Ephesians 5:25-28      First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage

Rev. David Holwick   G                              Lies Christians Believe

First Baptist Church               (short sermon due to laymen testimonies)

Ledgewood, New Jersey                                    (not preached)

February 15, 2015

Ephesians 5:25-28


FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MARRIAGE?


[much of this material was incorporated into my March 8, 2015, sermon]


  I. Valentine's Days sometimes come with storms.

      A. We had a few inches last night that delayed our chili dinner.

          1) Other storms are more metaphorical.

          2) A local pastor asked me to pray for him this week.

             His wife has been very unhappy and wanted to end their

                marriage.

             He wanted to work it out but wasn't sure how to go about

                it.

             The text he was going to preach on two days later - the

                same one we read today: "Husbands, love your wives...."


      B. Sometimes it is hard to be a man.

          1) Relationships are difficult to establish and maintain.

          2) Our goal is to find our soulmate.

              a) It is an interesting concept.

              b) I guess it is someone who is a clone of us, only

                    prettier and with more understanding.

              c) Soulmates are not easy to find.

          3) One guy thought the solution was flowers.

              a) Yesterday I shelled out $120 for flowers, all by

                    internet.

              b) My step-mother and mother-in-law were delighted.

              c) I did not get flowers for Celeste - too dangerous:


                 A man from Houston, Texas ordered flowers and a

                    teddy bear.

                 They were sent to his girlfriend with the note:

                 "Just wanted to say that I love you and you mean

                    the world to me!"

                 How sweet.


                 The trouble is the flower company sent a thank you

                    response from the girlfriend to his home - where

                       his wife saw it.


                 When she saw the note she called the company and

                    said it must be a mistake.

                 They didn't purchase any flowers and certainly not

                    a teddy bear.

                 Then she asked them to fax her the receipt, which

                    gave her all the sordid details.


                 Now the husband is suing the flower company,

                    1-800-Flowers, for, get this, breach of contract.

                 He says that the flower company promised to keep the

                    transaction confidential and they failed to keep

                       their promise.

                 He is suing for one million dollars.


                 Apparently he values a florist's promise more highly

                    than his marital promise.

                                                          Sermon #64761


II. Society presents a strong message to us.

      A. You need to get married.

          1) For a successful marriage, first you have to fall in love.

              a) When you gaze at them, your heart is supposed to go

                    pitty-pat.

              b) And that feeling has to build and build and build -

                    or you are in big trouble.

          2) Old ditty from elementary school:


             "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes

                  [Jason] with a baby carriage."


             In elementary school, you never wanted them to insert

                your name in there.


      B. The Bible takes a different approach.

          1) Not everyone should be married.

              a) Singleness is a valued option.

          2) If you do get married, don't put all the emphasis on

                romantic love.

              a) Romantic love is based on fleeting feelings.

              b) Christian love is based on actions; that is the kind

                    of foundation that can last.

          3) How can we love better?


III. Affirm one another.

      A. Paul commands husbands to love their wives like Jesus loves.

          1) Jesus sacrificed himself for his church.

          2) The goal is to bring out the best in his followers:

              a) Holy.

              b) Clean.

              c) Radiant.

          3) They should be a better person because they're with you.


      B. Affirm the positive things in each other.

          1) And squelch the negative.

          2) Science proves it.


             The BBC reports that psychology John Gottman has done

                extensive research on the interaction of couples.

             He asks couples to discuss their most contentious

                issues and looks at how they communicate.

             He doesn't just listen - he also measures their blood

                pressure, skin conductivity, and the sentiments of

                   what is being said.

             By doing this he has come up with a mathematical

                algorithm, a formula.

             After he analyzes a couple, he can predict with 90%

                accuracy if they are likely to get divorced.


             How to not get divorced?

                Have a deep-seated positive view of your mate.

             When they do something that bothers you, dismiss it

                as being out of the ordinary - "She's just tired."

             If you hold on to negative beliefs, and reinforce them

                with bad behavior, you are headed for divorce court.


             Couples with the lowest negativity thresholds do the

                best - don't let the bad stuff pile up on you.

                                                                   #64760


             That's why the Bible wisely says, do not let the sun

                go down while you are still angry.   (Eph 4:25)


      C. Acknowledge that relationships are not JUST positive.

          1) The negatives will always be there, too.

          2) I like a Hallmark card a wife gave to her husband.

                The cover said, "I love you more today than yesterday."

                Inside it said, "Yesterday you really got on my nerves."

                                                                   #27674


IV. Be affectionate with one another.

      A. Christians have often had issues with sex.

          1) There is no denying this.

          2) But often we are criticized more than we deserve.

          3) Consider the Puritans, who get such a bad rap.


             The Puritans valued marriage considered a lack of affection

                to be a major sin.

             The book "Worldly Saints: The Puritans as they Really Are"

                gives an example:

             "When a New England wife complained first to her pastor,

                and then to the whole church, that her husband was

                   neglecting their sex life, the church proceeded to

                      excommunicate the man."

             Interesting:  a man kicked out of church for not having

                sex with his wife.

             That would have been a well-attended business meeting....

                                                            Sermon #19371


      B. It is important to show affection.

          1) Physical contact like hugs and kisses and holding hands

               reinforces our bonds with each other.

          2) The Bible itself says it should not be neglected.

          3) But also know that genuine affection must originate in

                the heart.

              a) Affection and sex should be just an outward way of

                    showing how we feel about them on the inside.


  V. Marriage can be forever.

      A. Popular culture loves this image.

          1) Nothing is greater than being loved ... into all eternity.

          2) But doesn't Jesus say death changes marriage?

              a) Yes, we become like the angels, who apparently don't

                    have spouses.

              b) It seems everyone in heaven is equally bound together,

                    stronger than any marriage on earth could be.

              c) This bothers some Christians, but it shouldn't.


      B. There is one thing in marriage that can be eternal.

          1) Jonathan Edwards is one of America's most famous religious

                leaders.

          2) He lived in the colonial period and was instrumental in

                starting the first Great Awakening, a revival that swept

                   across the country.

              a) That is when Evangelicals really got their start.

          3) Every great man has a great woman behind him.


               Jonathan's wife was 6 feet tall and stunning.

                  Sarah Edwards gave him 11 children.

               On one occasion when Sarah was away from the house to

                  attend a funeral, Jonathan wrote a letter to her:

               "Please come home.  Things are falling apart here."


              a) At the end of his life he became president of what

                    is now Princeton University, where he is buried.

              b) One of his last acts before he died was to send this

                    message to Sarah:


                 "Give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her

                    that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted

                       between us,

                  has been of such a nature as I trust is spiritual and

                    therefore will continue forever."

                                                                   #64638


          4) Spiritual love does last forever.

              a) Do your relationships have this?

              b) Its foundation is shown by God's love for us...



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SOURCES FOR ILLUSTRATIONS USED IN THIS SERMON:


Sermon #19371  Rekindle the Fire In Your Romance, Dr. Michael T. Powers,

            State Street United Methodist Church of Bowling Green, Kentucky;

            February 11, 2001.  <http://www.statestreetumc.org>


Sermon #64761  Stealing Hearts, Sarah Schra, New Hope Foursquare Church

           of Salem, Oregon, August 19, 2007.

           <http://wwwnewhopefoursquaresermons.blogspot.com/2007/08/first-comes-love-then-comes_19.html>


#27674  I Love You More, In Perspective, David Owen, New Yorker Magazine,

           Article: Card Tricks.


#64638  Famous Marriages Breathe Life For Couples, David Roach,

           Baptist Press, http://www.baptistpress.org, November 24, 2014.


#64760  The Mathematical Formula For Love, Hannah Fry, BBC News,

           February 8, 2015.  <http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31168242>


These and 35,000 others are part of the Kerux database that can be

downloaded, absolutely free, at http://www.holwick.com/database.html

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