Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage, Conclusion

What should this liturgy that I have written teach us as single people in a relationship, or as married people? For both the single and the married, this liturgy should teach us the standard that God has set for marriage. Women are to put their husbands first and respect them. Men are to serve and sanctify their wives as well as sacrifice themselves for their wives. Failure to do so constitutes sin against our spouse and against God. Now, I mentioned something in Part 3 that I promised to expound on a little bit. Let me start with a question: What do we do if one spouse does not live up to their biblical mandate? I answered by saying that the believing spouse sanctifies the unbelieving spouse. I also said that I would argue that this principle applies even in a Christian relationship. Why? Quite simply because the husband is the spiritual leader of the house, and the wife is the husband's helper. There is no escaping this principle even in non-Christian marriages, with all the flip-flopping society has done with marriage. As the spiritual leader, the husband can and must take the lead in exhorting his wife to be what God has made her to be. If the wife is not a Christian, or simply is failing to live up to her role (willingly or unknowingly), it is the husband's duty to model his role and teach her by his example what her biblical role is. The same applies for the wife. Especially more so for the wife, since she has no headship authority in her role. Her authority is more of an exhortationary nature, I think. Her role is to help her husband stay on the narrow path. I liken this (probably not very accurately) to shepherding dogs. They are not the boss--the shepherd is--but their duty is to help the shepherd tend the flock. Oftentimes the dog can herd the flock all by itself. Now, this is where the point I am arguing gets illustrated. I have read that sometimes the dog can teach the shepherd how to do his job. This is usually done to young shepherds, usually boys, to teach them how to tend the flock in the fields. Of course, I have no way to verify this at the moment (please feel free to chime in if you should have info on the subject), but it is an amazing idea and explains what I'm trying to say very well. The believing or faithful spouse can function as a guide for the unbelieving or unfaithful spouse. Neither taking on the opposite role nor forcing it on them, the believing spouse can gradually move the unbelieving spouse into the proper role. This principle mirrors the irresistible call of God in some ways, because if the unbelieving spouse is truly committed to the believing spouse, then there is no way he or she can resist becoming what God has intended in their marriage. I've also said that the principles espoused in this liturgy should be practiced by those who are dating as well. What reason do I have for this? The reason being that dating is not just a romantic relationship but a search for the missing rib and the body from which that rib was taken. If a body and a rib cannot practice proper relations with each other, they can never glorify God. Furthermore, it becomes much easier for a man and a woman to find out if they are compatible when they are seeking to relate to each other in the way that God has intended, as outlined in the liturgy. If, after faithfully assuming the male and female roles, a dating couple still cannot function compatibly, it should be obvious that they are not the ones for each other. This assumes, of course, that at every step of the way the couple is seeking God's will for their relationship. I plan, over the next few years, to develop a worldview for premarital counseling based on this concept. The study which led to this liturgy and the subsequent commentary here on this blog has left me convinced that if we as believers would practice our biblically mandated roles, our marriages would vastly improve. Divorces between believers would dramatically decline as marriages begin to fall into place and dating couples develop habits for healthy marriage as well as wisely divide whether or not they are meant for each other. We as a society would once again return to a time when marriages in excess of 30 years' longevity would once again become common. But the major difference is that our behavior in our relationships would be glorifying to God. Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment at any time!


Blogger Shane Morgan said...

Nice work Stephen. I've long been convinced that every marital problem there is can be reduced to a breach of Ephesians 5:22-33 in some way. If marriage partners were simply willing to embrace their roles and be committed to the same, I believe marriage would be restored to it's propor position (i.e. the nuclear core of society).

1/16/2006 10:22:00 AM  

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