Navigating Marriage

Marriage is wonderful. I cannot think of anything more wonderful than to find someone to love and that loves you back. God made humans for marriage. He meant for us to find each other and to make a life together.  God made us different, man and woman. He created us with bodies that physically connect and parts that fit together. Souls that spiritually connect. His ideal is that one man and one woman find each other and stay with each other for life. Two spirits coming together to love each other, intentionally and exclusively. To have children. To love and encourage each other until their spirits are taken from this world.

Marriage is beautiful. Christian marriage is the ideal. Christian marriage is Gods intention and direction for a man and a woman. Unfortunately, because of the fall of man, Gods intention is the rarity rather than the rule. Marriage is still beautiful, but if it’s not a Christian marriage, the married couple are navigating across this ocean of life without a compass or charts or even stars to guide them and their voyage is in total darkness. The Christian couple have a compass and navigational charts, the Bible. They also have the light of the Spirit to guide them and to illuminate their way. 

Sadly, even though God has provided the tools, many Christian couples try to navigate without them. They try to live the married life having committed themselves to each other and to God, but rarely or never open the charts or ask the Spirit of light to shine on their course. This very often leads to sailing the wrong course and ending up in a place they had no intention of going. They may even find themselves shipwrecked on the same rocks non-Christian families crash into.

So if the Christian couple is wise, they will continually use the tools God has provided to stay on the right course.

When a man and a woman get married, they are no longer two separate people. They have now become one person in body and soul. Their two spirits have agreed and vowed this to be true. They no longer live life alone and for themselves. They now face all future events on this earth as one person, the good things and the bad. All of their romantic affection and attention is to be exclusively towards each other. They no longer have the choice to be selfish. Their primary focus in all things is on each other. Their responsibility to love God with all their heart and to love those around them is lived out together.

It is also the privilege of the couple to be a participant in the spiritual growth and character growth of each other. As they learn to live the life God intends for them to live, raising children…getting along with each other and others… how to generously manage their finances, they will learn the correct way to live these things out with the Bible (charts) and the Spirit showing them the way. 

As the married couple study the charts, the following is some of the navigational information they will discover that will help them complete their voyage successfully and arrive at the destination they have planned on reaching together…

Mark 10: 7-8  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Ephesians 5: 32-33  This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Mark 22: 37-40  Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Galatians 5: 19-23  The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

You will notice that on a navigational chart there is information regarding the correct way to go and also information regarding dangers that need to be avoided. 

One of the benefits of traveling life’s voyage together is it gives us the opportunity to encourage each other towards good and warn each other of danger. If both partners are checking the charts and keeping their watch, the voyage will be completed successfully. But if one or the other neglects their duty, they can end up in the wrong place or smashed up on the rocks.

Even though the two have become one, there is still the possibility that one will remain steady at the helm, while the other is neglecting some of their duties. This will put the voyage in danger. The steady partner tries to make the other aware of what they are doing or not doing. The one partner will show the other their error but will do it harshly and with condemnation, without love. This usually causes the partner that needs to change to become offended and refuse to change. In another case, one partner will voice a need for the other to change and do it with love and patience. Rather than accepting the correction, the one in error resents being questioned and they ignore what in reality is Gods gift of correction and takes offense. They refuse to change and jeopardize their life together. 

An example of this is when one member of the marriage notices the other is not loving a certain group of people because of some unimportant, exterior attribute. The other member tries to point out that to love everyone is Gods desire. The unloving person can either consider what their partner is saying and change their way. They can also consider it and decide not to change or not even consider it at all and stay unloving. For the one not to change puts the whole voyage (marriage) in danger. This is true with participation in“acts of the flesh” and the refusal to exercise the “ fruits of the Spirit.” If one partner chooses not to stop participating in the the acts of the flesh or decides to ignore exercising the fruit of the Spirit, the other partner of the marriage has no other option than to stay at the helm and pray, keep studying the charts ( The Bible ) and continue to love their mate. 

Marcia and I have been married for 33 years. It has been a fantastic voyage. We have referred to the navigational charts and allowed the Spirit to light our way. We have raised our kids and made a life with and for each other and those around us. Yes, there were moments when we misread or ignored the charts. We have run aground a few times. When that happened, we have opened the charts, adjusted our course and continued on our voyage together. 

There have also been times when one of us dropped the tiller. I believe we have always listened to each other’s wisdom and correction and made the changes we needed to make. 

We have now encountered some rough seas on our voyage. We must navigate with half of our crew struggling with the limitations of Parkinson’s disease. But despite these rough seas that we did not see on our charts, we will travel on.

With the light of God, His word and the Spirit, this “one flesh” that is Mark and Marcia will complete our voyage successfully. 

It is my true hope and desire that when Marcia and I discard this one flesh we now occupy and put on our new bodies, we will continue our voyage over the horizon and into the sunset of eternity.

  

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