Marriage; July 27, 2020

Matthew 19:4-6 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

This is a passage I quote every time I do premarital counseling, warning the couple that they’re getting into marriage for life. It speaks to the human condition, and as such is as up-to-date as tomorrow’s headlines. The Pharisees had just asked Jesus about the rabbinical opinion that it was OK for a man to divorce his wife over anything, with the specific example given in such arguments of her burning his breakfast. That might seem absurd on the face of it, but sharia law, taught by Muslims around the world, says essentially that, and all a man has to do to divorce his wife is say, “I divorce you” three times, and it’s final. I’ve heard of men saying it twice right off the bat so they’ll only have to say it one more time, in order to keep their wife subject to them. That again seems heartless, but then America has “no fault divorce,” that really treats marriage just as casually. This passage also deals with the whole homosexual/transgender mess, with Jesus quoting Genesis 1:27 about mankind being created male and female, with no other options. Mankind has always looked for “other options” besides what God has said and done. The thing is, God knows the end from the beginning, so He’s always right! In verses 11 and 12 Jesus talks about exceptions to this, but here he is talking about God’s design. Marriage is not something to be entered into casually, but for the vast majority of people it is part of God’s good plan for them.

I grew up with such an attractive example of marriage in my parents that I was eager to get into it, and so got married at 20, less than 24 hours after graduating from college. People are regularly amazed at that, but I couldn’t be more grateful. We had our children while we had plenty of youthful energy, and we’re still going strong after 51 years. Marriage has been an integral part of who we are, and I have no trouble understanding and agreeing with the expression, “one flesh.” Japanese has an expression to refer to this that I like very much, that means “one heart same body.” The Bible I use in marriage counseling uses that expression, but more recent editions of the same translation limit it to “one body,” since that is a more literal translation. I still like including the heart! In Jesus’ day the idea of a woman divorcing her husband didn’t even come up, but I counseled one woman to whom I said, “Congratulations,” when her divorce was finalized! It was a sad occasion, even so. Being in such a good marriage myself, it is always something of a mystery to me when I deal with people who are struggling in marriage. Being self-centered is the greatest enemy to genuine happiness, and certainly to a good marriage. I have learned that I’m not to ignore myself or my needs, but the way to greatest happiness and satisfaction is to focus on my wife and her needs. I find it fascinating that, as a single man, Paul could have written so accurately that “He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28) I delight to love myself through loving my wife, and I am convinced that is God’s plan for us.

Father, thank You for Your overwhelming grace toward me. Help me be an example and an encouragement to others, so that the lies of the devil may be exposed and people be set free to walk in all that You have planned for them, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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