Yes Virginia, There Can be a Marriage
Some recall the statement heard during Christmas time: "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Clause." So, I write anytime of the year, "Yes, Virginia, there can be a marriage." Even in America where people change partners like changing clothes. Where, in California, the statistics are that one out of every two marriages end either in divorce or separation. Where, across the country, the statistics are one out of three. Yes, Virginia, there can be a marriage and there can be a good marriage.
To that end he writes in Ephesians 5:21 "Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Jesus. Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord." For husband has authority over his wife, just as Christ has authority over the Church. Christ is himself the Savior of the Church, His Body. Wives must submit themselves completely to their husbands just as the Church submits itself to Christ."
"Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave his life for it. He did this to dedicate the Church to God and His Word, after making it clean by washing it in water. This was done in order to present the Church to Himself in all its beauty; pure, faultless without spot or wrinkle or any imperfection. Men ought to love their wives just as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. No one ever hates his own body. He feeds it. He takes care of it just as Christ does the Church for we are members of His body."
Paul quotes Scripture: "For the Scripture says, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife and the two will become one." There is a deep secret truth revealed in this Scripture which I understand applies to Christ and the Church. It also applies to you. "Every husband must love his wife as himself and every wife must respect her husband." These are really heavy words.
Let me explain the background in which Paul wrote. There are several areas that may illumine the historical background for his writing and which has some application for us today. The Jewish background was simply this. They had a very, very, low, low view of woman. Woman was lower than low. A woman had no rights whatsoever. Divorce was easy.
Deuteronomy 24:1 states that a bill of divorcement could be given to the Jewish woman at any time. People started interpreting what the Scripture said. (This is why we have so many different denominations today.) In every view of interpretation there is a left and right wing group. There were the strict people who said it was for adultery only. They said that no divorcement could be given unless adultery was the case.
Then there were the liberal people. The liberal Jewish people believed, and they executed their belief on this judgment that if the wife did anything wrong, the husband could give her a bill of divorcement. For anything - too much salt in the food - here is the bill right here. Goody! She would then receive divorcement. The reasons could be so minor, such as a spoiled dinner or we could say "burning the toast". If she went in public with her head uncovered; if she became a brawling woman, or a quarrelsome woman - goodbye. If just anything went wrong - goodbye! Or, if he found somebody else that was better than her - goodbye.
Does this sound like America today? Well, the Jewish people lived with this background. It was like California all over and over again. This was the Jewish way. If you think the Jewish world was bad, the Greek world was worse. The Greek woman was completely secluded. A man took a woman and they were united in marriage and the woman stayed at home all the time. She took no part at all with the husband; the private apartment, the business and all that was contained therein. She lived a very secluded and chaste life. The companionship, the fellowship in marriage was impossible. The man had to find his companionship and the fellowship outside the walls of "his castle."
The Greek society was very contaminated because of this. The Greeks were worse then the Jewish but the Romans way was worse than the Greek way - - which was, as I mentioned worse than the Jewish way. When the Roman Empire started, everything was right on. For 500 years, we read there was not one divorce case and then - crumble, crumble. The Roman family was wrecked.
With this background, Paul is talking to these new Christians, brand new people in the Christian Church. He writes to the Church at Ephesus calling men and women to a new fidelity. He is calling men and women to a new fellowship in the marriage life.
America needs now what Paul said, California needs not what Paul said. Your town needs now what Paul said. So, like that story years ago about Santa Claus that said, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"…"Yes, Virginia, there is a marriage." How? The question is asked. Can we have a true marriage? Let me suggest two things.
First: Make Marriage a Career
Take what the marriage words mean. Take what it symbolized and make a career out of marriage. The Latin word, "career", comes from a word, which means a wagon. It means carrying something along the road. Marriage is a wagon. You hitch your wagon to that star of love and you go along life's way until you get to Heaven.
Webster defines the career as "a course of professional life or employment which affords opportunity for progress." My friend, this is what marriage is all about. It is getting involved for progress. Helping one another. History bears this out and you bear this out too, I am sure.
How can you have a marriage today with statistics as they are and with the paper giving its "Hollywood" headlines daily. It is very simple. Just make lit a career and follow the Bible's way. God's way is always the best way and He has given us the Guide Book for a successful marriage.
Man is head of the house. The basis of that passage referred to earlier, is NOT control. Men, it is LOVE. The woman must submit herself to her husband. The duty of a submissive wife is laid out in many places in Scripture. I know the word "submissive" strikes terror in the minds of many, but to understand what it means - releases great reward and freedom. (1 Peter, Colossians, Titus) and it is still applicable today. The husband and the wife have certain duties. I listed them in Ephesians earlier.
You may be asking, "How can this be applicable to me, when, for example, I do not have a husband who is a Christian. Am I to submit myself to this man who is not a Christian. Well, don't ask me - just ask/read the scripture. You will find it saying "Yes, yes, and yes."
"Oh, but you don't know what he does to me. You don't know how it is. Things get pretty bad." Well, my advice to those who come to my office over the years on this subject is this. You can't go wrong, in being submissive to your husband, because the Bible says that. Now I quickly submit that in various area of evil, or law breaking that is different!
Even if it comes to the point where your husband says, "You can't go to Church." You must take the Bible as your guideline and obey your husband. That is extreme but it has proven true in a number of personal cases.
If a woman comes to a man and says, "Honey, I feels this way about Christianity and I know you feel another way, let's talk." If you can have a dialog and in the course of time you will win because God is on your side. The time will come when your husband will say you can do as you desire. It has been observed in my city. In the course of time that husband came to know Jesus. But get nagging out of your thought process.
One of the great things Christianity did was to elevate the character of the wife and to make her a fit companion of a husband. It did not intend to destroy sub ordination and authority. Man was created first and the woman was taken not from his feet to rule and subdue his wife, or from his head, but from his side. From under his arm was she taken - for protective measures. Man was created first and woman was taken from him In the company called "home" man is better qualified for ruling than woman. God has certain priorities set up in headship.
In many things women are man's superiors; equal and superior. In loveliness and in grace and beauty, tenderness and gentleness, she is far this superior. But these are not qualities for government. In each family there must be a head. God has given that prerogative to a man., No family can prosper where this arrangement is violated. Now, even if the wife is of a denominating nature, the two can work together and I have observed many such situations. Regarding headship, I am only writing what the Bible, our Guide Book has said. I found it in 1 Corinthians 11:3, 8-12. I am giving you the game plans. God has found it fitting that man and woman come together and form this co-op organization called the family. It was the first institution God ever created. Praise God for families like this.
When a man and woman go into marriage with a 60-40 view of it, beautiful things happen. Unfortunately, it happens many times that the effect of the love bug bite wears off. When you are stung by a bee, a wasp, ant or spider, that venom gets in and after a time you get over it. Some have gotten over their love one for another. You have lost your first love The Bible talks that in terms of the Spirit where the Church in the Revelation had lost their first love for Jesus. You can see this in your life and you can see it in your home life. When you first became a Christian, remember how all fired up you were for Jesus. Sometimes when we take inventory we discover that we don't have that same kind of enthusiasm. It is the same way with marriage.
Men, remember how you courted your wife-to-be and did so many things to try winning her? Woman, remember how you did what you did so that you could have him and he could have you. You know how your courtship went. That courtship must never, never stop. You must continue to choose today your spouse and in all the days to come. It is like actually saying out loud to that spouse, "Honey, I choose you this day to be my….husband/wife."
Yes, Virginia, there can be a marriage. There are four "musts". Let me state them.
- You must bring God into your relationship.
- You must be constantly choosing your wife/husband anew. It is like putting water in a flower vase to keep them fresh. Yes, there are some things you can do to keep the marriage from getting stagnant.
- You must be understanding and appreciative. and
- You must express your love.
The last is the thing that people find so hard to do. Some - as the marriage progresses - get inhibited and can't express your love as you should.
We get too "adult". You know, Children are very outwardly expressive in love feelings. In fact, Jesus said, "Unless you become as a little child, you can't enter the Kingdom of God." Little children - and this is how God intends us to be. Now, no marriage is perfect. It does take work.
It is easy to be kind and polite to people you associate with in the world, but not to your own spouse. The people for whom we care less we usually treat better. We must express our appreciation one to another. For the men, there is that love note, flowers, touch or that word. You can never say "Honey, I love you" enough. For the woman, it is the home that is like coming home to heaven for the man. It is that occasional choice dinner and love notes, as well. The little things make all the difference in the world.
You can go into your back yard and just hold hands and look up at the sky and review some of those days gone by or look toward the future. God has set in operation the family and it really tears me up to see so many families dissolving.
People come to my office and say "I have already decided to get a divorce, but counsel me because I am supposed to be counseled." I see them crying out for love and their spouse is not giving it to them. Let me tell you one secret - then it won't be a secret. When your anniversary comes, celebrate that anniversary. It need not be lavishly with a lot of money spent, but it need be celebrated. It is like your birthday. It was day you got married. Wow.
Before the days of video recording, when I performed marriage ceremonies, I always sent them away with a cassette tape with their promises recoded on it. I gave them a record of what they had said one to another and I usually gave them a candle from the ceremony. I suggested they light the candle at every anniversary and it will add memories upon memories. The candle may get crooked, like ours has through the years, because the sun melted it in one position or another. We would try to straighten it up and for a time that worked. Now, it is getting more bent but we do take it our every year on our anniversary.
You may think this is stupid and silly, but my friend, it is the stupid and silly things that make this world work,. Foolish? Well that was what they thought about Jesus on the cross and the preaching of the cross - foolishness, stupidity.
When you came to that altar, the two of you were like candles - glowing and burning for x number of years. I use a third candle on the alter in the weddings I perform which stands tall and straight. The couple receives and brings their candle together and light the new candle. Then they take their candles away and extinguish them. The couple is saying by that symbolic act that they are no longer the ways they were. Now they have come together in something brand new. For the pasty is past history and a new history is to be written fore the future. That is why anniversaries are so important to remember.
When the rough times come, as they will, you must be devoted to each other. If you follow the principles that the Scripture reveals and etch it upon your heart your marriage will work. As you talk to one another and arrive at understanding, a fresh intake will occur in what might have become a stale relationship.
Now men, Paul said in Ephesians 5, "There is a basic kind of love." A Scottish pastor, who is now deceased, said that this love must be very special. It must be a sacrificial love, never selfish. Yes, you are the head, but first must come that love.
Second: Make Marriage Clean and Improved
I use the phrase "clean and improved" because Paul says marriage must be a purifying love. Love is the real cleanser and the real purifier off our lives. You take a life that is full of sin and let God come in and it will be "purified". It is the same way in the marriage situation. One lets that love come in. Regardless of what people think or how old you are or any other factor - just let love in. That is the real cleanser of one's life. It is a sacrificial love and a purifying love and a caring love for your spouse.
Again, referring to Paul. He says that a man must love his wife as he loves his own body. Now that is a mouth full. He nourishes and cherishes his body. Real love always cherishes the one it loves. It loves, not to "get" anything. It loves not to insure that one's own personal comforts are achieved It loves not for its own convenience, but it cherishes the one it loves.
It is wrong when a man regards his wife, consciously or unconsciously, as the one who cooks his meals, washes his clothes, cleans his house and trains his children. He must regard her not as a kind of permanent servant, but as the one person God has given him to love. It is his duty to cherish her. This does come in the form of a caring love and a sacrificial love - and that word, again, a purifying love. That becomes an unbreakable love.
Yet in the face of all this there are people who change partners like they change clothes. Why? There is the absence of love's description as written above. If a relationship has been built on love as described in the Word and if a relationship has been built on Jesus as the unseen guest - that marriage is going to be the framework on which will be built a very solid lasting marriage.
There is the story about the teenagers in the Book of Daniel who were thrown into a fiery furnace. The king went to the door of the furnace and said "There is an extra person in there. We threw in three and now I four. The fourth seems to be like the Son of God." There has to be that "fourth" person (in our case "third") in your marriage.
Jesus is love and He wants so much to be in your marriage.
So, according to your observation of some marriage couples, there can be a marriage. With no one being perfect then there is always room for improvement. Make your marriage a career and make it clean. Again, love is that cleansing agent.
Renew that love. Remember how you used to sit in the car and listen to music as you were driving or parking. Just holding hands and maybe not even saying a word It is the same way with Jesus. Just sitting in His presence. In the Revelation Book, the phrase used once was: "You have lost your first love." This is a two-edge sword as it regards a relationship with Jesus and for us it regards a relationship with your spouse.
You can never say, "I love you" enough. The phrase will never grow old and it is in that love, whether it be in word or deed, that yes, Virginia, there can be a marriage. And, a good one at that.
AND THE FAMILY CAME TUBLING DOWN
A long time ago, some fish, swimming in the ocean, met a young crawfish. The fish were very upset about the crawfish because he was not swimming the right way. He was going sideways and going backward. These fish decided they would do something about it. They would have a special school for this crawfish. They taught him very diligently how to swim correctly. The fish taught with such success that they had the crawfish swimming straight in no time, which made the fish teachers very happy. But when the young crawfish returned home to mother and father, he went right back to the ways he had known before. As a result, all the training he had received was to no avail.
Your children are being taught good in Church School. They are being taught good in most of the public school systems. But when these children come home, what are they receiving? Are we destroying everything they have learned that is good, or are we developing ourselves along spiritual lines. Of course the reverse of this is true. Many are being taught correct and good at home, but the world and its pressures tend to deteriorate the knowledge. The family situation in America is teetering on the top of a wall and is about to fall. Many homes have already fallen in America, in your state, in your town and on your block. The homes have fallen and "they can 't be put back together again" without the help of Almighty God.
The thing that has kept families together at the seams has been the weaving of Bible reading. But the homes today are being devilishly torn asunder and are breaking apart at the seams because they lack these small reinforcements. Prayer and Bible reading that once held the family together is not present in many homes. As a result the homes are falling down.
Years ago, when a Jenny Lind was singing across the country she performed in Washington D.C. where many dignitaries were present. At one performance the applause was so thunderous that she came back to sing again and again. In fact, she gave 17 encores. During the next to last encore, she looked up in the balcony and saw John Howard Paine who gave us the song, "Home, Sweet Home" and she was so moved at his presence that her last song was, "Home, Sweet Home."
From the Opera of "Clari, the Maid of Milan"
MID PLEASURES and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there 's no place like home!
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There 's no place like home!
An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain:
O, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gaily that came at my call;-
Give me them,-and the peace of mind dearer than all!
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There 's no place like home!
How sweet 't is to sit 'neath a fond father's smile,
And the cares of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home!
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There 's no place like home!
That song finds a responsive chord in hearts all around the world. When she finished singing, the people stood applauding and throwing hats in the air for five minutes. Then someone noticed John Howard Paine in the balcony and a hush fell upon the people in that auditorium until you could have heard a pin drop. This was their way of showing appreciation the one who had given this great song to America.
Is your home sweet? Or, do you just live in a house? Throughout society and especially in religious circles, there is today a strong effort underway to shore up and to reestablish the underlying principles of our home, within our Church and in our town. It is happening in various denominations. There is an emphasis on supporting the American Home. I believe in America. so I wave the flag proudly. I am a Christian, also and I believe in the American home.
Yet, people say the home cannot survive in the nuclear age. And people say the home cannot survive in the secular age or in the permissive age that we live in. I, for one, believe it can. You represent the homes that are surviving and even yet more homes could survive.
I pay tribute to the fathers who are the heads of their house and pray for their families that they will be stronger, regardless of its strength right now. I believe what J. Edgar Hoover said many years ago. "America needs reform in the high chair, not in the electric chair." Families are tumbling downs because the Christian family is swimming against the current. Yet, the Christian family can be a liberating force in America.
Think of it - your home can be a liberating force right in your hometown. Love with honesty and honor and a willingness to stick by the marriage vows is the fundamental for a very happy society. Our problem is that the government on every level is too casual about the marriages that are being performed and as a result, a hodge-podge of laws related to marriage in the 50 states has/is being developed.
The Federal government has failed to stabilize the situation and if it persists in this casual attitude toward marriage and the marriage vows then we should not be surprised as to the outcome. With current laws affecting the core of the home - that being a male and a female -the family is under attack. It will not survive instead of growing stronger in the years ahead. We have to return to the Bible basics.
What are some of the basics? They are listed right in God's Word. No home built on the basics comes tumbling down. What does the Bible say about the family?
Though not first - there is a word regarding children. "Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you." "A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother."
What does it say about a wife? "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." What about mutuality? In Ephesians 5:21, "Be subject to one another, out of reverence for the Christ."? What about the head of the home? "Wives, be subject to your husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the house and Christ is the head of the church."
What about love for a wife? "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. Even so, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself. Husbands, have respect for your wife, likewise you husbands, be considerate to your wives, bestowing honor on the woman, as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs the grace of life, in order that your prayers be not hindered.What about adultery? "You shall not commit adultery. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery,' but I say to you, that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
What about discipline of the children? "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." What about administering discipline in love? "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Now, if we would heed these verses, our homes would be like strong rocks set in this weary land. Peace would be in our family. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God."
When I am asked to perform a marriage, I give the couple something to read when they are alone and can digest the words. One remark says, "
Do not raise your voice in the house unless the house is on fire." The Bible tells us "A soft answer turns away wrath, a harsh word sirs up anger." These are attacks against the home and when we burst out in anger to our spouse, to our children or children to children, these are rocks hurled at the home's foundation. The Bible always has the answer to man's need. It speaks with clarity and authority on numerous concerns and it brings guidance, peace and hope to those who heed its message. These Scriptures I have related to you so you can strengthen your home.
1 Timothy 5:4 reads, "To learn first to show piety at home." Some people are all smiles at Church but gloomy and grouchy at home. Are you this way? Why is it that we show our very best to the general public who care very little about us, but when we go home to the people to whom we have been bound in the career of marriage, we sometimes throw off the smiling face. It is like throwing away a happy appearance and putting on the grouchy, gloomy look. I will never understand why I do that and why others do that. This is a sin. We must ask God to shore us up and strengthen our inner person.
The one place in the world where hearts are sure of each as other should be a place of confidence. It should b e a place where we tear off the mask of guarded and suspicious coldness that is forced upon us by the world. Where we remove our self-defense and where we pour out our love. It is the one place where expressions of - let's say tenderness can gush out without any sense of awkwardness or dread or ridicule. It is my home.
I want all our homes to be "Home Sweet Home". I want you to have a home so that when your children go off to college and are asked, "What is the one thing you miss more than anything else?" That child can say, "I miss the times when my family held hands around the table and prayed. I miss my dad holding my mom's hand. That is what I miss the most.
If we can develop that kind of home, it will not come tumbling down, but will get stronger and stronger. Further, today, too many of our homes have lost touch with "religion" I don't really like that word, but use it. I feel it makes a wrong statement. But the failure to provide spiritual guidance for our kids is missing. The rampage of juvenile delinquency, the high incidence of crime across the nation is a disgraceful reflection on the parental responsibility. God must be brought back into the family circle. He must become an important central part of every day life.
How does your home stand up to this interesting story. This child came to eat with a Christian family. Now, her parents were also Christians, but the "secret disciple" kind. The Christianity was left at the church on Sunday. So this child who was staying over with a friend observed the Christian-life style. She was much influenced by the prayers. She remarked, "God doesn't live at my house. If I want to talk to God I have to come to your house." This need not be true if we, as parents, take the initiative in making our home as strong as it can possibly be.
Many of us have moved into a new house at one time or another.
Someone said, "It takes a heap of thinking to plan house for two;
It takes a heap of money to see the project through;
It takes a heap of plaster to smooth its many walls;
It takes a heap of labor and many pounds of nails,
and yet its worth the watching and waiting it entails.
When a house is finished from cornerstone to dome,
it takes but happy heartbeats to change it from house to home."
In Isaiah 39, Hezekiah was showing his home to some people. They saw many things in the home, but yet, when they came through the house there was nothing that turned their attention to the Lord. As a result, God spoke to him, saying, "You will have to pay the consequences."
When people come to our homes, let us not be ashamed to say, "We have a Christian home." Let there be something visible that speaks of the Invisible God.
A family was seated in their home late in the evening and was startled to hear a rapping. On investigation of all the doors and windows they found no one, but they continued to hear rapping. Finally, they discovered that a picture of Jesus on the wall was being intermittently blown about by a fan in the room and causing the sound.
I think that in some homes Jesus is asking to come in. This family that had been startled by the rapping realized that all they had was a picture on the wall. He was not really in their home. If He's in your home, then your home is a Christian home and the results will be God's blessings and honor. Each member will receive great blessings and it will truly be "Home, Sweet Home."
My prayer for you, my reader is that your home
will be a responsive one to the Spirit of the Lord.
Regardless of the size, regardless whether you
are single are having those living with you may
Jesus be the honored unseen guest 24/7
in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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