Summary: A real marriage is based on God’s plan not TV reality.
While attending a marriage seminar on communication, David and his wife listened to the instructor declare, “It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other.”
He addressed the men, “Can you describe your wife’s favorite flower?” David leaned over, touched his wife’s arm gently and whispered, “Pillsbury All Purpose, isn’t it?”
It’s Valentine weekend and for many people thoughts of love and romance have been on their minds and in their buying habits. Relationships are remember and cards, flowers, and candy (as well other things) are sent and received.
I felt strongly led a few weeks ago to take time out of our current series, “Getting In Shape For God,” (to be completed next week) and take time on this Valentine’s Day Sunday to address the importance and place of marriage in our lives and society.
If you have read the papers and watched the news you know that the issue of marriage has been frequently mentioned especially in regards to the push (in some parts of our nation) for same sex marriage. Then there has been the ongoing concern regarding the divorce rate, the cohabitation rate, and the impact of both on children and family life. Not to mention the impact of TV on perceptions of marriage.
Marriage is important. Marriage is wonderful. God created marriage for the purpose of both creating the human race and for a morally correct outlet of love. Genesis 2:24 and I Corinthians 7:1-9 supports these purposes.
I could take several weeks to deal with each of these issues and a series on marriage is a very appropriate sermon topic, but this morning I have felt led to speak primarily to married couples, but I invite all to listen today. And my sermon title gives you an idea of where I am headed. I am also aware of the emotions that surround this subject because of the experiences of many here this morning. It is my sincere hope and prayer that all of us will hear God’s voice and experience God’s presence, as we each need to, this morning.
A January 21, 2004 article by Emma Juhlin in the Oregon Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon Independent Student Newspaper, questioned the effects of reality TV on marriage. The article is entitled, “Counselors say reality TV shows harm image of healthy marriage.” With a subtitle of “Some marriage counselors claim shows like ’Newlyweds’ and ’The Bachelor’ exploit the institution of marriage.”
Juhlin interviewed several Oregon marriage counselors for this article and this is what two of them said:
Diane Thurlow, a counselor at Healthy Marriage Counseling in Eugene, said, “The reality television marriage shows make the institution look like a game… "It’s just fun and smiles and sex… "I think they minimize the vows people make to each other when they get married." "Society,” she continued, “doesn’t do a good job of showing people that it is difficult and how to be together successfully." She added that couples in their 30s and 40s are most likely to be influenced by the idyllic standards of reality television.”
Marriage counselor Marlin Schultz said he “is concerned that reality television programs don’t allow enough time for the couple to get to know each other. "One of the highest correlations in a successful relationship is friendship," Schultz said. "I’d like to see couples who have long-term, stable relationships (in reality television)."
Which brings us to our text of the morning, Song of Songs (or Songs of Solomon) 2:15, “Quick! Catch all the little foxes before they ruin the vineyard of your love, for the grapevines are all in blossom.”
Now some of you read your bulletin this morning and saw “Song of Songs” and perhaps gasped. “What, we are having a sermon out of this book?” And some perhaps thought, “What in the world is “Song of Songs?” That’s in the Bible?”
It appears after the book of Ecclesiastes and before the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. It is a book that some have wondered why it is in the Bible in the first place.
It is a book that is a love letter between a man and a woman that speaks directly to the sanctity of love that God wants us to have in our lives and especially in our marriages. Some might consider it erotic. But, maybe that is because we have forgotten that true love in marriage contains passion and because of our societal preoccupation with sex we have tainted this proper passion.
I recently read an excerpt from John Trent’s book, Love For All Seasons, in which he uses this verse to address the “little foxes” that can ruin a marriage. And I suggest this morning that when these foxes are not hunted down and done away with they can, in Trent’s words, “quickly grow into patterns of behavior or personal problems that become irritants and then genuine threats to the health and stability of our relationship.” How do we deal with them? Trent suggests five steps: (Overhead 1):