Participants: Willie Oliver, Elaine Oliver
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000063
00:29 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:32 I'm Willie Oliver, Director of Family Ministries
00:34 for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:37 I'm Elaine Oliver, Willie's partner in ministry
00:39 and a Marriage and Family Consultant
00:41 for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:44 We're delighted you've joined us today.
00:47 Marriage is one of those circumstances, enterprises,
00:52 that are challenging.
00:54 If we're going to make it, we're going to have to
00:57 do it God's way.
00:58 In fact, that's the topic that we're dealing with today:
01:03 "Marriage God's Way"
01:07 Well certainly, marriage, God created marriage for joy.
01:10 And unfortunately, sometimes we don't do it God's way.
01:14 And when we don't do it God's way, then our whole relationship
01:18 goes awry and then we sort of make up excuses
01:21 as to why it's not working.
01:23 And worse yet, we may even decide to undo the relationship
01:27 because we have not done it God's way.
01:30 So, God has a lot to say about this topic
01:33 and there's a verse found in the book of Jeremiah 31:3
01:39 that is very important, and here God is saying:
01:51 This text finds the prophet talking about
01:57 God's relationship to Israel.
01:59 And Israel is not at a high point
02:03 in its relationship with God.
02:05 In fact, this context in Jeremiah finds Israel
02:09 wondering away from God, not doing God's will,
02:14 not doing it God's way.
02:16 And yet, God says to Israel, "I have loved you
02:20 with an everlasting love. "
02:22 God's love is eternal.
02:24 And even when we stray from the path, He still loves us
02:30 and He's wooing us.
02:32 And He wants us to come back to Him
02:35 so that we may have the kind of life He wants us to have.
02:39 That's really excellent, and I think in the text there are
02:42 certain components that we can glean from this text.
02:46 And there are several areas that we're going to touch on today
02:50 that will illuminate this text, and God's way of doing marriage.
02:55 Well, if we're going to do it God's way, and we're
02:57 talking about marriage, in that context,
02:59 there are four things that we want to do.
03:01 There are four things that we want to consider.
03:02 One, covenant. Because marriage is a covenant.
03:06 Two, the whole notion of grace. And grace in marriage.
03:12 How we empower one another in the relationship of marriage.
03:15 And certainly, intimacy.
03:17 So four things we're going to be talking about
03:19 in this segment today.
03:22 How we relate to God's notion of covenant, grace,
03:28 empowerment, and intimacy.
03:31 Let's begin with a text on covenant.
03:34 Genesis 6:18 says:
03:47 So here we see that God is saying to whom?
03:50 To Noah.
03:51 "I will establish a covenant with you. "
03:54 You notice that this covenant, God is the one who
03:58 initiates the covenant.
03:59 He's the one who goes looking after Noah.
04:01 Yes indeed, Noah was a righteous man.
04:03 But he was righteous because of his relationship with God.
04:06 And then God goes looking after Noah and has a special
04:10 work for Noah to do.
04:12 When we look at "covenant" in the Bible, we see that
04:15 "covenant" comes from a Hebrew word called "berith" which means
04:20 agreement an arrangement.
04:24 There are other words in scripture for covenant.
04:28 In the Greek, the word "diatheke".
04:30 It means the last will and testament,
04:33 a decree or an agreement.
04:35 The word covenant is used in scripture to describe marriage.
04:41 So marriage is not only a relationship between a
04:44 man and a woman.
04:45 Marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman, and God.
04:50 What is this covenant all about?
04:52 It's about promise.
04:54 It's about the fact that I have decided to love you
04:58 in sickness and in health.
05:00 I have decided to love you whether you are a
05:03 good cook or not.
05:04 I have decided to love you whether you smile at me
05:07 every day or not.
05:09 So covenant has nothing to do with the other individual.
05:11 It has everything to do with the promise I made to God about you.
05:18 A promise I made to you. A promise I made to God.
05:21 And so if we're going to keep our covenant,
05:24 I need to keep my promise to my spouse,
05:26 regardless of what happens, and to God.
05:29 When I say, "regardless of what happens",
05:31 this is what I'm talking about.
05:32 I'm talking about that God expects us to be committed
05:36 to each other.
05:37 If we're going to do marriage God's way, it means that
05:40 we're committed in the enterprise of marriage.
05:43 Of course, that assumes that you're in covenant with me
05:47 as well and that you're not beating me up.
05:51 It also assumes that you're not having affairs.
05:55 Because you're covenant is with me and
05:57 your covenant is to love me until death do us part.
06:00 So those are the things that we want to be careful of
06:02 and be mindful of.
06:03 That while a covenant is not just something based on what
06:09 the other person is doing, that both parties have
06:12 responsibilities in the covenant.
06:15 So then, covenant is about loving and being loved.
06:18 It's an unconditional commitment.
06:20 It's a promise that I make to you.
06:22 When we get married, we have a covenant, not a contract
06:27 as is defined in secular terms, but in the spiritual realm
06:31 we're talking about a covenant between three.
06:34 A covenant between you, me, and God.
06:37 That's right.
06:38 There's something else about covenant that we need to
06:41 explore and pay attention to.
06:43 And that is the fact that a covenant can be unilateral,
06:46 a one-way situation.
06:49 Or a covenant can be bilateral, a two-way street.
06:52 What is a unilateral covenant?
06:54 Well, a unilateral covenant is an immature covenant.
06:57 It's an incomplete covenant.
06:59 A unilateral covenant says, I love you.
07:03 A bilateral covenant says, I love you and you love me.
07:10 You know I think of, when I think of a unilateral covenant,
07:13 I think of when our daughter Jessica was born.
07:15 That was years ago now.
07:17 I still remember being in the hospital.
07:21 Of course, we had gone through Lamaze and done all of these
07:24 wonderful breathing exercises to learn how to have this baby
07:28 come out with the least effort and to do it naturally.
07:34 And well, it didn't quite go as we planned.
07:38 You remember that.
07:39 I remember.
07:41 We were there doing breathing exercises in the birthing room
07:44 when all of a sudden you started having dysfunctional labor.
07:48 And before we knew it, doctors were in the hospital and
07:52 you were being taken to the operating room.
07:54 But all the work that I did to see this baby come to life,
08:00 I was not there.
08:02 I sat in the birthing room and then a nurse went by and
08:04 she said, "Oh Mr. Oliver, you just had, I think a baby girl. "
08:09 And I thought to myself, "There's a messenger
08:12 without a message, not sure whether I had a girl or a boy. "
08:15 But then it happened.
08:17 It was a wonderful moment.
08:18 The nurse wheeled Jessica into the room, in the warmer,
08:22 and it was love at first sight.
08:24 I looked at her through the glass and
08:26 I knew I loved this child.
08:29 It was love at first sight.
08:30 This was my daughter and she deserved
08:34 unconditional love from her dad.
08:36 I was going to do whatever I I could do that any
08:40 daughter deserves, and that is to be loved and to be cherished.
08:44 But it was a one-way commitment.
08:46 She didn't know who I was.
08:48 She was on the other side of the glass,
08:49 she didn't have much awareness of me.
08:52 Somebody might dispute that and say, well she knew who you were.
08:54 Well, she wasn't talking or saying anything.
08:56 But as she grew and as we related more to each other,
09:00 the covenant became a bilateral covenant.
09:04 Not only was I loving Jessica, but she was loving me.
09:07 So when we look at marriage, we need to recognize
09:10 that we're talking about a mature covenant.
09:14 A commitment that a husband has to his wife
09:16 and the wife has to her husband.
09:19 It's a two-way street.
09:21 That's what God wants in marriage.
09:23 Well, another component of the text that you mentioned
09:26 is grace, and grace is an essential component
09:29 in doing marriage God's way.
09:31 The book of Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us:
09:50 So grace is an essential component in our marriages,
09:54 in our family life, in our parenting.
09:57 And it's really essential that we learn the whole notion of
10:00 grace, what it means.
10:01 The whole concept of forgiving and being forgiven.
10:04 And this is the way God designed it so that so that we can live
10:08 in an atmosphere of grace.
10:10 Our relationships will thrive a whole lot better
10:12 where grace is present.
10:14 Our children will feel a lot more nurtured
10:17 if grace is present.
10:19 And we will see that our family relationships will go a lot
10:22 smoother when grace is present in the home.
10:26 The opposite side of that is when our family relations
10:28 are based on law.
10:30 When family relations are based on law, perfection is demanded.
10:36 And it's important that we make clear here that we're not saying
10:40 that there be no law.
10:41 But we're saying that it be an atmosphere of grace.
10:44 What is an atmosphere of grace?
10:45 An atmosphere of forgiveness.
10:47 An atmosphere of understanding that we have
10:50 fragile human beings in this relationship
10:52 who are imperfect and they're probably going to make mistakes.
10:55 And if we accept the fact that they'll probably make mistakes,
10:59 it is easier to come to grips with the fact that we
11:02 are going to forgive each other in this relationship.
11:05 We're going to grow together and we're going to give each other
11:08 support and the benefit of the doubt.
11:11 I love the fact that we usually use the definition
11:14 of grace being unmerited favor.
11:17 It is something that we don't deserve.
11:19 And so often in our lives, we think we deserve
11:23 to be treated a certain way.
11:25 And quite frankly, we don't deserve anything.
11:29 But God gives us grace every day in our lives.
11:32 And so when we create an environment where grace is
11:35 present, our children, our spouses will feel so much more
11:40 nurtured, so much more affirmed.
11:42 If we have grace in our home, and also we want to be sure
11:47 that we are not demanding this grace.
11:51 Right? Because it is unmerited favor.
11:54 It's not something that we deserve.
11:56 That's correct, and there's something else
11:58 that goes along with this grace
11:59 and that is when you have grace in the family
12:02 it doesn't mean that there are no rules.
12:07 It doesn't mean that there are no laws.
12:09 It doesn't mean that there are no boundaries.
12:11 To be sure, there are boundaries.
12:13 Because in every love relationship,
12:16 there is responsibility.
12:17 I love you, you love me.
12:20 There are boundaries.
12:21 You know, not anything goes.
12:23 But we do it out of love for each other.
12:26 We don't do it because it's demanded of each other,
12:29 we do it out of love for each other.
12:31 It's the same thing with God.
12:32 With God, we're saved, not because we do stuff.
12:37 We don't keep the law to be saved,
12:39 we keep the law because we are already saved,
12:42 because we have a relationship with God.
12:44 So to in marriage.
12:45 We do things for one another because of the relationship
12:49 that already has been established.
12:51 So as we live from day to day, and we think about doing
12:54 marriage God's way, we want to keep in mind,
12:57 to have a covenant relationship we want to keep in mind
13:00 to have grace in our relationship.
13:03 Because that grace which is unmerited will give us
13:06 the desire to do for each other what otherwise would not happen.
13:11 We're going to continue to talk about this some more.
13:13 But we're going to take a break right now and
13:15 we're going to be coming back shortly to talk some more about
13:19 how we can do marriage God's way.
13:21 Stick around, we'll be right back.
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14:07 Welcome back.
14:08 We've been talking about doing marriage God's way.
14:11 And we've shared with you some essential ingredients
14:15 to doing marriage God's way and to having a wonderful marriage.
14:20 And some of those components that we've covered thus far
14:23 are covenant, which is a promise of bilateral,
14:27 hopefully mature, covenant that we have in our relationships.
14:30 Also grace, and we spoke about the fact that grace
14:35 needs to be present in every relationship so that
14:38 our relationships are in an environment where
14:42 all of us can thrive.
14:44 Husband and wife, children, whoever's in that relationship,
14:48 can thrive in their relationship.
14:50 Another ingredient that we'd like to talk about
14:52 is empowerment.
14:54 And the Bible also has some wonderful
14:56 counsel on empowerment.
14:58 John 1:12 says:
15:12 Yeah, you know, I think in the King James version it says
15:15 He gave the power to become sons and daughters of God,
15:18 or the children of God.
15:19 God wants to empower us in all of our relationships.
15:23 And certainly He wants to do some empowerment
15:26 in marriage as well.
15:27 And He wants us to empower one another.
15:30 Because when we are in a covenant and when we have grace
15:33 and when we empower one another, we have the makings of an
15:38 excellent relationship.
15:39 Why? Because I want to be in a relationship where
15:41 someone cares about me.
15:42 I want to be in a relationship where that person is
15:44 affirming me, where that person is showing faith in me
15:49 that I'm able to accomplish things
15:51 And empowerment works like this.
15:53 Empowerment is about; to serve and to be served.
15:57 It's a two-way street.
15:59 And we said that covenant was bilateral.
16:01 A mature covenant was a bilateral commitment.
16:04 So when we're in marriage and I'm here to serve you
16:08 and you're here to serve me, we're in a situation
16:11 where it's good for both of us.
16:14 We want to be here because it goes both ways.
16:18 So empowerment, then, is a very intentional process
16:21 of building one another up.
16:23 Building each other's self-esteem, if you will.
16:26 Building in each other a desire to serve one another.
16:30 So when we empower one another, we give the other person
16:34 the right, as God said in the Bible, in the word of God where
16:39 it said in John that we have the right to be called
16:42 children of God.
16:43 And I love that.
16:44 It's so empowering just to read that text.
16:47 What's different in the Bible when we're talking about
16:50 empowerment to the secular notion of empowerment
16:54 that we hear thrown around in industry
16:58 is that, usually in the business world when we're talking about
17:02 empowering individuals, we're really talking about
17:05 empowering someone so that we can look good.
17:08 It's talking about empowering your co-workers, people who
17:12 work under you, so that they can make you look good.
17:16 But that's not exactly what scripture is talking about.
17:19 And that's not the empowerment that the Bible is talking about.
17:22 The Bible is talking about power as a tool that we use to
17:27 lift somebody up, the other person up.
17:30 Almost like the wind beneath someone else's wings.
17:32 Absolutely, and in marriage, we ought to be about
17:35 empowering each other.
17:37 For example, if your spouse has gone to school
17:40 and wants to go back to school because he or she wants
17:43 to get additional skills, to do more with his life for the Lord
17:47 for example, wants to go back to school.
17:49 Perhaps finish college or get a masters degree.
17:52 The thing to do for the other spouse is not to say,
17:56 "Oh, we don't have the time for that or we certainly don't
17:58 don't have the money, and we certainly can't just
18:00 get this family into more debt. "
18:03 But empower your spouse by encouraging that person to do
18:07 whatever he or she wants to do to better himself
18:11 or better herself.
18:12 That's what we're talking about.
18:13 So a lot of it has to do with encouragement as well.
18:16 Encouraging one another, supporting one another.
18:19 So while we may not have the finances for someone to pursue
18:23 their goals, we can talk about how, perhaps, we can figure
18:29 out a way to make it happen as opposed to putting
18:32 your mate down and saying, "Well don't you know
18:34 we just don't have the money to that right now. "
18:36 We can say, "You know, that's a wonderful idea, you want to go
18:39 back to school, or you want to pursue a new business.
18:42 Let's figure out a way in which we can work as
18:44 a team to make this happen. "
18:45 Empowering is also about finding the skills or the gifts
18:50 in your mate that he or she has not found in himself or herself.
18:54 Empowerment means, "Hey, you do that well.
18:58 Why don't you do it some more?"
19:00 Many times, there are hidden talents in spouses.
19:04 One of them could be public speakers, for example, where
19:07 someone is deathly afraid to get up in public and speak.
19:10 And yet, God may have given certain talents.
19:12 And that person gets an opportunity to speak
19:14 and they did well.
19:16 And they might be nervous and didn't think they did well.
19:19 Here's an opportunity to say to your spouse,
19:21 "You did wonderfully well, you should do that some more. "
19:25 You know, "You do that excellent. "
19:27 It may be something else like cooking a good meal
19:30 or fixing something, you know.
19:36 Fixing the washing machine, for example.
19:39 I'm not very good at doing stuff like that.
19:41 You know, I think you could tell me all you want to tell me about
19:44 fixing machines and I'm not going to do very well.
19:46 But whatever your spouse does well, empower them, affirm them.
19:51 Tell them that they're doing well.
19:53 What it does, it creates an environment that's a nurturing
19:56 and building environment.
19:57 If we're going to do marriage well, we want to be in a place
20:01 where people appreciate us.
20:03 That's basically what it is.
20:04 I think this segment is worth stressing, because I think this
20:08 is one area where we really can degrade our spouse
20:14 or really put them down without knowing
20:17 that we're putting them down.
20:19 And it's just so essential that we pay attention to how
20:23 important it is to empower our mate.
20:26 If your spouse is thinking about pursuing goals,
20:31 about becoming better at something that they're doing,
20:35 rather than saying, "Oh, you know you're not good at that.
20:37 You know you've never been good at that. "
20:39 And you may not even mean to put them down.
20:42 You may even think that you're helping them.
20:44 But in essence what you're doing is you are deflating them.
20:47 So it's really important that we consider this
20:51 a very, very, very important ingredient
20:55 in doing marriage God's way.
20:56 Because this is what God does for us.
20:58 And the same goes for our children and I think
21:00 we should throw that in.
21:01 Because children will rise to the occasion if we show
21:05 that we believe in them.
21:06 Absolutely, you know it's also very interesting that
21:11 when we're talking about empowerment, we see it as
21:14 the opposite of invalidation.
21:16 We've spoken about invalidation.
21:20 Invalidation when your mate wants to do something,
21:23 or you take your mate for granted, or you put them down
21:26 in subtle ways, sometimes not so subtle ways,
21:29 it's the exact opposite of empowerment.
21:31 So what God wants is not invalidation, but empowerment.
21:35 He also wants us to do that with our children
21:38 as you just mentioned.
21:39 But to create that with our children,
21:42 we need to create an environment between us as husband and wife.
21:45 When we have developed that atmosphere of empowerment
21:51 it's easier to empower your children as well.
21:53 Absolutely, another ingredient that we're speaking about
21:56 in this way of doing marriage God's way, is intimacy.
22:01 And we speak a lot about intimacy and we've certainly
22:04 broadened the definition.
22:06 That it's not just about physical oneness,
22:08 but intimacy is about emotional oneness,
22:11 it's about spiritual oneness.
22:13 So intimacy, if you will, is about closeness,
22:17 it's about oneness.
22:18 So let's see what the word of God has to say about intimacy.
22:21 In 1 John 4:18.
22:37 So what God's word is saying again is that where there's love
22:39 there is no fear.
22:41 Invariably, people are afraid to love.
22:43 In fact, when I was at seminary, I read a book
22:46 by John Powell saying, "Why Am I Afraid To Love?"
22:50 That was one of his titles, and he had several titles.
22:53 But that was a great title, "Why Am I Afraid To Love?"
22:56 And as I read the book, I found out that individuals are afraid
23:00 to get into relationships because they're afraid
23:02 of being hurt.
23:03 They're afraid of being hurt because of what has happened
23:05 to them in the past.
23:06 Perhaps in their families of origin where they trusted
23:10 a parent or they trusted a sibling,
23:12 or something bad happened to them.
23:15 They felt invalidated, they were not empowered,
23:19 they were not built up.
23:21 And so, it's important that we get to the place
23:25 where there is intimacy, where there is love,
23:27 where there is closeness so people feel
23:31 that they can love freely.
23:33 The Bible is clear that perfect love casts out fear.
23:38 There's no need to be afraid because when you are loved
23:42 it's going to be just fine.
23:44 There's another wonderful text that we wanted to share
23:47 and that comes from Genesis 2:25.
23:56 And so we see that from very early on, God gave us
23:59 human beings the capacity to be intimate.
24:02 From when He created Adam and Eve and put them
24:04 in the garden of Eden, created this very idyllic setting,
24:08 He gave them the ability to be close, to be intimate.
24:12 And then we know what happened.
24:13 The first thing that happened after they sinned
24:16 was that they covered themselves.
24:18 And so there was a barrier to that intimacy.
24:22 There was a barrier to that intimacy between them
24:25 and between them and God.
24:28 Yes, I like the whole notion of the context of the text.
24:31 The man and his wife were both naked and they had no shame.
24:35 Adam and Eve both had the ability to be themselves
24:38 and to not be self-conscious.
24:40 You know, to be just who God made them to be
24:43 and to feel good about themselves.
24:45 That happened and remained until sin entered into the picture.
24:50 The moment sin enters the picture, what happens?
24:53 They begin to hide, they begin to be ashamed,
24:56 they begin to cover up.
24:58 So when we talk about intimacy, we're talking about a closeness
25:01 that God wants us to have in our marital relationships
25:04 so that there can be a feeling of freedom in the relationship.
25:10 Doing marriage God's way then means that we create an
25:14 atmosphere of joy, of freedom, of safety because perfect love
25:20 casts out fear.
25:22 So then we're talking about also creating an environment
25:25 of trust, where trust can flourish,
25:29 where commitment can flourish.
25:30 If there is not going to be fear then there has to be
25:33 a certain level of trust in the relationship,
25:36 and a certain commitment, covenant, if you will.
25:39 So we see how all these ingredients sort of intertwine
25:44 themselves into each other
25:46 because they build on each other;
25:48 covenant, grace, empowerment, intimacy.
25:51 Yes these four, and they're wonderful.
25:53 And what I like to see as a culminating piece of intimacy
25:58 is the whole notion of unconditional love.
26:02 You're in this place, you're in this love,
26:05 you're in this marriage.
26:06 and I know it's going to be ok because
26:09 I'm loved unconditionally.
26:11 When I know that I'm loved unconditionally,
26:14 even as a flawed human being, I know I'm going to make mistakes,
26:18 but the fact that I'm going to make mistakes is not that
26:20 big of a deal when I know that I'm loved unconditionally.
26:25 And when I say "making mistakes", I'm not talking about
26:27 doing things against my mate.
26:29 I'm saying, you know, forgetting to stop by the store
26:32 and bring home rice that you asked me to buy,
26:35 or sugar that you asked me to buy,
26:37 or fruits that you asked me to buy.
26:38 Something like that.
26:40 Or I missed an appointment.
26:43 My life got so busy and I missed an appointment.
26:45 I know I'm not going to be raked over the coals
26:48 because I'm loved, I'm special, and you love me unconditional.
26:52 There's caring, there's nurture, there's love.
26:55 Here's what Ellen White has to say in the Adventist Home.
27:07 I love that piece that Ellen White has written.
27:11 "One well ordered family tells more on behalf of Christianity
27:15 than all the sermons that can be preached. "
27:19 The promise of success is, "I can do all things through Christ
27:24 who gives me strength. "
27:26 So I don't have anything to worry about
27:27 but to trust in God.
27:29 As we try to do family God's way,
27:31 as we try to do marriage God's way,
27:33 we can count on the power of God to help us stay close together,
27:37 love each other, and bring honor and glory to God.