Thursday, January 12, 2012

Marriage Matters: A Giraffe is Beautiful But Not Suitable

First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, MS, hosts a weekly bible study for moms of young children. This semester we are studying Winston Smith's excellent book "Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change Through Ordinary Moments." With the permission of the leadership team I'll post weekly summaries of our large group meeting. I am indebted to Smith, Timothy Keller and Wayne Mack for many of the thoughts, ideas, and principles included in the lectures.
Bookstore shelves, both Christian and secular, are lined with titles on the topic of marriage. Mostly angst-filled titles that can sometimes be almost humorous if they weren't so sad. Statistic after statistic shows marriage to be in a continual decline. Living with a significant other without the benefit of marriage, the divorce rate, and the rate of those never marrying are all on the increase.
Could it be for those of us who are professing Christians that many of our frustrations, sadness, and lack of fulfillment in marriage could be partially due to the fact that we do not understand or fail to believe what the Word of God has to say about marriage? Coupled with the fact that it is two sinners who jump the broom (those two above look so unsinnerlike) there is little wonder that we meet up with difficulty. Let me say at the get-go, the same statistics show that those who are married experience a significant level of satisfaction in marriage. Yea team! So....this is why we're looking today at what the bible teaches about the establishment of the institution of marriage in the book of Genesis chapter 2.

In verse 2 God makes a startling statement. "It is not good." It's startling because thus far every creation of His has been followed with a resounding, "It is good." God has made no mistake. He instead makes a statement that it is not good for man to be alone. That's what is not good. Man has need and God states it within earshot of Adam.
God brings the animal parade before Adam who exercises his dominion over them by naming them all and in the process it is reinforced to Adam that there is none suitable for him.  Yes, the giraffe is beautiful, but it is not suitable for Adam.
Vs. 21 "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. The the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman and He brought her to the man and Adam said, 'This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.'" Note the intimacy of this creation. She is a perfect fit for him because God made her and made her from him. There is something intrinsically familiar and glorious about her which delights Adam and prompts his song of love.

What does it mean to leave father and mother? 1. To relate to them in a different way. Whereas children are commanded to obey their parents, adult children are to honor their parents. 2. To be more concerned about your spouse's ideas, opinions, and practices that those of your parents. 3. To not be dependent on your parents for income, affection approval, assistance and counsel. 4. To deal with any bad attitudes that you may have about your parents in order that those attitudes will not affect the way you relate to your spouse. 5. To be more concerned that your spouse is growing in godliness than what your parents may think of him. 6. To make your relationship with your spouse a priority over that with your parents, your children, your friends, your interests, your career, etc.
What does it mean to cleave or be joined? 1. It means making a binding covenant to one another before God and witnesses that should not be entered into lightly. It is a binding covenant that  is the most serious and solemn promise that you will ever make for it binds the two of you into a oneness that changes your very being. 2. It means it is a deliberate choice and vow of faithfulness that you are willing to make. 3.It means forsaking all others emotionally, physically, sexually and spiritually. The scriptures tell us that the heart is wicked above all things. Given the opportunity any of us is capable of anything and the evil one who roams around looking for whom he may devour loves to prove that with marital infidelity. Please heed this warning: If you are flirtatious or looking for emotional, physical, sexual, or even spiritual fulfillment in a man other than your husband, you are playing with a raging fire that will consume you and your family. Being joined to your husband means being so united to him that there is neither space nor a place for anyone or anything that would threaten that oneness.

4. Being joined to your husband means leaving your former way of life, your self-interest and promotion, and your self-importance and putting him and his well-being before your own.
What does it mean to be one flesh? 1.Sexual union is a culmination in a sense of all other aspects of oneness in marriage. It is both a means of expressing oneness and of sustaining oneness. Just as grace promotes grace, intimacy promotes intimacy, oneness promotes oneness. 2. It is intended to be a pleasurable means of communicating a husband and wife's irrepressible love that is so intense that each wants to be totally enveloped by the other. 3. There is no loss of identity in marriage. It is in this union that the identity of the other is meant to be realized, valued and exalted in the way that the union of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit exalt one another. 4. It is a concrete way of expressing the selfless and extravagant love of God for His church. All that I have and am is yours. 5. It is the expression of Eph. 5:25 that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.
Next week, How God Works in Ordinary Moments for Extraordiary Change: The Mayonnaise Jar  Or  the Great Hamburger Debacle of 1994.


  1. Fabulous!,I want these notes weekly!

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