Marriage and Family Life

Marriage and Family Life

This present study deals with the relationships within marriage and family life. God meant them to be a source of joy and happiness. Unfortunately Satan has invaded many homes, causing untold unhappiness, stress and misery. Let us once again open God’s word and pay close attention to what the author of marriages and families has to say to each one of us. Let us not hide behind our own traditions and cultures when they contradict biblical teaching. Let us not distort the concept of marriage and family life to suit our personal interests, cover up our weaknesses or excuse our own attitudes and actions if they are contrary to God’s word.

While working through the next three topics, it is of great benefit to look up the Bible references.

CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

Marriage is God’s idea

When God created the earth with all its plants and animals, no suitable helper was found for Adam. So the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” God created Eve and joined her with Adam in marriage to become one flesh.

Aware of the fallen and sinful state of Creation the Bible says in 1 Co 6:2, “Since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband”.

The right choice is all-important

It is most interesting to learn why the Lord decided to destroy mankind (except Noah and his family) in the flood. Ge 6:2 says, “The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.”

God is very much concerned about his children and would like to lead them by his Holy Spirit to find suitable partners. This means that a Christian man should never look for a wife that is not a Christian. Mutual faith in God provides an important foundation to build a Christian marriage upon. Carefully read 2?Co 6:14-18. In some cultures marriages are arranged by parents, relatives or the clan. If a believer rejects to being given in marriage to an unbeliever, it can cause much heartache to a Christian or even lead to persecution, but God helps those who stick to the biblical principles.

A Christian believer, either man or woman, should be urged to prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance regarding his or her future wife or husband.

Making the right choice does not begin on the wedding day. No, the foundation to a solid and successful Christian marriage is laid already in teenage years. Young believers should be urged to live clean lives worthy of their Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Whether we are married or single our body is meant to be a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and not a playground for sexual immorality (1Co 6:12-20).

Biblical principles that govern Christian marriages

  • The Lord Jesus Christ wants to be in the centre of our marriages.
  • A man and a woman are both of equal value before God. The woman is not inferior to the man. They are both saved by grace through the sacrificial offering of Jesus Christ: Both of them will inherit God’s kingdom.
  • God does not give special rights and privileges to either the husband or the wife. No, but each of them has God-given duties. Please read Eph 5:21-33.
    God says to the men, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
    God says to the women, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
    A wife who feels loved, nourished, cherished and respected by her husband will willingly and lovingly submit to her husband.
  • In God’s plan a Christian marriage should reflect the relationship between Christ and his body – the church.
    Christ is the head of the church and loves her – the church submits to Christ.
    The husband is the head of his wife and loves her – the wife submits to her husband.
    How to keep our Christian marriages strong and healthy
  • After being lawfully married, live under one roof. It is dangerous if a couple is separated for weeks and months for customary reasons or for a job’s sake. Loneliness and temptations often lead to unfaithfulness and adultery.
  • Worship together in the same church. Come to an agreement on this matter before you get married. Get involved in the Lord’s work together.
  • Pray together and read the word of God together. Family devotions are very beneficial. It is also very important that just the couple, husband and wife, pray together. It gives you a chance to open up your hearts and pour out your joys and worries before the Lord and before your partner.
  • Forgive and be forgiven. No marriage is perfect. How quickly a harmonious marriage relationship can be disrupted by a thoughtless word or action! How quickly bitterness can separate two loving hearts. Praise God, through Christ Christians have received the desire, strength and ability to ask for forgiveness and receive forgiveness. Read also Col 3:13-15.
  • Make decisions together. Here, we are not talking about what to have for dinner. But major decisions should be taken as a couple. Here are some examples: Where to live and work, large purchases, such as furniture or a car, where to spend the holidays. Very often, both husband and wife have their own jobs and earn their own money. Who will pay for the different bills?
    Very often financial support of (demanding and sometimes arrogant) relatives can be a real burden and headache for a couple.
    Keeping secrets about spending money will drive a wedge between couples faster than anything. On the other hand, trust will grow between partners when they come to mutual decisions about their finances and other family matters.
  • Marriage is not only about work and duty. Make room for fun together. The more time couples spend together, the stronger their relationship will be. Regard your wife/husband as your friend with whom you laugh, play and have meaningful conversations. If you spend all your free time with your own friends you place a hard burden on your spouse and children, as you are not supporting them enough.
  • Sexual relationship is important in marriage. God gives the ability to give and receive pleasure from one another. Read also 1?Co 7:3-6.
    If the husband tends to be selfish and demanding towards his wife as far as sex goes, he should pay attention to what Scripture says in 1?Pe 3:7, “Husbands show consideration for your wives in your life together, paying honour to the woman as the weaker sex (partner), since they too are also heirs of the gracious gift of life – so that nothing may hinder your prayers” (NRSV).

Some common problems in marriage

Lack of communication

Communication in marriage is vital to its success. If the husband and wife are unable or unwilling to talk together, it won’t be long before one or the other is unhappy.

To communicate effectively we must be willing to listen. We need to listen actively and attentively. Not just with one ear while cooking, playing with the mobile phone or reading the newspaper. The speaking partner, on the other hand, needs to be sensitive when it comes to choosing the right time and right place to talk. We cannot interrupt our partner a hundred times for no good reason while he/she is working or enjoying a free moment.

If we pay attention to what our partner has to say to us, then we show them that we do really care for them. If we do not listen to our partner we insult them and they will shut down. No marriage can work and survive without proper two-way communication.

In some cultures men feel very much superior to their wives. Men “keep” their wives to work within the house and garden, raise children and animals and do what they are told. Such men are not willing to listen to their wives or accept any advice. This is not the biblical concept. Any born-again wife filled with the Holy Spirit, whether she is literate or illiterate, is a great asset to her husband. Men, and especially pastors, do well to listen to them. Wives are in a position to talk to their husbands about “blind spots” and weaknesses as no other person dares to do it.

Be willing to compromise

Here we do not mean to compromise biblical truths and standards.

In marriage and family life there are many decisions to be made. If a husband or wife always insists stubbornly on having his/her own way, where will this behaviour lead? Married life is constant giving and taking.

Example: A husband is willing to spend $?300 on a nice sofa and the wife only wants to spend $?100. Why not reach a compromise and spend $?200?

Lying and dishonesty kill proper communication

If husband and wife are not honest with each other in word and deed, their marriage will fail sooner or later. It is not a good idea to tell your husband/wife what he/she wants to hear. It is always best to tell the truth.

Jealousy in married life is extremely dangerous

In every marriage, trust and faithfulness are very important factors. God himself tells us how our intimacy with him should be exclusive of other relationships. In his holiness he is concerned that we do not steal ourselves away from him and worship other idols, gods or goddesses. Please read Ex 20:2-4.

Similarly, husband and wife should strive and help each other not to let any other man or woman intrude into their intimate marriage relationship.

Jealousy becomes a problem when a husband or wife is governed by insecurity and fear. Sooner or later the jealous partner starts imagining stories about infidelity and adultery. This damages the trust and peace in marriage. For example, when one person tries to get passwords of computers and checks out private messages and calls on the other partner’s mobile phone. Also, confronting and accusing each other of infidelity for arriving a few minutes late from work. It is a tragic situation. The couple should strengthen their relationship by spending quality time together. Mutual trust needs to be rebuilt. A pastor or marriage counsellor should be involved.

Adultery is a marriage killer

It is Satan’s favourite pastime to destroy Christian marriages. But Jesus taught his disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mk 14:38).

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1?Co 6:18).

Many husbands or wives fell into sin because young adult in-laws were allowed to live with them under one roof, e.g. the wife’s sister or the husband’s brother. Couples should prayerfully consider who could pose a threat to their marriage. They should also consider the safety of their children. It is well-known that most children who are sexually abused are done so by relatives and not by strangers.

THE CHRISTIAN HOME

The Christian Church cannot flourish without the Christian home. The Christian home is the backbone of the nation.

  • A Christian home is an institution
    - where parents are bound together by God’s love,
    - where children are welcome and instructed in God’s way,
    - where the Lord Jesus is not only the supposed head of the home, but the actual head of the home.
  • A Christian home is a place where members of the family
    - enjoy rest, privacy, and a sense of security.
    - work, play, pray and plan together.
  • A Christian home is a place
    - where all members respect each other.
    - where loyalty, honesty and co-operation are practised and learned by each member of the family.
  • A Christian home is a place that shines for Christ and practises hospitality to fellow Christians and strangers (Heb 13:2).

Duty of a God-fearing father

God has placed the father as the head of his home and family. Read in Ge 18:19 what the Lord said to Abraham. Abraham obeyed God and was given greater responsibility.

The best thing a God-fearing father can do is to love and be faithful to the mother of his children – that is, his own wife.

The husband is the priest of the family. He is responsible for daily family worship. Read Job 1:5 and see how seriously Job took this duty.

Duty of a God-fearing mother

Almost all great men have been made great by one or two loving women – either by their godly mother or their own devoted wife. They are tremendous assets. A God-fearing wife submits to her husband in the Lord. By respecting her husband she sets a good example to her children to respect and obey their father. Read Pro 31:10-12 and find out how precious such a wife and mother is!

RAISING CHILDREN

Children – a gift and blessing from God

  • Appreciate them (Ge 33:5b; Ps 127:3-5).
  • Love your children. Show affection by word and by physical contact. Fathers especially, need to learn to express love towards their teenage children. Fathers, treat your teenage girls lovingly but with respect and chastity!
  • You as parents brought your children into the world. God holds you responsible for bringing them up. It is a tough job. Parents should not easily give their children away to relatives or other people to bring them up.
  • Some goals parents have in raising their children might not always be the best. For example, if they push them to be popular or to achieve fame as a sportsman or a sportswoman, or pressure them to become well-educated or to get a well-paid job so the clan can rely on their income, or they might arrange marriages into influential families. Some parents work long hours saving up money to support and push their children in every possible way.
  • It would be far better, if parents asked themselves the question: Do our motives and goals help or hinder our children to come to a saving knowledge of Christ, to live and serve him joyfully? According to Mal 2:15 God pleads with parents to be faithful to each other because he longs for godly offspring. This should be the first and foremost goal of Christian parents (Ps 34:11; Mt?  6:33).
  • Children need our time and affection. Even in Christian families too many children are neglected. Fathers are totally absorbed in their daily work and/or personal interests so that there is not much time left for their own children. Even pastors and missionaries are busy helping and caring for everybody and anybody in their congregation except their own wives and children. This is not right before God. Children are not young forever. If parents neglect their duty during the formative years of their children, they will never be able to correct these shortcomings.
    In some cultures mothers with young children are also expected or forced to work for money. What about their young children? They should not be left to themselves. Children need attention and care, if possible from their mother or caring grandmothers.
  • Parents should be of one mind when it comes to allowing or disallowing certain things.
  • Parents should treat all their children the same. In some cultures fathers treat their sons as “first class” and girls as “second class”. This is not right before God (Gal 3:28b).
  • Parents have authority over their children. This is ordained by God. Exercise it. Ask God for his love, humility and wisdom to do it.
    - Authority helps you to organize your home. It produces coop-    eration.
    - Authority helps children to benefit from their parents’ wisdom and experience.
    - Authority moulds children’s character and habits.
    - Parental authority teaches children respect and obedience toward other authorities, e.g. teachers, church leaders, government and most importantly towards God.
  • Therefore, expect your children to obey you (Eph 6:1; Ro 1:30). Never accept a “NO” from a child when you give an instruction. Never accept it, if a child strikes or hits you.
  • Never threaten a child if you cannot or do not intend to keep your word. Remember, children are very clever and cunning. They soon find out whether you really mean what you say or not, and will manipulate you.
  • If you have to discipline or punish a child, do it wisely. “Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children to anger” (Eph 6:4 RSV). Remember, if you lose control of your feelings and get violent, you will provoke the same kind of violence from your child as it gets older. Never discipine a child while you are upset and angry. Wait and ask the Lord for peace of mind and wisdom. Never use a stick or rope to discipline your child. You might discipline a younger child with a careful slap on his/her bottom with your open hand. Teenage and adult children should not be subjected to physical punishment anymore. Ask the Lord to show you other ways and means to let your son/daughter know that you are displeased and disappointed with his/her behaviour.
  • Do not allow your children unlimited access to TV, DVD’s, internet, etc.
  • Get to know your children’s friends. Invite them into your home.
  • Sadly some of our grown-up children turn their back on Jesus Christ. If we cannot talk to our children anymore about the Lord, let us talk to the Lord about our children.

May the Lord bless your marriage, your home and your children!

Robert Oppliger