By: Bro. Wilfred Atigbi (Bishop)
INTRODUCTION: A great marriage doesn’t just happen. You want to stay close to one another, but life gets in the way and you sometimes feel you and your spouse are going in different directions. It becomes “you” and “me” and less “us.” But it doesn’t have to be this way. The secret to a really great marriage begins with a simple change in attitude between two persons.
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me so that they may be brought to complete unity.” – (John 17:22-23).
ENDURING UNITY IN MARRIAGE IS ABOUT US AND NOT ME:
As Christians, we should be aware of how Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). He always works to divide the people of God. In like manner, he works hard to divide us in our marriages. He knows that we are far stronger when we are together than when we are apart. Consequently, the question of who is responsible for unity in marriage is an aberration as it takes two matured individuals in a marriage relationship to achieve this purpose.
By contrast, Jesus prayed that we should be “perfectly one” so that the world would know the Father sent the Son (Joh. 17:23). As He intercedes for us every day (Rom. 8:34), He is praying for sustenance of our unity, including unity in the Church and our marriages.
Our culture celebrates the lone hero and emphasizes rugged individualism and self-reliance. But as it encourages us to be the center of our own universe, we must remember that we are each but one part of the body of Christ (1 Cort.12:12, 27).
MARRIAGE IS TO BE A PICTURE OF CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH:
Read (Eph. 5:22-32). This oneness includes each of us having different gifts and using them together to serve Him. (Eph. 5:31-32). Thus we are one in accomplishing the deepest purpose of our lives to serve God. This is true in the Church, and it is more true in our marriage relationship (1Tim. 3:1-7). This makes it clear that marriages without unity will not be able to produce leaders in the Church.
GOD PROVIDES COMPANIONS IN LIFE TO SERVE HIM TOGETHER:
In (1 Kings 19), Jezebel, the wife of Israel’s King Ahab, sought to kill the prophet Elijah. Elijah fled for his life, and God comforted and encouraged him in many ways. One was to provide a helper for him–Elisha. We read in (1 Kings 19:21), that Elisha “set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.”
When God called Moses to be His spokesman to Pharaoh in Egypt, Moses at first shied away from the idea. Moses said to God in (Ex. 4:10); “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Moses even went further in (Ex. 4:13); “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
God did not release Moses from the calling, but He did respond to Moses’ objection. God provided someone to help him. He said to Moses: “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well” (Ex. 4:14).
And the best example for us in marriage is found in the account of the Adam and Eve the first married couple. The reason for marriage is seen to be God’s knowledge that we need help and companionship. (Gen. 2:18). “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
So God provided what was needed. (Gen. 2:20-22) says: “But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”
We then read a few verses later about the unity God intends for marriage. God states in (Gen. 2:24); “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
MARRIAGE WAS CREATED BY GOD SO THAT EACH MARRIED COUPLE WOULD FIND THE COMPANIONSHIP AND HELP JUST RIGHT FOR THEM:
This is necessary so that we can serve God together as husband and wife. So that together we can demonstrate to the world His love and grace.
Whatever our greatest opportunities or challenges might be today, God has provided us with each other in marriage to walk with Him through it. He has given us each other to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). This attitude of unity produces a great team work in our home. And it produces an even greater Church. (1Tim. 3:1-6).
SOME STEPS THAT ENCOURAGE UNITY IN MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP:
Contrary to popular teachings about unity in marriage, the Bible teaches that unity in marriage is primarily dependent on the actions, reactions and attitudes of a wife toward her husband and only secondarily on the behavior of the husband is not tenable.
There are a lot of concepts that are given in marriage books today to try and help couples achieve unity. Some of these concepts, like unconditional love and forgiveness is greatly supported by the Bible. But unfortunately, as with many other things – most teachings today on how to have unity in marriage is mixed with truth and error. (Mark 10:7-9).
When a husband and wife come together in marriage – this new relationship takes precedent over all other earthly relationships. Before they were married, their greatest earthly relationship was with their parents. After marriage, it becomes now the husband and the wife first before anything else. There are three important concepts about this unity in marriage that Christ talks about. “And they twains SHALL be one flesh” “so then they are no more twains, but one flesh” “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Biblically speaking in marriage, a husband and wife are one flesh from the moment of their marriage covenant, yet they are to become one flesh more and more the longer they are married, they are not to stop being one flesh as long as they both live together.
In a way, this concept of being one flesh in marriage mirrors our salvation. From the moment, we are saved we receive Christ’s righteousness and are declared justified by God. But the Bible tells us “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25) exhorting us to progressive sanctification. In essence the Bible is telling us “You are holy, so let us remain in the same way, the Bible tells couples in marriage “You are one flesh, so be the one flesh”.
In the next segment I will talk about how we can practically make our marriage a true “one flesh” relationship as God desires it to be.
Step 1 – A husband and wife are to have regular sexual relationship:
Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband; and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. (I Cor.7:3-4).
The act of marriage or the consummation of marriage is sexual union. This is the most literal meaning of the Biblical phrase “one flesh”. Sex is to occur regularly in marriage. An interesting biological fact of sex is that it releases two bonding hormones (oxytocin and vasopressin) which God designed to draw a couple closer together. On this subject of sexual relations in marriage, Christian and non-Christian counselors are in full agreement here. The regularity of sexual relations is the first indicator of how healthy a relationship will be. While it is possible to have regular sexual relations but still have disunity in a marriage – it is impossible to have full unity in a marriage without this mandatory relation in marriage. (1 Cort. 7: 2-4).
Step 2 – A husband is to know his wife
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” (I Peter 3:7). For husbands, this is the first step in cultivating oneness with their wife. A husband cannot love his wife as God intended without knowing her. This involves him talking with her and spending time with her. God thought it so important for a man to get to know his wife, that is one of the laws he gave to Moses for Israel, he gave this rule for newlywed couples:
“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war; neither shall he be charged with any business; but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.” (Deut. 24:5). God literally forbade men from going out to war or going away on business trips for the first year of their marriage.
This leads us to another question – why does a husband need to know his wife? The answer is found for us in the last part of (I Peter 3:7) “that your prayers be not hindered.” What God is basically saying is “Husbands if you do not hear the concerns, needs and requests of your wife, God will not hear your concerns, needs and requests”.
Step 3 – A wife is to learn how her husband thinks:
“And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (1 Cor. 14:35). Not only in spiritual matters, but in all matters of life a wife is to learn how her husband thinks and what makes him tick. A wife knowing how her husband thinks is critical to building the unity God desires for marriage between a man and his wife. This includes the financial stability of the husband, how he wants the house to be run as the head of the home. How the two of them bring up the Children without disagreement. HOW THEY RELATE WITH EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBERS WITHOUT ACRIMONY OR DECEPTION IN THE HOME.
Step 4 – A wife is to submit to her husband in everything:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Eph. 5:22-24).
The inevitable result of a woman getting to know how her husband thinks is that, she will discover ways that he thinks that she disagrees and agree with him in some points. Now a woman has two choices when she realizes these differences. One is to try and correct or change her husband’s thinking and the other is to submit. God calls women to do the latter and submit even when they disagree with their husbands. As long as a husband does not directly ask his wife to sin, she must submit to him in everything. This attitude will greatly foster healthy relationship in marriage.
Putting it all together, when we look at Biblical principles for unity in marriage, we see that unity comes from both the husband and the wife having close rapport in their individual and collective endeavors and desires. Talking to one another and knowing how the other person thinks, the husband showing agape love to his wife, the wife submitting to her husband, respecting his views and molding herself to her husband.
When we take an honest view of the concept of Biblical unity in marriage, truly becoming one flesh with one another, we see that God places responsibility for unity on both the husband and the wife collectively to have that mutual relationship that will provoke the other to reciprocate. When one tries his or her best to play that God given role without reciprocity from the other party, there can be no unity in any marriage relationship. Because it takes two to tangle. Thanks and God bless you all in Jesus name.