- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 2, 2006

The following are excerpts from a sermon given recently by the Rev. David Wong at Washington International Church.

Love is in the air. We had two couples announce their engagements in recent weeks and one couple getting married this Saturday. This goes against some recent reports suggesting that marriage is no longer popular in the United States, that fewer people are getting married.

The institution of marriage is old, but that does not mean it is obsolete. There are many factors that impact our relationships in a marriage. The many decisions we make and our response to one another are what foster closeness or drive us apart. A key facet of love and marriage is intimacy.

Intimacy in marriage is often misunderstood and most times limited to sexual activity in the bedroom. There are various levels of intimacy. Intimacy perhaps may best be described as a relationship gained by being transparent of our true self to another. It is being honest to the core with our intellectual, emotional, physical, recreational and spiritual areas of your life.

Paul gives 15 descriptions of love in I Corinthians 13. This scripture passage is perhaps the most read and expounded on during weddings. In essence, it says love is essential in a marriage. Without love, God’s love, you have nothing, you are nothing and you gain nothing.

There are five levels of intimacy found in our text. Knowing, understanding and implementing actions will help build deeper relationships and a stronger marriage. Those levels are emotional, physical, intellectual, recreational and spiritual intimacy.

First Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

Our spouse needs to be encouraged and shown love and respect on a daily basis. We need to give them words of affirmation. Simple words such as “I love you,” “you look gorgeous” and “thank you” help to build up our spouse’s self-esteem.

Ask yourself these questions: Am I being patient, loving and kind? Am I rude and proud? Am I demanding my own way? Resolve to praise your mate instead of complaining.

First Corinthians 13:5 says “[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

The apostle Paul goes on to say that love is not rude. This also has been translated as love “does not act unbecomingly.” In other words, love behaves itself, is considerate for others and gracious. Love is not self-seeking or selfish in any way. It doesn’t insist on its own way. Love is not easily angered. This is also translated as “not provoked.”

First Corinthians 13:6 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

Paul seems to suggest that we should be able to discern between good and evil, falsehood and truth. In any marriage, communication is essential. It is important that husband and wife can discuss without fear of being ridiculed their values, ideas, beliefs and principles. Share your passion, dreams and life goals.

First Corinthians 13:7 says, “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

The word “protect” suggests situations of risk and danger. Is there adventure in your marriage relationship? Are you spontaneous? Do you allow for change in plans? Oftentimes, it is when we take risk that the situation arises for us to “protect” our loved one, and for “trust” to be built. Hope speaks of expectation of a better tomorrow.

What does the abundant life look like in your marriage? I will make it more personal and ask, “Are you fun to live with?”

Paul goes on to say that love never fails. When everything else is gone, love will always endure. Love that endures comes from the discipline of building spiritual intimacy. Prayer is one single activity that will effectively establish spiritual intimacy. When a couple prays together, they hear each other’s confessions, inner desires, hurts, passion and spiritual longings. They learn to take steps of faith together and to wait together in discerning God’s will for their actions.

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