Summary: God instituted marriage and designed it to reflect his love for us in Jesus Christ.
First Presbyterian Church
Wichita Falls, Texas
February 5, 2012
MARRIAGE: WHOSE IDEA?
Of Horses and Carriages: Part 1
Genesis 2:15, 18-24 (NIV)
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it….
18 The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
‘Love and marriage, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell ya, brother: You can’t have one without the other.’ So goes the 1950s hit song introduced, I think, by Frank Sinatra. But it’s not necessarily true, is it? You can have love without marriage, and you can have marriage without love.
I want to visit with you about marriage over the next few weeks. It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is just ahead of us. So it seemed like a good time to think about matrimony. I’m calling the series ‘Of Horses and Carriages.’ It’s kind of lame, I know – no pun intended – but I hope that fact won’t deter us from listening again to the Scriptures to see how they help connect our horse to our carriage. In other words, what the Bible has to tell us about ‘getting hitched!”
Now, let me offer a little disclaimer here. I don’t so much want to talk about the how to’s of marriage. I can’t begin to tell you how little I know about such things. I am married to an exceptional woman, but there is absolutely nothing exceptional about me. So, I’m not going to address the how’s of marriage but, rather, the how come’s. I want us to look at God’s purposes for marriage, because I think it’s at that point that we run into the most trouble. We think we know what marriage is for, but the truth is: we may not.
Let me also say that I am aware that a number of us are not married. Perhaps we were at one time, but that is no longer the case for us. Or, perhaps we have never been married. Some of us may plan never to ‘tie the knot,’ as they say. I believe this series can be helpful for you as well as for those among us who are married, because what I am going to say about the marriage relationship can be applied broadly to any relationship. So, I hope you’ll stay with me. In any case, I plead with you for your patience.
When a couple asks me to perform their wedding, I request that they sit with me for a series of conversations. I call this process marriage preparation. I don’t call it pre-marital counseling – at least, not any more – because the word counseling carries with it some expectations that might not get met. Please don’t misunderstand; I have nothing but respect for counseling and those who do it, but I don’t see what I do with a couple to be counseling – at least, not primarily.
Our conversations usually follow a thread that includes family history, personality types, conflict styles, economic values, faith issues, and the like. But here lately, I have become dissatisfied with what I do with couples. It’s not that these emphases are not important. They are. They are incredibly important.
But I am a Christian minister, and I have wondered lately how much ministry I have done with couples and how Christian the focus has been. What I have done I could have done in almost any setting. With the exception, maybe, of a little Jesus-talk and some prayer, I could have been doing what I do in a Jewish synagogue or a public school or a state agency. And there’s not anything wrong with any of those institutions, but that is not my calling. I am a servant of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.