Summary: A Christian Marriage is more than a contract. It is acovenant commitment. It is a solemn promise.
Marriage Covenant – Fanning the Flame
Christian marriage is more than a contract. It is a covenant commitment. A covenant is an agreement between two parties. It is a solemn promise. God made a covenant with Noah in Genesis 6:18. If Noah was obedient and built an ark God said, “I will solemnly swear to keep you safe in the boat, with your wife and your sons and their wives.” God also made a covenant promise to Noah in Genesis 9:11, “I solemnly promise never to send another flood to kill all living creatures and destroy the earth.”
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5 is describing the marriage relationship that is blessed by the Lord. Marriages are blessed when both husband and wife have reverence for the Lord and live in mutual submission.
The submission in Ephesians 5:21 is not an unhealthy submission with either husband or wife serving as a slave to a master. It is a relationship that honors Christ. It is not a relationship where one says, “If you don’t do what I want then I will not do what you want.”
The key to submission here is “reverence for Christ.” We may think we have reverence for Christ but have blind spots in applying Biblical truths to our relationships.
I was a committed Christian when Carollyn and I got married. In fact I was planning on full time ministry when we were married. Carollyn had always said she didn’t want to marry a minister. Both her grandfathers were ministers and her dad was a minister. Then she met me.
I’m sure I had more rough edges than Carollyn when we got married. I know I’m a slow learner. It took me seven years of marriage to begin making smart decisions.
We were in our sixth year of ministry and just beginning to plant a new Free Methodist church in Taylor, Michigan a suburb of Detroit. At the time we had two children in diapers. With all the activities involved in planting a new congregation and building a new church building to prepare for launch Sunday. We had a chaotic life-style. I was gone most evenings and I was not helping out that much with our children.
I received a call from Carollyn one morning. She was crying and said: “Something’s got to change.” “Come home I need to talk to you.” I didn’t have a clue. I thought all was well. I was so task oriented that I failed to read body language. Carollyn carried enough to confront and said, “I can’t continue unless things change.” “I’ve got to have help with our children.”
I faced the reality of Biblical truth, “What does it profit a pastor/church planter to win the community to Christ and lose his wife and family.” From that point on I began to listen. The smartest thing I ever did in my marriage was to begin to listen to my wife. I took responsibility and began to make changes. I had to take responsibility for the choices I made.
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands love your wife just as Christ loved the church and died for the church and gave up his life for her.” To have mutual respect (Eph. 5:33) means we really listen to each other.
Fan the Flame. Last Thanksgiving we traveled to Kansas to be with our son and his family. I spent a couple days working on the church they are remodeling into their new home. I took out five windows and help replace three windows and block up two. It was cold outside so we built a fire in a wood stove. We got the flame burning, but there was a problem keeping it burning. When we closed the door to the store a burst of wind would cause a down draft and snuff out the flame. To keep the fire going we had to open the wood stove door and then the wood would ignite again. Oxygen was needed.
Good marriages are like a burning wood stove. Both marriages and fires need tending. You can’t sit back and say what will be will be? You have to keep fanning the flame. Keep oxygen flowing into the relationship to keep it healthy. A fire will not burn without oxygen. A marriage will not experience health and vitality without fanning several flames.
I. Fan the Flame of Commitment
The marriage vows call for commitment: “I take you to be my wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, in plenty and in want, In joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death us do part, and thereto I pledge you my faith.”
Commitment is more than maintaining. Commitment demands daily attention. Commitment means working to make the relationship grow.