We all have an idea of what we think marriage will be like, but what if our expectations aren’t exactly realistic? In this message, we look at Ephesians 5 for an accurate depiction of what marriage is for and what it should be like.
How are we doing, Porch? Come on, baby. Come on, we're back. Fantasy series. We're making it happen. This Saturday… I'm in bed. We're sleeping in on Saturday. My phone rings at 7:20 a.m., and it's a buddy of mine. He has some daughters. I have two daughters. Our oldest daughters are the same age. I'm like, "What's he doing calling at 7:20 a.m. on a Saturday? Brother is sleeping." I answered the phone, and he's like, "Hey, here's what's going to happen." I'm like, "Okay. I'm listening."
He goes, "At 9:30 I'm going to pick you up in a Bentley Continental GT. We're going to drive to the Addison Airport. We're going to take a private jet to San Antonio. I have a limo waiting for us there, and we're going to take that to the River Walk. We're going to take our oldest daughters…" Same age. "…and we're going to eat lunch, then we'll take the limo back. I'm going to have you back home by 2:30 p.m." I'm like, "Dude, I thought I was watching soccer games today. Wow. I had no idea. I didn't know this was going to happen."
Just in case you were with us last week, we had a nice car on stage. Private jets are not normal for me. I can count on one finger the number of times I've been on a private jet. So we do this, and we go over to San Antonio, and then we go to the River Walk. We go to the Alamo. Remember the Alamo?
Then right across the street from the Alamo is this tourist trap. It's like Ripley's Believe It or Not! You guys have seen it. It's a world record museum something or other. There's this indoor roller coaster called Tomb Rider 3D (not Tomb Raider). So I'm like, "Let's do that." I'm up there. I'm buying tickets, but then our daughters are like, "Wait a minute. Hold on…" and they're looking inside. It's something where you get guns and shoot zombies or something.
"What's going to happen in there?" They're trying to peek in, and then one of them is like, "I'm not going on that unless I know what it's going to be like. I need to know what to expect." I'm going to pick up that story in a minute, but I start there because I think that's what's happening with marriage.
We're getting married later. We're getting married less. We're getting divorced more, and I think we're looking at how… I remember. Look, I'm married now. I get it. What do I know about singleness? You forget I was single. I remember standing out here looking like, "Okay. Do I want to do this? I don't know. Can I dip my toe in the water. Are we sure? Is it forever-ever, forever-ever-ever?" You look at it. You're like, "Well I don't know what to expect. Unless I know what to expect, I'm not going to move that direction."
It's interesting because I said, "Okay, hold on. Let me go talk to the guy. I'll talk to the roller-coaster guy. So I go up, and I'm like, "Mister Roller-Coaster Guy, can you tell me exactly what to expect? How fast does it go? Do things jump out at you? What exactly are we shooting at?" He rolls out the blueprint for the whole ride. He's like, "This is what's going to happen," and he tells me. So I sit them down. I'm like, "Here's what's going to happen," and they listened.
We got on it, and we go through the ride. It lasts about five minutes, just like he said it would. We get off, and they say, "That's nothing like we expected." I'm like, "Well that's confusing because I told you exactly what to expect." They're like, "Yeah you did, and it was all the things you said and nothing like we expected." I'm like, "So you don't trust me?"
Here's what I say to that. That's what it's been like to teach about marriage for 10 years. I've probably done over 20 weddings. My wife and I have sat down in my living room with over 20 couples. I said, "This is what you're going to. This is what it's going to be like. This is what God says about it. I know you think you're going to be exception…" Look at me. "…but you're not going to be the exception."
Then they get in it, and they call me in six months…they call me in five years…they call me later, and they say, "It's so different than we expected. It's exactly what you said it was but so different than what we expected." So I want to help you tonight. I'm going to tell you this evening what to expect in marriage (a biblical view of marriage). I'm going to be in Ephesians 5. The last part of that chapter there is all about marriage. I'm going to give you a picture of it.
We're in this Fantasy series talking about finding real love in a fake world. Here's what a fake world means. With social media telling you, "This is what marriage is like," with magazines with airbrushing, movies, and TV shows saying, "This is what marriage is like," and Tinder and dating apps saying, "This is how you're married," I'm going back to the one who invented marriage. He made it. It's his idea.
Why? Why would God, the Creator, come up with this idea of marriage? What was he doing? What was he thinking? What does he want from us? It's going to be different than you think, and as much as I'm able, I want to help you know what to expect so when you go in there and you bump up against these things, you're like, "Oh man. He prepared me for this. God was so gracious and kind that his Word prepared me for this."
So as we think about the fantasy marriage, when we think about finding the one (our soul mate), we think about love at first sight, we think about trying to live happily ever after, and we're looking for compatibility, I would tell you there is no compatibility between sinners. Guess what you are? You're a sinner.
I know you're like, "No, no, no, my boyfriend and I have great compatibility." Yeah, just like your last boyfriend. Great compatibility. Oh wow. I didn't mean to hurt you. I'm just saying… I know you think you're compatible today. Call me a couple of years into marriage and tell me how that compatibility… I liken it to oil and water. It doesn't mix.
These two substances will not mix together. When we get married, we try to mix it up. Everybody comes, and there's a white dress and cake, and they're like, "It looks like it's mixed. Those two go so well together…so beautiful…so well mixed together," but it doesn't stay that way. It slowly, over time…when all the "feels" go away…separates back to something that is not compatible. So you have to have something else working toward your favor in this.
I'm compassionate toward you. Girls, I know since you were 4 years old you've been reading the Disney stories. You were a Disney princess for Halloween. You've been looking for your happily-ever-after prince charming, someone who's going to bring the glass slipper that fits perfectly and take you off in a carriage forever and ever to his palace. I get that.
Guys, since the fifth grade you've been looking for someone to live out all your crazy sexual fantasies. And clean your room. I know that. I get it, man. I understand. I'm just telling you it's not like that. Those expectations are setting you up for major failure. I know that our expectations are off.
Every couple, when I do their wedding I have them take this PREPARE/ENRICH test. It's not pass or fail. It just shows us what to work on. I believe all of them have missed these questions, or at least most of them. It says, "My partner will meet all my needs for companionship." They say, "True." It's false. "My partner's interest in sex will be the same as mine." They say, "True." It's false.
This is a big one. Everyone has missed this. It says, "Nothing could cause us to question our love for one another." Can I tell you something? You're going to be questioning your love for one another before you get back from the honeymoon. That's the truth. You can't go in there with these rose-colored glasses because then you're going to be thinking, "Did I marry the wrong one? Is this really working? What did I do?" Then we have, "I believe I know everything there is to know about my partner." They said, "True." It's false.
As we moved through the series, we talked about what love really is. We talked about what to look for in a woman and what to look for in a man. Tonight we're talking about what you are actually looking for in marriage. If you want to be married, this is what I want you to know. I want you to be married. If you desire marriage, then I desire marriage for you. I want to help you get there. It's a good thing. I hope you desire marriage.
I'm going to show you tonight you have two options: marriage or singleness for the sake of the kingdom. There are no other options. You either want to be married or you want to serve Christ with your life with reckless abandon. With all that you can you want to leverage your singleness for him. We did a great message on singleness. You can go search for it (Singleness). I'd encourage you to on ThePorch.live or Watermark.org. It is there for your learning and for your consumption.
If you desire marriage, I want you to get married. That's what I hope happens. I hope this is a space-maker message. Not because I scare you off but because you get married and have babies and stop coming. I hope that's what God does tonight. So we're talking about fantasy marriage (what to expect), and as we move through Ephesians 5:21-33, we're going to talk about how to expect to sacrifice and submit, expect to be sanctified through service, and expect that it is all about your Savior. Not about you but all about your Savior. Let's dive in.
Verse 21. "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Do you want to picture a marriage? "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." We can't get one line into marriage without talking about Christ, about Jesus. "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
You can underline submit there. It's said a few times. We can't get away from this. You might be thinking, "The apostle Paul kind of went crazy here. That's not biblical. The Holy Spirit took his hands off the wheel, and that shouldn't be in the Bible." Except for it says in 1 Peter 3:1, "Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands…" and Colossians 3:18, "Wives, submit yourself to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." So it seems like God means this.
He's serious but let me bring some clarity to this because it doesn't say, "Women submit to men," and it doesn't say, "Women submit to sin," so if a man is asking you to sin, don't submit to him. That even rhymes for you. Do not submit to any man who's asking you sin. You submit to the Lord. It's not saying, "Submit to your boyfriend." If your boyfriend's coming at you quoting to you from Ephesians, I'd peace out on that. That's not what this is saying.
It's saying, "Wives, submit to your own husbands…" which you could say, "It's outdated," you could say, "Hey that's old school," or, "I've studied it in Greek. That's not really what it means." You'd be wrong. Now, let me show you something else though. Stay put. I see your scowls. Calm down, ladies.
Verse 25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…" If we were to say in a word what that's saying husbands should do, the best word that I can come up with is this word: sacrifice. Sacrificeyour life. Now, those are two really big asks. Wives submit to your husbands. That's a big ask. It's a tall order. I'll give you that all day.
Then it says, "Husbands, sacrifice your lives for your wives." That's a tall ask too. I might argue that's a bigger ask. Give up everything for her. I would tell you ladies, if he did that, submitting to his leadership wouldn't be any problem at all. So you want to say, "I do," to a guy you're confident is going to do that, that he is willing to sacrifice his life for you. In our fantasy ideas we think, "Find the one," or, "Find our soulmate," but…
1._ The mandates of marriage are sacrifice and submission._ We think the mandate of marriage is to find my soulmate and see the world, but the scripture says, "No, it's sacrifice and submission." Really, what Paul is doing here is he's nodding his head at a metaphor of marriage that it is all about Jesus.
We cannot talk about this text without understanding fully what that is, and it's going to be different than what you think. It's going to be bigger and grander and more amazing and credible and more important than you could've ever thought. In fact, Christ is our example when we think about submission. When we think about sacrifice, Jesus is what we look to to learn how to do that.
In Philippians 2 it says, "Jesus, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage. Instead, he considered himself nothing, became like a servant and sacrificed his life according to the Father's will." He gave up everything.
So what is the ask of you when you think about marriage? Give 100 percent and expect minimal in return, and let's just agree that is extremely difficult. How does anybody do that? As you're thinking about if they are someone you might spend the rest of your life with, I would ask you, "How did they submit to authority?"
Do they have a chip on their shoulder, like their way or the highway? Do they think they know it all? Does pride mark them or are they ready to come under an authority? I'm talking men and women. We can't forget it says, "Submit to each other." This is a two way street out of your reverence for Christ. Submit to each other.
How do they do that? This is an important idea to think through when you're considering who you might spend the rest of your life with. What I would tell you is to stop looking for "the one." You're not looking for "the one." You're looking for someone who has submitted their life to The One. I know we're looking for a soulmate (someone perfect for us). You find someone and you let God make them "the one." There is no "one." You have to understand this. There's not a "one." That's a bad idea. It's a bad theology.
I've taught this through the years. There are a lot of dating messages on our app. You can go back and listen to all of them. To try and say this in a new way, let me just say it's mathematically impossible. There are 66 million more men in the world than women. That's a huge number. Ladies, I just heard your heart break. That's a depressing stat. I get it.
It's going to be okay though, because you're not looking for just anyone. You're not looking for "the one." You're looking for the one who's already submitted his life to The One, who knows Christ, and is living for Christ…not a soulmate, but a sole-mate…one mate, a singular mate. That's who you're trying to find in this idea.
The good news is there are all kinds of people who you can make that work with. In fact, I want you to know that whoever you marry there will be someone better suited for you than them out there in the world. You need to know that. So that's like hitting the pressure-release valve. Take a deep breath. "I don't have to find the perfect person. I just have to find someone who knows The One who is perfect and is pursuing them and who is going to make the perfect person."
This is good news, right? You say, "Well how do I train for that [sacrifice and submission]?" Have roommates. I encourage all my single friends. Have roommates. I'd get the dysfunctional kind if I were you. That will help you with marriage. Get the ones who don't do the dishes. That will help you and prepare you for marriage. If you're here and you're thinking, "I just don't know if I'm up for…"
If you think I'm kidding, by the way, I'm not. I've been saying that for 10 years now. I stand by it. People have come back and thanked me for that. If you live alone, I wouldn't. If you're like, "Well, I just like to live alone," you're going to hate marriage because there's someone always there right beside you, like a shadow. So I would get roommates. That's great training. I would serve. I would look for opportunities to put your own selfish desires aside and to think about how you can sacrifice your desires for somebody else.
If you don't want to be married, if you're here and you're like, "Well I don't want to be married," I want to present that option to you one more time. The other option the Scripture gives you is in Matthew 19, which is to be single for the sake of the kingdom. It's not to sow your wild oats, to see the world, or to see how many shots you can take before you pass out.
That's being single in the wrong way, and it's dishonoring to the one who created you and gave you a purpose. You're living outside your purpose, and it's going to leave you despairing. It's going to leave you really sad and depressed. I don't want that for you. You can be single so you can go and take the gospel as many places as possible and build the kingdom or you can get married. If you're single, live radically sold out for Jesus. That's really your only option. Live for the one who created you.
I would tell you in this idea of sacrifice and submission… I can do anything in a moment. I can write a love song. I can write poetry and tell you how beautiful you are. I can even take out the trash for a minute, but to do that every single day of my life, over and over and over, that's what you're trying to find out. Are they up for that? Are they consistent? Are they sustaining? This is how God loves us. It's in a sustainable, constant, ongoing forever kind of way, and marriage is a metaphor showing the world his love. So that's how we love each other in marriage.
My wife and I disagree on a lot of things, the challenges in marriage. One of those things through the years that's been a big point of contention has been pets, so we haven't had any. I think they're pets, and she thinks they're people. So we have avoided that. Then I'm reading Ephesians 5. I'm supposed to love her as Christ loved the church. I'm like, "I think that means get a dog." So I did. In addition to that, I was motivated because my daughter was like, "I just want a puppy, Daddy. I want a puppy."
So we got a puppy, and I even let her inside. I know. That's because that's what Jesus would do. I tell my daughter Finley, who loves this puppy so much and wanted her so much, "You never have to wonder if I love you. If you ever ask for a second if Daddy really loves you, you just look at that puppy, because that is me laying my life down for you."
It's like God says to you, "You don't ever have to wonder if I love you." We wonder sometimes. When things get hard, we start to question, "God, do you really love me?" I think that breaks his heart. You don't ever have to wonder if God loves you. It's like he's saying to you, "If you ever wonder if I love you, just look at the cross. That's where I allowed my Son to die on behalf of you, to purchase you to myself, so that I could spend forever with you. I paid the ultimate price."
So you think about how permanent that is that you've been sealed by his Holy Spirit. He gave up what was most precious to him to display his love for you forever. Verse 26, talking about Christ in the church, says, "…to make her holy…" To make her holy or to make holy is the word sanctification. That's a Christian word. Sanctification just means to make holy.
"…to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way…" So he's talking about Christ in the church, and then he goes, "…husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body."
So he's saying marriage and Jesus and the church and marriage and Jesus, wives and husbands, Jesus and the church, wives and husbands, Jesus and the church. He's going back and forth, weaving it together, giving you a clue. "Hey, there's something more to marriage than you think there is. Stop listening to Cosmo or Esquire or E! or MTV or The Bachelor because there's something more to marriage than you think. It's bigger than you think."
When he says, "…cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…" he's not talking about baptism. He's talking about how the Word of God purifies us. Maybe you think it's pointless to move through the Bible, but it's not pointless because the Holy Spirit is doing something through the Word of God. He's cleansing you.
One of the ways I need to lead my family is to make sure we are on the regular getting into the Word of God. So if you're here and you're asking if you're marriage material, I have one really simple quiz question for you: Did you spend time in God's Word today? We're you cleansed by the washing as though through the Word of God today? Did that happen? And yesterday and tomorrow?
That's just a simple step you can take to prepare you for whatever is next and for this day. Don't let a day go by. Not in the form of legalism but in the form of adoration and worship. Spend time in God's word. You're like, "But it doesn't make sense and I daydream. You don't get it. It's those big words." Hey, it's okay. Just read the words. Get a commentary. Take your time. Go one verse at a time. There have never been more resources in the history of the world than right now to help you. You have the Internet. It's amazing.
The fantasy for us is we want to live happily ever after and have our own little play partner or our own little live-in handyman to fix things. I think girls think marriage is one long conversation and one never-ending, "Me too. Let me tell you about my day…really my life." Guys think it's like one big sexual escapade. There's some blend of both. But…
2._ The mission of marriage is sanctification through service._ So it's not sex and a long conversation. It's sanctification through service. As I said, sanctification is a big theological word which means becoming holy. Bruno Mars says, "You're amazing just the way you are." What marriage really does and what sanctification means is change. It means the person you marry (surrender to the Holy Spirit) is becoming more like Christ and the Holy Spirit is making them more like Christ.
I want to be clear here. You don't marry them hoping they will change. I've seen a lot of people make that mistake. If they're a slob today, they're probably going to be a slob tomorrow. The Holy Spirit may leave that just the way it is. I'm not sure. That's true in my case, to be honest. Meaning, I'm a slob. Not my wife. She married a slob. Go look at my truck. She won't even get in my truck. If we go anywhere, and if she's going with me, she's like, "We're taking my car," because I'm a little messy. It's the part of my heart that the Holy Spirit hasn't done something with yet. Pray for me. Pray for her. It's going to happen.
Don't seek to change them, because God changes them. That's God's job. This was a breakthrough in my marriage. Two years into marriage we were headed toward divorce. It was not good. I was a complete mess, and not just a messy room. I was a train wreck. We were believers. We both had trusted in Christ. We were new believers, but we were believers (Christians).
I'm reading the Scripture, and I had this really simple revelation which was, "She has the Holy Spirit." Up until then, I had tried to make her who I wanted her to be. I jumped into this marriage, made a convenient with God, and now I'm going to make you into the wife I want you to be.
It looked a lot like parenting or child rearing. I realized as I'm reading the Scriptures (shame on me) that's not the job of a husband. She's not a child. She's a grown woman, and God is at work in her life. All I need to do is trust the Spirit. If there's something I disagree with…like she tells me something I may disagree with…I don't need to respond in such a way that's disrespectful or unloving or un-cherishing to her.
I can say, "God, is that you?" It might be, because he lives in her. So if my first step is, "That's ridiculous," I may be telling God, "You're ridiculous." So my first step needs to be, "Okay. I hear you. Let me take that under consideration." In the decades of our life and our marriage, the Lord will change her, making her more like Jesus. He's changing me, making me more like Jesus.
If he's changing both of us, making us more like Jesus then we're going to grow closer and closer and closer and closer. That's the truth. That's reality. I can trust God's work in her life, and she can trust God's work in my life. So what do you need to do? Especially as a single person, you need to grow a healthy appetite for service.
How do you move to a place where you actually enjoy serving? There's this idea repeated in this text. It says in verse 28, "Husbands, love your wives as you love your own body," and he says that over and over and over. You see that three times. He's like, "Care for her like you care for your own body."
What does that mean? When I'm hungry what do I do? That's right. I eat. You got it right. Let's try this one. One more. If I'm thirsty what do I do? That's right. I get something to drink. So now, I have this other person in my life who I am to care for, and so I'm to be sensitive and in tune to her needs and desires. So if she's thirsty, I get her something to drink. If she's hungry then I'm planning on where we're going to eat. I'm making provision in that way. I'm thinking about someone else other than myself all the time. That's marriage.
Let me give you a real-life example. We have this king-sized bed, and we have a knockoff Tempur-Pedic mattress (a foam mattress). I love when it's cool fall weather. I may be the only one. We have this thick comforter. I pull back the comforter. I roll into that bed, and I'm all snuggled up in there.
I'm about to go to sleep, and it's amazing what's about to go down. I'm going to pray and then go to sleep, and it's awesome. She gets in bed too. She's about to go sleep, and it's amazing. It's just so great to go to sleep. So my head is on my pillow, and I'm dozing off. I'm asleep. I'm there. I'm dreaming, and she goes, "Babe? Are you up?"
"Yeah. I am now, hon."
"That's interesting. Thank you for waking me up to tell me that. I'll pray for you."
No, man. I get my butt out of bed, and I turn up the heat. You know why? Because she's cold, and that's my problem…for the rest of my life. That's marriage. If you don't like to serve, you're not going to like marriage. If you don't want to change, you're not going to like marriage. Marriage is about service and sanctification. That's the mission. That's what happens in marriage.
Ladies, I tell that story up front because we've watched The Bachelor or The Bachelorette or whatever. We want the fantasy date, the crazy, the helicopters, and the… So I think there's a part of you that would love for some guy to show up in a Bentley Continental GT saying, "We're going to our private airplane. I planned a date somewhere. We're going to go sit in candlelight by the River Walk. I have a limo for us there."
I think there's a part of you that would love that experience because there's something about our generation that is chasing experiences. We want the next experience. Do you know why my daughter and I got to go on that trip? He had planned that as a great day date, but the night before his other daughter got the stomach bug, so his wife had to stay home cleaning up throw up all day. That's marriage.
Men, you think you want a trophy wife. You don't want a trophy wife. You want someone to go to war with you, because life is a war zone. That's what it's like. It's hard. Everywhere you go, there's crazy. You get home from work, and there's crazy waiting on you. There's stuff thrown on the wall and kids fighting and soccer games and practices to go to and somebody got in trouble at school and you have a parent-teacher conference. This is the real life. It's cool that she's hot, but that's not helpful.
You're looking for a partner, for a helper, someone to help you. Both of you. I'm talking to men and women right now. That's real life, and that's marriage. There are amazing girls all around you guys. Some of you men, I wish you'd wake up. It's confusing to me, men, that you want marriage, but you can't… If you want marriage, you have so much opportunity all around you. Take this step.
Can I tell you what I do when I say that? I discourage the ladies. I know that I do. I've done this long enough to know that I say things like, "Ask the godliest girl out. Find the godliest girl and ask her out." Then all the girls go home with insecurities. "Well, I guess I'm not godly because he didn't ask me out." I know it happens. I'm not a fool. Guys, stop making me look like a fool.
I'm at LAUNCH Retreat. It's our Labor Day retreat. I'm sitting between a guy and a girl. She's sharing some stories with me, and she's talking about moving overseas to serve there with the rest of her life. She like, "I don't think God has marriage for me because I feel this real calling in my life to this people group." This guy over here is like, "Well why don't you find a husband and then go overseas?" I think he had an ulterior motive in saying that. I'm sandwiched in the middle, just listening.
She's like, "Find a husband? Someone who God has already called to this place and to this people and to this tribe? To find a husband is hard enough as it is. To find someone with that unique calling…" Then she said this line. I wrote it down so I could share with you. I hope I never forget it. She looked at him, and she said, "I would much rather move away and serve than stay here and search." I just thought, "Ask her to marry you."
Verse 31, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is so interesting that it's here. This also shows up in Genesis. There's something crazy here. If you've ever heard about me talk about sex glue…I'm not going to go into detail right now because I have message after message after message where I talk about the scientific bonding that happens during sex.
Science has discovered it, and they're really finding out what was written thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago in the Scripture. God is saying, "Something unique happens when two bond in that way. There's a bonding. They become one flesh." This is crazy. How does that happen? It happens. It's real, and now science is saying, "Oh, and by the way, whenever you experience sex with someone there's a bonding that happens there that you try to undo when you look at pornography or when you have multiple partners."
You're carrying that prom date with you for the rest of your life in some ways. I told you it would separate. You see this? It's separated.You see that now, after it tried to be a two-become-one, both are a little more cloudy. There are particles of the water up here and particles of the oil down here. They're both a little cloudier because two attempted to become one, but they didn't stay that way.
He says, "This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church." I'm using this verse from Ephesians to explain to you about Jesus and his bride, the church. "However, each one of you must also love his wife as he loves himself…" Because he didn't beat that dead horse enough. "…and the wife must respect her husband." So let me say this with this verse.
There's a great book out there called Love & Respect. It's a fantastic book. I think we make everyone read it in their first year of marriage. I'll summarize the entire book: women want love, and men want respect. If you know that, that is a summary of that entire book, Love & Respect, and it comes straight from this verse.
I want you to know this idea of sex, this idea of bonding, is something for you to consider that God has done something unique to our bodies to help us in marriage. In fact, Tim Chester in Closing the Window said, "You can no more 'try out sex' than you can 'try out' birth. The very act [of sex] produces a new reality that cannot be undone." I think that we think the mystery of marriage, our fantasy, is we get to get with someone and try out all kinds of crazy stuff for the rest of our lives…experiences…when the mystery of marriage is not about you at all.
3. The mystery of marriage is it showcases the Savior. The fantasy is it's all about your happiness and it's all about, "Hey, how I can experience joy?" but it's not about you at all. It's not about you just finding someone to pick up after you or to experience things with or change a lightbulb. It's this reality that you get to showcase Jesus.
Listen, if you were Satan (if you were God's enemy) and you knew God had placed this really powerful metaphor on the earth to showcase his majesty to the world called marriage, what would you do with it? You'd make it undoable? You know what you would do with it? You'd make it all about the people, all about the cake, all about the dress, and all about the location.
We took the one thing that was an opportunity to display to the world God's majesty, and we completely caked it in narcissism and made it all about us and our emotions in a moment, and most of them don't last. Even some of the ones that do last aren't happy, sleeping in separate rooms, throwing stuff against the wall, hating each other, dysfunctional, and separating. You have to figure out what it really is.
Just consider that God in his might, sovereignty, and grace loves you so much that he has you here tonight to consider this one thing. What if marriage is all about Jesus? What if it's all about teaching you something more about Jesus or to display to the world something about Jesus? Now you can learn things in singleness. You can learn about the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ. I've taught that. Go listen to that, but I'm talking about marriage right now. What if marriage is all about teaching us about Jesus?
When this was written what would happen…I've said this before. I love this idea. It fills my heart. I can't say it enough…is when a young Jewish boy, a young Hebrew boy, became age to find a wife, he would leave his father's home and he would go to a foreign land in search of a bride. He would look among God's people. He was trying to find the tribes that worshiped the one true God. He would select a wife from there.
When he would find her, they would toast, they would pour wine in one cup, they would both drink from that cup together, and he would pay a dowry to her father. He would purchase her to himself. He would pay a high price. Then he would leave her, and he would go home. They're now betrothed. They're engaged, if you will.
He would go home to his father's house, and he would begin to build a room for them on his father's house. His father's estate was one day going to be his estate, so he would build what was called the bridal chamber: the room attached to his father's house that they were going to live in. He would spend his time doing that. He's going to return for her at an hour and a time that she doesn't know.
She's busy making preparations for the wedding and choosing her bridesmaids. All these traditions, like a toast and bridesmaids, come from this idea. When he finishes the house, he goes to that foreign land to get her. He sends word in front of him, and they would blast trumpets, so it would go from one town to the next, "He's coming for you. He's coming for you. [They would say his name] is coming for you." Word would go in front of him and get to her.
"Oh he's coming," and she would scramble to get her bridesmaids ready, get the dress ready, and wait for him. He would come, and he would take her to his father's house. They would go in that room, and they would stay in there for seven days, and there was a party going on outside for seven days. #awkward. Now you see where we get the seven-day honeymoon, where it comes from. You see where these traditions come from.
That's not what I'm trying to tell you right now. Do you see, when Jesus says, "I'm going to my father's house to prepare a room for you," he's saying something so much more than what you think. He's saying, "You are my bride, the church. I've paid a dowry for you with my own blood. When I drink from this cup…"
Do you see the idea? This all existed way before your concept of marriage ever existed. When people talk about redefining marriage, we don't even know how to rightly define marriage and what it actually is. It's all about Jesus.
John Piper says it this way, "Marriage is temporary…" Not meaning that you can undo it with divorce, but that it doesn't exist in heaven to each other. Marriage is just a picture. "…and it will finally give way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along, Christ in the church—the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face to face."
Like when I've been gone for a while (overseas or on a trip), and I get home, and my wife greets me in the airport, I don't just keep staring at her picture. No, I throw the picture out, and I grab her, and I embrace her because I've got the real thing. Marriage is just preparing you for the real thing. It's all about Jesus, that's the truth.
Our pastor told my wife and me before we got married…he saw that we were a mess. While doing our premarital counseling, he said, "You have to stop pursuing each other and start pursuing Christ together." When he says stop pursuing each other he drew this picture of us just missing each other, like these arrows of us going after each other. It was manic highs and lows like I love you, I hate you, and then will you marry me? That's what it was like. So we're missing each other.
Then he drew this other picture. He said, "I want you to stop pursuing each other and start pursuing Christ together." It was this triangle. He says, "If you pursue Christ together, then for the rest of your life you're just going to grow closer and closer and closer and closer and closer." Do you know what I thought about that? You say, "Woo." You know what I thought? I thought, "That is so stupid. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."
It was so prophetic. It was so true. He spoke those words over us, and I look back on that, and it saved our marriage. It became a reality for us that as we pursue Christ together, we grow closer and closer. By the grace of God, we've been married 14 years now, and we're closer than we've ever been…both to each other and to Christ. That is a miracle. That is the work of God.
In summary, the mandates of marriage are sacrifice and submission, the mission of marriage is sanctification through service, and the mystery of marriage is it showcases the Savior. If you want to know what to expect in marriage, expect these things. I know you're looking at it, and you're scared. I know you're looking at it, and you're confused. I know you've seen others get hurt by it. I know you're carrying baggage.
Statistics say that in the 60s, 7 out of 10 people in their 20s were married, compared to just 2 out of 10 today. For the first time in history, the average American now spends more years single than married, and the divorce rate is about 50 percent. I know you're looking at this and some of you are like, "I've made tragic mistakes. I looked at porn last night." Maybe that's your story. Listen, that's been my story in the past. I've experienced healing. Let me tell you how.
Maybe it's the prom date or maybe it's the last relationship. You know you're carrying those hurts with you. You know you're not whole. You don't feel whole. You think, "I don't want to get married because I'm just going to mess somebody else up. You know what's interesting about this? Oil and water don't mix. Do you know the two primary ingredients in mayonnaise? Oil and water, which is confusing, because there is no amount of effort that can mix these two together.
It's impossible until you add something called an emulsifier. Science class. What an emulsifier does is it takes the molecules of the oil and the molecules of the water and it bonds them together. It allows them to be mixed. An emulsifier in mayonnaise is eggs. You add eggs, and the oil and the water mix in a way that they couldn't without the eggs.
I end with that to give you this hope from this Scripture. Jesus is the emulsifier in relationships. The only way two sinners can come together and be woven together and get along forever on this earth is to have the one who died for their sins enter into that relationship and be the focus of that relationship.
Am I saying that your atheist friends can't be happily married? I'm saying that your atheist friends can't even experience marriage, that what they have isn't really marriage, because marriage was created by God. He gets to define what it is and its purpose, and he says it is all about Jesus. So whatever someone would experience without Christ is a counterfeit version of marriage. It's not real, true intimacy as bonded through the Creator, Jesus.
If you want real marriage, then today, right now, put Christ at the center of everything you do because marriage and this life and you and every relationship you've ever had are all about Jesus. That's the truth. That's marriage.
Father, would you help us believe that. Would you help us to take you at your word, to trust what you say is true, and to live it out according to your will? Would you redefine these ideas in our hearts and minds that the world has placed there and that the Prince of the Air has placed there? Would you replace them with truths, with deep theologies, the mystery revealed, and understanding that you sent your only Son, Jesus to die for our sins. You raised him from the dead so we might have a relationship with you forever and ever and ever. In his name, amen.