Summary: A pastor and his wife preach a message on Biblical oneness in marriage culimating in a marriage covenant renewal service for the church
Developing Oneness in Marriage
Marriage Covenant Service
Pastor Gary and Kim Shockley
February 16, 2003
Several couples from our church are fresh out of the Family Life Marriage Seminar this weekend. There were around 180 couples present. Kim and I decided to attend because we wanted to invest the time in making a good marriage better. We’ll be married 23 years this June. We learned that even after 23 years we have to work at having a God-honoring relationship. In all honesty I probably have to work harder at that than Kim does.
Dean shared a story with me about a man who posed this question to his wife one day after an intense argument that he was losing, “How can you be so incredibly beautiful and at the same time so incredibly stupid?” Now at that point I would have been a dead man. But his wife, showing superior wit, replied, “Well, honey, I’m beautiful so that you would love me. I’m stupid so I would love you!”
Marriage is the art of two incompatible people learning to live compatibly.
This morning’s message is focused specifically on what it means to have a God-honoring marriage where true oneness can be experienced and expressed.
This is not about elevating marriage above singleness or to suggest that married people are somehow better off, more spiritual or closer to God than single folks. In fact there’s scripture to suggest just the opposite! In the Apostle Paul’s lengthy teaching on marriage in 1 Corinthians chapter seven he makes this startling remark. “I wish everyone could get along without marrying, just as I do. But we are not all the same. God gives some the gift of marriage, and to others he gives the gift of singleness.” (I Cor. 7:7) Paul believed, from his own personal experience, that it is much easier to serve God if you are single because you don’t have the pressures and concerns of those who are married.
Because so many of us have accepted the gift, and the awesome responsibility, of marriage Hebrews 13:4 tells the church to, “Give honor to marriage.” Because of the increasing pressures against marriage in our culture it takes the commitment of the entire church family to honor and support those who have been gifted with this covenant relationship
Let’s look for just a moment at what the Bible teaches us about marriage:
1. Marriage was God’s idea: “a man leaves his mother and father and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” (Genesis 2:24) Jesus referring back to this passage added, “”Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.” (Matt. 19:5)
2. Marriage is a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the church. We read in Ephesians 5:31-32, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united as one. This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” God-honoring marriages with Christ at the center point the world to the kind of relationship God wants to have with every person! Your marriage is to be a testimony to the world of the love of Christ and the faithfulness of God!
3. Marriage is to be a life-long pursuit of oneness.
(Kim) Right now in the United States 1/3 of all first marriages will end in divorce and nearly fifty person of all married people will experience at least one divorce. And that percentage is the same for those who profess to be born-again Christians. What that tells me is as Christians we are in no way immune from the pain and reality of divorce. Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee a trouble free marriage. All the more reason for a commitment on our parts as a church to a life-long pursuit of oneness. We need to be praying for our married brothers and sisters in Christ.
In the wedding services I lead there is usually the lighting of the unity candle. The couples pick up their separate lighted tapers and together light the center candle to symbolize their oneness. I leave it up to them but usually suggest that once they light the unity candle they blow out their individual tapers. I’ll never forget one wedding where the couple had decided ahead of time to leave their tapers burning. As soon as the groom put his burning taper back in the holder and turned around to face the congregation his blushing bride leaned over and blew his candle out. Everyone chuckled. I remembered someone saying at the reception, “during the ceremony the two may have become one—but I think during the honeymoon they’ll discover which one.”