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About this series
Backup Singers to the Duet of Marriage
Marriage - one man, one woman - is the foundation of cultures that thrive. Guest teacher, Doug Fields explains who the backup singers are. We call them Christians who live like Christians. You’ll hear three songs the backup singers need to be singing in order to support and encourage the covenant of marriage.More from this series
Let me ask you a question. What is the primary role of the backup singer? Somebody talk to me. [Congregation participation]
To back up. Thanks, not real, I’ve been warned about this service that you’re not the sharpest bunch. But, so, yeah, but what is the primary role of the backup singer? Somebody with a high school education go ahead and answer, with what? [Congregation participation]
To add flavor, to make it sound better. Uh, to back it up? Yeah! It’s really to make that main group come alive! And here’s what I love about this series is: Strong Families in a Broken world is I’m inviting you to become backup singers to the most important duet in our culture. And that is marriage. I’m inviting, I’m kind of on this crusade to get people of faith, people in the Church, people in God’s house – would you join me to become a backup singer to this duet called marriage?
And I’m convinced that when you change marriage, you change the Church. And when you change the Church, you change the community. And when you change the community, you can change the culture.
When your marriage isn’t good, it impacts all parts of your life. It impacts your faith. It impacts your parenting.
See, you can’t teach little Billy about grace when you don’t know how to give grace to little Billy’s dad, Mom. And dads, it’s impossible to teach your daughter about forgiveness when your heart bring grudges toward her mom.
See, at its core, marriage is really a discipleship issue. Because when the primary male and female relationship is struggling, nothing else is working.
I know that for many of you in here, your marriage is struggling right now. It’s not vibrant, it’s not alive, it’s not what God intends it to be.
So, let’s go to this idea of a backup singer. What if you became a backup singer to marriage? Now, some of you are single.
Don’t check out, because singles, about ninety percent of you will get married. And you need to know what we’re going to talk about. And those of you that are married, don’t check out! Okay? Because in our culture the percentages are not high that the marriage will last. And a lot of marriages that last don’t actually, they are more of a roommate, a roommate situation.
So when I talk about a backup singer, what am I asking you to do? Here’s what I’m asking you to do. First thing I’m asking you to sing this song that marriage needs to be honored by all. Marriage needs to be honored by all.
It’s something very simple that all of us can do is that you can actually begin speaking highly of marriage. That’s what I’m asking you to do here, to speak highly of marriage. There are just too many negative messages in today’s culture about marriage.
Now, I was at my church not too long ago, we have a little outside eating area, coffeeshop type thing and I’ve got my headphones in and I’m actually studying for a message prep and there’s these two ladies that go to our church sitting behind me and I was doing the spiritual thing, I was eavesdropping on their conversation, okay? Because I needed some material for my message. And one lady says to the next, says, “Oh, I know you have been through a lot this year. He will never change.” [Sound Effect]
We believe that Jesus died and rose again, that Jesus breathes new life into dead things so we actually believe as Christians that God can take a selfish, idiotic husband and change him. We also believe that God can change a nagging wife! A constant drip of a nagging wife. That you can be transformed, right? I mean, that’s what we believe in!
In the book of Hebrews, the author of Hebrews, it’s thirteen chapters long and in chapter 13, at least in my Bible anyway, the headline says this, “Concluding exhortations.” And what he’s saying is, okay, now we are moving to the end. I am going to land the plane. And I want to tell you what is most important. Listen to these biggies.
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” Pretty important. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” “Continue to remember those in prison. And if you were together with them in prison, and those who were being mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
And then he says this, “Marriage should be honored by all.” “Marriage should be honored by all. So you look at the context. He’s at the end of the book saying, “Okay, love one another, be hospitable, care for those who are suffering, follow God’s teachings.” And in the list of these biggies, “Honor marriage.”
See, that’s what a backup singer does. That he or she becomes a marriage advocate. You lift it up as God’s design. You promote marriage as good. You speak highly of it, as if it is a beautiful thing.
Honor really means to esteem it as highly valuable. Esteem it as highly valuable. Now, why is this an important point? Because currently, we have got the Millennial generation, who is scared of marriage. They are scared of marriage because what they have seen in older generations, what they have heard about marriage, and it’s sad.
And it’s designed to be great. I tell singles that all the time. Marriage is God’s design. God created sex! It was His idea.
What am I saying about honor? Marriage is right. It’s beautiful. It’s God’s design. It’s healthy. Date, fall in love. And then honor God with marriage. People aren’t getting married as much anymore.
Just a decade ago, the average age of marriage was twenty-two years old. Ten years later it’s twenty-eight years old. People just aren’t getting married. And you talk to people and you say, “Well, I’ve got to wait until I’m an adult.” Oh! Okay. And what is twenty-seven?
But then, and I understand those of you, it’s confusing. It’s confusing in our culture because an adult, you don’t know when you’re an adult. According to Bayer aspirin you’re an adult at what age? Twelve. That’s right. And in order to drive a car, you’re an adult at what age? Sixteen. That’s right. In order to vote, you’re an adult at eighteen. And to buy alcohol it’s twenty-one. And to rent a car it’s twenty-five. Right. And according to Delta Airlines, an adult ticket is age two. Alright?
So somewhere between two and twenty-five you are an adult. Now, I’m an adult when I’m financially independent. At which point none of us are adults, right? So, I understand it’s hard. So, here’s the deal. Whether you’re married or not, okay? What I’m asking you to do is to sing this song, that marriage needs to be honored by all. These are not the words of Doug Fields. I stole them right from the Bible. Okay? Hebrews chapter 13. Marriage needs to be honored by all.
Now, that’s about other people’s marriage. Let me pivot to your marriage. What does it look like for you to honor your spouse? I’m going to give you a way that is very, very simple. I recently read an article from the University of Georgia. And this article was published in a journal on – an academic journal – on human relationships.
Listen to this. After interviewing married couples on relationship satisfaction, covering everything from communication habits to finances, they found that the most consistent, significant predictor of happy marriages – ready for it? The most significant, consistent, significant predictor of happy marriages was whether one’s spouse expressed gratitude.
What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don’t last is not how often they argue, but how they treat each other on a daily basis. The study goes on to show the power of thank you. And suggested as small, practical ways couples can help strengthen their marriage.
Isn’t that amazing? The most significant, contributor to marriages that last is gratitude. You know how you can honor your spouse? By saying thank you. Isn’t that, you’re like, That’s not rocket science. I could probably even do that. Yes you can, spanky! You can! Okay? You can make that happen.
Now, I brought this article to my small group of men. And I was asking them, “What do you do to honor your wife?” And a guy, “Well, I go big on Valentine’s Day. And I always buy her a birthday gift.” Way to go. Okay? What about the other three hundred and sixty-three days of the year? Okay? That’s what it means to honor, to express, express gratitude with one another.
So, the first song. Marriage needs to be honored by all. You understand that one? You with me? We’ll go to the second song. The second song that I want you to sing is a powerful duet is, “Marriage needs to be enjoyed.”
See, God did not give you your spouse to beat you down and drain the life out of you, to make you more like Jesus. Alright? And there was a whole movement in the Christian space about: marriage is to sanctify you. Marriage is to make you holy. It’s not about making you happy. It’s about making you holy. Okay? Am I a deeper follower of Jesus because I’ve been married thirty-two years to Cathy Fields? Absolutely. Has it made me holier, a better man? Yes.
But marriage has also made me happier too. That I think there’s a balance between happy and holy. And in the book of Ecclesiastes, in the Old Testament, as we look at the wisdom literature, it talks about how to avoid a meaningless life and take advantage of living. Look at this verse. Ecclesiastes chapter 9. It says, “Go eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now what God favors what you do.”
Read the next five words with me. “Enjoy life with your wife.” “Enjoy life with your wife whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun.” Isn’t that a great verse? I love, I love God’s Word. I really do.
But, like, but that word “meaningless” – meaningless can actually be translated as fleeting. Fleeting. Meaning life is moving by. It’s going by so quickly, so enjoy time with your wife.
Men, you don’t have to choose between a wife or a life, that you can have both at the same time, you can enjoy life with your wife. God has given you a spouse. Not to grind the life out of you, but to help you live life, holy and happy.
If marriage needs to be enjoyed by all, how do you enjoy your marriage? Let me give you one practical tip that all social science points to and it’s this: date one another. Date one another. I mean, that’s what we do before we get married.
And then they get married, what happens? People get married, they’re like, “You know, we did all this stuff and then we get married, like…” And we miss it! Life gets in the way. We don’t enjoy each other as much. Now, you know, when you go out to a restaurant tonight and you look at couples, they’re sitting across from each other, looking at their phones, it’s like they are enduring one another, listening to each other chew their meal. I mean, that’s not life.
When Cathy and I, thirty-two years ago got pre-marital counseling before we got married, which is a great advice for anybody, I remember two things the marriage counselor said. First, he said, “Sex starts in the morning.” I was nineteen years old. I was like, “Awesome. I love that. I love that.” I was writing that. I don’t even need to write that down. I was a nineteen-year-old, starts in the morning, into the afternoon, I’ve heard about that. In into the evening, woo!
And then what he explained to me is, “No, it starts in the morning in how you treat her.” Which that wasn’t as exciting. But the second thing that he said, he says, “If you want to win in marriage, date your wife. Continue to do what you have done in the past.”
Why do we stop? I think most of us in here we don’t understand the power of dating or we say – people have all kinds of excuses, “I don’t have any ideas. I don’t know what to do.” Key word: Pinterest. Pinterest, alright? A lot of ideas on Pinterest, alright? Seriously. I’m kind of sad to admit that I know that. My wife caught me on the computer looking at Pinterest and you just Goog… you know put in “date ideas” and just thousands show up. It’s awesome. But what my marriage counselor said, thirty-two years ago,
just out of his gut, out of his intuition.
Now fast-forward today, there is all kinds of empirical evidence that dating leads to enjoyment. There’s the National Marriage Project out of the University of Virginia that suggests dating leads to increased marital satisfaction and suggested five benefits from the research.
One, dating keeps lines of communication open. Two, dating allows couples to shatter routines and get out of a rut. Three, dating models commitment to their children. Four, dating relieves stress. And five, dating rediscovers passion and sparks sexual intimacy.
Some of you just woke up. Alright. But without, here’s what happens in all marriages. Without an intentional plan to date, a marriage will begin to drift. And then other things get in the way. And when a marriage just gets one degree, two degrees off course, over a long period of time, that actually leads to a shipwreck. You want to enjoy your marriage? Then date one another.
As a matter of fact, these two fit hand in hand, because when I said, “Marriage needs to be honored,” it’s a lot easier to honor your marriage when you enjoy your marriage.