10 Principles for Marriage and Family Life

Sometimes my wife and I are asked to speak at couples events and family conferences. These opportunities have increased over the past few years. Speaking on topics related to marriage and family has never been comfortable for me for various reasons.

A few days ago a brain flurry (whether coffee-induced or Spirit-led I am not certain) produced a list of simple principles based on biblical truths related to family living. These reflect what I understand the Bible to teach as well as our personal experience. I believe these principles will become the framework for material I will present in the future on the topics of marriage and family. I have developed and continue to formulate speaking material on each of them. As opportunities come, I can prayerfully select which of them to highlight in various settings.

Of course they are not new, but always relevant. I think in fairly simple terms, so they are stated accordingly.

Here they are for your encouragement and further meditation. I may do additional posts on individual principles in the days ahead.

1. Oneness in marriage is essential to a strong, stable, persevering home.
Genesis 2:24
Matthew 19:3-6 
Ephesians 5:31-33                       
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
1 Peter 3:7 – “heirs together of the grace of life”

“The one flesh in marriage is not just a physical phenomenon, but a uniting of the totality of two personalities. In marriage, we are one flesh spiritually by vow, economically by sharing, logistically by adjusting time and agreeing on the disbursement of all life’s resources, experientially by trudging through the dark valleys and standing victoriously on the peaks of success, and sexually by the bonding of our bodies.”       Dr. Louis H. Evans, Mastering the New Testament Commentary quoted in Preparing for Marriage by Dennis Rainey

2. Selfish desire produces sin, and sin divides people.
Genesis 3
James 4:1-6

3. God’s sovereign purpose in hard situations unfolds over time.
Genesis Chapters 37-50
Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

4. The home is a place of spiritual nurturing and growth.
Ephesians 5:25-29
Ephesians 6:4
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

5. Families grow through deep suffering and intense pain.
James 5:10-11

6. As a creation of God, marriage and family should be valued, honored, and protected.
Hebrews 13:4

7. Marriage and family are catalysts for progressive sanctification.
Ephesians 5:18, 21, 22-26 

8. Forgiveness and reconciliation are a regular practice in family life.
Ephesians 4:32 
Colossians 3:12-14

9. Each family member has God-prescribed relational mandates.
Ephesians 5:22-33
Ephesians 6:1-4 

10. Christ-like humility is the key to relational harmony.
Philippians 2:1-8

I Will Always Love You

How long can love last? Dreamy-eyed couples declare everlasting love for each other. “Jim + Sue 4-Ever!” We reach for the ultimate expression of affection, commitment, and faithfulness. “My love for you will never die. I will never stop loving you. I am so in love with you, I will love you forever. No matter what happens in life, I will always love you.”

Can love last forever? Are professions of undying love just romantic patter? Maybe we really mean, “I will love you as long as I live.” Who can say what human relationships will be like after we die? I know I want to love my wife forever.

On one of our anniversaries Faith and I spent a long weekend at a beachside hotel. One evening we went for a swim in the freshwater pool where a DJ played tunes while vacationers enjoyed the ocean breeze. I made an excuse to slip away for a minute and requested a song. A few minutes later, Whitney Houston’s velvet voice carried my declaration of love to the whole crowd, and the tween girls in the pool crooned with her on the refrain, “i-I-i-I-iiiii will always love youuuuuu.” In my naivete of worldly ways, I knew the chorus and thought of it as a beautiful love song. As we heard the lyrics, we realized she’s singing about leaving the guy! We’ve laughed about it ever since, but I still like to sign cards, “Always loving you.”

We’ve had many adventures together, including touring Israel. We were there the year of our 30th anniversary and our group was introduced to a seller of memento jewelry. We purchased a new set of wedding bands and ordered engraving. Faith trusted me to choose the inscription, and my mind went to a verse of scripture:

But the steadfast love of the Lord 
is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him . . .

Psalm 103:17

The Hebrew words for “everlasting steadfast love” are engraved on our rings. (Hebrew is the original language of the Old Testament and the language of ancient Israel.)

At weddings the officiating pastor often describes the wedding rings as “an ever-present reminder of the covenant of marriage and your love for one another.” Our specially-engraved rings remind us of God’s love for us that is the model of steadfast love we have for one another. It is the kind of love that puts the other first, that remains true through trials and pain, and that forgives. God showed His love for us, while we were sinners, by giving His only Son to die in our place so we might be forgiven and be with Him forever. His love is the only love that is truly undying and everlasting. We hope our love for each other is growing to be like His. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He loves us with an everlasting love.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Faith. And, well, you know . . . 😍.


READING Exodus 19:1-20

MEDITATION – Moses acted as a mediator between God and His people. He had the opportunity to relay powerful and precious truths from God to Israelites. These include His care (verse 4), His covenant (verses 5-8) , and His commands (verses 19-20 and chapter 20 and following).

Our mediator today is Christ. God uses pastors and others in ministry, however, to provide leadership to His people and to communicate His Word to them.

God uses beautiful imagery, a mother eagle bearing a young eagle on her back as it leaves the nest and learns to fly (verse 4), to remind the people of His care for them as they escaped Egypt. As ministry leaders we remind our people of God’s caring involvement in their lives. He delivers them from sin’s bondage and carries them along as they learn to live for Him.

God reiterates His covenant, calling the Jewish people His “treasured possession” and promising to make them “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (5-6). But the Israelites could not uphold their part of the covenant. Jesus Christ came to fulfill the terms that sinful humans cannot. Today we preach the promises of the New Covenant, conditioned only on faith in Jesus.

Through Moses, God delivered a long list of commands for His set apart people to follow. Today we teach God’s instructions, guiding people how to live a life transformed by Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

No new mediator is needed today. But Christian leaders are the messengers of the grace and truth found only in Jesus Christ. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

Paul’s testimony is our model: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:5-7). We are messengers of the blessings mediated by Jesus Christ.

Thank you that the one perfect mediator has come. Help me faithfully proclaim the grace and truth found in Him.