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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Loving for a Lifetime

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

The Many Facets of Christian Married Love – Part V

Loving for a Lifetime

A foundation of married love is agreement share by the couple on God’s calling for their lives together, including its overall purposes, and its temporal projects. This adds richness and variety to a couple’s life together, helping to avoid feelings of boredom since simply living together can become routine. The important thing about God’s ongoing purpose for marriage is to exhibit it as a model of Christ and the Church. The husband’s calling from God must be first priority like Christ’s mission, and the wife must make being her husband’s “suitable helper” her basic calling from God. God wants women to serve him by intelligently and enthusiastically being in unity as one in spirit with her husband (Ephesians 5:24, 30, 33; 1 Peter 3:7). Much of feminism has sadly destroyed this attitude. What a privilege to be co-creators with God whether of godly children and/or partner together in whatever other adventure He would lead them to do!

Also, all expressions of married love should be intelligent and frequent. God’s love is intelligent in that it meets real needs and is timely, but must be received with discernment and patience. This applies to all areas of married love, but especially to sexual expression. Marital sexual love is more that what is done in bed. Fond touches, kisses, and even smiles of appreciation are acts of marital sexual love. These should never be interpreted simply as foreplay. Couples must remember that demands for intercourse can destroy love and the marriage. Giving it as a means of manipulation can be just as damaging. The love-making experience should be a mutual way of expressing affection, appreciation, and acceptance and is always enhanced when even small expressions are received as such. Meditation on 1 Corinthians 7:2–5 will furnish a firm biblical basis of this aspect of a Christian marriage.

Unfortunately many marriages, do not start out to be between believers or with believers oriented according to God’s design (Ephesians 5:22–32). If one marriage partner becomes a believer, the Scriptures teach that the way to possibly make them into Christian marriages is godly living, not preaching or reproof. He or she must simply model a godly example and wait for God created opportunities to share their faith (1 Corinthians 7:10–16; 1 Peter 3:1–6). However, even with an unsaved husband, the wife must remember that by creation she is to be in subjection to him as his “suitable helper.” We must always remember that it is imperative to discern the spiritual state of a possible mate before getting married. This will determine most predictably the possibilities of fulfillment and happiness of both. Waiting upon God either for His selection or any need will always have the best consequences. This is the practical principle of Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”

Foundational to all the above are family devotions as well as private ones. In my own marriage of 53 years, this was the instrument that not only brought us together, but kept us together. As Warren Weirsby puts it, “Love for this book brought us together, and obedience to it will keep us together.” The first time that I took my wife to her apartment, she said, “Let me go get my Bible and let us have devotions!” We had several devotional books, and wore out some. In the later years, it was always our practice after breakfast. When our children were small, they learned to have devotions as we would put them into bed, and join in their prayers. They are diligent to this day to have personal devotions.

A final possible facet of Christian married love is the resource of loving the other partner even when the flesh gets the better of the other. Since love is a choice, we can obey Christ’s command to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43–48). This happens even with consecrated Christians, for all of us have battles with the flesh and the assaults of Satan, when we lose our spiritual focus (Romans 6:11–16) and do not use our spiritual weapons (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5). Even when the other is unregenerate or a candidate for God’s severe chastening (1 Corinthians 11:28–32), the Scripture instructs us not to look for revenge, but to commit the matter to the Lord (Romans 12:19–21). This will keep one sweet and avoid a root of bitterness that can deprive oneself of grace and defile others who might take up an offense that is not theirs.

For those who use what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” as an outline for their prayer time the section that leads us to pray: “…forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us”(Luke 11:4), marital conflicts become easily resolved. Again, this goes back to God’s design for marriage where He is the senior partner. As long as the marriage partners practice the Lord’s presence and grace, there is nothing that can seriously disrupt their union. As the Psalmist said: “I have set the LORD always before me…” (Psalm 16:8).

How great will be the marital experience if married couples will use their spiritual gifts and resources according to the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:9–19:

“Let love be without dissimulation. 

Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love;

In honor preferring one another;

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Distributing to the necessity of the saints; and given to hospitality.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.”

Related reading: Part I: Christian Marriage; Part II: Married Love; Part III: The Many Facets Of Christian Maried Love; Part IV: Living in Harmony

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