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Covenantal Families

      Women are incredibly gifted blessings who can transform a house into a home and a group of individuals into a family. They can make life on earth heavenly and rule the world by the hearts they mold. This is why women are under such great attack from the enemy; he knows that there is so much at stake.

      Recently Jon and I received another call from a homeschooling father pleading with us to speak to his wife because she had filed for divorce. The same heart-wrenching plea that we’ve heard before grieved our hearts once again. This now made twenty-one homeschooling wives whom we knew of who had left their husbands.

      Tragically, each wife’s heart had been so broken, that like Peter, taking their eyes off their merciful Savior, they began sinking until finally they drowned in the depth of despair. Despair is an awful state of hopelessness caused by taking our eyes off Jesus and keeping them on our circumstances. It is turning away from God who is the only One who can save us from the temptations and perils of this life. The further any of us walk away from God, the darker everything becomes: our thinking, our hearts, our future. Like being lost in a long, dark tunnel devoid of any godly light for direction, we grope in fear. Having then placed ourselves in such a precariously dangerous position, we become vulnerable to the powers of darkness.

      Falling further and further into despair and into utter darkness, each of these wives no longer recognized her own sin and became captive in the miry clay of deception and lies. Listening to the schemes from the father of lies, they became convinced that they deserved better and had every right to pursue happiness elsewhere. Finally, so hardened by their own sins of pride and rebellion, they were lost to the world.

      Tragically, too, the husbands’ refusal to heed their wives’ pleas for their biblical right to love and support placed the entire family in peril. Now realizing their insensitivity and the worth of their wives, they attempt desperate measures to keep the wives of their youth. However, by this time, too often it’s just too little too late.

      Deeply grieved by these tremendous losses, Jon and I diligently pray for ourselves and each of you. We clearly see the battle and understand that the enemy’s desire is for each of us. And lest anyone think it can’t happen to him, please take heed and be not deceived, for greater men than we have fallen. Therefore, “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end; while it is said, ‘Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.’ For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:12-19).

      Why are tragedies like these occurring even among Christian homeschoolers? What can we do to prevent this pervasive sin from penetrating our body of families any further? What can we do to protect our own families and to ultimately perpetuate godly marriages for posterity?

      Sadly, most of us have not been given God’s mandate for marriage, let alone the biblical training necessary to produce a strong, godly marriage—one truly made in heaven. Little girls grow up believing that they are Cinderellas and that they will marry their Prince Charming and live happily ever after. No matter what his faults, their love will conquer all. It is these fairy tale expectations and false ideals that break our romantic, idealistic hearts. Love can conquer all, but not ours—only God’s.

      On the other hand, boys believe they do no wrong and that eventually “she will get over it – whatever it is that is causing her problem.” In oblivion, they nod their heads and then go on their way, until for some, divorce papers stop them in their tracks.

      Let us therefore return to God’s Word and diligently seek His truth for understanding and direction so that we may strengthen our own marriages and learn how to instruct our children, so that they can fulfill God’s calling in holy matrimony to be salt and light to the world in raising godly generations for His throne room. Furthermore, we must be faithful to encourage one another to press on towards the mark—our prize.

                                                         God’s Plan for Marriage 

      In the beginning, the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs … And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. And the man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’” (Gen. 2:21-23).

      God had taken something from Adam, transforming it into a miraculous gift, and then gave it back to him so he would be whole again. Taken near the heart, he would love the gift; taken from under the arm, he would protect her; and side by side, they would walk together doing God’s will. Man and woman are different, but together they make a whole. Man needed a suitable helpmate, and woman needed man for direction, protection, and provision.

      “And God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over … every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen. 1:28). So God’s first blessing was also His mandate for marriage—to be fruitful and multiply. Throughout scripture, He then delineates husbands’ and wives’ roles in order that they be equipped to fulfill His commission.

      Succinctly given, men are to love their wives, to lead their families, to protect their families, to provide for their families, and to train up their sons and daughters for God’s service. Women are to bear children, to be keepers of their homes, to be helpmates to their husbands, to honor and obey them, and to train up their children in the way they should go.

      Each having different duties to perform required different strengths and perspectives, so God wisely created men and women distinctly different, specifically girding them up for the tasks that each were to perform. Perfectly suited and fitted for one another, thinking differently and responding differently, they each bring all the necessary puzzle pieces together to make one flesh.

      Sadly, though, instead of praising God for His perfectly thoughtful design, we spend our time trying to change our spouse to become more like ourselves, complaining and sarcastically commenting on what must have gone wrong when God created the opposite sex.

      Consider, if men were designed to be the keepers of the home, how could they emotionally be away from their families all day to make a living or even for long periods of time fighting enemies? What kind of home or meals would husbands make? Are women capable of clearing the land, building homes, hunting for the food, or fighting the enemy? Emotionally and physically, we are different, praise God.

      Unfortunately, most of us don’t know what our roles are and therefore cannot fulfill them. We base our actions and responses on our worldly perspective, and it is these worldly suppositions and expectations that bring about our discontentment. And it is this discontentment that lies in direct opposition to God’s command to be content in all circumstances. To be content means “to be satisfied; quiet; not disturbed; not complaining, or objecting, opposing, or demanding more, having a mind at peace. It is our duty to be contented with the dispensations of providence.”

                                                              What Went Wrong? 

      Most of us entered into marriage thinking we had fallen in love and that our passion for our spouse would conquer all our problems. Little by little though, the problems became more difficult to conquer, until one day, insurmountable problems surrounded us in every direction because our love was not strong enough to conquer any of them. Boxed in the valley, we felt trapped, helpless, and hopeless. Longing for a way out, instead of turning to God for help, many began lusting for greener pastures. Self-indulgence in these covetous thoughts gave way to licentiousness, which gave them license to do whatever they deemed best for themselves.

      “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14,15). Lust means “to desire eagerly; to long for; eagerness to possess or enjoy.” T. H. Skinner says, “By the neglect of prayer, the thoughts are sensualized.” Sensual means “indulging in the senses.”

      Whenever any of us begin justifying why we deserve anything other than death, we need to immediately take those thoughts captive to the Lord and remember Romans 5:1-5; 8-11: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.… But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

      Is God Lord of our lives? Does Christ reign as King in our hearts? Then thoughts about divorce are incompatible with His lordship and are in direct rebellion to God, for marriage is a covenant made between a husband and a wife and is symbolic of God’s covenant with His people. Therefore, when we reject our covenant spouse, we are really rejecting God, our covenant Bridegroom. When we are unfaithful to our spouse, we are being unfaithful to our Holy Bridegroom. Furthermore, we must remember that when we began calling ourselves Christians, we took on the name of Christ and the responsibility to act in accordance with His Word, and in so doing, bring honor to His name, for we are the ones who bring God to the world.

      “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:14-21).

      I recently had a dream that Jon and I were making sure all our doors and windows were locked before we went to bed. One window, however, was not locked. Right below the window at our foundation, we saw demons. God was showing me that the enemy’s helpers were lurking about, seeking entry into our fortress. It was our job to secure all the openings through which they could enter.

      “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thes. 3:3).

 

What Attitude Should We Have Then?

 

      “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.… Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights to the world (Phil. 2:1-8; 14-15).

      Love is not an emotion and cannot be based on the emotional whims of the flesh. Love is a commitment to do what is in the best interest of the one we have promised to love. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a clear definition of love: “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails … But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

      Do we even understand the promise we make when we undertake this most honorable and holy covenant? Noah Webster defines covenant as “a solemn agreement” and promise as “a declaration made by one person to another which binds the person who makes it either in honor, conscience, or law.” Marriage is defined as “the act of uniting a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God Himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.”

      Let us all return to the promises we made to our spouse “in the sight of God” before family and friends. Husbands promised to love, honor and cherish their wives; wives promised to love, honor, and obey their husbands; for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death part them. To honor means “to respect and esteem; to treat with deference; to revere; to adore.”

      “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9).

      “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.… be filled with the Spirit … always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband” (Eph. 5:15-33).

      To understand more fully “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 5:10,11 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.”

      Doing what is right is not always easy because although the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.… I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:16,20).

      “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal. 4:6). “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:16,17).

 

Our Inheritance

 

      “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing … He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless in Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will … In Him we have redemption through His blood … according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.… We have obtained an inheritance … that we … should be to the praise of His glory.… You were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance … God’s own possession” (Eph. 1:3-5; 7-8; 11-14).

      Then Paul prays “that God may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:17-19).

 

Our Purpose

 

      “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). To which we must, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).

      “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another … And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.… Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality” (Col. 3:12-25).

                                                         God Hates Divorce 

      Let us not forget that in Malachi 2:13-16, God says, “You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then, to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. ‘For I hate divorce,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘and him who covers his garment with wrong,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.’”

      The ending to the beautiful wedding ceremony is a biblical warning—take heed—“What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6).

      When we wander away from our spouse, are we not really wandering away from our first love—our Lord and Savior—and committing adultery with the world? When we committed our lives to Him, didn’t we trust Him to be who He said He was? And in our unbelief, aren’t we the ones breaking faith with our Father? How can we fulfill our purpose to impact the lives around us when we don’t live our lives in accordance with His Word? Our life is our act of worship.

      Our Lord endured the cross so that we might be reconciled to Him, and yet, while we pray and fast and sacrifice, our hearts remain unbroken. We make the sacrifice while cursing God’s holy covenant by our disobedient actions.

      Self-conscious or Christ-conscious? Self-centered or Christ-centered? Not my will, but Thy will be done! The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, which is why He gave us His Holy Spirit to empower us to do what is unattainable on human efforts alone.

      God’s love never fails; it is steadfast! He wants what’s best for us, and when we trust Him, He brings it to pass. Through obedience come God’s abundant blessings. “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Prov. 24:3,4).

 

      Our love to all of you,

                Jon and Candy