Summary: Part one six on marriage and family
…let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7: 17b (NRSVA)
Today we are beginning a six-part series on marriage and family life. Family life is not just about husband, wife, 2.3 kids, the dog and a white picket fence. It has always been more complicated than that.
Along the way we will see what God has planned for helping strained and broken relationships. We will talk about singleness, parenting, and about living with your parents without bloodshed! We will have some times for sacred responses as we come to each subject.
• We will have a time of prayer for healing for those whose relationships are broken
• We will pray for families that want to experience a higher level of Christ’s peace for the home.
• We will see the connection between church and home as we receive new members on May 31st.
• For those who are not married we will have a time of commitment and celebration of the Biblical principles of relationships.
• And we will celebrate marriage and the home on the final Sunday of the series (June 21st) with an opportunity for renewal of vows for couples, and remembering sacred vows for those whose spouses have already passed.
We won’t hit every topic there is on home and family in six weeks, but we will see in God’s Word the kind of strength He can give us for living a healthy and productive family life, whether you are single, married or single-again.
Postcard from the edge of reality
Some folks have a concept of marriage that it is a complete “bed of roses” where there are no challenges, hard times or disagreements. Prince Charming shows up, sweeps her off her feet and, off they go into a movie fade-out – living happily ever after; these are not sane people! If you do not believe me I will arrange for you to sit in on a pre-marriage counseling session.
A story is told that George Bernard Shaw was visiting with a reporter, and his wife was there. As they talked back and forth, the reporter noticed that Shaw’s wife was busily knitting. Finally he turned to her and said, “You seem very absorbed in your knitting. Is that a strong interest?” “Not really,” she said. “You see, I’ve heard these stories of Bernard’s for years. And if I didn’t do something with my hands, I’d strangle him.” 
It is this reality that confirms to our hearts the necessity of help for the tough times. This morning we will look at the reality of “marital rocks and hard places.” These are the times of challenge that test and stretch our resolve.
In Genesis 2:24 we read about the first marriage that “two become one”. Now that certainly means sexual relationship, but there is a higher goal of intimacy God intended for couples.
Paul understood (because God gave him the wisdom) how volatile and important sexual intimacy is to human beings. And he understood the potential for sin connected with the natural sex drive God placed within us.
We have a culture that is obsessed with sex, to the point where intimacy which includes commitment to sexual faithfulness and lifetime promises have become passé’. The church has had its share of culpability in this as well. Every time a preacher in the limelight was discovered living the lowlife, the door opened a little wider to the kind of permissiveness that is killing wholesome attitudes towards sexuality.
The whole point is that sexual intimacy in this partnership called marriage can be the greatest ally in strengthening and deepening the relationship – or a lack of intimacy can be the wedge that ends it!
So, Christians are anything but wet blankets when it comes to sex. We just have the joy of inside information on God’s partnership instruction. It teaches us how important it is to first keep all our relationship issues – communication, honesty, unselfishness, consideration – keep ‘em all as short accounts, up-to-date and strong. In so-doing we can enter the realm of sexual intimacy unhindered by grudges and hurt feelings. We can do so with the freedom and joy God intended.
Why it should be Permanent
It is no secret that we live in the most separated society this nation has ever known. Families are pulled apart at greater than a 50% divorce rate. Many of my friends and family have suffered through divorce – including some of you.
In counseling I have wept with too many over the brokenness that inevitably describes the process. It is not unlike death, in that the relationship dies. A woman shared with me that, for her, it was worse than death. “At least when someone dies,” she said, “you go to the grave, and it’s over. When he left me for that woman I didn’t get to bury him. The corpse still has visiting rights.”