Date: 05/02/04
Text: Genesis 2;24-25, Proverbs
Title: A Happy Marriage: Husband and Wife Relationship
Theme: God desires us to have a healthy and fulfilling marriage

Wherever we turn, we see families in trouble. We are familiar with the statistics telling us that 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce. This does not include those who stay married but emotionally have long gone their separate ways. The society and the legal system are redefining marriage to include same sex unions. More children are growing up in families with same gender parents. Our children at school are being taught value-free morality. Sometimes we feel our children are being pulled away from us by an invisible behemoth. Looking at the wave of change around the world brings us a sense of discouragement, disillusionment and doubts on our own marriages. Many of us, including the believers, very often accept what is as what should be and we settle for less.
In the month of May, we'll be looking at building and shaping families God's way. I would like to impress upon us that what is can be better. Our marriages can be healthy and fulfilling. This morning, our focus will be on the husband and wife relationship. They hold the key to a happy and healthy family.
Again we need to turn to the first two chapters of Genesis to see what God's intent for marriage is. Genesis 2:24-25, we have these words, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.因此人要離開父母,和妻子連合,二人成為一體。 那時,夫妻二人赤身露體,彼此都不覺得羞恥." This is God's intent for marriage. The husband and wife are to hold fast to each other and become one.
However, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, things changed. In human and biblical history, we see the distortion of this relationship; polygamy, adultery and divorce. You see, Genesis 2 tells us God's intent. But if we turn to the book of Proverbs, we see the reality of man's condition, including families, and often not a very pleasant one. From this book, we also see hopes of preventing the deterioration of marriage relationships and restoration to its original intent.
Since I am using various selected passages from Proverbs, my sermon format will also take on a different approach. It will be more like a topical discussion, highlighting and commenting on these passages. In my preparation for some of the sermons in this series, I have also asked Dr. Collins for his permission to use some of his class notes on the subject.
I. Building a healthy marriage requires us to recognize some key core values between the husband and wife
This year, we have much discussion about core values for the church and ourselves. How about marriage? What are some of the core values between the husband and wife?
1. Friendship.
2:16-17, "….adulteress……who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; ...淫亂的婦人,….她離棄年輕的配偶,忘記了 神的約." This refers to the adulteress who have left her husband. The word used to describe her former marital relationship is 'Companion". In the original language it means close, very close friends. Often in the Chinese context, companion, especially in old age is referred to as having someone to take care of, helping you to move around. The scripture tells us that it is more than just taking care of each other's physical needs. When the two are close friends, there is also this intimate, honest sharing and communication. Close friends are transparent with each other. Husband and wife form a tight and complete unit. Even without children, you are complete. Genesis 2:24 reminds us: "…hold fast to each other….和妻子連合"
2. Raising godly children.
10:1, "A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.…..智慧的兒子使父親歡樂,愚昧的兒子使母親憂愁." Marriage is complete with husband and wife, but it will also expand, including the children. Please note that not just giving birth to a child or children, but to raise them so they are wise in God's eyes. A wise child is one who fears the Lord. Very frequently, some children are born smart. But a wise son/daughter does not happen overnight. It requires both husband and wife to work together to raise their children. Parents are to be role models for their children. Children's behavior is a mere reflection of their parents. We'll explore this topic in greater detail at a different time.
3. Sexual intimacy.
5:15, "Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 15. 你要喝自己池中的水,飲自己井裡的活水。" Several years ago, a wife came to me and asked, "Is my husband correct in saying that this verse is about sex." What do you think? Let's take a closer look. In vs. 1-14 is warning against adultery. Beginning with vs 15, it is about sexual intimacy with one's spouse. In short, vs.15 is about sex. Moreover, the passage says, enjoy the sexual intimacy with your wife, your spouse. Don't go to other women or men. Sex within marriage is good, is to be enjoyed.
Again, this echoes God's design for marriage at the creation. Genesis 2:24, "…the two shall become one. 二人成為一體。" At the very beginning, it was God's intent that husband and wife are to be one. This is physical union; the sexual aspect of marriage. Sex is a part of husband and wife relationship. It is a gift from God.
4. Serving others.
In a marriage, husband and wife relationship is the most basic and complete unit. There is more. 31:20, 26, "She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 她張手賙濟困苦人,伸手幫助窮乏人。26.She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.她開口就說出智慧的話;她的舌頭上充滿慈愛的訓誨。" It is about ministry. This wife, this family ministers to those who have physical and spiritual needs. She feeds and helps the poor. She teaches and counsels others.
I remember a wedding vow written by a young couple. Besides the commitment in sickness and in health, in wealth and in poverty, there was also this line that they will open their homes, to share with others the blessings they have received from God.
II. Building a healthy marriage requires us to recognize the efforts we are to put in.
These are the marriage/family core values we find in Proverbs. Yes, they are our objectives, our purposes in marriage. But, how do we get there? Automatic cruise control won't take you there.
1. Choosing the right mate.
12:4,9:14, 18:22, "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.14. House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.22. He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.有才德的婦人是丈夫的冠冕,貽羞的婦人,如同丈夫骨中的朽爛。14.房屋與財富是祖宗遺留的產業;唯有明慧的妻子是耶和華所賜的。22.覓得賢妻的,就是覓得幸福,也是蒙了耶和華的恩寵。" We all agree with its wisdom, right? How important it is to find the right wife, and for that matter the right husband. Finding the right spouse is the beginning of achieving those goals in marriage.
We don't go out to marry someone just because he gives you roses everyday. Or he or she is so kind and nice and cooks like your mom. Or he/she is so spiritual, has memorized the entire Bible, and can recite it backwards from Revelation to Genesis. Yes, they are important, but there is more than meets the eye, right? Don't let our needs blind our mind. In premarital counseling, prior to the first session, I ask the couples to write down 10 reasons why they want to marry this person. Or 10 indicators how I know I love this person. These two questions can often give us that reality check. Be careful in choosing the right mate. Pray that God will give you the confirmation through inner peace and listen to the advice of others. As parents, we can pray that God will bring the right person into our children's lives at the right time.
2. Role relationship.
Besides choosing the right mate, there is also Role relationship 31:23, 27 "23. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 27. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 她丈夫與本地的長老在城門口同坐,是眾人都認識的。27.她監管一切家務,從不白吃閒飯。" What do we see here?
The husband is known at the city gates. This does not mean that every morning he goes to the city gate, has breakfast and hangs out with the guys. The city gate and sitting among the elders refers to a position of authority and leadership. He is a leader in that city. How about his wife? Yes, from earlier studies, we know she is also a keen businesswoman. But here we are told that she takes care of the family. What we see is the different roles between the husband and wife.
Our society has changed greatly. There was a time when the husband would work outside the family while the wife would take care of the children and the household chores. Then many wives began to work and had a careers of their own. Now, there is a trend that more career women have opted to come home to take care and nurture the children. I also know of a family where the husband would choose to stay home, home school the children while his wife goes out to work. Then of course there are also those responsibilities needing to be defined in each family. Such as cleaning, cooking, taking out the garbage and so on. You see, without a clear definition of roles, it is only chaos.
Each family has its own unique role relationship. The important thing is that both husband and wife know what their roles are.
3. Protect sexual purity in marriage.
In the book of proverbs there are many passages warning against adultery. 5:8, "Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house,你的道路要遠離她,不可走近她的家門;" 5: 9, 6:27-29, warn of the consequences of adultery, "9 lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless,27-29. Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.免得你的精力給了別人,你的年日交給了殘忍的人; 27-29.如果人把火藏在懷裡,他的衣服怎能不燒著呢? 28如果人在火炭上行走,他的腳怎能不灼傷呢? 29凡是和別人的妻子通姦的,也是這樣;凡是親近她的,都必不免受罰。" What does it tell us in these and other proverbs passages? If you have an affair, you will lose your reputation and finance. Your conscience will be seared, and it will remain in a corner of your memory for a life time.
Very often in counseling sessions I would ask the individual to write down all the consequences of having an affair. Looking at the list is a very sober experience and a good reminder the price one has to pay for sexual relationships outside the marriage.
Yes, at the moment of adultery and affair, there is an air of excitement (Stolen water is sweet) but it has a high price tag. What is the remedy? How do we protect our sexual purity? 5:15ff tells the husbands and wives to enjoy the physical intimacy in the context of marriage. 5:15-20, especially 18,"Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.要使你的泉源蒙福,要喜悅你年輕時所娶的妻子。" Find our sexual fulfillment in marriage.
4. Communication.
21:19, 27:15-16, "19. It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.15-16.A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand.寧可住在野地,也不跟吵鬧易怒的婦人同住。15-16.下大雨的時候不斷滴漏;就像吵鬧的婦人一樣;誰要攔阻她,就像攔阻風,也像右手抓油。" Ah, the men among us like these verses, right? No one likes to live with a nagging or quarrelsome wife. However, I also have a word to the husbands among us. isn't it true that very often it is our behavior, our lack of sensitivity to our wives' emotional and physical needs, our refusal to share openly and honestly that drives our wives to nagging? It has been said, when our wives start to nag, it is often a sign that some of her needs are not being met. You see, to maintain health and joy in marriage requires good and positive communication habits.
We all know how important a healthy and happy marriage is. If you are not happy with your marriage, it will affect your job performance. It will affect your ministry at church. Nothing is more painful than having to put on a happy face when you come to church, with deep turmoil inside.
We don't have to accept what is as what should be. We don't have to settle for second or third best. We can come to the original designer of marriage, to seek his help so our marriage can be healthy and fulfilling. It begins with realigning our values with God's value for marriage. We are to uphold Friendship, Raising godly children, sexual intimacy and ministering others as the core values in our marriage. These are achievable goals. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, begin with choosing the right mate, proper role relationship, protect sexual purity and healthy communication, our marriage can be healthy and fulfilling. May I urge you don't settle for the second best. Go for the best.