Preaching Christ and Helping Marriages

Love and Respect
Love & Respect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marriage seminars and sermon series are all the rage. Churches seem to offer a regular smorgasbord of options intended to strengthen the family, but are we doing what we were intended to do? Is it the local church’s responsibility to provide marriage counseling? Is it the church’s duty to detail the nature of inter-personal communication and conflict resolution?*

I know these questions are provocative. They are questions I wrestle with regularly. And I do so even as I am specifically offering a marriage series on Sunday nights (the “Love and Respect” Small Group study**). I do believe the local church must offer helps to its congregants and to the local community, but is it perhaps overly easy to fall into attempts at psychological answers in place of Biblical answers? I firmly believe the church (my congregation included) MUST strengthen families through every means available, but the question remains…where do we say that the Church MUST be the place where God’s Word is proclaimed and lived out and not simply another tool. Where the Scriptures function as more than a crutch to our marriages, but functions as the transformative, life-giving message of God’s Spirit changing and conforming us into the image of God.

It is far too easy (as Eugene Peterson pointed out in “The Pastor: A Memoir”) to fall into offering helps that are not the direct purview of the Church or the pastor. It is easier in some sense to speak to the psychological and social issues involved and offer such models for resolving conflicts, or improving the well-being of our congregants, but (while these can be incredibly beneficial) do such things belong to the direct responsibility of the local church? Can we offer such helps (as in some sense para-church outreaches), even while retaining our primary responsibility of preaching Christ crucified, risen and coming again as the grounds for our daily lives? I am persuaded that the good news says much about our relationships, but do not want to put undo emphasis where it does not belong. I guess what I’m asking is, should the task of preaching be to offer marriage seminar-like messages…or does it need to be something more? Messages where Christ is central and marriage peripheral.

If so, how do we maintain the centrality of the story of God’s redemption of creation in Christ, while still offering helps which do not belong centrally to that message, but may still be vital to the overall health of our churches?

____________

* Disclaimer: I offer pre-marital counseling, marriage counseling, family counseling, have preached (and will continue to) on issues of the family and marriage (as a matter of following the text of Scripture we are working through and not as a separate series), and offer specific events targeting families, marriages, singles, and parenting.

** I highly recommend this series for its helpfulness.

_________________

Originally published by myself at bluechippastor.org on Jan. 21, 2013.

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2 thoughts on “Preaching Christ and Helping Marriages

  1. Okay, you can counsel for them in numerous ways. What if a witch casts a love spell on one of them, selfishly tearing the marriage apart? Maybe the witch casts a death curse on the remaining spouse? There’s a lot of this going on in our societies. More in the black community.
    I break it up with deliverance and watch the dilemma turn around right in a week. No talk. You should try this first.
    See my prayer & deliverance scripts on orderofsaintpatrick.org.

  2. God helped me learn some real rubber-meets-the-road life lessons on this subject. Came from a divorced family, have been married/divorced twice. Not a good Yeshua-/Christ-like testimony, one might say? What did I learn? Covenant commitment and a closer walk with the God of the Ancient Paths is absolutely key. The God of Israel knows how these things should work right, the way they work best. We always have our free will, but shouldn’t let it get in front of God’s will, as of course should be our commitment to our God.
    When we as “Completed Covenant/New Testament” disciples/followers grow in practicing more of God’s Word, this bringing the husband and wife closer to God, into a closer-knit triangle of with each other, as the result. “Faith and works.” “Hear and do.” Godly principles merely reiterated in the Completed Covenant, from the First Covenant, which is where all of the foundations lay.
    If we don’t have our foundation built on The Solid Rock (the “whole counsel of God”), how can we expect God’s blessings, when we have theologicized-away so much of what He has already said. Did we hope something turned different? Only in a final but minor sense. The Completed Covenant finalized but did not undo the First Covenant. Think on Paul’s writings: Much of what he taught is quotes from the First Covenant (aka Torah/Instructions).
    Shalom! (not Jewish, but Abrahamic: ‘Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’)
    (signed)
    Follower of the Messiah of Israel, aka Jesus Christ, whose Hebrew name is Yeshua ha Meschiach.

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