There is more confusion today surrounding the institution of marriage than at any point in human history. Fortunately, God has not left us to navigate this important subject alone; He has spoken to us in his Word. From the Old Testament book of Proverbs, God provides a balanced portrait of marriage which we need to hear and apply. No relationship can compare with the marriage relationship in terms of commitment. The book of Genesis talks about how a husband and wife enter into a one-flesh committed relationship. In other words, we have a unique physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual blending where two unique individuals become one. Only in marriage does one plus one equal one! And so the foundation of Christian marriage is our mutual commitment to one another, till death do we part. But commitment alone does not make for a satisfying marriage. The book of Proverbs offers a balanced picture of the components which contribute to a healthy, satisfying marriage.
In a healthy marriage, we find both romance and a strong, loving friendship. In other words, God intends for us to be both lovers and friends. In Proverbs 5:18-19, we read, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” Solomon is saying to us, “Don’t let the romance die out. Keep those home fires burning.” Men tend to be great at this before they get married. Flowers, phone calls during the day, gifts, and exciting dates are the norm. But after we have been married for a few years, it’s easy to fall into a boring, monotonous routine. We make the mistake of ceasing to date our wives. No couple ever intends for the romance to die. It doesn’t happen overnight. But slowly, day by day, we cease to do the little things that once came so naturally, so spontaneously… the cards, the special meals, and the intimate dates. Gentlemen, although it takes two to tango, I believe that we should take the lead in lighting the fires of romance in our marriages. Not only does Proverbs highlight the romantic side of marriage, it also envisions marriage as an exclusive partnership between close friends. We see this in Proverbs 2:16-17, where we are warned against entering into an adulterous relationship. I want to focus in on the word translated “partner” in the NIV text. The word “partner” simply doesn’t do justice to the Hebrew word used here. The Hebrew word alluph is always reserved for the closest of friends. In healthy biblical marriages, couples are both lovers and friends.
The second broad area Proverbs addresses touching on marriage is the whole area of parenting. The parenting function is designed by God to be carried out jointly. In other words, we are to work as a team (Proverbs 1:8-9). God knows our limitations. He understands the challenge of parenting. That’s why, ideally, parenting involves both a Mom and a Dad. It is really important that we set common values and goals for our children. As Christian parents, those goals and values should reflect a Biblical worldview. After all, this is God’s world. We operate best when adopt and live out Biblical values. When we don’t, we experience the negative consequences of our choices. So, if you love your children, seek to instill in them Biblical values. It is also important that we establish appropriate boundaries for our kids with clear consequences for violations. Our children need boundaries. There is a lot of security in knowing what is right and what is wrong—in knowing what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. But we have to be careful that the boundaries we establish are fair and appropriate to the maturity of our children. All of our children are different.
When you think about it, boundaries are useless if they are not enforced. There must be clear consequences for violations. Mom and Dad, you need to get together on this. Every time you waffle on following through with the consequences you have established, you weaken the boundary and encourage your child not to take you seriously. You must present a united front. Speak as one. If your children sense that you are not in agreement, look out! Our kids are sharp. They will pit us against one another. When you see this happening, you should say something like, “Let mom and I talk about it. Don’t ask again. We’ll let you know what we decide.”
Application / Challenge
- To have a strong marriage cultivate both romance and friendship.
- In parenting, work together as a team: a) agree upon a common set of values and goals for the children, b) establish maturity appropriate boundaries with clear consequences for violations, and c) present a united front. Review our latest Parenting sermons, go to Sermons, search in topics: Parenting.