This sermon was preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cherry Log, Georgia on February 19, 2012 by Dr. Paul Mims.
Ephesians 5:20-33In the comic strip Li’l Abner, Sadie Hawkins was the daughter of one of Dogpatch’s earliest settlers, Hekzebiah Hawkins. The “homeliest gal in all them hills”, she grew frantic waiting for suitors to come a-courtin’. When she reached the age of 35, still a spinster, her father was even more frantic—about Sadie living at home for the rest of her life. In desperation, he called together all the unmarried men of Dogpatch and declared it “Sadie Hawkins Day”. Specifically, a foot race was decreed, with Sadie in hot pursuit of the town’s eligible bachelors—and matrimony as the consequence.
“When ah fires [my gun], all o’ yo’ kin start a-runnin! When ah fires agin—after givin’ yo’ a fair start—Sadie starts a runnin’. Th’ one she ketches’ll be her husbin.” The town spinsters decided that this was such a good idea, they made Sadie Hawkins Day a mandatory yearly event, much to the chagrin of Dogpatch bachelors. In the satirical spirit that drove the strip, many sequences revolved around the dreaded Sadie Hawkins Day race. If a woman caught a bachelor and dragged him, kicking and screaming, across the finish line before sundown—by law he had to marry her!
Capp’s creation captured the imagination of young people, particularly in high schools and on college campuses. In 1939, only two years after its inauguration, a double-page spread in Life magazine proclaimed, “On Sadie Hawkins Day, Girls Chase Boys in 201 Colleges” and printed pictures from Texas Wesleyan. Capp originally created it as a comic plot device, but by the early 1940s the comic strip event had swept the nation and acquired a life of its own. By 1952, Sadie Hawkins Day was reportedly celebrated at 40,000 known venues. It became a day-long event observed in Canada and in the United States on the Saturday that follows November 9.
Outside the comic strip, the practical basis of Sadie Hawkins Day is one of simple gender role-reversal. Women and girls take the bold initiative by inviting the man or boy of their choice out on a date—almost unheard of before 1937—typically to a dance attended by other bachelors and their assertive dates. When Capp created the event, it wasn’t his intention to have it occur annually on a specific date because it inhibited his freewheeling plotting. However, due to its enormous popularity it became a fixture for February 29th. (Wickipedia)
The Sadie Hawkins approach is not the biblical way, but it does get the job done in some cases. So what is a biblical marriage that will last a lifetime? I want to give you four characteristics of a biblical marriage.
A BIBLICAL MARRIAGE IS WHEN YOU LET GOD SELECT THE SPOUSE FOR YOU.
This whole passage is about submission – The church submitting to Christ, the husband submitting to Christ, the wife submitting to her husband. So when a person submits his or her will to the Lord in the beginning of the process of looking for a spouse it places the whole matter in the context of God’s will. This was my experience when I was in the eleventh grade in high school. On a Sunday night in Baptist Training Union youth class, we had a program on Christian marriage. Our leader, Mrs. Romine, said, “Young people, do you realize that God has someone that he is preparing for you and he is preparing you for that person? I suggest that you begin to pray for that person every day just like you already know him or her.” I thought, “What a great Idea!” So all during my senior year in high school I prayed for her every day. I even went so far as to pray that I would meet her my first year in college. And you know what? I met her the first day I got to Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Of course, I went with my eyes open after praying for a whole year. But it wasn’t until November 9th that I got up enough courage to ask her for a date to go to the Saturday football game. And then on Valentine’s day I gave her my class ring and we have been going steady for fifty six years.
When Janice was sixteen her family lived at Clear Creek Mountain Preacher’s Bible School near Pineville, Kentucky. Her mother, Mildred Oaks, was secretary to Dr. Kelly who was President of the Academy. On a Sunday morning during a worship service, Janice was playing the piano for the service. As a sunbeam streamed through the window, she felt God speak to her spirit and say, “I am calling you to be a pastor’s wife.” Can you see how God was hearing a prayer in Quitman, Georgia and answering it in Pineville, Kentucky? She now says that I didn’t have a chance because when we started dating, it was leap year, Valentine’s day, “twerp” week, and Sadie Hawkins Day when the girls could ask the boys for dates. I passed her on campus between classes and she said, “I’m going to get you yet…and she did!”
A BIBLICAL MARRIAGE IS POSSIBLE WHEN BOTH ARE CHRISTIANS.
Beginning in the Old Testament, God taught that his people were not to intermarry with unbelievers. Speaking of pagan nations God said, “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” (Deuteronomy 7:3,4). The same is true of the New Testament. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 7:14).
People who take this lightly do so to their own peril. A biblical marriage is a spiritual union and this cannot be when one of the partners is an unbeliever in Christ. A spiritual union is the highest level of the marriage relationship. It gives the marriage couple the ability to love each other with all four of the biblical words for love. In Christ they can love each other with passion (eros), with satisfaction (stergo), with fondness and affection (phileo), and with sacrificial love (agape). The first three are all human abilities. The last one, agape, brings the spiritual dimension and allows the couple to love each other with a self-sacrificial love because this is how Christ loved them. Also, they are letting Christ love the spouse through them. To miss this last element is to forfeit much of the meaning of marriage.
A BIBLICAL MARRIAGE IS ONE IN WHICH THE HUSBAND IS HELD RESPONSIBLE BY GOD FOR THE WELFARE OF THE WIFE.
Marriage is God’s idea and is patterned after the relationship of Christ and the church. Christ is responsible to the Father for the church and its welfare and he is head of the church. The husband is responsible to God for the welfare of the wife. This is quite a radical idea from what was being practiced in Paul’s Day. In that day it was a man’s world. Among the Jews, a wife was often little more than chattel. The wife in household of a Greek man was not even permitted to eat her meals with him and she was confined to her own quarters. Paul’s teaching here shows the liberation of women and exalts them to the highest level of the then known world. She is now in the context of a Christian marriage to be loved supremely as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. As Christ is the priest to the church and cares for its deepest and specific needs, the husband is to do the same for his wife. He is responsible for both her spiritual and physical welfare. The husband is the priest in the home and is responsible for taking the lead in the spiritual development of the home. He is to lead in prayers and Bible reading in the home, and leading his wife and family to church on the Lord’s day.
The kind of love described here is a deliberate mind set in which the husband concerns himself with the well-being of his wife. It is a love that is different, but as strong as his love for his parents and Paul adds the Genesis design: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31).
A BIBLICAL MARRIAGE REQUIRES A WIFE TO RESPECT HER HUSBAND.
This whole concept of a biblical marriage Paul says, “…is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:32-33).
The requirement of the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it meets the deepest needs of the wife. The requirement of the wife to respect her husband meets the deepest needs of the husband. A wife wants to be loved. A husband wants to be respected.
What is the wife to respect about her husband? She is to respect his role as being the head of the house for that is what God is holding him responsible for. This does not mean that he is to be a ruler with an iron fist for Christ does not rule the church like that. It does mean that she is to respect his wisdom regarding his work, his diligence in finances, and his discipline in lifestyle. Her respect will aid him in reaching his full potential in all of these areas.
Of course, I am speaking in ideal terms. No husband is really perfect. . A marriage that will last a lifetime takes a lot of building and patience.
D.J. De Haan says, “Good marriages have a balance. The practical realities of daily living are enhanced by the joy and spontaneity of continually falling in love with each other.
Realism can help a husband to see that he is taking his wife for granted and is not being sensitive to her feelings. It can cause a wife to see that her critical comments are tearing down her husband’s self-respect.
Realism is not enough, however. Romance, often discarded after the wedding, keeps a marriage from growing dull. It can prevent the kind of situation depicted in the cartoon of an elderly couple sitting on the front porch of their home. The husband is saying, “Sometimes, Sarah, when I think of how much you mean to me, I can hardly keep from telling you so.”
Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 encourage a love between two people that reflects Christ’s self-sacrificing devotion to His church. In addition, it’s a love filled with kindness and tenderness.
Whether you’re dating or have been married half a year or half a century, Christ can help you balance your relationship with realism and romance. Keep drawing on His love and see what it does for your marriage.”
A study of 657 couples done of Psychology Today about marriage reveals the following:
– Ninety percent of American couples have had only one sexual partner since they were married (and it is not because they are afraid of AIDS).
– Four-fifths say they would marry the same person if they had to do it over again.
– Over 80 percent of all married men, regardless of age, say their wife is good-looking.
– Three-quarters of married people say their spouse is their best friend.
– Three-quarters of those questioned say divorce is “not at all likely.”
– Over 60 percent of American couples describe their marriage as “very happy.”
– The best predictor of whether or not a couple is happy together is joint prayer. The study found, for example, that couples from two-income families that pray together are less likely to consider divorce than single-income families that do not pray together.
– People who live together before marriage are less likely than those who did not cohabit to say their marriage is very happy. Those who have had premarital sex are also less prone to say their marriage is very happy. (Christianity Today).
Marriage is designed to be heaven on earth for those who will pay the price to build a marriage that will last a lifetime. Praise Be To His Name.