Friday, July 22, 2011

Is Marriage Obsolete?

Ephesians 5: 25-30

“A recent report reveals that four-in-ten Americans say marriage is obsolete. Hello, I’m Phil Sanders, and this is a Bible study, In Search of the Lord’s Way. Is marriage obsolete? What is God’s will for couples who wish to live together? Does marriage matter? Stay with us, and we’ll explore God’s Holy Word.

Hello, I’m Phil Sanders and we’re here to search God’s Word for the Lord’s Way. The Bible provides the best way and the right way to live; and that’s why we go to it again and again. Thanks for spending this time with us. We love to hear that you’re watching or listening whether you’re in any one of the fifty states or in the 45 other countries that hear this broadcast. We want to be part of your life each week.

A Pew Forum survey released in November said that 39 percent of Americans say marriage is obsolete. Now, this change in thinking profoundly impacts our country and especially children. In 1960, 72 percent of adults in America were married but in 2008 only 52 percent were married. Many are willing to wait until later in life to marry, and the number of single people who are divorced has tripled since 1960. More than that, the number of couples living together without marriage has grown dramatically.

God gave Eve to Adam in the beginning, because it was not good for him to be alone. Marriage, that is one man and one woman for life, was and is God’s design. The home made up of a married father and mother still provides the very best foundation for the happiness and the prosperity of the whole family. (Which is why the left wants to destroy the family! It will as help in destroying the United States!—my addition)

God has blessed my wife Jackie and me with 36 years of happy marriage and four wonderful daughters. We now have seven grandchildren. I consider my wife Jackie as God’s precious gift and she’s a treasure. I’m so thankful for her. I’ve often wondered, however, how she’s put up with me. When we married, we made a promise to God and to each other that we would live together as husband and wife until death do us part. After all these years, we still love each other deeply and are even more determined to keep that promise.

Today we’re offering copies of this program free; and if you want a printed copy, a CD or tape of our study, simply ask. Mail your request to In Search of the Lord’s Way, P.O. Box 371, Edmond, OK 73083 or e-mail us. The address is Or you can call our toll-free telephone number: 1 (800) 321-8633. We also have this program and all of our programs on our website at Ken Helterbrand will lead the Edmond church in song, and then we’ll read from Ephesians 5, verses 25 to 30.

Our Scripture reading today comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians chapter 5, verses 25 to 30. ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.’ Let’s pray together. Father, we are grateful as we think of all that You do for us; that You help us to live our lives in such a way that we show our love for You just as You have loved us. Father, bless our families and may we always live in Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

When I was a teenager growing up in Shawnee, Oklahoma in the 1960s, we used a word that I don’t hear much these days. It described a sexual behavior that was considered sinful and shameful. In those days, we used the term ‘fornication’ to describe all kinds of sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Today nearly 60 percent of American adults believe that ‘fornication’ or sex between an unmarried man and woman is morally acceptable (They are wrong!—my addition). Only forty percent think it’s wrong to have sex outside of marriage (However, they are correct! A majority does NOT determine the truth! GOD does!—my addition).

Now, this change in thinking reminds me of what happened in Corinth. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 5, verses 1 and 2 that, ‘It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. And (then he says) you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.’ Now, rather than be ashamed of sin, people have become arrogant! We’ve assumed that we have the moral freedom to do as we please without spiritual or physical consequences. (Sound familiar? Think homosexual behavior as well as immoral behavior between genders!—my addition)

And that explains in part why we’re seeing some significant social changes in America. The number of couples who are living together has risen dramatically! Cohabiting has nearly doubled since 1990. More than half of adults between the ages of 30 and 49 say they have lived with someone at some point in their lives. Even many people who call themselves Christian have turned a blind eye to the common practice of cohabiting.

As in the days of Jeremiah, many Americans today have no shame about anything. Jeremiah 6 and verse 15 says, ‘Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; they did not even know how to blush.’ From our movies to our television sets to the internet, there is a constant message that sexual immorality is now morally accepted. But is it? When did God change His mind? Has God ceased to be holy? Habakkuk 1, verse 13 says about God, ‘Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor.’ My friend, God hasn’t changed.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 41 percent, 41 percent of births in America today are to unwed mothers. In 1960 that number was only five percent. Today one in four children is growing up in a home of a single parent. People who live sexually immoral lives rarely think of how it’s going to hurt their children. Children who grow up in single-parent families often face greater social, financial, and moral challenges than other children. People who tend to value marriage less are more likely to value all family relationships less. Those who don’t want a spouse often don’t want a relationship with his cohabiting partner’s family either.

I’ll never forget a man coming to my office for help a number of years ago. He was in his late twenties and he needed to talk. He had hit bottom in life, feeling so alone and needing so much. He lacked food, but he had a greater need than a meal. He needed a family. With tears streaming down his eyes, he said, ‘You know, if my father walked through that door, I wouldn’t even know it. I don’t know who my father is. I wish I had a father.’ I saw an empty man with a hole in his heart, impoverished by a father he never knew.

Two-thirds of the children entering step-families do so in a setting where the adults are cohabiting rather than married. Studies show that children who live in cohabiting homes show poorer emotional development than children from married, two-parent families. Cohabiting means that people can leave rather than face the challenging responsibilities of family.

And even when two people have lived together a long time in cohabitation, they don’t feel obligated to remain with this partner forever. Couples who live together often define their relationship as ‘open’ and don’t feel the need to remain exclusively loyal to their partner. Cohabiting couples are frankly less willing to support or be financially responsible for their partners. Now, such couples usually take steps to keep their money separate from their partners. A woman who lives with a man without marriage may be his girlfriend, but a girlfriend is not a wife. She’s not yet family; she’s a live-in lover.

Many couples say they want to live together for a while before marriage to see if they’re compatible. And they assume that if they can get along before marriage, they can get along after they say ‘I do.’ And they figure they need to see if they can handle the down times as well as the good; and breaking up before marriage, they say, is better than going through a messy divorce. Well, with that I agree! And all of this sounds good, but there is a substantial difference between those ‘trial’ marriages and the false thinking of them and a real commitment for life.

You see, a trial is just that; it’s a trial. Somebody slips up and the other person’s out the door. Marriage is much deeper and richer than that. It has levels of love that the couple who is cohabiting will never know. Marriage is for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, and until death do us part. Cohabiting means I’ll put up with you as long as you keep me happy. And in the meantime we’re on a month-to-month agreement. No assurance, no security, and no long-term commitment.

If you get sick, lose your job, or you become unable to take care of yourself, then your live-in partner will feel less responsible for your welfare. They may even abandon you when you most need them. One live-in partner said to the other, ‘If you ever need me, we’re going to be in trouble.’ (I’m NOT responsible! Have we abandoned the concept of personal responsibility in this nation?—my addition) Couples, you see, who cohabit want the benefit of each other but not the responsibility. This self-absorbed attitude means it’s going to be harder for them should they marry to have a lasting and happy marriage.

Studies show that two people who deeply love each other and are willing to commit their lives to each other in marriage will live longer, healthier, happier, and more prosperous lives than those who are not married. For instance, sociologists Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher cite a study that showed ninety percent of married men, that is they’re married when they are at the age of forty-eight, that nine out of ten would live to be sixty-five; but only sixty percent of the never-married men who live at forty-eight would live to see retirement at sixty-five. Now, among married women, nine in ten at 48 would reach 65, but among those never-married or divorced, only 80 percent would reach the age of 65. Married people, generally speaking, live longer than those who don’t marry.

Some cohabiting couples end up marrying, but they divorce far more frequently than do couples who wait until marriage to live together. In their book, The Case for Marriage, Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, show substantial evidence that married people are happier, healthier and better off financially than those who choose other lifestyles. They cite hundreds of studies showing marriage is indeed a blessing of God. Marriage has not failed us; we have failed it. (Just as GOD never fails us; we however often fail and reject GOD! To our detriment!!!—my addition)

Waite and Gallagher conclude their book with these words: ‘Decades of social-science research have confirmed the deepest intuitions of the human heart. As frightening, exhilarating, and improbable as this wild vow of constancy may seem, there is no substitute. When love seeks permanence, a safe home for children who long for both parents, when men and women look for someone they can count on, there are no substitutes. The word for what we want is marriage.’

In reality, what some people have tried to substitute for marriage is simply living in immorality with the same person. The Bible says in Hebrews 13, verse 4, ‘Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral (that is fornicators) and the adulterous.’ (And those who practice homosexuality thus perverting the concept of marriage and perverting the WILL of GOD!—my addition)

God’s will is not that people stay single but that they marry rather than live in some kind of sexually immoral situation. First Corinthians 7 and verse 2 says, ‘But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.’ (There is never any mention of man and man or woman and woman! NEVER!!!—my addition) Paul advises widows and the unmarried to live as celibate singles as he did. And then he said, ‘But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.’ (1 Corinthians 7, verse 9) The Bible never, never, never approves of cohabiting outside of marriage.

Now, some today are saying what the Corinthians said in the first century, ‘Well, all things are lawful for me.’ This was their saying. The apostle Paul quotes this saying, because the people thought they were at liberty to commit acts of fornication just as they were at liberty to do other things. (Never at liberty to SIN!!!—my addition) And the inspired apostle Paul answers them in 1 Corinthians 6, verses 12 and 13 when he says, ‘All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food; but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, (that is sexual immorality, fornication) it’s for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body.’

In verses 18 to 20 of this same chapter, 1 Corinthians 6, the Bible says, ‘Flee immorality (that is fornication). Every other sin a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.’

The Lord expects those who follow Him to live a pure and holy life, not like the people of the world. The Bible says in Ephesians 5, verses 3 to 6, ‘But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (and that’s an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.’

When people marry, they publicly promise before God and witnesses they will care about and care for each other. Married couples work together; they take care of each other; they provide for each other; and they share common goals and dreams. The money they earned they budget and spend together. They share their lives and raise their children together.

They worship together, pray together, and work together. They share their joys, their sorrows, their faith, and their love. They become one in flesh and one in heart. This is the Lord’s way for men and women to live together.

God realized it was not good for Adam to live alone, and so He made a helper suitable for him. ‘So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.’ (Genesis 2, verses 21 and 22) When husbands and wives highly value their mates as gifts from God, they find their lives growing much happier.

But when couples live together without marriage, they snub their nose at the will of God. Many couples who cohabit stop going to church; they push God out of their lives altogether. It’s hard to draw close to God while you continue living in a sinful way. Why not give up the sin and come back to God’s way of life? Why not turn your heart and your life around and live as God teaches in the Word? You will never regret doing the right thing, but you will always regret your sins. Let’s pray. O Father, help each one of us to live so that we will glorify Your name, to live in Your way and in Your will. This is our prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen!

When Jackie and I married, we inscribed the words from a Scripture, Ecclesiastes 4 and verse 9, in our wedding rings. And these words are, ‘Two are better than one.’ You see, verses 9 to 12 say that, ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.’ We believed this verse thirty-six years ago. And today we know it’s true! The Lord’s way is the right way to live.

The Word of God has a marvelous way of proving itself over time. The Lord Jesus said in John 7 and 17 that, ‘If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.’ The Lord’s teaching is from God and it’s proven itself again and again. And that’s why we must follow God’s teaching on marriage, on salvation, and on the Christian life.

If you love the Lord, come out of sin and live righteously, confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God before others, and be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 3 and verse 7 that, ‘you must be born again.’ That new birth of water and the Spirit comes through the grace of God when one is baptized into Christ. And God washes away our sins in baptism (Acts 22 and verse 16) and causes us to walk in newness of life free from sin. (Romans 6 and verse 4) Perhaps you’ve given in to the lust of the flesh and you need forgiveness. There’s never a better time than today to get things right. Won’t you please?

We hope you’ll give some thought to today’s study of God’s Word. If you want a free printed copy, a CD, or tape of this message, ‘Is Marriage Obsolete,’ then mail your request to In Search of the Lord’s Way, P.O. Box 371, Edmond, OK 73083 or e-mail us at

Or, you can call the Search office toll-free at 1 (800) 321-8633. Now, all of our programs appear on our website at You can access them or download them in a printed, audio, or video format. We offer also free study sheets to go along with our programs, and you can download them free as well. They’re going to help you study God’s Word. You might want a Bible correspondence course. We hope that you’ll write and ask for one. We’ll send one free.

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