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Summary: One of the most shocking statistics about divorce is that couples who go to church regularly get divorced only slightly less often than those who don't. Why is that? I think it is at least partly due to the fact that the Bible teaching on marriage is sel

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Purpose: To explain God's view of marriage.

Aim: I want the listener to esteem marriage.

INTRODUCTION: Divorce is a real problem in our country. Several years ago this ad appeared in a California newspaper: "Divorce, $25 Divorce Centers of Calif. Unload that turkey."

A so called "born-again" television preacher said, "I'm happier now than I was before the divorce because I'm my own person, making decisions on my own.....In my mind, God is a forgiving father and He loves me despite the divorce. I'm hoping I'm not judged as a Christian on the basis of a divorce, chuck and I are both happier being divorced friends than married enemies."

In spite of the fact that the divorce rate is much higher than it has ever been, it is not as bad as the news media would have us believe. The glum statistics that say half of the marriages end in divorce are wrong. According to pollster Louis Harris only 1 in 8 marriages end in divorce.

Americans have been led to believe for the last decade that the institution of marriage is decaying since the government's National Center for Health Statistics revealed that there had been 2.4 million new marriages and 1.2 million divorces in 1981. Overlooked in the divorce statistics are the number of already existing marriages. "What was left out is that there are 54 million other marriages that are going on very nicely, thank you," he said. Each year only 2 percent of existing marriages will actually end in divorce, according to calculations by Harris which combine ongoing and new marriages.

A statistician with the U. S. Census Bureau agreed that the divorce statistics presented for the last few years have been deceiving because the number of ongoing marriages was not calculated. "A number of academies made a sensational splash" out of the statistics released in 1981," Harris said, "and the media got a lot of mileage out of it." And "ever since then, an indelible message has been chorused in church pulpits, academic broadsides, and political prophecies of doom for the American family." Yet, in reality, he said, "the American family is surviving under enormous pressure."

Harris questioned the much-touted divorce statistics after polling 3,001 persons for a family survey. The study showed a "glowing picture of the American family." Among the findings of the poll: Eighty-five percent of families have happy marriages. Ninety-four percent are highly satisfied with family relationships. Eighty six percent said they are happy with the support they receive from family members during a crisis. Only 20 percent said they are not happy with family life. Harris called the 1-2 divorce-marriage ratio "one of the most specious pieces of statistical nonsense ever perpetrated in modern times." [1]

One of the most shocking statistics about divorce is that couples who go to church regularly get divorced only slightly less often than those who don't. Why is that? I think it is at least partly due to the fact that the Bible teaching on marriage is seldom explained.

Today we are going to explore three important concepts of marriage beginning with:

I. What is Marriage?

Basically we can summarize marriage with two statements. The first one is from God's perspective and the second one is from our perspective.

A. Marriage is a provision from God

Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (NAS)

Matthew 19:6 "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (NAS)

Those statements apply to all marriages, not just Christian marriages. The first institution that God established was marriage. That came before government, rules for worship, or the church.

So, if God began the whole concept of marriage then He has the right to set the rules for marriage and we would be wise to pay attention to them.

B. Marriage is a promise to God

God used marriage as an illustration of His relationship with Israel. Ezekiel 16:8 "Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine," declares the Lord GOD. (NAS)

God is also very careful to describe marriage as a covenant. Covenant is the most solemn word for a promise that is used in the Bible. The word COVENANT literally means "cut." In other words, "I promise under pain of death (or being cut to pieces)"

When God promised to Abram that he would have a son that would become a great nation God sealed that promise this way: Genesis 15:5 And He took him outside and said, "Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." (NAS) Genesis 15:8--10 He said, "O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?" So He said to him, "Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon." Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. (NAS) Genesis 15:17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. (NAS)

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