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Friday, June 26, 2009

Marriage Battleground or Marriage Building? (Part 2)

Marriage and its meaning and definition have been the subject of much case law and legislation around America, particularly in the past decade. Americans, however, seem to not be able to understand how to make a marriage work. What a paradox. We idealize marriage, yet we’re so bad at it. God’s Word has so much to say about marriage, and sets out a foundation for beating this paradox, and winning this spiritual battle.

Some important points of action for married couples:

1. Who Meets Your Needs? Soul Oneness. Part 1 of this devotion provided the objective of marriage in oneness, and discussed the first part of that oneness as Soul Oneness. The next two aspects of marital oneness are equally important.

2. Ministry or Manipulation: Spirit Oneness. Everything a spouse does in his or her marriage boils down to “Ministry” or “Manipulation.” Ask yourself, “Do I love him to get something? Or to give something?” or “Do I want her to do something for me? Or am I called to do something for her?” God’s love is unconditional. Marital love should likewise reflect that unconditional love.

Love your spouse to minister to him or her, rather than to manipulate. Crabb warns, “Commit yourself to ministering to your spouse’s needs, knowing that however he may respond can never rob you of your worth as a person.” This type of mindset comes from a sincere conviction that as a married person you are God’s chosen minister to your spouse. Jesus Himself exhorts us to be servants, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26. Marriage is your lifetime opportunity to minister. Choosing ministry over manipulation results in Spiritual Oneness.

3. Intimacy: Body Oneness. The human need for intimacy is twisted in a culture that has set relationships up as “personal fulfillment,” rather than oneness that results from obedience to God and His Word. Your relationship with God is the only relationship that will completely fulfill your need for intimacy. God’s design for marital oneness, significantly, is a reflection of Christ and the church – the “great mystery.” Dr. Crabb calls this “Body Oneness: Physical Pleasure with Personal Meaning.” Scripture gives clarity to this concept. Galatians 5:13 calls us to “prefer the other in love.” As a spouse, challenge yourself to outdo the other in love. For example, if I want or need something, can I first think of what my spouse wants or needs, providing for him or her first, then providing for myself second? Furthermore, physical intimacy requires understanding how to meet your spouse’s needs. Many men do not understand how to bring their wives pleasure in body oneness. Maybe this is why Deuteronomy 24:5 calls a man who is recently married to “stay home for one year and bring pleasure to his wife.” I don’t think that means telling her jokes. [For further review, consider Intended For Pleasure, by Dr. Ed and Gaye Wheat.]

Body Oneness is sexual pleasure between a married couple who depend on the Lord to meet their needs and are committed to being used of God in meeting each other’s needs. It is sexual pleasure that grows out of a commitment to minister to one’s spouse in the physical realm that provides a shared experience of sensual excitement and sexual satisfaction. Ultimately, body oneness heightens each partner’s awareness of their unbreakable bond in marriage.

Therefore, the goal of Marriage is Oneness – of Spirit, Soul, and Body:
Spirit Oneness – Trusting in Christ alone to meet your personal needs for security and significance;
Soul Oneness – Ministering to your partner in a way that enhances an awareness of his or her worth in Christ;
Body Oneness – Enjoying sexual pleasure as an expression and outgrowth of a personal relationship.

This type of thinking turns the battleground of marriage into marriage building - with a very strong foundation.

“…so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Philippians 2:15-16

~ Professor Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

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