Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Marriage Manual

Marriage. An institution designed by God in the garden; protected by God in the law; validated by its occasion being the location of Jesus' first miracle and shrouded in mystery and beauty as the relationship of intimacy that we will soon share with our bridegroom.

The subject of marriage has great interest to the vast majority of us because the vast majority of us are... married! Or will be.

With that in mind at first glance it is a bit startling that the Bible spends so little time on the subject. We have a few key passages like Ephesians 5, I Peter 3, and Genesis 3; there are several pictures given throughout scriptures and a number of references in Proverbs and a few other places. However, unlike the plethora of marriage books found on the shelves at your local Christian bookstore, there is no single place where we can turn to scripture and read chapter after chapter on this or that aspect of marriage.

After spending some time wondering about this phenomenon I have concluded that it comes down to our God being not only effective but efficient. The Bible, after all, is the a story of the redemptive work of God
ultimately revealed through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Bible is not a self-help manual, nor is it a parenting manual, nor, as it turns out, a marriage manual.

When the Bible instructs us concerning how we should relate to our fellow man (or woman) it speaks in general terms about loving each other, submitting to one another, being patient, kind or being a helper of one another's joy. All of which applies to anyone and everyone in our lives including our children, those we work with, live next to, or are married to.

Without question, if we were to apply all that God said about how we should bear with one another, forgive one another, look to serve one another; the lions share of marital problems would be dealt with. The problem is that, for some warped reason, we can treat those we are supposed to be closest to in the most horrible way. It is as though we think the instructions of God regarding how we ought to act with others applies to everyone except those we live with.

So where is the efficiency seen? With so much of the interpersonal instruction already covered it seems the Spirit simply and solely added those instructions concerning marriage, for instance, that were particular to marriage. In other words, "Do all that I told you about how to treat all other people... and here are some special instructions on aspects of this particular kind of relationship that are unique to marriage" (hierarchy in the home, the marriage bed, divorce, etc.)

I say all that to say this.

Over the years I have instructed many couples to read through the book of Philippians together and then talk about what they saw that could apply to their marriage. I could send them to any number of books really, there is instruction everywhere you look. Philippians though, is written with a tenderness that is apparent. It is also a book of joy and rejoicing so it has a very positive tenor to it. For me, it works particularly well for this purpose.

What I intend to do here on the Pilgrim's Journal is walk though the letter and do just as I described above. I am not looking to break down the Greek and extract the deepest contextual understanding, that will be for another time. This is much more devotional, much more applicable, maybe even a little "word association-al."

If you choose to continue to track with me on this journey through Paul's letter to Philippi, you will soon get the idea of what I am talking about.

In the mean time it is important to remember that God did not give us a manual, He gave us His Son, Emmanuel - God with us. The new covenant is based not upon rules to follow but a Spirit that leads, Who speaks, Who writes His will on our hearts. It is CHRIST IN US... He is THE HOPE OF GLORY. He is the only hope we have to live gloriously, to live in a way that glorifies Him. God with us. Emmanuel.

Stay tuned.


1 comment:

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