Monday, May 27, 2013

Are You Ready for Sex, Marriage, and Children? - Mr. Kenneth Bratton

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33 

       Men hear this verse and say, “Yes, that’s right: my future wife is commanded to respect and obey me.”  Men have no problem with the first part either.  We say, “Loving a wife may be a little hard, but I can do it.”  Other men say, “What’s the big deal?  Why do girls make such a big fuss about love?”  On the other hand women will hear their own verbiage.  Ladies seek the love of their husband, so the first phrase is very important to them.  Ladies yearn for love with a longing that we as men often do not fully grasp.  Yet, ladies do not know what to do with the second part of the verse.  It can yield anticipation, joy, fear, confusion, anger, or simply more questions. 
       In both cases, men and women interpret the passage through their own lens.  Each reader’s desires motivate the benefits that they see from the text.   Your lens will determine which benefits of the prized trifecta of sex, marriage, and children you see in this text.  Yet such thoughts fail to prepare you for your favorite part of the prized trifecta. 
       We will think about sex and marriage for a moment.  Just like any football player practices before the game is needed to be great on the field: practice is essential for a thriving marriage.  So, are you practicing being married, right now?  You should be.  You may say “That is ridiculous. I have made a commitment not to have sex until I am married.”  Great… so what? Many non-Christians are committed to that.  That is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about preparation. Look at Ephesians 5:21(NIV), the verse right before this passage, to see what is meant by preparation.  It states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  Submitting to one another is how to be prepared for marriage.   This is a command to serve others. I want to make it clear that this is a command from God.  Though you are not married, this command still applies to you.
       A command must be obeyed regardless of how much we like it.  I may not want to serve my brother who is annoying me, but the command still stands.  But why must we serve others?  The motivation for our service is absolutely crucial.  If we get this part wrong, we will get the whole command wrong.

       Serving for the Wrong Reason: We begin by looking at ways in which Christians serve selfishly.  Do not skip these.  Be watchful and prayerful as you read.  Ask yourself, “Do I do that?”  Use caution.  The tendency is to point the finger at others, rather than evaluate our own hearts.
Serving others will:
·        cause others to like me.
·        cause others to stop treating me poorly. 
·        show others how great I am. 
·        get people to agree with me. 
·        get me what I want.
·        provide a sense of security in my life. 
·        make me feel appreciated. 
·        get me that guy/girl.
·        cause the church to see my spirituality and finally like me.
·        hide my hypocrisy in other areas of my life.
Are any of these your motivations for service?

       Proper Motivation: Instead of using these motivations, we should serve as Christ served. Christ served:
·        to please His Father. 
·        from a lowly position. 
·        for thirty years. He lived in Nazareth where He was unknown and unappreciated. 
·        twelve people for about three years. He came to serve his apostles even knowing how they  would treat Him: being falsely accused by one He trusted and betrayed by the rest.
·        those that would viciously kill Him. 
·        His murderers.
Servanthood is humiliating, hard work that rarely gets recognized.

       Practical Outworking: Practically speaking, service must be our attitude in life.  First, look for opportunities to know people.  When we get into other people’s lives it means we might get hurt.  We might also hurt others.  Yet, this should not scare us away.  It should remind us how Christ suffered for us, so that we could become His children.
       Second, listen.  To become a better servant, we must listen effectively.  Therefore, we must talk to people so that we can listen to them.  Those conversations must go deeper than sports or the newest gossip.
       Third, pray.  Seek God’s guidance.  Often we want to serve someone, but we try to do it on our own strength.  Often God calls us out of our comfort zone, so that we cannot do it without His strength.
       Fourth, determine if you have the ability to meet a need.  We cannot “help” everyone.  When thinking about this step, sometimes you should answer “yes” and sometimes “no.” 
       Fifth, serve.  Serving someone can be something small that no one will ever know about to something quite large and public.  Here the action is simple, go serve.
       Lastly and most importantly, throughout the whole process, seek to know and love God more. Develop a passion for God by trusting him with the results. Trust Him in a little act of service and watch how He gives you strength. After a while, service will become an automatic part of your life. That is how it should be.  The objective in serving is to show our love and obedience to Christ and to bring all respect to God’s Name.  One excuse may be “I don’t like steps.”  Do not use that as the reason for not moving out of your comfort zone.  Instead call them the five parts of service.  It does not matter to me, just obey and serve.
       You will make mistakes.  You will fail.  You will be embarrassed.  During those times run to Christ and keep obeying.  Yes, hurt and disappointment are hard to overcome.  Keep serving.  Keep putting others first.  Do not grow weary in doing good.
       Back to the Prized Trifecta: So back to what I started talking about--preparing for sex in marriage that may produce children. Okay, so maybe you were just thinking sex.  Maybe you are thinking children.  Whatever it is, you must be a servant of Christ NOW if you want even a possibility of a joyous marriage.  The reality is, no matter how great a servant you think you are, once you get married you will see how far you fall short.  I speak as a man who has been married for 11 months.  Although I have not specifically addressed the topic of children in this article, I hope to report my findings after our baby is born in October.
Knowing how to serve well beforehand is the needed foundation for a good start to the marriage.  So be prepared and practice serving, now.  Are you scared? Trust God.  Do you serve? The answer should be “yes” and “often.”

Mr. Kenneth Bratton

Possible future topics of discussion:

1.    What is the purpose of sex: children OR enjoyment, Prov 5, 1 Cor 7, and Gen 2, 24.
2.     Practical ways to prepare for marriage.
3.     More on serving under adverse conditions.
4.     Should marriage be sought after?
5.     Marriage questions.
6.     How to find a perfect mate.
7.     Godly silence verse silence of avoidance.


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