Guest Post: How Marriage Is a Good Thing

wedding ringsThis is a guest post from my wife, Melanie. She originally wrote this post for Biblical Woman, the blog site for the Women’s Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The post originally appeared here.

We believe that marriage was created by God as a covenant between one man and one woman for the purpose of communicating the relationship between God Himself and His people; that biblical marriage is the only rightful relationship for sexual expression; that women are called to honor God in marriage by submitting to their own husbands voluntarily and purposefully (Gen 2:24-25; 1 Cor 7:1-5; Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1-7; Heb 13:4).

Last night, I sat at a table full of wonderful ladies embarking on another year of seminary for their husbands. This year’s theme for this particular group is Proverbs 18:22. The Lord has been working in my heart and mind lately about how marriage is such a “good thing.” I am so grateful God blessed me with my husband almost 12 years ago. It’s not necessarily because my husband and I are walking around in a sea of marital bliss and our lives are filled with ease and euphoric charity with each other all day long. Quite the contrary, we have just recently come out of a very hard year in the life of our family. We love each other more than ever, and respect and value each other in ways that we never did before. However, in the hardest times of the last year and a half as well as the best times of recent days, God has constantly reminded me that marriage is a “good thing.”

Why is this so? Surely, in our highly individualized, self-sufficient culture, God could see that one would do just fine on their own. Nope. That is not how God sees it. God created marriage and created His people to be in a covenantal relationship meant to last a lifetime.

Here are 3 ways marriage really is a good thing.

  1. We are unified with our husbands. My husband and I do pre-marital counseling and I share with sweet couples often this reality: If you are having communication problems or forgiveness problems or times when one of you is simply demanding your way too much, it will show up in your physical relationship. God, in His great wisdom, created us for unity in heart and body, and you can’t have one without the other. In a different aspect, the writer of Hebrews says this, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Sex, within the context of marriage, works to protect ourselves from the pitfalls of sexual sins. Just like a loving parent sets up boundaries for their children to protect them, God has established the boundaries of marriage to protect his children from the grave dangers of illicit sexual behavior. In marriage, you are unified and are a testimony to the lost world. This is a good thing.
  2. In our companionship, we offer balance. Do you ever notice that ladies are less likely to be catty if husbands are around? Let’s face it, we women have a tendency to rile each other up and feed off of the frenzy of gossip and lavish stories. However, in a co-ed setting, the environment is a bit more even-keeled. In the same vein, when it is only men together, all sorts of barbaric activities ensue. Simply visit a group of bachelors living together. There will be sights and sounds and smells that are not allowed in a civil society. A lady brings class and beauty to a group of men; and a man brings gravity and fortitude to a group of ladies. In His great wisdom and knowledge, He made us different, yet so fitted for each other. Therefore, because we all need it so very badly, balance is a good thing.
  3. A chain of command. Have you ever heard the phrase, “There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians”? Usually, I heard this around Thanksgiving when all of the ladies in my family were crammed into the kitchen, each intent on doing their cooking their own way. What came of it? Chaos. Finally, when one woman took charge (usually the actual owner of the kitchen), everything calmed down. One person made the casseroles and one person washed the dishes and one person made sure nothing was burning and so the list of tasks went on. This is the same way in a marriage. God is not a God of chaos, but of order. We are all His children, and God desires a personal relationship with each of us individually. However, in the home, the husband is the head. He is the leader who will answer to God for the choices he makes for the family. The wife is the helper who assists her husband in whatever way is needed. As her husband submits to God, so she submits to her husband. If she is fighting for the role of headship of the family, only chaos will come. As I mentioned before, over the last year, my husband and I went through a difficult time where many decisions had to be made. I can honestly say that I never understood the benefit of submission until this time in our lives. There were times, when I would absolutely disagree with my husband. However, I trusted him and I trusted God to use him for His glory. In EVERY situation, God was faithful, and I was reminded how wise and honorable my husband is. Another word for submission is yielding. In our case, I would state my opinion and then willingly yield. My husband would make the best decision he knew to make and we would wait. Again, EVERY time, my husband’s decision worked out. Now, on this side of the trial, I admire and trust my husband more than ever. Yes, submission is a good thing.

I only have experience in one marriage and that is my own. However, I assume that most people wonder, at some point, if marriage really is a good thing. I pray that, no matter the circumstances, you will know in your heart of hearts that the answer is yes. We hold firm to the book of Proverbs and proclaim in agreement, “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing.” Lastly, marriage is a good thing, because the One who created it is good. Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.”

 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

~Proverbs 18:22

Biblically Sound Now on Kindle

For those of you interested in an electronic version of my new Bible study, Biblically Sound: Embracing Doctrine for Life, you can now get it on Kindle. The print version is currently selling for $13.59 (list price is $14.99) on Amazon, and the Kindle editions sells for $5.49.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

From the window of my office, I watched the construction of the MacGorman Chapel on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Each day I was able to see the progress on the project. After the first few weeks of demolition and clearing the land, there seemed to be little or no progress from day to day. In fact, this lack of progress went on for a couple of months. I saw plenty of activity from workers, trucks, earth-moving equipment, etc. However, there was no visible progress being made. These first few months of construction, nevertheless, were the most important part. The workers were building the foundation.

Studying doctrine for the Christian often feels like watching a construction crew build a foundation. There seems to be a great amount of activity, but the results don’t appear visible. Just like the foundation is essential for the stability of a building, studying theology is crucial to the long-term stability of the believer.

The goal of this study is to provide you with the basics of biblical doctrine to make sure your foundation is sound. At times this will feel like the difficult work of laying an unseen foundation for a building. At other times, however, it will feel like we are soaring to great heights as we explore the breadth and length and height and depth of our faith.

In order to accomplish our goal of being biblically sound in our doctrine, we will take a step-by-step journey through the key doctrines of the Christian faith. In many respects, these are the non-negotiables of the faith.

As with any of my Bible studies, if you are interested in ordering 10 or more copies for your church, class, or small group, feel free to contact me by clicking on my faculty profile and using the contact information found there.

Good Reading: Tracking Christian Sexual Morality in a Same-Sex Marriage Future

The Public Discourse has posted a very interesting article from Mark Regnerus on the connections between support for same-sex marriage and other issues related to sexual morality. Regnerus is associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and became (in)famous for an article he published about the effects on children raised in a same-sex couple households.

In this article, Regnerus documents the beliefs of churchgoing Christians (attending 3 or more services per month) regarding sexual morality. He specifically looks at the differences in beliefs between those who support same-sex marriage and those who oppose same-sex marriage. The related issues include pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion.

Here are some of the highlights:

Primarily, this exercise concerns the attitudes of all churchgoing Christians who express support for same-sex marriage. And since the LGBT population remains a small minority (and even smaller in organized religious communities), it’s reasonable to conclude that the sexual morality that “welcoming” congregations or individual Christians profess will have largely been fashioned—and maintained—by sympathetic heterosexuals. These are and will remain the majority (and hence, the norm) in all congregations, save for the Metropolitan Community Church and perhaps scattered congregations of the United Church of Christ.

Regnerus includes a table with the numbers and makes some observations:

So what do the numbers say? The table above displays the share of each group who either “agree” or “strongly agree” with the seven statements listed above. At a glance, there is a pretty obvious fissure between Christians who do and do not oppose same-sex marriage. More than seven times as many of the latter think pornography is OK. Three times as many back cohabiting as a good idea, six times as many are OK with no-strings-attached sex, five times as many think adultery could be permissible, thirteen times as many have no issue with polyamorous relationships, and six times as many support abortion rights. The closest the two come together is over the wisdom of a married couple staying together at all costs (except in cases of abuse).

Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage look very much like the country as a whole—the population average (visible in the third column). That answers my original question. What would a pro-SSM Christian sexual morality look like? The national average—the norm—that’s what.

He concludes:

Churchgoers who oppose same-sex marriage sense that they are out of step with the rest of the nation about sex and relationships. (The numbers above reinforce that.) And Christians who favor legalizing same-sex marriage often remain embattled with those who oppose it, and yet sense that their own views on sexuality still lag behind those gay and lesbian Christians from whom they’ve have become convinced of the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. That, too, is true. Gay and lesbian Christians, in turn, have much in common with gay and lesbian non-Christians—their social circles often overlap. The sexual norms of the former are not as permissive as the latter, but are still well above the national average in permissiveness. The latter likely constitutes a reference group for gay and lesbian Christians (together with heterosexual Christians with whom they are in fellowship).

The full article is worth your time, and you can find it here.

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Mark Regnerus, “Tracking Christian Sexual Morality in a Same-Sex Marriage Future,” The Public Discourse, August 11, 2014.

New Bible Study Available: Biblically Sound

More than a year ago, I embarked on a journey of writing two Bible studies commissioned by Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. At long last, the journey is complete. Biblically Sound: Embracing Doctrine for Life is the second study, and it is now available for purchase through the CreateSpace Store and on Amazon. Biblically Sound is a 10-week study of basic Christian doctrine from an admittedly Baptist perspective. This study is great for small or large group Bible study, Sunday school classes, or special doctrinal emphasis teaching as a congregation.

Don’t think of this study as a seminary-level systematic theology class. I have intentionally stayed away from much of the technical language found in formal, academic study of theology while still dealing with several nuanced views of theology. You will find that I direct you to the Scripture to answer questions because it is the Bible that forms the foundation of our theology.

If you want to see how one church used the study, you can watch the videos from Bellevue Baptist Church’s women’s ministry here. The large group time was co-taught by Donna Gaines (wife of Pastor Steve Gaines) and Jean Stockdale (longtime MOMS Bible study teacher at Bellevue).

You can always purchase copies of Biblically Sound and Biblically Correct through CreateSpace or Amazon. However, if you are interested in purchasing 10 or more copies for your church, please feel free to contact me by email or phone (you will find that information on my faculty profile), and I can work with you on pricing for large orders.

Guest Post: Homeschooling: 3 Things I’ve Learned

This is a guest post from my wife, Melanie. She originally wrote this post for Biblical Woman, the blog site for the Women’s Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The post originally appeared here.

This fall, we are entering our fifth year of homeschooling. Our third child will start kindergarten, so we will officially have more children in school than not. Over the last few years, I have learned many things about my children’s learning styles, temperaments, and intellect. However, in the same way, I have learned a great amount about who I am and how God created me.

As a mom who teaches my children at home, I have come to understand that it is vital for me to know who I am and be content in who God created me to be. If you are familiar with “The Four Temperaments,” I am a sanguine. As such, I like to make the home fun. I can handle any disaster with humor and a good dance session. However, I struggle with hyper-organization. Oftentimes, my children have an easier time of staying on schedule than I do. Embracing these observations in myself and diligently not comparing myself to others of different personalities has given me the freedom to run my house in a way that works for us and accomplishes God’s purposes at the same time.

These are a few tips that I have begun to use that make homeschooling work for us.

  1. We have a rhythm, not a schedule. As I mentioned before, firm day-to-day schedules overwhelm me. Therefore, my family functions on a rhythm. We all get up at the same time, get dressed, eat breakfast, and then start school. My benchmark for this is 9:00 a.m. It is my goal to transition from household duties into our school day by this time. Once our school day gets started, each of my kids has a different order in which to do their work. This allows me to work with each of the children one-on-one at various times of the morning. Again, the most important concept to me is not that we stay within the exact time frame, but that the children know, once they finish a certain task, it is time for the next. At 10:30, we all take a break. They play outside while I usually switch the laundry from washer to dryer or something exciting like that. I have found that I do better when I can see tangible accomplishments throughout the day. So in the midst of working on reading with my first grader (a more long-term task), I feel accomplished because I completed a load of laundry. After break, we come back together for more schooling. We break again at lunch, and then the older children finish whatever schoolwork they haven’t already completed. They also practice their musical instruments or play sports. Therefore, a specific time might look different each day, but there is a rhythm that stays the same.
  2. Everyone has time alone and time in a group every day. Just like me, my kids all have different temperaments. For my introverts, they need to work with others in the room. However, they also need time alone to refocus and recharge. For my extroverts, they need to understand the benefit of quiet and alone time as well as enjoy the fun of everyone being together. My youngest, at age 2, is already a definite extrovert. It is hard for her to be by herself. However, last year, I carved out 30 minutes on every homeschool day for her to practice playing by herself. She did not like it, but it benefited everyone. Even I take a time out after lunch to have my quiet and Bible study time. I put my little ones down to nap, my older children begin their school work again, and I grab a cup of coffee, and sit down with God.
  3. It takes all kinds to make the world go around. Some of my kids excel at academics, some don’t. Some work well in groups, some don’t. Some thrive on schedule and organization; some (like me) are more creative and relaxed. After four years of homeschooling, this idea has become paramount: We are different, but we are good for each other. Oftentimes I wish I was more detailed-oriented or naturally organized. But God reminds me that He created me for a purpose. I can encourage my daughter who is very task oriented to notice people more and consider their feelings. However, she is good for me and helps me stay on task and inspires me to work on ways to improve my organization skills. This training in the home is very applicable in the world. In the church or in the workplace, we will encounter different personality types. In each situation, we can appreciate each of our strengths and learn from each other to improve on our weaknesses.

Maybe you can identify with some of the lessons I have learned in the last four years. Have you been trying to be someone you are not in your homeschooling? Have you accepted your kids for who they are, complete with the personalities God gave them? After these first years of homeschooling, there are still areas where I want to improve, but the lessons God has taught me about myself have been priceless.