There are two knowledge dimensions to marriage: the dimension of the knowable and the dimension of the unknowable. For the dimension of the knowable you need wisdom. For the dimension of the unknowable you need God’s mercy. You cannot fully know someone. We always know in part. For the unknowable and unrevealed you need the mercy of God.
Mercy is a big word in marriage. There are six categories of situations in which God’s mercy is required as per relationship:
a. For those that are married you need the mercy of God to stay happily married. May his mercy protect you from left field surprises.
b. For those who are single and searching you need the mercy of God to choose right.
c. For those who are dating but in a ruinous relationship you need the mercy of God to get out of such contraption.
d. For those who have experienced or are going through divorce, may God’s mercy heal the scars of that horrible experience.
e. For those going through marital or relationship trauma, may the mercy of God deliver you.
f. For those going through doubt about their relationship, may the mercy of God help you make the right decision.
We need God’s mercy because of the potency of marriage.
Marriage processes you. It has deterministic capacity. It is one of the great institutions. So much so God adopted the principles embedded in it to fuse Christ and the Church.
There are two case studies in the Bible on the potency of marriage.
a. The first is Samson and Delilah. Samson was terminated by his wife. He died at 40.
b. The second is the marriage of Jacob to Leah. Leah went into a loveless marriage. Her children saw their mum wasn’t loved. The marriage turned them to murderers. Those children were going to bury their half-brother alive. They sold him into slavery as an act of mercy. The tender mercies of the wicked is cruelty. (Proverbs 12:10).
In continuation of the saga Reuben slept with his step mum in a mirror lovelessness. That was the way his dad treated his mum. He didn’t love Leah. He only slept with her. (Genesis 35:22).
The moral from these two case studies are:
a. A wrong choice of partner can terminate your program and destiny. Cf. Samson and Delilah.
b. You shouldn’t go into a loveless marriage. It’s hell. It has an effect on children. Cf. Jacob and Leah.
Marriage is a humanity thing. Was instituted in Eden. Because it’s a humanity thing the mercy of God gives fair warning to EVERYONE going into a potentially ruinous matrimony irrespective of faith, creed or righteousness. God will make something happen as warning if you’re about to go into a terrible marriage, and it will stick out as remembrance. That is God’s grace. But we paper over such warning, wave it away, succumb to family pressure, or put ourselves under the tyranny of a set date for wedding. Sometimes sex messes up our capacity to walk away from potential emotional ruin. It magnetises us, makes us stay in a bad relationship. Ask any divorcee, they will tell you that moment, that location they should have walked out before the marriage. Let me give you a list of instances in which to walk out of a relationship:
a. There’s violent display of temper. There’s potential harm with such temperament.
b. There’s physical and emotional abuse.
c. There’s acute evidence of irresponsibility – like converting the money saved to rent an apartment towards the marriage.
d. There’s obvious evidence you’re being used. A typical example is being used to obtain citizenship of a foreign country.
e. You partner is diabolical and dabbles in dark arts.
f. You have a persistent unease you’re about to walk into a trap.
g. There’s no commitment despite the passage of years. Nothing definite is on the horizon. Your youth is being wasted.
h. Your partner is after your money and assets.
i. Your partner can’t accept your past – be it your abortion history, or the fact you had a child out of wedlock.
j. He has no plans, or the plans keep changing incessantly.
k. The relationship is just not working. No matter how much you try you keep fighting. There are too many fights.
l. Your partner doesn’t love you. He or she just wants to marry.
m. You’re not attracted to your partner. (Sex will suffer in the marriage. You’ll punish your partner. You’ll barely tolerate him or her).
n. Your partner wishes you dead.
In any of these instances it’s better to walk out of the relationship. Each forebodes trauma.
There’s no protocol for boyfriend/girlfriend relationship in the Bible. Bible society didn’t recognise it. It didn’t exist. Mary and Joseph are closest to what we can call engagement today but betrothal in those days is not the same as engagement today.
Note that Joseph and Mary weren’t going to break up. They were going to divorce. Betrothal in those days was akin to marriage.
The only resort we have concerning boyfriend/girlfriend relationship is recourse to wisdom as recommended by scriptures.
There are three dimensions of marriage in scriptures. The first dimension is friendship and romance. The second is sensuality and sexuality, while the third is dutifulness and responsibility. All three are important. There are a number of mistakes Christians make in choosing a spouse:
a. There’s general reliance on incomplete theology – Ephesians 5:22-33 in particular. That’s the famous “Wives be submitted to your husband” passage, even though the first thing the passage says is that both husband and wife should be submitted to another. Ephesians 5:22-33 is not the full counsel of God on marriage. It specifically deals with duty of care, doesn’t address romance or sex. For romance you have to go to Songs of Songs. For sex, go to 1 Corinthians 7:2-6 MSG.
b. They use false parameters to choose a spouse e.g. he’s a wonderful usher in church. But that’s a qualification for church admin not marriage.
c. They abdicate responsibility for choice of marriage partner to spiritual figures and even family members. The pastor as diviner and prophet makes proclamation on choice of partner.
d. Some Christians don’t realise favour attracts all sorts including diabolical people. They may end up marrying from the dark side.
Now, because you’re spirit, soul and body, common-sense dictates your approach to marriage should take care of all three segments:
a. As a spirit being you should pray, be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, rely on Spirit intelligence.
b. As per your soul dimension, there should be friendship and romance in your relationship and marriage. The soul feeds on love and affection.
c. As per your physical dimension, attractiveness, sensuality and sexuality matter. You should be physically attracted to your partner.
The older generation of Christians concentrated too much on the spiritual dimension to the detriment of the soulish and physical dimensions. This produced imbalanced theology and generated horrible distortions in marriage. It’s what gave rise to the “Thus saith the Lord” marriage proposal phenomenon – essentially proposal by prophecy. It had inherent contradictions. Would God make you marry someone you’re not attracted to? There’s no biblical authority to support that idea. In fact that’s the critical danger highlighted in the Jacob/Leah marriage.
There are three vital lessons from the Jacob/Leah union:
a. Marry your cultural type – Rachel was what you’ll call a tomboy today. She was a shepherdess. She was smart, intelligent, sassy and rebellious. She appealed to Jacob. Jacob was a “bad boy.” He was smart, intelligent and rebellious too. His family had a history of marrying fine women. Her family had a history of producing fine women. They fit each other perfectly.
b. Marry your personality fit. Leah was a “good girl” who did whatever daddy wanted. So much so she supplanted her sister on her honeymoon, because daddy gave instruction. Leah was not appropriate for Jacob. She wasn’t spunky like Rachel.
c. Marry your taste. We’re told Rachel was “stunningly beautiful.” (Genesis 29:17 MSG). Jacob’s mum was beautiful. Leah on the other hand had dreamy eyes and that was it. They weren’t enough for Jacob. She wasn’t his idea of beauty. She didn’t look like his mum.
But no matter the cultural, beauty or personality fit, if God tells you not to go into a union, don’t! It means he knows something you don’t. Obey him. And he’ll talk to you directly!
The right model for the Christian is to consider all four clusters: Spirit intelligence, responsibility/dutifulness, sexuality/sensuality as well as romance/friendship. This brings balance. What this generation of Christians has done is to ignore Spirit intelligence, the dutifulness/responsibility cluster, and concentrate on the romance/friendship and sexuality/sensuality clusters. That’s imbalance. The dutifulness and responsibility cluster is very important. Even love has a dutiful dimension. It’s not just about tachycardia. Look at 1 Corinthians 13. You need the dutifulness of love in marriage.
There are ten items of dutifulness highlighted in 1 Corinthians 13:
1. Love is patient (You need a lot of patience in marriage).
2. Love is kind (Gifts matter, care matters).
3. Love does not envy (You can’t be envious of your spouse).
4. Love does not boast, it is not proud (You’re not doing each other a favour. You don’t oppress your spouse with money. That’s pride. Neither should you depreciate effort and contribution).
5. Love does not dishonour others (Don’t run your partner down in front of third parties).
6. Love is not self-seeking (Being self-centred and selfish will create problems in your marriage. You’ll be insensitive and blind).
7. Love is not easily angered (Control your temper).
8. Love keeps no record of wrongs (Forgive. Erase the memory).
9. Love does not delight in evil (No destruction of your partner’s reputation).
10. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres… (There’s a constancy).
Follow a balanced regimen for marriage. Pay attention to Spirit intelligence, as well as friendship/romance, responsibility/dutifulness and sexuality/sensuality.
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org.
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