If you would like to download the booklet give away that was referenced at the banquet, please click here: Renewing Marital Intimacy by David Powlison. Select “download” in the upper right corner. This book comes as a .pdf file, so to open it you will need a free .pdf reading program like Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader (recommended). If you would rather not download and would like a printed booklet, leave a comment below stating your name and your desire for Zion E&R Church to print it for you, or send me an email.
Zion Valentine’s Day Banquet
“Marriage for the Glory of God”
Thanks so much for joining us at this Valentine’s Banquet. If I understand this correctly, this is our first annual Valentine’s Banquet for couples. Clearly, we need to improve the entertainment for next year!
I’ve entitled our meditation tonight “Marriage for the Glory of God.” I don’t know if it strikes you as odd to think of marriage as existing for the glory of God, but that is actually something of a radical idea these days. Many people don’t even bother to think about the purpose of marriage, much less what that purpose is. But even for the occasional thoughtful person that does think about marriage’s purpose, the conclusion isn’t often “God’s glory.” People might think of marriage as existing for the purpose of:
1. Creating a safe and stable environment for raising a family. We need a mom and a dad, a roof over our heads, and that’s how we keep the next generation going.
2. Emotional or personal fulfillment. A spouse brings me what I’m lacking in my life, keeps me feeling fulfilled, or brings purpose to who I am.
3. This is just what we do as the next step in life. I’ve graduated, I’m working, so now its time to get married. Now that I am married, this is just what people. This is sort of a fatalistic look at marriage.
4. Sexual fulfillment. God has commanded no sex outside of marriage, I’m looking for sexual fulfillment. Ergo, I need to get married!
5. Marriage exists for my happiness. My spouse, the institution of marriage, living together, paying bills, doing chores… the whole shebang is for the purpose of helping me thrive.
Now, sad to say, but that last reason was my default answer to the reason of marriage. Now don’t get me wrong. If you asked me, I wouldn’t actually say that Samantha’s whole reason for existence was for my personal happiness, or that marriage was all about me. I would probably give a pretty reasonable sounding answer if you asked me. But what I learned very quickly into my marriage was that, despite what I knew Scripture to teach, I was actually acting and living like marriage was for me.
Fortunately, God didn’t let me stay in that position. One book that he used was Gary Thomas’ Sacred Marriage. Thomas is one of the speakers on the DVD series we’re promoting, and the words of his book spoke powerfully to me. It began with the subtitle: “What if marriage isn’t for your happiness, but for your holiness?” With those words, God began changing my heart toward my wife and toward my view of what marriage was all about, and I’m praying that He would continue to give me a more and more biblical view of marriage.
So understanding the purpose of marriage doesn’t come naturally to us, but when we understand the purpose, we can often find our marriages transformed by God’s saving grace to make them into what He is calling us to be.
Marriage exists for God’s glory because everything exists for His glory.
1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Everything exists for God’s glory, and that includes marriage. Whatever we do, drinking orange juice, playing cards with friends, shoveling the driveway… it is all to God’s glory. But even more so than other things, marriage should be done for the glory of God. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5 that, unlike most of the things in this life, marriage is a special picture of the Gospel.
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
So if marriage is to be done for God’s glory, and if marriage is a picture of the holy Gospel, how important should it be in our lives! What care we should take to preserve it! What importance and rank it should have in our thinking!
So if marriage is this important, my plea to you this evening is that would work hard and invest in your marriage so that it would be for the glory of God. We should strive to cultivate our marriages so that our spouses, and our love for them, would flourish and bloom. We should strive to be like a master gardener who knows everything about her soil, the growing conditions, and carefully weeds and prunes her garden to cultivate her harvest.
Now, we would need to work hard on our marriages just for the purpose that they have, namely God’s glory, but because we live in this sin cursed world, there is even more need to work on our marriages. Here are a few reasons why our marriages need constant upkeep and grace:
1. The presence of Satan in this world…
2. We live in a fallen world in a culture that devalues the importance of marriage…
3. Sin is like gravity; its all around us, and we don’t even notice its effects.
4. We are idolaters, and we’re constantly tempted to distort reality and who our spouse is…
5. We are Pelagians, and marriage is a picture of the Gospel…
So we have all these forces at work against us, but we need not fear, because “greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.” Jesus is at work bringing to completion what He began in you.
Your marriage needs grace and help, but in one of two ways. Perhaps it just needs some grace, a little tinkering, some smoothing of rough edges. Or perhaps you are here tonight knowing that your marriage is in grave danger.
What can you do?
Don’t initially work on fixing your marriage, and especially don’t try to fix your spouse, but focus on your relationship with Christ. Learn about how He has loved you, and so love your spouse.
Learn to speak words of grace and truth, speak the truth in love, speak the very words of God. Communicate. Here are some great questions suggested by David Powlison to use when you take some time alone with your spouse.
1. What are your present burdens?
The Bible tells us that we are born for trouble (Job 5:7). So what is the trouble? A sin? A responsibility? An issue at work? A particular conflict? What weighs you down? What was your lowlight of this day? These burdens are the “heat of life.”
2. What are your present joys?
What were your highlights from the day? These joys are the “dew of blessing.”
3. What is your calling?
This could include the mundane tasks, or broader life-purpose questions. What are your duties for this day? What do you need to do? What are your goals for this day? For example, a parent could say, “Today, I don’t want to lose my temper with the kids.” It could be as simple as this.
We could mention so many more, but don’t hesitate to take advantage of some of the resources the church is offering you as well. First, consider joining us for our “Higher Love” class, which will be starting up shortly. This will be a great opportunity to get some deeper teaching on marriage, including Gary Thomas, and then break off into small discussion groups or get alone with your spouse to reflect on what you’re learning. Second, don’t ever hesitate to make time with your pastor to talk and study Scripture for ways in which God’s grace might smooth off the rough edges in a marriage. Thirdly, download or print David Powlison’s book Renewing Intimacy and work through it with your spouse or on your own.
In conclusion, our marriages are worth working hard at, not because of our lazy spouse who forgot to hang up their clothes, who didn’t finish the “honey-do” list, or constantly nags, but because marriage exists for God’s glory and is a picture of the Holy Gospel. Never, never underestimate the power of the Gospel to transform a life, or a marriage. When you’re wondering about what to do to “fix” your marriage, turn to the risen Christ, who loves His Bride, and whose grace is strong enough to transform your marriage as well.