Summary: This message is about what the Bible says to be a great spouse and parent.

Second, only to a personal relationship with God, marriage is the single most important relationship that one will ever have. It is also the holiest thing a person will ever do. Marriage is about living in harmony, commonality, and agreement, which is impossible without both partners being Born-Again (See 2 Cor 6:14-7-2). It should be entered into like the High Priest entering into the Holy of Holies - with reverent fear and trepidation – fully understanding the consequences of failure. God has explicitly forbidden a Born-Again Christian to marry a non-Believer, so the discussion here is directly addressed only to those already Born-Again and desire to be married (2 Cor 6:14).

One of the reasons God instituted marriage was to show human beings the kind of relationship He wants to have with every person on the planet. In the Old Testament, the word "marriage" describes God's spiritual relationship with His chosen people, Israel (Ps 45; Isa 54:6). When God's people fell into sin, especially idolatry, the sin was likened to adultery (Jer 3:1-20). In the New Testament, the analogy is continued: Christ is the Bridegroom, and the Church is His Bride (John 3:29; Eph 5:25-33).

Every Born-Again Christian is to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness. The ultimate challenge for every Christian is to allow the Holy Spirit to transform them "into His likeness with ever-increasing glory" (2 Cor 3:18 NIV).

A Harvard study revealed that couples who read the Bible, pray, and attend church together regularly have a divorce rate of 1 in 1287, less than 1/10 of 1% compared to 24% of non-believing marriages ending in divorce! Contrary to popular belief, the statistical evidence shows that, on the average, second marriages actually last four years LESS than the first marriage.

Every Born-Again Christian must submit "to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph 5:21 ESV). The Bible expands on what submission entails and implores husbands and wives to imitate Christ's spiritual closeness and love for His Bride, the Church.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands." (Eph 5:21-24 ESV)

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." (Eph 5:25-27 ESV)

"In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Eph 5:28-33 NIV)

The Bible counsels Born-Again husbands and wives to imitate Christ's spiritual closeness and love for His Bride. God is telling us that marriage must first begin with submission to one another. Submitting to one another in marriage means to esteem your spouse more highly than yourself. It becomes easy for a wife to submit to her husband when she knows that he has only her best interest at the forefront of every action he takes and every decision he makes.

The husband has been given the grave responsibility to love his wife as Jesus loves the Church! This is an impossible task apart from Him. Unless they completely commit their marriage into the hands of the Lord, it will be impossible to live as the Bible describes.

It has been said that marriage is a 50/50 proposition. The true ideal is that both husband and wife should each work at giving 100% in the marriage. However, the reality is that marriage demands will NEVER result in perfectly equal sharing but will instead create constant changes. These changes will result in, rather than a 100/100 or a 50/50 relationship, more realistically, at times an 80/20 or 30/70 or 65/35 sharing relationship.

One person will, at times, be required to meet a greater measure of demands due to such factors as job security, school, children, the health of the spouse - whether physical or mental - and so on. By keeping this in proper perspective, we will avert being overwhelmed by those temporary challenges that will always be a part of married life.

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