Thursday, May 5, 2011

MrsDrPoe: Marriage

Good morning and happy Theology Thursday! As I mentioned yesterday, I am a new testament Christian, meaning I try to read the Bible daily and pattern my life and worship after the first century churches discussed in the new testament. Mr. Poe and I are members at a nondenominational congregation here in Atlanta. If you're ever in our neck of the woods, we suggest you visit!

A few disclaimers before I get to the actual subject at hand. I do not claim to know everything there is to know about the Bible (I don't think anyone can possibly claim to). Much of the knowledge that I have can be attributed to Bible study with others more knowledgeable than myself and general familiarity with the scriptures that stems from frequent reading and study. I also read (and will reference) books/material based on but apart from the Bible. Please understand that while I find other people's incites (written and spoken) to be useful in my understanding of the scripture, these are NO REPLACEMENT for the written word of GOD. I hope that you will open your Bibles and examine the passages I discuss and test my conjectures to ensure that they fit with the whole of the Bible.

So...Marriage. The apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians tells us that marriage is not required of a Christian, and in fact, it is often "easier" for those who are unmarried to serve the Lord (7:7-9, 25-40). But often times we feel a sort of loneliness that only a spouse can fill. If we look at the beginning of the world, we can see that this desire to have an intimate relationship with another human is innate (Gen 2:18-25). And so, many of us study what the Bible has to say on the subject (Eph 5:22-33, 7-16, Matt 5:31-32, Mark 10:1-12, I Pet 3:1-7), figure we can handle it, and get married. Then we study our Bibles and try to grow as Christians, assuming that becoming better Christians will also help us to become better spouses. While this assumption is true, much of the study I have done lately would also suggest that the opposite is true - being better spouses can help us become better Christians.

We know that God hates divorce (Mal 2:16) and the only reason Christ allows for divorce is in the case of sexual immorality (Matt 5:31-32, Mark 10:1-12). So marriage is eternal, right? Sort of. While, as Christians, we are expected to, once married, remain married to the same partner till death do us part (excluding the one exception), Jesus also taught that marriage literally ends at death (Mark 12:18-27). So this unique, earthly relationship must serve some purpose (other than keeping us from being lonesome).

Throughout the Bible, the people of God have been referred to as His bride (Eze 16:8, Hosea, etc.). In the old testament, any time the children of Israel left the Lord to pursue the Baals or to look to foreign nations for deliverance, they were referred to as adulterous and a prostitute (Eze 16:15-59, Hosea, etc.). In the new testament, the analogy is carried over with the church being called the betrothed or bride of Christ (2 Cor 11:2, Rev 21-22, etc.). So in living in this marriage relationship in a human plane, we can better understand our relationship to Christ, our bridegroom and the Holy Lamb of God. In closer examination of the passage in Eph 5, we see that wives are to submit to their husbands...just as we are to submit to the rule of Christ in our lives, obeying Him in everything...and that husbands are to love their wives...just as Christ loved the church and gave himself on the cross for her.

I recently read "The Sacred Romance" by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis. This book focuses on the fact that we are the betrothed of Christ and that we should strive to have an intimate relationship with Him. Christianity is not about a list of rules to follow (although submitting ourselves to obedience of the word of God is commanded of us)'s about loving God/Christ and having a relationship with Him through constant prayer and study. While (as I mentioned in the disclaimer) not all of the information presented in this work follows the scripture as I understand it, I think this book did an excellent job of emphasizing that when we replace (purposely or not) this relationship with God with other things...even seemingly "good" things like school, work, a human relationship, sports, vacations, etc....we are committing adultery in our marriage to Christ!

Mr. Poe and I are currently in a marriage Bible class on Wed nights and Sun mornings. We are studying from some material entitled "A Marriage Made in Heaven: Personal Transformation in Marriage through the Fruit of the Spirit" by David Maxson (for husbands and wives). Mr. Maxon asserts that by building the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:16-26, II Pet 1:5-11) in our marriage, we can (probably) improve our earthly marriages and (definitely) improve our spiritual "marriage".

The lessons have been great so far. The past two meetings we have discussed developing patience and kindness in our marriages. Mr. Maxon refers to these characteristics as the breaks and the gas in an argument. Having patience means simply applying the breaks and not striking back (verbally or physically) when you and your spouse are arguing. Typically, we think if we're doing this we're performing quite well. But Christ takes it a step further in Matt 5:38-48 (a passage in today's daily Bible reading). We are to not only show patience in not slapping back when someone slaps us, allowing someone to take our tunic, and walk a mile with someone who compels us to...we are to show kindness by providing the other cheek for a slap, giving up our cloak as well, and walking two miles instead of the one. Kindness is hitting the gas in an argument ("in reverse" if you will)...not just refraining from evil, but returning good for evil and loving our "enemies" (our spouses definitely qualify at times). Thus by practicing both patience and kindness in our most intimate yet difficult relationship on this earth, we are improving our spiritual selves greatly "to the praise of His glory" (Eph 1)!


Post a Comment