Friday, 1 April 2011

Relationships matter

Over the last few weeks I have had a number of conversations with people around the church and on the edge of the church about relationships, married, civil partnerships, living together, divorce and so on. In this thought I want to consider living together.

God tells us throughout the Bible that he wants a relationship with each of us and often this comes up as a covenant or agreement between a person or people and God. Such a covenant has benefits and demands so that to enjoy the benefits the beneficiaries have to accept the need to take on board the cost.

Our relationships, Biblically anyway, fall into that same form, God puts a man and a woman together for a number of reasons, companionship, friendship, producing children. They leave their parents and agree to be only for each other for a life-time. A covenant agreement which in human terms is often framed in a marriage ceremony, with vows to seal it before God and to ask God's hand and blessing to this coming together of a man an a woman.

In this day and age many skip the formal covenant and opt for a more open ended (OK not always), relationship, living together. This appears to have a degree of freedom, perhaps a little less commitment while enjoying the benefits (Sex, relationship, children ...). In my view not God's best for us but and heres the KRUNCH - in God's view it seems that once a man and a women joined together as one, have made love / had sex or whatever you want to call it, they are married in our sense of the word - two have become one. No apparent certificate or ceremony, but then I don't read of Adam and Eve having a wedding with bells and songs God puts them together and tells them to populate the world!

Think carefully before you give in to yours or another's desire to gratify sexual need or to find happiness where previously you had none or to rush into moving in before considering the long term, it doesn't come free of responsibility.Think carefully before you take the step of living with someone - just because there is no certificate or ceremony  does not mean that there is not the same responsibility, cost and benefit equation coming into being over that relationship - the real difference is that God has been left out and to produce wholesome, long-lived, fulfilling relationships we need all the help we can get, especially God's.

One positive is that there are courses run by churches to help those considering long term relationships - marriage, no matter where they are starting from (single, married, living together). The Relationship central marriage course and pre-marriage course are good for exploring relationships and helping to build healthy marriages.


Anonymous said...

Hi pastor Tony, thought i would share my experience briefly as its no secret. Me and Connie have been married for coming up 9 years, and cohabited 9 or 10 months before marrying to save money for the wedding....It seemed the common sense thing to do at the time. Looking back 10 years on I can honestly say hand on heart its the biggest mistake i have made in my walk with God. Even though we didnt "make out" we did get more intimate than professing christians should and the lusts of the flesh prevailed. In my experience cohabiting and all that goes with it did open the door to a "funny touch" and for years into my marriage with Connie i felt the rough hand of the Lord against me because of it. If ever there was a child of God who has experienced the chastisement of "The Lord" for cohabiting and its failures it was Robinson, believe me when I say that pastor. Obviously it ruined my testimony for Christ when i was pressing on well,and erm only God knows the consequences of this in the light of eternity.

Tony Mayes said...

Interesting comment - a couple of things you might want to consider :-

First so long as we ask God's forgiveness and turn from what we get wrong - and you have - you got married and regret your mistake - Then God will have forgiven you.

Second you have to let go of punishing yourself for a past that needs to be let go of and live in the present that God has for you.

Third Many Christians have made wrong turns or choices, the thing is to let God teach us from them and so let our testimony of his grace, discipline and love in our lives grow.

Its good to remember that God's nature is to restore us through forgiveness.

Graham said...

It is easy to look at other Christians and think they don't get things wrong. Trust me, we all do. I have done some pretty bad things in my time but I accept that my past is forgiven. Today is a new day and my slate is clean. Paul was guilty of /a witness to the murder of Stephen and yet was greatly used - his past did not hold him back.

Tony Mayes said...

I agree Graham, the wonder of God is that he forgives and then helps us move on.

Isa 43:25 "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.