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What Marriage Is, And Isn't

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
August 1, 2021 1:00 am

What Marriage Is, And Isn't

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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August 1, 2021 1:00 am

The Supreme Court says the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. There’s no doubt, marriage is under attack. Some say, “Why marry?” Living together is the new norm. In this message, Pastor Lutzer explains why the institution of marriage is so important, and why we have to honor the commitments we’ve made, as the vow says, “for better or for worse.”

 Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)

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The Supreme Court says the Defense of marriage act is unconstitutional. There is no doubt marriage is under attack. Some say why Mary living together is the new norm today by the institution of marriage is so important and why we have to honor the commitments we've made, as the vile says, for better or for worse.

Stay with us from Chicago. We welcome you to The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin lutes are on this program. We continue a 10 part series on fighting for your family. Later in our broadcast will learn about what marriage is and isn't pastor looks or comes now to open our service. We begin now and in a moment were going to be singing how firm a foundation, the saints of the Lord, would you bow with me in prayer as we get this worship service to the Lord, our father, we want to thank you today for all the goodness that you have given to us and we thank you that our faith has indeed found a very firm foundation in Jesus our Lord. We worship him today.

Thank you that you are our God, you are our father and we love you Jesus name, amen.

I invite you to follow along with me in your bulletin as we read selections from Psalms chapter 60. Please read aloud with me on the boat.

This is God's holy word for God alone, my soul waits in silence from him comes my salvation. He has no is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall not greatly shaken for God alone will my soul, wait in silence for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall not be shaken on God. My salvation by my my refuge.

God trust in him at all times will people pour out your heart before you. God is someone has said that marriage is like flies on a screen door. Those that are in want out and those that are out once again, the question I have to ask is why is it that so many people who get married with such good intentions and so disastrously. I married many people. I don't ever recall a couple saying what our intention is to have a miserable marriage, but I married some people have had a miserable marriage. I married some people who ended in the 20 or more years ago I flew from Chicago to Tokyo nonstop. If that jet plane had been off by 1° all the way to Tokyo we wouldn't have ended in Tokyo. We demanded somewhere else in another country just like those little birds that fly from one island, then they nest there and then they fly back thousands of miles 1° off and they'd miss those islands today. What were going to do is in this fourth message on a series entitled fighting for your family were going to help you read group were going to help you with a new trajectory and new focus and midcourse correction were also going to answer the question of what is marriage were going to talk about those who say well you know we live together but we're not married because what set piece of paper will today were going to find out exactly what a piece of paper is, as I been meditating on this this past week and I've had the advantage of thinking about it for several days. I'm convinced that if we went back to the beginning and looked at the owners manual. The craters manual and if we followed what I'm going to share with you today. We would not have any divorces.

That's a very strong statement, but after all, God didn't create marriage for a purpose, and there are certain requirements and we miss them and so we go in the general direction and we end up in a bad place. As you know, each message has within it an assignment which I will be giving you a little later on in the sermon because I fully intend that your life should be changed as a result of these sermons it is not simply that your hearing truth.

I've been praying that you'll hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and some of you have come to this with all kinds of relational issues, and you may be thinking about divorce or in the even in the middle of the divorce.

Maybe it's time for you to rethink what marriage is all about. And if you're here and you're single is going to be a word for you to thank you for coming on the journey.

The real purpose of marriage is to reveal God's to make God look good.

Unfortunately, many marriages don't do that but that is the original intention and if we want to go back to the beginning and read the owners manual. We have to turn once again to Genesis chapter 2 Genesis chapter 2 where it's all laid out for us and I'm going to follow the outline in the Bible, not the outline that I originally thought I was going to use because the end of the day, I decided that God's outline was better than mine. So I always differ take him. In fact all that were going to look at is one verse and all of its implications and then at the end were going to be pouring grace into your soul. It's going to be laced with grace. It's going to be laced with hope.

But you have to stay with me on this journey well. Verse 24. I don't know that I even have to read it because we all know it by memory your member Adam. Of course, is created and everything is good but it was not good for man to be alone and so God creates a helpmate we've been here before.

In this passage Adam names his wife, which shows the order of responsibility and role within the marriage. Then we get to verse 24 therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and then my translation says hold fast.

I like the old King James here Cleve and his wife, and they shall become one flesh. All that today life transforming for a marriage.

What I want to do is to give you three or four commitments that you make when you are married and then will understand the implications and why it is that sometimes people get married and they shouldn't. I think that this passage would prevent some weddings and by the way, I've prevented some weddings won't tell you all the details. I think I mentioned this several years ago, but to our staff is not only committed to having good weddings by preventing some if they can see danger up ahead ready ready for the commitment number one.

Therefore a man will leave father and mother. What that means is that marriage creates a sacred space where faithfulness can be demonstrated and where loyalty is now transferred from mother and father to the spouse and disloyalty is very strong and this couple creates this space and they no longer looked to mommy and daddy for guidance and direction and are always still committed to the loyalty that they had to their family ties. It is not just geographical you leave, you decide to live in San Francisco or somewhere else because you know there are people who leave geographically, but they don't leave psychologically. This has to do with the fundamental psychological commitment to leave father and mother, that doesn't mean that father and mother aren't involved.

I'm glad that that doesn't mean that Rebecca and I have the privilege of having eight beautiful grandchildren and were always invited to take care of them than to have an input into their life, but the loyalty is to your wife and the wife to her husband. They're the ones who make up their decisions.

They're the ones that run the home according to their specifications and that's what it means to leave time to speak to you plainly today. I hope I always speak plainly. I want to be like that politician left a political rally was that I hope that in the excitement. I didn't happen to make myself clear about anything. I like to be clear, there are some parents who are control freaks and they controlled by manipulation by guilt like one woman said you know my mother she owns the Midwest distributorship of guilt yeah and so they they controlled by guilt by manipulation by shame, even verbally, and they want to continue that control after you are married if you let them do that you have not left father and mother never counseling a guys said that my mother wants to break up our marriage.

He said we had a happy marriage. But she begins to metal.

She begins to talk. She begins to say things in and interfere, and even lies and manipulation. I told him you have to have boundaries here. You have to have boundaries here and you even have to say in this case. Mother you cannot come and visit your grandchildren and the reason for that is because this mother created chaos.

Now there are some people who live with chaos, they cannot live without chaos so they distribute chaos wherever they go. No wife should ever have to doubt whether her husband's loyalty is to her and not his parents. It's interesting that the command is not given to the woman it's given to the man. The Bible is so accurate. It's also true of human nature.

As I have observed marriages I've noticed that so often it is the man who is tied to his parents. The wife is more submissive in terms of the leadership that is given by her husband, but it is often times the man I mean I've heard stories about a man on his honeymoon calling his mother every day.

Lots of other stories like that.

It is Dan Allender, who wrote we can honor our mother and father only if we have first created the proper boundary to serve and protect our spouse.

You leave father and mother, you don't. You also leave you also leave past attachments. Yeah, you don't look up that time wonderful girl that you dated in college on Facebook just to see what she's up to and begin to fantasize of how much better it would have been if you had married her.

I'm speaking here plainly because counselors will tell you that Facebook is the chief way in which divorces now happen because you know because of bonding. Oftentimes sexual bonding you people going back and and they have trouble in their marriage and their beginning to fantasize about. If only I had married my college sweetheart how wonderfully we would have lived. When you walk down to the altar. All the ghosts are left behind, and you break all those ties. Pornography also which is a commitment that many people have been. It's an addiction that we talked about in different context. The fact is that all the things that intrude upon the one man one woman relationship and building a sacred space where there can be faithfulness and trust all those relationships have to be laid aside. Now I'm not saying you have to be perfect before you get married or else you know what the conclusion to that is none of us would be married today, but I also have to tell you that the courting. It is one of the most deceptive periods of time that you will ever go through on both sides of the ledger. Because everybody's at his best, and only I really do enjoy football because you enjoy football yeah I really do. That's why getting married is something like getting a phone call in the middle of the night.

First of all you get a ring and then you wake up okay and you discover that there's a lot more.

The baggage car arrives after marriage and not unless you take care of some of those ghosts will haunt you. All right the first thing is to leave if you're not willing to leave and don't get married please cleave to your wife.

I'm thinking of Velcro. At this point, cleave to your wife. In other words, what you are saying is in all the world.

I am honoring and committed to you or alternately, the wife says I am committed and honoring you. Think of all the problems that would be taken care of if we simply left and cleft. I know that there is no word like cleft but were in a good mood today, we can make up some words as we go along. The cleaving part means that trust is now being built. To quote the words of Dan Allender again through many acts of faithfulness. No marriage can ever be happy without trust. It is central to the marriage. In fact, Allender says, and marriage without trust is an empty well it promises satisfaction, but it never delivers you must be able to safely trust in your mate and once that trust is lost, it has to be regained often over it. Of time. Again, Dan Allender says trust is earned over a lifetime. As I mentioned, through small moments of faithfulness. You also learn patience you learn to accept one another in all those differences that you intended to see. Listen the person that you married is the same person that you will live with before he was married going down the aisle doesn't change anybody's ladies and especially you need to know this is an addict before you marry him. He's an addict after you marry him you know we may smile at the woman who says that on her wedding day, she thinks of three things she thinks of the aisle walking down the aisle she thinks of the altar and then of course she thinks of him, but actually it's I'll alter him lady let me look into your eyes. Can you see mine you won't you won't.

And as a result of that, of course, people have to learn to accept their differences and you have to begin to say and you see that's where God births patients in our hearts. That's where God begins to birth sanctification because here you have somebody was very different from you and the things that attracted you that you thought were so cute you quit.

You can't stand now cleave to your wife endure and you'll get huge payback. You really will all give you some examples of that in just a moment. Well the next thing I want to speak about, which isn't in the text, but clearly implied here and elsewhere in Scripture is the covenant you know people say will, why should I have a covenant why this oath, you know, leaving all others cleave only's for yourself to yourself, yourselves, however, that is, I was at a wedding here yesterday. It was nice to be at a wedding that I wasn't officiating at just to see how other people do it but you know the vows are essentially the same, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. By the way, the next message in the series is on money and so I've entitled it till debt do us part so you be sure to be here for that. But the point is that what's a piece of paper. Anyway, let's just live together all really numbered years ago my wife and I bought a house where reputable people. We bought it from reputable people.

Why do we even sign anything when we just shake hands and say okay will pay you this much, and that you give us the title and we sign it over because what's a piece of paper. Anyway was not the way it was. We had an attorney. They had an attorney.

We spent about an hour signing documents that we could scarcely understand, but we sign them anyway. Why, because everybody knows that after you've made the deal, you might have buyers remorse and you might say to yourself I didn't know that the roof leaks. I didn't know that there are termites in the attic. I didn't know that the windows don't close properly and were going to get new windows. Furthermore, you drive down the street and two blocks away.

There's this house that you always admired but you never bought it and now suddenly there's a for sale sign on it and you say to yourself, oh know what I do. Well, you know life is tough.

You sign the documents and what you're going to have to do is to fix the roof and Juergen have to take care of the termites and you might have to get new windows, but in the process God is going to develop you and furthermore you know that house down the street that you like so much. Please be advised that actually you didn't know that.

Did you, but that house has a basement that is going to collapse within six months.

You're lucky if I might use that word. You're lucky you didn't buy that other house. But you don't know that.

So you fantasize as to what it would've been if only you had someone better, and now you have buyers remorse and you don't know where to go with it.

You know, of course it is true that that fantasy may only be a fantasy.

Remember years ago I told you a story about a man who was walking through a psych ward and got to the first room and there was a man banging his head against a padded cell and he said to the manager.

What's his problem and he said well he was madly in love with Matilda.

Matilda jilted him and he can't handle it.

So all day long. He just bangs his head against the wall. ~How could you do it.

~How could you do it when they got to the end of the aisle. They notice that there was another man in a padded cell, banging his head against the wall saying Matilda how could you do it. ~How could you do it guys and what's his problem is it what is the one who married Matilda the minute your fantasies begin to think about what could have been.

You're on very very dangerous ground. So now there's this couple who says what we don't need that piece of paper. Mixed messages are being sent on the one hand I love you so much I want to be with you on the other hand, another messages being sent. Namely, but I want to keep an escape hatch. I want to make sure that I can get out of this with a lot of trouble just in case you and I can't work it out. Now let's go on to the next thing that the Bible mentions and the implications of that reasoning will be even clear, he says them leave father and mother be joined together and they shall become one flesh. Now we come to very very mysterious teaching in the Bible and I don't have time to go into it, except to say that the one flesh relationship is to mirror God.

In fact that Paul says in the book of Ephesians that men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, the marriage is to mirror God never Jesus Christ relationship to the church and it's not as if the apostle Paul thought. I need an illustration for loving Christ and Christ's relationship to the church. Let me use marriage the intention of marriage is to mirror God and the oneness that comes through intimacy through sexual intimacy is not just a physical biological experience.

It is really a metaphysical experience.

In fact, the apostle Paul says that even if you have a relationship with a prostitute.

Where there is no commitment know love nothing just raw lust. He says you're already one body while the implications of that which I preached on in previous times are huge. It's the most important verse in all the Bible teaches you more about sexuality than all the books on the shelves of our bookstores right there.

God says you become one flesh body soul and spirit, but you do it without a covenant if you do it without commitment you are really involved in a one flesh relationship but you aren't married and furthermore it is an unholy relationship. The only holy relationship is the relationship that you have by the protection of the covenant relationship that is totally and completely dependent upon this covenant. And by the way I was going to give the illustration of Robertson the quilting regarding the covenant. His wife Muriel had Alzheimer's and he decided to resign the presidency of Columbia College of Bible just to take care of her full-time. The board said no we need you there.

You can always high-risk someone else to take care. In fact, she won't know who's taking care of her. Anyway, but he said it was no decision at all.

He said it was very clear. I'd made the promise till death do us part and he said that he would take care of her and he did until she died years later.

Can I give you just one line of what he said as I watched her descend into oblivion.

Muriel is the joy of my life daily. I discern new manifestations of the kind of person she is the wife I always loved. I also see fresh manifestations of God's love and grace the God long to love more fully. That's what it means, till death do us part. That's the covenant that you may when you get married, there's this couple who says we don't need that kind of a common so that we can escape and get out of this and it is an unholy relationship to men together cannot be one flesh. Two women together in a sexual relationship cannot be one flesh. It is the man and it is the woman brought together by God as indicated here in this passage of Scripture that become one flesh. And that means that their relationship is not just physical but metaphysical fact you know that the word, one that is used, there is the word when God speaks about being one for the oneness of the Trinity and how those relationships and those unholy relationships to see people get it backwards. I think what you know, we can have the one flesh relationship here and that we can be intermittent then let's work backwards and then we can decide whether or not we wanted covenant and whether or not we are going to leave and cleave occasionally those kinds of marriages work out, but with huge difficulty. Why, because those kinds of relationships are sewn in the soil of deep disappointment hurt in this trust, and almost always they end by blaming my shaming, it's your fault you talk me into it know it isn't.

But look at what you did. Yada yada yada. You and on and on it goes. Why because unholy relationships though they have a sense of oneness are not blessed by God. You see it's within the confines of the sacred space that we call marriage. It is within those confines that you have the blessing of God.

And that's why it says in the book of Hebrews, the marriage bed is undefiled. Warmongers and adulterers God will judge God takes it very very seriously you say will Pastor Lutzer you're going to give us some hope, I think it's time for us to talk turkey in terms of where do we go from here. Thank you so much for asking. I can already see it in your minds. Folks, it's not possible to have a better marriage until you have a better heart. That's the key. You know I could stand up here and I could tell you about five new ways to communicate and that would last for about two days maybe when you get home. Maybe tomorrow, maybe it would carry over till tomorrow, but then you know you'd forget about it in a day or two later, you'd be back where you were, because we always go back to the default position so oftentimes those kinds of changes are surface changes.

What kind of a heart if were going to have a good marriage. Remember my desire is to help people with good marriages become better bad marriages to become good what what kind of a hard first of all, you need a new heart even in the Old Testament. It says this and you hard. I will give you all take from you. The heart of stone, you have today a heart of stone. You are angry you believe that you have been the victim of so much injustice that your heart is hard toward God, toward your mate made even toward your family and the Bible says and you heart I will give you now that's the gospel. Jesus said, except you be born again will not see the kingdom of God. And it has to do with the fact that Jesus died on the cross, not just to take our sin away, but to make us new creatures. We are new creatures in Christ there is actually a miracle that takes place within us, that is called the new birth. You've not experience that you have never understood the wonder of God's forgiveness and you may like Christ.

You may even worship Christ in your own way and in your heart of hearts you've never been changed by God and that comes with it.

A change of desire so cried to God to receive the good gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. You and I need to first of all we need a new heart.

Secondly, we need an honest heart and honest heart is where it gets difficult. It's possible to have a new heart and you're still not honest. So in your marriage relationship you have all of these ghosts that are never addressed. There are people who have been married for 25 or 30 years and they had never address all of the issues that divide them so they methodically go through.

They live together in the same house they may connect in many ways occasionally but they already know we don't talk about the relatives here. We don't talk about his father.

We don't talk about his mother. We don't talk about her parents and the bad influence they have on our kids. We just don't go there couples want to tell you you have to go there if you want not only a one soul relationship but you want that relationship to spillover into a caring, sensitive fulfilling relationship. You can't pretend the past doesn't exist. That's why I've given you in an assignment this week. Couples tell you what it's going to be.

I want you to get into a safe place just the two of you and I want you to discuss some of the questions that are there in the bulletin don't look now but there there and ask yourself guide to what extent have the relatives influenced us to what extent have we not left father and mother and what impact is that having on our family. Now there's a good question to begin with. And if you can get through that one without a fight, then you can also go on to other question what influenced your past relationships still have what influence do certain habits have on our relationship that intrude on this sacred space that is been mapped out by God for the two of us.

This is hard work but it's promising work, and God blesses it and by the way, if you're single and you're wondering what your assignment is actually this one up lies to the married people to first Thessalonians chapter 4 it's in their bulletin. First Thessalonians for the first eight verses read it and ask yourself the question, what should those verses mean to me as a single person struggling with sexual issues while stick of dynamite. So that's the assignment for the married one set of questions for the single. The other but first, lessor applies to all of us married and single and that's where some of you need some help. You may need to go for counseling because you may not be able to deal with all these issues without some object to the T and help.

Next, you need a forgiving heart.

You need a forgiving heart.

If you can't ask for forgiveness and then forgive those who ask you for forgiveness.

Don't get married or get married at this point, just break it off. I remember asking a couple by the way, I said to this guy don't know that I ever said this before, but they were having marriage counseling, for they were married. Nice it, if your wife were in a tragic accident on your honeymoon and were a quadriplegic for the rest of your life of rest of her life. Could you handle it.

He thought about that decided you know what, I'm not sure if I'm ready for marriage. While here's another one you never told you years ago, but Rebecca and I being at the airport there in Minneapolis and she was getting me a sandwich as she lovingly always does.

Always looking out for my knee wish that I looked out for hers as well as she does for mine and an somebody was watching us.

There is a woman just across the way there at the terminal and she said you know I noticed that the two of you get along very well and I will thank God for that wonderful and then she said this she said that I'm going to be married soon. What advice do you have for me and I'm looking around, you know, I'm thinking. Oh well, I'm a preacher I should be able to answer this question is the kind of thing that I'm supposed to be able to answer. Rebecca didn't have to roll her eyes instantly. She said, have the ability to forgive. I thought, will thank you, Rebecca. I appreciate you so much considering who you live with the ability to forgive. You are not quick to ask forgiveness for your wrongs and to humble yourself and then see other people's forgiveness and grant them their forgiveness when they ask for it. I don't see how this marriage can make progress. God wants us to change the way in which we live.

Every marriage becoming better bad marriage is becoming good, but old what he has to sometimes take us through before we get the message. The lowest depths. Last week I received a letter from a couple here at The Moody Church and I received their permission. Obviously, I wouldn't do it without their permission to read parts of it to you. It was a letter of thanks to the church but you got to hear this. My wife and I descended into what seemed like a bottomless pit. Worse than our marriage being in tatters was the condition we were in physically, mentally and spiritually.

One long year led to two long years in 2 to 3, and at that point it was too much to bear. I would say that we were like a man who was struggling to stay afloat without drowning, but we didn't go under and drown on many occasions for a guy like me likes to control and have a certain pride in playing my cards right, I can only describe the totality of our situation as an utter and complete train wreck. There was carnage everywhere and I was praying that God would take one or both of us from this planet to end the pain by the grace of God, our loving heavenly father was there working all along. First, perhaps not perceptibly but over time as we persevered and persevered a little more in a little more God showed up. He showed up because we ceded to him the proper authority he deserves.

He showed up because we began to ask him to deal with our own hearts rather than that of the other person realize we are hearing here today. Wow he showed up at 2 AM as we were singing hymns in our bedroom during a bout of demonic activity in her house and by the way, the devil once your marriage to break up God showed up through the hands and feet of you and many others at Moody Church who diligently stayed close to us in prayer. I don't know if there are other couples at Moody Church who had their own days of prayer and fasting, but we didn't because we needed it.

We needed a big God for our big problems and he showed up in a big way. The other day I asked my wife if we have it as good as ever and she corrected me and said we have never had this good. What we have now is much better.

Hello, they go on to point out they aren't perfect. Obviously he says when we do have sites they don't escalate, but end in genuine seeking of reconciliation, not catch this line not only do we love each other but we actually like each other as well. For a while we neither love nor respected each other and now we do both. That God is even granted us a ministry and then he goes on to say that to thank all the people at Moody Church mentioned some specific names that I won't name who stood with them and then he ended it.

Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe sent has left a crimson stain he and then in parens. He adds, he really washed at white as snow bejewel hear what God can do when he shows up. I don't know what God talk to you about today. Some of you had to receive Christ as savior so that you might get a new heart. Some of you have to go home you have to begin to listen like you've never listened before. Without judging just listen you need to talk.

You need to deal with these issues. Painful old Myers a painful, but in the end, when there is reconciliation and forgiveness. It is all worthwhile than some of you have some huge forgiveness issues, but all of us need God to show up and he is there if you're willing to pay the price of honesty and commitment. That's what marriage is begin their would you join me as we pray together and even as we pray together.

I'm reminded of the last line of this letter. Jesus paid it all, all to him I own sin is left a crimson stain he makes it white as snow.

Can you accept the fact that your first responsibility is to deal with God than after you've dealt with God to deal with the issues and we can't do that here. You need to go home. Need to draw a circle around the two of you. You need some long talks father, however imperfectly we have spoken today.

My heart cries out for marriages that are so painful, so hurtful old God. We pray that you might rescue them show up maybe at night, maybe during the day, but we ask father that you will come on a rescue. We thank you that no matter how dark it gets. You also throw us a rope of father do that in our lives, even as we sing together about your love in Jesus name, amen close this morning reflecting on how God loves us this. Some of the on today's Moody Church. Our Dr. Erwin lutes are spoke about what marriage is and isn't fourth in a 10 part series on fighting for your family.

Many families are living in the prison of debt unable to claw their way to financial freedom next week. Pastor Lutzer looks into first Timothy chapter 6 as he speaks on till debt do us part.

Our current series can be yours on CD is our thank you for a gift of any amount to The Moody Church. Our just call us at 1-800-215-5001. Let us know you'd like to support Dr. Luther's ministry.

When you call Vince in the series on fighting for your family.

Call 1-800-215-5001 or write to us at Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to that's join us next week for another Moody Church I work with Dr. Erwin lutes are in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago

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