Marriage and God’s Glory
Authors John Trent and Curt Hamner talk about the purpose of marriage-God's glory. Glorifying God in marriage echoes who He is and how He loves us. This loving God is a God of unity and community, and He reveals that through marriage.
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betweentwotrees.org), a marriage ministry designed to resource couples and communities with tools and coaching to pursue God's design for marriage. Together Curt and Rhonda speak at conferences and retreats throughout the US and around the world, with messages grounded in a biblical theology of marriage, recent research and practical tools for couples to nurture...moreStrongFamilies.com, a ministry committed to building strong relationships in these stressful times. Dr. Trent’s main focus includes writing and speaking at retreats, conferences, business settings, churches, and seminars across the country. In addition to building family teams, Dr. Trent regularly speaks to corporate America on teambuilding, recruiting and retaining outstanding employees. He has authored an...more
Authors John Trent and Curt Hamner talk about the purpose of marriage-God’s glory. Glorifying God in marriage echoes who He is and how He loves us.
Marriage and God’s Glory
Bob: Most of us probably don’t think about our marriage in this way, but Curt Hamner says we should recognize that our marriages are masterpieces.
Curt: It’s as though God gave us, on our wedding day, the Mona Lisa. If you have the Mona Lisa, what are you going to do with it? Well, you’re not going to store it in a closet. You’re going to display it; you’re going to protect it; you’re going to insure it. You’re going to make sure that the first thing people see, when they come in the door, is the masterpiece that you have. God has given us a masterpiece, revealing Him as a God of love.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 21st. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. When people look at your marriage, what do they see? Do they see a masterpiece? Do they see God’s design for marriage on display through you? We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. Thinking about having a marriage that’s a masterpiece makes me think about the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway; because we’ve had so many couples, who have come to us and said: “This weekend has changed our marriage. How come nobody ever told us this? How come nobody ever explained to us that the Bible has a lot to say about how to make a marriage all that God intends for it to be?” That’s what we do at the Weekend to Remember.
I’m mentioning that, right up front here, because this week we’re giving FamilyLife Today listeners an opportunity to register for an upcoming getaway and save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. We start our spring season of getaways about three weeks from now; they’ll continue throughout the spring into the month of June. We’ve got about five dozen of these events happening in cities all across the country.
If you register this week, you save 50 percent off the regular registration fee; so go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. Find a getaway that’s coming to a city near where you live, or a city you’d like to visit; block out that weekend on your calendar; and get registered this week to save 50 percent on the registration fee. Find out more at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call if you have any questions, or if you would like to register by phone, at 1-800-FL-TODAY. We’re hoping a lot of FamilyLife Today listeners will make this the year/this the spring that you do something to help make your marriage a masterpiece and attend one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways.
It was back in July of 1992, Mary Ann and I made our first trip to Little Rock together.
Dave: —‘92?—that’s it?
Bob: —‘92. We came here to talk with Dennis Rainey about the possibility of starting a radio program.
Dave: How did that go, Bob? [Laughter]
Bob: It actually worked out okay.
But I remember sitting at lunch with Dennis. He looked at me and he said, “I just want to know; does marriage and family—”—here’s what he said—“—does it make you weep and pound the table?” I looked back at him; and I wasn’t trying to get a job, because I had a job and I was happy with my job; I was just saying, “What’s the Lord doing here?” I said, “You know what?” I said, “Theology makes me weep and pound the table.” I said: “To the extent that marriage and family is a part of God’s design, yes; but honestly, it’s bigger than marriage and family for me. It’s: ‘I love all aspects of theology.’”
Here’s what I didn’t know when I gave him that answer. I didn’t know the extent to which marriage and family is wrapped up in everything that is a part of God’s plan for His people. I mean, I would have been like most people and said: “There’s some key chapters in the Bible about marriage. There’s that Ephesians 5 chapter, and 1 Peter 3 talks about it. Jesus mentions it in Matthew 19; and of course, you’ve got the
Genesis stuff; but you get past those chapters, and there’s not much about marriage and family.”
God’s design for His creation is built around two becoming one, starting families. I learned all of this as I came here and started interacting with Dennis, and then speaking about it at Weekend to Remember getaways, and then, interviewing people on FamilyLife Today. A few years later, I pushed back and went, “This is much bigger than I ever realized.”
That’s what we’re talking about today. We’ve got a couple of friends joining us on FamilyLife Today. Curt Hamner and John Trent are back with us. Curt, John, welcome back.
Curt: Hey thanks. So great to be back again.
John: Hey, thank you.
Bob: These guys understand how big this deal is; because they’ve been working for years on a project that is now a book called Marriage: Its Foundation, Theology, and Mission in a Changing World. Curt and his wife Rhonda give leadership to a ministry called Between Two Trees in Southern California and have been working with couples for decades.
John and his wife live in Arizona; but John’s been traveling back and forth to Chicago for the last five years, helping establish a program on marriage and family at Moody Bible Institute. We were talking earlier—here’s Moody Bible Institute—it’s been around for a hundred-plus years; and all of a sudden, they said, “We should be talking more about marriage and family”; right?
John: Yes; well, you’ve had Gary Chapman on here; and Gary just started the Chapman Center and the Chapman chair. I was the first Chapman chair. At the same time, I run a ministry called Strong Families with our oldest daughter, Kari.
But boy, you’re exactly right; you sit there and you think: “Yes, marriage and family—that’s kind of peripheral. Here’s the big stuff: ‘Theology.’” And all of a sudden, you realize, “Oh my goodness; there’s so much,”—that if you’re going to study theology, guess what? It has to do with origins, and creation, and purpose, and meaning, and mission.
Everybody today wants to go change the world; you know—and should. Well, part of that is understanding: “If you’re married, you are part of God’s plan to live out the gospel and be able to go and do just that.” It is exciting to tie theology with marriage and really see how the Lord takes that.
Dave: Here’s a question for you. I’ll pretend I’m Dennis Rainey; alright? If I would ask you what Dennis asked Bob: “Curt and John, what makes you pound the table? What makes you weep?”
Curt: I think it’s looking at the next generation; and that answer is about both theology and marriage—that the church of the next generation would have a firm foundation/theological foundation that helps them understand who God is, what God has done for them, God’s love for them, and God’s redemptive work in their life. And would be able to see, with that, how that is represented and revealed in the marriage relationship and in the community of the church—which is really the fulfillment of the community/the people of God that God originally designed in the Garden of Eden with two. God must now expand that to generations and from the four corners of the world.
Ann: Well, you talk in your book—and even what you’re describing—is somebody on mission/that’s passionate. You’re both so passionate; you burn for this. But I’m thinking of my son and daughter-in-law, with their four-, two-, one-year-old. They’re just trying to survive every day, but can they still have mission in the back of their mind? What does that look like on a practical level? What is mission—the mission of marriage?
John: For me, it’s really fun to come back to that; because again, thinking of that next generation—and what that looks like and “How do you live on mission?”—I do think we have to get back to that idea of: “What was marriage created for?” Bob mentioned it earlier; it’s for God’s glory. We can talk a lot in the culture today about God’s glory, and it just seems like it’s something ethereal. How do you get your arms around it? How do you really say, “I glorified God today”? Well, what does that mean: “I glorified God”?
And the truth is—glorifying God is just showing Him for who He really is. And part of that, I think the culture will resonate with, whether Christian or non-Christian; and that is the desire for love: “God is love.” And everybody says, “Well, of course; everybody knows that God is love.” You can quote Scripture verses that gets to that.
But the idea that God is love comes back to the idea that God lives in an interpersonal relationship for all of eternity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a community. We, as evangelicals, run away from that; because we’re so mindful of rational thought. If we can’t explain it, then we’re not going to deal with it; so we have a weak theology of the Trinitarian idea.
Bob: Yes, I was talking to some friends, who are going through your book; and I said, “What do you want me to ask these guys?” They said, “Have them explain the Trinity to us.” I said, “Okay, if they can do that, we’ll solve 2000 years of church history;” right? [Laughter]
Curt: Go ahead with that, John.
Dave: Think about that. I do want you to talk about it; because you pick up this book, and it’s right in the beginning—you guys go to the Trinity. I’ve never—Ann and I wrote a marriage book—we didn’t even think of bringing the Trinity in, especially early. It’s a foundational principle we’ve got to understand; help us understand it.
Curt: It’s central. Dave, you talked about it earlier; and that is the idea—the
Genesis 2:24: “For this cause a man shall leave…” Well, we never stop. “For this cause” is a causal phrase; so what is following that? Marriage is caused by something that goes before it, and what goes before it? Well, it’s the relationship of Adam and Eve; but even before that, it goes back to God’s statement, where He says, “Let Us make man in Our image.”
As He does that, in the process, He makes the male; He makes Adam. And what does He say?—“It’s not good!” It’s not good because Adam, alone in his aloneness, cannot reveal a God relationship, because there is no one for him to relate to. There’s got to be someone else; because the Trinity, for all eternity, has had this deep love relationship.
So now, God brings this woman to him; and they enter into relationship. Then God says, not only is it good, but it’s now “very good.” So the revealing of who God is, not only as a God of love—but a God of relationship, a God of community, a God of unity—that becomes incredibly powerful. That, I think, is compelling for us to grab a hold of that and say—like you were saying earlier, as well, Dave: “How do I reflect that in my relationship with Ann?” / “How do I reflect that in my relationship with Rhonda?”
Well, it’s as though God gave us, on our wedding day, a masterpiece—say the Mona Lisa. And if you have the Mona Lisa, what are you going to do with it? Well, you’re not going to store it in a closet. You’re going to display it; you’re going to protect it; you’re going to insure it. You’re going to make sure the first thing people see, when they come in the door, is the masterpiece that you have. God has given us a masterpiece, revealing Him as a God of love; and now, we have the privilege.
Bob: I think we need to—as we talk about the glory of marriage, and talk about God’s purpose and design, and how He puts Himself on display in marriage—we just got to acknowledge the fact we have folks, listening, who aren’t married: some who will never be married; some who would like to be married and aren’t; some who would say, “I’m called to singleness.” When we talk about God’s design for marriage, we’re not saying the only way we bring God glory in our lives is through marriage.
Bob: Singles still play a significant role in the advancement of the kingdom and can experience wholeness and fullness of life, even if they’re never married.
Ann: —and are still on mission.
Curt: One of the important truths about a theology of marriage is that marriage is temporal; marriage will end with time. But the idea of the revelation and revealing God as a triune God—the Imago Dei/the image of God—doesn’t end because it continues with His body, the church. Marriage is the image of what the church needs to become. When we talk about the idea of love in marriage as being passion, commitment, and intimacy, those are the three components of love in the church as well. It all comes down to that idea of nakedness and vulnerability.
As a culture—particularly in the younger generation—they’re looking for this idea that says: “Hey, listen; we’re broken people; we’re vulnerable. Don’t expect too much from us.” And yet, in the midst of that, we’ve got to reveal the idea that it’s our brokenness that draws us to Christ. And it’s our brokenness that we bring healing to each other by the sense of commitment and fidelity that we have, as the body of Christ, and thus comes the unity of the body of Christ. The single person has just as an important place in revealing that beauty and glory of God’s image as the married couple does.
Bob: I think a lot of people will hear us having a conversation like this; and they’ll go: “This feels like this is for that 10 percent of the people in the church, who are like Bob—who like theology and that makes them weep and pound the table—but the 90 percent, who are just trying to figure out how to go day to day and pay the bills, and raise the kids, and have a loving marriage, they’re like, “Yes, I don’t know that this is going to help me do those things.”
John: Well, let me just jump in and just say this—half this book are practitioners. I know we are spending a lot of time talking about the importance of theology. But what you have is—you’ve got: “Here’s a great theological concept. Wow, I never thought about unity, or union, or distinction, or Trinitarian things.” Well, then, right after it, comes a practitioner, saying, “Here’s how you apply it.”
It’s not just—we hear you 100 percent—I think, this day and age, you don’t want knowledge for knowledge sake; but “How do we apply it?’ That was what was so fun about this book.
Dave: What’s really interesting is—you already said it—every person has a theology. I would have answered Dennis’s question and said, “What I’d pound the table over—it would be marriage and family, because I came from a broken one,” and “There’s this pain/passion for my whole life: ‘I’ve got to do this right.’”
I never knew, until I got married, that that passion had to be founded in a theology. I had one, but it wasn’t biblical. So everybody has one. You’re giving people God’s theology for their marriage. It’s always practical and theological; it’s never either/or. It’s always the genius of the end.
Bob: We’re talking about replacing your view on marriage and family with God’s view on marriage and family.
Ann: —a biblical view.
Bob: When you have God’s view on marriage and family, it’s going to change your decision-making process. But most people—even I would say most Christians have their view on marriage and family—it’s the one that’s been shaped by the culture, or by their family of origin, or by what they saw on sitcoms on television. It’s not been shaped biblically. So when they hit a roadblock, what they’re drawing on to try to deal with the issue is: “Well, what’s my view on marriage and family?” Maybe they have a few Bible verses, dropped in on top of it; but they’re not thinking, biblically. They’re not thinking from God’s perspective about: “How do I work through this?”
Ann: I would say it’s the Disney theology—is what I was raised on.
John: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: “Some day my prince will come”?
Ann: Yes; “…and he will fulfill—
Dave: He’s sitting right here, in case you’re wondering. [Laughter]
Ann: —“and he will fulfill all my dreams.” I think that’s what a lot of people come into marriage, thinking: “My marriage is going to make me happy.”
For Dave and [me]—when we were to the point of getting divorced/of wondering if we would make it, I wasn’t thinking of theology. All I was thinking was, “He is not meeting my needs, and he’s not doing his part.”
Dave: And yet, as I look back, the thing that saved our marriage was theology.
Curt: Yes; I think, as you look at that, too, Ann/as you described that, I have been at that place; and Rhonda has been at that place; and everybody has been—either in the body of Christ or in marriage—has been at that place, where you feel naked and ashamed, which is the Genesis 3 portion. It is the idea that “I feel so exposed.”
As we think through—and Rhonda and I named our ministry Between Two Trees—theology isn’t just taking one area. You know, there’s a lot of different terminologies for different forms of theology; it’s not just one thing. It’s the idea of looking at the big picture. So Between Two Trees is the beginning of time and the end of time: the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden/you find the Tree of Life again, in Revelation 22, at the end of time. The truth is—we live between the two trees.
It’s not as it was in creation, or how creation will be redeemed and corrected at the end of time; but we live as Romans 8 says: “Like the rest of creation, we’re groaning”; we’re wanting it to be like it was or what it will be. So every time that Rhonda and I get into a skirmish/every time we get into a fight—you know what I’m saying—[Laughter]—every time we get into a fight, we’re sitting there, before each other, or hiding from each other, feeling naked and ashamed. It is that question of: “Why? This is not the way it’s supposed to be; it’s groaning.” We’re just groaning inside of ourselves; because it’s not the way that we want it nor the way that it should be, and so we come back to that idea: “Okay, what do I really believe about what marriage—
Dave: And if I don’t have a solid theology, what’s your only answer?—“I’m done. This isn’t working for me; it’s not working for you. Why would we keep trying to do this?” There’s not a foundation that says: “No, no, no. There’s something bigger going on here, and we’ve got to fight for it.”
Curt: And in our culture, the individual is all that matters—
Curt: —and that individual is me; so we begin to look in our marriage as opponents/as enemies instead of allies, and looking for that idea of union and oneness.
John: One thing—when you look at the way God loves us is that commitment factor. Let me get real practical. Cindy and I are so different. I mean, one of the only things we have in common is we both married on the same day, basically. [Laughter] I’m right-handed; she’s left-handed. I’m a night person; she’s a morning person. She’s a saver; I’m more of a spender. She wants the toilet paper to go off the top of the roll; I just want it there; you know. [Laughter]
So we get married—and again, I’m telling you what theology does—is say: “Hey, Hebrews 13:5: ‘For He Himself has said I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Okay, that’s commitment; right? Here’s Cindy and [me]—and it starts off with an issue with us. Now, you guys would never struggle this way; but let’s say, “Save,”/”Spend”; right? “Save,”/”Spend”; “Save,”/”Spend,”—that’s Cindy and [me].
I remember one time we got a check for an unexpected $5,000. Her aunt had passed away and was loaded, and we get a $5000 check. What am I thinking: ”Big screen. Thank you, Lord.” It was just before football season. Well, Cindy wants to do what?—save it/kids’ college. We don’t even have kids at that point. [Laughter] I’m going, “Are you kidding?”
Well, if you don’t solve issues, guess what you start doing?—now, not you guys; but Cindy and [me]. Now, you move up to Level Two, and you start attacking the person: “Why are you being such a skinflint?” “Well why don’t you be a better steward?” “Why don’t you be more submissive?” “Well, that’s out of context.” “Well your mom’s out of context.” [Laughter] So now, we’re attacking each other and her mother; and if you’re not careful, what are you going to do? You have all these issues, and you start attacking the person. If you’re not careful, you’re going to move up to Level Three, which is where you start questioning the relationship.
Ann: Yes; “I married the wrong person.”
John: Yes; and “If these are the kinds of issues we have, and if you’re that kind of person, then what in the world am I doing in that relationship?” Then every Level One issue goes up to Level Three.
That’s where I’m saying: “Man, if you don’t have a theology that encompasses brokenness and hurt”—and that’s where Curt and Rhonda, Cindy and I, and you two, and Bob—you and your wife—all of a sudden, you realize: “We’re up to Level Three. Well now, Lord, we need to back off and start talking about that.”
Boy, just that has been able to help us so much to realize God’s view of commitment; and when you enter that into a marriage, it can help so much when things do get tough.
Curt: We had one of those, John, where we were actually working with a couple, who were living together, preparing to get married. Their faith was, at the best, weak—if they had any faith at all. We do these [sessions] in our home. We have a couple come in; they’ll stay overnight; Rhonda will prepare meals for them. Before she prepares meals, she’ll contact them and say: “What are your likes and dislikes? What dietary restrictions do you have?”
We’ll get some that will be gluten free; some that will be all kinds of different things; but they came back and said, “Well, we have a sustainable diet.” Rhonda said, “Well, I understand all of the others; but tell me what sustainable is.” They said: “If you catch the fish, we’ll eat it. If you know the chicken, we’ll eat the eggs,”—on and on like that. Rhonda did everything that she could to provide that kind of a diet for them while they were in our home. They came and had a great time.
But then they got back [to their home]—and just what you were describing, John—they got into a conflict. It went from Level One to Level Two to Level Three. They called us at 9:00 at night and said: “Can you come to our house? We are in crisis.” We got to the house, and we listened to them/listened to both sides. Finally, Rhonda looked at them and she said, “You know, the challenge for you guys is that you don’t have a sustainable love for your relationship.”
Ann: That’s good.
Curt: They really didn’t understand that idea of God’s love for them; that they, then, could give that same kind of love to each other.
Bob: If you don’t have God’s view of marriage, what your left with is your view of marriage. And your view of marriage will not serve you well and take you the distance. That’s why you guys have written a book to say: “Let’s replace our individual/our human view of marriage with a divine view of marriage. Let’s take how we’ve been thinking wrongly about this, and let’s talk about how to think rightly about this; because from that foundation of how you think, that’s going to generate how you act.”
In fact, if you want to know how people really believe, look at how they act; because behind their actions is what they really believe. Let’s start addressing what you believe and that should play out in how you act. I hope couples will go through this together; I hope that small groups will go through this together. I hope that this will be the kind of book that will help retrain a generation of Christians to think God’s way about marriage. The book we’re talking about is called Marriage: Its Foundation, Theology, and Mission in a Changing World.
We’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; you can order from us online; or call to order the book, Marriage: 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Then plan to do something that helps build and strengthen your marriage, whatever stage your marriage is in.
Now, this week, we are making available for FamilyLife Today listeners a special offer—you can register for one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. We’re going to have about 60 of them this spring in cities all across the country. If you register this week for any of these upcoming events, you’ll save 50 percent off the registration fee. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, to find out when a getaway is coming to a city near where you live; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you have any questions or if you’d like to register by phone.
This weekend will provide you with: fresh insights/new understanding of what the Bible teaches about marriage, time for the two of you to do some projects together, and time just to be together and to focus on what is the priority human relationship out of all our relationships in the world. Our marriage is designed by God to be the priority relationship, but how much time do we really invest in strengthening our marriages?
Take a weekend this spring and do something that is going to be really good for your marriage. Go to a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. Save 50 percent off the regular registration fee when you sign up this week. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to register; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, and we can get you registered over the phone. We look forward to seeing you at one of these upcoming getaways.
And we hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to talk about the epidemic of cohabitation. You really would have to call it an epidemic—that’s what it is in our culture today. We’ll talk about why couples are cohabiting and how we can help people, again, think biblically about marriage and about cohabitation. I hope you can tune in for that tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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