- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2004

The following are excerpts of a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Vic Ransom at Barcroft Bible Church in Fairfax.

God’s ideal for marriage is that it lasts for a lifetime.

Nobody plans for the downward spiral of disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment, despair and finally, divorce, that can occur after the honeymoon. But it happens.

How can a marriage last? What foundation enables a marriage to stand for a lifetime? From the Bible this morning, I want us to see one key thought: Your marriage can thrive if there is conviction and commitment.

A thriving marriage needs conviction, a firm belief in the principles spoken by Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:4-6: “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to His wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.”

From these words of our Jesus Christ, we see several principles for a lasting marriage.

A solid marriage begins with a firm belief that God is the originator of marriage. God created male and female. He saw that it was not good for man to be alone and created woman. God joins a couple together. God must be included in the entire sequence of events leading up to marriage, the wedding day and then the day-by-day responsibilities of a new home.

A strong marriage rests on the belief that there are different roles for the husband and wife in marriage. Both the husband and wife are equal in personhood, but God assigns the husband the role of initiator. In the Bible, God says, “The husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church.” (Ephesians 5:23) This leadership role is not to be characterized by domineering despotism. Rather, the husband shows initiative by leaving his parents and then cultivating, by his example, a loving, nourishing, cherishing, self-sacrificing marriage. The wife is given the role of helper (Genesis 2:18), an equally valuable role if the marriage team is to know success. A wise and loving husband encourages and relies upon the abilities, strengths and insights of his wife.

A marriage with longevity believes two people become one on the wedding day. In the Old Testament, Malachi describes a man and his wife as companions. Two individuals are now a team.

A second foundation stone for a strong marriage is commitment.

There must be a commitment to Jesus Christ. We must make our relationship with Him top priority, which means making time to read and study the truths of the Bible, to pray for God’s strength to obey the principles, and then, finally, to obey.

If you want your marriage to last, you must also date, court and marry someone who is equally committed. If there is great disparity between your commitment and the commitment of your spouse-to-be, it is only a matter of time until conflict and distance begin to characterize your relationship. Change is always possible, but wise people address the disparity before marriage. …

The third key commitment is your commitment to companionship. Spend time together, set aside your own personal interests so as to do what your spouse enjoys. Make sure careers don’t take the time, energy and money, which should be directed toward your spouse. Make sure your interests in other men and women are appropriate. Men, we need to watch our eyes. Jesus said, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Faithfulness in your marriage includes disciplined eyes.

The last commitment is to the church. We cannot sustain a good marriage alone. Attend church regularly. Serve faithfully. Be willing to humble yourself and ask for help in your marriage before a crisis overwhelms you.

A happy, united, thriving, growing marriage is an act of God. But it is possible for those who will stand on conviction and commitment.

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