Tag Archives: marriage

Compassion: A Fourteen Day Journey #4

Stewardship of Spouses


Xerxes is throwing a wildly extravagant dinner party. The only limitation on his guests intake is the boundary of their own desire. At the climax of the revelry, the king sends for his queen, intending to show her off as a status symbol. When Vashti commits the unthinkable by refusing, she subjects this megalomaniac to utter humiliation.

Author Robert Farrar Capon discusses the unrealistically high expectations we place on sex, romance and marriage. (He thinks we tend to make “religions” out of these aspects of our lives. The higher our expectations, the more like a “religion” sex, romance, and marriage become for us.) He also comments on the false expectations we place on these aspects of our lives and on the release valves we look for when the newness wears off. A quotation of his remarks on marriage:

Marriage exposes us to all of the unacceptable qualities of our spouses and ourselves with relentlessness those other two states sex and romance can never match–and because year after year it makes it clearer that what is unacceptable about us is not what we do but who we are–the religions we concoct to conjure with marriage are more useless than any others.

Nevertheless, rather than admit that the religions don’t work–that no such canny sacrifices can take the place of patience, manners, and ultimately, forgiveness–we go right on making sacrifices, up to and including the devastating one of immolating each other in divorce. If I had to assign a single, overarching cause to the high American divorce rate, it would be our refusal to throttle, or even to question, the religion of marriage. Our marital breakups are almost always seen by us–after a few token apologies for our own (pardonable) shortcomings–as due to our partner’s unpardonable offenses against the god of matrimony.

Capon’s conclusion brings home what God intends these relationship stages to mean in the Christian life. His insights are both sobering and profoundly inspiring.

Sex, romance, and marriage then; these three. Like everything else in the world, they are anamneses (remembrances) and prolepses (anticipations) of the Home from which we come and to which we go. But preeminently they are the grand sacraments of the fact that Home is the end of a relationship. We are not artifacts destined for an eternal mantelpiece; we are the beloved called the incarnate Wisdom of the Father, into the last relationship of all into the exchanges of the Godhead itself–into the Love of the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Esther 1:1-12 NKJV

Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia), in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the citadel, that in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and servants—the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces being before him— when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty for many days, one hundred and eighty days in all. And when these days were completed, the king made a feast lasting seven days for all the people who were present in Shushan the citadel, from great to small, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. There were white and blue linen curtains fastened with cords of fine linen and purple on silver rods and marble pillars; and the couches were of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of alabaster, turquoise, and white and black marble. And they served drinks in golden vessels, each vessel being different from the other, with royal wine in abundance, according to the generosity of the king. In accordance with the law, the drinking was not compulsory; for so the king had ordered all the officers of his household, that they should do according to each man’s pleasure. Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women in the royal palace which belonged to King Ahasuerus. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him.

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Love & Marriage V

Although this chapter discusses adultery, it also offers good advice about making your marriage the exciting and fulfilling relationship we dream it can and should be. After reading this passage aloud together, share what first attracted you to your spouse and what you still love about them today. Instead of discussing what your marriage isn’t, share stories about your courtship and reminisce about the highlights of your times together. And depending on where your walk down memory lane leads you, you may or may not end up praying this time.


Dear friend, pay close attention to this, my wisdom; listen very closely to the way I see it. Then you’ll acquire a taste for good sense; what I tell you will keep you out of trouble. The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth. But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart. She’s dancing down the primrose path to Death; she’s headed straight for Hell and taking you with her. She hasn’t a clue about Real Life, about who she is or where she’s going. So, my friend, listen closely; don’t treat my words casually. Keep your distance from such a woman; absolutely stay out of her neighborhood. You don’t want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted. Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you? Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you? You don’t want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones, Saying, “Oh, why didn’t I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? Why didn’t I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? My life is ruined! I haven’t one blessed thing to show for my life!” Do you know the saying, “Drink from your own rain barrel, draw water from your own spring-fed well”? It’s true. Otherwise, you may one day come home and find your barrel empty and your well polluted. Your spring water is for you and you only, not to be passed around among strangers. Bless your fresh-flowing fountain! Enjoy the wife you married as a young man! Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose— don’t ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted! Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore? for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger? Mark well that God doesn’t miss a move you make; he’s aware of every step you take. The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you’ll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark. Death is the reward of an undisciplined life; your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.

Love & Marriage IV

It’s understandable why we don’t think of our spouse as a brother or sister, but this passage, which includes a great verse about marriage, begins with reminding us all to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. After reading the passage aloud together, talk about how the points it makes relate to your relationship. Talk about the ways that it can be easier to treat other Christian friends better than the ones under your own roof. Talk to God together about the example of Christ’s love that He intends your marriage to be. Ask Him to lead the two of you to be leaders that point to God’s unchanging love.

HEB 13:1-8  [NKJV]

Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing  some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let  your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord  is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is  the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Love & Marriage II

Your old self won’t be nearly as good of a spouse as your new self. This passage challenges us to set aside the poor behaviors that always get in the way of a healthy marriage and put on the character of Christ. Although it makes it sound as easy as putting on a coat, read it aloud together and listen for that one sinful trait that is the hardest for you to get rid of and the one godly trait that is the hardest to clothe yourself in. Confess the ways you’ve failed to put on godly character and ask your spouse to forgive you. Pray together that God will give you the determination to put His character on again and again every day.

COL 3:1-19 NKJV

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who  is  our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must  do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.

Love & Marriage I

God didn’t give us expectations and roles within marriage to squelch our freedom. He just wants us to know the way life works best. This passage about love, respect, and submission doesn’t always line up with contemporary thinking or modern practices, but we can be sure that the One who instituted marriage knows how to make it thrive. After you read this passage out loud together, talk about the part that is the most difficult for you to understand or to put into practice. Pray together that God will lead each of you to fill the role He has chosen for you in a way that brings glory to Him and honor to your spouse.
EPH 5:21-33 NKJV

submitting to one another in the fear of God. 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, 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.

Article courtesy of LifeChurch.TV