30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
January 9, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?". I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word. This morning we are going to discuss the subject of the family. God's first great institution, the family, has been troubled from all sides. This morning and again next week, we will look at the troubled family of today. Once again I want to encourage you to get out your Bible, pen, and paper and be prepared to turn to the passages of scripture given today and also make notes concerning this most valuable subject. For us to be able to correct any problems that we might be having, in this case our family relationship, we must first be willing to make the appropriate changes for the better. No study will be of any benefit if we do not have the right heart to WANT to change our life for the better. Again, we will look at what the word of God, the Bible has to say concerning this subject this morning.
My subject, THE TROUBLED FAMILY is no easy task. Not because of an absence of material, but because of the serious problems that are bombarding us. The family structure about us is in deep trouble. And the actions of the world are infiltrating the body of Christ in far too many instances. As we begin our study of the family this morning, I want to first point us back to the beginning as we read from the book of Genesis 1:27-28: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
We must first find out what the purpose of marriage was for. There are at least three reasons that God felt it necessary for man and woman to enter into a marriage relationship. Reason number one would be because of procreation, as we read in Genesis 1:27-28. Basically, procreation can be defined as "creation for or on behalf of another." God created man and woman. He then gave the responsibility of both man and woman, not separately, but together, to continue His creative Work. Helen Keller once said: "There has been no greater blessing bestowed upon man than the realization that God allows a mother and a father to work together with God's law to reproduce and bring forth a child -- there is the divine element; there is the human element -- working together with God to produce in harmony with God's divine law." And, it is within the marriage relationship that the little bundle of joy has been placed to be nurtured, loved, and developed. A human child cannot reach his or her full development without the co-operation and care of two caring parents. The married pair will have to unclasp one hand each to bring another into the circle, willing to sacrifice and suffer, yes even to die for the sake of their little ones. Marriage is not an end in itself. It is a united ministry to others. We have been created to serve.
The second reason for the marriage relationship would be for sexual fulfillment. Notice what is stated in Genesis 2:23-25: "And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." There is placed within each of us certain desires that need fulfillment. One of these is the sexual desire. It is this desire that enhances God's command to be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth. Yet, Jehovah, from the very beginning, regulated and restricted this great blessing within the family bond. Note what the inspired writer says in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5: "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." It is stated in Hebrews 13:4:"Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." There is perhaps no more grievous sin than fornication. Knowing this, Jehovah placed the satisfaction and attainment of this desire within the marriage relationship. This desire, like all other blessings bestowed upon us by a loving Father, is beautiful and wholesome; but if misused or abused, becomes a sin damning act that will cause souls to be lost.
The third reason for the marriage relationship would be simply for companionship. Again in Genesis 2:18 we read: "And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." All marriages are not blessed with children. Even if they are, children come and then they go, leaving the couple alone together again. Parenthood, therefore, may enrich marriage, but it will not sustain it. Neither will the sexual attainments. There is much more to marriage than physical love-making. It is the daily living together, the close bond of husband and wife that develops into true and trusted friends. Loneliness is one of the most dreaded experiences that men and women can undergo. God said it was not good for man to be alone. We have that great need to love and to be loved. In marriage there is that sense of never being alone, whether the two are near, or far apart. In no other relationship can this need be attained than through marriage. The close and intimate life together of husband and wife, sharing their resources, their plans, their hopes, the married couple grows into a fellowship of warm affection and mutual trust which continues to grow and develop as the years move on. At least, that is what marriage should be. In Gen. 1:31, Jehovah God said, "And behold, it was VERY good."
But, things go awry. Troubles step in. Difficulties arise. The honeymoon is soon over and the daily task of living together becomes a reality. Consequently, in far too many families, troubles, deep troubles begin to shake this relationship and far, far, too many develop problems that are almost, if not completely impossible to solve.
This leads me into my subject today - The Troubled Family. I do not propose to solve all of the problems or troubles that may arise in a family relationship. In fact, I may not even touch upon the particular problem about which you may be thinking of in your marriage or in someone else's marriage. But there is one thing I do know and that is that we do have a perfect manual to turn to that has the complete answer to every difficulty we will ever face -- whether in the family, as a husband or wife, mother or father, or any other relationship. That manual or standard is the WORD OF GOD. Paul stated it very ably in 2 Tim. 3:16-17: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
This reminds me of the person who purchases an item that must be assembled. Desk, bookcase, bicycle, whatever. He opens the box and scatters the pieces all over the floor. He begins to assemble, then realizes that he has it all wrong. So, he takes it apart and starts over, but to no avail. What is the solution? Go to the instruction manual that came with the item. Man's problem with marriage is that he has the difficulties scattered all over the floor, but he does not want to look at the instruction book. He has his own solutions and ideas, and more often than not--they result in failure. When we learn to open the Bible, returning to the standard of God, and accept God's arrangements, then we can get the pieces to fit together as they belong. You see, when God made man, he gave us a perfect manual. He has given us a perfect guide; one that has all of the needed solutions and answers. All we need is the wisdom to open the book, look therein, and then obey it.
We all must realize that when we enter into a marriage relationship that DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION. There are various and sundry solutions to the many problems that arise in a marriage, but divorce has never been a solution that is pleasing to Jehovah. Divorce is simply not an option.
Jesus stated and made it very clear in Matthew 19:6: "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." I realize and understand that there is one exception as stated by our Lord. But, even in this exception, sin has been committed by at least one party in the marriage relationship. The modern concept is similar to the scientist in the lab. He tries one solution and if it does not work, he throws it out and tries another. But friends, this is not so in marriage. There are no exchange windows in the marriage relationship. We purchase a garment and take it home. Upon further examination we decide it is not the right color, does not fit right, or just doesn't suit our fancy. So, we return it for another, or perhaps a refund. Again, this is not so in the marriage relationship.
We hear today of trial marriages; or "living together." Such is a flagrant denial of God's will and purpose. SIN cannot be put on a trial basis. Fornication is fornication no matter what one calls it or labels it. You may ask, "Why discuss divorce at the beginning of a lesson on solving marital problems?" The answer lies in the fact that one's attitude toward divorce will, in a large measure, determine our attitude toward marriage; one's attitude toward solving the problems in marriage. If divorce is not an option, then couples will work harder to solve their problems. In fact, they will solve them if they really want to.
Now, let's look at some attitudes toward troubles in the family relationship. Assuming that there will be problems (and rest assured, there will be), or that there are already problems in the family relationship, we now turn our attention toward various attitudes and dispositions that must be present if these problems are to be solved. First and foremost there must be a desire and a will to solve the problem or problems. Where there is no will there is no way. When couples refuse to acknowledge the problem, or stick their heads in the sand, the difficulty only increases. Note also, the desire cannot be one-sided. Both parties must want to solve the problem. Both must work toward a solution. The family is doomed if one party bows his or her back and does not enter wholehearted into the effort to work on the differences.
This willingness demands that each party have the proper disposition toward each other. The Word of God (our manual) deals with the sins of evil dispositions as forcefully as it does with the sin of drunkenness or other sins that we consider so grievous. Listen now to the inspired apostle in the following scripture texts: "For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced" (2 Cor 12:20-21). In Galatians 5:19-21 he states: "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." In verse 15 he says: "But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!" And in Colossians 3:8-9 he states: "But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds." "But," someone says, "Paul is talking to these churches, congregations, not concerning a family relationship." Here's a question in return. What makes up congregations? Churches? Individuals? Truly, Paul is addressing congregations, but his message is for each member in whatever relationship they find themselves. Surely, you are not telling me that Paul is saying, "Now do not bite and devour one another when you come into the assembly to worship; but, it is perfectly all right if you, as a husband speaks shamefully to your wife at home, or you as a wife have malice in your heart toward your husband." Oh, NO! These dispositions will destroy a home as quickly as they will destroy a congregation. Perhaps, even quicker, because the home is a daily relationship, an hourly matter. And ill-feelings in our heart when we go to bed, and when we arise each morning, will doom any relationship to failure. Paul says that these sinful dispositions are of the OLD MAN and as children of God we have put off the old man, we have been crucified to the flesh and all of its doings. We both HUSBAND and WIFE have put on the new man, raised to walk in newness of life, "renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created us." (Col. 5:10).
There is simply no place for a selfish, stubborn, overbearing and headstrong person in a marriage union, or as far as that goes, in any relationship. It is stated in Ephesians 4:31-32: "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you."When will we ever listen to the inspired writers and learn the characteristics and dispositions needful to make our homes havens of happiness and bliss as God so intended them to be.
Another attitude that destroys the family relationship is that of selfishness. There is no place in the family relationship for mine and yours. It must be OURS. Did not Jehovah say, "The two shall become one." It is no longer, "What I want, but will it please her or him." So often in our decisions we consider what we wish with little or no consideration of the other party. Their feelings are not brought into the picture. We trod along with satisfying SELF, and what will please ME.
It is at this point that materialism often steps in. It's MY boat, MY car, MY money, MY inheritance, and usually we are not content to have the ordinary, the mundane, the simple things in life. Oh, NO! We desire the expensive, the extravagant, like "the Jones' down the street." And just as surely, trouble jumps into the marriage, because now we have the problem of paying for these "things." So, the wife now gets a job and so very often the family relationship suffers. Now, I realize that both parties in the marriage can have jobs and can succeed in the marriage. But, what I am saying is that the potential for problems is there. And it takes a special effort upon the part of both to make the relationship work. It will take more understanding, more patience, more long-suffering, between mates and between parents and children. There is no place for selfishness.
We look at the example of our Lord as Paul writes to the brethren at Ephesus. Hear him:"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself or it." (Eph. 5:25). There is no selfishness here. His concern was not for self. It was for you and for me. His whole existence was lived for others. And so must we, if we desire to please Him and have the kind of family relationship that will be pleasing to everyone and to the Lord.
All marriages have times of testing, just as life itself, James 1:2-3 says: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."Trials are not necessarily bad; they can be beneficial.
Sometimes the problems are major, often they are minor; but, all are very real. At these times the fellowship of the marriage is in real peril. Anger may show itself and words spoken which are afterward bitterly regretted. Sometimes deceit may seek to conceal inconsistences. Hearts may be hardened and spirits stressed in vindictive silence. Husband and wife fall out of tune with each other, their ONENESS shattered and discord prevails. In this atmosphere love can easily become hate, trust turns into suspicion and tenderness to cold indifference. Love must be able to endure during these times of trials, these times of testing. Remember the great apostle said, "Love suffers long, and is kind......" (1 Cor 13:4-8a). And above all other relationships, this attribute of love and care MUST, it MUST, be present in the marriage bond.
The truth is that the whole fellowship of marriage is ultimately based on FORGIVENESS. Two people unable to forgive will not endure very long in living together as husband and wife, parent and child. This is why our courts of law fail so miserably in dealing with marriage problems. The law is concerned with offence and retribution, making the punishment fit the crime. But, so long as marriage remains, it must be conducted upon an entirely different set of principles -- the principles of repentance and forgiveness.
Therefore, forgiveness is ESSENTIAL in the successful marriage relationship. Need I remind you husbands, that you are not married to a perfect wife. You say, "Well, I knew that!" BUT, neither is your wife married to a perfect husband. Both husband and wife are frail creatures of the flesh. We are all susceptible to the mistakes and the blunders that everyone else makes. For this reason, as well as many others, we must be forgiving partners in the marriage relationship. To expect perfection is to be doomed to failure. But, forgiveness goes hand in hand with repentance. When we err toward our mates, God demands that we repent. This fact is true in any relationship, but how essential in the closeness of the marriage bond. Repentance is to be followed with confession and then by forgiveness.
But, whether or not your husband or your wife ever repents of the mistakes made, we must have the godly attitude of forgiveness. Isn't it comforting to remember that Jehovah did not wait for our repentance to send His Son, for "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8). The loving voice of our Savior rings across the ages as, suspended upon the cross, He spoke,"Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." But WE, when we are wronged, we stick out our lips and pout, we react out of anger, and the battle rages. When, will we ever learn to have a forgiving, contrite spirit toward our mates. Paul says, "Don't let the sun go down upon your wrath." What he is telling you and me is: get things straightened out before the day ends. Do not let it run over into tomorrow. NOW is the acceptable time. We need to solve our difficulties on a daily basis, so they do not build up and fester, becoming mountains to overcome.
Remember, our repentance must be GENUINE, it must be brought on by godly sorrow. Paul states, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation..." (2 Cor 6:10). Surely, you have seen by now that the characteristics of the Child of God must be the foundation of a good marriage. We need desperately the dispositions and the character of our loving Savior as we live each day in harmony with His example.
Thank you for listening this morning. It is my hope and prayer that you have benefitted from our study of the family relationship this morning. Next week I want to continue this study, touching on some other aspects of our family relationship that is troubled today. Won't you please listen as we look at what God would have us do in our relationship with each other and to Him. May you all have a good week as you strive to live to do only those things that are pleasing to our Lord.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"