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Let's Keep The Home Fires Burning #4


Intro: Columnist Mike Royko of the Chicage Tribune proposes the following warning be placed on every marriage license issued in the United States. "Warning: Use this at your own peril. The Census Bureau statistics say that using this license could be real dangerous to your future mental, physical, and financial health and could make you miserable for the rest of your life, if you live that long. It could lead to arguing, yelling, screaming, boozing, sulking, getting the old silent treatment, and a bunch of kids that are goofed up and making you feel guilty."

That is a gloomy outlook, but no one can honestly say that the institution of marriage is not in serious trouble. When one-half of all marriages end in divorce and when many young people are choosing to live together instead of get married, proves that marriage is not as honored as it used to be. When 85,500 children in this country are involved in divorce proceedings every month, something is dreadfully wrong. All of this is terribly sad, but some will say, "Well, that is just the way the world is. You can't expect the lost to live godly." In response to that let me remind you that the divorce rate among Christians is equal to that of the lost world. Even ministers are not exempt. The divorce rate among ministers of all Protestant denominations is nearly 20% and among Southern Baptists, the rate is 4%.

When we read statistics like these, it is an indication that something is terribly wrong! Why do our marriages fall into trouble? Why do they fail? Why do many husbands and wives share a home and a bed, yet live like total strangers? What can we do to save our marriages? Is there hope for the home? The answers to all of these questions lie right here in the Word of God! In this great chapter, Paul addresses the Christian home and the problems faced there. He gives some very practical advise, that if followed, will make a world of difference in the way we live and carry out this business of marriage. Over the course of the next 3 Sunday evenings, we will be looking at what Dr. Ken Trivette calls, "Paul's Domestic Theology." Tonight, we will begin our study of this chapter with God's Word To Married Couples. In these verses, you will find help for your home.


A. There Is An Awareness That Must Be Developed - Verse 5 clearly teaches us that the Christian home is an area of special attack by the Devil. The picture that is given is of a couple who are apart physically and sexually for an extended period of time. Paul is teaching us that such a time provides the Devil with an opportunity to bring temptation in that area. But, let's be honest, this isn't the only area where the marriage relationship is under attack. Satan knows that if he can get your marriage to fail, or if he can cause it to be weakened, then he has won a victory. He is always lurking nearby seeking an opportunity to tear your home apart. As Christians, we must be diligent in standing against his intrusions, 1 Pet. 5:8.

There are several ways in which Satan infiltrates our homes. Being wise to some of them can greatly enhance our chances of making our marriages last.

1. Attitudes - Becoming constantly critical of one's spouse is a sure sign that Satan is at work. Another attitude is that of being hateful. Having a smart mouth is also a problem area. These are attitudes where Satan will be allowed a foot in the door if we are not careful. When we allow these things to go unchecked, they produce resentment in the heart of our spouse and will come back to haunt us. We should take the Scriptural admonition to heart, Col. 4:6.

2. Actions - Often one spouse or the other will act in certain ways that can breed resentment. Among them are giving the other the old cold shoulder. Ignoring your spouse will cause a problem. Devoting too much time to hobbies, interests and friends will result in sore spots in the home. Taking each other for granted will open wounds that will be hard to heal.

3. There are a thousand little ways in which we can rub each other wrong. When these things happen, each partner must be willing to work together to see that the offensive behavior is stopped and that forgiveness and reconciliation are quickly brought about.

(Ill. Someone has listed 6 common myths about relationships that are helpful in this discussion. Some commonly accepted ideas about romance, love, and marriage are not only untrue, but they can also keep you from experiencing fulfillment in your marital relationship. The following six myths can overload your marriage with unrealistic expectations.

1. You should read my mind. Some husbands and wives fall into the trap of assuming that a loving spouse can figure out what you need even before you realize it yourself. They see this ability as a confirmation of the closeness of their relationship when, in fact, it can drive a wedge. Don't expect your mate to know what you need unless you tell him or her.

2. Intimacy and sex are the same. Physical and emotional intimacy should not be equated. Often a man who believes this myth will use sex to fulfill all his emotional needs. The more he focuses on the frequency of intercourse, the more his wife feels like a sex object. Such husbands "need to see sex as a response to closeness, not as a means to closeness."

3. I can treat you any way I want. Just because you love someone it doesn't mean you can verbally abuse them. When words and actions don't match up, the negative message is what comes through.

4. I have a right to fix you. Unrequested criticism, even if intended to be "constructive," is never appropriate. One of the biggest fears husbands and wives have is that as they grow closer their spouse will discover traits he or she doesn't like. If you start correcting your spouse, the natural reaction is either anger or defensiveness, or both.

5. Love is a feeling. Often couples will reach a point in their relationship where they don't "feel" in love anymore. The real issue, though, is not their emotional state. The question is whether they are behaving toward each other in loving ways. Couples need to be committed enough to keep doing loving things even when they don't feel like it. In time, the emotions will come back.

6. You have to tell all. There can be no true intimacy without honesty, but that doesn't mean revealing everything about yourself and knowing absolutely everything about your mate. In some cases, your spouse might not be ready to handle everything you could tell him or her. The guideline is to share only those things which help build the relationship.)

B. There Is An Allegiance That Must Be Developed - In this verse, Paul assumes that the married couple will spend time in spiritual pursuits together. That is, they should pray together and for one another. They should attend worship together. They must make their relationship with God the primary relationship in their lives. Both as individuals and as a couple, there must be spiritual unity and closeness. There is something very special about a husband and wife who are totally committed to the Lord and His will for their lives. Sadly, this often seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Before all other considerations, the married couple's relationship with the Lord must have primacy!

I. A Word Concerning Their Spiritual Relationship


(Ill. Years ago, I preached a sermon out of Proverbs 7 about the dangers of sexual promiscuity. A woman in the church was later asked what i had preached about that Sunday and she said, 'Can you believe, that preacher preached about sex?!" If someone were concerned about my frankness in the pulpit in the matter of sexuality, I would respond by reminding you that we live in a world that is filled with much disinformation about human sexuality, and that there is no more appropriate place that the House of God to look at what the Word says about this topic. After all, I'd rather you leave here a little red-faced, knowing the truth that to live your life having only heard the lies of the devil and as a result make mistakes that could easily be avoided. Therefore, we are going to look a the married couple's sexual relationship as discussed in the Bible.)

A. V. 1-2 A Word To The Waiting - Paul begins this great chapter by addressing the virtues of celibacy. The word "touch" in verse 1 does not refer to casual contact, it refers to a touch that "stimulates." His reference is to sexual stimulation. His argument is that people would be more fully devoted to the Lord without the added devotion to a mate, vrs. 32-33. However, he says that in an effort to avoid "fornication", or illicit sexual activity, a person should enter into a marriage relationship. This admonition reveals 2 very important principles that need to be addressed and understood by everyone who is not part of a marriage relationship.

1. Sexual Desires Are Not Evil - Every male and female possess sexual desires. They are not wrong, in fact they were placed there by God. It is helpful to understand that these desires are not wrong, as long as they are kept in their proper context.

2. Sexual Expression Outside The Marriage Relationship Is Evil - When sexual desires are followed through outside the marriage relationship, then the parties have entered into a sinful relationship. Plainly stated, any "touch" that simulates the sexual desires outside the confines of marriage is sinful. This refers not just to the act of sexual intercourse itself, but to any touching that fans the flames of sexual passion. This prohibition is not just for young people, but also for divorced people and for any situation where the partners are not married.

(Ill. Many would argue that this is just too difficult a command to keep. God never said it was easy, but the secret lies in not allowing yourself to be placed in a situation where sexual temptation becomes a reality. Another helpful consideration is to spend much time in prayer as an individual and with the one you love. After all, God will bless the sexual relationship when it is carried out within the marriage relationship as He has said, and He will judge it when it is not - Heb. 13:4. It all boils down to who you want to please, yourself, your lover or your God. By the way, I admire any couple who has the resolve to place God before their own fleshly lusts.)

B. V. 3-5 A Word To The Wedded - While sexual expression is absolutely forbidden outside the marriage relationship, it is commanded within the marriage relationship. God has ordained the marriage union as the only acceptable place where sexual needs are to be met. A careful examination of the word Paul used in this passage will go along way in helping us to understand what our duties are to our spouses. Before we begin, an understanding of why Paul would feel lead to write about such issues might be helpful.

(Ill. First, it appears that the Corinthians had written to Paul asking about these matters. He is merely answering their concerns. Secondly, in Corinth, as in other great cities of the time, sexual promiscuity was the normal way of life. Among the Greeks and the Romans, there was a marked lack of sexual discipline. In fact, many Greeks and Romans had several sexual partners. There were the consorts which were people of the same sex. There were concubines which were people of the opposite sex. Then, there was one's husband or wife. Even in many of the heathen temples sex was used in the worship process. In Corinth, for example, there were 1,500 temple prostitutes in the Temple of Diana. Worship was performed by having sexual intercourse with one of these prostitutes. Now, when these people became Christians, they had to overcome all of these longstanding social practices. They had to have their minds renewed and had to begin thinking God's way.)

With that in mind, we are ready to see what Paul says about his most special of human relationships.

1. V. 3 There Is A Debt - The term "due benevolence" carries the idea of a debt that is owned. That debt, as is indicated by the immediate context of the verses, is that of sexual fulfillment. All the Lord is telling us that each partner has the responsibility for meeting the physical needs of the other. By the way, "render" is a command, not an option.

(Ill. A note about the verb "render" is in order. This verb is in the Present Tense, implying continual action. That is, this is a debt that is never paid, the sexual relationship between the husband and the wife is to be an ongoing thing. It is in the Active Voice which implies that both partners are to be instrumental in seeing that the needs are met. It is in the Imperative Mood which means that it is a command and not an option.)

2. V. 4 There Is A Devotion - We are told that when a couple comes together in the marriage relationship, they each lose something. While each gains a spouse, they each lose the right to their own body. This does not mean that each becomes the other's slave to fulfill their whims and pleasures. What it teaches is that each places the other's sexual satisfaction ahead of their own. Each possesses a desire to fulfill the needs of the other and when this is accomplished, both find that they are fulfilled.

(Ill. I will say that while there is a command to both partners to be involved in the fulfillment of the other's needs, there must also be mutual respect. Neither should hold this verse of Scripture over the head of the other and expect them to always be at their disposal sexually. There will be time when this is not practical. There will be times when one or the other just isn't interested. This needs to be respected, but at the same time, both partners need to recognize the danger involved in long periods of sexual abstinence.)

3. V. 5 There Is A Demand - Here, couples are told not to "defraud ...the other." This word literally means to "deprive." As should be clearly evident by now, the sexual relationship within the marriage has been ordained by God to meet the physical needs of the marriage partners. Unfortunately, many people are guilty of withholding sex from their partner. Some do so out of spite, others do so in an effort to punish, some do it for other equally selfish reasons. But, whatever the reason, it is still a sin! When you withhold sex from your spouse you are committing 2 terrible errors. 1.) You are depriving your partner of his/her right as your mate. 2.) You are opening the door for satanic attack. We must be certain that we keep these fires of passion burning brightly in our marriages!

Many a neglected partner have found themselves ensnared in Satan's web because they yielded to temptation. They received the attention and affection they were denied at home somewhere else and sin was the result. Married couples need to remember that our marriage partners are never to be ignored, neglected or denied what is rightfully theirs. Warren W. Weirsbe puts is this way, "Sexual love is a beautiful tool to build with, not a weapon to fight with...to refuse each other is to commit robbery."

I. A Word Concerning Their Spiritual Relationship

II. A Word Concerning Their Sexual Relationship


(Ill. Lest you leave here with the wrong impression, marriage is far more than sex. Paul tells us about 2 areas of the marriage relationship that are often neglected, and as a result, cause the marriage to suffer. Notice 2 very special area of the marriage relationship that must be maintained if your's is to be a healthy relationship.)

A. V. 3 There Must Be Closeness - (Ill. Benevolence - Affection and good will) Too often, there is a lack of sincere affection between husbands and wives. This is needed more by the women than the men, but the more affection that is displayed, the closer the relationship will become. If we as married couples could learn the simple truth that it is the little things like holding hands, kissing, spending time alone together and just being kind to one another that tend to make all the difference in our relationships. God help us to work on being more intimate with one another.

B. V. 5 There Must Be Communication - (Ill. Consent - This word indicates the idea of two people reaching a decision together. To accomplish this, there must of necessity be 2 way communication.) It is sad that men and women often share the same home and the same bed, but they don't share themselves. There is no sense of unity, of singleness of purpose of being one flesh. This is a serious thing! We should never just assume that our mate knows how we feel! We must learn to communicate likes, dislikes, interests, wants, needs, love, etc. We must also learn to do this without being critical or without demanding change. If husbands and wives would simply learn to talk to one another about their needs, their fears, their worries, their lives, etc, it would go a long way toward solving much of the trouble in our homes. Why is it that w can talk to selected friends about things that we would never share with our spouses? The marriage relationship was never intended to be this way. God's ideal is for husbands and wives to be one flesh. God's ideal will only be realized when married couples learn to talk once again!

Conc: Dr. Ed Young, a long time Baptist Pastor says this, "The ideal marriage is not give and take. It is give and give." He is exactly right! If you want your marriage to fit into God's ideal for what a home should be, then it will require much giving on behalf of both parties. When a marriage is lived right, it is a thing of great beauty and tremendous blessing. It brings a fulfillment to life that cannot be duplicated. However, it takes work! It takes pray. It takes commitment! It takes people who are willing to place their own desires on the back burner and place the needs of their spouse ahead of their own. It takes people who are willing to live by God's standards instead of the standards of society. How is your marriage this evening?

Without a doubt, there are some couples who need to come to this altar together tonight and pray for one another. There are others whom God has spoken to this evening. You need to come and deal with those issues that God has brought to your mind tonight. Now is the time when this message must be dealt with. You can either face it right here, or will face God with it later. Which will it be?

Sermon By Alan Carr


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