may rise into your plan for
our relationships for your glory. Amen.
Physical aspects of Christian Marriage - LOVE & MARRIAGE
Physical Aspects of Christian Marriage
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
This morning brothers and sisters we’re going to spend most of the time trying to share questions
and answers about physical relationship at least in marriage and perhaps in courtship also. But I
think it would be helpful for all of us to understand the framework within which we’re sharing the
conversation; otherwise I think we could get some of the wildest questions that we can imagine. So,
could I just remind you that we meet here on Sunday morning because we really do believe that Jesus
is not just a prophet but is the unique, only begotten son of the maker of the universe. And we
believe that what he said about life is true and that on Calvary he did something for us that
enables us to be filled with the same spirit that fills him and fills his Father.
And so we believe that our Creator loves each one of us in this room. That he loves you; that he
knows your name and he loves you with all of his heart, that he’s numbered the hairs of your head
and he knows you intimately, and that’s where your real happiness comes from. Indeed, happiness is,
knowing that the most important almighty person in the whole universe knows you by name and loves
you, and has given everything for you. That’s what happiness is and no other happiness will be a
substitute for that.
And then we believe that he put each one of us here for a definite purpose and he knows why you’re
here. He knows what you’re to do here on earth to bring his world under his will. And once you
find that out it gives you such a sense of importance and such a sense of significance that you
never are in any doubt again about whether you are important in this universe or not. And then
because you know inside that you are doing what he put you here to do, you realize with complete
certainty that he has so balanced the world that you will have enough food, shelter, and clothing to
see you through these 70 or 80 years.
So there comes to you a great sense of peace about your happiness, your security, your significance
in this world. And then there begins to come into you as you develop this relationship with your
Creator some of his life and you begin to find that your attitude changes and you begin to have the
confident, outgoing, loving attitude that he has and it’s because of course, he’s beginning to put
his Spirit into you, the Holy Spirit. And you begin to find yourself living an outgoing life and
suddenly you’re not using people any longer, you’re being used to pass onto them the life that God
has given you. And that’s what happens in marriage.
The only other thing that might help to make sense of these diagrams that I’ll just flash on the
screen for a moment is that God has shown us that you can regard our personalities as having three
different levels: the spirit that is innermost and that connects us up with him and his life; the
soul that kind of surrounds the spirit like a coat and includes the psychological part of our being
our mind, our emotions, and our will; and then our body which encases them all in a physical form.
And in God’s plan we are meant to work from the inside out. So in a marriage relationship we’re
meant to work from the love that he is giving us in our spirits, giving that out to the other person
so that it is a beautiful relationship of selfless love. Really, you can think of it you know, in
that way and I think if you just pause for a moment and really study the thing you will be able to
make sense of it, but it is that kind of situation.
There is the body, you see, and then the soul, and then the spirit, and these are only symbolic
forms obviously, they’re levels of life. And then you can see that the spirit consists of the
ability to commune with God which brings us our real happiness and why most of us are running around
trying to get more thrills and trying to get intimately known by some significant other is because
we have never really got down to communing with our Creator and knowing him and seeing that of
course, all the beautiful things he gives like Mary Tyler Moore, like little dogs, like Mickey
Mouse, come from a loving heart of a dear Father. We of course, keep ignoring that fact we think
that somebody else has made those things. It’s God that’s made those, he’s a dear loving Father.
And communion with him brings that happiness there. And then, intuition in our spirit is how we
know what God wants us to do in life and that influences our mind and enables us to develop the
world, brings us a great sense of security. And then our conscience is what governs our will and
brings it to act according to God’s directives for us. And so we exert God’s will in the universe
and we sense our own significance so that really results in an outgoing life that expresses joy,
that observes God’s will, and develops the will according to his plan.
But of course, what most of us have done is reject that whole idea of depending on God’s love and
Spirit coming into us so we end up like that. Our spirit really diminishes to almost nothing,
except for conscience, some of us have a little bit of conscience still alive, but primarily our
life becomes ruled by our body. And of course, we have a tremendous sense now of desolation, of
feeling of loneliness that we have to overcome so most of us live lives that concentrate on, “We
must get happiness, get another experience of some kind,” and of course usually we use the body,
it’s the most obvious form to us to get what we were supposed to get from God. So we use the body
to get thrill experiences. So many of us are kind of ‘kick’ happy especially in sexual
relationships, we want another kick, we want another thrill and it never satisfies, never satisfies,
however permutations we try out on physical intercourse it never satisfies us because of course what
we’re really looking for is the happiness of being fully known by the only person who really
Similarly, we use the body to get security through things. We think the more food, the more
shelter, the more clothing, the more cars we have, the more insurance policy we have, the more
security we’ll have. It’s the same with significance, we often use each other to get significance,
if we can get somebody else who respects us and recognizes us. And so many marriages are like that,
many marriages are really the joining of two empty people together. Two people who are absolutely
empty and are really just living off each other, and so this loved one is trying to pull happiness
of some kind, thrills, satisfaction, intimacy of being fully known, eternity of being completely
loved, trying to pull that from this poor one here and they’re trying to pull it from the other
person. And so you get a tremendous sense of there never being enough love to go around, and never
being able to get what you wanted from the other person. They never do it right somehow they never
give you what you need. And it’s the same of course, with the other things the mind is always
trying to get security.
So many of us marry for security so that we won’t be lonely in old age and we carry that on through
all of life and we get mad with him when he loses his job, or the wages go down, or he doesn’t seem
to be driving the way we think he should. Many of us marry the other person to get happy, to get
feelings of happiness, and we get discontented with them when they don’t give us the emotional
satisfaction that we ought to have. Many of us want recognition, we think if we tie onto somebody
else’s coattails we’ll be important in the world and we get mad when the other person doesn’t treat
us as important, or appears to treat us as less important than their job, or than somebody else.
And so, in a marriage like that, two empty people living as parasites on one another, you have a
desperate constant sense of discontent and is of course because they were never meant to get from
each other, they were meant to get from God and to give to each other.
So, the bodies on the whole become a big thing and they try to stimulate each other’s bodies to
produce these feelings. That’s not God’s plan of course at all, his plan is the other way
completely, that it would be two full people meeting together. Two people who would meet because
God wanted them to be joined together, who really sensed that God wanted them to be together and
therefore that they would receive each other as dear gifts from God and treat each other with great
dignity and a desire to protect each other as a son and daughter of God. That they would see that
they were joined together for God’s purpose, that God had a purpose in making them one. That he
could do something in developing their world that he could do through no two other people, and
they’d sense that.
That they’d see that the whole purpose of being joined together was so that they would begin to
reflect God’s image not just producing a lot of little replicas of their own image, but that they
would allow the Holy Spirit in the interaction between this mind and this mind to draw the two minds
more into what God wanted them to be. And so really, for people – you remember, we said last
Sunday, who come together because God wants them, first of all their spirits experience a great
intercourse and they sense the joy of being in contact with their Father and of their Father
choosing them from even before the foundation of the world to be together and that gives them
tremendous security and so they really enjoy praying, they really enjoy worshipping, they really
enjoy studying his word. They really enjoy that deep spiritual intercourse with one another that
gives a great confidence that they’re never going to part till death parts them.
And then that leads on to the intercourse of two minds, and they begin to enjoy reading books, and
sharing ideas, and discussing things together, and their minds grow together the one mind correcting
the other at times. Sometimes, the other mind, by the worse features in it driving the other one to
despair and into Jesus’ arms, but both of them interacting on one another and making them more and
more like Jesus as they interact mentally and so there’s a great intellectual intercourse. Then,
there’s an emotional intercourse as they begin to enjoy things like beauty, and painting, and music,
and the joy of life together and there’s a whole emotional intercourse that takes place. And then
that leads on to an intercourse of the two wills as they begin to sense what God wants them to do
together and the wife begins to feed into the husband’s job, insights that he hasn’t himself and the
husband begins to share in the wife’s responsibilities and her job and her home, and they begin to
experience the joy of two wills coming together in intercourse.
So, when you see them holding hands together, the holding hands is only physical expression of a
great spiritual intercourse that’s taking place already, a great intellectual intercourse, a great
emotional intercourse, a great volitional intercourse which is there all the time whether they are
holding hands or not. And even when they embrace or kiss, the unity, and the thrill of love, and
the intimacy of love is not in the kissing, it’s there all the time in the complete universe of
unity that they have already developed within themselves, and that exists whether they kiss or
embrace or not.
So you remember, last Sunday I shared that for them the physical intercourse which the Holy Spirit
leads them into in great relaxation and great peace at times is no big thing in their lives, it’s
just a beautiful byproduct of a great unity that they already have with each other. Indeed, as the
years pass the physical intercourse becomes less and less an adequate expression of the deep
infinity of unity that they have with each other inside until when they’re old they can sit on each
side of the room together and they can be as thrilled and intimate with each other just looking into
each other’s eyes as when they first got into bed.
And so the physical thing for them is not a big deal. Orgasm or no orgasm, it doesn’t matter,
children or no children it doesn’t matter, for them marriage is something that is more lasting than
an old body like this that will soon crumple up after about 70 years. And so that’s what real
Christian marriage is and of course, you know that we’ve turned it all upside down so loved ones,
I’ll stop there and then would you like to just ask questions? I can switch that on if you want at
times. So, trying to zero in on physical relationship in marriage or in courtship? That’s good
we’ll just close. I know you’ve all got to straight.
Question from the audience:
How do you know when two Christians are being drawn together by God?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
I think we touched on it maybe two Sundays ago when a brother asked that and I think the best thing
that we can do to ensure that it will be God’s will that draws us together is to come to a real
death to trying to get security from other people, significance from other people, happiness from
other people, to come to a real place where we’re content to receive all these things from the
Father. In other words, where we’re content with God alone and then there comes a great peace into
your spirit and you know when that has come.
You remember when Elijah was caught in that cave and God was not in the earthquake and was not in
the fire, but was in the still small voice? Now, the Hebrew translation of that is he was in the
sound of gentle stillness. Now, that’s the sound of gentle stillness that comes into deep parts of
your spirit when you are at last content to have what God wants you to have and then sis, it seems
God is able to just easily and gently lead the two together and you could talk about lots of
symptoms besides that, but that is the basic one.
One of the other symptoms would be that it is a mutual leading together it is not one chasing the
other or forcing the other, it is a mutual thing. It’s the same loved ones, if I could push it a
little further; it’s the same with physical relationships. It’s the same with intercourse. When
intercourse comes from the depths of Jesus’ Spirit is a beautiful thing it is not a forcing thing.
It is not a technique of some kind; it is a beautiful fulfillment of something that is already taken
place inside. Indeed, you’re almost unconscious of it; it is such a byproduct of a deeper unity.
Sis that would be it.
There’s a great relaxation when you find God’s will, a great ease and sense of flowing and peace.
Utterly different loved ones, I have to tell you, utterly different from the lust of the heathen
that is talked about you remember, in 1 Thessalonians, “Do not choose a wife for yourself as the
heathen do out of lust but in holiness and honor.” It is utterly different than that passionate
roaring of the emotions that will not be controlled, absolutely different from that.
Question from the audience:
How does a Christian family deal with things like birth control and that sort of thing?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
First of all loved ones, it does seem that the very fact that God has connected the begetting of
children with physical intercourse which is the expression of our intimacy together as man and wife,
does suggest to you that he wanted them to be connected in some way for some purpose. And so I
would first of all ask you to look at the possibility that God is concerned that you see the
consequence of physical intercourse as a reason or a method of modifying the frequency of
So, I think it’s important for us first of all to see that if God made having babies almost an
automatic result of physical intercourse then we better first look at the possibility of loving
self-discipline as a method of birth control. Now I’d first of all set that before you and just set
myself here beside dear old Pope Paul and say that first of all we shouldn’t ignore it just because
so many of us here who are Catholics suffered it and hadn’t it explained to us. We should see first
of all that there is a very real possibility that the fact, the natural law that means children
result from physical intercourse would suggest to us, unless we want to fill the world with children
of course and double the population over the next year or two, unless we want to do that, we ought
to see that loving self-discipline is a fairly reasonable option for sons and daughters of God.
So first of all, loving self-discipline which for most of us I think means not a safe period of
eight or 10 days, but maybe a safe period of three or four days and maybe even then great care is
needed in the light of what the woman has been doing that month. So first of all we should look at
the possibility of loving self-discipline. Secondly, probably all of us look at the birth control
pill and we probably see first of all that the birth control pill taken over a long period does
suggest that there may be some dangers. At the moment the dangers are no greater than pregnancy
itself but there is some suggestion in medical circles that taken over a long period, which I take
it is 10 or 15 years, that there is danger there.
So, the birth control pill presumably is an alternative for some of us over a short period of time.
May I remind you that some of us use the birth control pill and other methods, most of which we’d
all agree are very questionable aren’t they and very unreliable, probably the birth control pill is
the only certain method. But many of us use birth control methods as an excuse for licentiousness.
Do you see that? So, it would be wrong to say, “Oh, the birth control pill we can use it.” If you
use it in a licentious way, in other words, let’s have fun without the bad consequences, see if you
have that kind of attitude to it, in other words, if you cast – if you use the birth control pill as
an excuse for ignoring completely loving self-discipline then I think you may be missing a beautiful
self-control in your relationship that God wants to bring so I’d just ask you to think of that when
you think of the birth control pill.
And then thirdly, presumably, and it would be only those of us here who perhaps have long decided
that we’re not to have children, presumably then some of you would consider surgical methods and
would consider tubal ligation or vasectomy, and some of us I think just wouldn’t consider those at
all. But I think it’s important for me to try to voice what really a thousand of us here might see
as kind of reasonable even though I may not necessarily go with every one of them. But I would say
brother that those would be three approaches to birth control.
Loved ones, no I’m not saying this is right or this is wrong, I’m trying to set before you some of
the approaches to it that most of us would maybe consider reasonable and I’m trying to put before
you some of the advantages and some of the disadvantages of each.
Question from the audience:
What would be our attitude to abortion?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
It seems loved ones, that many of us in Jesus would differ very, very strongly on abortion, but
among some of the views that some of us would have is abortion may be acceptable if there is danger
to the woman’s life. Abortion may be acceptable if there is danger of deformity in the child,
though even then I think some of us would see even that as possibly something God could use in our
lives. And then presumably, some of us would see that abortion is reasonable in the case of rape
and though even then, many of us would believe that God can use even difficult circumstances to draw
us closer to himself.
And I think some of us, though I would question where we stand on this, but some of us might see
abortion as a possibility for unwanted pregnancy but that seems something that we would all be very
hesitant about. But I think brother that might be attitudes that all of us would feel, or different
ones of us would feel we could justify even as people in Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I know many
of you wouldn’t and I know many of us wouldn’t and I understand that, but I’m trying to share all
the different views that could possibly be defended in Jesus. I think there are many other things
that I’m not mentioning that I presume can’t be defended at all.
Do by all means push me loved ones. I’d far rather we be patient with each other and I’d rather go
out on a mad limb here and be branded a heretic, and at least let’s share the things because I’d say
to the older brothers and sisters, though probably I don’t, probably you’re in the same boat as the
rest of us is that what Satan has used is the conspiracy of silence on these issues and so most of
us have taken the way of least resistance which is playboy and that whole approach.
Question from the audience:
There’s a lot in scripture that talks about bringing people together in marriage. Is there anything
in scripture that talks about population control?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
I would always brother go back to the original commission that God gave us which was be fruitful,
and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. And the primary reason for being fruitful and
multiplying was to fill the earth and subdue it. And so in the early frontier days when you needed
10 guys to ride the range with you obviously, it was very important to be fruitful and multiply
because that was part of filling the earth and you couldn’t subdue it, you couldn’t subdue 500,000
or 2,000 acres without a good family of sons behind you. So, obviously the two were connected up
together. But loved ones, I would point out to you that you have to – with the apologies to Bible
belt Republican Christians – I think you have to really be very determined to ignore facts if now we
keep on with that approach brother.
I would say if we have any love of people at all and we see the chaos in India with 850 million
people, if we have any love for people at all and realize that only a quarter of the world’s
population are even nominally Christian, we would see that no longer is it helping to subdue the
world and bring it under God’s will to have large families. And I would certainly hope that the
younger brothers and sisters here would begin to see that too often the church and I think I’m glad
we don’t think of ourselves as a church we’re just Christians, but so often the church, in women’s
lib or women’s rights, or anything that is progressive, has been behind the world. And I would hope
that we would be the first to be responsible about the control of our own families and about
fulfilling the original commission that God gave us to subdue the world. I’m not saying no children
but I’m saying pray, pray about it. For goodness sake see that the situation is different now to
what it was even 20 years ago.
Question from the audience:
If you’re talking about loving self-discipline is that pretty much the rhythm method?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Well, that’s why I talked about the safe period. That’s why I said for most of us it seemed that
the safe period was even very limited and that’s what I was referring to, the rhythm method and I
just thought that for most of us down through the years, the safe period has had to be much less
than is normally talked about in the books and so it does require a great deal of love, and
restraint, and understanding, and kindliness to each other to practice it. But, I would brothers
and sisters, from experiences that many of you have had, I would suggest to you that you be very,
very wise and I would think that if you’re just getting married the wise thing is to use the birth
control pill at least for the first three to six months until you begin to get to know each other.
And even then, I have seen a lot of you not able to practice the rhythm method or even the ovulation
method which I don’t want to start a debate here, but to me it’s just an elaboration of the rhythm
method, you know, which concentrates more on the secretion of fluids and it seems to me still a
flawed system and one that you have to use with great care.
Question from the audience:
A report in California said that the mothers who were on birth control pills now their daughters are
aborting their babies….
Yes, so I see you’re suggesting that the pill has some bad consequences? Alright, loved ones, I
could maybe state where my position would be when sis says that. I have my wife in the wings here,
she’s a dentist and I know she’ll contradict me at any moment, so I suspect that there are some
other doctors in the congregation and I’m anxious that though we listen to that, that we be wise
about it because that may be true. It may be true with five mothers; it may be true with 75. Let’s
Certainly what sis is saying is we ought to read carefully what is being discovered now about the
birth control pill and be wise about it. And loved ones, do you not think, do you not think that
the heart of love is concern for the other person? Isn’t that true? And would you not rather do
without intercourse for the rest of your life than that the other person would be hurt? Isn’t that
the spirit of love that Jesus has given us? So, it seems to me if you err on the side of that law
of love, then God can lead you into even a satisfying physical relationship that is something beyond
which even you can even understand.
Question from the audience:
What if you prayed that the Lord would give you children or not give you children?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Ah, yeah, the old trust the Lord theory, you know. Yeah. Sis says, what if you prayed that the
Lord would give you children or would not give you children? Do you see that our dear Father is a
God of order and he has set up a law of gravity so that I can say, “Lord, would you lift me up to
the ceiling?” And he is just dear and good and he knows that if he lifted me up to the ceiling it
would just spoil any sense of security that any of us had in this auditorium.
And loved ones, God has set certain laws of nature in our bodies and it is just a fact that except
in some circumstances, when that dear old sperm is fertilized, the baby results and God will not
suspend his natural laws just for us. He will suspend them as he did in scripture for his own glory
but he will not suspend them just for us and he certainly refuses to encourage us to ignore his laws
and to try to override them. He wants us rather to respect his laws so sis, that’s what I would
think, would be Jesus’ way.
Question from the audience:
What safe alternative is there to the pill if you don’t want to get pregnant?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Yes, well sis that’s why I tried to – maybe you aren’t all catching the comments that I’m making,
but that’s why I commented on the third method that some of us might even consider with birth
control, that is vasectomy or tubal ligation which is sterilization. It seems that there are some
of us here that just would not think of it, would not consider it at all. But I think anybody here
even that considers it, any doctor that is here would certainly say, “Look, be sure that you have
had nine or 10 years of marriage together and are sure you don’t want children. Or, if you haven’t
nine or 10 years of marriage be absolutely certain that you do not want children again because
except in a very few cases it cannot be reversed.”
Question from the audience:
Is this something that should be prayed about between man and wife, or is it something you really
should consult someone in spiritual authority about?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
It would seem to me it would always – even if you go – I understand even if you go to a doctor for
an operation like that he or she will take great trouble to counsel you and find out where you
really stand. So sis, yeah I’m with you I think it’s very important for those of us who are in
Jesus’ body to talk this over with one of the elders or with a pastor so that we really are sure
that we’re getting God’s mind for our situation because loved ones, let me share with you again as I
tried to protect the poor old nurses and doctors here a moment ago, many of us here would not
consider that. Yeah, that’s true.
So loved ones, I’m trying to present to you alternatives that some of us here would consider but
many of us here would just oppose utterly vasectomy or tubal ligation. And of course, it’s quite
important I think, for me, to present several possibilities that probably most of us would consider.
It seems to me very important to keep out of this my own personal opinion. I don’t think that that
Question from the audience:
As someone who had martial relationship before there was ever a pill there are many other methods
that are very effective.
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
I’d just repeat your words, but I’m 43 and I’ve been marriage counseling for 20 years now and it’s
tricky. Just be wise, be very wise. I’m for you sis, but there have been lots of us here – loved
ones, do you see we’re all built differently? There are couples here that would find the diaphragm
method absolutely fool proof and some other dear ones would end up with a baby in nine months’ time.
So you have to be really wise to see that you are all – God is so good, he’s made us all such
individuals and he’s made every relationship so individual and all I would say to you is there is a
beautiful way to go that you can go and if God has guided you not to have children you can live
together in complete joy and happiness without children.
My wife should come up here. Oh well, stand anyway. You hate it. Yes, do stand, so that they can
see your smiling face. She’s not really that small she’s just – sure, we have no children and early
on God guided us not to have children and yes, we’re as much in love as when we met, sure.
Question from the audience:
Where does the responsibility lie of the church, the home, and the school in developing the
sexuality of man and woman?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Brother, I mean, I just think that it’s endless probably if you start trying to fraction them out
you know, percentage wise. I just think all of us blast away with all we’ve got. It seems to me
there has been a lamentable failure on the part of everybody, church, school, and home. And so
trying to deal with a realistic situation it’s time probably we stopped saying, “Well, they should
do it,” and just let us do it and that’s why I’m doing these talks and sharing this on Sunday
I’m sure – and I really appreciate brothers and sisters, those who love expository preaching, I
really appreciate your patience as we do these sermons and I’m looking forward to getting back to
Romans 9 too. But it’s just important that we do what seemingly isn’t being done and just be
sensible about it and at least brother, these things will be on video cassette as well as the audio
tapes that are available after the service and at least we’ll have a selection of materials in the
library for loved ones to listen to and watch.
Question from the audience:
What suggestion would you have for overcoming that self-consciousness as a Christian couple not
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Brother points out the difficulty that many of us have who don’t start daily prayer the first day we
get up, in other words, the day after the first night of marriage. Those of us who fail, who make
the terrible mistake of not starting daily prayer together that first day, how do you overcome the
self-consciousness that then develops and prevents you having prayer together? And eventually
brother, most of us undoubtedly have allowed that self-consciousness to operate until we were just
so desperate that we had to get down on our knees and pray in some crises situation together.
But I would suggest that there is a way. I think loved ones, you should say to yourselves even as
you go out of this auditorium this morning, “We’re going to start praying together. Now tonight at
10:30, or 11, whenever we go to the bedroom we’ll kneel down on each side of the bed, or we’ll sit
on the bed,” and then get a book like Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest”. It’s a daily
Bible study book with one verse of scripture at the top of the page and then an explanation and one
of you read that explanation. That at least enables you to stop preaching at each other which I
think a lot of us have found rather frustrating when we say – especially, us men you know who are so
good at telling our wives what to do, we take a verse of scripture and we start expounding on it.
Then we find they’re asleep and then it’s their time next night and they try to get their own back
on us. And so having a daily Bible study book of some kind where the explanation is there helps
because then you can read it. And then just bow your heads and then just pray quietly. If neither
of you wants the other to hear the other person praying then just pray quietly. Or, maybe you can
join in the Lord’s Prayer together, or perhaps one of you can pray sometime. But I think it is
important to avoid one person praying night, after night, after night because the other person has a
lot of Jesus in them that the other partner needs to see.
So brother that’s what I suggest that you try to formalize it in such a way that it becomes a habit
first and then get freedom into it after weeks or months. But you do brother – yeah, loved ones
there’s no way unless you set a time. You have to decide, “When I come home, or when we both come
home and suppers on the table, then I get out the book and I read it and then we bow our heads in
prayer.” And you have to set a time limit, a minute or two minutes at the beginning, or you have to
decide, “We do it once we get up in the morning at breakfast table,” or at night when you go to
But brothers and sisters really, there’ll be no progress in your marriage until you do it.
Honestly, there won’t be because do you see the agony of living together is that you don’t have a
third person commenting on both your lives. Now, that’s what you do have when you begin to go
before God together, God gives you light about each other and about your attitudes to each other
that you can’t receive in those endless discussions and debates. So, it’s vital to have daily
prayer if you hope to have a Christian marriage at all.
Question from the audience:
How much prayer? Can you give a guideline?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Well, it’s as much as the traffic will bear. That’s usually it. It’s as much as we’re able to take
at the beginning because most of us need to – when we’re starting something we need to start small
and brief. And I would recommend that loved ones, we have a little track that is called Seven
Minutes With God and the suggestion is that if you just do seven minutes including the Bible study
and the prayer time, just seven minutes every day, every day not three days a week, not four days a
week, not five days a week, but seven days a week, if you do that every day you’d soon begin to see
it grow. But, you start small.
Question from the audience:
Going back to the size of the family, wouldn’t you say that sometimes the reason people want a large
family is for a sense of social security, and fellowship, and life around them? Shouldn’t Christian
couples use their homes to draw others into it and provide a family relationship for others and
shouldn’t we be feeding into the body of Christ so that it becomes more and more an intimate family
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Of course. The tragedy is that so many of our churches have not received life from the families in
them but have rather received death because each family has been a closed unit on its own that has
been utterly claustrophobic. And loved ones, dear brothers and sisters, don’t you see it is death
to have children for any reason other than that it is God’s will. It destroys the children. If you
have a child to fulfill the life you have failed to live, or to fulfill the frustrations that you
feel, or to live over again now that you feel you’re getting beyond new achievements, or if you want
children so that you’ll have some kind of security in your old age, or you want children so that
you’ll have a sense of life in your home, that is an insult to God and an insult to the children,
and just an insult to your dear partner. Loved ones, those are no reasons to have children.
The only reason to have a child is that you believe, you’ve both prayed about it and you believe God
wants you to have a little one. If I could just say in closing, don’t you see that we’re in a dear
old lonely world? Don’t you? Don’t you just look around and you see the wee souls walking in the
streets and you see how much they need a family and a home, and you see how close we keep our own
possessions to us? You see how close we’ve kept our own homes to us?
Brothers and sisters, there is a need for a new generation of God’s people who will not concentrate
on making their own little homes for their own satisfaction but will see themselves as being joined
together by God to provide a home, and a picture of heaven to thousands, and thousands of people not
only in this country but in the other countries of the world. God is dying for a generation of his
children who will have that attitude rather than what has often become a very selfish claustrophobic
We get children so that we will have a little fortress of our own and we’ll be able to have our own
heaven. Do you remember, there’s an old English poem that ends, and they did that and they found
themselves in hell. You know, after they got everything around them it became a hell of
selfishness. The very opposite really of God’s plan for us, you know. Let us pray.
Dear Father, we thank you for each other and Lord, we brothers would thank you for the sisters in
this room, those to whom we are married and those whom we just know. Father, we thank you for them.
And Lord, those of us who are sisters here would thank you for our brothers, those to whom we are
married and those who are our friends. And Lord, we want to come into your full plan for us as men
and woman and as husbands and wives and Father, we tell you we want to learn Lord. We’re tired of
the old society’s ways with all its shadowy ethics and all its uncleanness, and its selfishness, and
its lust. Lord, we’re tired of it. We want a new clean way, your way.
So we ask you Holy Spirit, to begin to show us that way, each one of us in our own marriages and in
our own relationships that we’ll begin to live in that atmosphere where we think of whatsoever
things are true, and lovely, and of good report and we’re filled with that beauty and holiness that
characterizes your heaven and your love for us. Now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of
God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with each one of us now and ever more. Amen.
Divorce - LOVE & MARRIAGE
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
This is about the fifth conversation loved ones that we have had together about marriage. And today
I’d ask you to continue it with me and possibly all we’ll be able to do is discuss divorce this
morning. I was hoping that maybe we’d be able to touch on celibacy, but probably we’ll just be able
to deal with divorce and then give opportunities for questions. And I would really plead with you,
brothers and sisters, to bring up the questions however difficult they might be.
I’d rather say I don’t know what God wants us to do in that situation, I’d rather say that and at
least bring the question up, then that you would keep quiet about it. So it is really important
that we’re real with each other this morning, don’t you realize that? So, I’ll give my little
presentation and maybe God will use it to clear some things, but really what is important is the
question time. And certainly, I would ask you not to ‘pull punches’ that’s silly, because I’m not
presenting myself as somebody who knows all the answers. I’m saying that here we are brothers and
sisters of each other, in a society that is falling apart, and that is fraying at the edges, and we
need to put our arms around each other and give each other whatever help we can.
And that’s what’s needed loved ones, so let’s do that this morning. I don’t feel in any way that
I’m the authority. I feel that many of you dear ones, are suffering alone in the matter of divorce,
and you have no guidance, and you have been to one counselor after another, and the thing is just as
much a mess as ever. And what we badly need is a real sense of loving each other and wanting to
help each other in this mess. So, that’s what we’ll do this morning.
I’d remind you again of the clear distinctions that we have drawn together here between humanist,
secular civil marriage because there is such, and maybe most of us have been involved in such.
Between humanist, civil secular marriage whether it took place in a registry office, or whether it
took place in a church with a lot of white dresses and all kinds of flowers, and Christian marriage,
or marriage as our Creator intended it to be and therefore in fact, marriage as we were made for.
So I’d remind you again of the clear distinctions that we drew between that secular idea of marriage
and the Christian idea of marriage, or the humanist idea of marriage and God’s idea of marriage.
Secular marriage is based on our will. We see a nice looking girl, we want her. We see a nice
looking guy, we want him. We feel we’re going to be lonely in our old age; we want somebody to keep
us company. That’s our will. And Christian marriage, we’ve died to those things and we allow God’s
Spirit to show us whom he wants us to live with for the rest of our lives. God’s will, that’s one
of the distinctions.
Secular marriage is based on our own will. Christian marriage is based on God’s will. So, secular
marriage takes place in the tearing, and rushing, and thundering of passion and selfish desire.
Christian marriage takes place in the peace, and quiet, and serene calmness of God’s presence. So,
that’s the first distinction. One is our own will; the other is God’s will. The second distinction
is that one is preoccupied with reproducing human images, our own image, maintaining our own image
dominant in the partnership and if possible, producing other little human replicas of ourselves.
Christian marriage is preoccupied with reproducing God’s image. Reproducing God’s image in us as we
come together as a unique unity and the unique unity is different from the two separate parts and it
is more like Jesus and then bringing about other people who will look like God himself. Bringing
about others who are probably already alive here and enabling them to be born into God’s kingdom of
his Spirit and begin to live like Jesus.
So the second distinction is secular marriage is preoccupied with reproducing our own image in the
house itself, and little replicas of ourselves. Christian marriage is concerned with reproducing
God’s image in the house, and then bringing other people into the new birth in God’s kingdom. Not
excluding physical children but preoccupied with bringing people into the world who are like God and
look like Jesus.
And the third distinction is that secular marriage is preoccupied with its own purposes. Marry to
fulfill ourselves, to have a nice home, to be happy, that kind of thing. It’s to fulfill our own
purposes. Christian marriage is preoccupied with fulfilling God’s purposes. Finding out why he put
the two of us here on earth, in what particular way we’re to bring the world under his will. In
what particular way we’re to do it that no one else can do exactly in that way. So, those are the
three distinctions: the will; the image; and the purpose. Secular marriage is our will, our image,
our purpose. Christian marriage is God’s will, God’s image, God’s purpose. So, those were the
Now loved ones, honestly if you would stop just paying lip service to those distinctions, and if you
would really take them seriously, and stop taking them as some theory that it’s possible to reject
even if you’re a Christian. If you’d start taking those distinctions seriously, all the light and
life that is needed for a good marriage is in those distinctions, really.
Now, that’s a desperately bold thing to say, but all the light and life that you need in your
marriage is actually in those distinctions, if you would think about them and make them real in your
own life. And to the extent that you do pay lip service to them and say, “Oh yeah well, the poor
fella he’s young and he’s idealistic,” and to the extent that you pay a lip service to them, to that
extent your marriage will be uncertain and shaky and eventually will crumble.
Now could we look at the whole question of divorce? Because it’s on the failure to do more than pay
lip service to those distinctions that all the invalid causes of divorce are based. So, do you hear
that? It’s failure to be real about those distinctions that bring about all the invalid,
unscriptural, unjustifiable causes for divorce in our society, because there are two sets of causes
for divorce. One is utterly unbiblical, utterly unscriptural, utterly ungodly, utterly
unjustifiable, and the other set are scriptural, and biblical, and are set forth by God as
legitimate causes for divorce.
Now let’s look at the first one. The first series of causes for divorce in our society, and if you
don’t mind I’d rather avoid those bluff terms of incompatibility, and mental torture, and all those
terms that we invent, to justify our actions and I’d rather connect the invalid causes of divorce up
with these distinctions. So the first distinction, you remember, was God’s will and the first
series of invalid causes for divorce is based on what we want out of the marriage.
We go into a marriage to satisfy our will not caring at all whether it’s God’s will or not, and it’s
from that action and attitude that a whole series of causes for divorce develop. Here’s the way it
goes, he’s a blonde football player, he just looks the world, and he’s surrounded by everybody who
seem to be his friends. She has a bikini on, she looks magnificent, you decide you’ll marry them
and so one marries the other because he looks good, he’s famous, he’s strong, and he’ll provide
security. The other one marries her because she looks as if she’ll give him electrifying thrills
every hour of his life and they both marry each other because they expect that that way they’ll
begin to count for something in the world. And so they don’t only sound the old horns like mad
because they’re trying to tell the world something important has happened today, but they hope that
those old automobile horns will sound right throughout their lives, and that they’ll really count
for something in society. And so they marry primarily because of what they want out of the
He gets fat, and his muscles sag, and worst of all he remains a kid. He always wants to play with
the boys, and go out bowling with the boys instead of taking on the responsibilities of a husband.
She never wears the bikini, and seems to live in the midst of diapers all the time. And they both
begin to feel that the finances are in such chaos that they will certainly never account for
anything in the society.
Now at that point when they have run out of their hope of getting their own wishes and their own way
in that marriage, at that point the marriage has some chance of beginning to come onto a valid base.
Because at last, they’re getting thoroughly sickened of what they wanted out of the marriage and
they’re at the point where they might begin to find out what God wants in the marriage, and they
might begin to be preoccupied with his will for their marriage now that they’ve run out of any hope
of fulfilling their own will for the marriage. And yet often, that is the point where a marriage
separates, and splits, and fails.
It’s ironic you know, it’s ironic that God has built in certain laws into our society and into our
relationships together that mean that our invalid reasons for marriage over a period of years, are
often exposed to us and yet we’re so stupid, and so self-centered, and so indifferent to God that
when our wishes for the marriage are frustrated, we determine that’s the time when the marriage
should cease. And yet, that’s the very time when probably the marriage could come onto a real basis
of God’s will.
Now it’s the same loved ones, with the whole business really of one’s own image. Many of us go into
marriage to preserve our own image and it’s easy at the beginning, because at the beginning of
marriage we emphasis, and often God allows us to emphasis the similarities that we have. The
similarities in each other’s personality and so it looks at the beginning as if, “You know, I am
going to be able to maintain my own personality in this marriage. I am going to be able to
reproduce it, and extend it, and perhaps even maintain it as the dominate personality.” Because at
the beginning of a marriage it’s the similarities, it’s the unity that we emphasize and that God
allows us to emphasize.
And then as the months, and the years pass, we begin to discover how different we are. And we begin
to not only discover how different we are, but it seems how increasingly different we are. And it
seems that we differ on more, and more issues as the years and months pass. And of course, there’s
no mystery about that at all, for one thing, we had not the insight into the other person to really
read them and we did not really read that person as they really were.
But secondly, that person has been growing, and developing, and has been changing, and often we’ll
say to each other, “You’re not the person I married.” Well of course you’re not, and that’s great
that you’re not because you grow as everybody else grows. But when that happens, many of us become
insecure ourselves because we discover that, “This person, this little mouse that agreed with me on
everything – I just made a comment about the African political situation and she said, ‘Yeah.’” Or,
“This fellow that didn’t know anything about cooking at all, I just set it before him and he ate it,
suddenly he’s all preoccupied with a cholesterol free diet.” And we begin to realize that this
person is beginning to threaten me and I may not be able to maintain my personality as the dominant
And so it goes on, and on, until eventually you’re arguing about everything, and you’re disagreeing
about everything. And at last, at that point, where you give up maintaining your own image as the
dominant one, and you give up hope of keeping your own character untouched and unchanged, just at
that point when you’ve given up hope of that, and you’re at last open to God creating a new
personality out of the two of you, a new personality absolutely that will be beautiful and that will
bring him glory, at that point because you can’t maintain your personality as dominant, and because
you’re having to negotiate and to compromise with the other person, often at that point where a
marriage can just begin to get onto God’s lines and God’s basis’ the marriage fails and ceases.
And again, you know, it’s like the little child who can’t have his toys all to himself and so nobody
is going to have them. If he can’t have them all to himself then nobody is going to have them. Of
course the truth is loved ones, that if you’d ever commit the thing to the Father, he would prevent
you being utterly steamrollered. He would. He would prevent you being utterly steamrollered and he
would maintain your personality. More than that, he would work on the other person and he would
change them more, and more into his image so that you’d both began to create something completely
new, and it would be something that would be beautiful for God. But loved ones, that’s another
reason why many people divorce. Simply because, they’re developing as different personalities but
they can’t hack it because they want their personality to be dominant.
The same with the purpose, there’s a whole series of invalid reasons for divorce, or causes for
divorce in our society that are based on misunderstanding the purpose for which you married. Many
of us don’t marry for what God wants to do for us in the world at all, but we marry for our own
purposes, we want to fulfill ourselves. And those purposes are really, usually, connected up with
big house, big car, dream boat, dream car, dream house, quiet dinner parties, flowers and chocolates
every evening, long vacations, and armies of babysitters. And it is the dumbest thing. It is dumb.
If we stood back and even just watched some of the old movies, we’d see that it wasn’t like that.
But, many of us go into marriage wanting our purposes fulfilled in that marriage, and wanting the
marriage to be what we want it to be. And just as the first series of causes are connected with
disappointments about our partner, so this one is connected with disappointments in what marriage is
supposed to be. And in actual fact, we find that marriage is often preoccupied with the
difficulties of running a house, or keeping the car going in the early days. It’s often preoccupied
with maybe no vacations at all. Often he forgets the chocolates and the flowers, and often there’s
such a preoccupation with financial difficulties that you have little time for each other at all.
And it’s when that happens, that many loved ones say, “This marriage is not fulfilling the purpose
that I had in mind for it and so I’m going to stop it.” And yet, that’s the very point when you’ve
come to the end of hoping that your own purposes will be fulfilled, at that point you’re just
beginning to open to the possibility that there was some other greater purpose for this marriage
that the Creator had in mind. At that very point when the marriage could at last move onto solid
ground, usually it ends up in the courts, or it ends up in some miserable squabbling, fighting,
Now loved ones, all those are invalid causes for marriage and all of us who are married happily,
here in this auditorium, stand forward and say, “We are privileged to have experienced all those
causes for divorce and we are alive to tell the tale.” And that’s true. Do you see, brothers and
sisters, there are dozens of us in this auditorium, me too, there are dozens of us who are happily
married and we have had all those causes for divorce. We’ve had them for years often in our
marriages. Our grandfathers, and our great grandparents, they all had those causes. Those are not
valid causes for divorce, those are valid hopes for ever having a good marriage, because once you’ve
got to the point where you have that kind of discontent and dissatisfaction, there is some chance
that God will get your marriage onto the right base.
Loved ones, those reasons are no reasons. Those causes are no causes, and I would encourage
everybody here loved ones, do not even think of them. Do not even think of it. The moment you
begin to think of it, that moment it becomes conceivable and reasonable, and the next moment you’re
in the attorney’s office. You don’t even think of it. If that’s all you got, then forget it, get
down to working at the marriage and to finding out how God wants to change you to make it a good
marriage. Those are the invalid causes.
What are the valid causes? Well loved ones, on the whole Jesus’ answer of course is there are very
few. Matthew 19:6, this is the spirit of his attitude and we ought to catch that right at the
beginning. Matthew 19:6, now this is Jesus whom we believe is the unique only begotten Son of our
Creator so that whenever we speak we believe the person who made our hands is speaking, you see.
That’s the importance of these verses, it’s not just some religious leader like Buddha speaking,
it’s the Son of our Creator. Matthew 19:6, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What
therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” That’s the whole basis of the wedding
For as much John and Mary have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same
before God and this company, by giving and receiving a ring, and by joining of hands, I pronounce
that they be man and wife together in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit. Those whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder. That’s the basis of marriage,
not only Christian marriage it’s the basis of marriage as our Maker meant it to be. Now, that’s
Jesus’ basic attitude.
It’s also Pauls’ basic attitude. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, I want you to see these loved ones, because
it’s so clearly stated. “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.” So that’s God’s teaching.
There are two valid causes that God has set forth for us for divorce. One is physical
unfaithfulness, the other is spiritual unfaithfulness. Matthew 19:9, “And I say to you: whoever
divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.” “And I say to
you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.” And
for many years I thought that it was sufficient to say so God was saying, “Alright, there’s no
reason for divorcing at all.” And then the Holy Spirit showed me that I had to look at that phrase,
“Except for unchastity.” And so I’d ask you to read it, just in the English and it seems to me
loved ones, that the normal interpretation of that is, whoever divorces his wife, except for
unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery. But whoever divorces his wife for unchastity and
marries another does not commit adultery.
And I know there can be differences of opinion on remarriage, and I’m certainly open to that
possibility that maybe there shouldn’t be remarriage. But as far as I have light, anyway at this
moment, and I have to share with you at least what light I have, as far as I have light, it seems to
me the verse means whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits
adultery and the opposite then is equally true, whoever divorces his wife for unchastity, for the
cause of unchastity, that is a legitimate cause, adultery is a legitimate cause and marries another
does not commit adultery.
So first of all physical unfaithfulness, secondly spiritual unfaithfulness. 1 Corinthians 7:15,
spiritual unfaithfulness, that is where one partner is not a Christian and doesn’t want to stay.
“But if the unbelieving partner desires to separate let it be so; in such a case the brother or
sister is not bound. For God has called us to peace.” And as far as the light is that I have
received, it seems to me if you’re not bound to the marriage than you’re free to remarry in
innocence. And again, I know some would question that in the light of verses 8-9 up there, but
physical unfaithfulness is one reason, spiritual unfaithfulness is another.
I would only add it is important to see that many loved ones have really left their wives even
though they’re still with them. So, when we say physical unfaithfulness we really do mean that. In
other words, there are some husbands and wives that stay with the other partner and keep up the
appearance of a marriage but in actual fact they’re jumping in and out of bed all around the cities.
In actual fact they’ve left their husband, they’ve left their wives physically and they’re now bent
on making a mockery of marriage. Now there it’s very important for the husband or the wife in that
situation to see that they are on scriptural ground in thinking of divorce.
And yet loved ones, may I tell you the story of Hosea because God always calls us to act above the
law wherever we believe we have the grace to do that. And you remember Hosea had a wife who left
him and Hosea went out after her, and he found that she had become a prostitute. And so he wooed
her again and brought her back to his home as his wife, and she stayed with him for another period
of time and then ran away again. And this time, he discovered she had sold herself as a slave and
he bought her back, and freed her, and reinstated her in the position of his wife. And God of
course says, in that same way, “I have loved you. I have forgiven you, and forgiven you until 70
times seven.” And so loved ones, obviously you have to keep in mind that teaching of Jesus that
wherever you have grace, you should live above the law.
And so loved ones, will you question now and I’ll try to answer?
Question from the audience:
What do you mean living above the law?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Well, I thought Bill that the law of God was plainly stated in those verses that you could, if you
wished, divorce on the grounds of physical or spiritual unfaithfulness, and you were justified in
doing that, but that Jesus often called us to live above that law, and even to forgive, and be
merciful, and not in fact, to claim your rights. But I think it is very important for brothers and
sisters who hear that this morning to see that there are obviously times when you are actually doing
harm to the other person by putting up with the situation. So all of us I think, are aware of wives
who had alcoholic husbands, and had four or five children to bring up, and you remember in the old
days there wasn’t all the facility for divorce that there is now, and that dear woman just stayed
with it, and stayed with it, and just put up with the beatings, and put up with the insults, and she
eventually prayed all her children into the kingdom and prayed the man into the kingdom as well at
the end of their life.
So, many of us know stories of that Bill, and obviously God is able to use that. But, there are
other situations where a husband or a wife is simply taking advantage of the other person. They’re
mocking them they’re saying even, “You’re a Christian you’re supposed to let me do this. You’re
supposed to forgive me until 70 times seven while I go around from woman-to-woman or from
man-to-man.” Now in that situation, it seems to me, you have to take advantage of the hedge of the
law that God has given. If you don’t you’re simply encouraging this dear one, not only to mock you,
to mock marriage, but to mock God as well and perhaps they’ll never stop in their tracks unless they
see that sometimes some things have to stop.
Question from the audience:
What would the spiritual basis be to stay together if you are not married to a Christian?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
It seems to me Paul is saying if you are married to a non-Christian man or married to a
non-Christian woman, and the man or the woman is willing to stay with you, then you are to stay with
them and you are in every way to allow the Holy Spirit to use you to redeem them, to prepare them
for heaven, to bring them into an awareness of Jesus by seeing Jesus live in you. So, it would seem
if the other person is willing to stay then there is no question. In other words, there’s no place
for a Christian divorcing a non-Christian simply because they’re non-Christian. The only reason is
if the non-Christian does not want to stay with you.
I think if the partner was fed up, “I’m fed up with you going to that church all the time. I’m fed
up with you going and singing hymns. I don’t like your prayer and your bible study. I forbid you
to go to church.” I think a lot of loved ones have gotten into – I hope, two Sundays hence to deal
with the whole business of authority and submission in marriage and I think a lot of us have come
into ridiculous positions of submission that I think is an insult to human dignity. Where you have
said, “If the man forbids me to go to church and I stop going to church,” it would seem to me there
is a spiritual justification for divorce on the basis of the scripture in Acts, “We must obey God
rather than men.”
No man or woman has the right to steal from us our relationship with God. Now at the same time I
think that many loved ones could show much more forbearance over a much longer period than they do.
It’s like some of us sons and daughters who are so quick to get to 21 and get out from under that
honor your father and mother that your days may be long, and we’re so quick to say, “But we must
obey God rather than them.” And it seems to me it’s very easy for a man or a woman to say, “Oh
that’s it, I must obey God rather than man so this man is forbidding me practicing my religion so I
must get rid of him.” I think it’s very important that you’re honest in your own heart, and spirit,
and conscience about it and that it has really come to the point where the non-Christian partner
does not want to stay and he will not let you remain a Christian yourself.
Question from the audience:
Is there any kind of bondage that is involved, if as a Christian you committed immorality with a
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
It seems to me that you’re caught in the whole statement that Jesus made, “If you unit your limbs or
your members to a prostitute you are in fact forcing him to unit his limbs and his members with a
prostitute.” And it seems to me that’s the worse, and the most terrible, and the greatest cruelty
that anyone could do to anyone, and that is to force the loving Son of God who is our Savior to have
intercourse with a prostitute. So it seems to me that that is far from bondage. It is an insult,
and blasphemy against God, it is something that a man or a woman has to get before God and be very
real about in their repentance. It seems to me.
Loved ones, if I could just push you a little more, do you see that there is conscious and
unconscious sin. And I know this comes home as new to a lot of you but would you believe me that
there is a little verse in scripture that says, “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin.” And
that Christians are meant to be free from conscious sin. And it is a major tragedy; it is a major
emergency in your own spiritual life if you knowingly do something that you know is wrong, really.
Now, I’m not saying God can’t forgive you but I’m saying it is a major tragedy, it is a major
emergency. You have got, with the Holy Spirit, to get down to the heart of why you did that thing.
So that is what I would be more concerned about. More than some bondage or other, I’d be more
concerned about a loved calling themselves a child of God and doing that.
When you repent of it and commit yourself to a clean life, then God puts the sin as far from him as
the east is from the west. And I understand what you’re saying, you’re saying are there any natural
consequences of sin that are – that are raised at the time of forgiveness? Well, I think the same
as gonorrhea or the venereal diseases, in the same way that they bring about natural consequences in
deformity in the children, so no doubt every sin brings about natural consequences that you have to
live through and be healed from gradually as the months and years pass. But it seems to me from the
point of view of God’s relationship to you, if you come before him and you weep before him and say,
“Lord, I have crucified you afresh. Lord, I give myself to you and I will never touch this kind of
thing again.” Then God forgives and restores you to this friendship right then.
The same way abortion has certain emotional consequences, I’m sure there are emotional things. On
the other hand it’s very easy for Satan to get in on you and say; “Now listen, you’ve gotten
yourself into bondage here that you cannot escape from.” And in that case it’s important to call
Satan’s bluff and say, “No, there is nothing that I cannot do through Christ who strenghteneth me.”
And I have received the mind of Christ, and the new emotions of Christ, and the new body of Christ
and this old body that did this thing was crucified with him and is dead and buried so I have a new
life from him completely. And it’s important to answer Satan strongly that way.
No – I was coming the other direction because I think a lot of us have been surprisingly lax about
sexual immorality and I want us to see loved ones, you can’t be a child of God and commit
fornication. And fornication is lying with someone in bed and having intercourse with them who is
not your wife or your husband. Now, you cannot do that. I don’t even think you can go to town in a
whole petting session and have a clean heart, and a clean mind, and remain in the fullness of God’s
So loved ones, you have to be real about that. You have to stop playing around with that. We have
to be kind, and understanding, and gentle. We must understand the depths of the problem of loved
ones who fall into homosexuality but never, never, never, never – old Churchill said, “Never, never,
never, you can never accept that sin is consistent with a child of God.” You can’t. You can’t.
Homosexuality is not in God’s will. I don’t care how many people visit President Carter,
homosexuality is not in God’s will. It is a sin. It is wrong. It is condemned back in Leviticus,
Deuteronomy, right through scripture, right through Romans 1, it’s wrong. So is fornication. So is
intercourse outside marriage. So is uncleanness, uncleanness of any kind.
Loved ones, it is not what God wants for his children. It is not what he can tolerate for his
children. He is a holy God and his Holy Spirit cannot live and flow in the heart of a person who
does those things. Really, truly, loved ones.
Question from the audience:
What happened in the Corinthian church?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Well you remember brother, Paul’s strong words, you remember, of the man who was committing
immorality with I think it was a relative or something, and you remember old Paul was just straight
about it, “Deliver that man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.” And that meant that he
disciplined him, he excluded him right out of the church so that man would know as far as God was
concerned, the man was not in the grace of God at that time so that the Holy Spirit would begin to
bring the seriousness of the situation to the man’s conscience and the man would repent and would
return and give his life again to Jesus.
But it seemed to me that Paul was emphasizing that those who are in the church, or those of us here
this morning, we must be very clear that that kind of thing is not consistent with being a child of
God. Yeah, I think that’s what he meant.
Question from the audience:
Can you apply those words in Matthew, “Whom God has joined together let no man put asunder.” Can
you apply that to someone who enters into a secular civil marriage?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
No loved ones, you can’t no. That’s the whole bluff isn’t it? The tragedy is that since old
Constantine’s time church became popular and then it became very respectable to have a white wedding
and have it done by some preacher in some church to make it look good and then you could dress in
white if you had behaved properly and that signified a whole degree of respectability. And yet,
many of us went through that kind of wedding and it was really, in our minds, it was just a civil
secular thing that had the blessing of the church upon it to please our parents and to please all
our neighbors. But it wasn’t really a Christian marriage.
And loved ones, the fact is you cannot apply Christian promises to non-Christians. So no, Anita you
cannot apply that. But it’s very different, you remember, as we shared before, it’s very different
with a person who is now married and married at a time when they were not Christians, or married not
knowing fully what marriage was about. Loved ones, in that situation Pauls’ word is very clear, you
remember, it’s in 1 Corinthians 7:27. 1 Corinthians 7:27, because Anita I think some people then in
that situation say, “Oh, well we weren’t really Christians so we couldn’t apply God’s laws, or God’s
promises those whom God has joined together let no man put asunder so am I not free to break up this
marriage and now to have another marriage as a Christian?”
Well loved ones, it’s plain 1 Corinthians 7:27 is the answer. “Are you bound to a wife? Do not
seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage.” In other words, what you are
when you’re called to Jesus that’s what you are to remain. And that might be of some help to those
of you who have been divorced twice, or who have now come to some light about your life, you stay
where you are. You do not cause unbearable pain to everybody by trying to retrace all these steps.
You’re married to a wife now, you’re called to be faithful to that wife and the past is past and
forgetting those things that are behind, now you go forward to Jesus, but you do now accept your
For those of us loved ones, that are just itching to get an excuse for a divorce, will you look at
your heart and if you’re itching for an excuse, is that not proof enough that you’re not in God’s
will? Is that not proof enough? You know, if you’re in a position where you’re trying to think,
“Oh well, when I married her or I married him I wasn’t really a Christian. I didn’t really know
what I was doing so I’m not bound by it, am I?” Loved ones, of course you are, you’re married to a
wife. You’re responsible to be faithful to that loved one.
And if you say to me, “Oh but how? If it was outside God’s will how could it possibly be a
successful marriage?” You remember the verses we quoted five Sundays ago which state quite plainly
that God works in all things for good to them that love him and that God does not allow any trial to
come upon us above what we are able to bear and with the trial itself, or the difficulty he provides
grace in a way of escape. And so God does not allow you, even in your non-Christian state, to come
into any relationship which he cannot redeem. And so there is no ground for you saying, “Oh well,
God can’t redeem this marriage because it took place outside his will. So, I will step outside his
will in order to help him do something about it.” You can’t loved ones, there’s no ground for it.
No, “Are you bound to a wife?” Then you are to be faithful to that wife.
Question from the audience:
How much does a civil ceremony exert or have some binding effect on a marriage?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
You bring up the situation that I remember, in fact, the loved ones may remember here this morning
in the time of the Jesus movement and the hippy movement it was pretty wild and I remember a couple
coming to me and saying, “We married each other last week.” So I kind of gulped and didn’t show
them that I was the least surprised and then married them the next week in their home. It seems
brother that those of us who are in Jesus marry in a Christian ceremony not to bind ourselves to
each other but because we want to glorify God in everything we do. And this is something precious
that has happened to us. We know at last that God wants us together and so we want the rest of the
body to rejoice in it, and we want their prayers, and we want them to bind themselves together with
us and to see us now as a husband/wife ministry team with them. And so that’s the heart of why we
have a Christian service.
Now, the only reason therefore Christians bother with a license at all or not, or any kind of civil
ceremony is because of Paul’s strong words in Romans where he says, “Submit to those who are in
authority over you and pray for the governments, and for the kings that are over you.” And so we
are obligated as children of God to submit to and respect every expression of the power of the sword
which is God’s sustaining grace that preserves the world from chaos and disorder and therefore we
are bound to submit to all the laws of our land.
Question from the audience:
If there is an unbelieving husband that wants to be freed and yet there are children whom this will
damage then is there a place for the woman fighting in the courts and making it difficult for the
freedom to come about?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
You remember, that Paul said, “You are justified in divorcing an unbelieving partner who wants to
separate from you because you are called to peace and not to strife.” And so I would think that
would be the heart of it. The woman would have to decide in prayer, and in study, and in thought,
and in counseling with other brothers and sisters in Jesus, would have to decide is this bringing
more peace or more strife to our home? Then in the light of that then she would decide whether to
fight to hold the husband or to let him go.
Now, in fact you all loved ones, would have to seek the Holy Spirit individually to see to what
extent you fight in the courts. You would have to think about that and pray about that because that
in itself I think, would require a great deal of careful discussion. In other words, how far do you
protest and to what extent do you take advantage of the financial provisions that the law of the
land has given and there I think, counseling from I would image, there are more attorneys here in
this auditorium than perhaps anywhere else at this time on Sunday morning, there are many dear
brothers who are close to Jesus and would be glad, I think, to give a little direction to those of
us who are in that kind of situation.
So certainly if you need guidance in that way then you should get in touch with the office, and we
could at least put you in touch with someone who could give maybe five minutes at the end of a
morning service or that kind of thing. Now I think it would be very unfair to the legal profession
if we expected them to give all kinds of free advice, but I think they would be prepared to give a
little spiritual direction at the ends of morning services to those of us who want it.
Well loved ones, I think you probably realize yourself that we could go on, probably forever, on
this so all I would do is I would stand – if I could grow a beard I would. If I could grow a beard
and pretend I’m an old grandfatherly preacher from the 18th century, I would, and say, “Don’t
divorce. Don’t divorce.” You divorce when nothing else can be done and divorce solves nothing.
Nothing. It makes problems. It makes problems. You stay with each other because many of us have
had at times just to put our arms around each other and say, “Love, I don’t understand it. I don’t
know why I acted like that. I don’t feel I’m the right person at all for you, but God has allowed
us to come together so we stay with it.” And on that basis he’ll be able to do something for the
partnership. But loved ones, that’s the way you go, really. Let us pray.
Dear Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters here this morning, and for myself and my wife, and
Lord, we would pray that you would help us see things the right way around. Oh Father, we pray for
loved ones here that are in the agonies and the death throes of their marriage. Holy Spirit, we
pray now that you will bring them your way which is always a way of peace, even if everything
doesn’t turn out right, it’s always the way of peace. You can always give us a view that brings us
peace and contentment. Holy Spirit, we would pray that you do that for our dear brothers and
sisters here this morning who are in difficulties.
And then Lord, I pray for those marriages this morning that are having rocky times, and
difficulties. Father I pray that you’ll show them that this is you shaking it out of their hands so
that you can get it into your own hands. And Lord, this is you showing them that their love was not
real love and that you are now beginning to show them what real love is. It’s directing our
goodwill to a person because you have told us. And Lord, thank you that there’s nothing firmer than
that love. And I pray Father, for all the loved ones who are not married, that you by your Holy
Spirit, will still the earthquake, and the thunder, and the fire, and will bring them that sound of
gentle stillness that guides them to the partner you have for them.
And now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be
with each one of us now and until we see Jesus face-to-face. Amen.
Get Married or Not - LOVE & MARRIAGE
Living Single & Celibacy
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
This morning loved ones, could we talk about celibacy? And that’s the single unmarried state to
which God has called many of us. And I would really hope that after our question and answer time,
and discussion, many of you will feel freer to accept that call and see how beautiful it is. The
fact that it is for many of us, is plainly indicated by Jesus, if you’d like to look at his words in
Matthew 19. Matthew 19:9-12 loved ones, “’And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for
unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.’ The disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case
of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.’ But he said to them, ‘Not all men can
receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so
from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have
made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let
him receive it.’”
What I’d like us to do therefore, is discover why this beautiful gift that God has given us has been
ignored so often by those of us who call ourselves Christians. And I hope that after the
discussion, many of us will feel that we’re able to do something to restore it, at least here in our
body. Now loved ones, society has taken off in two extreme directions on celibacy. You can see
that yourselves. Monasticism and asceticism have led many people to throw themselves into celibacy
for the wrong reason. But at the same time, marriage and family life, and the popularity of
marriage and family life, have forced many other loved ones to throw themselves into marriage for
the wrong reason. And so what we need to see is God’s balanced attitude to celibacy and we need to
try to recover it for our own lives.
Now there is a basic principle of life that will guide us in our approach to this whole issue and
it’s given in Jesus’ answer to one of you dear lawyers in Matthew 22. Matthew 22:35, “And one of
them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the
law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your
soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.’” That’s the principle that
will guide us safely, really.
Now you remember that Jesus was unlike every other human being who ever lived. You remember that he
gave the world the most perfect teaching it has ever received and you remember that even his enemies
acknowledged that he lived the most perfect life that has ever been lived. But the great fact that
convinces us here this morning that he has come directly from the heart of the person who made us is
that he came back to earth and lived again for about a month after the Romans had very efficiently
and completely killed him. And it’s that fact plus the other fact of his perfect life and his
perfect teaching that makes us believe that he is not just like any other human being, and he is not
just like any other great religious teacher but he is out on his own. He is unique. He is
different. And when he speaks our Creator speaks, and his words are our Creator’s words.
And that’s why in the light of that principle that he shared there, we believe that he’s saying,
“Love me, your God who has made you with everything you’ve got. Don’t split up your love between
your wife, and your children, and your friends, and your business associates, and your job, and me.
Don’t do that. You’re misunderstanding the nature of love if you do that. Love is not just your
attention, or your interest, those you split up among us all. But love is the person that you put
first in your life. Now, I am your God who made you. I want you to love me with everything you’ve
got. I want you to put me completely and absolutely first.” And that’s what Jesus is saying loved
I think a lot of us right there I’m sure, realize in our own consciences that we have had a very
selfish autonomous attitude to our love haven’t we? Because probably most of us deal out a little
of it here to the wife, a little of it here to the children, a little of it to our friends, and then
a little to God and of course, God is saying something completely different from that. He’s saying,
“Love me with all your heart, and soul, and strength, and mind. Give me everything you’ve got.”
Now many of us I think have not realized that and we still think of love as something that we are in
control of and yet you know that when you have experienced something that you would undoubtedly call
love, you know that it has been a zealous thing. A fully enthusiastic thing so strong that you
could not deal out this here, or there, and everywhere, it was something that took possession of you
and God says we’re to love him with that kind of attitude.
Now actually, it’s very logical isn’t it? It’s really very logical that we should do that. If one
of us here was to give up one of our kidneys for you to replace your ineffective one, you know what
kind of attitude you would have to us. You know it, it would be a very complete gratitude. Now if
you knew someone who had given you things that nobody else could give you, arms, and legs, and eyes,
and a brain that is able to connect beauty with happiness, and that one was not just giving you a
box of chocolates or flowers to express his love, but he gave you millions of trees, and rivers, and
lakes so that you could enjoy the body that he had given you. And he gave you a resilient body that
was able to spring back again and again after being tired. You know, if someone gave you all those
things, you know you wouldn’t exist if you hadn’t those things. You wouldn’t even be here to do
anything if you hadn’t those things so it’s very logical that you would give to that one all of your
But then if that dear one, so you could experience the life and the love that flowed through him
died so that your poisoned selfish in turned personality could be destroyed and you could be filled
with the same outgoing freeing life and love that he had, if that person metaphorically gave up not
just one of his kidneys but his only kidney so that you could live a full life, you know it’s
utterly logical to give to that person everything you’ve got. Nothing that anybody did, wife or
child, or anything is equal to that kind of giving.
Now loved ones, that’s maybe worth pondering about. And I’d ask you just to stop there maybe and
would you look at a verse that says that? It’s 1 John 4:19, and as you’re turning the pages just
let the truth of that come home to our hearts. 1 John 4:19, and that’s it you know, “We love,
because he first loved us.” You know, it’s an incredible perversion of logic isn’t it, and of
hatred to God, to continue to argue that we happened by chance, so that somehow we feel we’re
self-made men and women and we owe nothing to anybody. It’s an incredible hatred to God and an
incredible perversion of logic. Its unbelievable irrationality to take that attitude really, isn’t
The most logical thing in the world is when you come into a beautiful garden, or you’ve come into a
beautiful art gallery to think or wonder who did this. And it’s the same when you go to that
gallery down in California, you know, of Ghetty’s (the J. Paul Ghetty Museum), you go in there and
you think, “Who could have made all this?” And you immediately think of the person that was behind
it and so it’s the most logical attitude when you come into a beautiful world like ours and the most
rational thing to do is give everything you’ve got, all the love you have to that dear person. And
yet we’re so selfish aren’t we, that we actually find it impossible to give disinterested love to
this Creator. I mean, we should be able to do it.
We should not love him now because we’re going to get anything out of him because we’ve got all out
of him that we can. He’s given us everything and so it should be possible for us to love him with
self forgetting love, but the strange thing is we can’t. Isn’t that right? That there’s something
in us that prevents us loving him with fully disinterested love so what should we do? Well loved
ones, will yourself to express in your life what perfect love expressed in Jesus’ life. That’s the
first step you can take. In fact, in a way it’s the only step you can take towards giving perfect
love to God. Will yourself to express in your life what perfect love expressed in Jesus’ life.
I can number them. One, think of your Creator, think of him. Don’t think about him, think of him
now as he created you and think of the thoughts he had when he made you. Think of what he was
planning when he made you. First, think of your Creator. You can’t love him at all unless you
think of him and all of us can do that. All of us, when we’re walking to work in the morning we can
think of him. In a personal way he made me, he actually knows the bump in my nose, he knows my
hair, he knows my feet. Think of him.
Secondly, meditate on what he’s thinking, really. Think, “He’s alive and he’s thinking something at
this moment.” And think of what he’s wanting at this moment. Think of what he’s wanting. Think of
what is important to him at this moment. You know, we’re such silly little monkeys, aren’t we?
We’re all taken up with getting our little nuts in and our little car has got a little flat, and oh
we’re just all wrought up about that, so dumb. The car will be on the scrap heap in three years’
time. But instead, think about what our Creator is thinking at this moment. Think what he’s
thinking. Meditate on what he is thinking, be interested in the things that he is interested in, be
concerned about the things he is concerned about. That is, treat him as a real person as you would
your own loved one at home.
And then, direct your will to do the things that he wants you to do. Direct your will to do the
things that he wants you to do and to speak the words that he wants you to speak. If you say, “How
would I know?” Your conscience, your conscience tells you all the time what you should do, what you
should say. Direct your will to do those things. You’ll never come into a love relationship if you
don’t act and do something. Direct your will to do the things that he has shown you that he wants
you to do through your conscience and through your study of the Bible day-by-day. Direct your will
to do that.
Then fourthly, the heart of the consecration that is ours in order to bring about perfect love to
God, this is the heart of it, do those things more for him than for anybody else. Do all those more
in connection with him than with yourself or your wishes, or your friends or their wishes, or your
peers and their wishes, or your boss and his wishes. Do all those three things. Think about him,
think about what he is thinking. Meditate upon the things that he’s interested in and concerned
about. Direct your will to do those things that he wants you to do that he’s showing you through
your conscience and the Bible that you should do, and then do that more than you do for anybody
else. More than you do for your wife, more than you do for your children, more than you do for
yourself, more than you do for anything else. Put him above everybody else.
That’s what it means love with all your heart, and soul, and strength, and mind. And then last of
all loved ones, regard your own plans and preferences as nothing. That’s what love is. Love is not
– its bluff that love yourself. It’s bluff. We are such miserable little selfish creatures that if
somebody tells us to love others as ourselves we know who will get the worst of it and it’s not us.
Loving God means turning from yourself completely, not dealing out a little bit of love to your
wife, not dealing out a little bit of love to yourself, forgetting yourself.
Fifthly, regard your plans and preferences and your wishes as destroyed with Jesus on Calvary and
regard yourself as dead as far as anything that you ought to have or ought to do is concerned, and
regard your personality as available to God for his use. Now loved ones, those are the only human
steps that you can take towards loving God and after you’ve taken them all you’re not yet loving God
with a selfless love because you cannot do that on your own. But yet you have to take all those
steps which involves full consecration of yourself to God. That’s what it is and that’s why Jesus
says, “At the end we’re unprofitable servants,” because after we’ve done all that we’re still not
able to love him on our own power with unselfish love.
But, when you do that a miracle takes place in your heart and I’ll show you it. Acts 5:32 and it is
really a miracle. Acts 5:32, “And we are witnesses to these things,” and then the miracle, “And so
is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey them.” The moment you set your life out
that way and dispose your love in that way, a new miraculous creative life of the Spirit comes from
God to you. It’s a gift. It’s a selfless gift and it comes inside you and creates in you the whole
attitude of love that Jesus has for his Father which is supernatural and beyond anything that we can
produce ourselves. And that’s real love.
Its Romans 5:5 loved ones. The Holy Spirit comes into us and then Romans 5:5 takes place. Romans
5:5, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through
the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” In other words, once you dispose your will in the way
we’ve shared, God then gives you the Holy Spirit who alone can create selfless, self-forgetting,
complete and sacrificial “Agape” love within you and then you’re able to love God with all your
heart, and soul, and strength, and mind and he creates in you a selfless love but only, you see, if
you’re willing to direct your whole life to him.
In other words, if you’re not willing to let the Holy Spirit express that kind of complete love
through you, then God will not give it to you. But when you show yourself as willing, not just by
saying but by beginning to dispose your life in that way and to dispose your life to please God
above everybody else, then God gives the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit begets in you that love.
And then, immediately you begin to sense God’s deep appreciation and recognition of you. You do.
You begin to sense that the God of the whole universe loves you, and appreciates you, and recognizes
you and you begin to enjoy your fellowship with him day-by-day, and you begin to sense that you are
important to him and that’s all that matters. And suddenly loved ones, your life is filled with
warmth and not coldness.
Your life is filled with fullness and not emptiness. You feel completely satisfied instead of being
constantly frustrated. You feel always in the company of the kings of kings instead of feeling
lonely. You always feel full and not empty. You feel satisfied with a warm personal living
relationship not an acceptance of some abstract truths. And then at last, you’re free to take part
in the beautiful planned love that God has for all the others who have allowed themselves to be
crucified with Christ and have exchanged self for Christ and then there comes about the whole
beautiful plan that God has for men and women.
You remember, it says in Genesis 1:27 that God made us in his image male and female created he us.
And then you’re free to begin to find that you don’t need anything from other people, you’re getting
it all from your Father. You’re getting all the warmth and satisfaction from him that you need,
you’re getting all the security that you need from him, you’re getting all the recognition that you
need from him, and now you’re free from getting those things, that security, and that significance,
and that happiness from anybody else and you’re free at last to look at men and women for what they
are, dear optional extra gifts that God has given to you in the world. And you’re able to begin to
take part with them in a great love relationship no longer looking to them from what you can get
from them. No longer the insecurity of the hunters and the hunted.
That’s what spoils the man/woman relationship whether it’s at high school, or university, or later
on with updykes couples. That’s what spoils open love among us, you’re not sure if they’re hunting
you. You’re not sure if you’re the hunted. You’re not sure if you should be running or if they’re
chasing. And suddenly you’re freed from that and you’re freed at last to regard each other as dear
sons and daughters of a Father who is giving you all you need and from no human being can you get
what you’re getting from that dear Father, and at last loved ones, there begins to take part that
beautiful whole confident closeness to one another that comes from being freed from selfish ulterior
That’s what holds us back, isn’t it? That’s why we’re inhibited. That’s why we’re so slow to put
our arms around each other and to be close to each other, because we’re not sure what the motive of
the other person is and we feel guilty at times in our own consciences because of our own selfish
motives because whether we want to marry the person or not we’re so often trying to get something
from them. And suddenly you’re freed from all that and you’re getting it all from the Father and
at last you’re able to be free and open with each other, and able to come into the deep intercourse
that God wants us as men and women to have with each other because there is a beautiful intercourse
that is spiritual, and that is intellectual, and that is emotional, and that is volitional as we
begin to bring our lives into harmony.
The kind of harmony we sensed in that song at the prayer time and suddenly there comes to us a great
satisfaction, a great sense of completion and fulfillment what we were really made for and we begin
to experience that together as a family. And loved ones, it expresses itself physically. It does.
As we mature by having our psychological personalities come under the control of our spirits so
there is a beautiful expression of this in the physical realm and you can see it as it was in the
New Testament church in 2 Corinthians 13.
2 Corinthians 13:12, “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.” And at last
you know, there are pure embraces, it’s not a touch me not fearful relationship. At last there are
pure embraces and there are clean unselfish kisses, and there are warm handshakes that make us feel
the family we were always made to be, and running through it all is a great sense of confidence. A
great sense of being free from using the other person and really as in Jesus’ company so it happens
with us, because it did happen in Jesus’ company, we begin to relate to each other brothers and
sisters, here in the body as mature husbands and wives relate to each other. And we have every
intercourse that they have outside the sphere of child bearing. We have all the intercourse with
each other except for that because we are not called to be together in that husband wife
relationship, but we’re called together as dear brothers and sisters.
And so there are at last no frustrated spinsters in the body of Jesus, and there are no lonely
bachelors, and you have the confidence that there will be dear hands to dress you for burial that
throughout your life together have expressed kindness to you and love. And you sense at last that
when that day comes there’ll be strong arms of brothers to lift you, and to bring you before the
Father, those strong arms that have protected you throughout your life here in the body and no
longer do you feel, “I have to have my own husband. I have to have my own wife.” And then there
takes place a beautiful community of singles who are at last free to be called by God to marry when
he calls them.
But at last they’re free to be called by him to marry. They no longer marry because they need
somebody to be close to them, or they marry because they need somebody to express affection to them,
or they marry because they don’t want to be left on their own when they grow old, or they marry
because they desperately want to be close to somebody. But at last we begin to marry, those of us
who are called to do it, because God has called us. And even then the marriages do not steal from
the body, they do not make the rest of us feel out of it or feel that we have to get our own partner
too to enjoy that kind of happiness but the marriages actually share the same closeness of brother
and sister relationship and we go to each other’s homes not as going into some citadel or fortress
that two people have got together to protect themselves and ensure their futures. But we go into
them as our homes, as our homes of our brothers and sisters who are as close to us as they are to
their wives and their husbands and who increasingly as the years pass and you loved ones have passed
on in years, you know that really it’s the same closeness and relationship that we have to our
wives, and loved ones, that’s God’s plan.
And then at last we don’t ostracize each other by being married. At last we’re free to be married
or not married and the beauty of it is the loved ones are no longer driven to homosexuality and
lesbianism. Because isn’t that it? That’s what drives us isn’t it? It’s the coldness, it’s the
distance from each other, and it’s the prudish correctness that we’ve experienced in so many of our
churches. It’s that coldness and harshness in the office on Monday morning. It’s that hardness as
you walk down Nicollet Mall (in Minneapolis) that’s what eventually drives you into a desperate
desire for somebody to love you, isn’t it? And at last of course, in a body of Jesus that’s
eliminated because you are loved and you know you’re loved.
Suddenly of course it releases us all because we’re released at last, some of us to sew, and some of
us to saw wood, some of us to cook, some of us to repair cars, some of us to express ourselves in
masculine gestures, and some of us to express ourselves in what we in society call feminine
gestures, whatever those are. But at last we’re freed from that and no longer is a guy, or a girl
alienated or ostracized, or victimized because they don’t measure up to society’s false standards of
what a man and a woman is. And loved ones, really that’s God’s beautiful plan and it takes first of
all a coming to a real experience of God’s love in your own life so that you’re not demanding from
others, and then a willingness to let that love flow through you and begin to break up these
terrible attitudes that we have to each other.
Of course it’s beautiful because when a wife does die then a husband doesn’t feel lonely. He misses
her and looks forward to meeting her in heaven, but doesn’t feel lonely because they’ve always been
close to so many in the family and there’s always somebody to see you off on the great journey and
you’re never left on your own and that’s the Father’s plan loved ones. And really at last we’re
free to be what we are so praise God.
Now loved ones, are there questions and especially points that maybe aren’t clarified in the whole
vision of the truth? Yes, I do agree with you that there are other loved ones that go into overt
homosexuality which I would say was getting the same satisfaction for our sexual organs in
relationship with the same sex as we get incidentally from relations with the opposite sex. And
there are loved ones who go into homosexuality and lesbianism to satisfy the body. They’re just as
wrong going into that as any husband or wife is here who is primarily concerned with the surge, or
the exhilaration, or the thrill that goes through their own bodies rather than preoccupied with the
wife, or the husband themselves as real people? So, they’re just as wrong as we are who don’t
engage in physical intercourse within marriage in the balanced way God has intended. They’re no
more wrong, I’d point that out, they’re no more wrong they are simply preoccupied with the body and
preoccupied with getting a physical thrill that they hope will give exhilaration to their emotions
and hope somehow will bring a unity and integration to their spirits. And I agree with you, I think
that that is what God is opposing. That is wrong.
But I think on the other hand that there are many loved ones who go into what the society calls
homosexual and lesbian relationships really because they are desperate for love. Desperate for
warmth and kindliness and then it drifts into the physical expression. That is a physical
expression beyond what is legitimate for man/man relationships. So, I do agree with you that I
think there are loved ones who are in homosexual and lesbian relationships for the physical thrill.
Many others are into it because they have missed love.
It’s not right. I agree with you, it’s not right all I’m pleading is that the poor souls have been
driven into it by often hardness. I’m with you, we didn’t get into it, I didn’t get into it, I know
that but then all of us are in different situations in regards to different sins. So, no I’m
against homosexuality and against lesbianism, but loved ones that isn’t the issue. The two loved
ones came up at the end last Sunday morning, and were just concerned because they were involved in
it and oh their dear hearts cry out for love. They don’t cry out for label, condemnations, but for
love. So really what we are to do is have the highest standard, Jesus’ standard of purity among
husband/wife relationships, man/woman relationships, man/man relationships, woman/woman
relationships, but at the same time have the height of warm, fragrant, kindly understanding, gentle
love and if that is present the other is not needed, really.
Okay, I asked my own question. Is that alright? Okay. Shall we pray?
Authority & Submission in Marriage - LOVE & MARRIAGE
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Authority & Submission in Marriage
Today is the last of
our conversations loved ones, on marriage. And I would ask you to join me as the time permits us,
in talking about authority and submission in marriage. And that refers really to the respective
attitudes of the husband and wife to each other, authority and submission. Could I remind you of
the obvious advantages that flow naturally from a Christian marriage in this regard as opposed to a
secular marriage? You remember, a secular marriage is based on our own wills and I would just point
out to you the obvious, that if a man marries a woman because of a wilful desire for physical and
emotional satisfaction, then he tends to regard that woman primarily as a function. As someone who
will fill a need in his life. As an addendum to his life and he will tend therefore, to have rather
It’s the same with a woman, if a woman marries a
an arrogant attitude of authority to that woman.
man primarily to satisfy her wilful desire for company in her old age, or for economic provision for
her in her present life, or for emotional and physical satisfaction in motherhood, then she also
will tend to regard her husband primarily as a function, as someone who fills a need in her life, as
someone who is an addendum to her life and therefore she herself, will tend to have a quiet
subconscious, arrogant, authoritative attitude towards him.
Now it’s entirely different if both are
entering into a Christian marriage, and they’ve accepted reality. That is they have accepted that
their needs for security, and for significance, and for happiness can be fulfilled only through a
personal relationship to their Creator. And they realize that they are marrying each other simply
because God has intended them to marry. Then instead of an attitude of using each other, there
springs up within them a mutual respect for each other. Indeed, they regard each other as dear
gifts of the Creator to each of them. And the whole marriage becomes an exciting adventure of
mutual respect to discover the purpose that God has in bringing them together as man and wife.
it does affect very much the attitude to authority and submission in them. It’s the same loved
ones, in regard to the reproduction of image. In a secular marriage, so many of us marry primarily
to reproduce our own image, or to maintain our own image in the marriage. And in that case, we’re
always jockeying for position. We’re always watching, and observing, and reflecting, in order to
make sure that we are the dominate personality or influence in the home. Such a marriage is usually
filled with fear, and distrust, and continual suspicion.
And in fact, both normally know that
that’s the attitude of the other to them and it’s incredible but it is that secret knowledge that
the other person is always looking for a final grip that will give them the domineering influence in
the marriage. It is that kind of subconscious subliminal awareness that often results in just an
attitude of quiet desperation that fills so many marriages, because you know that the other one is
always waiting to get the upper hand. And it is a very tense relationship. It’s very different
with a Christian marriage.
new personality through combining the differences, and the distinctions in both your personalities,
combining them in a unique way, then the whole marriage becomes a relaxed trusting of God to bring
out from the other person the right characteristic, and to bring out from you the right
characteristic. And instead of having to maintain a position of dominance in the marriage, you can
relax and you can trust God through his daily dealings with each of you by the Holy Spirit to bring
forth the strengths from each in order to create the unique personality that he has planned in both
know. We all like to say, “It’s 50 give and it’s 50 take,” and that’s a man of the world comment
and of course everybody agrees with that except those of us who are married know that we’re always
taking our 50 when she’s taking her 50 and at last you’re freed from that bluff game and you’re
freed to see it’s 100% give. Trusting the Holy Spirit to keep the other person from dominating you
or domineering you.
marriage, where you set your own purposes a husband and wife enters into the marriage with certain
goals before their minds. And maybe the woman has in mind a nice house, and three children, and a
nice church and social circle, and security, and comfort. And the man has in mind a satisfying job,
And in fact, that way you can enter into a real freedom from that 50/50 business you
If you marry because you know that God is going to create an absolute
And it’s the same in regard to the purpose of the marriage. In a secular
and a home and family that he can be proud of, and an interesting diverse kind of life with good
hotel accommodation and room service. And they each have their goals and so often it is a constant
clashing of will which alternate with periods of just sullen resentment against each other as one
person pushes their goal and the other person pushes their goal. And the whole battle becomes one
of authority and there’s little submission in either heart towards it and they become like the
millionaires who always want just a little more. They always want just a little more authority,
just a little more of their goal being fulfilled. And their cry is always, “But you always get your
way. I never get my way.”
In a Christian marriage, where you realize that you’re not together to
fulfill your own purposes, to have as many children as you want, or to have the kind of home you
want. But you’re together because God has a purpose that is bigger than either of you and bigger
than the marriage. And it is a purpose that is connected with his whole plan to bring the world
into submission to his will. Then both of you are drawn beyond yourselves and instead of that
fighting of petty wills against each other for little tiny purposes that are so small and so
insignificant that you both at times get fed up with the battle, instead of being withered and
shrunk to that kind of an attitude to each other, you’re drawn out beyond yourselves and you become
more magnanimous than you would have been had you been together and you begin to look at each other
with an enthusiasm because you know that without the other person you couldn’t fulfill the purpose
that God has for you.
With that person you can, that’s why he’s drawn you together, without them
you couldn’t. And you begin to look to the other person and build the other person up so that they
will transmit the life of God that he pours through them and that will bring about the purpose that
God has for both of you in this world. And so authority and submission becomes a minor issue in a
Christin marriage. In a Christian marriage they work beautifully, and there’s no bickering, and
there’s no argument about them, because there’s a great relaxation of both people in Jesus. But in
a secular marriage it’s a constant problem.
Now loved ones, the Bible knows nothing of the male
chauvinist pig Archie (character in a TV show) who dominates or appears to dominate, maybe he
doesn’t dominate as much as he thinks, but appears to dominate his poor little timid dingbat wife
Edith. The Bible knows nothing of that kind of marriage. And it knows nothing of the domineering
overbearing Maude, and her poor little fearful timorous hen pecked husband Walter. The Bible has no
plan for that kind of a caricature. Right from the beginning when the early societies give women a
position of inferiority and a position of virtual slavery, even in those early days, God stated at
the beginning, “I made man and I made him male and female.”
And right from the beginning the Father
has always encouraged men and women to respect each other equally, and to look up to each other, and
to treasure each other. Our society today swings from one extreme to the other. When we need more
men for battle, first or Second World War, or Vietnam, or we need more men to farm the land, or to
build the fences, our society exalts the motherhood part of a women’s life. But then when those
things are not needed and we’re having trouble with population, our society swings to the other
extreme and demands that every woman be a career woman and forget motherhood.
those things loved ones. God says, “You ladies must seek me to find out my will for your marriage
just as much as your guy does. You have no more right than he has to do what you like.” In other
words, you have no right to say, “I like children. Everybody ought to like children unless we’re
monsters.” But you have no right to say, “I like children. I like to stay at home.” Any more than
the guy has a right to say, “I like bowling and I’d like to bowl every day and not go to work.” The
Father says, “You have to seek me for my will for your marriage.” Because I’d tell you that more
marriages are scuttled by the woman demanding that she do what she’d like to do, than by any other
reason. And so the Father says, “No, the issue is not whether the woman is a mother, or whether
she’s a career woman.” The issue is not elevating one or denigrating the other. The issue is what
does God want you two to do with your lives? Will you find that out and then will you walk in the
light of that?
this is why I’m giving this thrust to the introduction to the conversation this morning, in
Now loved ones, in Christian circles today, and you’ll have to understand that
God does neither of
“Now Deborah, a prophetess,” no, no we Christian circles
Christian circles today there are many who say a woman’s place is in the home. Her place is
certainly not in administration or in ruling over men, or in speaking God’s word. And the ERA
certainly should not pass because you cannot image a woman on the battlefield.
Now, I would just
point out to you that many of you might not move in Christian circles, but loved ones, that are the
kind of attitude that tends to dominate Christian circles. And of course, they have good scriptural
backing for it and I’d like to point to some of that in Judges 4. And I think this will put you
sisters in your place and we should have no more trouble with you from today on. The big thing
you’ll notice about Christian circles is they tend to get dizzy because they go around and around.
But still Judges 4:4, well maybe you should read Verse 3 because it describes the kind of situation
that obviously needs a man. Judges 4:3, “Then the people of Israel cried to the LORD for help; for
he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.”
Well that’s certainly a job for a man.
know that there are no prophetess because woman are not supposed to speak God’s word. My wife
probably substituted the wrong quotation here. “No Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth,
was judging Israel at that time.” Well, that’s those woman they’re all criticizing you know.
Except, that judging Israel means that she was governing Israel. That’s what it means.
brothers, let’s begin to look at the dear word and stop mouthing these prejudices that we have.
“Was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel
in the hill country of Ephraim; and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.” Now, these
women shouldn’t rule over men. “She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abino-am from Kedesh in
Naphtali, and said to him, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel.’” That’s ridiculous women cannot speak
God’s word. “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking
ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera,’”
what’s she doing having anything to do with war? “And I will draw out Sisera, the general of
Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him
into your hand.’”
and he goes and does the fighting. “Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, I will go.’’’
These cowardly types, “If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not
go.’ And she said, ‘I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will
not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’ Then Deborah
arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and ten
thousand men went up at his heels; and Deborah went up with him.” And then Verse 12 loved ones,
“When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abino-am had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera called out
all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him from
Harosheth-ha-goiim to the river Kishon. And Deborah said to Barak, ‘Up! For this is the day in
which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?’ So Barak
went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. And the Lord routed Sisera and all
his chariots and all his army before Barak at the edge of the sword.”
but they can’t fight so we go on and see in Verse 17, “But Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of
Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin the kind of Hazor and the
house of Heber the Kenite. And Jael came out to meet Sisera, and said to him, ‘Turn aside, my
lord, turn aside to me; have no fear.’ So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him
with a rug. And he said to her, ‘Pray, give me a little water to drink; for I am thirsty.’ So she
opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. And he said to her, ‘Stand at the door
of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, “Is anyone here?” say, ‘No.’ But Jael the wife of
Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drive the peg into
his temple, till it went down into the ground, as he was laying fast asleep from weariness so he
equally. And loved ones, if you say to me, “Oh well, that was an exception.” Well, you have to
I think you have to face it, you know, that men and women can be used by the Father
Well maybe – you know, maybe she can do that stuff on the home front headquarters
Well, the woman can do that
And I think
And if you throw old Paul at us, well
And then if you look at Colossians 4:15, “Give my
And you know yourself, that every time you say, “Women can’t do it,” you have to
look up then Hilda the prophetess, and you have to look up Miriam’s life the prophetess, and if you
say, “Oh well, it’s only in Old Testament times.” Then look up Anna the prophetess in the New
Testament and you have to see that the Father has used woman to speak his word, to administer, to
rule over men, to tell men what God was saying, has used them to judge Israel, to make difficult
decisions between men and women, between families, to make legal decisions. He has used them to
fight in battle.
look back over church history and you have to see the Saint Theresa’s and the Slessor’s who went out
into a mission work. You have to see all the women who have been used mightily by God throughout
church history. You have to look at a woman like that Mother Theresa in India, and all your
arguments against scripture, because you have to argue against scripture to say that women cannot be
used by God in these ways, they fall to the ground when you look at what he has done.
some of us have a tendency to say, “Oh yes, but what about Jesus? What was his attitude?” His
attitude was the same, of equal respect for you sisters. When he was about to face the worst ordeal
in his life, the cross in Jerusalem, he turned aside to Bethany where he had two dear friends Mary
and Martha, and they were the ones that encouraged his heart for the next few steps that he had to
take. And it’s the same after his resurrection, he appears first to Mary. The disciples went
home, you remember, and he appears to Mary and then tells her to tell the disciples. And it’s Mary
to whom he speaks first after he was raised from the dead.
loved ones, look at Romans 16 then, because you have to look at him fairly and see all sides.
Romans 16:1-3, the first one he mentions in that farewell chapter of Romans, “I commend to you our
sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchre-ae, that you may receive her in the Lord as
befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you.” So she has the right to ask,
“For she has been a helper of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow
workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I but also the
churches of the Gentiles give thanks.”
greetings to the brethren at La-odicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.” And so there
was a church meeting in the house of this woman and many of the women were mentioned in connection
with the churches that met in their houses. In fact loved ones, if you check through the New
Testament you’ll find that at a time when society itself apart from God was domineering woman and
was putting them down, the early church was lifting them up and giving them their rights. And you
remember Paul does that in relationship to a woman, he says, “A woman should stay with her husband
But it was the early
until he dies and then when he dies she’s freed to be married to another.”
Christians that give sisters the place of dignity that their Father had originally given them but
that society, I suppose, because of its fearfulness had taken from them. And if you say, “Well,
what about those passages?” Well loved ones, let’s look at the worst one 1 Corinthians 14. You
ladies, I’m doing all your arguing for you, but I’m so anxious loved ones, we’re meant to be ahead
of society not behind society and God started off ahead of society in this. 1 Corinthians 14 and
the famous passages you remember, Verse 33, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in
all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not
permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they
desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in
men to respect the other women who have suffered with him? And obviously loved ones, it’s the same
reason as explains his attitude to slavery. Why did he not attack slavery? He didn’t you remember,
he didn’t attack slavery. He told slaves to be faithful and obedient to their masters, and you know
the answer is that God gave him wisdom to know which battles he had to fight at that time and which
battles had to be left to other soldiers to fight later on. And so Paul did not allow himself to be
distracted into defending or opposing slavery, he concentrated on Jesus and his resurrection and
ascension and so it was in regard to women. At that time women had no legal status. At that time
Why does Paul say that when he obviously regards Aquila as a fellow worker and asks the
And so Paul advised the Christian woman, “Do not do anything that will
the only women you could find with short hair, or without something on their head was prostitutes
and infidels. Those were the only two types of women that you could find without any head covering
or with short hair.
distract people from Jesus, and from the glory and the dignity of our calling. This is our
Creator’s church that we are about to begin to spread and so don’t let’s put loved ones like
yourself into positions of responsibility for teaching and for establishing the beliefs of a new
operation at a time when you yourselves are regarded as uneducated and as having no legal status.”
And so he encouraged them to act in the light of the conventions, and customs, and really he gives
the clue himself, he says, “For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even
the law says.” And he always encouraged the early Christians to respect the law even where it meant
respecting a military government that was domineering them, and even when it meant putting up with
slavery which was not God’s ideal will. Now loved ones, I think that that partially explains some
of those comments of Paul that he was speaking to a specific situation with specific problems.
What is our attitude to each other in marriage? Well, it’s Ephesians 5 loved ones, that’s it.
Ephesians 5:21, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” You ladies are good at
some things, and we guys are bad at some things, and sometimes it’s the other way around and that’s
the strength of God bringing us together not only in a body like this, but as married partners. And
we’re to be subject to one another, and we’re to listen to the Holy Spirit as he tells us when the
other person is right. And we brothers had better be careful that we don’t categorize where we’re
so brilliant. I felt I was absolutely brilliant in buying cars. Now, after many experiences I’ve
discovered differently. So, don’t categorize your dear sister, or your dear brother, let the Holy
Spirit show you who is strong and who is weak in what area and be subject to one another out of
reverence for Christ.
Out of reverence for Christ; not because the other person is worthy of your
respect. Really, I think a lot of us get into trouble in our marriages because we say, “He’s not
worthy of respect. He’s not a spiritual giant.” Or, “She is not a good housekeeper so why should I
respect her?” “Why should I respect him?” That’s not the point. God says, “You have to respect
each other out of a reverence for Christ because he is the one who has brought you together.” And
of course, you always find that the more you respect the loved one, the more confident that loved
one becomes. The more you show content for a love one, the more lacking in confidence they become.
“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to
the Lord.” Not because they are worthy of it, but as to the Lord. Treat them as the head of the
home. There’s a time in every partnership where there needs to be an awareness of who makes the
decisions. On a ship you can have a lot of people advising but you have to know who acts when
there’s a quick decision to be made. So in a marriage, there should be a general understanding,
alright, the guy, when the time comes when you can’t consult then there’s one of you that knows he’s
with one another, discussing with one another, sharing with one another so that it is a mutual
action. But where a decision needs to be made fast, then there has to be an understanding that
somebody is the head of the home. “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of
the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Christ doesn’t come to the church and say, “I’m
your head, okay? I’m going to be your head.” He doesn’t, he wins his headship. He gives his life
for us and there’s a spirit of love that comes out from us and says, “Lord Jesus, you are our head.”
And so it is with men and women, no man can make himself the head of a home. A man wins that
position by his love. Now, I agree with you, the woman should give him that position even if he’s
not worthy of it, but the man himself has no right to dominate. He has not right to call her to the
letter of the law. Brothers, you’ve lost the battle if you’re back to the letter of the law.
You’ve lost the battle if you’re trying to argue with your dear one on the basis of scripture.
You’ve already lost that battle and you’ll never win it except by giving yourself for your dear
sister and in that way the Holy Spirit will put in her a deep love and a deep trust in you. But
But really, you avoid that kind of action as often as possible. You spend time talking
“For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and
Question from the audience:
What do you do when your wife takes it according to
“As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in
that’s why Paul says you know, “We’re to love as Christ loved the church and we’re to be heads of
the woman as Christ was head of the church.” He was head of the church by being its Savior and
that’s what Paul says.
everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave
himself up for her.” And that’s the way a man is to love his wife, to give himself up for her. To
put himself last, to let her go all the way in front of him, and that way her love will come to him.
“That he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he
might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she
might be holy and without blemish.” And so the man’s concern is always, “How can I make this woman
of mine more beautiful? How can I fit this woman more for eternal life with our Father in
“Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife
loves himself.” And you wouldn’t take your finger and cut it off, you wouldn’t. If the finger was
cut you’d bandage it up carefully because it’s part of yourself. So it is with the wife, when she
makes a mistake you don’t glory in the mistake, you try to cover the mistake up. So it is with the
husband, you’re not eager to find him wrong in something wives, but you’re anxious to cover up,
you’re anxious to make him look better than he really is, not make him look worse than he is. “Even
so husbands should love their wives.”
cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man
shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’” Loved
ones, it seems to me that it’s a beautiful cooperation and that where there is some authority
spiritually, it’s something that the Holy Spirit brings forth in a beautiful way. And he brings it
forth, and if he doesn’t bring it forth it isn’t going to be there anyway.
I remember my wife and
I had no difficulty with our relationship to each other until we went to a spirit filled meeting
where two brothers laid on us the authority of the husband over the wife. We argued the whole way
home. Of course, it’s obvious that it’s beautiful when the Holy Spirit brings it about, but if you
start trying to hammer it into each other as a letter of the law, you’ll enter into something that
is not God’s will at all for you.
Okay loved ones, do you want to ask any questions or push me a
little on things?
the letter of the law, and takes the attitude, “Well I’ve got to listen to you because the Bible
says I do.”?
sister that she can forget that and get close to Jesus, and find out how Jesus wants her to love
you, and how Jesus wants her to behave in the relationship, and encourage her not to abide just by
the letter of the law but to deal with Jesus in prayer so that he’s able to give her his heart for
her husband. And I think that’s what you’ve to minister to her brother, to free her from that kind
of dominating attitude. And I think that honestly, a lot of it can be done by our loving our wives.
I think some of that attitude may be because of our own kind of iron, unthinking, insensitive
emphasis on the letter of the law. And I think therefore, it is going to be the softness of our
heart that is going to help them to get out of that.
Where does this
leave woman as far as being pastors of a church?
Or, you may as well
put me right against the wall and say elders of the church. Loved ones, I really am willing to go
as the Holy Spirit guides us. And I am inclined to feel that it is a bit like some of the dear
brothers and sisters here in the body, and maybe the husband is black and the woman is white and for
years you remember, we used to argue, “Oh, you’re going to have big problems.” The problems are no
bigger in that kind of a marriage than they are in any kind of marriage, the backgrounds are very
important and it’s very important to understand where the other person is. And I think it’s the
same with brothers and sisters in the eldership, I think that you’ll get some sisters who are
suitable and some that aren’t, and you’ll have some brothers who are suitable and some that
And it seems to me that we can afford to be led by the Holy Spirit. I would ask you to
love me and be patient with me and forbearing, as we begin to gather strength, so don’t ask me
Question from the audience:
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Well, it seems to me it’s vital to get over to the dear
What do you think about career women who have children?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Question from the
But I think normally outside that situation, most of us have felt it’s important to be
appoint five elders, women, this morning. But I would say loved ones, if it’s any encouragement to
you sisters, I’m willing to go as the Holy Spirit guides and I’m willing too, any brothers who are
here who say, “Oh, you’re running yourself into trouble,” I’m willing to listen to you, and willing
for us to share and discuss the thing through. But I would say just because a woman is a woman it
seems to me that is no reason for saying she can’t be an elder in a church, or a pastor. I think it
depends on the woman and that’s the key with the man, it depends on the man. But you have to look
and see that there are many women who have been used mightily by God loved ones.
seems to me sister that many of our sisters have sensed that there are important years when they
need to be with the children all the time. So, I think there are many sisters here in the body who
would really like to be in Fish, but they feel that they should spend a certain amount of time with
the children until they come at least to kind of nursery school age, two and a half, that kind of
time. And I think most of us would feel that way. I think even that can be got around by us having
our own nursery here in this building so that it would be very possible for a woman to be involved
in Fish here and yet to feel very close to her children that would be in some of the rooms here on
with the child up to two and a half. It seems to me after that time, then many children do go to
nursery schools and then it is possible to arrange some kind of part-time work. Now, if you say a
career woman that is going full blast, eight hours a day, then it seems a little difficult to avoid
giving the child a sense that they are not loved, or that nobody really cares for them, and there
I’m sure you would get into difficulties. My wife is a career woman, if I could see her, but she
hasn’t children but she is sneaky and she hides. The rat is sitting somewhere else.
know, that’s what I would say loved ones. Do any ladies want – oh, I see, there you go. Is that
right? I’m glad you obey Paul. You should come up and I’ll introduce you. Oh yes, this time I
won’t be put off. Oh, this is my wife. She says there’ll be no lunch if she has to go on the
stage. She is a career woman, a dentist, but we don’t have children and so that difficulty doesn’t
arise. I do think that we’d both say that if you’re both very busy professional people, I think
there is required great wisdom, even if your relationship as husband and wives, whether there are
children or not, it seems to me there is great wisdom required in order to preserve a
non-Christian husband? How much do you submit there and how much do you not?
remember, the disciples said, when they were forbidden to speak in Jesus name, “We must obey God
rather than man.” And it seems to me that’s the general principle that would govern a woman in that
kind of situation, that when the husband commands her, or forces her, or attempts to force her to do
something that really keeps her from God then she has a right to disobey and not to submit.
seems on the other hand, that she should be very careful to know when those moments are and that in
every way possible she should try to be the picture of a scriptural wife and a scriptural woman to
that dear brother because that way he himself will feel more willing and ready to deal with God.
And so there’s nothing as off putting to us men as having a preaching woman who is always telling us
we should get to church or we should read the Bible. I think we very easily feel pursued and
persecuted when she does that.
woman will submit in every possible situation and in every possible way, be a true picture of a
Godly woman to the man. But when it comes to those moments when he either for instance forbids her
to go to church, or forbids her to have fellowship, then I think she is obligated to obey God rather
than man. I would think.
wives who are married to non-Christians, have a lot of our troubles because we talk to them too much
about God and talk to God too little about them. So, you know, we don’t – I don’t know whether
that’s guys or girls clapping, but I think that’s true, that our troubles come because we don’t pray
It seems the general principle that one would follow is the verse in Acts, where you
Question from the audience:
How do you deal with the situation where a woman is married to a
Of course, if I may say dear sisters, that a lot of us, both husbands and
So it seems to me great wisdom is required in that situation that a
Reply from Pastor
Yeah that right.
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Question from the audience:
A woman can be a
Question from the audience:
What about Christians dating
So, those of you who are involved with guys or girls who aren’t
enough for them and we preach too much to them.
protector to a man in his work during the day by praying for him and a woman has great power in that
Loved ones, I started off from a very liberal position
in theology and when I was at university thought that was just the narrowest kind of scriptural
verse you could ever quote, “Be not unequally yoked.” But now, after my own marriage, and after
seeing hundreds of loved ones in difficulties themselves, it is madness to think of marrying someone
who differs with you on something as deep, and intimate, and important as God and your relationship
to him. And I think you may as well commit yourself to a relationship of constant strain and
And of course, if you’re dating then
unhappiness, as give yourself to one who is not a Christian.
all you’re doing is leading up to that marriage and I think it’s just foolishness. I think – loved
ones, get clear of the idea that it involves being prudish. No it’s nothing to do with being
prudish or being afraid, but it’s just that you cannot move towards God in your own inner life and
move away from him in something as important as a man/woman relationship. And I think you’re just
foolish ever to fiddle around at all with loved ones who are not Christians in any kind of emotional
And those dear ones among you who are – you know, we’re all so big hearted, we’re
doing it just to help them. And we used to do that at seminary, we used to go out with girls just
to help them and it’s just blatant hypocrisy. It’s just – we’re lying in our teeth, because the
truth is, if you are involved with someone in an emotional relationship they cannot tell whether
they’re accepting Jesus for Jesus’ sake or for your sake. They cannot distinguish between their
motives for one moment.
Christians in an emotional relationship, I think the only hope you have of being any help to them is
first of all by breaking the relationship into an ordinary friendship, and then you can pray for
them with an unselfish motive, and they have some slight chance of receiving Jesus for his own sake
Question from the audience:
and not in order to preserve the relationship with you.
Reply from Pastor O’Neill” I think following
single woman submit to the men as married women?
loved ones, and maybe if you haven’t listened to our discussion of celibacy two weeks ago, it might
be good to get the cassette and listen to it, or watch the video cassette of it, because there you
remember, we shared the beautiful relationship that God wants us brothers to have to you sisters in
the body. And how really, we’re intended to have every experience of intercourse outside that of
physical intercourse which leads to children; we’re to have every other experience of intercourse
with you intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
woman are to have the same relationship to the men in the body as wives have to their husbands,
yeah, I would think. And of course, that’s one of the beautiful things about the body of Jesus that
it means no woman ever feels on her own. No woman ever feels that her husband will die, or that
she’ll be left as a spinster lonely, because she knows that the brothers have that attitude of
closeness to her, and will always protect her, and will always be with her. And that’s the vision
God has given us for this body and that’s what the brothers and sisters are involved in who feel
themselves part of this body. And of course, it’s the way every body of Jesus is meant to be, so
that none of us are ever lonely, none of us are ever left without somebody to show love to us, and
with loving hands to put us into our Father’s hands.
And that’s his vision loved ones, for us. And
I would ask you all to take part in the creation of such a community, really. I’d ask you to do it.
You can live in your own houses, you can do your own jobs and still take part in creating such a
community because that is God’s will for us and that is what this dear old world needs to see, a
body of brothers and sisters who love each other as much and more than they do their own blood
relatives. When the world sees that, it will stop and say, “The kingdom has come here to earth.”
And I pray that the Holy Spirit will do that among us and that we’ll grow closer and closer to each
other in love, and in care, and in concern, and further and further away from that old church idea
that you see each other on Sundays and then you suffer through the week on your own. I pray that
And in that way, sister it seems to me the
Dear Father, we thank you for all your truths
God will make us a family together. Let us pray.
about our relationships to one another in marriage. We thank you Lord, for the truth that you have
brought out over these Sundays. And we thank you for the beauty of your plan. And Lord, we pray
now that through the power of your Holy Spirit, you will make that plan real in us as a body, in our
relationships with one another as brothers and sisters, and then in our homes as husbands and wives
so that this dear world of yours may see what your original plan was when you said, “Let us make man
in our image.” And then male and female, you created us.
Thank you Lord. Thank you. Amen.