by Don Krow
One unique thing I've discovered about the Bible is that it records the failures along with the successes of God's people. We'll be reading about a Bible character who sounds like a great person, and then if we read long enough, we find out he wasn't so great after all. He was human and sometimes failed.
Noah was a great man, but he got off the ark and got drunk. Jacob was called a swindler, but God made him Israel and made a great nation out of him. Abraham was a great man of faith, but he was a failure in many things. Moses murdered an Egyptian; but God redeemed his failure and brought success out of it. David was a man after God's own heart; but he once murdered and committed adultery.
We're no different than the men and women of the Bible. We've all sinned. Many of us have failed in our past. Some of us have failed in our marriages. Perhaps your marriage is in trouble or you've already been divorced. I want to tell you that you can be forgiven. You don't have to live with your past failures.
This is illustrated in 1 Corinthians 6:9, "Don't you know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." Notice what he says in verse 11 "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
If you want a good, successful marriage today, you must make a complete break from the past and its memories. You have to do what the Apostle Paul did, "Forgetting those things which are behind and pressing towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13).
Maybe in your younger years you sowed your wild oats and did a lot of things you shouldn't have done such as adultery, fornication or homosexuality. But if you've repented, Jesus has washed you whiter than snow. The word says in Romans 6:6, "Knowing this the old self was crucified."
When I repent, not only am I washed from my past, but the old person has been laid in the grave. My wife isn't married to that man of the past. She's married to a new creature in Christ.
If your marriage is going to be successful, you have to establish this in your heart and quit living in the past. Forget those things which are behind and press on towards the mark of the high calling of God. He called you and He still has a plan for your life.
Let's look at what the Bible has to say about marriage starting with the beginning in Genesis 1:31, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." Everything up to this point was good. This was before the fall, so everything was in a perfect state, in a perfect relationship with God. However, in Genesis 2:18, God pointed out the first thing that wasn't good. "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
Some Christians have the idea that they don't need anyone or anything but Jesus. Wives, you may think that it doesn't matter what your husband thinks - it's just you and Jesus. Husbands, you may feel that a relationship with Jesus is all you need. It doesn't matter what your wife thinks. If you believe this way, you're in error. The world may tell you that you can each do your own thing, but that's wrong. God's original idea was and is for a wife to support her husband, to help him, to complete him.
The Bible says, in 1 Peter 3:7, that we're heirs together of the grace of life. I'm a joint heir with my wife. I'm not a single unit. God made man with a need for a counterpart. It's explained in Genesis 5:1-2, "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created." God called Adam and Eve together as one unit. The male and female together constitute the complete image of God. Within the woman there is an image of God and within the man there is an image of God, but when you put the man and woman together, you have a complete expression of the image of God.
I believe the Bible refers to God in the masculine gender. However, God also has feminine characteristics. One of God's names is "El Shadai," which means the breasted one that cares for a nursing child. Tenderness and kindness are also attributes of God's character.
What is really important to God? Relationship, first with God in the new birth experience and our daily walk, then with others. This is particularly true of the marriage relationship. God could have created man to relate only with Him. Instead, He chose to relate to man in a triune relationship - God, man and woman. God wanted to teach man to walk in relationship, so much so that He related to Adam and Eve as being one unit together.
In the New Testament, our relationship with God is still affected by our relationship with our wives. In 1 Peter 3:7 it says "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." If we fail to dwell, or abide, with our wives in understanding, our prayers will be hindered. In the Greek, the word "hindered" means to "cut off." Our prayers will be cut off if we fail to understand the woman God has given us and dwell with her according to knowledge.
An important point is that sin didn't come into the church first; sin came into marriage first. Sometimes we put our priority on the church; but the church will be no stronger than the family units within it. If you have marital problems you will bring them into the church. There is nothing wrong with marriage, but marriage problems reveal problems in people. You won't have a good marriage without change. When you buy an appliance and something is wrong with it, you get out the manual for the solution. God designed marriage and God gave us the manual, the Bible, and it will tell us what's wrong and what to do about it. 1 John 5:3 says "this is the love of God that we keep his commandments," or walk in his ways. God tells me how to treat my wife. He tells me the attitude I should have in my relationship with her.
God chose to create a woman for Adam. He could have created ten friends for him, but instead he chose a woman. In Genesis 2:20-21, we read exactly how God created her. "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;"
Surgery has only come about in the last few hundred years, but God did surgery thousands of years ago. Verse 22 says, "And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."
As I think about this, I can see Adam waking up and thinking "Ouch, this is sore" until he sees what God has made.
Notice that it says the Lord brought her unto the man. Many single people ask me how to find a mate. I usually tell them, "You don't have to go out and play the dating game. The best thing you can do is to seek God with all your heart. Marriage is God's idea so you don't need to go out shopping. God will bring her to you."
In verse 23 we see a scripture we often use. "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Adam wasn't kidding. He knew that she was made from his flesh. This is what God does in a marriage relationship. That oneness is described in verse 24. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Marriage begins with leaving the closest relationship you've ever known in life. When you're single, there is no closer relationship than the kind you have with your mom and dad. In marriage, God calls you to refocus your life upon another and come into a relationship that is more intimate and dear than a relationship with a mother and father.
Husbands, there are many ways that we fail to leave. When we consume ourselves with TV and a job and other things, we fail to refocus our life on our wives. The Bible says I'm to be the husband of one wife. Does that mean there is to be one and none other? I don't think so, because the Bible says if my partner dies I'm free to remarry. I think when it says the husband of one wife it means all of my attention is to be focused on my marriage partner. If you're still hanging onto your relatives and it causes problems in your marriage, you have failed to leave.
After leaving, this verse says a man should cleave unto his wife. The word "cleave" actually means to glue, adhere to or stick to. If you take two pieces of paper and glue them together and let them dry, it's impossible to separate the two pieces of paper. If you try to separate them, they will tear. That is why God hates divorce, because you are not leaving two whole people anymore. You are leaving two fragments of what was supposed to be one.
The word cleave in this verse is in a present tense verb form. You don't cleave one time; you continue to cleave. Anything that divides me from my wife is a failure to cleave. If I speak unkind words or criticize my wife, I'm failing to cleave. If I speak words of kindness, love and edification to my wife, I'm cleaving because it brings us closer.
The last part of verse 24 says "And they shall be one flesh." It is saying that the sexual union will make you one flesh. The next verse says "And they were both naked, the man and his wife and they were not ashamed." I did some research in the scriptures on nakedness and every reference had to do with shame, except for the marriage relationship. In the marriage relationship there is no shame. Hebrews 13 says "Marriage is honorable and the bed is undefiled, but the whoremongers and adulterers, God will judge." Marriage is a oneness or a nakedness that God approves. It's really a counterpart of the relationship with Christ and the church.
Everything in marriage has a counterpart in the spirit. In Ephesians 5 it speaks of a man being joined in one flesh to his wife. In verse 32 it says "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." A good marriage is a small-scale model of an eternal truth. The counterpart to a kiss when you compare marriage to the relationship between Christ and the Church is praise or worship. If you look up the Greek word for worship, the root word is kiss. What is the counterpart for intercourse? 1 Corinthians 6:15 says, "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh." Regardless of what the world says, physical intercourse outside of marriage is not love. God calls it fornication or adultery. He calls it the pleasure of sin for a moment, but the result is destruction. When intercourse is misused outside of marriage, you are actually damaging the oneness that God created for your marriage.
Sexual intercourse is a sacred relationship. It is 20 percent technique, and 80 percent letting the woman know she is loved. It's impossible to have a good physical relationship if that woman doesn't know she is loved. It is only then that she can give herself away.
The spiritual counterpart to this relationship is in verse 17. It says "But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." He said in the physical union you become one body, but in the spiritual union with God you become one spirit.
I believe what is said goes beyond even this, that I can't be one spirit or one heart with God when I have other junk in there. Human beings are susceptible to adultery. God says the real unfaithfulness is when my people go astray from me. That is spiritual fornication. James 4:4 says "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." The real adultery is not the physical part. As we go astray, we put other gods in our heart. That's why every day it's important for us to turn to God. Every day he shows us how to love as He loves.
In Ephesians 5:22, we find every woman's favorite verse. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." Notice that it didn't say obey your husbands, it said submit to your husbands. A woman could obey her husband and never submit to him. The word submit is based on what the man does. The next verse says "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." The husband takes his headship by love, just as Christ takes his headship by being the savior of the body. The savior of the body means the provider, the protector, the preserver. As a husband protects, cares for and loves his wife, the natural response for her is to submit. God made woman a responder. He told the man to take the initiative in the marriage relationship. The initiative for husbands is to love your wives.
There is no place in the New Testament that God commanded the women to love their husbands. I know that women are supposed to love their husbands. There is a place in Titus that says the older women are to teach the younger women to love their husbands. However, God gives a command for men to love their wives. As you express love to your wife, she will "do her part" which is to respond to love.
Verse 25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." I used to read this verse and get under condemnation. I thought the Lord could never come for His church because it's in such a mess. God showed me what this truth means in a marriage relationship. Christ loved the church and sanctified the church and cleansed the church by his words.
In the Greek, it's rhema, the spoken words of God. Those spoken words of God to the church are "I've loved you, I've laid down my life for you, I've set you apart, you are mine, I cleanse you." He cleansed you as he said, church, I forgive you. Now, husbands love your wives the same way Jesus loved, through His words.
How do I sanctify my wife? I set my wife apart and tell her she is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. I speak kindness to her. I express love to her with my words and cleanse her by my words. My words edify her. She may say "I want to be a good wife." You say, "I know you do, you fail just like I do. I forgive you." Love your wives always speaking edification and kindness. If you find it necessary to criticize, you first tell her how you have failed and missed it.
Verse 28 says "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself." This is not a love of passion. He says love your wives as your own body. I care for my body. When my body is hungry, I give it something to eat. When my body is sleepy, I let it sleep. If I have a physical infirmity, I cover it up. If your wife has a weakness, don't expose it in front of other people.
Notice in verse 29, "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:" The word "cherish" means to hold her dear, value her highly, treat her tenderly, take good care of her, nurture her, cling to her. It means to hold her valuable in your eyes. He says for the husband to nourish his wife. He is to feed her, to sustain her with the substances necessary for life and growth. God told the male to do what the female does to an infant baby. When the woman breastfeeds the baby, she holds it and nourishes it with substance for life. Men if you will do this, your wife will be glad to meet all of your needs.
Marriage can be compared to a box that is full of all kinds of goodies. Whatever you want is in this box of marriage. You can have all the love you'll ever need. In this box is talking, sharing, doing fun things together, freedom to share your feelings, loyalty, romance, affection, intimacy, warmth, touching, sex, friendship, affirmation, communication and oneness. The possibilities go on and on.
There is one rule. If you want to take something out of the box, you have to put it in first. If you put in affection and your mate puts in affection, you can draw from it anytime. Some people may say "there is no love in my marriage." There is not supposed to be any love in marriage. Love is in people. If you want love, you have to put love in the box called marriage. If you want friendship, you have to set aside time for your mate. If you want transparency you have to reveal yourself.
One thing God wants in a marriage is loyalty in action, attitude and thought. Matthew 15 says that out of the heart proceeds adultery, fornication and other bad things. This is referring to the mind. God has called us to be loyal in our thought life as well as in action. If Satan puts a thought in your mind and he sees that it brings you a little pleasure, he will keep bringing it back. You may not resist because it is pleasurable. If the devil has to wait 25 years to set you up to be unfaithful, he will. You need to bring all your thoughts into obedience to Jesus.
You may put a lot of good things into your marriage box. Sometimes it only takes one negative thing to kill the love. If you put in criticism, you'll kill the love. Women need nonsexual touching and warmth. When it doesn't happen, there is an unmet need. Someone else may come along who will meet that need.
Men are more sexual. If a woman withholds sex in an effort to bribe her husband to do something, it leaves an unmet need that opens the door to the devil. Someone else may come along to meet that need.
You may be from a dysfunctional family. Maybe you never saw love demonstrated between your mother and father. You may want to love your wife, but you don't know how. There is no way that someone can love unless they've seen love and known love. I've realized that the greatest thing I can do for my children is to love my wife. They will carry forever what they sense in our home. If you come from a dysfunctional home, there is hope and it's found in the Bible. 1 John 3 says love is to lay down your life for a brother. Husbands, lay down your life to meet your wife's needs. Wives, lay down your life to meet your husband's needs.
I would also encourage you to read books about marriage that agree with the principles in God's word, the Bible. Most of the books on marriage are read only by women. God works through information so you should read everything you can and ask God to help you implement these things into your life. Find out what each other's needs are. Marriage is wonderful and I can personally testify that it can more and more exciting as the years go by.
"When God Says I Do (God's Mystery in Marriage Revealed)" by Don Krow. (This booklet may be down loaded from our web site.)
"Love Life for Every Married Couple" by Ed Wheat, M.D.; Zondervan. (This book tells how to fall in love, stay in love, and rekindle your love. A good book on marriage.)
"His Needs, Her Needs" by Willard F. Harley Jr.; Revell. (Many couples experience the agonizing pain of infidelity. This book identifies the ten most important marital needs of husbands and wives. It will help teach you how to fulfill each other's needs and affair-proof your marriage.)
"The Friendship Factor" by Alan Loy McGinnis; Augsburg Publishing House. (A book that relates how to get closer to people you care for.)
"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. (A secular writer, but practical book on relating to others.)
"The Bondage Breaker" by Dr. Neil Anderson; Harvest House Publishers. (Although this book is not on the subject of marriage, it is most helpful for anyone seeking deliverance from spiritual bondage. Practical steps to take to walk in freedom.)
Bible Believers Cassettes, Inc. Loan Library. (A cassette lending library offering over 1,000 cassettes on the subject of marriage and relationships.) Call or write: 130 Spring Street, Springdale, Arkansas 72764 USA; (501) 756-1100.
Andrew Wommack Ministries, P.O. Box 3333, Colorado Springs, CO 80934-3333 USA (This ministry will send free of charge three cassette tapes a week to any family. Andrew has The Family Series and Love Series that deal with the subject of marriage. Write or call (719) 635-1111.)
If we can help you e-mail us at: WJoKrow@aol.com