© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Some Biblical references to marriage

    Gen. 1:27 - "male and female created He them"
    Gen. 2:18 - "I will make a helper suitable for him"
    Gen. 2:24 - "a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they
         shall become one flesh"
    Prov. 31:10-31 - "An excellent wife, who can find? Her worth is far above jewels."
    Song of Solomon - (God's marriage manual)
    Mal. 2:14 - "she is your companion and your wife by covenant"
    Mal. 2:16 - "I hate divorce," says the Lord."
    Matt. 19:3-12 - "What God has joined together, let no man separate."
    I Cor. 7:1-40 - "Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband."
    I Cor. 11:3 - "the man is the head of a woman"
    Eph. 5:21-33 - "Wives be subject to your husbands...Husbands, love your wives.."
    I Pet. 3:1-7 - "wives, be submissive...husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way,
         as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman"

II. General foundations of marriage

    A. God created mankind, and divided humanity into two sexes, male and female (Gen. 1:27)
    B. The woman was intended to be the complement to the man (Gen. 2:18)
    C. Marriage is a relational union of one male and one female joined as husband and wife.
    D. Marriage is a union of two persons in a unit of one marriage (Gen. 2:24)
    E. Marriage is a covenantally agreed arrangement of functional oneness (Mal. 2:14)
    F. Marriage is a symbiotic relationship (mutually beneficial relationship of life); not just a
         relationship of authoritarian position.
    G. Male and female (husband and wife) are spiritually equal before God. (Gal. 3:28)
    H. Male and female genders seem to have been created with distinctive differences, physically
         and psychologically.
    I. Marriage requires an attitude of completion, rather than competition.
    J. The marriage relationship requires mutual deference one to another (Eph. 5:21; Phil. 2:13)

III. Differing perspectives of marriage

    A. Religious legalism
         1. "Follow the rules of role responsibility, and it will work out right."
         2. Authoritarianism, absolutism
         3. Self-effort, performance; "Do it"
         4. Over-emphasis of "Husband is head" (I Cor. 11:3); "Wife submit" (I Pet. 3:1)
    B. Cultural egalitarianism
         1. "Develop your inherent personhood, and things will fall into place"
         2. Self-actualization and realization
         3. Self-development, potential; "Feel it"
         4. Over-emphasis of "male and female equal" (Gal. 3:28)
    C. Christocentric lordship
         1. "Allow Jesus Christ to manifest His character in a loving relationship"
         2. Awareness of Christ's activity in husband and wife.
         3. Self-denial; "Be available to the life of Jesus Christ"
         4. Recognition of mutuality of love, deference, self-giving (Eph. 5:21)

IV. The relational function of the husband in marriage.

    A. Source
         1. Jesus Christ is the dynamic source of the husband's function.
         2. Model of such is Christ's relation to the Church - Eph. 5:25-33
    B. Expression
         1. Initiation of self-giving love that seeks highest good of the other. (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19)
         2. Love of God (I Jn. 4:8,16; Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22,23) that provides:
              a. direction, purpose, meaning in relationship
              b. tenderness, cherishing, sensitivity, emotional oneness
              c. understanding (I Pet. 3:7), relational bonding, involvement
              d. strength, stability, consistency, faithfulness, fairness
              e. provision, protection, care for
              f. assurance of being 'special' (I Pet. 3:7), honored, desired, prized, enjoyed, delighted in,
                  praised (Prov. 31:28)
              g. acceptance and affirmation as a meaningful person

V. The relational function of the wife in marriage.

    A. Source
         1. Jesus Christ is the dynamic source of the wife's function.
         2. Model of such is Christ's relation to the Father -Jn. 10:30; Phil. 2:6,7
    B. Expression
         1. Response of self-giving love that seeks highest good of the other.
         2. Love of God (I Jn. 4:8,16); Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22,23) that provides:
              a. encouragement, support, complementation (Gen. 2:18)
              b. respect (Eph. 5:33), admiration, appreciation
              c. receptivity, availability, adaptability
              d. invitation, excitement, desirability (SoS 1:2,4; 2:5)
              e. faithfulness, nurturing, kindness (Prov. 31:26)
              f. gentle, quiet spirit (I Pet. 3:4), transparency
              g. acceptance and affirmation as a meaningful person

VI. Relational dysfunction in marriage.

    A. Common explanations and excuses
         1. Failure to abide by role regulations
         2. Psychological incompatibility
         3. Cultural differences
         4. Gender differences
    B. Real reason for relational dysfunction in marriage
         1. Selfishness
         2. Character other than character of God
    C. Divorce
         1. From Latin divortium - "to divert, go opposite directions"
         2. God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), but not unforgivable sin
         3. God's mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ

VII. Dynamics for the functional relationship of marriage

    A. Marriage only functions by the dynamic of God's grace through Jesus
    B. God's grace is received by faith - our receptivity of His activity.
    C. Christians have freedom in Christ (Gal. 5:1,13); not formulas of marital performance of roles.
         1. The liberty of living in God's love
         2. The risk of abuse.
    D. Forgiveness is essential
         1. No spouse exhibits a perfect expression of Christ's love
         2. We all express selfishness and patterns of fleshliness (Gal. 5:17)
         3. Forgiveness is only a result of the function of the Forgiver in us.



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