Marriage 911 - One important fact about marriage – it’s hard!
Robyn Beal / I’ve always been told that an “expert” is defined as “someone who carries a brief case and travels more than 50 miles.” Do you know any experts? Maybe an expert plumber? An expert golfer – Rory McIlroy is pretty good I hearJ An expert cook? An “expert” is defined as “somebody with a great deal of knowledge, skill, training, or experience in a particular field or activity - the highest rank of marksmanship.”[i] As in expert shooter! Now I don’t need an expert cutting my lawn, but I would appreciate an expert surgeon cutting on my body! An expert pilot wouldn’t be too bad either! Do you think there are any experts when it comes to marriage? I mean is there anyone who could say – “I’ve got this marriage thing down!” Let’s see if Ray Romano who plays Ray Barone on the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond has any words of marital wisdom. (Raymond on marriage clip[ii]) In a bazaar kind of way, I thought Ray did pretty well here, but then there’s Frank! Talk about one cranky guy! What do you think Frank’s going to say about marriage? Most likely, it’s NOT going to be good! Look at what the Apostle Paul has to say about marriage! It doesn’t appear to be good either! Turn in your Bibles to 1st Corinthians 7:25! Do you need a Bible today - just raise your hand! Are you a guest today? Come down at the end of this service. I have a gift for you involving chocolate! Today is our third weekend for Marriage 911. If your marriage is really struggling it might be because you’ve fallen prey to Satan’s temptation to be selfish! Paul uses sex as an example but any form of selfishness will kill your marriage! OR – you’ve decided your own personal happiness is more important to you than obeying God’s commands. Paul says, “Be content in your current life situation! In verse 8 he addresses anyone who’s single by circumstance. If you are single – don’t wish you were married. In verse 10 he addresses anyone who’s married. If you are married – don’t wish you were divorced.” There are Biblical reasons to get a divorce – just not many! Now Paul addresses a third group of people. Those who are single by choice. Find verse 25! (Read 7:25-28) When I was in Jerusalem on my pilgrimage, we were traveling to the Garden of Gethsemane and this small billboard caught our group’s attention! Look what it says, “Excelence all the way through!” That is not a ringing endorsement. What’s the problem here? Excellence is misspelled. Did you catch what Paul said in verse 28? Let’s read it again! (vs. 28) Paul does not give a ringing endorsement concerning marriage. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. If you’re not married – it’s like, yikes, what am I doing here? And if you are married, it’s like yikes, marriage is hard! That fact alone – marriage is hard – brings great perspective. Say it with me folks, Marriage is hard! You might remember, I asked my wife Tricia, “Do I bless you?” And she answered, “Most days!” Which means some days are not good at all! Let’s be honest here. Sometimes being single is easier that being married! If you’re single you can drink straight from the milk carton. You can lick the side of the grape jelly jar, but if you’re married you better not get caughtJ I mean, you just can’t do that! You are not the only person in your family! It appears to me that the Apostle Paul believes there are more benefits in being single than in being married. I’m a little troubled by what Paul said in this 28th verse, so let’s look at it a little more closely. Go to verse 28 again! Honestly, is there any married couple in this room who would disagree with Paul? Marriage has its joys, but it also has its troubles! The word “troubles” here (an·ang·kay) can also mean “calamity or distress.”[iii] Literally “troubles” means “under pressure.”[iv] A single person can say, “I don’t have a care in the world.” But not so a married person! Marriage often involves conflicts, demands and adjustments that literally add pressure to your life!
I saw a t-shirt like this at the Polaris mall not long ago! Future Mrs. Bieber! Someone better warn that girl! Marriage isn’t worth it! Even if Justin is loaded! Is that what Paul’s saying to us? NO, he’s not! When I think of “troubles” I often think of the superficial. Truly being concerned more about our wants than our needs. If men would be real honest – some men only marry because they want sex. It’s not one reason for marriage – it’s their ONLY reason for marriage – so when sex is absent – they experience trouble! If women would be real honest – some women only marry because they are in love with the thought of being married. They don’t want to be alone or they want out of the house or they want kids – the thought of being a mother is exciting, but not the thought of being a wife! Because of this – they experience trouble! Please know - Paul is not bashing marriage here! How do we know that? Find verse 29a!
Paul writes this letter in A.D 54. Paul will die in A.D 68. My daughter has an app called “Days Until.” How many days until your birthday or Christmas. If Paul had that app he could count down the days until his death! Drop back to verse 26. What’s the crisis? Paul doesn’t tell us, but let’s try and put two and two together! The crisis must be “sexual immorality that plagues people living in Corinth!” Right? I mean c’mon - that’s verse 2 & verse 9. You know, it’s better to marry than to burn with passion. NOPE, that’s not the crisis! The crisis is persecution! Let’s finish verse 29! (29-31)
Our stay in this world is not going to be long! The oldest person in the world died last week. She was 115. The oldest person now is Bessie Cooper. She’s 114 and 299 days. Most don’t live that long. I had the opportunity to walk the streets of modern day Jerusalem. Can I ask you? Who has the advantage in Jerusalem today? A Jew or a Jewish Christian? The Jew. Now, who had the advantage in 1st century Greek god laden Corinth? A Greek who worshipped Aphrodite or a Greek who worshipped Jesus Christ? Of course – Aphrodite worshippers! Roman persecution will flourish in the late A.D 60’s, but it had already begun in A.D 54. Paul is not saying marriage is bad, but being married and being persecuted is REALLY bad! Which is more painful? If some maniac says to you, “I’m gonna hurt you?” OR some maniac says, “I’m gonna hurt your wife – your husband, your kids?” Verse 28 makes sense now! (28b)
Paul directly tells us that being single has its benefits. But he indirectly tells us marriage has its benefits. Paul offers two benefits, but the Bible presents a total of four! Give me a 1-2-3-4 on the back of your newsletter. Marriage Benefit #1: Pleasure! Find verse 2. The best sex is sex without guilt! No sneakin’ around – unless you have kids in the house. Marriage encourages physical pleasure. Years ago I took students to KCU and the speakers for that event were Tommy Oaks and Les Christie. Les Christie was talking about marriage and he read these two verses from Proverbs 5. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  A loving doe, a graceful deer-- may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Oh the looks on their faces was priceless! Is the Bible like rated R? Yes and the “R”: stands for reality! One benefit of marriage is pleasure! Marriage Benefit #2: Companionship! Turn to Genesis 1:27. Now 2:18, 20, 24. Do you remember the Raymond video? He made it sound so bad! When you wake up – she’s there. When you come home – she’s there. When you roll over – she’s there! The math in marriage seems to make no sense – two (companionship) equals one (unity)!
Marriage Benefit #3: Parental stability! Find Genesis 1:28. God’s first command to Adam and Eve was “have kids!” Remember Dads. The best way to show your kids love is to love their Mom! My kids get grossed out when I kiss their Mom. We do that on purpose now! It isn’t that a single Mom or Dad can’t raise their kids. Sure they can! It’s just not the best environment.
Marriage Benefit #4: Location (crucible) for life transformation! Do you want to know if your anger is under control? Get married! Do you want to know how you are doing with patience? Have kids! One of the best books I’ve ever read on marriage was Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Thomas asks, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” We just finished up another awesome week of VBS! (Picture/Mike & Natasha Nilsen!) The theme this year was Inside Out & Upside Down on Main Street! Five values were taught! Gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, grace and faithfulness! Can I ask you? Are those just for kids? Marriage points out your strengths and weaknesses. Am I grateful? (This is what I like about you!) Am I compassionate? Do I forgive or hold grudges? Do I give my spouse grace – give them more than they deserve? Am I faithful? Can I be trusted? My wife Tricia knows me. Physically, emotionally – spiritually. She knows my strengths and my weaknesses. I wouldn’t want it any other way! Tricia and I will be married 26 years in September. You may think our marriage is just perfect. It’s not! There have been times we both were one or two choices away from messing things up! You know why? Because marriage is hard! Marriage IS hard! I’ve never met this little boy. His name is Dennis. He lives in the Mushayamunda Village in Zimbabwe. Dereck sent us his picture telling us that we saved his life! We saved his life because WE gave money to provide malaria pills. Those pills saved Dennis’ life! I wish we could buy a pill for every hurting marriage, but there are no pills. If you want your marriage to be good, then live like God’s only Son! (Nick & Ashley Zarley)
[i] Encarta Dictionary, “Expert”
[iii] Logos Bible Software, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Troubles, 1st Cor. 7:28
[iv] John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1582