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Marriage: What to do When the Romance Fades
Scripture: Ephesians 5:21-33
Track 5 of 7 in the A Transforming Church . . . Produces Transforming Families series
Running time: 32 minutes, 03 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

At a wedding not long ago, the bride was showing a bit of nervousness. Wasn't sure she could actually get this job done. So at a last minute consultation with the preacher he met her back here in the foyer and said, "Now if your having trouble stay focused on one thing at a time. Just think to yourself, aisle. Aisle. Just get to the aisle. Once you get part way up the aisle look up here and think altar. Alter. That will get you at least most of the way there. When get almost there you will be able to see your groom. Just think to yourself him. Him. He said you ought to be able to get there doing that. Of course nobody knew that conversation except the preacher and the bride. All the audience heard as she walked was aisle, alter. him. I'll alter him.

One of our guests last week, I think thought was paying me a compliment, when he said I at least got one thing right. That Gail and I are naive about marriage. I thought if he heard that much, he at least got five minutes into the message, that wasn't too bad before I lost him. But he was also correct. What I said was I am really naive about marriage. Gail and I made a decision before we ever got engaged that the word divorce would not be part of our vocabulary. And he said that's na´ve. It takes two people committed to that before that matters. And he's right. If only one person in the party is willing to make that kind of commitment, then it doesn't really make any difference. Because the other person may well want to ignore that particular perspective and choose to go their own path. And I readily confess to you that were it not for a very good wife I would not be standing her having been married for nearly thirty-seven years. And I really am no expert when it comes to being a husband. I suppose if in fact I were even close I would have remembered that today was Mother's Day. Well, I don't mean I don't remember it for today - I mean that by the time today got here I had plenty of reminders that it was . Not from her. But from the world. I would have thought about that in planning this series of sermons and I could have just moved one sermon around and we could have done parenting today and we could have blessed all you mothers and we could have wished you a happy Mother's Day, and all those kinds of things. But being that I don't think far in advance I just stop here now to say Happy Mother's Day to all of you to whom that applies. May God bless you and I hope your kids treated you well. And husbands if your kids don't treat their mother well, then do something about it. I'm not sure what. But do something.

And since I'm not an expert, here's what I would like to do, I would like to simply talk to you about something the bible says about marriage. I want to come back to the text we looked at last week. Ephesians chapter five. If you happen to use the pew bible, I don't know how many of you do. But if you do its on page number 1159. In getting there I want to let you know that there are some assumptions that I come to this text with. And those are really significant assumptions.

I learned that also from a guest last week, who when he walked in looked at the screen. And what was on the screen at that particular moment was the text. And it starts out, "Wives submit to your husbands." And he automatically stopped listening. He read it. It doesn't hit his world view. And so he quit thinking altogether. Fortunately he came back long enough to hear some other things. Here are some assumptions. I always come at the text that the bible was reliable. You can trust it. Its not going to tell you something that isn't true. You may not like it. You may not agree with it. You may choose to not understand it. Or simply not understand it. But it still doesn't change the fact that the bible is a reliable word from God that is intended to be truthful. There is a second assumption that I come to that with. And that is that God is good. And therefore in giving us a reliable word God would never say in his word anything that wasn't good for us. Even when it runs contrary to everything that is in us. Even when it counter intuitive to everything we think. Or being taught. God is still good. And he is never going to ask for anything that is not healthy for us. I come with this assumption that the bible is consistent . And therefore when it teaches something. It will teach that something in balance with everything else that it teaches. So for example if you happen to read, as this particular guest did only the first line of the text. Wives submit to your husbands. Your going to miss the balancing teaching of the rest of the scripture. For example Galatians3:28 "There is neither male nor female. We are all one in Christ Jesus." It's not about salvation. It's not about creating any equality. It's simply about how God wired us up to function best. But with those assumptions I come to those texts in Ephesians chapter 5, we'll pick it up again verse 21 where he says submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. And that has to be the starting place for all of us. Mutual submission. Based on that mutual submission, he says there are some things that are true about marriage., husbands and wives. So he pulls that image of submission down into the text and says wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. His body of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also should the wife submit to her husbands in everything. Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. To make her holy. Cleansing her by the washing of us through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain wrinkle or any other blemish. But holy and blameless. In this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all no one ever hated his own body, but feeds and cares for it just as christ does the church. For we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united to his wife and the two will be come one flesh. This is a profound mystery. But I am talking about Christ and the church. However each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself. And the wife must respect her husband. I need for you to come with me back up in the text just a little bit. Because to understand this particular text you really have to see it in it's context which start back up earlier in the chapter. In fact let's pick it up in verse 15, be careful, in fact he says be very careful how you live not as unwise but as wise making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery , instead be filled with the spirit. In this rather dark and as he calls it evil world, there are a lot of conventional wisdom pieces available. All you got to do is pay attention to what is going on out there in the culture at any particular time and there's all kinds of advise being cast your direction about how to live your life effectively, happily and in ever other way. He says don't pay much attention to that but rather to listen to the will of the Lord. The will of the Lord is this keep on being filled with the spirit. It's a powerful statement. To live a spirit filled life is a process that get expressed in this particular text. What I'm trying to say to you , looking to the background is this, what we are going to talk about concerning marriage - applies to Christians that are filled with the spirit so god. I think the same principals will work for anyone. I'm not denying that what we are gonna talk about is work for anyone in or out of Christ, but for those whoa re in Christ who have the spirit of god living in them these things apply directly to you. Expectation is that you will do these things as an expression of your relationship with god through the empowering of his spirit this is the command in this text. It the imperative keep on being filled with the spirit what would that look like. He's now gonna add a whole bunch of verbs. They are gonna describe what it means to live a spirit filled life. Were only gonna talk a bout a very small part of that. But here are some of those verbs. If you take a look at verse 19 he will tell you we're suppose to speak to one another that's a word for encouraging, we are to be expressing encouragement through psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. One of the things that marks a spirit filled life that a person filled by the spirit is an encouraging person, they speak to other people with an encouraging ways. He says that we are to sing and to make music in our hearts to the lord. We are to be a worshiping people. That's an expressions of what it means to be spirit filled. The spirit automatically wants to get in to a experience of worship before god. He says that we are to give thanks to god the father for every thing in the name of our lord Jesus Christ. The mark a of a spirit filled person is to be thankful person under every circumstance to learn how to give thanks no matter what. And then he says submit to one another. The mark of spirit filled person is mutual submission. Were we treat each other with dignity and respect or we practice before one another , loving each other. And respecting each other. That in this Particular text you have a model to follow. It shows up at least four times in this text. And can not be missed for us to understand how we re to live out a Christian marriage. He says in verse number 23 that that the wife is to respond to the husband as Christ is in the church. Verse twenty four the model is As the church submits to Christ. Verse number twenty-five, . As Christ loved the church husbands love their wives. Verse 32, As Christ and the church model this mystery we suppose to turn around and pattern our as marriages after that. I think as Paul's way of saying you don't start on earth and move toward heaven, you start in heaven and move toward earth. And unfortunately we are not very good at that. We like to take a look around us and see what is going on down here and say that must be what God's like. unfortunately we usually manage mess that up. Because we are not very good pictures of what God is like. And so you hear people say I can't respect my husband because I had a lousy father. Ok. I buy that. That's true there are a lot of people that had lousy experience home. They have a hard time relating to another person because of what they saw or experienced from over them in family situation. The problem is your basing heaven on earth. don't do it that way. God's not like that man. He's nothing like that man. Start with God and work the other direction. God is person who never abuses, who never mistreat, who never ill uses. God is a God who's always kind and gracious and generous . God is a God who always does what's best for the other person. Start there and move this way. And then look at the people around you and say I'm sorry they just don't match up with God. Not the other way around. So Paul's encouragement is understand from a biblical perspective how God intends things and work that direction. So listen to this text. Think about a pattern that emerges in this particular text. Because it is in such absolute contrast with the way things work in the world. You and I live in a culture that says you feel first. Then after you feel something you choose to act on the feeling. And once you have acted on the feeling you will then reach some kind of conclusion about a relationship or another particular thing. And so people look at this text and they say you can't command love. How can he say husbands love your wives when love is not something you can command. Love is a feeling. Right? It was love at first sight. I fell in love. Or you sit in a counseling room with somebody and they look at you and say well you know I just don't know if I ever really loved that person. Their talking about a feeling. They say to you man, the romance is gone. We just don't feel anything any more. That is so American. We do it in worship, as much we do it in marriage. We walk out of worship and what do we ask? Do you like it? How that did that feel? I didn't feel like I was worshipping today. Sorry there gonna be a lot of days in your marriage where you may or may not feel anything. Or you may feel things, you shouldn't feel or don't want to feel. The biblical perspective is you start with the decision, you move to an action. And the feeling will follow. And so he says here's my word decide to except it. Now once you have made that decision that you are going to accept my word as true now love your husband. Respect your husband. Love your wife. Now you gotta action to perform. And the promise is you perform that action and the feelings will follow. They will develop, they'll grow. So you can love somebody without feeling anything. According to the bible. Because love is not a feeling. Love is a determined act on your part. How do you suppose the world got along before we westerners invented courtship? Did you ever ask yourself how we got this many people on our planet? When most cultures prior to the western world planned their marriage in advance and parents simply said I choose that one to marry that one. And they managed to get along just fine. They learned about each other, they procreated and the next thing you know we had more people. And they actually had a lower divorce than we do. Because understood that the feelings followed the actions not the other way around. So you could never end a relationship with somebody else in entirely had determined which by the way just , I will stop here for a second. As a father of daughters I would have much preferred that system. I just frankly admit I did not like the system of some young man walking up to me and saying can I have permission to marry your daughter. The answer to that is no. I don't care who you are. I already picked him out. He's right over there. Well any way these people seem to get along just fine. What they do is they work at building a relationship by genuinely entering into it with a commitment to act right toward each other and those feelings eventually develop. It's an amazing thing actually when you think about it. I want to quickly turn to a parallel story and I promise to do this quickly I want to back up to the story of Hosea. It my favorite old testament story. It's a prophet , if you are reading in the pew bibles its page 1159. It your finding it, it's the first of the minor prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Hosea is a remarkable story. About a man who married a woman who is a prostitute. By command. God said go do it so he did. The first child in the first chapter appears to maybe be his. It's hard tell. The other two children who are born in the first chapter are obviously not his children. She's been unfaithful, she's been playing the part of a prostitute . In fact by the time you get to chapter three she has totally left the marriage she is not even in the home any more. He is a single father of three. Trying to raise up these children in a way that would be a God honoring. And God comes to him in chapter three and he make this absolutely impossible demand. He says in chapter three "Go." Note what he says, "Show your love to your wife, again." Yeah, right! If I'm hosea, God and I are gonna have a long talk before we ever get past the comma in that sentence. You have got to be kidding. I have been around way too many people who have had other, have had their spouses commit adultery and infidelity to think that this is a simple little sentence that you just say to somebody. Hey your wife may have had children by somebody and she may have been a prostitute for along time and in fact you may not know for sure where it is she is. But you go find her and bring her home. "Go show love to your wife again even though she is loved by another and is adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the," there it is, did you hear it? The command is to love her. Not feel anything. Love her! How? As the Lord loves Israel. There's that model again, you see it? It is the same model. How does husband and wives relate in Ephesians chapter five as Christ relates to the church. How does Hosea relate to Gomer is a picture as God to Israel? The same way he relates to Israel in faithfulness and determination and commitment to love. Even though they turned to other gods. Even though they loved raisin cakes. Verse two "So I bought her." Man, do you hear it? Do you hear the determination? The decision God spoke and so he says so, so, I did it. So I did this. So I acted. I did exactly what God said I went and I bought her. I don't know exactly what this purchase price is but it sounds awfully like a slave price. I can't prove that. But I think that's what it is. And I think that what it is because after prostitute has been a prostitute for a while she starts not being very marketable. You know this glamour stuff you see on TV about what prostitutes look like? You ever walk a street where there are prostitutes? They don't look like that. I got accosted by one in Athens with my son-in-law. It was one of the funnies things that ever happened in my life. I am walking along down the street with my son-in-law. We walk past a women, she walks up to him and says, "Wants a woman?" He didn't respond so she tried it in German, she tried it in Greek, she tried it back in English. His eyes were this big around. He was red in the face. He was staring straight a head. I mean He was humping it down the road. He was in a hurry. Get me out of here. What have you done? I said you gonna tell Jill? Cause if your not, I am. Ha. Ha. Ha. Now don't misunderstand what I am about to say. She was not a thousand dollar hooker. I bet Gomer wasn't either. So he went down to the market place and bought her back. Why? Cause he loved her? Because he felt for her? I have no idea. But I know this he obeyed God. And he loved her. Just the same way God loves his people. That's the image that is being painted here. God's people have been unfaithful and God chooses to buy them back at the price of a slave. It's called thirty pieces of silver.

Do you hear the pattern? You decide to do what is right? You act upon that decision. You do what is right. And eventual the feelings will come. And if they don't , if they never arise. If you never feel what you think you ought to feel in your marriage, you will have still been faithful to what God called you to be in that relationship. Now at the risk of not saying any thing that will be practically helpful. Can I just give you very quickly two or three things that I think you can do. This from a imperfect husband who's wife is not in the room to counter any of this. Refuse to lie. And the lie is that divorce is good. Your friends will tell you that because they want you in the same boat they're in. Be realistic. Sit down some time and just make yourself a list of all the things it will cost you. If you divorce. I've done that. I've set down with a pen and paper and I've written down everything that it would cost me, if I give up my relationship with my wife. I have to tell you what the tally is really expensive. Three married daughters, a grandson who's lives will be shattered. My job. My life. My reputation. All the kids I've taught in college and have yelled at about marriage. All the sermons I have preached, lost. Because I couldn't live up to what I said. Write out what you appreciate about your spouse. You got into this relation for something. I mean there was something about that person that was attractive to you. Sit down and write those things out. And then on a daily basis go though that list and thank God for that character quality. If you only come up with one, start there. And on a daily basis just say thank you God for this. I guarantee you that after a little while you will begin to discover what those qualities were and you will become thankful for them again. But It will be because you choose to before you feel. Because you wont feel grateful the first time you say it. Do the right things, you know what most of us. By the way this is the reason I don't have a list of seventeen things, besides the fact that I don't have time. We already know more than we do now, so there is no sense to give you seventeen things do when you are not doing the first things on the list yet. Nor am I. you know once in a while I do get it right. Not very often. But once in a while. I decided one day here a year ago. This gives you some idea how bad this is. I mean it is Mother's Day and I haven't bought flowers yet. But a year ago I sent flowers to my wife at the coffee shop, for no reason. You can't not imagine how much trouble I got in. I don't mean from my wife. From those other guys in the room. I think of two in particular Joe and Doc , I mean they gave me trouble for a week. "Do you know what kind of trouble you caused us at our house. We don't bother to buy our wives flowers, you send them for no reason and now we're suppose to get our wives flowers." Yeah you should.

Get help. I'm not naive , honest I am not. I may be stupid but I'm not naive. I know marriage is hard. I know there are times when there are times when there is no alternatives . I know that . I Have advised divorced myself. Because I know that there is no alternatives. But I got to tell you what. You have to put that on the back burned. You have to shove that so far back on the shelf that it is the very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very last option. And we we've got stuff to help you. I just checked out one of the books that Steve got in to have in our resource center. I didn't get a chance to read much of it, but Emerson Eggerichs "Love and Respect" I know some of our people have taken this and have been blessed by the seminars he holds. Its about how to love your wives and respect your husbands. It's cheap. I don't now how we are selling them so cheap, we must be losing money on this thing. We'll order more. There are other things in here. We have a counselor on staff. We have friends we can take you to. We can get you matched up marriage mentor. Do you hear what I am saying? I'm not telling you that its always out of the question to get out of your marriage. What I am telling you that has to be the last option. That it's worth fighting for. It's worth whatever it takes. And that usually means swallowing our pride. And recognizing that this is not all somebody else's fault. Can you image just for one minute? Can you image where you would be today. If God would have looked down and said, "I give up on this." we wouldn't stand a chance. He didn't. he looked down and he saw unfaithful people like you and me and he said I will give it my best. And they called his name Jesus. And he sent his son to die so that we could be redeemed. So all of you who have struggled with this issue over the years, and maybe some of you who have been divorce will you allow me to say to you that I am not trying to make you feel guilt or shame or sorrow. That is not my point. Some things are water under the bridge and there is not a things we can do to change that and I don't want you to feel that. I want you to feel gods grace in your life. Uri want you to know that all that is actually the past and God is not gonna concern himself except to bring you healing. I'm concerned about those of us who are married today and those of us are thinking about getting married tomorrow. That we will make the right choices. And that we will model our life not after some human being or not after some failure that we have already been through. Not even after good marriages. Bit will model ourselves after the only one that really knows. And that is Christ. And his church. And here's what it takes for your marriage and for your relationship with Jesus you are going to have to give it all. You gotta give it all. Just like he did. He gave it all. You gotta give it all. Maybe your ready to do that. Maybe your ready to do that in your relationship with God. Your ready to give it all. Were gonna invite you to sing and if you need for us to help you in that journey, would you come. Maybe it is a rededication to your life, just to give it all. Maybe it is a statement I'm ready for the next step in my journey. But whatever you do. As you sing this let it reflect that decision to give your self completely. Let's stand.

[Transcribed by SC2]