Can your Marriage make a difference?

Written by Carl & Yolanda Bennett
couple2_5001 CORINTHIANS 7:1-11 Introduction

From the beginning of marriage, men and women have had the opportunity to make a difference in lives of others. Contrary to what people believe, they can make a difference in many ways. Many of you have been told that you as an individual have blessed someone just by the way you represent yourself. Now just imagine how you and your spouse can bless others by representing yourselves as God intended.

Society has really changed the way people look at marriage, even Christian's marriages. Healthy marriages can cure all kinds of societal problems. Today we are here to encourage couples to get married, stay married, and to represent marriage for God's glory.

Broken System

Statistics show that ninety to ninety-five percent of Americans are married, or will be married, and most Americans aspire to have only one, lifelong marriage, not a series of marriages. Research is showing that marriage, by far, makes people happier, healthier, and better off financially. Now here's the bad news: America's divorce rate, while it is a little lower than a decade ago, remains unacceptably high. Not only that, out of wedlock births are historically high, due to a false impression by young couples that the best way to insure a long-term, lifelong marriage is to co-habit (shack up) before marriage, to make sure they are right for one another. Indisputable evidence proves that couples that live together before marriage stand a far higher chance of getting divorced.

Can we agree that marriage, as an institution is not as healthy as it should be? Yet when people are going through marital problems, they do not want others involved in their personal problems. In society today there are positive programs in place to help couples; these programs are there to provide access to counseling, whether Christian and secular, these agencies are available to help. The government also has another agency available when married couples decide not to use the positive help system; they call it "divorce court". This agency decides how much money will be allocated monthly, which parent will get the children, and when they can see the children. We as Christians need to make the difference by showing the next generation how marriage is intended to be.

Marriage: The Next Generation

What can happily married couples do to improve the state of marriage in our culture today?

"Be a positive role model", the more good marriages young people see, the more a good marriage will become the norm. One of the things that drive people towards cohabitation is not the fear of marriage but the fear of divorce. So the more positive role models of successful marriages, the more our young people will understand that this is an attainable objective, something they can go into joyfully, as opposed to with great fear.

Happily married couples can support and encourage other marriages around them. It may be a couple whose marriage is struggling, encourage them to hang in there, remind them that divorce can cause more problems than it can solve. Studies show that 8 out of 10 couples that preserve in bad marriages are much happier and will rate their marriage as stable and happy just five years later.

Let's not stay silent while we lose marriages that could be saved. That not only brings more pain to those getting divorced, it also sends a detrimental message to children; when marriage doesn't go so well, you can escape it through divorce.

Couples can be real honest role models for the next generation, by not sharing myths such as:
1. Everything is perfect
2. We never fight
3. He never leaves the toilet seat up
4. She always squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom

Couples should also tell them true stories:
1. You will experience financial struggles
2. In-laws issues
3. Sex will not always be great
4. Sin

Honesty Is The Best Counseling

PROVERBS 15:22

We need to let our young people know that there are challenges that we have all faced in our marriages, that every marriage has a conflict, and it is a challenge, but also a great joy.

We also need to expose, the mystical view of marriage. There are ideas reinforced by television and movies:
a) That a good marriage is magic
b) That nobody truly understands what make one marriage work and
another fail
c) That there really isn't much a couple can do but hope for the best
d) If things don't work out, well it wasn't meant to be

This is nonsense; there is a lot you can do about it. It is worth it to work through difficulties because when you come out on the other side, you are often more deeply in love with your spouse than you were before.

1 CORINTHIANS 7:1-11

The Corinthians had written to Paul, asking him several questions relating to the Christian life and problems in the church. The first question was whether it was good to be married. Paul answers this and other questions in the remainder of this letter. Christians in Corinth were surrounded by sexual temptation. The city had a reputation even among pagans for sexual immorality and religious prostitution. It was to this kind of society that Paul delivered these instructions on sex and marriage. The Corinthians needed special, specific instructions because of their culture's immoral standards. Sexual temptations are difficult to withstand because they appeal to the normal and natural desires that God has given us. Marriage provides God's way to satisfy these natural sexual desires and to strengthen the partners against temptation. Married couples have the responsibility to care for each other; therefore, husbands and wives should not withhold themselves sexually from one another but should fulfill each other's needs and desires. The Corinthian church was in turmoil because of the immorality of the culture around them. Some Greeks, in rejecting immorality, rejected sex and marriage altogether. The Corinthian Christians wondered if this was what they should do also, so they asked Paul several questions: "Because sex is perverted, shouldn't we also abstain in marriage?" "If my spouse is unsaved, should I seek a divorce?" "Should unmarried people and widows remain unmarried?" Paul answered many of these questions by saying, "For now, stay put. Be content in the situation where God has placed you. If you're married, don't seek to be single. If you're single, don't seek to be married. Live God's way, one day at a time, and he will show you what to do."

Both marriage and singleness are gifts from God. One is not morally better than the other, and both are valuable to accomplishing God's purposes. It is important for us, therefore, to accept our present situation. When Paul said he wished that all people were like him (unmarried), he was expressing his desire that more people would devote themselves completely to the ministry without the added concerns of a spouse and family, as he had done. He was not criticizing marriage-after all, it is God's created way of providing companionship and populating the earth.
Sexual pressure is not the best motive for getting married, but it is better to marry the right person than to "burn with lust." Many new believers in Corinth thought that all sex was wrong, and so engaged couples were deciding not to get married. In this passage, Paul was telling couples who wanted to marry that they should not frustrate their normal sexual drives by avoiding marriage. This does not mean, however, that people who have trouble controlling themselves should marry the first person who comes along. It is better to deal with the pressure of desire than to deal with an unhappy marriage.

PROVERBS 15:22

People with tunnel vision, those who are locked into one way of thinking, are likely to miss the right road because they have closed their minds to any new options. We need the help of those who can enlarge our vision and broaden our perspective. Seek out the advice of those who know you and have a wealth of experience. Build a network of advisers. Then be open to new ideas, and be willing to weigh their suggestions carefully. Your plans will be stronger and more likely to succeed.
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