God’s Purposes for Marriage

In an age when many young people choose to live together rather than actually “tie the knot,” the question is always raised, “why?” What is the point of marriage? Why is marriage such a big deal?

What are God’s Purposes for Marriage?

  1. The first reason that the Bible gives for the existence of marriage is simple: Adam was lonely and needed a helper (Genesis 2:18): This is the primary purpose of marriage—fellowship, companionship, and mutual help and comfort.
  2. Another purpose of marriage is to create a stable home in which children can grow and thrive: The best marriage is between two believers (2 Corinthians 6:14) who can produce godly children (Malachi 2:13-15). BTW, this Malachi passage shows how much God cares about marriage being kept intact. A good marriage between two godly people will mean that any children they have will tend to be godly as well.
  3. Marriage also protects individuals from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2): The world we live in is full of sexual images, innuendo, and temptation. Even if a person doesn’t pursue sexual sin, it pursues them, and it is very hard to escape it. Marriage provides a healthy place to express sexuality, without opening yourself up to the severe emotional (and many times physical) damage that is caused by casual, non-committed sexual relationships.
  4. Marriage is a vivid picture of the relationship between Christ and His church: The body of believers that make up the Church are collectively called bride of Christ. As Bridegroom, Jesus gave His life for His bride, “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26), and His selfless act provides an example for all husbands. At the Second Coming of Christ, the church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official “wedding ceremony” will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized (Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-2).

So, we see that God has a unique purpose for marriage. In the same way that Christ sacrificially gave Himself to the church, you and your mate should be willing to sacrifice your individual desires for the sake of your marriage covenant. Here is a brief summary of the purposes of marriage.

Partnership: God has given you each other as partners for life—true companionship grows when there is emotional, spiritual and physical unity. Malachi 2:14 emphasizes, “She is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.”

Parenting: God’s first scriptural command was for Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth with godly offspring. “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Oddly enough, this is the only command of God that mankind has not disobeyed.

Pleasure: The marriage relationship and your mate are God’s special gifts to you.  God is not a cosmic kill-joy. Sex is a good thing, face it, but God has some limitations on it for two reasons:

  1. To protect us: like from disease, death, reputation and heartache.
  2. To provide the best for us: like having no thoughts of previous encounters haunting, interrupting and comparing your experiences with your wife.

True enjoyment will grow out of self-control and a servant’s heart. Proverbs 5:18 says, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18).

This is information I discovered from June Hunt, the founder and CEO of Hope for the Heart.

[print_link] [email_link]

God’s Pattern for Marriage

I always want to pass on relevant information that I run across, and for the Men of Steel, it generally has to do with being the best husbands and fathers we can be. The following information is from June Hunt, the founder and CEO of Hope for the Heart:

Why do some marriages endure and others not? Why do some couples struggle and others not? What one factor makes the greatest difference and prevents so many marriages from failing? It’s the word covenant. The concept of covenant is a long, winding path that ends when “death do us part.” The marriage covenant is a couple’s lifetime commitment—a lifetime journey of love and loyalty. Jesus states it well: “They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

What is God’s Pattern for Marriage?

Marriage is a covenant agreement in which a man and a woman are legally and spiritually joined together as husband and wife. Genesis 2:24-25 establishes the four elements in God’s perfect order for marriage.

Separation: “a man will leave his father and mother”
Both the husband and wife leave the authority of their parents and become a separate family unit. In marriage, the loyalty to your parents should never be stronger than the loyalty to your spouse.

Bonding: “and be united to his wife”
By an act of your will, bonding is a mental commitment to have a faithful, permanent marriage relationship with your spouse regardless of difficulties.

Oneness: “they will become one flesh”
Physical oneness is the ultimate consummation of sexual closeness. For this sexual oneness to be continually mutually satisfying, look for ways to express unselfish love to each other. Openly ask, “What best communicates love to you?” and then take the time to enjoy one another.

Intimacy: “they felt no shame”
Emotional intimacy is encouraged when you seek to be vulnerable and transparent, honestly sharing with one another your feelings of frustration and failure, your deepest disappointments and desires.

Spiritual intimacy is achieved when you continue to reveal to one another your unmet needs, praying together, praying for each other and sharing what God is doing in your lives.

[print_link] [email_link]

The Future of Counseling

The traditional divisions in counseling have been:

  1. Remedial counseling: helping people to deal with existing problems of life.
  2. Preventative counseling: help to stop problems from getting worse or prevent them from occurring in the first place.
  3. Educative counseling: the counselor taking opportunities to teach principles of mental heath to larger groups

Recent studies indicate that the three should be reversed in the order of importance. This would take counseling to the people, rather than waiting for hurting people to come into an office. The focus is moved from individuals with problems to the community.

Counseling and Loneliness

Loneliness knows no class, race or age: it hits everyone periodically. This is the lack of meaningful contact with other people which is accompanied by sadness, discouragement, a sense of isolation, restlessness, anxiety and an intense desire to be wanted. Lonely people feel left out, unwanted or rejected, even when surrounded by others. I have sent missionaries to East Asia, where they were be in a city of 15 million people and suffered terribly from loneliness.

1. Emotional loneliness: The lack or loss of a psychologically intimate relationship with another person

2. Social loneliness: Feeling aimless, anxious or empty, even “out of it”

3. Existential loneliness: The sense of loneliness which comes from being separated from God and the person feels there is no meaning in life

The Bible and Loneliness:

1. Adam was alone and needed a helpmate

2. Adam and Eve were instructed to multiply the race

3. Adam and Eve broke fellowship with God in their sin

4. OT giants like Jacob, Moses, Job, Nehemiah, Elijah, Jeremiah and even David were lonely at times. Jesus was alone in the garden, John on the isle of Patmos, Paul in prison having been deserted by nearly everyone.

The Causes of Loneliness:

1. Social causes

  1. Technology: As government and business gets bigger, people feel less significant, smaller and not needed, and people do not develop deep satisfying relationships.
  2. Mobility: Moving around is much easier, which tears up relationship, separates families, eliminates neighborhoods or a community spirit, and people don’t risk getting close to others in fear of being hurt later.
  3. Urbanization: As people move into cities together, they really tend to withdraw from one another. There is a fear of strangers, and this leads to suspicion and withdrawal.
  4. Television: Television enhances separation both by program content and seems to promote superficiality. People view the tube and seldom engage in meaningful communication.

2. Developmental causes: Ellison mentions basic needs that must be met

  1. Attachment: People need to feel close bonds with other human beings, especially as children. Children separated from parents, divorce and even child abuse can all lead to loneliness.
  2. Acceptance: Parents communicate this to their children by touching, spending time with them, listening, disciplining, and showing affection. If children are ignored or excessively criticized they will feel worthless.
  3. Acquiring skills: We all know social misfits. They are often insensitive to the needs and attitudes of others, and they don’t know how to develop smooth interpersonal relationships. They might try to manipulate or force themselves on others which only brings more frustration and increased loneliness.

3. Psychological causes:

  1. Low self-esteem: This is the opinion we have for ourselves. If it is low we will underestimate our value and withdraw, or if it is too high we will exaggerate our value to the point of conceit. Low self-esteem will cause a person to be weak or shy, and there is a need to depend upon others. When others are not available there comes a sense of insecurity and deep loneliness.
  2. Inability to communicate: This is at the root of many if not all interpersonal problems. If one can’t communicate, there is a persistent loneliness that follows.
  3. Self-defeating attitudes: There is greater possibility for loneliness when there is intense competition, struggling for self-sufficiency, self-centeredness, criticism or intolerance for others, holding on to grudges, using other people to satisfy our own egos.
  4. Hostility: Some people are just innately angry. They seems to feel threatened, frustrated or resentful because of real or imagined injustice. This anger can turn to self-hatred, and into loneliness due to constant complaining and negative attitudes, which will drive people away from them.
  5. Fear: People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges, which keeps other people out. These can have a fear of intimacy, rejection, or fear of being hurt.

4. Situational causes: Being single, divorced, widowed, grieving, or elderly can be lonely. Those in leadership positions, students away from home, affluent people in a financial crisis, those with deformed bodies or diseases.

5. Spiritual causes: Free will allows us to rebel against the only avenue of salvation for individuals. Existential loneliness comes when we refuse to acknowledge and confess our sin.

The Effects of Loneliness:

1. Isolation: Often but not always.

2. Poor self-esteem: Feelings of worthlessness; failure in relationships or activities; discouragement and negative self-talk.

3. Hopelessness: This can lead to despair or even thoughts of suicide, feeling there is no way out.

4. Alcoholism and drug abuse: As a means of escape.

5. Violence: Some will express their frustrations in destructive ways

Counseling and Loneliness:

1. Admitting the problem: They might feel this admission of loneliness is the same as being a social misfit, unattractive, unable to relate to others.

2. Considering the causes: It is possible to work on the source of the problem and not just the symptoms.

3. Accepting what cannot be changed: Self-esteem can be changed, while a widow’s cannot bring back her husband.

  1. One must develop an inner life of positive interests, appreciation for what is good in life, and a sense of humor. It is more than positive thinking. It is a rejection of self-pity and a willingness to see the bright side.
  2. One must develop a lifestyle of keeping in touch. Involve yourself in play, creative activities and daily news which can keep one from a tendency to brood.
  3. One must develop a religious faith that can keep one in touch with the realities of life, seeing life in its wholeness. One will find meaning which can under-gird the individual.

4. Altering what can be changed: Watch less television, spend more time on family activities, get involved in useful church activities

  1. Developing self-esteem: People need help for them to see their strengths, abilities, gifts, and weaknesses. People spend a lifetime telling themselves that they don’t look good, are incompetent or are disliked by people. We compare ourselves with others which aids fuels our feelings of inferiority. Every person has value to God, is loved, can be forgiven, has gifts and abilities.
  2. Taking risks: It takes great courage to reach out to others, even if one has good self-esteem. It can be embarrassing or threatening.
  3. Learning skills: Many people are social cripples and need to learn basic skills of relationships.

5. Meeting the spiritual need: Jesus and me makes a majority, so why be lonely? Then one can be incorporated into the family, the body of Christ.

Preventing Loneliness:

  1. Recognize that as a believer you are adopted into the family of God.
  2. Get involved in a local body of believers or organization with whom you share beliefs.
  3. Find a mentor of someone to whom you will be accountable for growth goals and taking risks of getting out of your comfort zone.
  4. Identify and name your weaknesses, making sure to not put yourself in vulnerable positions.
  5. Rid yourself from isolating activities such as computer, television, gaming and work toward activities that force you to be in community with others.
  6. Discover your giftedness in serving others; it’s hard to be lonely when you are serving others. Visit the local homeless shelter and volunteer, there’s nothing like volunteering to put life back into perspective.

Counseling and Anxiety

Anxiety, stress, fear and tension all have different meanings yet are often used interchangeably to describe the most prevailing characteristics of human beings in this century. Rollo May called anxiety one of the most urgent problems of our day.

It is defined as inner feelings of apprehension, uneasiness, concern, worry or dread which is accompanied by heightened physical arousal. Classifications of anxiety are:

1. Acute: This comes quickly, is of high intensity, and has a short duration. If one is suddenly overwhelmed, it is usually acute.

2. Chronic: This is persistent and longer lasting, but the intensity is lower.

3. Normal: This comes when there is a real danger or situational threat. It can be recognized, managed and reduced, especially if the outward circumstances change.

4. Neurotic: This involves intense exaggerated feelings of helplessness and dread even when the danger is mild or nonexistent. It cannot be dealt with rationally because the source comes from subconscious inner conflicts.

Anxiety can vary in intensity as well: Moderate can be healthy and even desirable since it helps people avoid real dangers. High anxiety can shorten one’s attention span, make concentration difficult, adversely affect memory, hinder performance skills, interfere with problem solving, block communication, arouse panic, and even symptomatic paralysis or intense headaches.

The Bible and Anxiety:

1. Anxiety as fret or worry: (Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22), and we are told to avoid this type of worrying.

2. Anxiety in the form of realistic concern is not forbidden. To ignore danger is a foolish thing. (2 Corinthians 11:28, Philippians 2:20)

The Causes of Anxiety:

Sigmund Freud discusses human personality is terms of the id, ego and the superego:

  1. When he id recognizes a clear threat to the person, this is called realistic anxiety.
  2. When the id begins to get too powerful, so that it threatens to overwhelm the ego and cause the person to act with socially aggressive or sexually unacceptable behavior, this is neurotic anxiety.
  3. When the superego gets too powerful, so that the person is overwhelmed by guilt or shame, this is moral anxiety.

Anxiety Results from the Following:

1. Threat

  1. Danger: Crime, war, violent weather, unexplained illness
  2. Self-esteem: People like to look good and perform competently
  3. Separation: From significant others; or rejection
  4. Unconscious influence: Even those who reject Freud will accept that there can be certain underlying thoughts, emotions or experiences that will cause anxiety.

2. Conflict: faced with two of more pressures

  1. Approach-approach conflict: Conflict over the tendency to pursue two desirable but incompatible goals (two dinner invitations).
  2. Approach-avoidance conflict: Here is the desire both to do and to not do something. One might (grapple with a job offer with more pay and opportunity (approach), but it will bring a move and the inconvenience of a training program (avoidance).
  3. Avoidance-avoidance conflict: Here are two alternatives, both of which are unpleasant, like having pain versus having an operation to relieve the pain.

3. Fear: similar to anxiety, even though they are not identical. Fears can come in from a variety of situations. Different people are afraid of failure, the future, rejection, achieving success, intimacy, etc. These fears can build up into anxiety.

4. Unmet needs:

  1. Survival: need for continued existence
  2. Security: economic and social
  3. Sex: as an expression of love, as a sexual being
  4. Significance: to account for something, to be worthwhile
  5. Self-fulfillment: to achieve fulfilling goals
  6. Selfhood: a sense of identity

5. Individual differences: Some people are never anxious in the same anxiety producing situation for another person. Fears and phobias:

  1. Psychology: Most behavior is a result of experience or learned from parents or other significant persons. We will react as we have seen others react to similar situations.
  2. Personality: Some people are more fearful or high strung than others. Some are more sensitive, self-centered, hostile or insecure than others.
  3. Sociology: Political instability, mobility which disturbs our rootedness, shifting values, changing moral standards, religious beliefs can all cause anxiety.
  4. Physiology: The presence of disease can cause anxiety, as well as dietary imbalance, neurological malfunctioning and chemical factors.
  5. Theology: Some believers are so concerned about pleasing God that their theology cause them undo anxiety. This anxiety would then be considered a lack of faith.

The Effects of Anxiety:

1. Physical reactions: Ulcers, headaches, backaches, lack of sleep, butterflies, fatigue, loss of appetite, frequent urination, blood pressure, slow digestion, chemical changes in the blood.

2. Psychological reactions: Reduction in productivity, stifles creativity, hinders the capacity to relate to others, dulls the personality, interferes with the ability to think or remember.

3. Defensive reactions: Denial of the anxiety, blaming others for faults, rationalization, slipping into childish reactions, escape through alcohol or drugs, withdrawal into mental illness or bizarre behavior.

4. Spiritual reactions: It can drive us toward or away from God, lack of time for prayer, lack of concentration on reading the Bible, reduced interest in worship times, impatience with heaven’s seeming silence.

Counseling and Anxiety:

1. Recognize the counselor’s own anxieties: What is the situation that is making me anxious? What is it about this person that makes me anxious?

2. Demonstrate love: Love move towards others and shrinks fear, and is a demonstration of Christ (1 John 4:18, Hebrews 13:6).

3. Identify causes: One can’t simply show love and tell the client to get over their anxiety.

  1. Observation: Does he shift around, perspire or change breathing when a certain topic is discussed?
  2. Reflection: Can the client recall certain times when the anxiety is more overwhelming?
  3. Contemplation: Raise issues about the causes and get the client to dwell upon these to his own conclusion.

4. Encouraging action: The goal is not to eliminate the anxiety but to become aware of it and be able to cope with it. Help them to move through the situation rather than going around it.

5. Giving support: Anxious client get little help from impatient counselors. The helper must be calm, supportive and patient.

6. Encourage a Christian response:

  1. Rejoice (Philippians 4:4) in the midst of trouble
  2. Forbear (Philippians 4:5) graciousness in your spirit
  3. Pray (Philippians 4:6) about everything, details
  4. Think (Philippians 4:8) dwell on positive things
  5. Act (Philippians 4:9, James 1:22) put these into practice

Preventing Anxiety:

1. Trust in God: We know who holds the future

2. Learn to cope:

  1. Admit fears and insecurities when they arise
  2. Talk these over with someone else
  3. Build self-esteem
  4. Acknowledge that separation hurts
  5. Seek help from God
  6. Learn to communicate
  7. Learn some principles of relaxation
  8. Periodically evaluate your priorities, life goals and time management