I did not know it at the time, but a fair while ago, at a Christian life Week in WA, when I was 16, I met my wife to be. The hint of what was would one day be happened as a result of the traditional CLW all-in shaving cream fight on the last night of Camp! Something in that moment amidst all the shenanigans of 60 kids throwing all kinds of bathroom products at each other around the campsite at night time sparked between me and her.
Course for most of my growing up years I really sis think girls were a serious health hazard to be avoided and ignored lest you catch ‘girl bugs’.
A little later the whole girl thing began to become part of grade 6 primary school. At our primary school, some boys went changed their girlfriend as often as their underpants! Of course, grade 6 boys don’t always change their underpants that often (if they can get away with it!) – so maybe the girlfriend/boyfriend swings were not that bad.
How you got a girlfriend was sort of easy. You had to gather you mates and get yourself into the most public place you could – 9on the basket ball court or footy oval at lunch time) and yell out to the girls that you thought would benefit from you great personality and presence (even if she didn’t know it yet), “I love you!” and run away!
What came next was really boring. Because you had named this girls as you ‘girlfriend” and she had gone along with you on this, you were then left by all you friends to a life of boredom as you sat near you ‘girlfriend’ at lunch time watching all your mates play footy and wishing you could not have a girlfriend and get back to the footy!
But then girls took on a much more serious and mysterious tone as high school called. You would never admit it – but they actually were attractive and interesting and a cause of great confusion. You were scared of them at the same time as really wanting to figure them out.
Now and again you thought there was the possibility of finding a girl who was actually a pretty good friend. Now and again that happened. Now and again you thought about what it would really be like to be in a “relationship” with her or him (for girls).
Then it all got complex. In a culture that uses sexual imagery and story to sell just about everything, tell every story, preach the pursuit of your own needs and desires and wants, whatever the cost for others and etc, the word “love” becomes “sex” mostly. The word “relationship” becomes another code word for “sex”. Thought about “marriage” becomes “sex”.
In world where sexual misconduct are a daily story: Where the church that is supposed be trustworthy and true is tainted by the incredibly hurtful behaviour of some in it and we hear this almost weekly; where with the coming of digital technology into every area of our daily lives people young and old are navigating their way through abusive sexually charged language in social media and many are grappling with out of control and so easily accessible pornography on their computer screens, marriage and relationships got really blurry for us.
And now of course the basic boundaries that used to be in place regarding marriage and relationships are under enormous pressure as we all try to figure out what being gay means – both those who are struggling with their sexual orientation in that way and those who are not. It is really, really hard to figure out who I am and what I am and what my future is and what I am meant to pursue, believe, love and be.
There are 100 conversations in all that I have just mentioned. So tonight to just have one conversation that might be helpful to you whether you are still struggling with thought that girls weird and you want nothing to do with them and boys are the same, or whether you are in a serious relationship and the marriage thing is on your mind for real, let’s just talk marriage from a bible point of view in a simple way that helps you keep growing in faith and love for the Lord and other people.
That spark across the basketball court so long ago started a long, long journey that is still unfolding between Leanne and me. We started out as friends in the church youth group – to boy-friend/girlfriend – to engaged couple – to young married couple with no kids – to young married couple with young kids – to middle-aged married couple with four kids – 2 now living their own life and two still at home.
I have always been interested in marriage and what it means and how you live in successfully. That is for lots of reason.
1. I come from a background of unsuccessful marriage
2. I saw a young married couple start life and raise three kids up close and learnt a lot from that
3. I have been married and lived to tell the story!
4. I have worked with a lot of young people who wonder about their future and the marriage thing in it – will I find the right one? Will I be married? What if I do get married one day – what kind of husband or wife do I want to be?
5. I have worked with a lot of young adults who are really worried about or focussed on relationships and where they lead and what they do about the whole possibility of getting married.
So, what about you? What’s your experience of the whole thing called, ‘marriage”?
I bet you have learnt more than you know from just being kids of married parents.
Those of you from blended families or parents with a de facto relationship or who are divorced have learnt a lot about marriage too.
Anyone who has ever watch a “relationship” move (chick flick) would have thought about marriage.
Anyone who has ever seen lots of people jumping into bed with each other at the drop of a hat on the small or big screen would have thought about marriage.
As a young person committed to being faithful to your Saviour and Friend, Jesus, you might have wondered about marriage and how you are called to live in marriage faithfully – if that is your calling.
Marriage is not everybody’s calling. There is a great calling to be single too – not alone in life – but single. There is no shame or guilt in being single. It is also a calling of God for many people.
But for others, marriage is a calling that is here or still awaits.
Here are some one-liners I want you take away into your relationships, your thinking as a Christian young person, as couple…
In the bible as far as and a few others can tell, marriage is NOT sex. Sex is part of marriage, but marriage is not another word for sex.
Word number two.
Marriage is COMPANIONSHIP on steroids. Marriage at its basic foundation in the bible is friendship, companionship, partnership in your life. Everything else, including all the stuff you see in movies, in games and all media comes after that and is best with that.
When God created people he created them male and female and each to each other as companion, helper, partner.
18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
Of course, nearly everything in our media and culture say the opposite. Marriage is a personal choice you might make if you really want to but it not essential for people and it does not even have to be between a man and a woman. Marriage can be anything you want it to be. “Go right ahead and make it what you want it to be!”
But even with this kind of view that we hear a lot, people still want to get married. Australians really like getting married. They like getting married so much that people get married twice and sometime three times in their adult life!
We like getting married so much that people will spend $20,000 on the wedding.
Young women dream of being a bride princess and young men dream of being the prince Charming who sweeps her off her feet in that big princess dress.
We like marriage so much that we have really out of control expectations of it.
Somehow people often expect their girlfriend/boyfriend or fiancé or partner to make their life complete; as if your girlfriend or boyfriend etc can be the person who makes all your problems go away and meets all of your needs for companionship and sexuality and financial future and etc…..
As if marriage is all about our being Mr Right/Mrs Right – able and willing to meet all of our needs and provide all of the hopes and dreams we have for things.
TRUTH IS NO ONE CAN DO THAT!
No one is that great! Even the coolest boyfriend you have ever got to know or the cutest girl you have ever known cannot “complete” you and be all of that for you. Only Jesus can be that for you.
Only Jesus can complete you and make you new everyday and give you all you need to be the best you can be and fulfil his call on your life.
Even though we like marriage a lot (or at least weddings a lot) we are all a bit worried and pessimistic about marriage too.
What happens when we figure out that our partner does not and cannot meet all the expected benefits I am dreaming about?
What if we figure out that no one could ever be that great – no matter how much we love him or her and he/she says they love me?
And what of my boyfriend or girlfriend calls a spade a spade and ask ME TO CHANGE something about my thinking or behaviour? What if I begin to realise that marriage will only ever work if I am open to change and will compromise on some things for the sake of my partner?
So, whether you are really overly optimistic about your hopes and dreams for marriage or whether you are really worried about all of that or whether you are not really thinking too much about that at this stage, the good news for us is that there is the GOD-WAY OF MARRIAGE
NOT ABOUT SELF FULFILMENT or REACHING DREAMS.
NOT ABOUT MAKING MONEY OR GETTING RICH
Then what is it all about?
“COMPANIONSHIP” – now there is the other secret.
The secret of marriage from God’s point of view in the Bible? “Companionship”. Doesn’t sound too “sexy” does it? But it is true.
“Marriage is learning to love the stranger to whom you have found yourself married”.
There’s heaps more to say, but not tonight.
Can I encourage you to reject most of the stuff you are bombarded with when enjoying screen time of any sort. Marriage is not sex
Marriage is not something we can do with what we like – not if we want to have a meaningful and God-pleasing life
Marriage is a gift of God – the most important relationship two human brings can have – a top priority in your life.
Marriage is a beautiful thing made by a gracious God for people he loves and wants to see live well and full.
Marriage is not about self-fulfilment is about self-giving and finding in giving that you received more than you gave.
Marriage is not about financial gain or making your way financially – although it is great to work on a project together and be successful in it.
Marriage is a person learning to truly love another person like Jesus loves them in a life-long companionship of loyalty, hard work, trust and trusting God. Great things, great meaning, great purpose come from that commitment to learn to love each other FOR THOSE WHO ARE CALLED TO BE MARRIED.