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Whew! First, a note about last week. I realize I pushed us all into the deep water, but you swam with grace and gumption! The subject and the scriptures were challenging, and emotions ran understandably high. There aren’t many places where I would even dare to do what I did, yet I have found this place to be an amazingly safe place to try, together, to plumb the deep waters of our mysterious God. Thank you, for your spirit, blog sisters. Bravo!

You have two weeks to do this lesson since the 2nd week includes Labor Day weekend and many of you will be taking a break. We are covering the huge subject of marriage, but we need all of you. You are the body of Christ and every part is important. Often singles and those unequally yoked can see things those in believing marriages cannot see. In addition, every single one of us needs to attempt to see the mysterious parallel to Christ and His Bride. This is a mystery, but like the deep waters of the ocean, where there are swarms of brightly colored fish without number, there is great beauty to be gleaned in trying to grasp this parallel.


12-9Steve and I began to attempt to live out the gospel in our marriage, and it was the breath of life to us. In the message from Tim and Kathy Keller next week, you will hear Kathy say that both the man and the woman are called to play the “Jesus” role in marriage.  The husband is called to lay down his life for his wife, living sacrificially, as Christ died for the church. The wife is to not cling to her rights, but to submit, as Jesus did (Philippians 2), not counting equality with God a thing to be grasped, but humbling himself, even to death on a cross.

Like Cyndi’s brave testimony last week, these truths saved my marriage. The gospel is continually saving me, not only from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin.

I was the foolish woman of Proverbs 14 who was tearing down her house with her own hands.

I was, as Meg Ryan declared herself to be in When Harry Met Sally, DIFFICULT.


Difficult people are not happy people.

When Steve was doing his 120 hour a week internship in Seattle, even though I was a new Christian, I did not support him. I was angry all of the time. I told him I wanted him to find a way to beat the system or it didn’t pay to be married. Even when he finally had a free night and he got a sitter and took me to a fancy restaurant to try to soothe me, I would not stop venting my anger. A photographer stopped at the table asking to take a picture of this “happy occasion.” I refused to give him a real smile. Can you even imagine living with me?


Steve tried to beat the system that was so unfair to interns, but could not. My pivotal moment was after he had seen the call schedule for the holidays and realized he would be working every holiday. He called me to tell me the schedule and was very quiet. Then he told me, and I knew he meant it because I knew him, “I’m willing to quit.” He was willing to give up eight years of medical training and his dream of being a caring physician. He was willing to lay down His life.

Just as the love of Christ had brought me to repentance, so now the love of my husband brought me to repentance. I determined to be supportive of him, to not “cling to my rights,” but to lay them down that our marriage could be a Christian unity. It was a pivotal moment not just in our marriage but in our walk with God. He blessed our marriage in ways He could not have had we not begun to live out the gospel in our marriage. Steve is with Jesus now, but this week was my birthday week, and all of my children and their families (22 in all!) came to bless me for the whole week — doing all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, planning, and endeavoring to bless me every house. I have never had such a birthday celebration — ending with a powerful worship time led by my oldest son J. R. I am so thankful that my children know both that they are so bad Christ had to die for them, but so loved that He did. And I watch these ten grand-daughters and two grandsons running about and pray each of them will know it too, for His blessings come to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. That is the power of the Gospel.


Dee surrounded by two sons, three daughters, and their families: ten grand-daughters and two grand-sons.
Dee with sons on either side, three daughters, spouses, and twelve grand-children.

When Steve and I wrote our guide, Building Your House on the Lord, It was during the backlash to the 2nd feminist movement and some of the teaching from the pulpit and Christian seminars went way to the other end of the spectrum in attempt, I think, to balance things. It was the time of Marabel Morgan’s Total Woman, where women were told to make their husbands the center of their lives. It was the time of Bill Gothard who taught that women should submit to any wish of their husbands, even immoral commands such as abortion, and trust that God would deliver them in the nick of time. (Today there are still large recovery groups for those who were so hurt by this false teaching.) It was a wild time to write a study-guide, but truly I believe God called Steve to that task. We worked together, but Steve gave us the vision. He saw then, how it all began in Genesis. He also saw, and articulated that ” the prevailing emphasis in Scripture is not ‘Who’s in charge here?’ but rather, ‘The two shall be one.'”



Again, I know i’m plunging into deep water and there are those who will disagree, but here we go!


I am a complimentarian rather than an egalitarian in that I believe “head” means authority rather than “source.” However, I also believe that “headship” that is a constant issue is the sign of an unhealthy complimentarian marriage (or for that matter, local church.) Either the man is abusing his power, or the woman is not being a true help meet, by helping her husband discover the mind of Christ. I have a friend who said, “My mother tried to never make a decision.” I cannot conceive how that would be God’s will for co-heirs in a marriage, or, for that matter, a church body. Jan Silvious reminds women, “Your husband is not your daddy.” We need to mature into our role of being a true help meet: a confidante, a counselor, and a co-heir. Luci Shaw once said to me, “Harold is the head of our home, and I submit to him, yet in twenty-five years of marriage, it has only come up twice.” That is how my marriage was with Steve. From what I can see, that seems to be the thrust of Tim and Kathy Keller’s marriage. She is certainly a strong and outspoken woman, and sometimes he needs to tone her down, but he also respects her so and tells how greatly she has impacted him. She didn’t want to come to New York, but when after much discussion they could not agree, he reluctantly stepped into his role as the leader who would bear the responsibility of the decision, and she stepped into the role of submitting to something she didn’t want to do. Neither liked their role, but they say applying the gospel to their marriage has made each of them more like Christ.

Always keep in mind our Bridegroom lay down His life for a difficult bride in order to transform her into a pure and beautiful bride. As we respond to that love, dying to ourselves, we are continually transformed into the image of Christ. Also remember, difficult brides are not happy brides.

Week One (Beginning August 24th)

Sunday Icebreaker:

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

Monday-Friday Bible Study:

2. Read Genesis 2:18-24

    A. Over and over, God has said “It is good.” Now, in verse 18, something is not good. What is it? How does this apply both to the gift of marriage and to the general concept of the fellowship of believers (the corporate bride)?

    B. What is God’s solution?

    C. Read Kathy’s Keller’s interview (LINK) on being Tim’s “ezer” (help fit for him) and comment — and why do you think TGC titled this, “Not your stereotypical pastor’s wife?”

    D. Giving someone a name is a sign of authority. How do you see God giving Adam authority in verses 19-20?

    E. In verse 21-22, how did God form the first bride, and what parallel can you see to the second bride? (Challenge question)

    F. Adam’s response to Eve is the first audible human comment recorded in Scripture. Howard Hendrick’s says it is like “Eureka!” What emotions do you see here?

     G. Now — think about how Jesus will respond when He sees His Bride on that great day. What parallel can you see? Do you really believe He will react to you in this way? Do you believe He loves you that much?

     H.  They key verse about marriage in Scripture is first stated in Genesis 2:24. What is it, and explain what is meant by “for this reason.”

     I.  What are we told in verse 25?

J. What parallel can you see in verse 25 for our relationship with Christ? How should the gospel make us naked and unashamed?

IF3. Let’s consider the three parts of this key verse on marriage:

A. What does it mean to “leave” your father and your mother? Does it mean abandonment — why or why not? What does this look like, practically?

B. What does cleaving mean?

An important book for me early in our marriage was Walter Trobish’s “I Married You.” He talks about cleaving as being like glue — and to separate means you tear into each. Jesus repeats this command in the gospels twice in regard to why divorce is so serious.

C. What are the effects of divorce to each person and to the children?

D. Challenge question: When we each live out the gospel in marriage, how does it make us one flesh?

E. How did Jesus leave His Father and then His mother in order to acquire a bride?

4. How does Paul use this key verse as an argument to speak against infidelity in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17? How do you see the gospel in this passage?

    How might you apply this verse as either a single or a married woman?

(We’ll look at the culmination of “the two shall be one” in Ephesians next week.)


5. What is your take-a-way, and why?

Week Two: Living Out the Gospel in Marriage (Week of August 31st)




The two shall be one is God’s high calling for marriage. Becoming one can only happen as each spouse plays the “Jesus” role. The husband must love sacrificially, as Christ died for His bride, and the wife must not cling to her rights, but lay them down, as Jesus did, even to death on the cross. When a couple does experience the beauty of oneness it is as close as we get on earth to what will be reality in heaven with Christ. It is also why the death of a spouse is so painful, why divorce is so painful, and why being in an unequally yoked marriage is so painful. That is not how it is meant to be. But one day, for believers, a great mystery will be revealed. There will be no more death, no more tearing apart, and no more sin in our hearts. We will be one with our ultimate Bridegroom and one with one another. I felt I tasted just a little of that my birthday week with my children and grandchildren. We are all a little quirky, all with faults, but grace was able to cover it. My youngest grand-daughter, Lily, who is just 18 months is already learning to sing: “Grace, grace, God’s race, grace that will pardon and cleanse within…”

One day, as Tim Keller says, we will be seen completely naked, and yet we will be so delighted in we will be unashamed. There will be no more enmity between us, no more shame, and no more rivalry. It is a mystery, but let us try to peer into it through a glass darkly.



Sunday Icebreaker

Read over last week’s opening again, and then this week’s opening.

6. What stands out to you and why?

Monday-Tuesday (Bible Study)

7. Read Ephesians 5:21-33

A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship.” When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?

( D. A. Carson addresses this in the plenary sessions of The Women’s Gospel Coalition Conference of 2014 if you are interested in listening.)

B. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the husband and the role of Christ?

C. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the wife and the role of the Bride of Christ?

D. How does this passage elevate marriage beyond the world’s view of marriage?

Wednesday-Friday: Message

8. Listen to Tim and Kathy Keller on marriage and share your notes and comments here.


9. What’s your take-a-way and why?






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    1. Dee,
      I have been a slow-learner in this process.   It has been a bloody heart-battle at times….. where I am in pain and I just want my husband to know how bad it hurts.    I sometimes become discouraged with myself because I can mentally acknowledge the truth about submitting to the Lord and to my husband, but it isn’t an easy thing to live out by any means.     The Lord has been such a patient teacher and He continues to be.    

  1. B. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the husband and the role of Christ?
    Christ is head of Church; husband is head of the wife.
    The Church is His Body (v.22); a wife’s body does not only belong to her but to her husband. Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies—as Christ loves the Church, His Body. The Church isn’t perfect, and yet Christ loves and accepts us, as we are. In the same way, husbands are to love and accept imperfect wives.
    I really liked the D.A. Carson plenary talk on this (this part starts around 30 min mark). He said “The dominant thrust of the paragraph is that husband love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her—an “impossibly high standard, for which we are responsible”. Self-sacrificially, for her good. It doesn’t mean she gets everything she wants. It doesn’t mean she dictates—Jesus doesn’t stop being Lord, and yet—all of His Lordship is worked out first on the Cross.”
    C. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the wife and the role of the Bride of Christ?
    Church submits to Christ; wife submits to husband. The wife is to respect her husband—implied—Church respect Christ. We know that Christ never makes mistakes, and our husbands do—yet we are still given the mandate to submit to and respect our husbands in the same way the Church submits to Christ. It has nothing to do with competence, but everything to do with submitting to God’s Word.
    D. How does this passage elevate marriage beyond the world’s view of marriage?
    I love the part that a husbands’ goal in how he treats his wife is: “to make her holy”. I love it because that is what Christ does for us, the Church—He makes us holy. In every way, marriage is designed to reflect the relationship of Christ and the Church. That does elevate marriage, but also gives me a great feeling of responsibility. And it saddens me at how our culture has so muddied the reflection for non-Christians. Carson quoted a NYT article about how as a culture we are driven by the “god of options”—that lies to us, promising we can “have it all”, but in the end, there is nothing. It is so interesting how Paul continually flips between husband and wife and Christ and the Church—there is such an intertwined relationship there that we cannot ignore if we follow God’s Word. I have had a number of examples when it was hard to submit to what my husband wanted. One (funny now) example comes to mind when I really though he was just wrong—in the first year of our marriage. Shockingly, after voicing my differing opinion, I did what he asked, and thankfully the Lord took care of the rest. It’s a “marker” to me that He will bless my obedience to Him in those hard times. 
    I see the “ideal”—how both sides committing to bowing to the 2 principles allows marriage to be a beautiful reflection of Christ and the Church, but I don’t think even in Christian marriages it’s that easy, and I can’t imagine how hard it is to submit to a man you know is not praying and seeking the Lord. It’s often “easy” to submit until something becomes a sacrifice, and then there is the challenge of whose side submits! But I know I am individually responsible to obey God’s Word. My submission to my husband is really an act of obedience to my Lord, an act of worship to Him. So even when I don’t agree, and those times are still really hard—I try to get myself to the place of remembering my call is to submit, as to Christ, and I trust He will bless that obedience, and protect from mistakes or use it for His good. 

    1. Elizabeth,
      Your words,   “My submission to my husband is really an act of obedience to my Lord, an act of worship to Him. So even when I don’t agree, and those times are still really hard”.    For me too.   There have been some significant circumstances over these past several years that involved unwise decisions on my husband’s part and that have affected both of us as well as our children.    (He has also made many wise and life-giving decisions over the years, but the past several years have been discouraging for him and he has acted out of that discouragment, I believe.)       So, submission involves forgiveness.   And I don’t have forgiveness to offer without Our Lord’s work in my own heart….. continually.

      1. Nila – I think you’ve made a really wise observation that discouragement can almost “naturally” drive unwise decision making – for all of us, but I think for a husband/father in the workplace that is an especially potent factor.  We have lived that EXACT same circumstance!  This is also probably a good moment to respond to your description back a few posts ago about how your husband chose to deal with Mark’s rebellion as a young adult.  I thought he sounded INCREDIBLY wise in how he chose to deal with that!  39 years together this Saturday – wow!  That’s so wonderful…..and I’m sure in heaven you will be amazed at how precious in Your Father’s sight were the “hard times” along the way……and how eternal each act of heartfelt forgiveness and submission.  So thankful you are here, sharing your heart!  🙂

      2. Nila,  your husband sounds like mine in the last few years..mine too has made both life giving decisions as well as unwise decisions. Has loved well and been self centered too..like I have. 🙂 I remind myself he isn’t purposefully trying to hurt us when he makes the unwise ones. He just stumbles trying to lead sometimes when he does it in his flesh like I stumble in the flesh in submitting. And God hung on the cross for me in my fleshly ugliness and His mercy covers me despite me-eternally..and when I just stop there..oh my. 

    2. Elizabeth, I see so much of “you” in how you answer these questions by examples from your own life, because I know how much you love the Lord and desire to obey and worship Him, and so I see you continually keeping your eyes on Jesus and trusting that He will bless your obedience.

  2. Question:  where do I go on the Facebook page to the site where you all are asking for prayer, etc?  When I looked back a few weeks ago, all I saw was Dee’s FB page – not private, etc.  Could someone let me know?  Thanks.
    And for today…..PRAYER REQUEST…..my daughter Jes has only been back in chemotherapy for three weeks of the “planned” six months without a break……her enemia has become nearly life threatening.  Last night she needed to have a blood transfusion and will likely need another again tonight.  Bed rest for the forseeable future…..she’s already been having iron injections, eating amazing amounts of totally organic high iron foods (cooked in a cast iron skillet!!) and just about everything imaginable to try to keep her numbers in line…..all to no avail at this point.  Amazingly, she’s still smiling through her tears…..but she is in a rough and scary place.  Jes just turned 25 and is not a follower of Christ.  Each and every prayer for her heart’s softening is like incense rising to the Father…..and so gratefully appreciated by me!!!!! 

    1. Jackie……you need to contact Diane or Renee to have them invite you to the page, I think.  You can look them up and send them a message and/or friend them on facebook.  I believe Renee has posted her email here a couple of times…..but I’m on the run and can’t look it up at the moment.   If you look through Dee’s facebook friends, you should be able to find Renee…..you’ll recognize her.  Send her a facebook message.  
      So sorry to hear that things are so terribly hard for Jes right now…..which always means, they are hard for her Mom too.  I am about to get in my car and I will be praying all the way to my job…..for you both.  

    2. So sorry to hear that Jes is having such a hard time. Praying for her physical healing and also that she will open her heart to Jesus. Email me at datrails at gmail.com and I will add you to Facebook prayer page.

    3. Jackie, Oh how upsetting for anyone to be going through this…but especially your  sweet 25 year old daughter:(  I am so sorry and will be more faithful to lift her up in prayer.    Find my name, Joyce Bond Peterson on facebook….I’ll direct you to the prayer page…and it is private.  There are alot of women on there that you won’t recognize….because they are they silent blog sisters, but they are faithful to pray.So sorry for Jess and I’ll be praying for her…and you!

    4. Jackie, I’m so sorry to hear that Jes is having such a terrible time with the chemo…it is indeed grueling, and the side effects do include the destruction of blood cells (white blood cells and red and platelets) because they are rapidly dividing and growing cells, just like the cancer cells the chemo targets. I imagine it is very scary for her and she must be feeling very weak. Dear Lord Jesus, please be near to Jes, and we do pray for physical healing and much wisdom for her doctors in deciding her treatment. Lord, do soften her heart towards You so that she would know the love You have for her and her need for You. Help Jes to place her trust in You. And please help Jackie bear this burden of seeing her daughter so sick and hurting for her.

      1. ‘Amen’ to Susan’s prayer.

    5. Jackie, I will pray.

    6. Jackie, so sorry to hear about Jes. Praying for you and her. Look in left column of your fb page. You should see the group listed there. I added you earlier this evening

    7. Lord, 
      We cry out for your mercy for Jes and for Jackie and her husband.
      Jackie, I’m thinking of the song All in All here tonight ~   Sending along an accompaniment my daughter Erin recorded several years ago in her tiny apartment in Oakland, Ca.   She does not read music.   Plays only by ear.   Her gift.   (hope the link works…… if not, let me know and I will email it to you directly if you like.  My email is tnmulford@gmail.com)
      You are my strength when I am weak
      You are the treasure that I seek
      You are my all in all
      Seeking You as a precious jewel
      Lord, to give up I’d be a fool
      You are my all in all
      Jesus, Lamb of God
      Worthy is Your name
      Jesus, Lamb of God
      Worthy is Your name
      Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
      Rising again I bless Your name
      You are my all in all
      When I fall down You pick me up
      When I am dry You fill my cup
      You are my all in all


    8. Jackie, I am praying for Jes…oh the difficulty of her young days.  I will be praying for her relationship with the Lord…that He may woo her to Himself and she fall into His loving arms, accepting His incredible gift of grace.  The heart of a mother loves and it is SO difficult to watch from the “sidelines” as our adult children suffer (physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.)…Jackie; may the Lord comfort you and give you His peace . 

    9. oh Jackie–praying for His mighty hands to cover your dear Jes, so so sorry

    10. Jackie,   
      Praying for Jes and for you and your husband.    (I posted late last night with a link, but it seems to have disappeared this morning.)
      Lord, have mercy.   You know our hearts as moms.

  3. B. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the husband and the role of Christ?
    The role is called being the ‘head’.  In the church, Christ is the head, the ultimate authority.  Members of the church…..including the pastor, elders and all leadership need to submit to Christ.  If leaders, pastors, elders lead the church, in submission to Him, they will lead with servant’s hearts (Phil. 2) and if done according to the plan of scripture, it ought not to be difficult or oppressive for all members to submit to Christ’s leadership via the instruments of carrying out that leadership..those designated…ie pastors, elders, leaders).   The perfect plan of scripture and the perfect example of Christ’s servant leadership is not always evident, however.     
    In a marriage, the husband, as the head, should also lead with a servant heart.  Not acting ‘above’ his wife, but caring for her and… ‘in humility considering her as better than himself’ as Phil 2 says of Jesus.  In mutual submission, she cares for him in the very same way.

    C. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the wife and the role of the Bride of Christ?
    Answered above……with the addition that Paul specifically tells wives to respect their husbands.  This has been identified as one of the most important needs a man has in a marriage.  Likewise, husbands are told specifically to love their wives.  A woman who feels unloved by her husband is most often undone in every other area.  Likewise a man, who feels disrespected by his wife. The advice is timeless.  

    1. Good, “meaty” wisdom in your last paragraph about love and respect, Wanda!

  4. Jackie, email me at datrails at gmail.com and I will add you to the Facebook group. It is secret so you cannot find it by searching.

  5. D. How does this passage elevate marriage beyond the world’s view of marriage?
    The passage speaks of a marriage that is an analogy of the union of Christ and His church.  Verse 21 sets the tone:  there is a mutual submission of one to the other.  This draws us back to Paul’s words in Phil. 2 when he describes Christ as setting aside the glory of heaven to become a servant…..to not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but out of humility to think of others as better than Himself.  This is Christ’s example.  We are exhorted to be bearers of His image in our marriages.  There is mutual submission…not a 50-50 as is often declared by the world.  The wife showing respect to her husband is an image of us as Christ’s bride, showing Him reverence. And the husband is commanded to love his wife.  Why?  Because Christ has loved us with an everlasting love.  He has loved us as one loves his own body because we ARE His body and He is the Savior of His own body.  That is a kind of love that is not affected by changing times, moods, circumstances and failures.  It is a permeating, forbearing, never-ending, unconditional love.  And through a mystery, we are His bride.   He likens the marriage of a man and woman to the union of Christ and the church.  That likeness, in and of itself, elevates marriage to having not only a physical and emotional component, but a spiritual one as well.  
    The words of the hymn, ‘The Church’s One Foundation’  are running through my mind:
    The Church’s one foundation, is Jesus Christ her Lord;
    She is His new creation, by water and the word;
    From heav’n He came and sought her 
    to be His holy bride;
    And with His blood He bought her, 
    And for her life, He died. 

  6. Jackie, I will be praying for Jes in this incredibly difficult physical battle for her health; I will pray for her heart to turn to Christ and for your strength as you assist her.
    I have listened to Tim and Kathy Keller and really love listening to each of them.
    Tim’s intro talks about marriage/divorce statistics and that people assume that most marriages are unhappy.
    However in couples who stay together, most are very happy. He says that our culture may not believe in marriage, but the truth is marriage is the best thing. The biblical framework helps each to subordinate their own impulses for the good of the marriage which leads to character development. Though differences make them clash, yet it makes them mesh, through different gifts and different weaknesses.
    Our culture thinks marriage is about “Me” being fulfilled, however it used to be about “Us”. People look for someone who is compatible, or fulfilling for me. That approach brings more pressure on marriage. He says, “You always marry the wrong person, because we are all sinners.!” We must learn to love and care for the “stranger” we marry.
    What the Bible gives us is that love is a covenantal thing: Leave father and mother and cleave to each other in an intense, personal and intimate relationship which is binding and solemn. It requires us to be loving and faithful regardless of how I feel. Love is sacrificial service, giving the example of caring for an infant that requires all your time and energy and you come to love that infant deeply as you invest your life. Each person tries harder, giving up own desires. Marriage may bring out the worst in you… Christ loved us to make us lovely and by the power of grace in marriage  you will acquire the power to forgive.
    His words bring much meaning to my own marriage that has endured amazingly for 47 years this month. I am learning so much in this study and I see so many parallels. Over time and through many trials I have come to have a deep love and growing respect for my husband who has had to go through some real trials in waiting for me. The hardest trial was when I was caring for my mother with dementia and we were in different states, over 180 miles apart. He traveled frequently and kept things going on his end. I see that we have developed much strength in character and also in the power to forgive. This has not been easy, but has been worthwhile and made up for many years when we did our “own thing.” Trials have strengthened the bond we now have for each other.
    Kathy’s talk was also inspiring, and I smiled as she made the main point, “We both get to play the Jesus’ role, the husband as headship and the wife as submissive to her husband.”  Her beautiful description I couldn’t get down , but it was worth listening to twice! “The best thing is that the world sees us and we are the Gospel; We could astonish the world if we did it right!” I am desiring to get it right just to be that witness to a dying world! It is a great task, with a great goal. And to think that was never foremost in my thought for a witness to others. In fact I am most ashamed of my early years and the lack of respect that I demonstrated in doing my own thing.

    1. Congratulations and happy 47, Shirley.  I have no doubt that many have benefited from you and your husband’s marital example/witness.  I truly believe that many (most?) times actions speak louder than words.  Thank you for sharing…

  7. 7D. How does this passage elevate marriage beyond the world’s view of marriage?
    I might be over-simplifying this and not really answering the question but it elevates marriage beyond the world’s view of marriage because God, the creator of marriage and of the universe is at the center of believers’ marriage both individually and as One. Omniscient, all powerful, all loving God Who empowers us to love like Jesus does-passionately sacrificial. As Elizabeth said..the husband desiring to help His wife become Holy is mirroring Jesus and the Church and that is HUGELY self sacrificial and ‘other’ centered. Talk about elevation!
    Laying down our lives for one another in marriage is so counter to our flesh-so counter to the world that the world notices it has to be God in our marriage for it can’t be us! The world sees marriage as a void filler and a way to have meaning in life and if that person isn’t making you happy then leave. Christians find their satisfaction and meaning in life in Jesus Christ and an outflow of that is we become more like Him and desire to satisfy and love one another.. at the cost to oneself. Our marriages grow more beautiful and then this elevates Jesus Christ to a desperate and hurting world that needs Him so. 

  8. 7. Read Ephesians 5:21-33
    A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship”. When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?
    I disagree, because you can’t pull one verse out of a passage to prove a point, and this passage goes on to discuss the headship of Christ over the church and compares that to the headship of the husband over the wife. The Message translates verse 21, “Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.” So rather than proving no headship, this verse is the model for both – the wife submits to her husband out of reverence for Christ, and the husband leads, not in a domineering way, but also in submission to Christ, following His example of leadership.
    B. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the husband and the role of Christ?
    I like the Message translation, “The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to His church, not by domineering but by cherishing.” That is a very tender picture/parallel. Jesus did not come to “force” people into submission to Him; He changed people’s hearts by loving them.
    “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything He does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives.” Here is the parallel between a husband’s love for his wife and Jesus’ love for His Bride. A love that desires to give to the other, not selfishly get. A love that is focused on growing the other and elevating them to a place of dignity and worth.
    “No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of His body. That is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become one flesh.” Here is the parallel of husband and Jesus caring for one who is “his own body” – united in flesh and spirit.
    “What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her…” Jesus shows His love for His Father in the way He loves us…a parallel with how as the husband loves his wife well, he is loving himself, too.

    1. Susan, I too really like the Message translation…tender and gentle, not forceful.

  9. C. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the wife and the role of the Bride of Christ?
    Verse 22 says that wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. Just as Jesus is the Head of the Church, and the church submits to Him, so wives should likewise submit to their husbands. The parallel is a response to leadership. It shouldn’t be grudgingly done in order to obey the rules, or because we fear punishment. I like how verse 23 says that Christ is the head of the church, of which He is the Savior. I think Paul’s choice of word here shows what our heart response should be to our Savior…it is reminding us of the gospel, of His sacrifice and love. So the submission comes from a heart of gratitude and desiring to show love in return.
    There is also a parallel with showing respect, or honor. Jesus treats us honorably and with respect, caring for us as members of His body. The Message says, “What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife…and how each wife is to honor her husband.”
    E. How does this passage elevate marriage beyond the world’s view of marriage?
    It elevates marriage by insisting that marriage, the union between husband and wife, is a picture of our union with Christ. So it’s not all about us – our happiness, our wants. It is to reflect to the world how Jesus loves His Bride. The world’s idea of romantic love runs on the fuel of emotions and getting your needs met. Often, when the honeymoon is over, couples become dissatisfied and start looking for someone else to renew the fire. I certainly remember my attitudes when I got married; it was more about me. I think it’s possible to be more in love with the idea of marriage as a way to personal fulfillment than to be in love with the person you are marrying. This verse shows a much bigger picture and meaning of marriage; it is part of God’s great Plan. Yet, not to make it all sound so “sterile”, God does give husband and wife the amazing gifts of sensuality, passion, desire for one another, and intimacy on all levels. Those are gifts, not to be made into idols.

    1. Susan:   the title ‘Savior’ stood out to me too, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what that meant or its significance here.  You said it so well.  …..and ‘we love Him because He first loved us’.   

    2. Susan, I think you’ve brought up such a good point regarding “wedding” and “marriage”.  How sad (and far too often) the emphasis of getting married is on one celebratory day, rather than all the days that follow…i.e., emphasis on wedding day rather than marriage.  I think this mentality feeds the “me” idea rather than the “us”…the ” 3 strand marriage” (Lord, husband, wife) which can be so rich and deep and oh so fulfilling.

  10. I’ve been reading & thinking about headship and submission. I haven’t written much here yet, but I’ll put a few excerpts from a book I’ve picked up. The egalitarian vs complementarian views on this issue are confusing me. This book is complementarian… The Heart of Marriage: Loving your spouse with a Christian mind by Michael Hill. 
    Who’s the boss? Submission occurs naturally in everyday life, eg teams – ‘In order to facilitate the achievement of as many goals as possible we compromise and relinquish our autonomy and our sense of indignation at points. In simple terms we allow others to lead and we submit to their leadership.’
    In marriage – ‘Even if you agreed that leadership and submission are necessary in marriage, you might still strongly disagree with the idea that leadership be assigned on the basis of gender. And yet this is what the Bible seems to do… In assigning leadership to the male, the Bible seems to have devalued women and failed to recognise that as people they are in every way equal to males. Some Christians have decided that the Bible is just wrong at this point.’
    Headship in the structure of marriage – not a military structure where subordinates blindly obey any command issued. The model for headship in marriage is not Lamech, but Christ. ‘The model of leadership is sacrificial love. The husband is to be committed to the good of his wife even if it costs him dearly… The husband is given power to do certain things and this power is validated by the value system that God has built into creation. God’s value system in relation to personal relationships is based on the value of love. The husband only has the authority to do what is good for his wife.’
    Submission in  marriage – Dismisses image of  weak-willed, downtrodden woman as Biblical submission. Based on Cranfield (1979), suggests the Greek ‘means to count the claim of an authority, such as the government, as a greater claim on one than one has on oneself.’ rather than obedience. ‘Someone does not have to obey the emperor, for example, if his demand conflicts with God’s law. In the New Testament, Christians were called upon to disobey rulers and responsibly take the penalty imposed. They had to submit to rulers but not necessarily obey them… The grammar of the Greek word clearly indicates that submission is voluntary: a willing commitment made by the wife. The wife must not be bullied into agreeing with the husband. If submission is not willing then it will threaten the mutual love character of marriage.
    Marital structure – The husband is to use his leadership in loving service of his wife. When mutual agreement cannot be reached the wife… is to defer the husband’s decision in order to maintain the unity of the marriage. Moreover the husband’s decision has to be for the good of the wife. He cannot just decide in favour of his own inclination and interests… Each is to be other-person-focused; to be for the good of the other or the good of the marriage as a whole.
    That’s long, but it’s becoming clear in my mind, after reading through that chapter.

  11. Thanks, Kerryn, for sharing from that book. It addresses the issue so well. I like the sentence, “Each is to be other-person-focused: to be for the good of the other or the good of the marriage as a whole.”

  12. 8. Listen to Tim and Kathy Keller on marriage and share your notes and comments here.
    I did not follow Kathy as well, so most of what stuck with me is from Tim. 
    Marriage in our culture today:
    The divorce rate has risen from 25% in 1960 to 50% today. Marriage has decreased from 75% in the ‘60’s to less than 50%. Cohabitation has become norm.
    Culture’s assumptions: 
    Most marriages are unhappy; living together before marriage is a great way to figure out if you should get married; key to satisfying marriage is finding that perfectly compatible soul-mate. 
    Facts: If you cohabit before marriage, you are more likely to get divorced. The earlier sex is introduced into a relationship, the more likely you are to break up.
    Finishing college, getting married later, decreases chance of divorce.2/3rd of all marriages that stay together even though unhappy, one year later say they are glad they stayed together. 62% of married people say that they are very happy– better physical health, mental health…
    Essentially, there has been a change in our culture as to the purpose of marriage. The biblical idea (and to some degree other traditional cultures) … marriage is something that creates a framework for a lifetime of love between a man and a woman:
    1) Designed to help each other subordinate their individual impulses and interests to the family, marriage, character. (Very hard to get out of marriage; more important than my happiness in this moment is the marriage.)
    2) Men and women are so different they clash and yet they mesh. Marriage is a way of bridging the gap and creating an inter-lockedness with different views of life, gifts, weaknesses, together as a whole.
    3) Create a long term stable setting for raising children. Marriage is a “public good”–good for human character development; relationships between genders; raising children.
    Marriage used to be: subordinate ME to my marriage and these other things. Today: marriage is about ME.
    The purpose of marriage is not for me to make a sacrifice; certainly not to change. So I have to find someone who is perfectly compatible: accepts me, affirms me, helps me reach my goals; great sexual relationship; personal fulfillment. If not? Not getting married. If married and that’s not happening? I’m out.
    *That approach puts more pressure on marriage than the Bible or any traditional culture has ever put on marriage.
    Who do you have to find for a “Me Marriage”? Someone who doesn’t think there is anything wrong with you. Someone you don’t want to change.
    ***If you put upon this view of marriage the “I want to marry a Christian too” … imbibe the values of the self-centered culture; men say “I want to marry a Christian and she must be absolutely gorgeous and she can’t change me”; women say “must be a great provider; keep me living nicely; raise children send them to private school” …You will never find anybody. Or if you find someone and get married; then, when marriage is hard, you’ll say “I’ve married the wrong person.”
    The reality: no two people are ultimately compatible. All are sinners. Men and women are different—that’s part of the point of marriage (mysterious to each other). Marriage is pretty hard to get to learn how to fit.
    The culture assumes there is one right person for you to marry … this overlooks the fact that we all marry the wrong person. We never know who we marry, we just think we do … You’re not the same person after you’ve entered marriage.
    Love as a covenental thing–the essence: man leave father and mother and cleave to wife.
    “What is a covenant? An incredible, unbelievable, and for our society, counter-intuitive understanding merger of love and law together.” More intense, personal, intimate than a merely legal contract; but far more binding and solemn than a merely emotional contract. Unless you know this person has said “I’m committed to you for the rest of my life” — be loving, tender, faithful, serve you regardless of how I fee. Tender, affectionate … that’s what you promise; not to FEEL loving, but to BE loving. Now I can be myself. I don’t have to be afraid you will walk away. “You can even stop fooling yourself as to who you are…A covenant reveals us so that we can actually be who we are inside the marriage.” 
    That can never happen when two cohabit: living in constant marketing state; never seen without your makeup. ***Covenant love gives a richer understanding of what real love is. Tim tells how when he first kissed and held hands with Kathy–electrical thrill. Not the same now because in the beginning it is not about so much love for one another as it is being chosen—it is about our ego. (Screwtape): a lot of what human beings call love is HUNGER—an ego emptiness. When you feel this person is affirming you; making you feel better about yourself, that’s not love. *** Love is sacrificial service and the delight you increasingly find in someone you’ve invested your love in. 
    Real love—sacrificial service and the increasing delight re: someone you’ve invested your love in. Not just falling in love with your idea of what the real person is; but loving the person after you’ve seen each other’s flaws; rebuilt respect for each other; each person holding on, trying hard, embracing, repenting, forgiving; and slowly real love grows. You begin to admire the other person for what he/she has been through for you. 
    A lot of other traditional cultures believe in much of this too but only Christianity gives us the POWER to forgive, keep loving when you find out the person isn’t at all what you thought he was and what YOU are too. Marriage brings out the worst in me (found this to be true, the parenting is even worse!). Jesus Christ looked down from the Cross and saw us abandoning him, hating him; and yet He stayed. So …we can say ‘because I caused Jesus’ death and He forgave me, I forgive you.’
    From Kathy Keller: 
    Christian marriage is an apologetic vehicle that is an invisible window into the character of Christ; His work and His salvation; something that will astonish the world if we do it right.
    The distinct roles of men and women in marriage reveal the gospel. We will be embodying the gospel and showing the gospel to a watching world.
    In a marriage, people get to see repentance and marriage operating without manipulation; and the Holy Spirit helping us to overcome [our sins].
    Our gender roles can also lead to a different understanding of ourselves and the inner life of the Triune God.
    People see your marriage much more intimately than probably anything else you do. Shrugs. Comments. Attitudes.
    So: what should people be able to tell about the gospel of Jesus Christ by looking at your marriage?
    Headship of a husband= servant leadership in Ephesians 5.Not the Archie Bunker definition; not what (sadly) many preachers and teachers teach. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve …The Lord and Master exercises His authority by being a servant–to serve and even die to bring about the happiness and holiness of His Church (Bride)/People. Submission of a wife: If a husband is willing to die for you to serve you; there is no anxiety in submitting to him.
    Gender roles are ROLES. Roles. If you have been in the military, you know that you salute the uniform, not the man or woman in it.
    The being of the Father and Son are ontologically equal; in their essence, they are God. But the submission of the Son to the Father is a role He assumed willingly in order to accomplish a task; submission was not compelled or required of Him, it was a gift for securing our salvation. 
    Women who submit are offering that submission to GOD first; to have a marriage that nurtures and reveals. If submission did not hurt the Second Person of the Trinity, then it surely will not hurt me. Ezer – Helpmater (strong word, mostly used of God in O.T. — “O God Our Help”)
    He did not just endure 30 years of chastity; He is still waiting for the consummation of the Lamb. That thought ought to drive all of us—married and single—to yearn for that day.
    We are not to place too much of our happiness in our temporal lives …… everyone gets to play the Jesus role.
    And I liked this from the prayer: “ we ask you to use us, use our relationships, our marriages, our not being married, to be a window into the gospel; into the salvation that Christ has won; for a world that does not read their Bible and needs to know about you. We ask this … that you may be glorified. We long for the day when we will be united with you.”

  13. Checking in for a quick hello and to say I love you all for your insight and personal stories about your marriages. Our Lord is so good to us. I have smiled and cried as I read your entries and grateful for the matchless, wonderful grace of Jesus in our lives. So busy lately at school and at home. Our daughter Ruth Ann is at home for another 10 days-I am dreading the day she leaves for France (September 15) and just relishing the sweet moments here at home with her. My sister did not receive very good news of her cancer. She will need surgery and radiation-a much heavy financial burden for her and for her family. And what does the mercy and grace of God give me at this time of my sister’s need? A generous and understanding husband who is willing to help her out financially. The Jesus love my husband has for me extends beyond me to reach my family in the Philippines. I could just cry (which I did a little while ago). Thanks for letting me share.

    1. Ernema, I was wondering when your daughter had to leave.   Enjoy every minute with her now!   I’m praying for you and Ruth Ann and for your sister Grace and your mom.  How wonderful that your husband sees the need for your sister’s expenses and helps what he can.   Praying for all of you!

    2. Ernema – your description of your husband’s “Jesus love” is simply beautiful.  He loves – with sacrificial action – those who are so dear to you.  What a precious gift to your life!

  14. So sweet to read of your husband’s generous heart to help your sister.  And always to see your heart of love for the Lord, Bing.  We’ll keep praying for Grace.  

  15. 8. Listen to Tim and Kathy Keller on marriage and share your notes and comments here.
    Here is what stuck out: 

    Tim Keller: What the underlying cultural belief is about marriage: the older idea of marriage was subordinate me to us, public good, to my long term character development, etc..but today marriage is overtly about me.
    In modern relationships people want partners who make their own lives interesting.  The purpose of marriage is to find someone who is compatible..someone who confirms me, helps me meet my goals..the whole purpose of marriage is personal self fulfillment. If I am in that marriage and it stops happening, I am out. 
    Who do you have to find for a me marriage? Someone who finds nothing wrong with you-who won’t want to come in and change you. You have to fidn someone you don’t want to change much either, no conflict and there has to be this constant desire to jump into bed and it has to be consistently natural. There is no one like that out there. NO wonder there is cohabitation..i want to have sex with someone like that but they have to be low maintenance not trying to change me.

    If you put on top of the cultures view of marriage don’t change me and on top of that you say I want to marriage a Christian too. and the men say she has to be gorgeous and can’t change me. I want to marry the guy but he has to really have a great job. If you take on the cutlrue’s me marriage and then you want to marry a christian you will never find anyone. If you do and get married and find it is incredibly hard you are going to say I married the wrong person.

    The reality is marriage is difficult, hard to learn how to fit..no two people are ultimately compatible because all human beings are self centered even after they believe the gospel together, it is going to be difficult. You always marry the wrong person basically.

    Marriage means you aren’t the same person after you enter it.

    There is something about compatibility..you probably shouldn’t be 40 years apart, you probably should speak the same language. 

    The Bible gives us the understanding of Love as a covenant thing. A man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. God gives woman to the man. Covenant is an incredible unbelievable, counter intuitive of love and law together. A covenant is more than just emotional love or law love..but to be tender, loving faithful and serving you despite how I feel. To not be selfish regardless of the circumstances. It is more intimate because you can stop fooling yourself as to who you are. 

    Covenantal love gives a richer understanding of what love really is. When you date you get the electrical feel of holding hands..then later on do you get that? Heck no and thank goodness. The reason you get that thrill is your ego..someone I like is responding to me. That isn’t love it is ego. A lot of what human beings call love is hunger. This person is making me feel better about myself- it isn’t love it is ego. Love is sacrificial service and the delight you increasingly find in someone you have invested your life in. As the years go by you find each others flaws then you re-build your respect for one another..repenting, respecting, forgiving and then real love grows..then you grow to admire that person because of what you and her have been through, that is sexy.  :))))))) I LOVED THIS. SO TRUE.

    Marriage brings out the worst in you but that is when we look at Jesus on the cross and say, he stayed on the cross for me and I caused His death but he forgave me. 
    Kathy Keller: We are Christ invisible..marriage is a visible window into the character of Christ, his work and salvation and something that can astonish the world if we do it right. In order to reveal Himself God has given us a world of show and tell. The heavens are telling the glory of God. The distinct roles of men and women in a marriage reveal the Gospel of Jesus. In a Christian marriage each person gets to play the Jesus role. Headship and submission can display the fullness of the Glory of the Gospel in a powerful way. 

  16. Good morning all….I so appreciate the prayers for Jes.  I have gone through this a.m. and prayed for you all too!  I know the needs represented here are abundant and overflowing!  So thankful that we can pray for one another with only the “bare bones” knowledge of each situation…..and we have a God who takes what we offer and makes it exactly what it needs to be!!  “….The Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”  Romans 8: 26b!!!

    1. The past week I have been feeling so negligent and so inadequate in prayer.  Not that there is ever an ‘adequacy’ but there are times when I feel so much more in tune to His Spirit.  This week, I am struggling with a very pre-occupied mind…..and oh how I love Romans 8 :26 in those times……..thank you for that good reminder, Jackie.  

  17. Jackie, so glad you got on Dee’s private facebook page!   Thank you for praying for all of us and we will continue to pray for Jes.

    1. Jackie, ditto to Joyce’s comment… so glad you are on the FB page, thank you for your prayers, I will continue prayers for Jes.

  18. I highly recommend that, if you like Ann Voskamps’ writing, you go to her blog http://www.aholyexperience.com  …..her entry for Sept 4th is entitled “Dear Kids:  Why Wait for Marriage……” it is just exquisite!  To me, it dovetails perfectly with what we have been studying these past few weeks.  Ann expresses, as only Ann can, the wonder of the covenantal nature of marriage.  Enjoy!  It’s an icing on the cake kind of takeaway from this week’s study!

    1. Yes, Jackie, Ann V’s entry on marriage is a great one and fits so well with what we are pondering these weeks. I think we also need to pray for her boys who will be encountering all kinds of temptations as they begin this new adventure (and for all those  young people who are leaving home for the first time including the sons and daughters of some of us here on the blog). 

    2. Jackie,
      Thank you for recommending Ann Voskamp’s Sept. 4th blog entry.    God commits to wholly, unconditionally, and covenantally accept us forever in spite of our sin and flaws, to love us passionately to death.   

    1. Oh Dee, that is awful! Hopefully some family was there so they could help?  Glad you are back though!

    2. oh Dee–I am SO sorry–what a mess! praying! And we would NEVER think that you just “don’t care” about us! 🙂

    3. I have also been absent, also with internet problems… on again, off again. My ISP is promising to have ADSL restored by 10th. On a positive note though, I also have my sister staying.

    4. So sorry for the storm and flooded space….: (   Hope you’re getting dried out and back on your feet.  That can really set one back.  

    5. Oh, Dee…sorry to hear you were part of that area really hit by the storms…my husband’s supervisor as of Sat. morn was still out of electricity. Glad you are restored… hopefully you didn’t have items in your crawl space that got wet/damaged.

    6. Sorry to hear about your storm and flood problems, Dee. Hope all is put to rights soon.

  19. My takeaway, 
    This was a huge refreshing drink for me. I am encouraged in how we live our marriage out as Kathy Keller said, showing the world the Gospel in our roles. As Tim Keller said about loving someone as you grow to admire how they grow in the valley times, Love is sacrificial service and the delight you increasingly find in someone you have invested your life in. As the years go by you find each others flaws then you re-build your respect for one another..repenting, respecting, forgiving and then real love grows..then you grow to admire that person because of what you and her have been through, that is sexy. 

    And to take this a step further…When I gaze at the cross more and more and walk in the Gospel He melts my heart more for Him. What I see as ‘more’ is really a ‘tidbit’ compared to completely adoring Him and Him completely melting my heart and taking all my stones away when I am face to face in the future.

  20. Just finished catching up on comments. Praying for each of you as I read. 
    I really, really liked the Tim and Kathy Keller talk.  Rebecca and Elizabeth shared good notes so I will not duplicate (Deanna – we miss you and your good notes! =) I hope your husband is recovering well and that you are well!)
    My take away is a new perspective of the women’s role. I often hear discussion centered around the submission part of women’s role and the leadership part of men’s role. But the discussion of strength in the women’s role  has been a breath of fresh air to me. I don’t think I can quite articulate the shift in my thinking but I am grateful for the teaching. 
    Can anyone provide a link to D. A. Carson plenary sessions at the women’s gospel coalition conference this year? I have limited search access and wasn’t able to find them. 
    For those who asked: We are moving to Fort Eustis, VA. We are still in limbo. Praying that Monday brings answers for housing. Thank you for your prayers! And thank you all for sharing. I have learned a lot reading this week. 

    1. So nice to have you pop in today, Jill.  Praying for your move and the many adjustments to a new home and surroundings.  My parents always listened to a radio program on Sunday evenings, when I was living at home, and it closed with a slightly different variation of this benediction.  It came to my mind tonight as I was thinking of you moving with your young children to a new home.  Blessings to your family, Jill.

      As you leave this place,
      may the Living Lord go with you;
      May he go behind you, to encourage you,
      beside you, to befriend you,
      above you, to watch over you,
      beneath you, to lift you from your sorrows,
      within you, to give you the gifts of faith, hope, and love,
      and always before you, to show you the way.

      1. Wanda, what a lovely blessing…:)  
        Best wishes, Jill…hoping (and praying) for good news on Monday regarding your housing. I am also praying for “heart friends” to be provided. Love to you, Jill… take good care.

  21. Jill…so glad to see you back here…..praying monday will give your the open door that you need!  Dee…I’m so sorrry too…what a horrible mess.  Praying help and clean up  for you!

  22. Thanks for the good Notes for the Tim & Kathy Keller talk, Shirley, Rebecca, and Elizabeth.  I am in agreement with many of you that were refreshed by the manner in which they explained the roles in marriage and how they relate to Jesus and the church. I was pleased (and relieved) with Kathy’s acknowledging how roles have been twisted and spun…how this has caused oppression and has truly been a disservice to all, including our Lord.
    The cultural assumptions regarding marriage make me sad…and especially in light of what is really truth.  I am going to encourage both of my daughters to view this…so much good information that hopefully they will take to mind and heart.
    The information regarding covenant relationships I found quite interesting.  I recall confusion with this concept when it was discussed in the context of annulment… I thought, how can my marital relationship that brought about two children not be considered marriage???  Clearly I was missing what differs between a covenant relationship/marriage and one that is not.  I can see this pretty clear now… when I look at my first marriage, it didn’t have a covenant component… yes, the words were said, but that’s all…they were “just said” and not meant for what they really meant for both parties. This (thankfully) is not the case with Greg and I… we live our marital commitment with love, faith, trust, respect, and perseverance.  We are grateful for the blessing of each other.
    I guess in a “nut shell,” clarity and greater understanding is my takeaway for these weeks.