Summary: To understand God’s plan for marriage we must learn that: 1. It is a place where we learn about commitment. 2. It is a place where we learn about forgiveness and grace. 3. It is a place where we learn how to give honor. 4. It is a place where we experi
Perhaps you have seen some of the billboards that have appeared around major cities lately. They are simple messages from God. One reads: “Have You Read My #1 Best Seller? There Will Be a Test. – God” Others say things like: “My Way Is the Highway. – God”, and “Will The Road You’re on Get You to My Place? – God” But one that was sure to grab the attention of a lot of people said, “Loved the Wedding, Invite Me to the Marriage. – God” This morning I want to talk about inviting God into your marriage. It is important that you purposely invite God to come into your marriage relationship. It makes a difference. You are either cooperating with God’s plan for marriage or fighting it, and it is important for you to find God’s plan. Finding God’s plan allows you to enjoy your marriage, and fighting it leads to an unfulfilling relationship.
How do you find God’s plan for your marriage? It comes by understanding his purpose for marriage. First of all, to understand God’s plan for marriage we must understand that: It is a place where we learn about commitment. We know so little about commitment today. The number of unmarried couples living together has increased from 523,000 in 1970 to 4,236,000 in 1998. Professor Roger Rubin, a specialist in family studies at the University of Maryland, says, “We estimate that by the year 2000, half of all American adults will have had a cohabiting experience by the age of 30.” But several studies recently done in this field have found that couples who live together have an 80 percent greater chance of divorce than those who don’t, and that women who live with a man before marriage are twice as likely to experience domestic violence. A National Center for Mental Health study revealed that women who live with men they are not married to experience depression four times more than married women, and two times greater than single women. There is far more infidelity by both partners. In a survey of over 100 couples who lived together, 71 percent of the women said they would not live-in again. The Scriptures have always said what secular sociologists are only recently concluding through these studies, that living together without the commitment of marriage is not conducive to a fulfilling relationship — even if the couple eventually marries.
The Bible says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4). Throughout the Scriptures, God’s relationship to his people is talked about in terms of a marriage relationship. Commitment, love and passion are the elements of our relationship with God that parallel his design for marriage. Our marriages are to mirror our relationship with God. And the greatest thing that we experience from God is his commitment to us. Even in the Old Testament God demonstrates his loving faithfulness and commitment to his people by having the prophet Hosea marry a prostitute who is continually unfaithful to him. Though she was married to him, her children were not his children. Time after time Hosea brought his wife home — finally buying her back out of the sexual slave trade, after her last lover tired of her and sold her. God was showing through Hosea that his commitment to his people was marked by unremitting commitment. God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). This is the kind of commitment from God that indelibly marks our relationship with him.
In our culture, we allow our emotions to rule us. We talk about “falling” in love or out of love, as though it were something beyond our control. But God was saying that his commitment went beyond how he felt about his people. I know many people who wrestle with whether or not to stay in their marriage based on how they feel on any particular day. But real love is impossible without commitment. That is why a public service of commitment in marriage is so important. We are saying to the world that we are committing ourselves to this other person, “For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health. Till death do us part.” Commitment is not something that comes after we fall in love with someone, rather it is love that comes from commitment. You cannot have love without it. In other words, we are not committed to someone because we love them, we love them because we are committed to them. Love comes from commitment.
But the second thing that we need to understand about God’s plan for marriage is that: It is a place where we learn about forgiveness and grace. A friend of mine has a difficult marriage. He recently said to me: “I wish preachers would quit talking about their wife being their best friend. I think they do people who are struggling with their marriages a great disservice — as though your wife has to be your best friend in order to have a good relationship.” At first I was taken back by what he said. But he went on to talk about how stormy his own marriage had been, and that many times it would have been easier for him to leave than stay. He said, “I have had to work through a lot of things, and because of that, I think I am a better person and a better husband. My wife and I are not best friends. We are so different. We annoy each other with our faults and quirks. But I decided that God was doing something in me through this marriage. He was using a difficult marriage to help me grow spiritually. I have come to realize the many ways in which my wife has helped me and been a benefit to me. She makes up for so many areas where I fall short. And in those annoying areas of my wife’s personality I have learned how to extend grace to her, instead of reacting to her. I have learned how to love her in spite of those things, sometimes even because of those things. In short, we become Jesus to each other, showing each other forgiveness and extending grace. I have experienced things in this relationship that I would never have known if had been easy.”