You probably don’t think much about the foundation of your home, but I can guarantee you that if it wasn’t there, you’d be in a HEAP of trouble.
Foundations are essential – in marriage as well as in your home. Today we discuss THE foundation to marital health – UNITY.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE
Your marriage needs a solid foundation
‘We want to ask you a question as we get started today. What is a foundation and what is it used for?
We all know it’s that concrete thing that goes under a house or a building. But what is it used for? What is its purpose? We’ve got construction going on just out the window across in the neighborhood there and there’s a foundation sticking out of the ground. They’re building on it.
Foundations are that underlying stability for things — houses, buildings, bridges — all kinds of things have foundations and it is what provides stability at the bottom of the structure, so the structure can be strong and the structure doesn’t get shaken. Just compare building on a foundation to trying to build on sand and you can see how the foundation is an important thing.
We all need a solid foundation. Marriages especially.
Think about the world we live in. There are all kinds of philosophies about marriage and about what people are doing when they’re getting married. Many times it’s a flippant decision, as trivial as… they’re just partnering up to share expenses or to live together and make life easier. Regardless of what our culture does or says, God has established a clear foundation for marriage, and we can find this foundation described in Genesis chapter 2 verses 21 through 24.
Now Genesis, in case you’re not familiar, is the book of beginnings, it’s telling the story in this passage of how God made Adam and then He made Eve, and He brought them together as husband and wife.
“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept, took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
You may have noticed the word “unity” is not used once in all those verses. But look at that last verse. What the author of Genesis does is he summarizes what just happened. And he says, “Therefore, because of the way God created Adam and Eve, a man’s going to leave his father and mother. He’s leaving all of his former relational allegiances and loyalties and he’s going to establish a new set of loyalties with his wife. It’s a new covenant.”
This passage tells us taht the man and woman who marry become one flesh.
Now, if all we had to read was Genesis, chapter 2, we might legitimately come to the conclusion that “one flesh” thing means that physically they become one (through their sexual union). But Jesus comments on this in Mark, chapter 10, verses 7 through 9, and He tells us what it really means.
“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’”
Pause for a minute and take note: Jesus is quoting what we just read from Genesis and next, He’s going to comment on it.
“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
So did you catch what Jesus said there? He said, “so they are no longer two but one flesh.” He’s saying they are one. This is a spiritual kind of a mystery. A man and a woman, two individuals, somehow come together in the in the covenant of marriage before God, and God makes them one.
He also says that it’s going to happen through growth. It’s a process as well as an immediate reality. He says they shall become one flesh, back in Genesis. Growth in unity is happening.
Then there at the end, Jesus is pointing to how God thinks about unity. He says, “People, don’t you dare separate this.”
This is a beautiful reality that God has created for marriages. He wants a marriage to be making two individuals one. He wants it to be unified. It’s one of the greatest gifts that God has given us, because God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, they are one. They are unified. And so God knows it’s the best thing ever, the greatest gift He could give us. So for us to fight against oneness and to fight against being unified with our spouse is fighting against the greatest gift that God has given us in a marriage.
What we just described — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — we call that the Trinity. And here we have husband, wife, God. In a covenant relationship. It’s another kind of trinity, not to be sacrilegious in any sense, and not to say men and women are divine, but it’s God giving us a kind of relationship He already enjoys and He already knows His best. It’s just a phenomenal thing when you think of it.
So what all this is telling us is that unity is kind of the identity of marriage. It’s what marriage is about in a sense.
So we as husband and wife, and possibly an engaged man and woman, we need to be thinking about the marriage that we are living in right now or we will be living in down the road — our identity is that we will be unified. I will become one with my spouse and that is my identity for the rest of my life here on earth.
It’s a reality… whether you’re experiencing it or not, or whether you feel like you want to experience it or not. It’s God’s reality.
Whether you’re having wonderful, loving feelings towards your spouse, or you’re really angry at them right now, you are one. You are unified.
Unity as the identity of marriage
It’s helpful to think of a job that you might get as a football coach or a teacher, let’s say a math teacher in high school. You’re so excited you got the job. In a sense, “teacher” is now your identity for your job.
So you’re gonna go along being a teacher, you’re gonna be using the tools that a teacher uses. You’re gonna have the chalkboard, you’re gonna have chalk, you’re gonna have erasers, you’ll have lesson plans, you’ll have the textbooks that you pass out, all these different things. You do because teachers do them.
Along the way in your school year, you’ll come across hardships, you’ll come across blessings, you’ll come across things that you might not know what to do. But when that happens, you go back to the reality, “I’m a teacher, what does a teacher do? Well, if I can’t find help within my own self, within my own head, what to do with this misbehaving student?”
Well, I research information that will help me. I ask other teachers, “How do you deal with these situations in the classroom?” I find what I need as a teacher to have the most healthy school year because that’s what I do as a teacher.
Identity as a teacher informs how you’re going to carry out that role and informs what tools you use. You’re not going to use a paintbrush if you’re a teacher unless you’re an art teacher. You don’t use a hammer if you are a teacher. That’s what a construction worker might do. You do what teachers do. That’s your identity.
So this concept of identity is fundamental to your understanding of your marriage… UNITY is the identity of marriage.
So when we have trouble spots or we hit difficulties in our marriage, just like that teacher, we need to come back to our identity. We need to say, “Wait a minute, my identity is that I’m a unified person with my spouse.”
Discovering the tools for unity
So what are the tools of unity? What are the things I’m going to use as a unified person with my spouse to help us get past these difficulties or help us push through and build this marriage to be what it is intended to be?
We have a whole list of things we’re going to reference right now as tools of unity, things that will help facilitate unity. But don’t sweat it, we’re just going to go through these briefly, but we’re going to go in depth on these in future episodes one at a time because they’re so important.
TOOL ONE: dedication in your individual relationships with God.
This means you’re dedicated to growing close to the Lord and learning from Him, spending time with Him, having a quiet time, a devotional time set aside most days. And you’re doing this individually, as a husband, or as a wife.
This is part of the mystery of what marriage, because we’re talking about two people who are one, and yet we all can tell with our waking eyes that we’re talking about two individuals who are one and we each have our own responsibilities before God for our relationship with God. So we’re responsible to invest in that, to cultivate it, to nurture it, to enable our one-on-one relationship with God to become a healthy one so that when we come together as one, which we are, we have a healthy unity because we both are growing toward the Lord.
The Lord is gonna be sure to guide us into unity with our spouse. He’s going to do that for the husband and for the wife.
TOOL TWO: live your lives together
This next tool may sound kind of like a “DUH!” statement, but here it is: Live your life together.
Think of the number of couples you know where each partner just kind of does their own things. You know they’re married because they live in the same house. They’ve got the rings on all that. But you don’t see them doing many things together. You don’t see them enjoying each other’s company. You don’t see them going on vacations together. They might even do separate vacations.
That’s not acting in a unified way. That’s not to say the wife can’t go on a vacation with her friends and enjoy time with the girls and all that, but by and large in your life, you want to live together.
Step into the challenges and the blessings TOGETHER. Don’t leave your spouse to deal with certain things because it’s “their problem.” You’re unified… that’s not how unified people think about each other.
TOOL THREE: humility
Yes, humility. This is huge. It’s the greatest thing that will help us to be unified.
The Bible talks a lot about humility. One of the verses comes to my mind right away is, in James and in 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 5…
“Clothe yourselves with humility because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
The grace mentioned here is referring to God’s help. So in our marriages, don’t we want God’s help to enable us to be unified? Absolutely. So what’s the verse say? We’ve got to be humble if we expect to receive God’s help. We can’t do marriage unity rightly without God’s help.
We will record an episode all about humility in the future.
TOOL FOUR: sacrificial love
We all know that marriage involves love. We fall in love with our spouse, with our boyfriend or girlfriend, and then we end up getting married. But many times we aren’t prepared for the reality that loving one another is going to require sacrifice, and sometimes huge sacrifice.
When you think about the ultimate example of love, Jesus — the Bible says…
“God demonstrates His own love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus sacrificed Himself because of His love. That’s the definition of love, in a way. It’s just what it is. So He’s our example for marriage and in future episodes we’ll dive deeply into some of the passages that apply that concept to the roles husband and wife fill in marriage.
TOOL FIVE: healthy, regular communication
You might have noticed that we’re using two modifying words there.
First, healthy — there’s all kinds of communication that’s not healthy. So we’ve got to make sure that the communication we’re engaging in with our spouse is healthy communication. Clearly, we need to talk about THAT on the podcast, and we will.
But we also said that it needs to be regular.
You can’t communicate on Monday and expect on Friday that everything’s going to be good. A lot can (and does) happen between Monday and Friday. If you’re going to stay unified as a couple, you need to have regular “check ins” with each other, to see how each person is doing on a heart level. We have found that this is in many ways the next layer on top of the foundation of unity.
Because all of these tools we’re talking about really can’t be used very well at all if we don’t have good communication in our relationship. You hear people say, when speaking about marriage, “I’m not a mind reader.”
Exactly. That’s why communication is needed. Communication is what enables us to understand each other’s heart and mind so that we can come together in a unified way.
TOOL SIX: scripture and prayer
The last one that’s on this list, and we’ll obviously have more things we’ll talk about on the podcast, is prayer and scripture. As a couple, you need to engage in regular times of prayer and scripture together.
That may sound kind of scary to you if you’re newly married, or even for some people who have long been married. Maybe you don’t pray together very much and it’s kind of an intimidating thing.
But consider this: when we spend time before our Maker, the God of heaven and earth, on our knees together, it fosters unity like nothing else because together, we are aligning our hearts and minds with His.
Why Unity is such a vital thing
When we read in the Gospel of John, we get the idea of what Jesus is feeling, how He’s just longing for us to have unity, to experience one-ness as believers who have been adopted into His family. We see this in John 17, verses 21 through 23. And bear in mind, Jesus is speaking generally here. He’s not specifically talking about marriage, but He’s talking about unity. And one of the things you’ll hear us say on the podcast quite often is, since we are Christians first and married couples second, all the instructions to Christians apply to us in our marriage. And so this principle we’re going to read is a marriage principle, even though it never mentions marriage. This is Jesus. He’s praying. He’s asking the Father to do certain things. He prays that they may all be one, so all Christians will be one.
“Just as you, Father, are in Me and I am in you, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. The glory that You have given Me, I’ve given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and you in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You love Me.”
There’s a lot of emotion in that passage, in that prayer from the heart of Jesus. He wants us to know and experience the Father’s love, but He’s also wanting the world to know and experience the Father’s love. You may not have thought of this, married couple, but your marriage is one of the greatest testimonies of God in this world. It will be if you are living a life obedient to the Lord. Which means fostering unity.
So if you have a unified marriage, what a blessing you will be to those around you. And when we say “unified marriage,” we’re not meaning a perfect marriage. It means that throughout the course of your life, you’re demonstrating this struggle to be unified, to remain unified, to express that unity in all your decisions, in the way you relate to people, in the way you demonstrate your commitment to the Lord. This whole passage in John 17 is just such a powerful representation of God’s heart for the church and for the marriages within the church.
And so throughout the podcast, you’re going to hear us referring to unity all the time. Please keep these things in mind as you do that.
THIS EPISODE’S ASSIGNMENT:
Assignment 1: Begin time with the Lord regularly.
If you aren’t already in the habit, start a habit of spending daily time with Jesus. Now, when we say “time with the Lord,” what do we mean? We mean reading the Bible, praying, growing in our relationship with Him.
The husband needs to do this. The wife needs to do this. Engaged couples individually, need to be doing that.
It’s vital that each of us is personally are growing closer to God. And if you’re new to this whole Christian thing and you really have never had someone guide you or lead you in how to study the Bible, how to know more about God, I have a workbook in a PDF downloadable form, I’m happy to give you free of charge. It’s 19 lessons, kind of fill in the blank workbook format that will help you from square one of knowing how to know God, all the way to some of the more advanced things in the Christian life. Just email me or grab your copy here.
Assignment 2: begin asking God to give you a greater unity mindset.
What we love about this assignment is that we’re promised in the book of 1st John that if we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears us and will give us what we ask. So go back to the assignment to ask God to give you a greater unity mindset. Do you think that’s according to his will? Absolutely. So do you think he’s going to answer that prayer?
Okay, so couples think about this: If you each begin asking God to give you a greater unity mindset and you know God’s gonna answer, that’s something to rejoice about. It’s exxciting because you KNOW God is going to be working that unity in your marriage.
Assignment 3: Read and meditate on John, 17 verses 21 through 23, the ones that we just spoke about.
Our desire for you is that you start seeing unity as your anchor, as your compass or true north. No matter what you go through, the ups and downs in your marriage, you will have that solid foundation.
You’ll be able to confidently say, “We’re unified. We’re supposed to be one. We’ve got to do whatever we can to get back there.”
So we hope that whether you are newly married or you’ve been married for a long time, that learning more about unity in marriage will bless you beyond your dreams.
LISTEN SEPARATELY then set a weekly appointment to discuss what you’ve heard, pray about what God may want YOU to adjust or implement, then plan how you will do so.
LISTEN TOGETHER: Set a standing weekly date to listen together, pray over what you’ve heard, discuss, and strategize how to implement relevant things into your relationship.
DO THE HOMEWORK: The more you invest, the more you’ll grow and experience God’s blessings!