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Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
The Importance of a Healthy Marriage
1. Many marriages are in trouble: less than what God wants them to be.
2. 2007: Over half of marriages 25+ years had ended in divorce!
a. The responsibility falls upon both partners, since each have God-given roles as well as God-given blessings when those roles are met.
b. When they are not met, the whirlwind of doubt, discouragement, disillusion and destruction invariably blows against the house that has been built on the sands of selfishness, disregard or worse, the sinful treatment of one’s mate. (Matt 7:26-27).
3. A healthy marriage is active, not stagnant; it is caring, not calloused; it is attentive, not neglectful; it is respectful, not demeaning.
4. A healthy marriage is very important, so we must never let down our guard, Eph 5:33.
I. A HEALTHY MARRIAGE TEACHES AND PRACTICES LOVE, Ezek 16:8.
A. Healthy Marriages Understand and Practice True Love, 1 Cor 13:4-7.
1. Not what the world says about love (1 Jno 2:16).
2. World often bases marriage on emotions, economy and unrealistic expectations.
3. God teaches:
a. A love that respects your mate, Eph 5:28 (Gen 2:23).
b. A love of actions and not mere words, cf. Prov 19:13; 21:9, 19.
-Something usually pushes the wife to point of contentiousness! 1 Pet 3:7; Col 3:19 (Eph 4:31-32)
B. Practicing Love in a Healthy Marriage:
1. Each is looking out for the other’s needs and interests, Phil 2:3-4. Communication is not neglected in a healthy marriage.
2. As Christ practices love for His church; as the church lovingly commits to Christ, Eph 5:24-25.
II. A HEALTHY MARRIAGE CONQUERS LONELINESS, Gen 2:18.
A. Why do Husbands and Wives Drift Apart? Eccl 4:7-12
1. Relationship is taken for granted rather than nurtured, Prov 5:18.
2. Selfishness invades the heart(s) and rules the day.
a. The responsibilities of marriage are put aside in order to pursue “my right to be happy”. (The grass is NOT greener…!)
b. A vow has been made: Too many think that it is “my right to be happy” rather than “it’s my responsibility to keep my vow.”
3. There’s a bug in the carpet (problems are not addressed; they are swept under the rug). Love doesn’t sweep things under the rug. cf. Eph 4:1-3 (5:25-27)
III. A HEALTHY MARRIAGE NURTURES CHILDREN, Eph 6:1-4.
A. A Nurturing Atmosphere Prevails, 1 Cor 7:14. (Training, correction)
1. Nurture knowledge of God and truth, Deut 6:4-9; Psa 78:1-4.
2. Nurture faith, 2 Tim 1:5.
3. Nurture the wisdom of life, cf. Prov 6:20-24.
B. A Role Model for Our Children, cf. Matt 1:19; Lk 1:28; 2:51-52.
IV. A HEALTHY MARRIAGE BUILDS CHARACTER.
A. Character is Developed in Marriage (cf. 2 Pet 1:5-7).
1. Sacrifice and service. Illus. husband wife had a stroke in her late 20’s with two kids (he stuck by her side for more than 50 years). ("for better or worse, sickness and in health") Marriage is about giving, not taking (cf. Acts 20:35).
2. Empathy. 1 Cor 12:26 (Gen 2:23).
3. Patience. In marriage “until death us do part”.
1. Unhealthy marriages not only damage lives, but also souls, 1 Pet 3:7.
2. Nourish and cherish the mate God has given you, and you will be building a healthy marriage that brings you joy and blesses your family. Eph 5:28-29
25th anniversary stats: Cited by Laura Petherbridge, “Why Do Long-time Married Couples Break Their Vows?” (http://tinyurl.com/29q9wqs)
On September 20, 2007 the New York Times posted an article which stated, “Don’t stock up on silver anniversary cards. More than half the Americans who might have celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary since 2000 were divorced, separated or widowed before reaching that milestone, according to the latest census survey, released yesterday.” He continues, “For the first time at least since World War II, women and men who married in the late 1970’s had less than an even chance of still being married 25 years later.”