Today, I embark on a journey. I am beginning (and hopefully finishing) a project that has long been on my heart. I call this the Marriage Thesis. Merriam-Webster defines a thesis as “a dissertation embodying results of original research and especially substantiating a specific view.”
This work of love is a result of my original, painstaking research, and it substantiates not only my specific view of marriage, but what I believe to be more important—God’s view. Plenty of Christian and non-Christian PhD’s and MFT’s and all those other abbreviations have come up with a laundry list of characteristics that can be attributed to a good marriage. I’m not knocking those theories in the least, and I will probably quote many of those experts throughout my project. However, in wading through all these insights, I began to yearn for a resource that compiled marriage characteristics directly from God’s Word.
This will probably not end up being long enough to compile into some best-selling book. Very likely, it won’t get many readers besides my family, but I feel it is necessary. If one person or one couple can find something useful in this, it is worth every minute.
Personal theories that come from experience have great value, and I will share some of those throughout my postings, but my main focus will be this: What does the Bible say about what a Godly marriage looks like?
A good marriage begins with a courtship that honors God.
The most detailed, intimate biblical portrait of a courtship that we have is in the Song of Solomon. This passionate book shows the relationship between a man and woman, from the first attraction, to their wedding day, to their “Golden Years.” These two strangers become friends, then admirers, then lovers, then finally, companions.
We first see them as strangers, and their physical attraction ignites a spark between the two. Their friendship takes place as they court. In this “getting to know each other” stage, they are protective of their virtue. In chapter two, verse seven states, “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.” This verse is repeated another time during their courtship. It is not merely a one-time declaration of their desire to remain pure, but it is something they remind themselves of even when they have become better acquainted.
As they become friends, we see them going out on dates. Chapter one shows them on a picnic, and chapter two refers to them attending a banquet. These may seem to be common dating scenes, much like the whole dinner-and-a-movie scenario. However, Song of Solomon says nothing about going to his apartment afterward! This young, passionate couple knows how to set boundaries. They have established guidelines to keep their relationship healthy. The young male in this story is King Solomon, Ruler of Israel! Surely, he could have taken whomever he wanted to his chamber, and no one would have batted an eye. However, he cares enough for this young woman to put the brakes on before the car started to skid off the road.
A good marriage sets healthy boundaries.
In a past Family Life Today radio broadcast, Mary Kassian, author of Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild states, “There’s a verse in Proverbs chapter 22, verse 3 in which the wise writer there instructs his son that a sensible person sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. And so the whole thing about seeing danger, putting up a protective boundary – and when I say a protective boundary or a hedge, it’s just like a simple rule that I follow in my life, that I’m going to follow that’s going to keep me from going down the wrong path and keep me from being in an environment where something might go the wrong direction.”
For example, on many a highway and byway throughout the world, there exists something called a center median. Most of us can probably agree that we would not dream of crossing into oncoming traffic and colliding head-on with another car, but the boundary exists for our safety and the safety of others. I’d be hard-pressed to find people who dislike the idea of roadway safety precautions like this.
Of course, there will always exist the “free-spirited” type of person who rejects all types of boundaries, claiming them to be legalistic and constraining.
On boundaries versus legalism, Kassian says, “…you get to choose your own boundaries. You cannot enforce boundaries on other people. Boundaries are just wise choices where you put up wise checks in your own life for yourself that protect you and also protect others.”
Romans 13:14 says, “…make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” This means to not give your flesh a chance to take over. One story from the Bible that my son and I recently discussed is found in Genesis, chapter 39. It is the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. For those of you who are not familiar with this story, I’ll give you a quick run-down: Joseph is a hot young stud, working for a man named Potiphar. Pretty soon, Potiphar’s wife notices how handsome Joseph is and tries to seduce him. After she attempts to get him into bed with her a number of times, Joseph finally (literally) runs away, tearing his shirt off in her hands in the process. She freaks out that he’s going to tell her husband, and instead accuses him of trying to rape her and gets him thrown in jail. Things do end up working out for him in the end, though.
Now, jail may not seem like the most ideal of situations for Joseph to find himself in, but he went there with his morality and sexuality intact. God honored his pure intentions and heart.
I Corinthians 6:18 says to “flee sexual immorality…” (NKJV). This gives a very clear boundary, as well as what to do when faced with it. As Joseph did when Potiphar’s wife tried to ensnare him in adultery, RUN!
Fleeing can come in many forms, but the most affective is the preventative kind. Do not be alone with a member of the opposite sex who is not your spouse. Obviously, this doesn’t include mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, or that kind of thing. But even something as seemingly innocent as a business meeting, counseling session, or cup of coffee can have serious emotional or physical consequences, the least of which is distrust between spouses. Do your marriage and family a favor and don’t go there.