IF MARRIAGE IS SO DIFFICULT, WHY SHOULD I EVEN CONSIDER IT?

“Marriage should be honored by all” (Hebrews 13:4). A biblical marriage, consisting of one man and one woman in a loving, lifelong commitment, is an honorable and godly institution. Fads come and go, and the world has its biases, but God’s plan for marriage is still the building block of society.

Unfortunately, some people are losing their faith in marriage as an institution. Some, even those who call themselves Christians, denigrate marriage as “a fool’s game” that is bound to end in regret. Some take the disillusioned view that to make a lifelong commitment is foolhardy, since the other person is going to change—we don’t know what our spouse will be like in twenty, or even five, years. He or she could be a completely different person—are we to be held to a vow we made in our youth?

If marriage were intended only to gratify the personal desires of a man or woman, then, and only then, the description of holy wedlock as “foolish” might be valid. But a godly marriage is not selfish. The marriage vow is not a lifetime commitment to be loved. It is a vow to give love. Marriage is a commitment to give love for life. It is a determination to live for the benefit of the other person, to stand by and behind the loved one. To give and give and give, even to the point of giving one’s own life (Ephesians 5:25).

Even more fundamentally, man did not invent marriage. God did. When God made mankind male and female, placed them in Eden, and brought them together in marriage, He had a purpose in mind. The most basic purpose was that marriage would produce more people who bear God’s name and reflect His image (Genesis 1:26–282:22–24). Human reproduction was God’s first stated mandate for the united Adam and Eve. Marriage, God’s first and most fundamental institution, is designed to be the foundation for the family unit.

Further, to properly and fully reflect the whole image of God, mankind was created in two genders, “male and female” (Genesis 1:27). The full reflection of God’s character in mankind requires both genders, man and woman. Marriage is the means by which the two genders are most intimately connected. When man and woman are united in marriage, they together reflect a picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22–32). Marriage is about much more than romantic bliss or companionship or sexual intercourse.

Believers find true joy in marital partnership with each other when God is their guide. Yes, the honeymoon will end. Yes, both spouses will prove to be somewhat different from what they presented to each other while courting. Yes, sooner or later both husband and wife will be disappointed in something about each other. Yes, people change, and not always for the better. But God had a good idea when He invented marriage—“very good,” according to Genesis 1:31. God even uses marriage as a metaphor for His relationship with His people (Hosea 2:19–20).

Marriage will reveal weaknesses in each individual. Trials and challenges will come. The strength of the vows will be tested. But we live by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Marriage is God’s institution for mankind. If He invented it, if He designed it to fulfill His purposes, and if He is in it, then it is good. We should not abandon the idea of marriage just because some people have not got out of it what they imagined they would. After all, it is not the takers of this world who find fulfillment, but the givers (Acts 20:35). Those who by God’s grace emulate the self-sacrificial giving of Christ will find marriage to be good. It will cost something—actually, it will cost everything! But, it is in giving of ourselves that we find the highest meaning of life in Christ.

None of this means that every believer must marry. God knows that it is better for some not to marry, and some situations make marriage undesirable. See 1 Corinthians 7. A single person gives self-sacrificial love in other ways and still reflects the character of God. Marriage is not for all, but marriage itself is a godly institution that should be held in esteem.

Marriage should not be miserable, and it won’t be if we understand what God intends marriage to be and follow His instructions. A godly, biblical marriage provides a lifetime of opportunities for two people to bless each other and their family in the name of Jesus Christ. Our Lord blessed His friends’ wedding at Cana with His joyful support (John 2:1–5), and He still blesses the marital union today.

Prophet Nathan Emol

Email: nathanemol@gmail.com for any support or inquires

MARRYING A WRONG PERSON

There are a few different ways to look at this question. To say that we married the “wrong” person might imply that there is a sole “right” person we are meant to marry. If we marry the “wrong” person, then we may fear we have messed up God’s plan for our lives. We might also be tempted to “correct” our error in ways that do not honor God. We can certainly make wrong choices in marriage and disobey God’s guidance in whom we decide to marry. However, taking the sovereignty of God into account, we cannot marry the “wrong” person. God has a plan for our lives and is able to redeem our wrong choices and ultimately work them together for good (Romans 8:28). Once we are married, we are expected to do everything we can to make that marriage honoring to the Lord. Whether a particular marriage partner is the “wrong” choice or not, the marriage is a covenantal relationship. God is able to transform even the worst of marriages into a relationship that brings Him glory.

Biblically, a Christian should be looking to marry another believer who shares a similar commitment to following the Lord Jesus. Marriage to an unbeliever is not an option for the believer (2 Corinthians 6:14). So, if a Christian marries a non-Christian, he or she has indeed married the wrong person by violating God’s will.

There are other ways to marry the wrong person. For example, marrying someone who is abusive, immature, selfish, or codependent is going to result in problems. Marrying someone who has untreated addictions or is living in unrepentant sin is likewise an unwise choice.

What are some reasons that people marry the wrong person? Some step into toxic situations in the mistaken belief that the power of their love alone will change the other person into someone who is not abusive, immature, selfish, or codependent. Some are blinded by the initial attraction to a mate and don’t realize the problems in their relationship. Others are manipulated by someone who seems to be one thing prior to marriage and then suddenly changes course. Other cases involve couples who simply aren’t ready for marriage. They underestimate the sacrifice required to live with another person. No doubt the reasons in each case of marrying the wrong person vary and are unique to the couple.

Culture also plays a role in influencing people to marry the wrong person. Many societies have portrayed marriage as a temporary arrangement that can be adapted or forsaken at will. Since exiting a marriage is not a big deal in some cultures, neither is entering it. All too many people say their vows without a real commitment to their spouse or to God. In many places in the world, a fantasy is promoted that marriage should meet all our needs—the emphasis being on meeting one’s own needs, not the needs of one’s spouse. Conventional wisdom says that, when a couple’s marriage is tested or when one spouse feels unmet needs, they should just get a divorce—and laws in many places make divorce quite easy. Rather than work out their problems, many struggling couples conclude they don’t love each other anymore and end the marriage.

Once a person realizes that he or she has married the wrong person, what then? First, if a believer has willfully disobeyed God’s instructions in 2 Corinthians 6:14, confession of sin to God is necessary. Then the forgiven sinner should strive to make the best of the situation and bring healing to the relationship (see 1 Corinthians 7:12–14Ephesians 5:21–33). If the situation presents a danger to either spouse or to the children involved, then separation is in order. Seeking godly counsel from a pastor or marriage counselor is important, too. While the Bible allows for divorce in specific circumstances, divorce should never be the first option. With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37), and He can bring beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3). A Christian who made a wrong choice in choosing a marriage partner may find that God desires to turn a bad marriage into a good one (see 1 Peter 3:1–2). The power of God can transform the “wrong” person into the “right” one.

How can a person prevent getting married to the wrong person? Benjamin Franklin’s oft-quoted quip, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards,” is good advice (Poor Richard’s Almanac, June 1738), but even more helpful is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Some people seek first a spouse, and righteousness falls by the wayside. The single person should concentrate on becoming the individual God wants him or her to be and commit to dating only those who are also strong, growing Christians. To avoid mistakes, it’s necessary to heed the Word (Luke 11:28), seek godly counsel, pray for wisdom (James 1:5), and be honest with God and others.

Prophet Nathan Emol

Email: nathanemol@gmail.com for any support or inquires

NO SEPARATION IN MARRIAGE:

The command “what God has joined together, let no one separate” refers to marriage and divorce. It is from Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce found in Mark 10:1–12 and Matthew 19:1–12. On one occasion, the Pharisees asked Jesus if it is legitimate for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus in essence answers, “No”: “Haven’t you read . . . that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘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. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4–6; cf. Genesis 1:272:24).

Jesus’ point is that a married couple is something that “God has joined together.” Marriage is not of human origin—it originated with God and is part of the way that God designed the human race to live. In saying “let no one separate” a marriage, Jesus taught that divorce is not God’s plan. Once a couple is married, they have been joined together by God Himself, and the union is meant to be for life. This principle holds true despite the faith (or lack thereof) of the couple. When two atheists marry, they have been joined together by God, whether they recognize it or not. If God has joined them together, then no human being has the right to break that union.

Later, after Jesus says, “What God has joined together, let no one separate,” the Pharisees point out that Moses allowed divorce. Jesus agrees, but also points out that the allowance was made due to “hardness of heart” (Matthew 19:8, NASB), reiterating that divorce was never God’s original plan.

Jesus’ command against separating what God has joined implies that it is possible for a marriage union to be broken and for the one flesh to be separated by divorce. There is debate among Christians about whether divorce is ever justified. Many (perhaps most) would allow for divorce in the case of unrepentant unfaithfulness on the part of one spouse (based on Matthew 19:9) or desertion of a believing spouse by an unbelieving spouse who no longer wants to be married to a believer (see 1 Corinthians 7:15). In these cases the marriage bond has been broken by unfaithfulness or desertion—a severing of something that God has joined together—and it is a tragic occurrence.

Even if the above exceptions are allowed, our culture and, too often, even the church seem to regard divorce as something far less serious than it is. If marriage were simply a human convention similar to a business partnership or club membership, then people would be free to enter and exit at will. Divorce is not simply two people deciding to part company; it is one or perhaps both of the marriage partners deciding that they will act decisively to end something that God intended to be permanent. That is a serious thing!

Prophet Nathan Emol

Email: nathanemol@gmail.com for any support or inquires

A MARRIED WOMAN WEARING LINGERIE FOR HER HUSBAND:

Lingerie is a category of women’s clothing that includes undergarments and nightwear. However, we do not usually think of lingerie as including flannel nightgowns and thermal body armor. The word lingerie connotes frilly, lacy, and provocative intimate apparel worn for the pleasure of a sexual partner. Since many pieces of lingerie are designed to elicit a sexual response, should a Christian wife wear that kind of lingerie for her husband?

When considering the intimate decisions between husband and wife, we must always keep in mind the Bible’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 7:3–5, which reminds spouses that their bodies belong to each other. A wife’s wearing of sexy lingerie for her husband is certainly within the realm of Christian liberty. In our sex-saturated culture, it is difficult to keep one’s thoughts pure and only of one’s spouse. A thoughtful wife will be creative in keeping her husband’s attentions by giving him plenty of mental images of her in sexually gratifying poses. However careful her husband is, he will be visually attacked at times by pictures of strangers dressed in lingerie of that style. So a clever wife will talk to her husband about what appeals to him and purchase a few items that will help him keep images of her foremost in his mind.

However, the practice of a wife wearing sexy lingerie for her husband can be taken too far. A lustful, selfish husband may insist that his wife play degrading roles for his own satisfaction and in ways that are not mutually pleasing. Making a wife dress like a prostitute, insisting she wear lingerie that demeans her, or pressuring her to pretend roles that make her uncomfortable is not a part of Paul’s instruction for mutual submission. Husbands and wives should not be ashamed to experiment with and enjoy sexual expression with each other in any way they want; however, some Christian wives feel pressured by their husbands to behave in the bedroom in ways they find revolting. A wise and loving husband will never use his wife’s submission as an excuse to violate her conscience. If a wife wears sexually provocative lingerie, it should be because both husband and wife are in agreement about it (Ephesians 5:21).

Sometimes a Christian wife will justify wearing revealing or sexually themed clothing in public by saying, “My husband likes it.” However, what is fine behind closed doors is not equally fine out and about. If her husband is not the only man who will be seeing her dressed that way, then modesty must prevail (1 Timothy 2:9). A woman who desires to honor the Lord with her body will dress and conduct herself to bring honor to her husband and to the Lord (Proverbs 31:11–12). An unkempt, slovenly wife is not a credit to her husband, but neither is one who acts and dresses provocatively. A goal of a Christian husband for his wife is that she be admired and respected by other men, not flirted with and lusted after.

God invented sex and designated it as a loving action between a married man and woman (Genesis 2:22–25). But rebellious humanity has stripped it of its sacredness and perverted it with a myriad of sexual sins, some of which are evident in certain styles of lingerie. A Christian couple who desires to keep the sanctity of their marital union will guard their hearts against demeaning what God calls good. If lingerie or certain sexual actions challenge a husband or wife’s purity of heart, those choices need to be changed as a way of lovingly submitting to each other.

Prophet Nathan Emol

Email: nathanemol@gmail.com for any support or inquiries

MARRIAGE COUNSELLING:

Any couple struggling in their marriage should seek counseling sooner rather than later. Every marriage includes bumps and turns that if not handled correctly can create chasms too wide to bridge. Often, either from pride or shame, a couple does not seek help with issues early enough to save the marriage. They wait until so much damage has been inflicted that the marriage is already dead and the counselor has little to work with. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (ESV). When we face battles too great to wage alone, wise people seek wise counsel.

Recurring issues in a marriage are like road signs warning of danger to come. Some of these road signs are:

1. Inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
2. One partner dominating the relationship so that the needs of the other are not met.
3. Inability to compromise.
4. Either partner stepping outside the marriage to “fix” the problems.
5. Breakdown in communication.
6. Confusion about the roles of each spouse in the marriage.
7. Pornography.
8. Deceit.
9. Disagreement about parenting styles.
10. Addictions.

When a couple recognizes any of these warning signs, it is wise to seek godly counsel. However, not all counsel that presents itself as “Christian” is based on the truth of God’s Word. Friends and family may mean well, but can offer unscriptural solutions that only confuse and make the problem worse. A counselor should be chosen based upon his or her philosophy and adherence to Scripture as the foundation for emotional health. Many horror stories have come from people who sought counsel from those they trusted, only to find “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15) who have excused sin and instructed the wronged spouse to “get over it.”

A few questions in the initial interview can eliminate some of those “wolves” before time and money are wasted on them. Couples investigating counselors should consider the following:

1. Is this counselor affiliated with one of the national organizations for Christian counselors, such as AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors), the NCCA (National Christian Counselors Association), or the NANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors)?

2. Where did the counselor receive training or licensing? The likelihood is greater that you will receive biblically based therapy if the counselor has been trained through a Christian counseling program rather than a secular organization or university. A state license does not ensure you will receive better counsel. Excellent scriptural counseling can be found through local pastors, lay counselors, and support groups.

3. Is this counselor experienced in dealing with the particular issues involved? A few key questions such as, “What is your approach on pornography addiction?” will help you decide whether or not you agree with this counselor’s perspective.

4. Do you agree with this counselor’s philosophy and/or religious affiliation? There are sects and denominations that carry the banner of “Christian” but may be too far outside a couple’s belief system for them to benefit from counseling. Choosing a counselor from within a couple’s own religious framework may make the counseling more effective.

There is nothing that can promise a perfect outcome, but considering those questions may help narrow the field. God is for marriage; He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). The first step a couple should take is to ask God to guide them to the right counselor. It may take a bit of scouting, but finding a counselor who can bring godly wisdom to a troubled marriage is worth any effort.

Prophet Nathan Emol

Email: nathanemol@gmail.com for any support or inquires