Marriage Matters

Marriage Matters Series Sermon 1
~Marriage Matters~
Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church 
June 5, 2011
Genesis 2:1-25

Most of us here today would agree to that Marriage Matters,  but –

TIME magazine reported this year that 40 percent of Americans believe that marriage is now obsolete, it doesn’t matter. This concept is up from around 25% percent around 1980. Co-habitation is now the norm for American adults — not just before marriage, but increasingly instead of marriage.  Maybe Marriage doesn’t matter?

In 1960, 70 percent of all American adults were married. Now, that number is 50%.
Eight times as many children are born out of wedlock now annually than in 1960 and
In the 1960s, two-thirds of all young adults in their twenties were married. Now, only 26% of twenty-somethings are married. 

Does marriage not matter?

Right now as we speak less than 25% of our family units in the United States are made up of mom and dad living under the same roof as husband and wife with their children.  Less than 25%!

  • In 1920s 1 out of every 7 marriages ended in divorce
  • 1940s 1 out of every 6
  • 1960s 1 out of every 4
  • 1970s 1 out of every 3By the 80's it was 1 out of every 2
  • And today, some studies are showing that divorces are actually out numbering marriages in our country today.

In our country today it sure doesn’t seem like many believe Marriage really matters.

Oh, how I would like to say that is just the state of unions outside the church and that marriages within the church are not effected by divorce like out in the world, but if I did that I would be a lying to you.  Statistics show that divorce is just as prevalent among Christians as it is with non Christians.

Why Doesn’t Marriage Matter More?

With all of that said, I want us to consider a question for just a moment.  Why?  Why doesn’t marriage matter more?  Why are so many Americans and Christian Americans going through so much pain and damage in their families?  Why is this happening to our marriages?

I believe it has a lot to do with what we think matters in marriage.

As a society we have changed over the years concerning how we view marriage and we have allowed certain lies about marriage to enter and continue to grow within the church; these lies must be stopped. 

So today, I would like to expose a couple of the most deadly lies that we've begun to believe matter more than they should.

Lie #1: It is All About Feelings.

You have heard it a hundred times before.  This idea is that ‘It is normal to fall in and out of love, because love is just a feeling.’  Our culture has led us to believe that, 'when the feelings change, - and they will -, that must also mean that my love for that person must have changed.' 

Time and time again, people are checking out of marriages because the romantic feelings that were once a huge part of their relationship are gone, so they must no longer be in love.

Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with feelings or with romantic love.   As a matter of fact, there is an entire book of the Bible dedicated to this.  If you would like some romantic reading sometime, read the Song of Songs.  Its all about poetry and romance. 

Let me share with you just a little from this amazing book from God’s word.

Song of Songs 2:2

Isn’t that sweet?  This guy looks at his wife and says honey your like a flower among the weeds.

Listen to her response
 
Song of Songs 2:3-5

I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but that’s they way Tiffani talks to me all time!!!

Romantic love is good and its beautiful; its powerful; it brings many men and women together.  But let me tell you, if that is all that matters to your marriage you are not going to last very long in your marriage, because God wants so much more to matter than just how you feel.

Feelings change.  I have to let you in on a little secret.   Over the last 10 years I have not always been the apple of Tiffani’s eyes.  Feelings come and feelings go, and if you are always looking for feelings to confirm that you should love someone ..., what happens when those feelings start to fade?

Lets look at what Solomon ..., this same guy ..., says a few years later.  You know, he was the guy that just said that his wife was like a lily.  Look at what he later said in Proverbs 27:15.

"A nagging wife is like
   the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet;
You can't turn it off,
   and you can't get away from it."
(The Message vsn)

I have to tell you, I think he is speaking from experience here.  What happened to the feelings of love? What happened to the romance here?

Feelings change.  It will happen.

And too many of us  have just been brain washed by the world into thinking that when our feelings change, as they will at times, its alright to ... just leave that relationship and look for those feelings somewhere else.

Let me make it clear.  Love is not a feeling, love is a decision.

Lie # 2 If We Marry the Right Person it ought to be Easy.

If we just find that right person then we will be able to live happily ever after.  We have bought into the fairy tale type of marriage.  You might say, “Oh, well, we knew it wasn’t always going to be easy,”  but what have we really been told?

When you asked your parents how will you know when you find the right one what was their response?  More times than not, it just, “Oh, you will just know.  And when you know it will all just fall into place.”  REALLY?

We have led ourselves to believe that if we find that perfect mate then we can kinda check ‘effort’ off of our list because it is going to be easy, right?

Wrong!  There are no easy marriages.  Marriage is a commitment, love is a decision and at times it is difficult but we must believe that Marriage Matters and that we will work through it.

Too often, when things get difficult we assume we have married the wrong person because ‘if you marry the right one everything will be easy!’

No, that is a lie!  Why?   Its because every marriage is made up of two flawed people. 

Yes men, I am saying our wives are not perfect!  Sorry to break the news to you but they are not perfect.  But here is possibly the bigger news flash for some of you.  Husbands, you are perfect either!

Have you noticed that a lot of preachers will say that marriage is a 'divine institution?'
It is really interesting if you look up those words in the dictionary:
Divine means, ‘Designed by God.’
Institution means, ‘A place to take care of delinquent or mentally ill people.’

Now you put that together and you understand what marriage is all about.

Here is the problem too many people for too long have been living out their marriages as if what really mattered was how they felt and if their spouse was the right one.  When this is 'what matters' in marriage, the vast majority will fail.

So this morning and really the rest of the month we are going to look at God’s design for marriage and to what He says really matters in Marriage between a husband and a wife.

Turn with me to Genesis 2 as we look at the first marriage as was designed by God.

A God Designed Marriage

Genesis 2:18

The Pattern of Creation was that God made it and He said it was Good.
He Spoke; it happened; and He said it was good.

Now, for the very first time, when He created man and He looked at the situation, He said ...,
“IT IS NOT GOOD!”

What is not good?  It is not good for the man to be alone!  God knew that most of us need help in life.  I personally would struggle to make it alone. 

Please notice,  this was not man’s idea! God designed and made marriage.

At the same time God makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 that it is best that some  remain single.  God has designed some with the ability to be complete on your own. 

This was Jesus and the apostle Paul.  This is not me, but if this is God’s design for you, rejoice and be blessed!  You are whole and have a special purpose that I, as a married man, could never fulfill.

But, God looks at most of us and says, ‘It is not good for you to be alone.  You need a helper, you need a mate, someone to fulfill their life.’

This was the case for Adam.   He needed a helper, but before God made Him a helper, God did something pretty strange.  Let’s look back to the Genesis 2.

Genesis 2:19-20

Now,  Adam needs a wife.  God helps him understand his need by putting him to work.  He causes the animals to march by... Adam names the Animals; ‘Gorilla, He and She,” “Zebra, He and She,” “Monkey, He and She,” “Elephant.  HE and She.”

Everyone of these creatures has a male and female.

God’s preparing Adam to understand his need for a wife.

Genesis 2:21-23

Think about this for a moment.  God had spent the last couple of days marching these Animals in front of him and having Adam name them.  Then God causes him to sleep.  And he wakes up from this nap, and for the very first time in his life he sees a woman!

Can you imagine?  This absolutely perfect woman that was created from one of his own ribs was standing before him with out any blemish, problem, or sin, and Adam sees her for the first time and she has no clothes on. 
Do you really think he said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

Here is what I mean, when you go back and look at the original language here from the words of Adam, he was excited.  There was a great big moment of wow from Adam.

He wasn’t saying, “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”

He was saying, “This is BONE OF MY BONE AND FLESH OF MY FLESH!”

He is saying, “HEY, HEY, HEY! WOW! GREAT GOING, GOD! THIS IS MORE LIKE IT! THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR!  He was so excited to have been given a helper suitable and right for him. 

Adam could honestly say, “Honey, you are the only woman in the world for me!”

There is no doubt that Adam and Eve had an extremely special feeling for each other.  There was a wow moment, but how do we go from those moments of feelings to what really matters in a marriage designed by God?  Lets look at what God says matters for a marriage to excel.

Genesis2:24 (This verse is repeated 5 different times in Bible, so I am very confident it really really matters for our marriages.)

The Two Shall Become One

You see God created marriage for a reason.  God is saying here that the goal of marriage is for the two to become one.

If you want a marriage that matters, if you want to not be alone, if you want to have a marriage where your needs are met, the two most become one.

What does that mean?  The two become one flesh.  A lot of time we think automatically that this is about the sexual union between a man and a woman as husband and wife and yes that is a major part of this discussion.  God is not just talking about a man and woman coming together physically.  We are to come together as one in every way.  I think he is talking about sexually, relationally, spiritually, emotionally, in every single way.

Marriage Matters because God has designed it so that when done right it can meet the greatest needs or our lives.  Not just physically but in every way.

God wants us to be one, He wants us to be intimate with our spouse.  That is where many of us fail..., why?  Because it means you must take down all the barriers to your heart, all your masks that hide who you really are to others.  You show all of you to your spouse, and you protect and help each other no matter who you are.  It means you hide nothing.  You reveal all of your secrets and all of your flaws because your marriage is a place of total security, forgiveness, and love,  that it is safe to help and be helped by your spouse.

Because no matter what your spouse sees in you or what your spouse finds out to be true, your spouse is, committed to you and your relationship.  You are one and there is another person to whom you are totally and completely exposed and yet by whom you are totally and completely loved and protected.

That is why marriage matters..  It is so important because we need to be loved and protected.

So, how can we get to this point of truly being one?  How do you get to this point of intimacy?

God tells us here in Genesis 2 some things that really matter to marriage, some things that must be done.

The first is Prioritization

God tells us we need to make your relationship with your spouse the priority relationship on earth.  God explains it this way:
 
Genesis 2:24

God is not just saying, ‘When you get married, you’ve got to move out of Mom and Dad’s house.  God is not talking about geography,  He’s is talking about emotionally.  Your spouse must be number one, ahead of all others. 

When you get married, you need to cut the emotional umbilical cord with your parents.  Just like a baby has to cut the cord to survive outside the mother.  No marriage will survive for long unless you cut the cord to the parents and begin to invest completely in your spouse.

Some of our marriages are struggling because they are still too dependent on others.  I think you can expand this beyond mom and dad and beyond family.  Because here is what happens:

  • Every time there is a problem you call your mom or dad,
  • Every time there is an important decision you are calling this friend or that friend.  
  • Every time things get tough you call your sister. 
  • Every time you don’t feel loved you call that old boyfriend or girlfriend or you go looking for a new friend

... and it kills your marriage.  This not only prevents intimacy, it kills it.

Outsiders, Get Out of the Way! 

Some of you,   whether you are parents, siblings or friends, if you have someone that depends of you instead of their own spouse, I realize you like to feel needed, but you aren’t really helping, and  a lot of times you are hurting.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is leave the situation alone and tell them to work it out together.  Force them to lean on each other, rather than you.  Force them to run to each other, and not you.  Let them know you love them enough to let go of them and push them to their spouse.

Here is the bottom line.  God is saying, 'Your number one relationship priority on earth if you are married needs to be your spouse.'  When you get married it changes everything.  It changes things with your parents, your friends, with your exs, with that new cute guy or girl at the gas station ... it changes everything. Your husband or wife needs to be number 1.

Prioritize your marriage to be number one, like it really matters, and your marriage will be blessed because of it.

Finally today after we prioritize our marriage as number 1,

We Must also Show it Matters By the Permanence We Place on It.

Its simple.   You have to make a ‘forever commitment to your spouse.’

Genesis 2:24   "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife."

 In the KJV, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.”

Cleaving is this concept of being permanently connected. ‘ I am going to stick to you until death do us part.’
That is the promise that we make when we are married, why are we having so much trouble keeping it?

Maybe its because we view the promises of marriage more like a modern contract instead of what it really is.  It is, in fact, a holy covenant between you, your spouse and God.

Its not a contract drawn up by a lawyer to protect the interests of all involved.  It is a covenant created by God to draw two people together as one ..., forever.

A Contract says, “ I will if you will.”
It’s what you sign when you purchase a Phone, Car, Home...
We have to stop viewing marriage as a contract. ‘ I will if you will.’

I will cook if you clean, I will pay for the car if you take care of the taxes.  I will meet your needs if you meet mine. 
I will be committed to this marriage if you are committed,
but as soon as you don’t do your part then I am getting out!

We’ve got it all wrong! God doesn’t call it a contract He calls it a covenant.  A covenant is much different than a contract.  A contract says, ‘I will if you will,’ while a covenant says, ‘I will even when you don’t.  I will even when you can’t.’

The focus is not on what I get or what I want but the focus is on what I said I would do and my responsibility to do what I promised no matter what, because I made a decision to love you unconditionally.

This means we need to honor it even if our spouse does not.

Tiffani and I are far from having a perfect marriage, but one of the things we did right from the start of our relationship was this.  We made a decision that divorce was not, and would never be, an option.

If you haven’t done that in your marriage, it is time you do.  Remove the word divorce from your mind and marriage.  Don’t use it in your conversations, don’t threaten with it in your fights, don’t think about it, and above all, please, please don’t talk about it with or around your children.  Don’t view it as an option for your marriage because the goal of God in your marriage is for you and your spouse to become one and divorce separates.

Jesus Himself, adds this to this Genesis passage.

Mark 10:6-9

But lets be honest.  Some of you are thinking, “What about unfaithfulness?  Can we divorce then?”

It is true, Jesus allows for Divorce in the case of unfaithfulness.  Why? I believe it is because unfaithfulness can and often does hurt the unity and intimacy meant for marriage so much that Jesus allows it, but He doesn’t require it or even suggest it but, yes, he does allow it.

Why is it not required?  I believe its because God knows that through a lot of grace, confession, repentance, forgiveness and love even an unfaithful spouse can be changed into a tremendous blessing to the marriage and God’s kingdom!  Never forget Christ’s mission was to forgive and set free.  It can and should be done in our marriages.

Jesus came to offer freedom from the past to the brokenhearted.  Isaiah 61:1

I hope you never find yourself in that position in your marriage, but please, hear this.  With God’s love and forgiveness, your relationship doesn’t have to be over.  You can have intimacy with your spouse again through God’s miraculous grace.

Think about how many times you have promised God, “I will never sin against you,” and yet you have sinned against Him.  Yet, He forgives and takes you back into His only covenant of forgiveness through the Blood of Jesus Christ.

Prioritize and Permanence 

God’s ideal is what we have talked about.  You can’t go back and change your past divorce, and in your divorce you may have sinned, but it is not something that can’t be forgiven.  God loves you!  Stop focusing on the past, and commit to a new future with the Lord.