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About this series
Experiencing God's Dream for Your Marriage
Would you like a fresh breeze to blow in your marriage? Do you long for a marriage where intimacy and communication are a reality instead of a dream? Experiencing God's Dream for Your Marriage is a topical series by Chip Ingram that examines God's design for marriage, with practical instruction to help you make your marriage what God desires it to be.More from this series
We are going to begin a journey together. And the journey is called Experiencing God’s Dream for Your Marriage. It’s not just that God has a dream. It’s about experiencing it.
Some people don’t have any idea how God designed marriage; other people have a very clear idea. But what they know about marriage in their head and what they’re experiencing in their heart and their relationship, it just doesn’t add up.
And one of the questions I’d like to start with, in this first session, we’re going to spend six sessions together, is why do our dreams about marriage so often end in nightmares?
When you look at this backdrop, here’s this couple, hand in hand, right? The ocean. They’ve got dreams. They’re on their honeymoon. Or, here’s this couple, it’s their wedding day right here. And she’s got her eyes closed, this big hunk of a man is saying, “I’ve been waiting for you my whole life.” And he’s going, “You’re so beautiful. You’re so wonderful. We’re never going to have any problems.” And, over here, they’re in those seasons of, you can tell they’ve been married for a while. They’ve just learned so much. I’ve got news for you. That’s not exactly how it’s working out there. I mean, we all have dreams. No one married someone thinking, This probably isn’t going to work out very well, right?
And so, God has a dream. And He plants it in our heart because we all have these things that we say: That’s what I want it to be like. And what I want to talk to you about is how you can experience God’s dream for your marriage.
I’ve learned there are seasons and God gives grace through each season. And there are things you got to work on, and until Jesus comes or you die, there are always going to be areas.
You’re never going to be fully satisfied. The idea that there’s this perfect person and perfect marriage and that you’re totally fulfilled and never have a problem is a lie from the pit of hell.
And as Francis Schaffer once said, “Sometimes the greatest deterrent to a very good marriage is believing that you ought to have a perfect one.”
And so, I want to encourage you to start looking at what you do have instead of complaining in your heart and in your mind about what you don’t have. And then go to work together to begin to experience what God wants to give you. So are you ready to dig in? Okay, let’s go for it.
You’ll notice there is a picture. And the picture is that equilateral triangle. It has God at the top, on one corner we have man, on the other corner we have woman. And then, you’ll notice there are arrows that go up toward God. God created marriage. And then you’ll notice there are arrows that go toward one another. This is the blueprint that God has for marriage.
He gives it to us in Genesis chapter 1. If you have your Bible with you, open to chapter 1 and I just want to read a few verses and then I want to just overlay that over this blueprint so you get a picture from God’s perspective.
As you open your Bibles, you remember that Genesis chapter 1 is like the wide-angle lens of creation. And God goes, Whoo. “Here it is.” And then after He gives us chapter 1, He doesn’t give us another story of creation, He takes that lens and says, Now, I gave you the big picture of what I have created. Now with the zoom-in lens, let Me tell you specifically how it happened.
So, you know the story. There was darkness and it hovered over the earth and God spoke and, “Let there be light,” and all of creation occurred. And then skip down to verse 26 when He gets at the pinnacle of creation.
He says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image.’” The idea of mankind. “According to Our likeness.” And then notice, there’s this dream. “‘Let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle in all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ And God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female He created them.
“And God blessed them and He said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves.”
And so, first of all, I just want you to see: God is the author of marriage. God has a plan. He has a blueprint. It’s not just haphazard, it’s not just hormones, it’s not just animal instinct. God has made us in His image – male and female – and He has a plan for us to come together. And He has a plan for us together to have purposes on the earth.
Now, skip over to chapter 2 because then He begins to describe specifically the reason and how it actually occurred.
In verse 18 we pick it up, “Then the Lord God said” – Adam has experienced creation and he’s been given a little job assignment and he’s been told about how he should work and in the wisdom of God, God wants him to name these animals and Adam is the smartest man who’s ever lived at this point. There’s never been sin, right?
And God has this little thing that happens and two of these animals go by and then two of those animals go by and two of those animals go by. Names them, names them, names them, names them.
And since he’s so very smart, he makes this deduction: two of them, two of them, two of them, two of them, two of them, two of them, one of me. Right? See, God wanted to create need. God wanted Adam to know that there’s something missing.
Pick it up in verse 18 where God tells us one of the primary purposes of marriage. “Then the Lord said, ‘It’s not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.’”
By the way, that word helper is not a low word. That’s not like a derogatory, second-class. This same word means a “ corresponding part.” And this Hebrew word, actually, is used of God in the Psalms of being the helper of His people.
So it’s about God doing something that will meet the deepest needs of man and by contrast, correspondingly, will meet the deepest needs of woman.
“And out of the ground the Lord brought forth every beast of the earth and bird of the sky. And he brought them to man to see what he would call them and whatever the man called them, the living creature was its name.
“And the man gave the names to the cattle and to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field. But for Adam there was not a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man and he slept. And he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. And the Lord God fashioned. And he took out the rib, closes it up, and the rib which he had taken from man and he created Eve and he brought her to the man.”
God brought the woman to the man. And then the man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. And she shall be called ‘woman’ because she was taken out of man.”
And as one Hebrew scholar said, it’s hard to translate this response but it’s kind of like, “Wow-ee!” So it’s kind of hard to get that through. This is not like he’s, this woman comes and he has had this experience and he’s living in this perfect environment and the woman comes. And this is not like Adam going, “[Yawn] Oh man, that was a pretty good nap. It felt pretty good. Oh, hi, who are you? Not bad.”
This is not – it was like “Whoa! Whoa, ho, ho ho! Thank you!” I mean it was like something kinetic inside of him said, “Tchoo, tchoo, tchoo, tchoo, tchoo. Oh wow.”
He was now experiencing what he observed with the animals but at levels beyond anything they could. Because he’s made in the image of God. He has a mind, a will, and emotions. He can feel; he can think and create.
And then notice, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were unashamed.”
Notice, first and foremost, that God created man and He created woman first for Himself. And that’s the arrow. So, He creates the equilateral triangle. God created marriage. Okay? Second, those lines go toward one another. God desired a special relationship. In the middle of your triangle write the word “oneness,” write the word “oneness,” and underneath of it, write Genesis 2:24.
It is the pivotal passage in all of the Bible concerning marriage. It happens here. Jesus will quote it in Matthew 5; Matthew 19. The apostle Paul will quote it when he talks about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. This will be quoted later when he talks about: even when a man comes and connects to a prostitute in 1 Corinthians. This is going to be the core passage on marriage. God’s desire is for oneness.
Here’s all I want you to know. The whole world is going to tell you there’s someone out there and they look different or they have this or they own that or they’ll provide that. God says: I created marriage and I made you for oneness. But the route to oneness is not out there. The route to oneness isn’t even here. The route to oneness first starts with Me. And the greatest thing you’ll ever do in your marriage is walk with God.
See, what you need in your marriage is the ability – are you ready for this? To not need your mate. See, if I demand, Theresa, come through for me. Theresa, come through for me. I put all this pressure on her. When you put pressure on people what do they do? They feel overwhelmed. They know they’re inadequate and so they run away.
And so, God says, What I want you to know is you need to find your sufficiency in me so you can be a giver in the relationship and when you’re a giver in the relationship that person responds. And you have this growing closer, closer, closer.
And notice in what areas: notice, spiritually first.
God wants us to have this unconditional love. This isn’t ooey-gooey love. This isn’t Hollywood love. This isn’t romance novel love. This isn’t feeling love. God’s first priority is that you’re fellow worshippers.
Agape love – God’s plan is you are fellow worshippers. First and foremost, as a man and a woman, you come before God together and you worship Him in spirit and in truth. And that is why praying together has such a powerful impact in a marriage.
Then, God has made you, not only we are in His image, right? Spiritual beings: body, soul, and spirit. Your soul is your mind, will, and emotions. And that’s Phileo love. That’s the the Greek word for “best friends.”
He wants you to have fun. He wants you to enjoy one another. He wants that person that you live with not to be just someone who cooks over here or who you go to activities over here, or you’re both juggling jobs and having kids.
He wants you to be fellow worshippers and he wants you to be best friends. See, that’s oneness of spirit, oneness of soul. And, by the way, He wants you to be passionate lovers. That’s oneness of body. That’s eros love.
And by the way, for some of you in your backgrounds, one out of four ladies in the United States has been sexually abused. I hope that statistic is absolutely wrong, but I don’t have any reason not to believe it.
There are an awful lot of Christians that when this idea of eros or sex comes up, they divorce it from all the rest.
This is how God created us. He created us to have spiritual unity: fellow worshippers. He created us to have soul unity: best friends. And, He created us to have physical unity to be passionate lovers.
Now, here’s the deal. All three of those things go together or they don’t go together. Let me give you that again because some of you are thinking, “I think I got that.” No, you sort of got it.
All three of those things go together or they don’t go together. And if we interviewed all the women, this isn’t true. There’s a wide variety between men and women, but if we interviewed all the women, statistically; and all the men, statistically; the men would come out on: “What I need more in my marriage is a lot more eros.”
And the average woman would say, “What I need a lot more in my marriage is a lot more spiritual leadership and best-friendness.”
And so, what we tend to do is play the game where: when I start getting this, I’ll start giving that. When you start giving this, I’ll start giving you that.” And it’s kind of like the classic stand-off.
This is God’s blueprint. His dream and design for you and for me is that we would be one. One of body. One of soul. One of spirit. Do you get it?
Now, let’s look at His game plan. How does it work? How do you get there? How in the world can you become one spiritually, emotionally, physically? This is God’s game plan or the process.
Verse 24 says, “For this cause, a man shall leave his father and his mother, shall cleave to his wife, and shall become one flesh.”
I want you to circle the word “leave” in your notes. I want you to circle the word “cleave” in your notes, and I want you to circle the phrase “become one flesh.”
Notice the first phrase is: “for this cause.” It’s a response to God. It’s obedience. And all I want to say here is that marriage is God’s idea, and marriage and living together are not the same thing. Marriage is a volitional, legal, public, and spiritual commitment to another person. And living together is not the same thing. Notice now then, he says, “A man shall leave his father and a mother.” The first is a response to God. We say marriage, it’s God’s way, let’s do it God’s way.
Our response to parents is independence. There has to be an emotional and financial detachment from parents.
There’s no lack of respect. They’re still your mother and your father. You honor them. But the relationship changes.
And by the way, many a marriage does not work because emotional and financial detachment hasn’t occurred. You’ve got to break the former in order to connect with the new.
Because if you don’t leave financially, there’s always strings and manipulation. And if you don’t leave emotionally, then your heart isn’t free to connect with your mate.
And she said, “I was married about six months and it was going really well. And then we had our first knockdown, drag out, up all night, vein popping, eyes bulging, screaming at one another: ‘I can’t believe I married you! I can’t believe I married you!’ We started talking about our heritage and our parents and our backgrounds and I was in tears. And he slammed the door. And finally, in my nightgown, I got in my nightgown and my robe, I got in my car and I drove to my mother’s”
She tells the story, it’s great.
And, she says, “It’s like six a.m. It was about a forty-five minute drive and the whole drive, just tears flowing down my face and how did I marry this guy? It’s the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. It’s the biggest fight. I can’t believe it.”
And she goes, “I rang the doorbell. I know my mom’s an early riser and then I knock on it and where is she?”
And you’ve got to picture this. She said, “It was one of those doors where they have the little curtains where you can pull the curtains and see who it is?” And so she says, “She heard the knock and she pulled the curtains and she looked at me. Then she put them back.”
And she said, “‘Mom! Mom! Open the door!’ Then she pulled the curtains almost like, I want to make sure it’s my daughter and looked again. And then she opens the door but she put her foot in it. And she leaned out, she said, ‘Honey? Did you have a fight with your husband?’ Yes! And you can’t believe what a…”
She said, “Honey, go home and make it right.” And she shut the door and locked it and went upstairs.
And that lady said, “My mom gave me the greatest gift in the first six months of our marriage we ever received.”
Because, see, when you get wounded and you get hurt, it’s easy to run back to mom or run back and to dad to make them your emotional base of how you resolve issues and hurts and pains and conflicts.
And so, there has got to be emotional and financial detachment. And I would say to some of you that are a little bit older and you have, like I have, I have grown kids that are married, be careful with your money. Don’t help them too much.
When you look back on your life, you think of – those, you talk to people who have been married twenty-five, thirty-five years, “Boy, those early years, they were tough. They were difficult, but that’s what made us.” And so, what do you want to do?
You want to relieve all that pressure from – “Oh, here’s a house. We’ll give you the down payment for this. We’ll take care of this. Oh, your car is broken? We’ll repair it.”
And you have parents now, because we’re more affluent than ever before coming in and solving problems for their kids that were God-given and designed for them to learn to trust and come together.
Does that mean you never help? Absolutely not. It means when you give there’s no strings and you be very careful what you give and how much. Because if you create any dependency or you put a block between them and their mate, you destroy.
Second, He says, after leaving, “And shall cleave to his wife.” That’s a strong word. This is an idea, in the old days when I was a kid, in fact, I found it in the hardware store still, it’s called epoxy. Have you seen it? And it’s the little tube that has an orange cap and then the little tube that has a blue cap.
And if you really want to glue something is you get a little piece of cardboard and you pour a little of the blue and a little of the orange and then you take a toothpick and you stir it around. And then this chemical bonding occurs that you basically realize you got thirty seconds to get it on that stuff it or it hardens. And then it gets on your finger and it’s there for thirty years. Right? That’s this word!
This is you leave and then you bond. You cleave. Where? Every level. It is an intermeshing of one another at a deep, deep level physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
It’s your souls connected. You leave and you cleave. And the implications of cleaving is, our response to our spouse: My allegiance and loyalty to them and them first. Not the kids, not the job, not our parents. It’s recognition of my need for my spouse. “I need you.”
Sometimes we never just verbalize that. “I need you.”
And it can be the man or it can be the woman but some of us that work so hard and try so hard, we never let the person know: I need you.
See, that’s what it means to cleave. It’s us in focus and it requires a death blow to the self.
For me to cleave to you, then I’ve got to give up some of that: my way. My time. My opinions. And I’ve got to ask what’s best for us. What do we do.