Every family is dysfunctional. From the moment Adam and Eve moved out from under the umbrella of God’s protection, the family has been washed up. In that moment, God left Man’s spirit, and on his own, Man is naturally self-centered, greedy, and destructive—every man, every woman, from Genesis until today.
But God, in His mercy, gave every man and woman a do-over. He gave every marriage an opportunity not only to make it but to thrive and to go the distance. He did this on Calvary when He poured out His love. A husband and wife who both reverence Him as Lord share together in His Love.
They are able to enjoy true intimacy, said Pastor Adrian Rogers: “The word intimate comes from a Latin word, ‘intimus,’ which means inmost. That means the inmost part of me relating to the inmost part of my wife; the Bible describes it as being, ‘One flesh.’”
One Lord, One Love
At Love Worth Finding, we are exploring the concept of God’s love making us one. “Whether you’re married or not, Pastor Rogers said, “you’re part of society, and society is not going to be any stronger than its homes.”
While we will primarily be talking about the husband-wife relationship, God’s love is always unifying. His love made Ruth and Naomi one in their faithfulness to care for one another. That same love brought unity to the home of siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, Jesus’ friends at Bethany. The Church as a whole relies on One Lord to make us one in fellowship and mission. Just as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One, oneness is the divine design for God’s people.
God doesn’t want us to be distant, distressed, or dissatisfied in marriage. God’s plan is a blueprint for building a close, peaceful, and fulfilling marriage relationship. God designed a man and woman to love Him as Lord and find true intimacy!
“Now the word intimate in, our day has sort of a sensual, sexual connotation. But that’s not what we’re talking about primarily, when we’re talking about building intimate marriages,” Pastor Rogers said.
Intimacy, he said, is that quality the Bible describes as living as, “One flesh,” being “Heirs together of the grace of life,” and “Being of one mind.”
Whether you’re married or not you need to understand this, Pastor Rogers said, because, “you’re part of society, and society is not going to be any stronger than its homes, and the homes are not going to be any better than the intimacy that we build in the homes.”
As we consider God’s design, we’ll look first at the foundation for marriage, and then at the differences in men and women and how that affects their roles in marriage, at the way we can best communicate in marriage, and finally at handling conflict.
“Now I heard of a subdivision that was built on an old landfill,” Pastor Rogers said, “and it looked good for a while, but after a while, the walls began to crack and to crumble, and the roofs began to sag, and the pavement gave way, and people deserted that subdivision. And the reason they deserted was that it was built on garbage. Most American homes today are very frankly, built on garbage. And that’s the reason that they’re not succeeding. When the bottom falls out, examine the foundation.”
1 Peter 3:1-2 says:
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
Pastor Rogers called these the most politically incorrect two verses in the Bible. “These two verses would cause the modern supra feminist to split a spleen,” Pastor Rogers said.
“I want you to get this down big and plain and straight: submission is not inferiority. Submission is a military term. It means to rank under. A private is not inferior to a captain, and a captain is not inferior to a general, though they rank differently, and they have different prerogatives and different jobs. And a man and a woman are not one inferior to the other or superior to the other, but God has set order in the home. And in order, there must be headship. I’ve said many times from this pulpit, anything with no head is dead and anything with two heads is a freak.”
In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul says:
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Pastor Rogers reminded us, “God the Father and God the Son are co-equal, co-eternal.” The Bible says, “The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” There is no hierarchy of value in the trinity or in marriage!
While an attitude of submission to headship is the first quality Peter discusses for women in Chapter 3, he also covers an adornment of serenity, which is a “meek” (under control) and quiet spirit, and speech that is encouraging.
“Ladies,” Pastor Rogers said plainly, “your man wants your admiration.”
1 Peter 3:7 says:
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Dwelling with wives with understanding, or with knowledge, as the King James version says, does not mean superiority, Pastor Rogers said: “One man subscribed to the theory of male superiority. His wife canceled his subscription, and she’ll cancel yours too.”
Dwelling with understanding means the man is to provide not only for his wife’s physical needs but also for her spiritual and emotional needs, Pastor Rogers said.
In fact, he said, a wife has seven specific needs for which a husband should provide: spiritual leadership, security in knowing she is number one in her husband’s life, reminders that her husband delights in and cherishes her as a person, quality time for intimacy, assurance that her husband is aware of her presence even when he is busy with other things, and to see her husband “investing in her life, so as to fulfill the things of her world.”
For more about the foundation of God’s divine design for married couples, read the article, Build An Intimate Marriage: God’s Divine Design (1 Peter 3).
God made us different that He might make us one. Neither a man nor a woman is superior, but we are very, very different. Rather than suggesting, as culture does, that men should be more like women and women should be more like men, why not enjoy the differences?
Pastor Rogers said that, while these qualities are not set in stone, there are some general differences in men and women and those differences make marriages stronger, not weaker.
In general, men are physically stronger than women. Why? Let’s look at Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:15 says:
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
“What was the job that God gave to Adam?” Pastor Rogers asked rhetorically, “two-fold: to dress the garden and to keep the garden. ...He had a physical frame that could provide for and protect Eve.”
The word “Eve” means life-giver. “She is the nurturer,” Pastor Rogers said. “So God made her physical body, to nurture. ...Porcelain is weaker than steel. You can make a teacup out of porcelain; you can make a sledgehammer out of steel. But you can’t drink tea out of a sledgehammer.”
Usually women want romance; men are more practical and visual. In the Song of Songs, Solomon’s lover, the Shulamite woman, says in chapter 3, verses 1-2:
By night on my bed I sought the one I love; I sought him, but I did not find him. “I will rise now,” I said, “and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.”
Her quest is driven by the desire for relationship, Pastor Rogers explained: “She’s so romantic; she’s talking about him and how much she loves him.” By contrast, Solomon describes his lover’s physical qualities. in Song of Songs 4:1b-3a, he says:
Behold, you are fair! You have dove’s eyes behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats, going down from Mount Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep which have come up from the washing, every one of which bears twins, and none is barren among them. Your lips are like a strand of scarlet, and your mouth is lovely.
He’s saying she has beautiful eyes, hair, and lips, and he’s noticing that she has all her teeth, Pastor Rogers said. “He’s describing her. She is calling him, “My love, my lover, my sweetheart.” But he’s saying, “Boy she is a knockout!”
Other differences include contrasts between what Pastor Rogers calls the “tortoise and the hare,” the “radar and the computer,” the “code speaker and the reporter” and the “lover and the achiever.” For more on these differences worth celebrating, read the article, Build An Intimate Marriage: Celebrate the Differences Between Men and Women.
Jesus is both the pattern and the power for married couples as they learn to communicate.
1 Peter 2:21-23 says:
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth;” who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.
In the same chapter, Peter says, “likewise you wives,” and “likewise you husbands,” as he tells married couples to be imitators of Christ. We are to be truthful. We are not to revile and not to revile in return. We are not to threaten each other in our communication.
Pastor Rogers said people communicate on five levels: the frivolous level—”It sure is hot out”; the factual level—”Did you see what happened on the news;” the fellowship level—we talk about what motivates us or what we believe; the feeling level—we share our fears and are vulnerable; and the freedom level—we bare our souls unashamed, never fearing we will be belittled. That’s where intimacy is found.
For a deeper look at 2 Peter 3 and how married couples can build intimacy, seek peace, and avoid conflict by learning to communicate better, read the article, Build an Intimate Marriage: Effective Communication Empowers Oneness.
What happens, however, when things go wrong? How should married couples handle conflict? We must employ God’s love.
God’s love promotes oneness as it listens intently, acts considerately, and forgives completely.
God made husbands and wives different so that He can make them one in marriage. Because of these innate differences, arguments are inevitable.
James 1:19 reveals how to handle conflicts:
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
Only by listening can we begin to understand each other, and be brought back into a place of emotional intimacy.
Our tongues will often get us into trouble. Having two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we speak.
When in conflict, some spouses like to play judge or professor. Some play psychologist or historian, dictator or critic. Some might even play the self-righteous preacher. But as believers, we must remember that love is what controls our language.
Adrian Rogers says, “Watch your words; keep them warm and sweet because you may have to eat them.”
Unwarranted anger severely damages the home. Pastor Rogers said, “it is not a weakness; it is a wickedness.”
When facing marital conflicts, don’t run away, give in, or get fired up. Instead, find the right time, with the right tone, at the right place. Rather than being right and losing, compromise and gain together.
When we remember God’s forgiveness of us and are forgiving toward our spouses, married life gets sweeter.
For more about God’s forgiveness and how it informs the way in which we handle conflict in marriage, read the article, Build an Intimate Marriage: How to Handle Conflict with Forgiveness.
We’ve talked about what marriage is and how it should be conducted for those who would follow God’s plan. Let’s take a moment to look at what marriage is not, according to God’s Divine Design.
In late November of 2022, the U.S. Senate passed the ironically name “Respect for Marriage Act,” to affirm same sex marriage at the federal level. But while societies and the values they embrace may change, the Word of God does not. Pastor Adrian Rogers spoke about this issue in 2003. His words ring true two decades later: “Help us not to be cowards and help us not to be caustic,” he said, reminding us of God’s forgiveness for sin. “May we be courageous and may we be wise. …Lord God, we pray that You’ll give freedom and liberty that people might know the joy that You have actually planned for us in a godly marriage.”
God’s design for the marriage relationship was set forth in Genesis and reinforced biblically, among other places, in Matthew 19:4-6, in which Jesus says:
Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.
For a message from Pastor Rogers about same-sex relationships, CLICK HERE.
Ephesians 4:1-6 tells us to walk worthy of God’s call on our lives:
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us to walk in love:
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Ephesians 5:22-33 provides a clear blueprint for a godly marriage:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, [h]of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:16 to be like-minded as imitators of Christ:
Let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
When the going in your marriage gets tough, read Philippians 3:12, which says:
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.