[forthright] God versus Culture: Marital Commitment (Part One)

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2007 14:50:35 -0600
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Square One

God versus Culture: Marital Commitment (Part One)
by Richard Mansel

Christians and non-Christians have differing
motivations for their actions. Fleshly men are
guided by pleasure and the dictates of culture.
Righteous men are led by holiness and the purity
of their Christian walk. The godly man is not
resistant to error; it comes far too often. Yet,
they are consistently striving to walk the
Christian path, staying focused on holiness.

With the nationwide escalation of divorces and
cohabitating couples, marriage is at its lowest
point. The ravages of doubt assail the institution
leading the next generation to move further from
God's original plan. Something must be done if
marriage will recover its place of respect.

The fleshly motivations for marriage are
multitudinous. They generally revolve around looks
and sexual compatibility. These tenuous
motivations get to the heart of the failures of
marriage among so many today and are recipes for
ruin. Time brings a pall upon beauty and the
sexual thrill can only be reproduced in new
conquests. Marriage must rather be based on
something concrete.    

God, the author of marriage, provides a guide to
rewarding marriages within Scripture. God's plan
does not remove the daily challenges of marriage.
Yet, it frames marriage in a completely different
light so new answers can be discovered. The
answers lie in selflessness, rather than the
selfishness of the fleshly man.

We first read of God's creation of marriage in
Genesis 2:18-25. God laments that Adam was alone.
He promised to "make him a helper comparable to
him" (Genesis 2:18, NKJV). He brought all the
animals before Adam in order to show him that
there was nothing "comparable to him" (Genesis
2:20). God then presents Eve to Adam as a gift
from a loving Father (Genesis 2:22). Therefore,
besides life and the creation of the world, woman
was the first gift given to man.

Marriage is described in its purest form in
Genesis 2:14, "Therefore a man shall leave his
father and mother and be joined to his wife, and
they shall become one flesh." Leaving and cleaving
are two very important aspects of marriage.

First, leaving does not necessarily mean that
parents, friends, and a previous life are
completely left behind. Yet, the new bond created
in marriage takes precedence over all other human
relationships.

Second, cleaving means to "cement together." Man
and wife become cemented together, becoming one
flesh. When my wife is cemented to me, she becomes
a part of my being. To remove her would
necessitate great pain and a broken body.

Becoming one flesh is the secret of God's marriage
plan. His needs become her needs. His plans become
hers. They are two separate individuals but one
body. Tending to one requires a reciprocal action
for the other. Paul writes, "For no one ever hated
his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it,
just as the Lord does the church" (Ephesians
5:29).

This is further dictated by the example of Christ.
We are in Christ, his Church, his Body (Ephesians
1:22,23). Likewise, we are "of His flesh and of
His bones" and this bond is equated with the
admonition of Genesis 2:23,24 to become one flesh.

God, therefore, hates divorce, whether spiritual
or physical, because it tears apart the one flesh.
Malachi 2:16 graphically says, "That he hates
divorce, [f]or it covers one's garments with
violence." Cemented together, we cannot be broken
apart without great violence, the shards of which
wound everyone around us. Children, friends, and
family become collateral damage in the explosion.
It does not have to be this way.

God's plan takes the relationship to a higher
level of intimacy than man's selfish ways.

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