Justices in black robes have redefined marriage yet the ancient text is unambiguous:
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27
God’s image bearers – male and female – were designed to become one.
Jesus replied, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ … and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10: 6-8
It is striking that the one covenant God asks man to keep is marriage. One man is joined to one woman for their natural lives.
Yet because we are fallen and live in a fallen context, we fail. Apathy, affairs, divorce, parallel lives… our sinful hearts drift from what God intended.
Many years ago Cindy and I saw young married couples failing. The US Census Department began using the term starter marriage. Couples divorce early. Get out before it’s too late. Upgrade to a better one.
Pre-marriage counseling, no matter how good, was not enough.
Couples lacked a biblical foundation for marriage.
Couples lacked examples of long-term marriages.
Couples lacked peer who were going through similar issues in life and marriage.
So Cindy and I cobbled together a curriculum and invited young couples into a two year Marriage Mentor relationship. We meet weekly to study Scripture, theology and model a lifelong ministry as a couple. We argue (a bit) in front of them, show them we are different but committed, demonstrate how we hammer out this wonderful, maddening, challenging thing called marriage, and try to follow Christ.
God’s word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people lumbering along trying to serve God and love one another.
Even though the culture has changed, God’s design has not.
Evaluate your marriage. Who are a few steps ahead of you that encouraged you in unity? Who is a few steps behind you that you need to encourage? Just don’t go it alone, drifting in and out of the design God intended.
He plans an elaborate proposal. She says “yes” through tears and squeals. Today’s typical church-going couple will likely attend 3-6 months worth of pre-marital counseling, but at the end of the engagement period, will still have put many more working hours towards planning their wedding than preparing for their lifelong commitment. This is not to place judgement on those couples. It’s neither bad nor good; it’s simply reality.
No matter how great a pre-marital counseling curriculum is, it’s not enough to equip a young couple with the tools, resources, and relationships they will need to form and sustain a lifelong, happy, healthy marriage. Over the last decade, dozens of Christian marriage books have been published with one overarching message: Marriage is to make you holy, not happy. But can’t it be both?
In Shaunti Feldhahn’s recent book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, she reports that 53% of Very Happy Couples agree with the statement, “God is at the center of our marriage”, compared to only 7% of Struggling Couples. Rewind to the early 90’s, Cindy and I set out on a mission to develop an experience to better equip young married couples for marital success.
Through a two-year, marriage mentor group, we teach couples to study the bible, integrate theology into daily life, and learn how to grow and nurture a strong marriage. Marriage can be both holy and happy, but it takes serious work, commitment, and an unwavering desire to place God at the center of your relationship through His Spirit, studying His Word, and being in community with His people.
#MarriageMentor - Structure Context and Expectations
VIDEO #2 - "#MarriageMentor: Structure, Context, and Expectations" What are some realistic expectations for your marriage mentorship group? Here, we talk about the possible effects on couples.Posted by Michael Easley InContext on Friday, November 13, 2015
The Affects of Mentors in Your Marriage
VIDEO #4: "#MarriageMentor: The Effects of Mentors in Your Marriage" Whether you're prepared to begin the mentor search today or a few months from now, we share what to look for in role model couples and how best to learn from them.Posted by Michael Easley InContext on Sunday, November 15, 2015
Today’s dating scene is everything from casual to complicated. However, the majority of dating seems to hinge on two important themes: entertainment and connection. We date to have fun, enjoy ourselves, and explore common interests. We also date to get to know a person, see how they act in specific situations, investigate if we truly enjoy spending time with that person.
Once a couple gets married, the dating usually stops. It’s no longer about enjoyment and connection, but about combining two lives together, two schedules, two budgets, two sets of priorities. Then babies come, and it’s about rearing precious, but not always easy, children.
While all of those elements in marriage are important, if you don’t continue to date your spouse—continue to pursue them and spend time for the sole purpose of connecting and enjoying each other—you will drift apart.
Part of our journey in learning how to date each other led us to an unexpected discovery: how ballroom dancing mirrored responses in leadership and submission in our own marriage. Exploring and applying God’s purpose of marriage, the concept of two becoming one, and the responses of leadership and submission became a crucial cornerstone in our marriage and in the marriage mentor group curriculum we teach.
If you’ve grown up in the church culture, you’re probably familiar with the idea of the husband being the “spiritual leader” in the family. But what does that really mean?
In the context of dating, we might say a guy is a great spiritual leader because he leads his girlfriend in prayer, or maybe even suggests they do a bible study together, or talk about spiritual things. But is that spiritual leadership?
Once a couple gets married, we may define “spiritual leadership” as a husband who wants to go to church, or suggests he and his wife join a small group with other married couples. Is that spiritual leadership?
Once a couple has children, perhaps the husband reads Bible stories to the kids at bedtime and tries to teach them lessons about Jesus. Is that spiritual leadership?
What if true spiritual leadership wasn’t measured by outward appearance or tangible actions at all? What if true spiritual leadership was marked by an innate belief that God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people were the most important
elements to a rich and strong marriage, and out of that innate belief a man lived his life differently, viewed his marriage differently, and treated his wife and children differently?
In many ways, today’s Christian culture has deemed the Bible as an important book, but not one that has daily relevance or potential for daily impact on our lives. Yet, Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the word of God is living and active. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Not only does the Bible have a lot to say about marriage, it has even more to say about who God is and who we are in relation to Him – and that information, if we truly studied it and applied it would revolutionize our marriages. The more aligned we are to our Creator, the more fully we are being the man or woman God created us to be, the more rich, meaningful, and perhaps even easy our marriages will be.
The Bible is not a dead book. It is not old, outdated, nor inapplicable to our daily lives. Rather, it is vital to the health and wellness of our marriages.
In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller pens,
“If you have a beautiful story, it has to have conflict. If you don’t have conflict, it can’t be a good story.”
Consider that for a moment. All great stories have conflict. If a story doesn’t have conflict, it has practically no plot line at all. The emotionally moving climax of a story, is when our hero overcomes the conflict– when the boy finally gets the girl, when the superhero conquers the villain, when the beloved criminal mastermind gets away with his heist!
The same is true for relationships. A relationship that has never weathered conflict, might be a nice friendship but it certainly isn’t one of weight and depth. Relationships are strengthened and matured when two people face conflict and have to work it out or weather the storm together. A relationship that survives conflict, is the most beautiful relationship of all.
Yet, when conflict appears in marriage, we think, “Uh oh! We’re in trouble!” But what if we stopped looking at conflict in marriage as something that is “wrong” and instead, looked at conflict in marriage as an opportunity to mature in our faith, grow in our communication skills, deepen our relationship with our spouse, and ultimately love one another in a more rich and meaningful way?