Summary: God’s advice on building an effective marriage
“HEAVEN’S HELP FOR THE HOME” (Part 1 of 3)
A fellow arrived home early to find his wife in the arms of his best friend, who swore how much they were in love. To quiet the enraged husband, he suggested, “Let’s play gin rummy. If I win, you get a divorce so I can marry her. If you win, I promise never to see her again. Okay?”
“Okay,” agreed the husband. “But how about a penny a point to make it interesting?” (#267)
Something is radically wrong with homes today. The family is under fire and home life is disintegrating. Year by year the stress put on marriages grows greater. In 1870 there was one divorce for every 34 marriages. By 1900 it was one in five, and by 1950 it was one in three. In the past few years there has been virtually one divorce for every two marriages. (#224)
You know the statistics. Thirty-eight percent of all first marriages fail. Seventy-nine percent of those whose first marriages fail will remarry and forty-four percent of the second marriages will fail as well. Thirty percent of all American couples will experience some form of domestic violence during their lifetimes.
Twenty percent of all officers killed in the line of duty are killed while answering calls involving family fights.
Approximately twelve to fifteen million wives are battered each year. The negative facts and figures of marriage paint a very grim picture indeed. (#413) According to recent research, over 50 percent of married women will be unfaithful at least once, and over 70 percent of married men. (#283)
The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that one in every four American families with children under 18 is a one-parent family. That was 26 percent in 1985, compared to 13 percent in 1970. A woman heads nine of every ten single-parent families. (#423)
The very first institution God founded upon this earth was the home. (Gen 2:18-25; Mt. 19:1-6) As goes the home, so go society and the nation. Paul told Timothy that “in the latter days” there would be the breakdown of the home and family life. (2 Tim 3:1-5)
Centuries ago Confucius said, “The strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of its homes.” One of the greatest things we can do as individuals is help to build godly, Christian homes.
God is for the family. Even as He created various physical and natural laws by which the universe functions, so He, when He created the home, gave certain guidelines by which the home and family can best function.
In Colossians 3, Paul is very practical as he deals with the everyday relationships of our life.
Faith in Christ not only changes and transforms individuals, God also wants to transform homes and families.
People are problems for all of us, and the people closest to us, our mates and children, may cause the greatest problems of all. Here Paul tells us how we can develop and build these relationships so that our homes may be all that God intended them to be. In these verses we find the Creator’s guidelines for husbands, wives, children and parents. Today we want to focus on God’s design for husbands and wives.
To best understand Paul’s instructions, we must first get a clear understanding of …
I. THE BACKGROUND AND HISTORICAL SITUATION.
The Christian ethic is an ethic of reciprocal obligation. It is never an ethic on which all the duties are on one side. As Paul saw it, husbands have as great an obligation as wives. This was an entirely new thing.
Under Jewish law a woman was a thing, the possession of her husband, just as much as his house or his flocks or his material goods. She had no legal rights whatsoever. For instance, under Jewish law, a husband could divorce his wife for any cause, while a wife had no rights whatsoever in the initiation of the divorce.
The only grounds on which a divorce might be awarded her were if her husband developed leprosy, became an apostate or ravished a virgin.
In Greek society a respectable woman lived a life of entire seclusion. She never appeared on the streets alone, not even to go marketing. She lived in the women’s apartments and did not join her men-folk, even for meals. From her there was demanded complete servitude and chastity; but her husband could go out as much as he chose and could enter into as many relationships outside marriage as he liked without incurring any stigma. Under both Jewish and Greek laws and customs all the privileges belonged to the husband and all the duties to the wife. (Barclay 160-61)
Christian teaching changed all of that. Jesus liberated the first-century woman and elevated her to a new status of position and privilege in society.