By William C. Sexton
The permanency of the family relationship is well established scripturally and historically in secular realms. Man needs to recognize that such is for the good of all involved – himself, society, and the community – and is essential to the spiritual well being of people. God demands that we make our contribution toward maintaining that relationship permanently; each person will either make his positive contribution or he will contribute to the destruction of such and to his own ruin, unhappiness, and complete failure.
God has designed the permanency of the home and human needs demand it; but worldly wisdom threatens it. Worldly wisdom is opposed to God’s revelation, appeals to the man who is ignorant of God’s will or is rejecting it openly, and is threatening to undermine the relationship which is so instrumental in the process of equipping man for society, his own state of growth, and his eternal well being!
This article is designed to examine the divine origin of the family, the human needs supplied by it, and some problems associated with it in this, the twentieth century. When you have considered these thoughts, meditate on them; then, if you have some words to support or to offset them, we’d be glad to listen to them.
Divine Wisdom Designed It
God created us male and female, thus, He designed each so as to be a companion and to appreciate the companionship which is appropriate, (Gen. 1:26-27). After pointing to the inadequacy of man (Gen. 2:18 – “it is not good that the man should be alone”), He expressed His will and determination: “I will make him a help meet (suited) for him.” Taken from man’s side, God “brought her to him” so that he might know that he could have her (Gen. 2:22).
Adam recognized that she was “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh” (Gen. 2:23). He expressed the need to leave father and mother in order for the two to become “one flesh.” Such was a clear affirmation of God (cf. Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5).
Jesus expressed the heavenly design when He said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). So, it has always been God’s design for this relationship to be permanent! When a marriage ceases, before and without “death,” problems result in various ways, but most importantly with one’s spiritual status. We need to give a lot of attention to the various forces operating today to weaken the ties which hold this relationship together. They are many and to recognize them is the first step in combating them effectively.
Human Needs Demand It
Each person has needs which cannot be satisfied totally and completely in a constructive fashion outside this relationship (a man and a woman in union with God’s approval and blessings)!
Paul pointed to the needs of most people in speaking to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 7:1-5) that even in troubled times, it was needful for the average person, all who could not conduct themselves purely in the unmarried state, to take a mate in marriage. The woman needed, thus with God’s approval, a husband; likewise, the man needed and, with God’s approval, could have a wife. This bond was to sanction them to have “power” over each other – in that each was to give himself to his mate in the marriage. Neither had the right to withhold themselves from the mate; and when separation was to become necessary, such was to be done with the consent of the other and with the understanding that they were to return and, thus, be available to each other before Satan was to gain victory over them in their “incontinency,” – “lack of self-control.”
This passage, along with other passages on the same subject, points to the fact that there are human needs which cannot be met adequately for the betterment of each person involved outside the family relationship. That is a message that we need to receive, appreciate, and be governed by in all that we say and do. Many deny that affirmation; I would like to see evidence supporting their views. Nevertheless, we are confident that such can never be produced, when the total man and his eternal well being is rightly considered. We challenge each reader, to think on this, be convinced and act accordingly. Believe the message; live the message; teach the message!
Emotional needs of togetherness can be supplied in the family relationship between husband-wife, parents and children. We all have love-needs that can and are met only at home. Sexual needs – satisfaction of the sexual drive can be met productively only when a man and a woman in the sight of God and others commit themselves to each other for life, as husband and wife, declaring to keep themselves for each other and no other! Child rearing can be provided adequately only by a man and woman who have committed themselves to each other for life, who bring forth a child, and who provide for it as Christian parents, putting God first in their life (Mt. 6:33; 10:37-39; 1 Tim. 5:8; Eph. 6:1-4).
The permanency is seen as being essential when we see the nature of supplying those constant needs!
(1) Promiscuity in sexual relations is appealing to some people’s mind; however, such is not desirable for the constructive and stable citizen in the social order of the community. There is a need for love and real concern, which is not present in the out-of-wedlock relationships. Making the other person happy now and in the future, not injuring them or, making them sad is the objective of a real lover. He who is willing to act to satisfy the immediate lust impulse of self without commitment to the well being of another is not a worthy lover. Such a person is contributing to his own destruction and that of others! Beloved examine your motive, your course of action, to see its fruits for you and others, too. Be responsible, reasonable, and productive of good.
(2) Propagation of the members of the human race children – need the care that can be provided only by loving parents committed to contributing to the permanent relationship of the family. Monogamy – one male and one female committed to each other for life provides for harmonious, constructive, happy relations. When there is more than one mate on either side involved, jealousy, deprivation, and lack of support is inevitable. God knew what He was doing when He designed one male and one female for life as the ideal relationship.
Economics make it undesirable for anything other than monogamy; social needs require one-to-one, male and female arrangements. Psychological needs demand one man and one woman for a life of togetherness! Discipline of children and the adjustments of each person can be made adequately in this God-arranged relationship. Beloved, be convinced that God’s way is right and rejoices the heart of all who will understand and commit their lives to live thereby (cf. Psa. 19:8).
Worldly Wisdom Threatens It
Many do not want to admit that there is one way. Especially is this true of something that is handed them; if they can have a part in devising it, then they are more apt to contend for the rightness of it, manifesting something of man’s arrogance, his lack of humility!
God’s way is right, however (Jer. 10:23 1 Cor. 2:9-10) and the child of God sees the need to believe, affirm, and act in harmony with His revelation! God had man’s well being at heart when He regulated him. He is wise enough to see the end from the beginning and His love keeps Him from alternating and giving in to the impulses of man. The lack of restraint and the failure to accept responsibility for his deeds is ever injuring to man, rendering him unable to contribute to his own well being and to other’s, making him unsuitable for an eternity of happiness.
The fact that many divorces are taking place constantly cannot be denied by any observer. “What are the causes?” is a question that ought to be considered by all of us, so that we may not contribute to such injurious behavior and that we may assist others who are about to become involved in such. The causes seem to be many, and we do not profess to know all, but some seem to be evident to us. Therefore, we shall express our view, hoping that such may challenge some to act before it is too late.
(1) It appears to this observer, who has been married for 30 years, that one may very easily develop a romantic idealistic view of marriage that cannot possibly be achieved. When such expectations are not experienced, then they give up and begin a search for the “dream” elsewhere. One needs to be realistic in his expectation in this relationship. It is not going to produce a heaven without difficulties; no relationship will. Men, are still men with their weaknesses which, perhaps, were not observed before the marriage, due to a lack of constant association; likewise, women are still women, with some weaknesses, which very likely were not observed before the marriage. So, a more realistic view as to what can be expected might save some marriages.
(2) Lack of communication, a failure to learn early in the union to express in an acceptable manner dislikes, feelings, etc., contribute to the break up of many marriages. Men and women who say “I do” ought to begin immediately to express to each other likes and dislikes, so as to learn to communicate effectively early. Then, when real problems come, they can be dealt with. I find that when people wait till they come up against a big problem to try to communicate, they are unable to do so effectively. Beloved begin to communicate – speak and listen to a genuine response, meditate on it and then reason as to what is the message and the right way to react.
(3) A failure to be completely fair in allowing in the other what you want to be allowed for you is another cause of divorce. There has been, in so many places, a double standard in marriages; men were supposed to be interested in other women, notice their feminine qualities and speak in reference to them, but women were not allowed to do the same. The fact is that each need to recognize that they can be tempted by others and that both must be faithful to God, their mate, and to themselves. The marriage “bed” is honorable and must be kept undefiled (Heb. 13:4). “Whoremongers” are unfaithful to their mates and shall be condemned by God! Each person in the marriage bed is to seek the satisfaction of the other (1 Cor. 7:1-5) and he who fails to understand his duty to perform in this respect and tries to the best of his ability to do that is failing in a number of ways; he shall have to pay the cost. We feel that teachers are failing to point to the Lord’s will in this regard; the Holy Spirit caused Paul to record it, and God has persevered it for us. Should we not take note of it and present it to others, when we look around and see that such is not always observed and that such does contribute to the down-fall of some family relationships?
(4) A failure to continue learning how to achieve the maximum in pleasure for the sexual mate in intimate relations causes marital problems. We, as individuals, change; time has its effect on us so that we do not remain the same. It seems to be extremely important that each person in the marriage bed grows in awareness of the other person’s changes as well as the changes that are going on in himself. If the sexual experience is satisfying to both persons, other matters will be viewed from a different perspective; but if the sexual relations are unsatisfying, then other problems appear as mountains to be un-climbable.
(5) When certain problems arise, they need to be faced honestly and with determination to solve them scripturally and fairly, in the best interest of all persons involved, each esteeming others “better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3). Faith in God’s wisdom expressed in the perspective announced in Phil. 2:1-4 will render one potentially capable of handling most problems in this primary relationship. However, many seem to run off to meet with another before and without working out a solution to the immediate problem at home; in that situation, one is likely to look upon another person as being just what one needs. Consequently, new paths are opened which often lead to a break in the first relationship and enter into another only to find that there were hidden factors there also which had not been observed. Too late, however, the observation is made that one was foolish to break the first marriage.
Beloved, Satan, the opponent of mankind is ever active trying to cause us to fail in our permanent relationship, so he can set us adrift upon the sea of destruction (cf. 2 Cor. 2:11). What God has joined together, let us not be so bold to set apart, such is for our eternal well being and to act contrary to God’s will is to our eternal ruin (2 Thess. 1:7-10). Let us be “wise,” understanding what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17). We can. We should. Will we do it?
Truth Magazine XXIV: 14, pp. 233-235
April 3, 1980