The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christians’ Households.

Research Releases in Family & Kids • May 7, 2019

Acknowledging the influence of moms isn’t just the stuff of Mother’s Day cards; it also became a major finding and theme in a recent Barna study of practicing Christians’ homes in the U.S. The Households of Faith report, produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries, finds that mothers—more often than fathers, or any other category of frequent participants in households—are seen as the confidants, providers of support and drivers of faith formation. We observe this dynamic in the responses of adults, who esteem and rely on their moms as sources of strength, companionship and wisdom. In turn, mothers still meet a range of needs and provide support for their grown children or, when applicable, grandchildren. But some of the clearest examples of the broad impact of mothers surface in the responses of Gen Z, who offer a portrait of mothers who are present, passionate and faithful.

Moms Are Primary Activity & Conversation Partners for Teens
For all the stereotypes of teens rolling their eyes at their parents, Gen Z are actually very open with and dependent on their mothers. Consider their descriptions of one-on-one time with other housemates. Today’s Christian teen consistently identifies their mother as the principal housemate for almost all activities. From eating meals together (85%) and watching TV or movies (81%), to talking about God (70%) and having confrontations (63%), mothers are the primary activity partner for their teens. They are second only to friendships even when it comes to using their phones for texting (69% mothers vs. 73% friendships) and calling (61% vs. 71%). The only time mothers are not leading the way is when it comes to activities like interacting on social media or playing sports, both dominated by friendships.

The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christians' Households

Teens Go to Moms for Tough Conversations & Personal Support
According to practicing Christian teens, mothers are the go-to person for all kinds of support: advice (78%), encouragement (75%) and sympathy (72%). Meanwhile, fathers play a somewhat key role in meeting teens’ tangible needs for money (74%) and logistical help (63%), though even on these two issues, they are somewhat on par with mothers.

The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christians' Households
Households of Faith

As mothers are seen as advisors and encouragers, teens report approaching them with tougher topics. In the impressionable middle and high school years, even conversations about sex (41%) aren’t off limits between teens and moms. (Understandably, when discussing sex, there is a bit of a difference depending on the teens’ gender, with 30 percent of boys and 48 percent of girls talking about this with their mother, and 50 percent of boys and 10 percent of girls covering this topic with their father). Christian teens also primarily seek out mothers’ opinions on questions of faith (72%) or the Bible (71%), as well as things that might be troubling them (78%). No wonder 68 percent of Gen Z in this survey say their mom was the one who was there for them in their last personal crisis.

The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christians' Households

Mothers Are the Main Spiritual Coaches for Teens
Practicing Christians in their teen years consistently identify mothers as the ones who provide spiritual guidance and instruction and instill the values and disciplines of their faith in the household. Moms are their foremost partners in prayer (63%) and conversations about God (70%), the Bible (71%) or other faith questions (72%). This is consistent with Barna data through the years that show mothers to be the managers of faith formation (among other household routines and structures). Mothers are also the ones encouraging church attendance (79%) or teaching kids about the Bible (66%), God’s forgiveness (66%) and religious traditions (72%).

The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christians' Households

What the Research Means
“Over and over, this study speaks to the enduring impact of mothers—in conversation, companionship, discipline and, importantly, spiritual development,” Alyce Youngblood, Barna’s managing editor for this report, says.

“Though mothers appear to rise to many demands of parenthood, that doesn’t mean it’s easy,” Youngblood adds. “For instance, another Barna study shows that employed Christian moms struggle not only to feel connected to their work, but also to feel a sense of ‘calling’ or to find satisfaction in most areas of life. Working Christian fathers, meanwhile, thrive in all of these areas. Considering that this report shows moms carry a large share of the logistical, emotional and spiritual weight at home, this contrast in parents’ fulfillment is something the Church might need to help households address, especially as moms increasingly remain in the workplace and become breadwinners.

“Churches should ask pointed questions about how they’ve set up their ministries and how they can best support moms as they help support their families,” Youngblood suggests. “Outside of women’s ministries or a certain Sunday in May, how often do sermons speak to the experiences of moms—whether single or married, working full-time or staying at home? Are programs for families and children based on realistic assumptions about the schedules of working parents? Sometimes the demands of church involvement (for themselves, or for their children) might contribute to moms’ busyness or stress—are moms also being encouraged to observe sabbath, prioritize rest and rely on community? Additionally, would participation in some areas of ministry feel like a help or hindrance for single parents who are already carrying a heavy load?

“These are just a few considerations that can help churches become even more valuable partners in the sacred work mothers are already doing at home.”

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About the Research
This study began with in-depth qualitative interviews with highly active Christians of various household types: two nuclear families (white Millennial parents with young children), one multi-generational family (Asian American household with children and boarders), one single-parent family (African American family that is sometimes multi-generational) and a roommate household (white Millennial males). Key insights about what makes a vibrant household or how faith grows in a household setting were initially identified through this research.

The results from the qualitative interviews were used to shape the questionnaire for quantitative online surveys conducted from April 5–11, 2018. In total, 2,347 interviews were conducted, including 448 with teens between the ages of 13–17. In order to qualify, respondents had to identify as Christian, agree strongly that their faith is very important in their life today and report attending a church service at least once in the past month. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 1.8 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Individuals living by themselves are excluded from this study. This sample is not designed to be representative of all household types in the U.S. As the goal of this study is to observe interactions among practicing Christians who live together and how faith is experienced and transmitted among them, households of a single person did not qualify for participation.

Practicing Christians are self-identified Christians who say their faith is very important in their lives and have attended a worship service within the past month.

About Barna
Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.

© Barna Group, 2019

FATHERS AND MOTHETRS LOVE

HAPPY FATHERS DAY

Fathers are thinking, what are they thinking about? They are thinking about how to raise their family to become a successful one in a Godly way, they are thinking of how to become the family’s pillar, they are thinking of how to raise their children to become great in a Godly way , they are thinking of how to give support to the extended family and also to other people. They are always thinking of how to make their woman to be the most nicest and beautiest woman ever.
You have taken responsibility to fulfill these things in our very eyes. You are a great father indeed.
It is said that a man’s honor is the sum total of three things; your office, your functionn and your personality. And in these three things, you are the best, you are exceptional. Your love and care has made me to be creative enough to come out with something better.
When they ask; who is the best father in our generation ,it is your name I will call. Your name will continue be on my lips, in my heart and in my mind.
I ask God almighty to add life to your age and renew your strenght for greater hieght. May God give you the eye of an eagle so that you can see far and the strenght of a lion to pull down strong holds. I pray that wisdom, knowledge, decernment, understanding, insight and foresight should be given to you for greater achievement.
May you be entrenched in all the things that you do for the glory of God. HAPPY FATHERS DAY

FATHERS AND MOTHERS LOVE

One who loves till you close your eyes, is a Mother.
One who loves without an expression in the eyes, is a Father.

Mother – Introduces you to the world.
Father – Introduces the world to you.

Mother : Gives you life
Father : Gives you living

Mother : Makes sure you are not starving.
Father : Makes sure you know the value of starving

Mother : Personifies Care
Father: Personifies Responsibility

Mother : Protects you from a fall
Father : Teaches you to get up from a fall.

Mother : Teaches you walking.
Father : Teaches you walk of life

Mother : Teaches from her own experiences.
Father : Teaches you to learn from your own experiences.

Mother : Reflects Ideology
Father : Reflects Reality

Mother’s love is known to you since birth.
Father’s love is known when you become a Father.

Enjoy what your father says.
Keep loving your mother.

This is natural division of labour

Happy Fathers Day to all responsible fathers and would be responsible fathers here

My Parents Divorced But I Still Believe In Marriage. Here’s Why.

Writers share why they refuse to push away love and marriage.

Falling in love is a little more complicated when your parents are divorced. Children of divorce may be extra cautious when it comes to commitment and a little slower to trust the people they fall in love with, no matter how great their partner is.

Still, when they do take the leap and commit, they tend to do so with their eyes wide open and with a greater understanding of what it takes to make a marriage last. Below, writers with divorced parents share the reasons they still believe in marriage.

1. I still believe because my parents divorced before their marriage turned toxic.

“It might sound strange, but I think I believe in marriage even more because my parents got divorced. Right now, I remember a decade of my parents living as loving partners. If they hadn’t ended it when they did, those good years would be overshadowed by several more decades of animosity and misery for everyone. I imagine the model of a bad marriage would have soured my ideas about the topic far more than the experience of my parents’ responsible separation. When bad marriages end and good marriages are left, the overall perception of the institution improves.” ― Tara Eisenhard, author of The D-Word, Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes

2. My parents’ divorce makes me want to work harder on my own marriage.

“My parents’ divorce makes me work harder to create the type of family I wish I had. As a stepmom to three and a mom to one, every day I strive to provide the kids with a stable, loving environment. I’m not going to lie, being a stepmom and a second wife in a blended family isn’t always easy but I think being a child of divorce has made me more dedicated to my marriage and to my family. I know firsthand how it feels to be a child of divorce, and I don’t want that for my daughter, and I certainly don’t want my stepchildren to have to go through that a second time.” ― Jamie Scrimgeour, blogger and creator of The Kick-Ass Stepmom Project

3. My mom showed me the value of being single and being in love.

“My parents divorced when I was 6 years old. By the time I was a teenager, I had experienced a decade of my mom modeling what it means to be a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman, and wondered if I would ever want to get married simply because marriage didn’t seem necessary. It was around that same time that she began dating the man that she would marry and spend the next 25 years with, until he passed away two years ago. Their marriage was full of love and laughter, and demonstrated that it is possible for two individuals to share a life together without having to sacrifice their own interests or independence. They also showed me that even though marriage isn’t necessary, with the right person, it sure can be a lot of fun ― and 15 years in, mine just keeps getting better.” ― Susanne Kerns, blogger and contributor to But Did You Die? Setting The Parenting Bar Low

4. I view all relationships as experiences you learn from, no matter how long they last.

“As a child of divorce, I’ve experienced the sting of loss and I’m fine-tuned to the signs of rejection and abandonment. However, I’ve always believed that whether they last three months or three decades, relationships can provide their participants with the love, understanding and intimacy they need at the time. Often, the courage to end a relationship that is no longer meeting both partners’ needs shows the greatest strength. Growing up in a divorced home taught me that marriage will never be my sole source of happiness so it’s important to pursue your dreams to the best of your ability.” ― Terry Gaspard, author of Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship 

5. My parents divorced, but they both eventually found The One.

“My parents split up before I was 2 years old. My father went on to marry a total of seven times. My mother found true love with another woman. And me? I’ve been divorced twice. But I still believe in marriage, partially because although it took my parents several tries to find their soulmates, they both eventually did. Mom and Pat have been together over 40 years. Dad and Tricia have been together over 20. They have taught me to never to give up on finding true love.” ― Lara Lillibridge, author of the forthcoming Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home

6. I know that life is a little bit easier with a partner that’s your equal than on your own.

“I was too young when my parents divorced to get the concept of marriage before it was gone. My ideas about marriage, therefore, came from watching my grandparents. Their lives together seemed effortless and comfortable like a locomotive on a schedule that always made it on time. My parents’ lives seemed laborious in comparison with a never-ending track change.

“For my future, I wanted to have someone to make my life easier, someone to make my coffee without having to ask and squeeze my shoulders when they walk by. What I wanted was a marriage. What I hadn’t witnessed about successful marriages was that having an effortless and comfortable connection comes after a great deal of effort and discomfort. I imagine this is where many marriages fail. Children who come from divorced homes are often scared of the pattern repeating or accept that it will and don’t try. So, when conflict arises in our relationships, it pokes old scars of insecurity and abandonment. Many of us feel it is the beginning of the end. It takes a steady partner and a stronger faith in the institution of marriage to get through the tough moments. After 22 years with my husband, it is the effort that turns the regular stuff into amazing shared memories. We are stronger together than as individuals.” ― Kristine Laco, blogger at Mum Revised

        By Brittany Wong

 

The rise of the fragile Christian: How ease is becoming a way of life

When life is hard, it’s hard. Pain is not a fiction. Stressors can confuse and discourage us. Sometimes we bend, buckle, and even break under the weight of our responsibilities. Consequently, we do not always think or behave as we should.

Depression and other emotional health challenges are a way of life for many Christians. A widely prevalent generational family dysfunction has left many adults totally unprepared for marriage and parenting expectations. Cultural pressures moving away from traditional gender and sexuality norms create confusion and conflict in our hearts and often in many of our relationships. Just to pile on, cynicism and hypercriticism on the political front has never been higher.

None of this is easy, and much of it is overwhelming. So renewed efforts to build greater empathy, to show compassion to the broken, and to care for the vulnerable are more important than ever. For the Christian, however, the responsibilities of justice and mercy are ours to give as much as they are ours to receive.

Jesus said whoever wants to be first must become a slave (Matthew 20:27). He said He had nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). His life of love for others was characterized by personal sacrifice. In Dietrich Bonheoffer’s Cost of Discipleship, he wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” More recently, David Platt wrote,

While most Western Christians accept the idea of self-sacrifice, many seem ill-prepared for what the Gospel actually requires. Rather than the saints showing up for the work of ministry, we are witnessing the rise of an army of fragile Christians who would rather cling to privilege than carry their cross.

This fragility shows up in at least three areas of life:

Culture

Although the apostle Peter wrote, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12), the fragile Christian often finds the disagreeable or even opposing forces bearing down on them as unusual. Even small sacrifices are seen as a nuisance or interruption rather than as privilege.

These fragile Christians react in shock when people who have no allegiance to Jesus, and perhaps no real knowledge of Him, make moral decisions that are counter to a biblical worldview. They forget that sin’s power darkens the heart and sears the conscience of the unbeliever. Instead of being grieved over sin and motivated to bear witness of the redeeming work of Jesus, the fragile Christian gets offended, frightened, or both.

This moment in history, however, calls for more than cowering defensiveness. Jesus who created heaven and earth and conquered the grave lives in us, and His Gospel is still the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). So rather than shouting down everyone who offends us, we can trust Jesus as we engage the culture with a winsome joy, practical compassion, and steady confidence.

Family

Despite all the forces working against it, God’s design for marriage is still best for everyone.

When sin entered the world, family life got a lot more difficult, but it didn’t make it impossible. Even outside of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were restored to God and to each other, established a home, had children, and made a life for themselves. Yes, they suffered great loss, but they experienced the amazing grace and mercy of God as well.

Despite all the forces working against it, God’s design for marriage is still best for everyone. God-given roles and responsibilities for husbands and wives are still superior to any alternative. Yet the fragile Christian wants to abandon God’s design to experiment with more comfortable or culturally normative options. Fragile men chase hobbies over holiness in a chronic effort to avoid their responsibilities of spiritual leadership. They make distraction rather than duty a way of life. Fragile women insist on rights and freedoms at the expense of upholding child rearing as the greatest privilege known to the human race.

On the parenting front, we know that some children need ongoing counseling or special medication, but fragile Christian parents assume their kids need therapy when in fact they just need consistent, compassionate spankings and other measured discipline that teach them that a little pain now can prevent great pain later.

Perhaps modern day parents didn’t see a good parenting model during their childhood, but the fragile Christian parent blames others, escapes to Netflix, and refuses to learn from the experience and wisdom of their church family or from the plethora of Christian books, blogs, and conferences available. Too busy chasing their dreams or nurturing their insecurities, they refuse to submit to God’s Word, learn something new, and break the pattern of nominalism and dysfunction.

It does not have to be like that. Family life comes with many challenges, but ours is not the first generation to experience the complex and contrary hardships in the home. Obedience is possible outside the garden. Men and women still discover their greatest joy (and success) on the old path of God’s biblical design for manhood, womanhood, and childrearing.

Time

Solomon the Wise, said, “There is an occasion for everything; a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, CSB). The ebb and flow of life is constant and constantly changing. Certain seasons require something of us that other seasons do not. We can do some activities when we are young that we cannot do when we are old. We have opportunities later in life that were not possible when we were starting out. We go through seasons of health, seasons of suffering, seasons of prosperity, and seasons of want.

These seasons, however, are not parenthetical to the sovereign work of God in our lives. There are no inconsequential detours on the Christian’s timeline. Instead, these seasons are a gift inviting us into the middle of God’s eternal work.

Fragile Christians, however, make excuses for delayed obedience. They assume that the next season will be better than this one for listening to God, making disciples, or advancing Jesus’ Kingdom. They assume they will give when they have more money, mentor when they have more experience, or go when they have more time.

Without question, none of us can do everything in every season of life, but every season requires self-sacrifice. That sacrifice means we delay gratification, we put others first, and we do things we don’t want to do in order to become what God intends for us to be. Obedience is usually inconvenient, but today’s obedience creates tomorrow’s opportunities.

As it turns out, Christian self-abandonment asks us to do more than agree to terms and conditions, but to practically live with the consequences of them in every realm of life. Our weaknesses are real, but they are never an excuse for indifference to the Gospel mission. Instead, it is in weakness that the humble, dependent, and determined Christian experiences the perfecting power of God (2 Corinthians 12:9) and joins His activity to turn the attention of the world to the glory of His Son.

By Daryl Crouch

10 Reasons Not to Have Sex Outside of Marriage

What Does the Bible Say About Sex Outside of Marriage?

Examples of couples engaging in extra-marital sex are all around us. There’s no way to avoid it—today’s culture fills our minds with hundreds of reasons to just go ahead and have sex outside of marriage.

But as Christians, we don’t want to follow everyone else. We want to follow Christ and know what the Bible says about sex before marriage.

10 GOOD REASONS NOT TO HAVE SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE

REASON #1 – GOD TELLS US NOT TO HAVE SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE

In the seventh of God’s Ten Commandments, he instructs us not to have sex with anyone other than our spouse.

It’s clear that God forbids sex outside of marriage. When we obey God, he is pleased. He honors our obedience by blessing us.

Deuteronomy 28:1-3
If you fully obey the LORD your God … [he] will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God … (NIV)

God has a good reason for giving us this command. First and foremost, he knows what’s best for us. When we obey him, we trust God to look out for our best interests.

REASON #2 – THE EXCLUSIVE BLESSING OF THE WEDDING NIGHT

There’s something special about a couple’s first time. In this physical act, the two become one flesh. Yet sex represents more than just physical oneness—a spiritual union takes place. God planned for this exclusive experience of discovery and pleasure to happen only within the intimacy of marriage. If we don’t wait, we miss out on a unique blessing from God.

1 Corinthians 6:16
Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” (The Message)

REASON #3 – BE SPIRITUALLY HEALTHIER

If we live as carnal Christians, we’ll seek to gratify the desires of the flesh and please ourselves. The Bible says we cannot please God if we live this way. We’ll be miserable under the weight of our sin. As we feed our fleshly desires, our spirit will grow weak and our relationship with God will be destroyed. Complacency over sin leads to worse sin, and eventually, spiritual death.

Romans 8:8,13
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live … (NIV)

REASON #4 – BE PHYSICALLY HEALTHIER

This is a no-brainer. If we refrain from sex outside of marriage, we will be protected from the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

1 Corinthians 6:18
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. (NLT)

REASON #5 – BE EMOTIONALLY HEALTHIER

One reason God tells us to keep the marriage bed pure relates to baggage. We carry baggage into our sexual relationships. Past memories, emotional scars, and unwanted mental images can defile our thoughts, making the marriage bed less than pure.

Certainly, God can forgive the past, but that doesn’t immediately free us from lingering mental and emotional baggage.

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (NIV)

REASON #6 – CONSIDER YOUR PARTNER’S WELL-BEING

If we put concerns for our partner’s needs and spiritual well-being above our own, we’ll be compelled to wait for sex. We, like God, will want what’s best for them.

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (NASB)

REASON #7 – WAITING IS A TEST OF TRUE LOVE

Love is patient. That’s as simple as it gets. We can discern the sincerity of our partner’s love by his or her willingness to wait.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is patient, love is kind … It is not rude, it is not self-seeking … (NIV)

REASON #8 – AVOID NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES

There are consequences to sin. Its effects can be devastating. An unwanted pregnancy, a decision to have an abortion or place a child for adoption, broken relationships with family—these are just a few of the possible outcomes we could face when we have sex outside of marriage.

Consider the snowball effect of sin. And what if the relationship does not last? Hebrews 12:1 says that sin hinders our lives and easily entangles us. We are better off to avoid sin’s negative consequences.

REASON #9 – KEEP YOUR TESTIMONY INTACT

We don’t set a very good example of godly living when we disobey God. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 4:12 to “be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (NIV)

In Matthew 5:13 Jesus compares his followers to “salt” and “light” in the world. When we lose our Christian testimony, we no longer shine the light of Christ. We lose our “saltiness,” becoming flavorless and bland. We can no longer attract the world to Christ. Luke 14:34-35 puts it strongly, saying that salt without saltiness is worthless, not even fit for the manure pile.

REASON #10 – DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS

When we choose to have sex outside of marriage, we settle for less than God’s perfect will—for ourselves and our partner. We may live to regret it.

Here’s food for thought: If your partner wants sex before marriage, consider this a warning sign of his or her spiritual condition. If you are the one who wants sex before marriage, consider this an indicator of your own spiritual condition.

By Mary Fairchild

Credit: ThoughtCo

What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?

Why Marriage Matters in the Christian Life

Marriage is an important issue in the Christian life. Vast numbers of books, magazines, and marriage counseling resources are dedicated to the subject of preparing for marriage and marriage improvement. A search of Amazon turned up more than 20,000 books on overcoming marital problems and improving communication in marriage.

But have you ever wondered what the Bible says about marriage? A quick Scripture search reveals more than 500 Old and New Testament references to the words “marriage,” “married,” “husband,” and “wife.”

CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE TODAY

According to statistical analysis done on various demographic groups, a marriage starting out today has about a 41 to 43 percent chance of ending in divorce. Research gathered by Glenn T. Stanton, Director of Global Insight for Cultural and Family Renewal and Senior Analyst for Marriage and Sexuality at Focus on the Family, reveals that evangelical Christians who regularly attend church divorce at a rate 35% lower than secular couples. Similar trends are seen with practicing Catholics and active mainline Protestants. In contrast, nominal Christians, who seldom or never attend church, have higher divorce rates than secular couples.

Stanton, who is also the author of Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Postmodern Society, reports, “Religious commitment, rather than mere religious affiliation, contributes to greater levels of marital success.”

If a genuine commitment to your Christian faith will result in a stronger marriage, then perhaps the Bible really does have something important to say on the subject.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT MARRIAGE?

Obviously, we can’t cover all 500-plus verses, so we’ll look at a few key passages.

THE BIBLE SAYS MARRIAGE WAS DESIGNED FOR COMPANIONSHIP AND INTIMACY.

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’…and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:18, 21-24, NIV)

Here we see the first union between a man and a woman–the inaugural wedding. We can conclude from this account in Genesis that marriage is God’s idea, designed and instituted by the Creator. We also discover that at the heart of God’s design for marriage is companionship and intimacy.

THE BIBLE SAYS HUSBANDS ARE TO LOVE AND SACRIFICE, WIVES ARE TO SUBMIT.

For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything.

And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church. And we are his body.

As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. Ephesians 5:23-32, NLT)

This picture of marriage in Ephesians expands into something much broader than companionship and intimacy. The marriage relationship illustrates the relationship between Jesus Christ and the church. Husbands are urged to lay down their lives in sacrificial love and protection for their wives. In the safe and cherished embrace of a loving husband, what wife would not willingly submit to his leadership?

THE BIBLE SAYS HUSBANDS AND WIVES ARE DIFFERENT YET EQUAL.

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands, even those who refuse to accept the Good News. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior.

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty … You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God … In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard. (1 Peter 3:1-5, 7, NLT)

Some readers will quit right here. Telling husbands to take the authoritative lead in marriage and wives to submit is not a popular directive today. Even so, this arrangement in marriage typifies the relationship between Jesus Christ and his Bride, the church.

This verse in 1 Peter adds further encouragement for wives to submit to their husbands, even ones who don’t know Christ. Although this is a difficult challenge, the verse promises that the wife’s godly character and inward beauty will win her husband over more effectively than her words. Husbands are to honor their wives, being kind, gentle, and understanding.

If we’re not careful, however, we’ll miss that the Bible says men and women are equal partners in God’s gift of new life. Although the husband exercises the role of authority and leadership, and the wife fulfills a role of submission, both are equal heirs in God’s kingdom. Their roles are different, but equally important.

THE BIBLE SAYS THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE IS TO GROW TOGETHER IN HOLINESS.

1 Corinthians 7:1-2

… It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. (NIV)

This verse suggests that it is better not to marry. Those in difficult marriages would quickly agree. Throughout history it’s been believed that a deeper commitment to spirituality can be achieved through a life devoted to celibacy.

This verse refers to sexual immorality. In other words, it is better to marry than to be sexually immoral. But if we elaborate the meaning to incorporate all forms of immorality, we could easily include self-centeredness, greed, wanting to control, hatred, and all of the issues that surface when we enter into an intimate relationship.

Is it possible that one of the deeper purposes of marriage (besides procreation, intimacy, and companionship) is to compel us to confront our own character flaws? Think of the behaviors and attitudes we would never see or face outside of an intimate relationship.

If we allow the challenges of marriage to force us into self-confrontation, we exercise a spiritual discipline of tremendous value.

In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas asks this question: “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Is it possible that there is something much more profound in the heart of God than simply to make us happy?

Without a doubt, a healthy marriage can be the source of great happiness and fulfillment, but Thomas suggests something even better, something eternal–that marriage is God’s instrument to make us more like Jesus Christ.

In God’s design we are called to lay down our own ambitions to love and serve our spouse. Through marriage we learn about unconditional love, respect, honor, and how to forgive and be forgiven. We recognize our shortcomings and grow from that insight. We develop a servant’s heart and draw closer to God. As a result, we discover true happiness of the soul.

Credit: ThoughtCo