The Bible says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it” (Psalms 127:1). In other words, God wants to be intimately involved in the building of your family. No sensible person would think about building a house without a well-thought-out plan or blueprint from an architect. And yet, so many try to build not just their house, but their home without consulting God’s divine design for marriage and family.
The Foundation: Purpose, Priority, Permanence and Passion of Marriage Genesis 2:18-25
This message is called the foundation because we’re going to go back and look at God’s original intended design for marriage. Genesis 2 provides us with God’s foundation for marriage (Read vv. 18-25).
Now I can’t find this in the Bible, but I think somewhere between verse 18 and 19, God said, ‘‘Adam, I know you’re lonely, so let me tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to make you a woman, I mean a perfect 10, and she is going to meet your every need. She’s going to get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning, lay out your clothes, have breakfast and the newspaper on the table when you get ready. She’ll kiss you passionately when you leave for work, put love notes in your briefcase, and call you to find out what you want for dinner and tell you how much she loves you and can’t wait for you to get home. She’ll massage your feet and rub your shoulders, then usher you to the table for an extravagant feast.’’ And Adam was excited so he said, ‘‘God, that’s great! But that’s too good to be true, what’s the catch? What will it cost me?’’ And God said, ‘‘It will cost you an arm and a leg.’’ Adam thought about it for a minute and said, ‘‘What can I get for a rib?’’
Seriously, this passage gives us four foundation elements for building any marriage.
1. Purpose Marriage fulfills our need for companionship (v. 18). God created you and me for relationships. God loves us and He wants us to have a relationship with Him, but He also designed us for relationships with each other. Human beings are hard-wired with an innate desire for companionship.
In his bestselling book, His Needs/Her Needs, Dr. Willard Harley claims that one of a woman’s most important emotional needs is having someone to talk to—she wants to be able to share her thoughts, her feelings, her experiences, and know that the person she’s talking to cares deeply about her. Husbands, one of the best things you can do for your marriage is just listen to your wife. Be her companion. Let her open up to you and she’ll love you for it.
But this goes both ways. Guys don’t need to talk as much as women do, but men crave recreational companionship. Sports, games, building, doing, playing. Have you seen that commercial where the guy wants the hamburger so he won’t admit he wants to watch the football games. See, men crave companionship. Men need their wives to be our playmates.
Your husband or wife should be your best friend. You should share your hobbies, your secrets, your dreams, your burdens, and your time. You should laugh together, play together, and cry together. That’s the purpose of marriage.
God said, “I will make him a helper comparable to him” (v. 18b). Marriage gives us a companion who completes us. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but men and women are different. Men and women think differently, process emotions differently, make decisions differently, and learn differently. Yet men and women complement one another so beautifully that a healthy relationship makes both partners more complete.
You’ve heard the old cliché, “opposites attract.” That’s exactly the way God intended it. Sherry and I are opposites in a lot of ways. We found that out after we had been married for a number of years and attended a marriage workshop together. They graphed our compatibility. Our charts showed we had no compatibility and should be advised against marriage. Yet, with the Lord's help we are still together after 45 years. Sherry can talk to anyone. She’s great one on one. She’s outgoing. I remember one time we got a call and she was on the phone for 10 or 15 minutes. I asked, “Who was that?” “Oh, it was a wrong number.” But, she doesn’t have any desire to do public speaking. You may not believe this but I used to be really uncomfortable talking with people personally, quite introverted but I think I’ve come a long way since becoming a preacher. It was scary to get up in front of a crowd and speak but I wanted to preach so was able to overcome that fear. Sherry is strong where I’m weak and I’m strong where she’s weak. We fit together and complement each other.
By the way, this is one of the reasons God made marriage for one man and one woman. A man, no matter how hard he tries, will never be a good wife. And woman will never be a good husband. Homosexual "marriage" does not fit with God’s design; rather, marriage gives us a companion of the opposite sex who complements and completes us.
2. Priority Your marriage needs to be your most important relationship, second only to God. When the Bible says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,” it’s telling us that the husband/wife relationship takes priority over any other relationship (v. 24). That can be a little tough for some parents and newlyweds to accept, especially if you live in a small town or mom and dad live just down the street.
I heard a story about a mother and father who gave their precious daughter away in marriage. After the honeymoon, their daughter and her husband moved several states away. A few weeks later, the phone rang, the mother answered, and it was their daughter. She was in tears because she and her husband had just had their first fight. The daughter asked to speak to her dad. He took the phone and went into another room and talked to “his little girl” for about 10 minutes. When he came back out, the mother asked, “What did she say?” The father replied, “She and her husband had a big fight and she wants to come home.” After a moment of silence, the mother asked, “What did you say?” The father answered, “I told her, SHE IS HOME.” That’s good! That father recognized that he needed to let go after his daughter said “I do.”
But this applies to more than just parent/child relationships. Anything that starts to take priority over your marriage is a threat to your relationship—it could be a hobby like hunting or playing video games; it could be a job that requires you to work more hours than it’s worth; it could be a friendship, especially a friend of the opposite sex; even your children can sometimes come between you. I’ve always loved what James Dobson once said. He said, “Dads, the best thing you can do for your children is to love your wife.”
3. Permanence There are two little words in verse twenty-four that are very important: “be joined.” The Hebrew words translated “be joined” actually mean “glued together,” or “cling to,” or “stuck together.” These two words remind us that God designed marriage to be permanent—to be a lifelong relationship. It’s like what a ten-year-old was quoted as saying, “No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.” She got the “stuck” part right.
I remember when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston got divorced. It was all over the tabloids. In one interview, when asked about why their marriage failed, Brad Pitt said, “I don’t think we failed. I think it was a very successful marriage. Who said it had to last forever to be successful.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t think anyone has ever taken their vows and said, “For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for seven to ten years.”
No, when you got married you vowed to be together “until death do us part.” And some days it just might come to that. Permanence in marriage requires commitment. The Bible says, “The LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth…she is your companion And your wife by covenant” (Malachi 2:14). When I married Sherry, I made a covenant and a promise to her, to God, to her family and to mine that we would stick together; that I’d be glued to her for the rest of my life and I’m determined to keep that covenant.
4. Passion Take another look at the last phrase from our text: “And they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (vv. 24-25). An important element of that involves sexual passion. For some reason, a lot of young people who grow up in the church get the impression that God is down on sex, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sex is a vitally important part of God’s design for marriage. In fact, the very first command God gave Adam and Eve involved having sex. He told them to be fruitful and multiply. In the New Testament, the Bible tells married couples not to deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again (1 Corinthians 7:5).
Sex is precious and God created it to be fully enjoyed and experienced only in the most precious relationship—marriage (Heb. 13:4). There is an emotional, physical, and spiritual bond created by sex that the Bible calls becoming “one flesh.” It leaves lifelong memories and can have lifelong consequences. When we abuse sex, by removing it from God’s blueprint for marriage, it’s always harmful. Sex outside of marriage can lead to unexpected pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, lowered self-respect, and a broken relationship with God. On the other hand, if sex isn’t present within a marriage, it can be very damaging to the relationship. God knew that when he created sex and marriage. God holds sexual intimacy in the highest honor. He expects us to do the same.
So here are the four foundational elements of marriage we discover in Genesis: the purpose of marriage, the priority of marriage, the permanence of marriage, and the passion of marriage. If you use these four cornerstones as a guide and line everything up with them, you’ll be in a good position to start building or rebuilding your marriage and your home.
I want to encourage you to spend some time this week talking with your spouse about God’s foundation for marriage. Ask one other if you think your marriage is fulfilling God’s intended purpose? Is your spouse your most important relationship? Are you still committed to the vows you made with one another? Is there still passion in your marriage? If not, what can you do to rekindle that passion? If you need someone else to talk to about your marriage, then talk to God. Then come see me, an elder or let us refer you to someone. We’d like to help. We are the family of God and we are here for each other.
If you are not a part of God’s family, I want you to know how much God wants YOU in His family!
The Framework: Husband, Wife, Parents and Children Colossians 3:18-21
Husbands, Love Your Wives Ephesians 5:25-29
Several years ago, there was a Dennis the Menace comic strip in which Dennis is having cake and milk at the Wilson’s. Mrs. Wilson is washing the dishes while Mr. Wilson is trying to read a newspaper. Dennis wonders aloud why Mr. Wilson never goes to work. Mr. Wilson explains that he is retired. “Retired! Is that why you loaf all the time?” Dennis asks him. Mr. Wilson tells Dennis since he has worked hard for so many years he has earned the right to loaf. This makes Dennis wonder why Mrs. Wilson also doesn’t retire. He has never seen her loaf. Mr. Wilson responds, “She can’t retire because she never worked.” But Dennis has seen Mrs. Wilson always cooking or washing or sewing and he can’t accept that answer. “That’s different,” Mr. Wilson explains. “She’s a housewife! If she retired who’d do the housework?” Dennis asks, “Couldn’t you help?” “Dennis! Are you trying to make trouble?” Mr. Wilson shouts. Mrs. Wilson finally intervenes, telling her husband not to yell at Dennis. “He’s right and you know it!” In the next frame we see Dennis walking up to his mother in her garden. When she asks what the Wilson’s were arguing about, Dennis says, “I don’t know. I came home `cause I didn’t want to get involved!”
There are probably a lot of Mr. Wilson’s out there who think they have the biblical understanding of the wife’s role. The root problem for the man is that he does not understand his role. He does not understand what God expects out of him as a husband. I was 18 when I married Sherry. I didn’t have a clue. I remember some good brother pulling me aside one day and trying to help me see how hard my wife was working at home and taking care of the kids and how I needed to help her out. I didn’t see it. I really didn’t know how to treat a wife or be a husband.
Now, many years later I’m starting to learn. It’s right here in God’s manual, the Bible, if we will just read it. Husbands, love your wives. That’s it! Love them. You say, Robert, I know that. I love my wife. Do you, really? What does it really mean?
1. A Sacrificial Love (v. 25) First, a husband’s love should be sacrificial. Jesus loved you and me so much that He literally gave His life for us. He chose to die on the cross to win our hearts. So, husbands, what have you sacrificed for your wife? Not many of us will ever be expected to die for our spouse, but all of us are called to sacrifice for our wives—to demonstrate our love sacrificially (1 John 3:18).
This will look different in every marriage. Maybe it means canceling a fishing/hunting trip in order to take your wife away for the weekend. It may mean using the money you’ve saved to buy a new truck or new boat, and instead buying that new living room set your wife’s been wanting or remodeling the kitchen. Maybe it means taking the baby to the nursery during church so that she can actually be fed spiritually. It might mean giving up a hobby that you enjoy in order to spend more time with your family, or working overtime in order to provide for her and kids.
Guys, that’s love! When you sacrifice for your wife, it tells her that she’s important to you. It says that her wants and needs mean more to you than your own wants and needs. It shows her that you love her.
2. A Sanctifying Love (vv. 26-27) Furthermore, a husband’s love should be sanctifying. Jesus died so that you and I could have a meaningful relationship with God—so that we could become holy and spiritual. Husbands, your wife needs you to do the same for your family. She needs you to be the spiritual leader of your home (Jos. 24:15).
Far too many men in the church have abandoned their role as spiritual leader. They sit at home while mom gets the kids up on Sunday morning and goes to church. Or maybe they attend church but they never really take their relationship with God seriously, leaving their wife with the tremendous burden of carrying her own cross as well as the husband’s and the kid’s.
Guys, if you would start taking your faith seriously, start growing in Christ and leading your family in the same direction—it can totally change the climate of your marriage. It can save a troubled marriage or take a good marriage and make it great. If you’re not sure where to start, just take the Bible and ask your wife if she’d like to start reading it together. Show her that you care about her relationship with God and that you want the two of you to grow closer to Christ and to each other.
3. A Sensitive Love (vv. 28-29) Finally, a husband’s love should be sensitive. In other words, you need to meet your wife’s emotional needs with the same care and attention that you meet your own physical needs. If your body is hungry, you eat. If your body is tired, you sleep. You need to pay as much attention to your wife’s needs as you do your body’s needs (1 Pet. 3:7).
If your wife has ever said to you, “You use to be so loving,” that’s a clear indicator that you’re not being sensitive to your wife’s needs.
Guys, let me make just a few suggestions on how to be a little more sensitive and loving. I’m sure your wife will give you some more suggestions on the way home, but here it goes.
1. Hug your wife every day. Most women love to hug. They hug each other, they hug children, they hug pets, relatives—even stuffed animals. This has to be a loving hug, though, not a sexual one. 2. Surprise her with a little card or a note expressing love and appreciation. 3. Tell her that you love her before leaving for work. 4. Kiss her goodbye before walking out the door. 5. Call her during the day to see how she’s doing. 6. Bring her a bouquet of flowers once in a while as a surprise. 7. Give her gifts for special occasions. Tuesday is a special occasion. 8. After work call before you leave for home. 9. When arriving home give her a hug and a kiss. 10. Ask her about her day (and actually listen). 11. Help with dinner and/or dishes. 12. Go for a walk together, hold hands, and share a conversation. 13. Hug and Kiss every night before you go to sleep.
But again, the key is understanding what makes your wife feel loved. Every person is different. We all share and sense love in different ways. In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman identifies five different ways that people express and experience love: (1) words of affirmation, (2) quality time, (3) gifts, (4) acts of service, (5) physical touching. Learning which of these five “love languages” is most meaningful to your wife can save you a lot of heartaches and headaches!
A story is told of a tyrannical husband who demanded that his wife conform to rigid standards of his choosing. She was to do certain things for him as a wife, mother, and homemaker. In time, she came to hate her husband as much as she hated his list of rules and regulations. Then, one day he died -- mercifully as far as she was concerned. Some time later, she fell in love with another man and married him. She and her new husband lived on a perpetual honeymoon. Her new husband was committed to her and her interests. Joyfully, she devoted herself to his happiness and welfare. One day she ran across one of the sheets of do’s and don’ts her first husband had written for her. To her amazement she found that she was doing for her second husband all the things, her first husband had demanded of her, although her new husband had never once suggested them. She did them as an expression of her love for him and her desire to please him. He had won her devotion by his demonstration of selfless love.
Husbands, love your wives! Jesus didn’t wait for his bride to say I love you first, or respond. He took the initiative. Jesus Christ suffered torture, ridicule, betrayal, and death, all to rescue His beloved from sin and death. He died on that cross so that the world could find security in an insecure world through His sacrifice. That is the love the husband is to give. You honor Christ by imitating his humility and service in your relationship to your wife. As you lovingly practice servant leadership toward your spouse, you will find your deepest needs are met. Have you told your wife you love her today? Better yet, have you showed her? It is the secret to great blessing and the fulfillment of your ministry as a husband.
God wants YOU in His family…
Northwest church of christ
6059 Azle Avenue Fort Worth, TX 76135 817-237-1205 firstname.lastname@example.org northwestcofc.org