What does a successful Christian marriage look like?

Roofer Working On Exterior Of New Home

What does a successful Christian marriage look like?

Some people say any marriage that does not end in divorce is a successful marriage. Still others say it is more than just not divorcing. Some say it is when two different people come together, and over time they become as one. But even this “oneness” in marriage is defined in many different ways.

Some say it is when a couple become best friends, when they barely if ever fight anymore and they become the very picture of unity. Still others say that not only is longevity a sign of a successful marriage, but a successful marriage is one that has passion and romance throughout its time.

Before I get into what the Bible shows is a successful marriage, let me give an illustration.

Let’s imagine that you are a servant of a king. He asks you to go and build him a beautiful house off in a faraway land he has a purchased. He gives you detailed plans for this house, and tells you that after you build this house, he wants you to live in it and take care of it for him until he comes to take possession of it one day. He says if you build the house according to his plan, and maintain it and keep it up for him, he will reward you greatly when he comes.

You reach the land the King has given you to build on, and you find that some materials he has requested are much harder to find than others. You also find that some parts of his design, are just very difficult to build in the fashion he has requested.

So you decide to alter his design, you build with different materials than he requested and you alter the design where it seems too difficult to build it the way he has requested. But eventually – you build what you believe to be a stable house, what works for you, and you begin to live in it and take care of that house.

Twenty years go by before the King finally comes to see this home you have built for him. You hear he is approaching, and you quickly go around and clean the house – ready and proud to show him this house you have built. This house has stood strong for 20 years, what else could he ask for right?

The King comes to your home, but instead of a look of delight, he has a look of sorrow. He asks “why did you not follow my design?” You respond “because my King, some of the materials were hard to find, and some of your designs were too hard to build”. The King responds – “I did not ask you to take the easy way out, I asked you to do the hard work, and to build the house exactly as I requested it”. You respond “but lord, this house has stood strong for 20 years, is that not good enough?” The King responds “each part of the house, each material and design, was meant to symbolize different things that are important to me – you have broken those symbols”.

When it comes to marriage – God does not care if a marriage just “works”, or that a couple never gets divorced. God had a very specific design and purpose for marriage.

So what does God consider to be a Successful marriage?

Let me first say what God does not consider a successful marriage (based on his Word).

A marriage is not a success in God’s eyes, simply because it does not end in divorce.

A marriage is not a success in God’s eyes, because a couple love one another, act in unison and rarely fight.

A marriage is not a success in God’s eyes, because a couple have passion and romance in their marriage.

The primary (spiritual) purpose for which God design marriage is found in Ephesians 5:22-33.

“22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, 23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body.”

31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.

33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.”

God meant for a husband and wife to model the relationship between God and his people, in the New Testament this represented as the relationship between Christ and his Church. But even in the Old Testament, God’s relationship with Israel was often pictured in prophesy as the relationship between a husband and wife.

Christian Feminists and Egalitarians say marriage is a “partnership of equals”. I don’t know how anyone could read Ephesians 5:22-33 and come away with such an absurd idea. In the model of Christ and the Church, are Christ and his Church equal partners? Or is Christ the head of his Church? It’s a very simple question, with a very simple answer.

God cares about how we build our marriages, he cares how we model the relationship between Christ and his Church. That is why God wants man to model his leadership, his protection and provision in his relationship with his wife. It is also why God wants woman to model the submission, and servant attitude that he asks of his people toward himself.

It is not enough to say “well this works for our marriage”. Is it modeling what God has purposed for marriage? Is your husband following God’s distinct model for him? Is your wife following God’s distinct model for her?

The Secondary purposes for marriage

A companion and helper for man

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

Genesis 2:18

There are definitely some secondary (temporal and physical) purposes for which God made marriage. God made woman as a companion and helper for man. Some have tried to make much to do about the “helper” “ezer kenegdo” saying it usually speaks of God helping.

The fact is God was not made for us, we were made for him. So in the context of Genesis 1, ezer kenegdo takes on a different meaning, because Eve was CLEARLY made for Adam, not Adam for Eve.

The New Testament confirms this interpretation when the Apostle Paul states “And man was not created for woman, but woman for man.”(I Corinthians 11:9).

A lover for man

“encourage the young women to love their husbands”

Titus 2:4

The phrase “to love their husbands” is a translation of the Greek word “Philandros” which literally means to be “lovers of their husbands”. This is not the Agape (love of the will, love of duty) that men are commanded toward their wives. This is a different kind of love, the Philandros love that women are commanded to have toward their husbands. This is an affectionate love, it pictures a woman showing affection, both physically and emotionally toward her husband.

A mother for man’s children, and caretaker for his home

“Therefore, I want younger women to marry, have children, manage their households”

I Timothy 5:14

In addition to creating a companion and lover for man, God also created in woman a mother and home manager for man. In very much the same way that we as believers go and make disciples for Christ, so to women make children for their husbands. In the same we follow Christ’s leadership in teaching young believers, so to a mother is meant to teach her children, as she is follows her husband’s leadership.

Woman – a person to be loved and cared for

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

I Peter 3:7(KJV)

God purposefully created woman as the “weaker vessel”, so that man would have someone who would need his leadership, his provision, his protection and his love. God knew that men need a purpose, something to strive for, and something upon which to exercise their gifts. So God gave women to men, and he purposefully made them to need a man’s leadership, provision and protection. In the same way that God wants to be our hero – each husband should want to be his wife and children’s hero.

But what about romance and friendship in marriage?

Romance and friendship are wonderful things in marriage. But romance and friendship in God’s view are to marriage what in-ground swimming pools and central air are to homes. They are nice to have, they definitely make our homes more enjoyable, require a lot of maintenance, but are not ultimately required.

Don’t get me wrong, romance and friendship are wonderful goals to pursue in marriage – but if we pursue them at the cost of the primary purpose for marriage, our marriage will not be a success in God’s eyes.

This is why we have such a huge amount of divorce today – even in the Christian community. Because Christians are being led by their feelings, and not by the Spirit of God.

And as far as romance and friendship goes, very often what women find is, if they model the wife that God calls them to be, if they are submit to their husbands, respect their husbands and are affectionate lovers to their husbands – they will get at least some of that romance they desire.

Conclusion

We as believers, in America and around the world, need to return to God’s purposes for marriage, both the primary, and the secondary reasons. We need to keep each in their order of importance.

So how will you build your marriage? Will you build it upon the foundation of the Word of God? Will you build you marriage based on the model that God has given us in Ephesians 5:22-33? Or will you do “what you feel is right” or “what works for us”?

Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, played the role that God gave him to play as the Savior of mankind. It was not easy, but he played his role just as his father willed him to do. Are we today so wrapped up in our modern American ideas about equality, that we are too proud and too arrogant to play the roles that God has given to us based on our gender?

I leave you with the Apostle Paul’s words in I Corinthians 3:11-15 to mediate upon:

“11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.”

 

All Scripture passages unless otherwise stated are quoted from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

What Wives could learn from Secretaries

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What Wives could learn from Secretaries? Consider the relationship between a man and his female secretary, not just the actions, but the attitudes that female secretaries generally have have toward their male bosses.  Then let’s compare and contrast those actions and attitudes with the actions and attitudes many wives have toward their husbands:

WifeSecretary13a WifeSecretary12a
“May I get you some coffee?” “Get you what? You have two legs and two arms – go get it yourself.”
“Would you like me to get you some lunch?” “I am not your waitress, go get your own lunch.”
“Do you need me to pick up your dry cleaning?” “I am not your maid, pickup your own clothes, and you could do some laundry too.”
“Is there any way I could assist you?” “Help you? I am the one that needs help around here.”
“Is the way I did this ok, or would you like it done differently?” “This is the way I do it, and if you don’t like it keep it to yourself.”

The first thing that many people would say to these two lists is, the comparisons are not fair, because a secretary is an employee of her boss(and thus a paid servant of sorts) and a wife is an equal partner, not her husband’s servant.

But as we have pointed out several times in the this blog, the modern teaching that marriage is an equal partnership between a man and a woman is not found anywhere in the Bible.  God, the creator of man, woman and marriage, defines marriage very differently, and equality has little to do with marriage.

God’s purpose in creating man, woman and marriage was to demonstrate his eternal qualities, and the relationship between himself and man kind.

In this symbolism, Man represents God, in his loving leadership, protection and provision qualities, while woman represents the people of God, and the attitude and actions that God’s people should have towards him.

In Ephesians 5:22-33 we have this symbolism very plainly stated by the Apostle Paul:

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

In our modern day, if you asked most Christians if the Church was made for the glory of God, that the church should submit to Christ in everything, serve him and humbly reverence him they would say all of these things are true of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

In fact if you were to ask most people, is the Church equal to Christ, they would say – Absolutely not!

Yet if you ask many of these same Christians(including Christian feminists), these same questions about the relationship between a husband and wife the answers are very different.

“Of course a wife is equal to her husband, and marriage is a equal partnership” they say.

“A woman is not her husband’s servant!” they say.

While we are all equal in our humanity, the Bible never says men and women are equal beyond that. Especially in marriage, men and women are not equal, and the symbolism and roles within marriage from a Biblical perspective make this very plain.

So let me bring this back around to the secretary illustration I began this article with.

Do you wonder why men often are drawn to actions and attitudes of their secretaries?

No it is not because all these men are selfish and egotistical as our feminist friends would have us believe. It is because men are wired by God himself to desire to be respected and served.

Let say very clearly – I am not saying it is ever right for a man to have an affair with his secretary. Many of the men who have had affairs with their secretaries have had loving wives at home who may be respecting and serving their husbands as they ought to.  But far too often, we neglect another reason why men have affairs with women who work under them.

This is explained by the fact that many times the secretary may not be as attractive as the wife.  The reason is because of how the secretary gives the man the respect he so craves, and she serves him willingly, and humbly.

Again – I am not saying these are excuses for a man to have an affair with his secretary, I am only identifying a reason that is often ignored.

Conclusion

I invite Christian women to truly examine Ephesians 5 and many other Bible passages I talk about on this site.

Contrary to the false accusations that are often hurled at those Christians who believe in the gender roles as God created them, Christian men are not selfish beings looking to stomp on women.

We as Bible believing Christian men are simply seeking to live out our design, our role, and our symbolism in God’s design, or at least we should be.

The question is Christian woman, will you submit to God’s design and be willing to do the same?

Do you want your to please God and your husband as a Christian woman? Then respect him and serve him.

The 10 actions of the sexually intelligent wife

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Photo by thephotographymuse at Flickr.com

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To all you engaged women, newlywed wives or women that have been married for many years. If you will just follow some simple principles, and accept some simple truths about men, I promise that in 99% of cases the passion in your marriage will never die.

I believe as Christians we must speak bluntly about sexuality and I hope you will bear with me as some of the statements I make here might be offensive to some Christian readers, although that is not my intention. I don’t mean to be crude either, but there are some things that must be said.

If sex is so important to having a passionate relationship in marriage then how do Christian couples have passion before they are married?

Many Christian women ask this question, since as Christians we believe sex is reserved for marriage. The answer is that a Christian man’s passion for his girlfriend and then his fiancé is still fueled by his sexuality even before marriage. I do not mean to say a man marries his wife only for sex. Hopefully he is marrying her for what they share in common, that he believes she will make a good wife and a good mother to his children. But make no mistake, his passion for his wife to be is no less fueled by his sexual feelings toward her before marriage, then it will be after marriage.

The three attitudes of Wives toward to their husband’s sexuality

The first wife, is a religious woman who sees sexuality as “base” and a necessary biological function of marriage and reproduction. She will do her “duty”, and give her husband what he needs, what the Bible requires of her, no more, no less. Another name for this type of woman is a “prude”.

The second type of wife is a feminist, who believes that the way a woman gives and receives love, through emotional and verbal connection is a superior form of love. She looks down on her husband’s need for sexual variety, or the fact that he may want to have sex the moment he comes in the door without saying a word. This to her is the very definition of shallowness.

The third type of wife, may be religious or not. But she knows something about men that many women have known since the beginning of creation.

She understands the way to a man’s heart is through his penis.

This third type of wife also knows this truth about men, can be abused. Women have manipulated and controlled men through this powerful knowledge. Women have turned empires against one another through the power of sex. So when it comes to men this power can be used for good, or for evil.

I see some books say men need to be more “emotionally intelligent” toward their wives. But I would argue that women need to be more “sexually intelligent” toward their husbands.

It is easier to be “sexually intelligent” than “emotionally intelligent”

Sexual intelligence requires a certain attitude, and certain actions that follow that attitude. It does not require feelings. This is a foreign concept to most women, because women are typically much more emotional than men. God designed women with a more emotional nature, but he did not intend for every action a woman takes to governed by her feelings.

God wants women to do the right thing in spite of their feelings. God wants a woman to channel the beautiful gift of empathy he has given her into caring for her children, her husband and those around her in need. He wants her to weep with those weep, mourn with those who mourn and laugh with those who laugh. But God does not want a woman saying – “Since I don’t feel like doing this or that for my husband, whether it is in the sexual arena or otherwise, then I should not have to do it.”

Women do things all the time they don’t feel like doing. It is part of being an adult. Women go to work when they don’t feel like it. Women cook dinner for their husbands and families when they don’t feel like it. Women get up in the middle of the night to rock a crying baby to sleep when they don’t feel like it. The point is, women are capable of doing things when their feelings are not in it, because they know it is the right thing to do.

So what does it mean for a wife to be “sexually intelligent” toward her husband?

When I say the way to a man’s heart is through his penis I don’t literally mean a wife just needs to have her hands on her husband’s penis whenever she is not otherwise occupied. In fact I agree with what some have said that the brain is the most important sex organ, as opposed to the penis. However, a man’s penis is the symbol of his sexuality. So another way to phrase this truth is “the way to a man’s heart is through his sexuality”.

Here are a list of actions (and attitudes) a wife should have toward her husband’s sexuality (OK it turned out to be 20 and not 10 because of formatting issues):

  1. Don’t make your husband feel shallow because of his sexual nature.  As a wife you need to erase this type of thinking from your mind.  His sexuality is a gift from God, and you should treat it as such.
  2. Recognize your husband’s need to be visually aroused. Men are visual creatures, it is how God designed us. This does not mean you have to dress like a whore or a prostitute. But you can dress in a more sexy way that extenuates the body that God gave you that was part of what drew your husband to you in the first place. Here are some practical ways you can meet this need of your husband to be visually aroused:
  3. Wear shirts that show some cleavage. This does not mean you have your breasts hanging completely out. It just means not wearing shirts all the time that go all the way up to your neckline.
  4. Baggy clothes are a big no-no. You don’t have to wear skin tight jeans and daisy duke shorts, but you should wear clothes that show your figure and your beauty. Obviously there is also age appropriate clothing. I am not saying a 40 year old woman needs to dress like a 20 year old woman, but a 40 year old woman can still dress in a sexy, yet age appropriate way for her husband.
  5. Show some leg. Women may disagree on where the line is, but most men like to see some leg on their wife. Wear dresses and shorts that show your legs.
  6. If the barn needs painting, then paint it. This is an old expression a pastor of my church from many years ago used to say. Not all women need makeup, but some do. If makeup enhances your beauty, then use it.
  7. Listen to your husband’s opinion about your appearance. Especially when it comes to how you keep your hair and how you dress. Maybe he like’s your hair shorter, maybe he likes it longer, or maybe he likes it a different color. Maybe he likes a certain dress on you, or certain shirts. Unless what he is asking you to do something with your appearance that feels blatantly immoral, then you should do it. Learn to break out of your comfort zone.
  8. Use what your God gave you! Once you are wearing more attractive clothing for your husband, come over by him sometimes and give him a good angle on that cleavage. If you look good in those jeans, bend over nice and slow to pick up that pen you dropped in front him. Tease him with your beauty.
  9. Lingerie. One of the nicest ways to please your husband is with lingerie and it is a great surprise to him when he comes into the room thinking you are just going to sleep and he sees you there in some sexy lingerie, this is a huge thing to most men.
  10. Nudity is good too! Make sure to let your husband see you getting undressed for bed or changing to go someplace for dinner. Invite your husband to take a shower with you from time to time. I remember years back reading a book on romance from Dennis and Barbara Rainy (don’t remember the title). In it they mention the story of a young Pastor’s wife who asked her husband what she could do to help him be a more a spiritual man. He said “surprise me some time by meeting me at the door naked when I come home”. What he was saying is –if you meet my sexual needs to be visually aroused by your body, I will be less likely to be tempted by other women and it will help make me a more spiritual man. Women need to understand this vital truth!
  11. Don’t get mad at your husband when he looks at other women. As long as your husband is not gawking or acting perverted about it, when your husband sees a nice woman walking by don’t shame him. God has made men as creatures of variety, and by “variety” I mean that men are naturally wired to appreciate a variety of different women. Realize that just because he looks at other women this does not mean he does not think you are beautiful too, it is just his wiring. If you really want to be courageous and show your security with your husband’s visual wiring, ask him from time to time if he thinks a certain woman is pretty, or who his favorite actresses are. I wrote a whole series on this important topic – click here to read it.
  12. Moans and Groans. Yep as husbands we like to hear that we are pleasing our wives. Obviously anything can be overdone, but most women don’t error on the side of overdoing this.
  13. Initiate sex. I completely recognize the fact that most women like to be pursued when it comes to sex and this normal. I agree that 80 percent of the time men need to be doing the initiating and the pursing (this actually is part of the process that turns women on). But if you as a wife rarely initiate sex, you need to change that.
  14. Rain checks. A rain check when it comes to sex is when you as a wife have to gently turn your husband down when he tries to initiate foreplay. Perhaps you are sick to your stomach, or maybe your period is extra heavy at that particular time. While he needs to show patience and understanding during these times, you also need to make good on your sexual “rain check”. That means it now becomes your responsibility to initiate the next sexual encounter with your husband, to let him know you are re-opened for “business”.
  15. Oral sex. Yep I said it. It’s the truth. Learn it, do it. There are few sexual acts that make a man feel more loved by his wife, or evoke more passion in a man toward his wife than when she performs oral sex on him.
  16. Groping is usually OK for most men. This is one where a few rare men would disagree. But unlike most women, most guys do not mind at all having being groped by their wives. This can be a great type of foreplay when a couple is out on a romantic date, or when they are driving home from some place, letting him know what is soon to follow.
  17. Legs spread. A lot of women think this kind of thing is un-lady like. In marriage nothing could be further from the truth. There are few things sexier to a man than when his wife pulls up her skirt to reveal no underwear and invites her husband into his favorite garden to enjoy his choice fruits (there is a reference to this in the Song of Solomon).
  18. Variety of positions and places. Try to make sure you have variety in your sexual positions, don’t get dogged down in one position, many couples get stuck on the missionary style. Try having sex in different rooms of your house.
  19. Recognize when sex is not happening. If your husband has not initiated sex in some time, or you seem to have to be initiating all the time, talk to him about it. Ask him if there any problems. Sometimes men take work stress or other stresses home with them when they should not. Gently and respectfully talk to him.
  20. Fake it till you make it! This old saying (not original to me) applies to many areas of life and it certainly applies to being a sexually intelligent wife. Realize that sometimes your feelings will match your sexual actions towards your husband, and sometimes they will not. But what many women come to realize is, once they break out of their sexual comfort zone and start doing these things with their husbands, they soon come to like it! They love the passion it creates in their husband toward them outside of the bedroom and clearly see the rewards of adding these actions and attitudes to their marriage.

Are you saying wives don’t care about sex?

I am sure there are some women reading this that are taking away from this that I believe all women care nothing for sex. That could not be further from the truth. Most women want sex too. They may not want it as often or in the same ways, but they definitely want it.  In some rare instances, some wives want sex more than their husbands do.

But for the vast majority of women, even those with higher libidos, their passion comes from being emotionally and verbally connected with first, and from tender touch. For men their passion starts from and is fueled by their sexuality, and then their emotional connection can come as a result of that passion.

Conclusion

So as a wife you have a choice. Do you want a more passionate marriage? Perhaps if you are a newlywed wife you are wondering how you can keep the passion you are currently experiencing. Then follow these 10 actions (attitudes) and principles, regardless of how you feel at different times and I promise that in 99% of cases the passion in your marriage will never die.

If however you as a wife come to reject most of what I have said here, be sure that sooner or later the passion in your marriage will die. If you say as I have seen some Christian women in Christian forums say, “this makes a Christian wife no more than a glorified prostitute” then you have completely missed what I have said, and again, eventually the passion in your marriage will fade.

Yes if you are married to a Christian man, he may remain faithful to you (as he should), but don’t be surprised when the romantic things he used to do towards you dry up and go away. Don’t be surprised when he gets more involved in his hobbies and his job and does not seem to want to spend as much time with you as he once did. Be prepared for little to no emotional attachment on his part toward you.

Wives – the choice is yours.