Sermons

Summary: Building a healthy lasting relationship requires both parties to commit to a permanent covenant relationship with God and others.

OPENING

SENTENCE: Back in my UPS days one of the workers who worked across the belt from me as we loaded package cars was a guy named Gary.

INTRODUCTION: Somehow we got on the topic of marriage and he told us that he saw no need for marriage or at least the publically recognized covenant we call marriage. He argued, “I don’t need a piece of paper to love one someone? That’s all it is, a piece of paper. All it does is complicates things.”

In those few words, Gary summarized the common contemporary view of marriage. In this view marriage is simply about two individuals who love each other- so why do you need a piece of paper to prove it. And, if this all that marriage is then who can argue with him? All the frills, responsibilities and expectations are not necessary.

TRANSITION

SENTENCE: But we might ask, “What is the difference between the marriage contract and the cohabitation deal and why does it really matter?”

TRANSITION: Linda Waite points out that the prime difference between marriage and cohabitation in contemporary North American culture has to do with time horizons and commitment. What makes marriage unique among emotional and financial relationships is the public vow of permanence. With marriage, partners publicly promise each other that neither one will be alone any longer. Cohabitation, by contrast, is seen by partners and society as a temporary arrangement. They want to leave the back door open should they decide to leave. For that reason, the majority of cohabiters either break up or marry within two years.

And, no wonder. The idea of permanence has been replaced with personal autonomy. For many cohabitors, the idea of a relatively easy exit with no well-defined responsibilities constitutes cohabitation’s biggest attraction. They view marriage as a bigger commitment than living together, and they do not feel ready at this time to take on the larger responsibilities to another person that marriage represents. Cohabitors, in other words, have a shorter time horizon than spouses do.

SAY WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY: Both biblical and empirical evidence shows that we can only form lasting healthy lasting relationships if both parties begin the relationship with the idea of permanence and as a commitment made before God and others. I want to look at the question, “Why should we value and protect the sacred covenant of marriage between a man and a woman?” and look at three responses.

TEXT: I Thessalonians 4:1-12

THEME: Building a healthy lasting relationship requires both parties to commit to permanent covenant relationship before God and others.

Why should we value and protect the sacred covenant of marriage between a man and a woman?

I. Evidence demonstrates that marriage is superior to cohabitation for the good of both the individual and society. (I Thessalonians 4:1-8)

The Bible never uses the word, “cohabitation” but that does not mean the practice is not recognized. Biblical sexuality can be summarized in six words, “Abstinence until marriage, fidelity within it.” Anything outside of that context is regarded as sexual immorality- that includes cohabitation. Notice what Paul says about this topic.

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact, you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure but to live a holy life.8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” The point of this passage is that there are consequences for abandoning this principle and the evidence seems to bear this out.

A. Married people live happier lives than cohabiting couples.

The negative stereotype of marriage in our culture is misleading. We have all seen the rising divorces rates over the last five decades. We know that in 1970, 89 percent of all births were to married parents whereas today only 60 percent are. In 1960 72 percent of American adults were married but only 50 percent were in 2008. Young adults look at this are have become weary of marriage and believe their chances of having a good marriage are not great or may even lead to boredom. As comedian Chris Rock has asked, “Do you want to be single and lonely or married and bored?”

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