Solutions June 2016 - Page 51

As I travel across the country leading marriage seminars, I encounter more and more pastors weeping over broken marriages in their congregations. Their stories have a similar ring: “Our minister of music had an affair with one of the ladies in the choir.” “The chairman of our deacon board got involved with a young lady with whom he was counseling.” “In our small church, we’ve had four divorces in the past year. I don’t know if I can take much more of this.” than the vision of a godly marriage. According to the Bible, marriage was not designed to provide us with a daily dose of romantic goose bumps. God had something far more important in mind when he said of Adam, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him… and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:18, 24). What then is a biblical perspective on a healthy marriage? Let me suggest four characteristics of a healthy marriage. Whether the congregation is urban, suburban, or rural makes little difference. Christians are having affairs, separating, and divorcing in alarming numbers. These are only the ones we know about. For every couple who divorces, there are scores of others with troubled marriages. Unknown to their peers, they live in silent pain. Unless the tide is turned, they, too, will become divorce statistics two, five, or ten years from now. INTIMACY A part of the problem is that we’ve lost our way in the church when it comes to understanding marriage. The TV soaps, movies, and romance novels have become a steady diet for thousands of Christian adults. Thus, their ideas of marriage have been flavored more by contemporary myth than by biblical truth. Visions of romantic bliss dance higher in the minds of many Christians The phrase “they will become one flesh” involves far more than sexual intercourse. It involves the total person. Becoming “one flesh” implies intellectual intimacy: the sharing of thoughts, ideas, and desires; emotional intimacy: the sharing of feelings; social intimacy: the sharing of events, such as attending a concert, planting a tree, visiting with friends; spiritual intimacy: sharing something of our relationship with God, a word we read from Scripture, an impression we received in worship, or sharing in prayer for missionary friends, and yes, physical intimacy: the sharing of our bodies in the joy of pleasuring each other sexually. Such intimacy does not simply happen after two people get married. It requires time, a willingness to talk and to reveal o