2011 at 5:02 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
“The story about the gift of the bride (Genesis 2:18-23) represents marriage ideally before the Fall, providing… a type of Christ’s relationship to his church (Eph. 5:22-32). This latter represents their relationship by the metaphor of the gospel. As Christ dies for his church, the husband dies for his wife; as the church obeys her Lord in everything, the wife obeys her husband. After the Fall the man and the woman become divided and struggle in their relationship (Gen. 3:16), but God works in the faithful to restore them to their ‘gospel’ relationship.” (Bruce Waltke, Genesis, pp.104-105, emphasis mine)
The story of marriage in the Bible has a happy ending. We, the faithful, are in the middle of it right now. God, whose ideal for marriage was rejected by sinful human beings, sent His only Son to die for us. He bore our sins, died in our place, absorbed God’s wrath, redeemed our lives, and will one day present us faultless before the throne of grace. And He is at work turning sin-shot marriages into gospel relationships.
He works. He restores. He takes divided, struggling, selfish, proud husbands and wives and patiently forges gospel relationships: for His glory and for our good. No matter our difficulty, we have hope because of what God has done and what he is doing. He is even more committed to an ideal marriage than we are.
He works, but we cooperate. We have a part to play. We must “toil” as Paul says, “struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col. 1:29). By the grace of God we must strive for a gospel relationship. We must seek to become “gospel wives.”
“Being A Gospel Wife” is our new series here at girltalk. Hope you’ll join us!
2011 at 3:37 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
The first husband and wife, Adam and Eve, had the ideal marriage—for a little while, anyway. But it wasn’t long before sin entered the world (Genesis 3); and almost immediately, the first couple began to have marriage problems. They blamed each other. They argued. They did not love.
Sound familiar? The Fall is a historical event and a present reality in marriage. From that day to now, marriage has been less than ideal, because all marriages for all time have been corrupted by sin.
It is not good.
But the problems in our marriage are bigger than we realize. That’s because the stakes are higher than we think. You see, we don’t just disappoint each other’s expectations, or dash each other’s hopes; we fail to attain God’s glorious ideal of reflecting Christ and His church. And we cannot hope to do so on our own.
But the Bible’s story of marriage doesn’t end here. And neither does yours or mine.
2011 at 3:26 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Talk about a dramatic opener. The story of marriage in the Bible begins suddenly, unexpectedly. One moment there is a man and animals and a beautiful world and everything is good. And the next moment, God declares: “it is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18).
So God created marriage. And it was good. It is good.
Not only is it good, marriage is glorious: a picture of Christ and the church. God created marriage to display His good news, the gospel. Thus Paul’s stunned reaction: “This mystery is profound” (Eph. 5:32).
”[Paul] interprets the original creation of the husband-and-wife union as itself modeled on Christ’s forthcoming union with the church as his ‘body’. Marriage from the beginning of creation was created by God to be a reflection of and patterned after Christ’s relation to the church. Thus Paul’s commands regarding the roles of husbands and wives do not merely reflect the culture of his day but represent God’s ideal for all marriages at all times, as exemplified by the relationship between the bride of Christ (the church) and Christ himself” (ESV Study Bible, emphasis mine).
Did you catch that? Marriage as a picture of the gospel wasn’t an afterthought. It wasn’t a backup plan. It was the purpose for marriage from the beginning. And God’s purpose hasn’t changed. Reflecting the gospel is God’s ideal for all marriages at all times.
2011 at 3:23 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
What do you want from your marriage? What would you change if you could?
No doubt something, or many things, come to mind. In one way or another marriage has probably fallen short of your expectations. But we must consider: where does our definition of “the ideal marriage” come from?
Do we get our cues from the culture and its illusive ideal of a mutually satisfying relationship? Do we compare our marriage to our friends’ marriages, to our everlasting disappointment? Or are we myopically focused on our husband’s weaknesses as the cause of our less than ideal marriage?
We need to ask: What does God want from my marriage? What does He want to change? What is His ideal?
Would it surprise you to know that His goal is not for you and your husband to have a “mutually satisfying relationship”, or to have a marriage that’s as good as or better than your friends, or to finally change that husband of yours?
His goal is far greater than that. His agenda far more glorious, far more satisfying.
What does God’s ideal marriage look like?
The answer begins with a story. A long story. A beautiful story. The story of marriage in the Bible.
2011 at 3:46 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
“Are you in love with your husband? Not, Do you love him? I know you do. He has been around a long time, and you’re used to him. He is the father of your children. But are you in love with him? How long has it been since your heart really squeezed when you looked at him?...Why is it you have forgotten the things that attracted you to him at first?...Your husband needs to be told that you love him, that he is attractive to you. By the grace of God, I want you to start changing your thought pattern. Tomorrow morning, get your eyes off the toaster or the baby bottles long enough to LOOK at him. Don’t you see the way his coat fits his shoulders? Look at his hands. Do you remember when just to look at his strong hands made your heart lift? Well, LOOK at him and remember. Then loose your tongue and tell him you love him. Will you ask the Lord to give you a sentimental, romantic, physical, in-love kind of love for your husband? He will do this.” ~Shirley Rice
2011 at 3:51 pm | by Kristin Chesemore
The other day, my three boys tramped downstairs to the kitchen. They were arguing.
“He took my quarters!” my seven-year-old pointed to his brother.
“No, Mom, I brought these quarters home from Mom-Mom’s house!” the accused brother defended himself.
As I tried to get the story from them, one…at…a…time, the words of blame kept flowing, with frequent interruptions and scowls.
My temptation in these moments? I want to bring swift resolution through my commands and directives: “Boy #1 is wrong. Boy #2 is right. Case closed.” I want peace for myself more than I want to teach my children God’s Word.
But my words—although very important!—are not sufficient. My children need to hear God’s Words. They need Scripture, which is “profitable for teaching, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). They need God’s promises and commands sown like seed into their little hearts. They need the words from God’s mouth, which never return empty (Is. 55:11).
So we return to the most often quoted verse in the Chesemore home—Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
“Is corrupting talk coming out of your mouths?” I ask my boys. “What words would give grace to your brother?”
And surprise, surprise—Scripture serves me too. I need the life-giving words of Scripture as much as my sons. I too need the encouragement and correction of Ephesians 4:29.
This is one reason why I must sit and listen to Jesus’ teaching every day. So that I—and my boys—can profit from His Words.
We pick up our series on fear with the second half of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones’ counsel. We must not listen to ourselves, but we must also fill that space by speaking to ourselves.
Dr. Lloyd Jones explains:
“Our fears are due to our failure to stir up—failure to think, failure to take ourselves in hand. You find yourself looking to the future and then you begin to imagine things and you say: ‘I wonder what is going to happen?’ And then, your imagination runs away with you. You are gripped by the thing…this thing overwhelms you and down you go. Now the first thing you have to do is to take a firm grip of yourself, to pull yourself up, to stir up yourself, to take yourself in hand and to speak to yourself.”
“Talk to yourself out loud, if you have to” a pastor once advised me in the midst of one of my particularly intense battles with fear. So if you ever catch me muttering to myself, you’ll know why.
And what exactly should we say to ourselves?
“Faith reminds itself of what the Scripture calls ‘the exceeding great and precious promises’ says Lloyd Jones. “Faith says: ‘I cannot believe that He who has brought me so far is going to let me down at this point. It is impossible, it would be inconsistent with the character of God.’ So faith, having refused to be controlled by circumstances [or feelings!], reminds itself of what it believes and what it knows.”
Tell your soul—out loud if you have to—what it believes and what it knows.
When fear for our children grips us, we often look for something “new” to help us deal with it. But instead, we must rely on the true and the tried strategies from God’s Word. They are:
Prayer: “...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Promises: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
Saints throughout the centuries have leaned on God’s promises and called out to Him in prayer. And each and every time, they have found Him to be faithful. “I sought the Lord,” David tells us, “and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
So let’s follow the example of David and that “great cloud of witnesses.” Let’s seek God through constant prayer, and in the space of His promises, let’s park our souls.
2010 at 10:35 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
A while ago, on the Desiring God blog, John Piper provided an insightful and provoking answer to this question. (By the way, this video might be a good one to watch together with your husband.)
“So I would say a wife’s role is to see all that God enables her to see and then ask the Lord for wise and humble and submissive ways to share, to bring into her husband’s life her perspective on things. And it’s his job as a leader to be humbly receptive to those kinds of things and then to take action.”
2010 at 3:01 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
“She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12
Before we become discouraged by our utter inability to measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman’s standard, we must first remember that the picture here is not one of perfection but of consistency and faithfulness.
All of us have no doubt fallen short many times. There are often days where in one way or another I fail to do good to my husband—whether by sins I commit against him, or opportunities to do him good that I miss or ignore.
But we can grow to resemble more and more this portrait of the Proverbs 31 woman—even after our failures, in spite of our weaknesses and temptations, and in the face of great trials or challenges in our marriage. We can persist in doing our husband good.
To answer this question, we can turn to Psalm 23:6. There, the Psalmist declares the truth of God’s faithfulness to him: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
Here is not only consistency but perfection: all. Here is not simply good intentions but certain fulfillment: surely. Here we find not only acts of goodness but abundant, overwhelming goodness—because this goodness is from God Himself, come to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
I once heard John Piper explain that the word “follow” in this verse could be more accurately translated “pursues.” God, with goodness and mercy in hand, pursues us. He hunts us down, in the midst of our sins, failures, in the midst of the trials and difficulties in our marriage.
He is eager to give us conviction for sin, forgiveness in Christ, a renewed desire to do our husband good, strength to persevere (even in a difficult marriage) and faith to see Him working all things for our good.
So how do we do our husband good? First and foremost remember that God has and is pursuing us with His goodness and mercy all the days of our lives.
And now, according to them, it does not. Not financially, not sociologically, not personally.
Ms. Bennet and Ms. Ellison’s aversion to marriage, as with many in our generation, can be traced back to childhood:
“We are also the so-called entitled generation, brought up with lofty expectations of an egalitarian adulthood; told by helicopter parents and the media, from the moment we exited the womb, that we could be ‘whatever we wanted’—with infinite opportunities to accomplish those dreams. So you can imagine how, 25 years down the line, committing to another person—for life—would be nerve-racking.”
Nerve-racking, maybe. But so much more satisfying, fulfilling, beautiful, and rewarding than they imagine.
“The Bible compels us to see marriage as essential to human happiness, health, and infinitely more,” insists Dr. Mohler. So the author of Hebrews exhorts us: “Let marriage be held in honor among all” (13:4).
How can we honor marriage in a culture that treats it with such disdain?
We can start by loving our husbands—passionately, tenderly, faithfully. We can cheer on the singles who honor marriage by walking in purity. We can encourage married couples who remain faithful to their vows. We can raise children, not to be “whatever they want” but to be what God wants them to be. We can pray for God’s mercy, that He would preserve the institution of marriage for the glory of the gospel.
And next time we get a wedding invitation? Celebrate! Because marriage will always make sense.
For ten years, my husband’s and my favorite way to spend a dollar…
Dear Ann Landers: Last weekend, we celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. This morning, they left on a long-awaited trip to Hawaii. They were as excited as if it were their honeymoon.
When my parents married, they had only enough money for a three-day trip 50 miles from home. They made a pact that each time they made love, they would put a dollar in a special metal box, and save it for a honeymoon in Hawaii.
Dad was a policeman, and Mom was a schoolteacher. They lived in a modest house and did all their own repairs. Raising five children was a challenge, and sometimes, money was short, but no matter what emergency came up, Dad would not let Mom take any money out of the “Hawaii account.” As the account grew, they put it in a savings account, and then, bought CDs.
I can remember Dad coming home and telling Mom, “I have a dollar in my pocket,” and she would smile at him and reply, “I know how to spend it.”
When each of us children married, Mom and Dad gave us a small, metal box and told us their secret, which we found enchanting. All five of us are now saving for our dream honeymoons. Mom and Dad never told us how much money they had managed to save, but it must have been considerable, because when they cashed in those CDs, they had enough for airfare to Hawaii, plus, hotel accommodations for 10 days, and plenty of spending money.
As they told us goodbye before leaving, Dad winked and said, “Tonight, we are starting an account for Cancun. That should only take 25 years.”—A Loving Daughter in Abilene, Texas
2010 at 4:12 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Several weeks before each of her daughters got married, Mom took us away for a mother-daughter overnight. She wanted to have one final conversation before giving us away to our husbands.
Her counsel was simple: give yourself freely, passionately, completely to your husband.
The essence of our conversation is included in Mom’s book, Feminine Appeal:
“Marital sex is the pinnacle of human bonding. It is the highest form of the communication of love—a language that expresses love without words. It calls for the deepest, most powerful emotions. It creates intimacy within marriage like nothing else. In fact, as we give and receive the gift of lovemaking, this intimacy will grow stronger and more precious as the years go by. Each encounter will lead us to a deeper ‘knowing’ of the one we love.”
Sex “creates intimacy like nothing else.” All the shared joys and trials, all the deep and meaningful communication, certainly contribute to marital intimacy, but no experience can match the deep, inexplicable closeness that comes from a loving physical union within the confines of marriage.
“It’s a mystery,” I remember Mom saying. And so it is. This intimacy, this “knowing” that results from the physical relationship is beyond my ability to describe in words (although Solomon do so eloquently in his Song).
What I do know is that while I share fellowship and labors, joys and trials with many others, sex is something I share only with my husband. It’s our own little world, closed to all. Not even the dearest friend or family member can enter. We are on a journey, the two of us. An exclusive journey. A journey of love. We are creating memories known only to us. Secrets only we share.
The further we go on this journey, the bond between us grows more powerful and intense. The “knowing” grows deeper. The love grows sweeter.
Ten years after that conversation, I have to say—Mom, you were right.
As Justin Taylor explains, “Unlike some other similar books, this one is saturated with Bible and sound biblical theology, along with lots of good sidebar quotes about the power and purpose of prayer.”
Here’s Mom’s endorsement.
“Charles Spurgeon said we can do our husband ‘no truer kindness in the world’ than to pray for him. Yet as wives, we often struggle to pray consistently for our husbands. We forget in the busyness of life; or when we do remember, our prayers may lack clarity and direction. That’s what makes this book such a valuable tool for any wife who wants to grow in praying for her husband-and isn’t that all of us? Prayers of an Excellent Wife will inspire you to pray faithfully and fervently, and instruct you how to pray according to Scripture. I hope many wives will use these prayers to lavish their husbands with kindness.”
We hope many of you will benefit from this helpful tool for wives. (And hey, great gift idea for a friend!)