Wanting something isn't enough ...
Wanting something isn't enough ... There's usually work to be done.
For example, wanting a college degree isn't enough. You have to go to class, do the assignments, and study for exams. Or another example... wanting to be physically fit isn't enough. You have to actually eat healthy foods and exercise. I can tell you from personal experience that wanting it isn't enough.
Marriage is no different. Wanting a healthy marriage is a good thing, what married couple doesn't? But wanting isn't enough, there's work to be done. And healthy marriages require hard work. They don't come naturally. In fact, sometimes it feels like everything inside of us and outside of us is working against it.
So, to encourage and help our church (candidly, I need this more than anyone) continue to do the hard work of cultivating a healthy marriage, we've been going "Back to Eden" studying Genesis 2-3 to see God's Design, God's Calling, and God's Grace for Marriage. The sermons are available here. Honestly, all we've had time to do in these sermons is say, again, what the Bible teaches is most foundational, basic, and essential about marriage. But, frankly, these truths are profound, whether the explanation of them is or not.
SKIP THIS IF YOUR IN A HURRY: For example in our second sermon on Genesis 2:24 and the three times it is quoted in the New Testament we learned that the essence of marriage is "oneness." So, HOW do we cultivate "oneness" in our marriage? We cultivate oneness (1) Genesis 2:24 by moving toward one another in marriage as our primary human relationship, (2) Matthew 19:1-12 by seeing our marriage as a work of God that must not be undone by man, (3) 1 Corinthians 6:13-7:5 by fleeing immorality and fulfilling one another sexually within marriage, and (4) Ephesians 5:22-33 by fulfilling our calling within marriage to complementary headship and submission. Seriously, that is basic stuff. Marriage is more than that. But it is never less than that. And if we all actually did what we already know ... We would experience more of what God intended in the Garden for our marriages!
HERE'S WHY I'M WRITING THIS: Part of the "hard work" that I'd like to encourage every husband and every wife in our church to do is to read a good book on marriage, even if you're not a big reader. Reading and studying about marriage has genuinely refueled my desire and refocused my efforts as I endeavor to love my wife well. And the best part is that a good book allows for the time to explore and apply these areas more thoroughly... not to mention that these authors are excellent communicators. So, which book? Well, there are about 432 zillion books on marriage and some of them are good (some of them are cancerous, so be careful). Of all of the excellent books available, I'd like to suggest four of my personal favorites. I'd encourage you to pick one and read it--maybe invite your spouse to read it with you and discuss what you are learning as you go along (there's bonus points for that!). If you've already read them all (read them, not own them), pick another ... and I'd be happy to suggest some faithful authors if you aren't sure.
Bottomline... Wanting a healthy marriage isn't enough; there's work to be done. I am praying that we all work hard to cultivate healthy marriages for our good, for the advance of the gospel (telling the story of the Great Marriage), and for the glory of our Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ.
FOUR OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS ON MARRIAGE (in alphabetical order):
- Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel by Ray Ortlund
- The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller
- This Momentary Marriage by John Piper
- What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp