READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l Marriages are under pressure. There has been an erosion of marriage as an institution for various reasons: Divorce rates are rising, sexual intimacy outside marriage is becoming normal, and couples are co-habiting without getting married. One might ask, “Why bother with the idea of marriage?” As dark forces and cultural pressures seek to distort and destroy the traditional view of marriage, it is vital for the church to understand and safeguard the biblical vision of marriage.
Genesis 1:27-28 presents a high imperative of marriage. It is a divine institution that is integral to God’s purposes for humanity, which is to multiply and to steward God’s good creation that we may reflect His image to this world. In the New Testament, while Jesus endorses marriage by performing His first miracle at the wedding at Cana (John 2), Jesus also recognised the place of singleness in God’s kingdom. While marriage remains a praiseworthy blessing from God, it is not the greatest blessing we should seek; the greatest blessing is Christ himself. We are to seek first His Kingdom. Marriages only exist in this earthly lifetime, while the Kingdom of God exists for eternity. Whether we are married, single, divorced or widowed, we have an equal place in the Kingdom of God if we truly embrace Christ as our Lord and Saviour. There are no different levels of Christians in the Kingdom of God.
1.Marriage is the Doing of God
God said in Genesis 2:18 that it is not good for man to be alone, so he made him a suitable helper from his rib, and brought the woman to the man. We are not free to depart from the biblical model of marriage that is given to us (i.e. man and woman), as set out in God’s order of creation. Paul said in Ephesians 5:31 (quoting from Genesis 2:24) that the two will become one flesh, and Matthew 19:6 tells us that it is God who has joined together the man and woman. It is God’s intent that marriages are a lifetime commitment, and not to be broken. The Bible however recognises the harsh reality of this broken world and provides for certain exceptions for divorce. Having said that, divorce is never God’s ideal. What God has joined together, let no one separate (Matthew 19:6). For those who are hurt from divorce, God is not far from you. For every hurt and pain that you experience, God can redeem it and there is always hope in Christ.
2.Marriage is the Display of God
When we, as God’s people (comprising married couples with other believers as God’s family) do good to serve the last, the lost and the least as part of our faithful stewardship of God’s creation, we bear the image of God. There is however a profound mystery in this one-flesh union in marriage that Paul reveals in Ephesians 5:31-32. God had intended that very first marriage to display Christ’s leaving his Father and taking the church as his bride, at the cost of his life, in a one-spirit union forever. Marriage is therefore meant to symbolise the gospel, the salvation plan of God. If you have been called to marriage, then you have been called to imitate the divine love that Christ has for the church.
3.Marriage is Discipleship with God
The Christian perspective of marriage is to view it as our personal discipleship and as a means of purification and holiness, with God’s help. Gary Thomas suggested that marriage is for the purpose of mutual holiness, rather than simply happiness. Marriage is weak when discipleship is neglected. Ephesians 5:21-32 gives us a picture of what marriage is about. We are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. The headship of the husband is to model the self-giving Christ who died for us, while the wife is to be submissive to the husband, as unto the Lord. Marriage is the crucible of discipleship that brings us from self-love to Christ-like sacrificial love. Hence, we are to cherish our spouses despite their imperfections, just as Christ died for us in our imperfections. The unfailing love of Christ to His bride, the church is not just a model for us to follow, but an encouragement that God will not forsake us in our marriage journey. Discipleship in marriage is not simply about our ability to do the right things, to love with our own strength and patience, but to rely on Christ and His grace. Since God is a party to the marriage covenant, He will help us.
Through marriage, God has given us a unique vocation that is bigger than ourselves, that is, to display His love in a tangible way within our marriage and to the world. By coming together and building a home, the marriage creates space for others, especially the weak, vulnerable and lost. God began creation with a marriage, redeemed a fallen creation through a marriage (between Christ and His church) and He will perfect and complete His love for us in an everlasting marriage when Christ comes again. If we desire to be part of that ultimate marriage, let us learn to love, forgive, and serve one another, that we may sanctify ourselves as His bride.
(Sermon notes by Honey Vreugdewater)
Helpful courses for consideration:
The Marriage Course (Alpha)
Dates: 3 Apr, 10 Apr, 17 Apr, 24 Apr, 8 May, 15 May and 22 May
Visit: https://wesleymc.org/ministries/lifestage/family-life (under Marriage Enrichment Course).
Best Date Ever: A unique date with your forever Date
Dates: 11 March, 7.00-9.30pm
Revive the romance and renew intimacy with your spouse over a curated menu and facilitated programme designed for husbands and wives to connect more deeply with each other. Step out of the marriage routine and give your relationship a new experience!
Raising Future-Ready Kids: Relational Health & Sexual Intelligence
Dates: 4 March, 10am-12pm, Webinar, Focus On The Family
Talking about sex can be one of the most daunting tasks for parents, especially if we never had the subject broached with us when growing up. How then can we confidently discuss healthy sexuality, love and relationships with our children? Derive parental guidance on how to equip your child to make wise decisions from young for their body and their love life!
MWTS/Core Series: Family Worship & Discipleship
Dates: 4, 11, 25 May (Thurs), Online
The sessions taught by Mr David Leong will cover the following:
-Family Worship & Discipleship
-How to have difficult conversations with our children?
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- Marriage is the Doing of God:
- How do you think most people would describe the reason/purpose of marriage? Share your own views.
- For singles: What might be the reasons why you would consider or not consider marriage?
- Read Genesis 1 & 2. What might be some reason(s) why God instituted marriage between man and woman?
- Marriage is the Display of God:
- What are some challenges/issues faced by your marriage (or today’s marriages) in adhering to the model described in Eph. 5:21-32?
- How does the illustration of marriage as a picture of Christ and the church give purpose and hope for marriage?
- Marriage is Discipleship with God:
- Discuss the idea that God may have designed marriage to make us holy even more than to make us happy. Would you agree that marriage is a crucible in which we can learn more about our shortcomings? How is God shaping your soul while teaching you to love your spouse? [For singles: Share your own observation of marriages around you.]
- What is the next step you can take in your marriage journey as part of your intentional discipleship? How might you serve and support the marriages around you? [For singles: How might you prepare yourself for marriage?]