Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Do Christians Focus Too Much on Marriage?

I have heard more than a couple times people criticizing some Christians and churches for focusing too much on the God-given and God-designed union of marriage. I’ve heard people make statements like, “oh it’s all about marriage at that church” or “they elevate marriage too much.” I wanted to address the issue of why marriage is an important topic to discuss, but first I’d like to talk about why there are people who seem to be offended by too much marriage talk.

People like myself, who feel called to the ministry of marriage, may sometimes struggle with being understanding of a person who seems almost anti-marriage. The truth in most cases is those who have a hard time with a church or a group focusing a lot on marriage  are usually people who are single, widowed or in a lonely, struggling marriage. It’s important that instead of getting frustrated, we understand that these ladies are going through pain. Perhaps hearing about marriage all of the time and seeing married couples always clinging to each other causes them to long even more for that relationship. Perhaps it makes them mourn for a lost love. Even worse, it reminds them that they feel trapped in an unloving marriage. Sometimes there is a problem with the church not meeting the needs of ALL the members. The singles and widows need focus too. They need ministry and opportunities to serve too.

I think I understand their perspective more so being a woman who has struggled with infertility. While children are such a blessing, and I was always happy for a sister in the Lord who had a baby, there was also such hurt and longing in me that it was sometimes difficult to be around pregnant women or people with babies. It was hard to see the children being such a focus when I couldn’t have any. I’m so grateful now for my precious little girl –  a gift straight from God! I do, however, see how a single person or widow would feel neglected and hurt by a church family that focused all its attention on marriage.

That being said, while I feel we should not neglect or ignore anyone, there is an important place for marriage. Here are some reasons why marriage is an extremely important issue to focus on:

1. Marriage is Gift from God: God focuses a lot on relationships in the Bible, and He speaks a great deal on the topic of marriage. He created marriage in the book of Genesis and He make it sacred. He made it to be a lifelong covenant, and in Malachi 2 we see that God hates the act of divorcing. When Jesus is asked about divorce in Matthew 19:8, He said that divorce was allowed because of the hardening of hearts, but from the beginning it was not so. God never wanted divorce. That’s why marriage vows typically say “til death do we part”, and yet to some 41-44% of couples who marry today, those are just empty words.

2. Christian marriage produces godly offspring: In talking about marriage Malachi said, “But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.” Malachi 2:15a. Christian marriage is important to the youth of this generation. According to the US Census Bureau, grown children of happily married parents are about 14% less likely to divorce their own spouse. Of all children, close to half will witness the end of their parents’ marriage and, of those kids, half of them will witness the end of a parent’s second marriage as well. According to an article by the Huffington post, children of divorce are seven times more likely to suffer from depression. Also, of all the adolescents in substance rehabilitation clinics, some 75% are from single-parent homes. Similar statistics are true for prison. Marriage is important because a godly marriage is good for children.

3. Marriage is a reflection of our relationship with God: Ephesians 5 and other parts of scripture show us that earthly marriage is a reflection of the relationship of Christ and the church. We are the bride and He is the Bridegroom. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” Revelation 21:9

4. A godly marriage is a requirement for church leadership, elders/pastors and deacons. (Titus 1:6, 1 Tim 3:2, 1 Tim 3:12). A man whose home in not in order should not be serving in church leadership until he puts things right. That means a wife who is not living her life according to God’s statutes can disqualify her husband from leadership by her conduct. Does this mean that a man has to be married to serve? We don’t know if the emphasis of the verses in on the “one” wife or “husband”. In other words, is it important that he’s married, or just that he only has one as opposed to many? Well, God said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and he needed a helper. On the other hand, Paul said that some are called to singleness. So, the answer is: I don’t know. What we do know for certain is that if a man is married, and he wants to serve in ministry, he should have his home in order.

5. Sex: That’s right! “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:2 According to God’s Word, sexual intimacy is only good and right inside the union of marriage. Today more and more couples choose to live together and put off getting married. They are living in sexual sin because marriage has lost its place of importance to much of the younger generation. Today people are shocked when two virgins in their twenties get married. It’s rare for people to hold onto their purity. So it’s important to focus on marriage and to teach the young people that sex is only okay inside marriage.

There are many more reasons that marriage is an important topic, but this is quite a long blog already. While we need to be careful not to exclude singles and our widows, we also need to focus even more on the union of marriage. We know that it’s important to God, so it should be important to us too.

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The Violent Nature of Divorce

“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6

There’s no doubt that divorce is a painful event in a person’s life. It can cause trauma, suffering, stress and oftentimes depression. It is even worse when there are children caught in the middle. Parents aren’t only mourning the loss of their marriage, but also worrying about the emotional affects on their children. There is sometimes guilt and regret. There is always pain. Why? Why is divorce so painful? Why does it cause long-lasting scars?

Before I answer that question, I first want to say to those who have been through a divorce that I’m so sorry for the pain you’ve experienced. As I write this, I’m keenly aware that there are many people who tried to save their marriages but couldn’t. There are women whose husbands walked out on them. There are men whose wives left them, like Hosea’s did. There are women who have had to flee for their very lives and the protection of their children. I know all too well that there are situations that are very complex. I say this because I never want my posts to feel like an attack on people who have lost their marriage. I feel for you and pray for you, even as I write this. The Lord is near the brokenhearted. He brings comfort and restoration and peace, so cling to Him!

Now, back to the question at hand. Why is divorce so ugly? Why is it so painful? The truth is, at the very root and concept of divorce, is violence. The act of divorce is a violent one, according to God’s Word. In other words, the destruction of a marriage is a lot like a violent attack on a person. Review the verse above from Matthew 19. God made them one flesh. One flesh. No longer two individual people but one unit. He meant it to be a beautiful union, and praise the Lord that for many couples it is! One flesh. What does divorce do to that one flesh? It rips it apart. It’s violent. It’s so sad.

“”For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”” Malachi 2:16

In Malachi God says that He hates divorce because it covers one’s clothing with violence. The Hebrew word for “violence” can translate into: “violence, wrong, cruelty and injustice”.   Some people will read this and feel offended. They will say that they know God blessed their divorce and that He gave them peace about getting divorced. Well, I can see how God, the Father of all grace and mercy would bring peace and comfort to someone hurting from the pain of divorce. Yes, He is so merciful! He is so graceful! He is so good to us. However, the God of the Bible is not only a God of love…He is also a God of justice. He is holy. He is righteous. The God of the Bible would never guide His children into divorce. If divorce makes a person’s garments stained with violence and injustice, then the God of the Bible wouldn’t approve of that, would He? It goes against His very character. He will, however, clean the stains off a repented person later by blood of the Lamb. He will forgive. He will cleanse. He’s so good.

We have to stop softening divorce. It’s not pretty. It’s not amiable. It’s not a “friendly” divorce. Divorce, by it’s very nature, rips one flesh to pieces. That’s violent, wrong and unjust. Thank the Lord that those who have been through divorce can run to Him for His healing touch. For those who do have a chance to save your marriage, don’t stop trying. Don’t give up. The God who created the universe has the ability to work a miracle in your marriage. Just seek Him with everything that’s inside you and follow His Word.

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