Friday, October 16th, 2009
"All things . . . that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them." (Matthew 7:12)
Married Christians need to avoid practices that degrade marital relations. Paul counseled: “Let the husband render to his wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to her husband. The wife does not exercise authority over her own body, but her husband does; likewise, also, the husband does not exercise authority over his own body, but his wife does.” Then Paul provided this clear direction: “Do not be depriving each other of it, except by mutual consent for an appointed time.” Why? “That you may devote time to prayer and may come together again, that Satan may not keep tempting you for your lack of self-regulation.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) In mentioning prayer, Paul shows the priorities for a Christian. But he also made clear that each married Christian should be sensitive to the physical and emotional needs of his or her mate.
(Watchtower issue: 03/15/08, 2:13, 14)
*since this ties in with what we've been studying in chapter 11 of the Keep Yourselves In God's Love book the past few week, I wanted to post a recap of the main points brought out...
"Let Marriage Be Honorable"
There are fine Christian couples who once had marriages that were merely surviving, not thriving. Yet, they found a way to strengthen their relationship. You too can find more contentment in your marriage. How?
Drawing Closer To God And To Your Spouse
The effort you put forth to serve Jehovah to the full could be compared with the effort it takes to climb a mountain. Since you love Jehovah, you are already trying hard to climb, so to speak. However, if you and your spouse have grown apart, you may be climbing opposite sides of that mountain. What happens, though, when you continue to climb? Granted, a considerable distance may separate you at first. Nevertheless, the more effort you put into drawing closer to God—into climbing higher—the closer you and your mate become. Indeed, drawing closer to God is the key to drawing closer to your spouse. But how can you actually do that?
One important way to climb, as it were, is for you and your spouse to heed the counsel on marriage as found in God’s Word. (Psalm 25:4; Isaiah 48:17, 18) Consider, therefore, a specific point of counsel stated by the apostle Paul. He said: “Let marriage be honorable among all.” (Hebrews 13:4) What does that mean? The word “honorable” implies that something is esteemed and precious. And that is exactly how Jehovah views marriage—he esteems it as precious.
Your Motivation—Heartfelt Love For Jehovah
-if you are currently experiencing marital problems, just knowing that marriage is honorable may not be enough to motivate you and your mate to treat each other with love and respect. What, then, will move you to do so? Note carefully how Paul addressed the subject of showing honor. He did not say, “marriage is honorable”; rather, he said, “let marriage be honorable.” Paul was not merely making an observation; he was giving an exhortation. Keeping that distinction in mind may help you find added motivation for rekindling esteem for your spouse ... Just as your deep love for God moves you to obey the commands to preach and to meet together despite obstacles, so your love for Jehovah can move you to obey the Scriptural exhortation to “let [your] marriage be honorable,” even when that appears to be difficult. (Hebrews 13:4; Psalm 18:29; Ecclesiastes 5:4)
Avoid Speech And Conduct That Dishonor Marriage
How sad it is when spouses in Christian households hurl cruel words at each other, causing emotional wounds that are not easily healed! ... Keep clearly in mind that the way in which you use your tongue within the marriage arrangement affects your relationship with Jehovah. The Bible states: “If any man seems to himself to be a formal worshiper and yet does not bridle his tongue, but goes on deceiving his own heart, this man’s form of worship is futile.” (James 1:26) Your speech cannot be separated from your worship. The Bible does not support the notion that whatever happens at home is of little consequence as long as one claims to be serving God. Please do not deceive yourself. This is a serious matter. (1 Peter 3:7) You may have abilities and zeal, but if you willfully hurt your spouse with cutting words, you dishonor the marriage arrangement and your worship may be viewed by God as futile.
Marriage partners also need to be alert not to cause emotional pain in less direct ways...Christians dearly love fellow believers; yet their primary responsibility is to their spouse. Thus, when married Christians spend inappropriate amounts of time with or become overly familiar with fellow believers, especially those of the opposite sex, they put strains on the marriage bond. Could that be a reason for tension in your marriage? Ask yourself, ‘Do I truly give my spouse the time, attention, and affection that rightly belong to my mate?’
Moreover, married Christians who give inappropriate attention to those of the opposite sex who are not their mate unwisely tread on dangerous ground. Sad to say, some married Christians have developed romantic feelings for those with whom they have become overly familiar. (Matthew 5:28) In turn, such emotional bonds have led to conduct that dishonors marriage even more.
“The Marriage Bed Be Without Defilement”
Those having sexual relations with someone other than their spouse show gross disrespect for God’s moral laws. True, many today view adultery as fairly acceptable behavior. Yet, whatever other humans may think about adultery should not influence how Christians regard it. They realize that in the end, not man, but “God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Hebrews 10:31; 12:29) Hence, true Christians cling to Jehovah’s view on this subject. (Romans 12:9) Recall that the patriarch Job said: “A covenant I have concluded with my eyes.” (Job 31:1) Yes, to avoid even one step on the road that could lead to adultery, true Christians control their eyes and never look longingly at a person of the opposite sex who is not their mate.
In Jehovah’s eyes, how serious is adultery? The Mosaic Law helps us to appreciate Jehovah’s feelings on the matter. In Israel, adultery and idolatry were among the offenses that carried the death penalty. (Leviticus 20:2, 10) Can you see a similarity between the two? Well, an Israelite worshipping an idol broke his covenant with Jehovah. Similarly, an Israelite committing adultery broke his covenant with his spouse. Both acted treacherously. (Exodus 19:5, 6; Deuteronomy 5:9; Malachi 2:14) Hence, both were reprehensible before Jehovah, the faithful and trustworthy God.—Psalm 33:4 ...
Christians should be repulsed by the thought of betraying their God, Jehovah, as well as their spouse by committing adultery—no matter what the incentive to sin might be. (Psalm 51:1, 4; Colossians 3:5).
*I also liked some of the comments mentioned about how it's important to view a spouse (and all family members, for that matter) as fellow Christians -first and foremost, and to remember that we are under obligation to apply the following counsel regardless of whether it is reciprocal or not:
"In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead." (Romans 12:10)