Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Search The Scripture 16th Sunday, August 2020 (LESSON 962)
Topic: Marriage And Family Life Of Christians
Memory Verse: ‘Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
Text: Matthew 19:1-12; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Ephesians 5:22-33
1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
1 Corinthians 10:3;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Marriage, one of the most sacred institutions in life, is referred to as the joining of a man and a woman in holy matrimony. It signals or flags off the family life. In response to a question from the Pharisees, Jesus answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” (Matthew 19:4,5).
Christian teaching on marriage is expected to be accepted and practised like other doctrines or teachings of the Bible. Our marriages must be guided by Goers word so as to achieve the purpose for which the wise God set it up. Wherever the teaching of God’s word on marriage is neglected or rejected, much trouble results. It is sad that the guiding scriptural principles on marriage are deliberately being ignored by many so- called Christians today, resulting in incalculable spiritual loss, frustration, disappointment, unfaithfulness, sorrow and, at times, painful separation for couples that were joined together in a Bible-believing church. Life goals have been aborted, ministries cut short, joy ruined and life destroyed because people turned aside from God’s command on marriage and family life. This is why a clear teaching on marriage and family life is very significant to enhance the health and spiritual wholeness of the church.
Question 1: Give scriptural reasons God instituted marriage and family life.
We establish from the Scripture that marriage is, God’s plan and programme from the beginning (Genesis 2:18,20,22-24; Ephesians 5:31).
It is a divinely ordained necessity (Genesis 2:18; Psalm 68:6).
It makes for preservation of purity and holiness in the church and society (1 Corinthians 7:2,9-11; 1Timothy 5:9-15).
It works for the completeness response to this urge is to approach God in prayer for guidance. As we pray earnestly and sincerely, He communicates with our hearts to lead us to His perfect choice of partner. It may be through a still small voice and fulfilment of true living (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11). It provides needed fellowship, comfort, companionship and partnership. Finally, marriage complements God’s work of procreation (Genesis 1:27,28; Psalm 128:3). With very few exceptions, most people should marry. These few exceptions should be guided by God (Matthew 19:10-12; 1 Corinthians 7:7,8,32,34) and must not be the product of selfish, immature decisions, misguided imitation, faithless conclusion or religious compulsion.
Question 2: Mention some wrong motivations that compel some people not to marry.
COMMENCEMENT OF THE JOURNEY OF MARRIAGE
(Ecclesiastes 3:1,11; Psalm 32:8,9; Joshua 3:4; Isaiah 30:18-21)
Marriage journey begins with a desire or a sense of need in an individual for a life partner with whom to share life in an intimate way. God has created every man with this innate feeling and it manifests naturally through maturity, inner urge or a compelling feeling for a life partner when the time comes. A believer’s response to this urge is to approach God in prayer for guidance. As we pray earnestly and sincerely, He communicates with our hearts to lead us to His perfect choice of partner. It may be through a still small voice in the heart (Proverbs 20:27; John 10:4,5,27; Acts 10:17-21) or a strong mind-dominating affection for a particular person. Such affection is God-given and it cannot be quenched by temporary or contrary circumstances (Song of Solomon 8:6,7). Still, in other cases, it may be through dreams or a definite impression in the heart.
For others, God can speak through His Word or make a definite impression in the heart in the course of listening to a message or sermon. Whatever channel He chooses to use, God will not contradict His written word. If any revelation we receive contradicts the Scripture, it must be rejected. It should also be subjected to peace test, contrary to fear and hurry.
Question 3: Mention some ways through which God reveals His will in marriage to believers.
COMMON PITFALLS TO AVOID (1Corinthians 10:6-12; Proverbs 31:30; Judges 14:1-3; Ezekiel 14:1-6)
The path to the married life is strewn with dangers which the believer must avoid in order to remain in the will of God and enjoy a healthy relationship. As we seek to know the will of God, we should not walk by sight. To determine the suitability of an intending partner through his or her material possession and secular position is to walk by sight. The possession of a good brain and a good hand to make money does not guarantee the possession of a good heart which makes a good home.
Second, we should not preempt God. In other words, a heavy dependence, for example, on dreams alone makes it easier to be deceived. Rather, the sincere seeker should be open to whatever channel God decides to use to speak. Preempting God leads to confusion.
Third, every ‘idol should be removed from the heart. That is, we should not preclude our minds on a particular person asking God to rubber-stamp him or her for us That idol may not be God’s will. He or she may not even be a child of God. We should remember that only God knows the heart of men. Some who appear like Christians outwardly may be something else within. Samson made his choice by sight and suffered greatly for it. Several others are still ensnared in this trap today.
Fourth, under no circumstance should a true believer marry an unbeliever. It does not matter whether the person attends church or not. God prohibits unequal yoke in marriage (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 6:15,16; Deuteronomy 7:1-4).
Fifth, we should avoid the carnal practice of allowing others to pick partners for us. God is still our perfect Matchmaker. Some people run back to the village to get married to people they know little about. Others resort to dating sites and social media. In doing so, they feel that they are smart and cutting short what they consider to be a long procedure by the church. In time, they reap the bitter fruits of unhappy and burdensome marriage.
Question 4: Mention some pitfalls to avoid in the choice of a life partner.
COURTSHIP AND PREPARATION
(Genesis 24:49-52; Proverbs 24:27; Luke 14:28-32; 1:26,27; Matthew 1:18; 1 Corinthians 10:31)
After knowing the will of God, the intending brother or sister, as the case may be, is expected to inform the pastor of the church or the appointed leaders who carry out the oversight function of guiding young believers in marriage. The pastor or committee then counsels them on simple but basic regulatory procedures to follow. The first is to secure their parents’ consent. Parental consent gives the church authority to allow the intending couple to begin courtship. The period between knowing the will of God in marriage and the wedding is known as courtship. It is a period of learning and getting to know one another through regular praying and discussions tailored towards the future of their dream home. This period also affords them the opportunity to talk about important issues like money management in the home, career after marriage, bearing and rearing children, type of accommodation, and so on. some virtues are essential during courtship.
One, openness must be made a mutual principle. Truth about one another’s past and present that have the potential to affect them in future should be discussed.
Two, holiness should be central as the intending couples are not expected to engage in actions that are meant only for married people.
Three, prayer should not be relegated to the background. Problems are solved through prayers.
Four, neither of the two should impose his or her ideas on the other.
Five, if they are unable to resolve a particular issue, such should be brought to the attention of the supervising committee or the pastor. Should there be some grave or shocking discoveries, recourse must be made to the marriage committee. We should always remember that a broken courtship is better than a broken marriage.
Question 5: Mention some helpful guiding principles during courtship.
CHRISTIAN ENGAGEMENT AND WEDDING (John 2:1-3; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 4:5; 1 Timothy 4:12,16)
Both engagement and wedding are common to the world and the church. These two occasions should be done bearing scriptural injunctions in mind. Neither should there be a forum to feed the flesh, display carnality and worldliness nor water down sound conviction that had been upheld for years. During engagement especially, all forms of deception should be discouraged. Deceits couched in jokes in the name of tradition should be avoided. We must also avoid compromise in the areas of what we do or give as part of the engagement requirement. Anything that has to do with idolatry, alcoholic beverages, cowries, etc., must be avoided. Generally, engagement and wedding become problematic when an intending couple live inconsistent adornments, practices and dressing should be avoided. The following questions could provide a gauge for engagements and weddings:
how godly or worldly is my dressing and spending?
How watchful or wasteful am I?
Who will be glorified at my wedding – Christ, self or the flesh? Will I be sad or happy should Christ come on my wedding day?
Question 6: What should be the focus of a Christian during the engagement and marriage ceremonies?
THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY LIFE (Psalm 128:1-4; Proverbs 5:15-23; 31:10-31; 1 Corinthians 7:3-5,10; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-8)
Family life after wedding is a learning experience that can only be terminated by death. The bottom-line is the need to carefully but excitedly study one another. There is always the need for adjustments by both husband and wife. The areas of adjustments are numerous. These initial adjustments will work well only in an environment of humility, love, patience and temperance. As the couple relate together from day to day, offences will certainly come. These offences have some of their causes rooted in finance, food pattern, time management, work life, non-availability of one of the partners, house helps, sharp differences in tribal practices, exaggerated expectations, wrong notions, interference from extended families and so on. The magnitude and nature of the problems differ from family to family. Proper attitude in handling these problems is a vital issue. When problems are poorly handled, they snowball into bigger, more complex proportions and, at times, result in separation. There are homes where, though the couples live together, they are indeed separated at heart. Divorce, separation, strained, stressful or dead relationship amongst couples is not the will of God.