Marriage and God – Titus 2:1-8

Our Elders Are to Teach The Young Families The Key Pillars To Marriage

1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Creative Chiasm

A chiasm has been formed in these verses.  It contrasts men and women, and specifically, the mature versus the immature.  The structure looks like this:

Older Women – Young Women
/\
Older Men Young Men

It is an interesting contrast between these groups, especially the instructions given to the younger men and women.

Mature Men

Paul indicates that older men should be taught the following:

  • Avoid Excessive Wine (Temperate)
    • Excessive consumption of alcohol can severely impair a person’s judgment.  This can lead to terrible words and actions that cause great pain and resentment long after the effects of the alcohol wear off
  • Be Worthy of Respect (Honorable)
    • Paul touches upon a very core need for men – to be respected.  It is hard for a man to love a woman when he does not feel respected.  Paul urges men to live their lives in such a way that they are worthy of respect.  They are to make it as easy as possible for their wives to give them the respect that they so desperately need and desire.
  • Be Self-Controlled
  • Be Sound in Faith
  • Be Sound in Love
    • Paul exhorts men to unconditionally, volitionally, and sacrificially love their wives and others.  When they love their wives in this manner, it will help their wives to blossom and open up like a flower unfolds it petals, fully displaying its inner beauty to the world, confident in itself.
  • Be Sound in Endurance

Wise Women

Paul also urges that older women be taught the following:

  • Be Reverent in the Way They Live (live holy lives)
  • Avoid Slandering
    • The gift and curse of the great capability of women to communicate is the potential for gossip.  This needs to be avoided at all costs, so that no one is slandered.
  • Avoid Excessive Wine
    • Wine has the ability to lower the inhibitions of all who consume it, and everyone who does must take extra care to guard themselves against its effects
  • Teach What is Good

The interesting part is that Paul indicates that only after these characteristics are taught to older women that they will be able to properly guide the younger women in their ways.

Little Ladies

Paul then lists several ways that the older women should urge the younger women:

  • Love Their Husbands and Children
    • The interesting part of the word “love” here is that it comes from the Greek word phileo – to be greatly fond of.  God has already placed unconditional love – agape – into the hearts of women.  Older women must now teach the younger women to like their husbands and children.
  • Be Self-Controlled
  • Keep Chaste
    • It is ever more important that young ladies carefully guard their hearts against the wooing of other men.  In moments of emotional distress or feeling unloved by their husbands, younger women can be particularly vulnerable to a man who breathes life into her heart.
  • Be busy at home
    • In the time that this was written, it was mostly men who went out to work the land and provide for their families.  Yet it was documented in Proverbs 31 that a wife of noble character engaged in entrepreneurial enterprises as well as taking care of the family:
      • 13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
        14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
        15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
        16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
        17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
        18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
        19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
        20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
        21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
        22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
        23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
        24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.

  • Be kind
  • Submit to their husbands
    • Submission is the dreaded word that every women cringes at.  It brings about the feelings of some patriarchal tyrant who tries to keep his wife barefoot and pregnant, staying silent, and doing everything he asks – being at his beck and call and essentially his slave.  But submission is a beautiful thing.  We each are to submit to the Holy Spirit as Jesus Christ Himself submitted completely to God.  Submission has been described as being willing to duck so that God can throw a right-cross at the one who is in charge.  But only a fool would not listen to the counsel of the one that God has placed at his side for his benefit.

Growing Guys

Paul then goes on to tell what the young men should be taught:

  • Be self-controlled
  • Set an example by doing what is good

Paul provides these instructions for our benefit.  It is at our own peril that we scoff at them or ignore them.  Western culture teaches us that we should seek our own welfare before the welfare of others.  But God in this passage shows us just how important it is to self-regulate rather than indulge our heart’s every desire.  It is better to follow the word of God than it is to follow our own hearts.  This is because our hearts are deceitful above all, and without the transformation by the Holy Spirit and the word of God, we will be duped into desiring what the flesh wants, rather than what the Spirit of God desires.

There are now a higher percentage of Christian marriages ending in divorce than those who are not professing Christians.  This should not be!  There can only be one reason for such widespread failure in our marriages – we are not being obedient to God’s word.  Let us now take the time and remember the advice given by God to Solomon, the wisest man ever to live:

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

The choice is ours.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I doing what God desires me to do as revealed in His word to ensure that my marriage is as best protected as it can be?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are the embodiment of truth.  You know all things, and reveal Your truth to us through Your word.  Help me to learn Your truth and put it into practice so that my marriage would flourish as well as bring you honor, glory, and praise.  Help me to submit myself to my spouse and to live life in accordance with what is good in Your eyes, so that You will be able to bless us in our marriage.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Divorce with God – Matthew 5:31-32

Let No One Tear Apart What God Has Joined Together

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Divorce is Difficult

Back in the time when Jesus walked upon the Earth, the Jews had a particularly low opinion of the permanence of marriage.  At that time, a man could divorce his wife for just about any reason.  Even if she displeased him in something small or facetious, such as burning the toast, a man could give a woman a certificate of divorce and move on to another wife.

In the United States of America, marriage has been reduced from a covenant to a mere contract.  Covenants were made to be binding in a way that compelled us to consider the agreement as sacred, sworn to by an oath before God. Contracts are merely agreements that any party can cancel at any time by paying the penalty.  There is no loyalty to the contract as people view contracts as disposable.  In the event that something better comes along, you can easily dissolve a contract.

We even have no-fault divorce.  This is a truly heinous dissolution of a covenant relationship that states that some of the parties are just tired of the agreement, even if everyone is keeping their end of the agreement.  By allowing the dissolution of this covenant with nothing more than the desire of one or two of the three parties involved (remember that God is the third party there to approve, empower, protect and provide in this covenant…), we have created a mindset that minimizes the seriousness of the oaths that were taken by all parties in the agreement.

Superior Signification

Jesus came to help us better understand the law, and showed us that there was a deeper connection in this than mere choice.  He indicated that there was no reason whatsoever that two people should dissolve the covenant relationship of marriage except marital infidelity.  Jesus later qualifies this by saying that Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of men’s hearts.  As a result, if a man divorces a woman for any reason other than marital infidelity, he was making her an adulterer.  That status and its results would be laid firmly upon his shoulders.  He would bear that burden.

And worse, by doing so, anyone who then married that woman would become an adulterer.  It was as though God did not consider the covenant relationship dissolved, and she was having an unauthorized relationship with another man.  These were serious charges, and the Levitical penalty for adultery was death to both parties.

However, to get to the root of this, we must first understand that this covenant relationship was done in God’s presence for God’s purposes.  The covenant was between one biologically male person (born with XY chromosomes) and one biologically female person (born with XX chromosomes).  Even in this, modern thought in culture has warped the definition of the covenant term “marriage” to be between any two consenting adults (and therefore removing God as the third party).

The good news is, although we can assign different meanings to words, it still doesn’t change what God has created – the marriage covenant and relationship.  Calling a rose a petunia does not make a rose a petunia – it merely clouds the understanding of the meaning of these words as people try to convince other people that they have different meaning.  Marriage is still between a biological man and a biological woman, in a covenant relationship that is made by oaths before God, and is approved and sanctioned by God.  Anything other than this is a perversion of what God has intended, and is neither approved by God nor accepted by God.

God does not join together two men in this relationship, neither does He join together two women in this relationship.  Any attempt to claim that God is approving of this and joins these people together is calling God a liar and impunes the character and nature of God by assigning qualities to God’s character that are false and fictitious.  This is especially grievous for it does so for the purposes of justifying the lusts of people who desire God’s blessing upon their choices when God has clearly indicated that He does not approve of such behavior.

Character Counts

God keeps His word.  Everything that God promises to do He fulfills in His time and His way for His purposes to bring glory to Himself (for which He is more than worthy).  We should do the same.  Compatibility in marriage has more to do with character than it does with how we feel about each other.  We grow compatibility with our spouse as we work on our marriage relationship.  Rather than succumb to the feelings that our spouse is not meeting our expectations, we should instead submit ourselves to our spouse, and pour ourselves out for them as Christ did for us here on Earth, on the cross, and even now at the right hand of God as He prays for us.

Love can conquer anger, misunderstanding, and even betrayal.  It is better to forgive and heal than it is to destroy something that God has created.  God is in the business of restoring that which was broken, defiled, and destroyed.  However, knowing these things now makes us accountable for our actions, and should urge and prompt us to do everything we can to fulfill the covenant relationship that we swore an oath before God and man to uphold.

A Qualifying Question

For those who are married, let’s ask a question:  Am I upholding my part of the covenant relationship that I swore before God to uphold?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for your word and for providing us with guidance on how to live our lives in holiness and alignment with Your character.  Father, strengthen me in my relationship with others.  Give me the ability to love my family in the same way that You love me.  Strengthen my relationships, and guard my heart against hardness when the relationships are tried and tested.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Family Living by God – Ephesians 5:25-33

Husbands Have Great Responsibility

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Lavishing Love

Christ poured out His love for the church by devoting His life to it.  He gave His life up for her in that He allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross for her.  Jesus poured out His life in ministry through teaching, healing, and preparing the disciples in what we would call “training the trainer” lessons.  In all of this He gave up any desires that He had for His own life, and devoted Himself to preparing and helping the disciples to be effective in their ministry.

In the same way, husbands are to lay down their lives, goals, ambitions, dreams, and whatever is part of self to devote himself to his wife.  Yes, husbands need to work (all Christians should be in some sort of labor, whether it is in the workplace, or in the home.  Anyone who says that working in the home is easy hasn’t really tried it by giving their full devotion to it…), but they should be doing their very best to ensure the success of their wives in what they are doing.

If you want to see your wife put a smile on her face, watch what happens when she realizes that you are devoting yourself to her success.  She thrives on love.  Study her to see what makes her feel most connected to you and emotionally engaged.  Then,give her so much of it that she is bursting!

Proper Preparation

All of God’s people are called the bride of Christ.  His job was to make us holy.  He did that through His death, burial, and resurrection, offering His sinless blood for our sins, His righteousness for our shame. He washed us through the living water that springs out of the Word of God.  He transforms our minds as we read the Word of God.

In the same way, husbands are to prepare their wives as well, being the spiritual leader of the organization that is the family unit.  Husbands do that through love.  When husbands love their wives, their wives are more open to their leading.  The only way that this will successfully occur is if their wives feel loved (emotionally engaged and connected).

Consider the Context

Husbands are to take into consideration that it would be hypocritical to love their wives less than they love themselves.  When the two became one flesh, this does not only mean physical intimacy, but also spiritual intimacy and oneness.  It is a unity of minds, direction, purpose, and intent.  Selfishness – the deficiency of showing love to others – is unthinkable in this context.

The husband now should put as much care and maintenance into helping his wife as he does himself.  Without that, there is an imbalance in the relationship that is like driving a car with one front wheel out of alignment.  As you try to drive straight ahead, the car will pull to the side that is out of alignment.  In order to go anywhere fast and safely, that wheel has to be put back into alignment so that both front tires are working together in unison for the purpose and direction they are instructed to go by the person behind the wheel.  And the person behind the wheel should be Jesus Christ if both spouses are Christians.

Husbands need to remind themselves that it is just as important to see to the needs of their wives as it is to see to their own needs.  The only way that this can happen on a regular basis and in an appropriate way is for husbands to die to themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Christ.  Following means walking alongside shoulder to shoulder, step for step.  And how did/does Christ love His bride?

Total Togetherness

And the two shall become one flesh.  This is an amazing thing.  Two people who have different backgrounds, interests, likes and dislikes, habits, ways of thinking, and physical needs, come together for the purpose of changing, unifying, and sanctification.  They begin to change from the mental state of taking care of self to taking care of another.  They morph from two separate identities into a more singular identity, where they consider themselves extensions of each other.  The process can become so complete that they even begin to look like each other – their facial expressions become nearly identical, they may even wear the same color clothing when they go out, they smile the same way, they become a singular unit in a singular purpose in a singular direction.  That is very powerful.

Mighty Mystery

What a delightful thing!  That the family – the relationship between husband and wife – is to be considered a reflection between Jesus Christ and the church, His bride.  Paul takes the opportunity to remind us that the relationship between husband and wife is indicative of the relationship between Christ and the church.  We can draw many parallels, but in the spiritual realm, there is this melding as the bride is drawn out of her shell and begins to fully blossom as a beautiful flower as love is poured into her and she draws close to him.  She becomes confident and strengthened, emboldened by the support of her husband.  As love is poured into her, her fears diminish, she is overwhelmed with security, and love begins to overflow out of her heart.  It blesses everyone that she meets as they are the recipient of that magnified love.

Delight and Deference

Oh, the key to every successful marriage! L O V E and R E S P E C T.

  • Husbands need to feel RESPECTED
    • When a husband feels respected, he draws out of his shell and performs to the best of his ability.  His internal need – respect – is fulfilled, and he is able to perform and respond in the maximum capacity that God has provided to him. He will be able to engage his wife emotionally, and he will feel that he is able to open up to her more.
    • When a husband does not feel respected, he will withdraw, and may not be able to engage emotionally.  His thought process may be, “Why should I open myself up emotionally and be vulnerable if all I hear is criticism?”  Since he longs to be respected, he may even pour all of his time into whatever activity provides that (usually his job, where he is respected by his peers and superiors).  If he then encounters a woman who is respectful, compliments him on his prowess at work, and lets him know he is doing well – not criticizing him – he may be at great risk for moral failure.
    • Wives, do you want your husbands to open up to you and engage you at every level in every aspect of your life?  Show your husband respect, whether or not YOU feel he deserves it.
  • Wives need to feel LOVED
    • When a wife feels loved (even if husbands are loving her to death from their perspective, unless she FEELS it, it really isn’t going to have any effect…) she will begin to come out of her shell.  She will engage her husband, and be able to show him the respect that he greatly desires.  She will be more forgiving, smile more, do more – even desire to please him – and be better prepared to engage her husband physically.
    • When a wife does not feel loved, she will withdraw, and will not be able to engage physically.  Since she longs to be loved (feel emotionally connected), she will be like a flower that hasn’t been watered, and is drying up.  If another man begins to water that flower – engage her in conversation, compliment her, say and do things that lift her spirits and engages her emotionally – she may be at great risk for moral failure.
    • Husbands, do you want your wives to open up to you and engage you in every aspect of your life?  Ensure that your wife feels loved, whether she deserves it or not.
  • The negative cycle where men feel disrespected and women feel unloved can be broken by just one person making the decision to act counter to how they feel.  Someone has to start.  It might as well be you!

A Qualifying Question

For husbands, let’s ask the question:  Are we loving our wives as Christ loves the church?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are perfect in all of Your ways.  Everything that you do is righteous, and You can do no evil.  Help me to better understand Your plan and purpose for marriage.  You have declared me to be Jesus Christ’s bride, and You pour out Your love on me all the time.  Your mercies renew every morning.  You never leave me nor forsake me.  I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus.  I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  Help me to truly understand all of these things, and to comprehend the depth and width and height of the love that You have for me.  Help me to show your love to others, especially in my family.  Guard and guide me in this that I may reflect Your love and my responsibilities in the role that You have called me.  This I ask in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?