THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE IN MARRIAGE
Gen. 2:24-25; Eph. 5:21-33
From the Book “In the Beginning”
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E. An Intimate Union - Gen. 2:24-25
We have seen that God designs and desires marriage to be a sacred union, an equal union, an exclusive union, and a permanent union. Today we it is to be an intimate union.
God has Moses write of marriage, “. . .and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
They were clothed with the glory of purity. Delitzsch says, “Their bodies were the clothing of their internal glory; and their internal glory was the clothing of their naked¬ness.”
God’s INTENTION for marriage can be pictured as a triangle. Two people, who really don’t know each other like they think they do, are far apart in many ways.
Through the years they are to grow closer and closer together as they are becoming ONE. They fill the void of “loneliness” and each has a companion to share life with. Finding this we find a taste of heaven on earth.
Divorce figures and many couples we know show that many couples do not find this. This is because of the INTRUSION of Satan. Eve leads Adam to disobey God. Adam blames Eve for his failure. Adam and Eve see their nakedness and hide from each other and from God.
Their home becomes a house of tears when their first son, Cain, kills their second son, Abel, out of jealousy.
They didn’t have the CHARACTER of Christian marriage, they have Satan’s CORRUPTION of Christian marriage.
The best place Satan can launch his attack on the Church and Christianity is in the homes of Christians. If he can drive a wedge between husbands and wives, our lives are miserable. One country song says, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
When this happens we become crippled church members; parents and citizens. Building a home is an uphill battle because all the weapons of hell are directed against it..
But take heart! What Satan attacks God protects. It is God’s will for you to build a holy, happy home and therefore as you work and pray to that end, all the powers of heaven will be at your disposal.
In Ephesians 5:22-23, we have the basic passage on how to bring God’s INTERVENTION to defeat Satan’s plans. We might call this the CONDITIONS of Chris¬tian marriage. Ephesians says:
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (We hear much about wives submitting to husband, but here Paul infers husbands are to submit to wives and parents to their children.”
Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. . .each one of you must love your wife as you love yourself and the wife must respect her husband” (5:21, 22, 25, 33).
I. GOD’S INTENTION - THE CHARACTER OF MARRIAGE
God’s intention for Christian marriage is intimate companionship, where two human beings grow closer and closer to each other in life.
Marriage counselors picture this coming together in many ways. There is mutual ENJOYMENT, mutual ADJUSTMENT, and mutual FULFILLMENT.
In the first the emphasis is on the physical, in the second - the mental and emotional, and the third - the spiritual.
David Mace says that on this second level, there are five major adjustments: sex, money, work, in-laws, and parenthood. (Success in Marriage, Ch. 5-10, Abingdon):
It is in the nitty gritty arena of decision making and change and give-and-take and compromise, that marriages succeed or fail. It is here that you really get to know each other and get closer and closer or drift apart.
We come together in LOVE
The first Greek word for love, is EROS, physical, sexual love. Sex inside marriage is beautiful and it is the gift of God.
Grab a handful of soil and you have the rich, beautiful material that sustains life. Take it in the living room and throw it on the carpet and it becomes DIRT.
Sex within the bonds of marriage is beautiful, but outside of marriage, it is dirt, it is filth, it is harmful and destructive. The Bible does not blush when it mentions the sexuality of Adam and Eve.
The second Greek word is STORGE or family love. How wonderful when husbands and wives take on new roles as father and mother. I think this is why the “Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie” were so popular.
Here is where husbands and wives and children not only have fun together but learn the important lessons of life together.
One little eleven year old boy put it like this in an essay - “What I Like Best About My Home”:
“My mother keeps a cookie jar above the stove and we can have two cookies a day unless it’s close to supper. My daddy can get one any time but some¬times Mama fusses at him. My daddy comes home from work, slaps my mama on the behind and tells us what a good cook she is. She tells him to go wash his hands but before he does he kisses her on the cheek. Then they hug. They act like they just got married. That’s what I like best about my home.”
The next word is PHILEO or friendship. As husbands and wives go through the years and through the deeper levels of sexual love and family love, they should become each other’s best friend.
This is the true intimacy of marriage - communication and companionship.
The husband a the wife must put their mate above the children and above themselves if they are to become friends. Each must know that the first person they can always count on is the other. No one described this better than Dina Craik over a hundred years ago:
“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort, of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts not measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep that which is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”(Source Unknown)
The point of the triangle, the ultimate intimacy is AGAPE the sacrificial love. Here the husband or wife is willing to give them selves for the other.
I read years ago of an elderly missionary whose wife who contracted a highly contagious disease. She was placed in complete isolation where she would stay until she died, because her disease was incurable.
Visitors could only communicate with her by intercom, as they looked through a glass at her room. For months her husband came and how sad the scene as he would touch one side of the glass and she the other.
He would kiss one side of the glass and she the other. One day he came with a paper. He had worked it out legally where they could go to a private sanitarium and he could go and live out his days in the room with her, though it meant sharing her disease.
He said, “We have lived together. We have loved together. And we will live out our days and go to heaven together.” This is “agape” love. This is God’s intention and design for marriage. And the two shall become one!
II. SATAN’S INTRUSION- THE CORRUPTION OF MARRIAGE (Gen. 3)
The devil has his triangle. He wants to drive a wedge between husbands and wives so that two people who think they are close because of “eros” or physical attraction (the point of the triangle), grow further and further apart through the years.
They experience the loss of COMPANIONSHIP.
Someone called marriage a three ring circus. There is the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering. Someone pictured the Six Stages of the Married Cold:
Year One: Honey, that cough sounds bad. I’ve already called the doctor. You go to bed and I’ll take care of you.
Year Two: Lie down honey. I’ll get you some soup. Do we have any?
Year Three: Honey, you’d better go to bed after you get through with supper and the dishes.
Year Four: Why don’t you take an aspirin?
Year Five: Take some cough syrup, woman! You sound like a barking seal!
Year Six: Stop all that sneezing! You’re going to give whatever you’ve got to me!
This is funny and not funny. The lack of COMPANIONSHIP AND LONELINESS is the number reason for husbands and wives having affairs. It is not primarily sex that they want; it is to find someone who cares about what they think and say.
Their life together is COEXISTENCE. Each does his or her own thing and they tolerate each other. There is no real hate and no real love. There is little feeling of any kind except irritation when the mate gets in the way of something you want to do.
Husband and wife live under one roof, but they are never really together. They are becoming strangers.
1. The Fuel (Man and Woman).
Most men and women have one dominant FEAR and one dominant NEED. A woman’s greatest fear is to be NEGLECTED and her greatest need is to FEEL NEEDED.
She cannot tolerate her husband putting anything above her or taking her for granted. This is the primary cause for the women’s liberation move¬ment.
One woman said, “If my husband had a cook, a housekeeper and a mistress, he wouldn’t need me.”
In other words, I am functional. I can be replaced by a warm body. I don’t contribute as a human being. As a person, I am not really needed. This unhappy woman is prime fuel for Satan’s fires.
A man’s greatest fear is being DOMINATED BY A WOMAN and his greatest need is to be RESPECTED or looked up to.
From the day a man enters this world he has a woman telling him what to do. His mother says, “Wipe your feet! Blow your nose! Do your homework! etc.”
He goes to Sunday School as a preschooler and who meets him at the door? A woman.
He goes to school and who then has the authority to make him toe the line? A woman! Count on it, ladies, the last thing a man wants out of marriage is another woman telling him what to do.
The opposite of this is to be LOOKED UP TO.
2. The Friction (Neglect and Nagging)
As husband and wife work through the adjustments of life together, the husband’s tendency is to NE¬GLECT his wife.
Men get their self image from their jobs and wives feel their job is more important to them that they are. The feel neglected and start NAGGING – “Telling somebody something when you know they know it.”
This makes the man feel DOMINATED by his wife and looked down on as a failure as a husband and father.
His response is to NEGLECT her more. To get away from the nagging he stays later at work, takes up a hobby; etc.
She feels neglected, increases the nagging, and the viscous cycle drives people apart and after 20 years, when the children leave, they find themselves married to a stanger.
They live in the same house but are slowly growing further apart. The separating may lead to an affair and
ultimately leads to the final separation – divorce. T
If they stay together, for the kids, to keep up appearances, etc. they are just coexisting. The only common bond they have, other than this vicious cycle, through the years, are THE CHILDREN. This is why men tend to build their lives around their jobs and women build theirs around children.
It is estimated that the average husband and wife spend less than thirty minutes a week talking about something other than the kids or what happened on their jobs.
This is why we so often see marriages, apparently healthy, break up after twenty or more years. Two young people, in love at the marriage altar, have become total strangers, enemies instead of friends.
The devil’s triangle has taken another home. You may think this is an over simplification, but it represents what is happening in over 90 percent of the troubled homes I have counseled in my 25 years as a pastor.
C. GOD’S INTERVENTION –
THE CONDITIONS OF CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
1. God’s Answer to the Husband - Love (5:25)
God tells the husband to love his wife “just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it” (5:25). When the husband loves his wife like this, he loves her SUPREMELY and SACRIFICIALLY. He puts her first - above his work, above his hobbies, above his buddies, and above himself - and he LETS HER KNOW IT. Her need to be needed will be met and her fear of being taken for grated will be gone.
Quintin Matsys, a great artist in years gone by, began his adult years as a blacksmith in Antwerp. He fell in love with a girl of that town whose father was an artist. When they talked of marriage, her father stood against them. He said, “My daughter must be the wife of a man of culture, a man of the arts, a man of refinement - but the wife of blacksmith? Never!”
The girl adored her father. He was wrong, of course, but the decision and the inevitable division, broke her heart as she tried to work things out. The strong young man was torn as well. Knowing nothing about art he went to a store and bought an artist’s pad and pencils.
The strong hands tried to draw but the result was failure and frustration. Then, drawing with his heart as well as his hands, he worked day and night on a picture of this girl, as he saw her through the eyes of love.
He appeared at the home one afternoon and gave his creation to the father and said, “Sir, I am no longer a blacksmith, I am now an artist.” The old man saw in that picture the latent talent but he also saw the strength and love behind it. He welcomed him with open arms and the Quintin Matsys who gave himself for the one he loved received his bride and found his calling in life.
2. God’s Answer to the Wife – Submit (5:22-24)
God’s answer to wives is the hated and misunder¬stood word - submit. Paul says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as to the Lord” (5:22). This does not mean wives are to be doormats, or are to never express their opinion, or are to obey anything a husband might ask.
Common sense knowledge of scripture tells us that a wife does not have to go against God and violate her standards at the command of an ungodly mate. For example, no Christian wife would abuse her children or sell her body to pay the rent. There are limits. There are conditions.
The basic meaning is that the wife looks up to the husband as the one, under God, who is primarily responsible for the physical and spiritual welfare of that home.
If he tells her they are moving to Montana to work in the wheat fields she doesn’t say, “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. You go and you go without me.” That kind of attitude breaks a man down and will kill love quicker than anything else.
But submission doesn’t mean that she has to say, “All right, dear, whatever you think best!” and start packing for Montana. She has the right and responsibility as his partner and as a parent to ask him the whys and wherefores of such a decision.
I thank God for my wife. I believe she would go to the wheat fields with me if it came down to it. But I thank God that she has asked me questions and showed me the “other side” of things, and kept me from dragging her and my children into some “hare-brain” ideas I have come up with.
We all know O. Henry’s beautiful Christmas story about the gifts. A wife, whose prize possession was her long, beautiful hair, was married to a man whose prize possession was a gold pocket watch. Being poor, they had no money to buy each other a Christmas present. The woman cut her hair and sold it and with the money, bought a gold chain for her husband’s watch. But while she was doing that, he was selling his watch to buy a gold clip for her hair. What a Christmas that must have been! It all boils down to this. If a man wants to be happy, he should dedicate himself to do all in his power to make life easier and better and happier for his wife. If a woman wants to be happy, she should dedicate herself to do all in her power to make life easier and better and happier for her husband. Put two people like this together and you have heaven on earth. You have two becoming one. You have God’s triangle in marriage.