FamilyLife Today®

Marriage: Breakable, But Beautiful

with JP Pokluda | September 22, 2021
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Marriages are breakable, but worth fighting for. Pastor and author, Jonathan Pokluda teaches us about the greatest enemy of marriage and how to combat it.

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Marriages are breakable, but worth fighting for. Pastor and author, Jonathan Pokluda teaches us about the greatest enemy of marriage and how to combat it.

Marriage: Breakable, But Beautiful

With JP Pokluda
September 22, 2021
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Who taught you what marriage is? When you would define it, who would most inform that? I think it’s going to be different than you want.

Some of you say, “Well, the Bible or God or my Sunday school teacher.” No, it’s probably Hollywood. It’s probably movies that you’ve seen/most likely your parents, whether they stayed together or didn’t/those around you. All you know is breakable marriages and, for some of us, broken marriages.

I think this expectation is a major issue and something to blame as we think about this reality that we’re not getting better at marriage.

Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.

Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our FamilyLife® app.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.

Dave: We’ve got a message today from JP Pokluda

Ann: Yes, and we love him—

Dave: Oh, yes.

Ann: —favorite.

Dave: This is a message he gave at his church, Heritage Creek Baptist Church, in Waco, Texas. I mean, he can preach. This one was on marriage. He’s walking through Ephesians 5. It is just some really, really good teaching on marriage.

Ann: Yes, I think our listeners are going to enjoy this.

Dave: Yes, so enjoy.

[Recorded Message]

Jonathan: It’s been kind of a nostalgic time for me as the season has turned colder, and I’m just thinking back; this week in particular was just thinking back to our place in Dallas and some relationships there that we left.

I was scrolling through some pictures, and I was reminded of this swing that we had in our front yard. It was a disc swing that someone had made for us and gifted to us. It was this wooden disc. We had hung it on this tree in the front yard.

Here’s a picture. This is—you see Presley there. You come up. You look over the door of the house; you’ll see Weston, my son, swinging on this swing. They loved this swing. They would go out there for hours—no lie—and just get after it on this swing.

Because it was on the front of the house, the neighborhood would come. It was just very normal for me to be sitting in our living room, look out the window and see two or three kids that I didn’t know on this swing playing on it. We just said, “Hey, it’s a free for all. Anybody…” which always made me a little bit nervous because I’d hung the swing. I was just like, “You know, at some point.”

But my kids would go out there. They would have a big time. They loved this swing. It was such an incredible source of joy and entertainment and just of fun—a source of fun for them.

One day, on this particular day, the whole neighborhood is there, it seemed like. There was six or seven/eight or nine kids huddled around this swing all backed up. They were swinging each other taking turns. I heard the giggling coming through the window.

Then one person—they were an oversized kid, let’s say—they ran and jumped up and landed on the swing and it just hit the ground. They disc just kind of went to the ground. They were okay. No hospital visit. They were a little shaken up. There was a little bit of tears.

But what was—everyone that had enjoyed this swing was circled around them. They just kind of looked like, “Whoa! It can break.” I think their minds were going back to the times when they were flying through the air. Praise God it didn’t happen when they like shoot them through the neighbor’s house. I mean, praise God.

But it—so the guy’s on the ground. There are some tears. Everyone circled around him, and they’re like, “It’s breakable.” All of a sudden this thing that was this amazing source of entertainment and joy and life and fun, wasn’t anymore.

Now I fixed it. I went out there, made sure everything was okay, put it back, did a double knot this time; secured it well. Everything’s fine. I’m like, “Hey, guys, it’s fixed. You all go ahead.”

They’re like, “Uh-uh.”

I’m like, “No, no, it’s fine now. It’s actually better than it was.”

“Nope.” I couldn’t, at this point, get them to play on this swing because from their perspective they learned something. They know that thing that’s supposed to be fun and full of joy and entertainment and enjoyment is breakable.

I think this is our view of marriage today.

This gift from God that was given to us/this covenant of marriage/all we know every single person hearing this right now, the only marriage you know is a breakable marriage/the kind that doesn’t necessarily have to last forever or even a lifetime here on earth. All we know is breakable marriages.

I think this informs the way we view it and what we do with it and what we think about it, and when we think about it, how we treat it and how we approach it. I think we need to have a little family huddle and say, “How are we doing? How are we doing at getting along? How are we doing today at marriage?”

What’s happening this morning, I want to talk about real marriage, real marriage, the mandates, the mission and the mystery; before you leave here, talking about the mystery.

I just want to ask you, who taught you what marriage is? What most informed your view of marriage?  When you think about marriage/when you would define it, who most informed that? I think it’s going to be different than you want.

Some of you are going to say, “Well, the Bible or God or my Sunday school teacher.” No, it’s probably Hollywood. It’s probably movies that you’ve seen/most likely your parents, whether they stayed together or didn’t/those around you. All you know is breakable marriages and, for some of us, broken marriages.

I think this expectation is a major issue and something to blame as we think about this reality that we’re not getting better at marriage. We’re not getting better. We have more tools than we’ve ever had/more things speaking into this, but it’s not something that we’re getting better at.

For my single friends who are already has rolled their eyes thinking, “Oh great, they’re talking about marriage—not relevant to me.” No, it’s especially relevant to you because we can capture you at this time and help define your expectations. Because Monica and I do a lot of premarital counseling. A lot of times we’ll have the couples take what is called a Prepare and Enrich test. In this test it will show us special areas of interest.

Here’s a few of the questions that are asked there. One is—you answer true or false this—“My partner will meet all of my needs for companionship.” Most couples say, “True.” That’s of course false. [Laughter]

“My partner’s interest in sex will be the same as mine.” Most have said, “True.” Again, very, very false. [Laughter]

“I believe I know everything there is to know about my partner.” Ha ha, that’s just a funny one. [Laughter] Skip that.

“Nothing could cause—” this is the one that every single marriage I’ve done has missed—every single one—“Nothing could cause us to question our love for one another.” They say, “True,” and I say, “You’re going to question your love for one another before you get back from the honey moon, man. That’s happening. That is in reality.”

I got a call the other day from a friend, actually of a wedding that I was a part of/not that I officiated but one we were at. She just said, “We’re struggling. I think we’re incompatible.”

I’ve just got to say, “You are, because you’re two human beings/two sinners/two sinful human beings. Though you were both created in the image of God, you have different interests. You’ve been raised in different homes. You have different hobbies/different likes. You approach conflict different. You are very incompatible.”

I liken it to “God made them male and female”; like oil and water. All we’ve done our entire life is really repelled each other in some ways. This is—we’re just different/opposite in a lot of ways/like two ends of the magnets that push each other apart.

Yet then we get married. We stand before a preacher, and we say, “For richer or poorer; in sickness and health; until death do us part,” and then we go on the honeymoon. It says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother, be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” [Genesis 2:24 Paraphrased]

You’ve got the two flesh/two people. So then it’s one. There’s like this oneness that takes place in marriage where we are forced to get along/to learn how to adjust to each other and meet each other’s needs. This is a picture of biblical marriage.


Dave: We’ve been listening to JP Pokluda give a marriage sermon at his church. I tell you what, that guy’s good.

Ann: He is good.

Dave: The exciting thing is he’s going to be on the Love Like You Mean It® cruise speaking on marriage, as well. You can not only come on the cruise with us but if you sign up right now, you get a special discount for FamilyLife Today listeners.


Ann: I really do hope that people will take advantage of that because it is a great week on the ship where you go deep with one another, but you’re also learning so many biblical principles about marriage.

Dave: It’s going to be a great cruise.

Let’s go back to JP’s message. He sort of dives into something.

Ann: The “S” word.

Dave: The “S” word.

[Recorded Message]

Jonathan: I’m going to be in Ephesians chapter five. Rather predictable text on marriage. Could’ve went somewhere unpredictable but why not just dive into where the Scripture covers the topic.

As we move through Ephesians 5, we’re going to look at “The Mandate of Marriage,” “The Mission of Marriage,” and “The Mystery of Marriage.”

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” [Ephesians 5:21, NIV] Such an important line. Because it cloaks everything where we’re about to go. “Everyone/all of you/husbands/wives/male/female submit to one another out of reverence for Christ/be subject to each other. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider the other person more important than yourself.” [Philippians 2:3 Paraphrased]

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Hold on to that. That’s important. “Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. [Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV]

You could underline the word “submit” and you would do it a few times there. We don’t like this word. In fact, a lot of people say, “Oh, that’s outdated. It doesn’t apply to the 2000s/today. This is an old idea.”

Some of you are already angry. You’re thinking about “Okay, how do I look like I’m going to the bathroom and just get back in the car.” Hang tight. Hang in there with me if you would.

Peter writes, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands.” [1 Peter 3:1 NIV]

Again in Colossians, Paul writes, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord.” [Colossians 3:18] There’s something in this.

Now it doesn’t say, “Submit to a man”—this is important single friends—doesn’t say “Submit to a man,” and doesn’t say, “Submit to sin.”  If a man is asking you to sin, don’t submit to him. But it’s talking about something even greater than ourselves. It’s talking about Christ and the church. I’m nodding; Paul is nodding; The Holy Spirit is nodding where we’re going in this text. You’re starting to see some.

Where did you learn about marriage? I think it’s different than what you think it is. We don’t like this idea of submit, and what’s interesting about that is the Scripture actually said that you wouldn’t. So when you don’t, you’re just playing into what God told you right at the beginning was going to happen. Because in Genesis chapter three, when sin enters the world, this perfect relationship/a relationship that worked well between a husband and wife/the first husband and wife on the earth, all of the sudden it’s fractured.

It says because it’s fractured, this is what He says will happen. He says to the woman, “I will make your pains in child bearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” [Genesis 3:16] It says, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

“Your desire—” I read that, and I’m like, “Well, that’s not so bad, you know?” But that’s not what it means. Where it says “Your desire” in Hebrew, that word, it shows up again just a chapter later with Cain. It says, “Sin is crouching at your door and it desires you. It desires to devour you.”

When it says, “Your desire will be for your husband,” read, “Your desire will be for your husband’s role.” You will now fight him for the steering wheel. You’re going to fight him for that role. Again, Scripture says this right off the bat.

Right about now the men are kind of “Yes, see I told you.” There’s some elbows going on.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” [Ephesians 5:25] What’s another word—and gave Himself up for her?—what’s a word for that? We came up with “Yes, I think ‘sacrifice’ would be a good one.”

The next time he says to you, ladies, “The Bible says you’re supposed to submit to me,” you just go back and say. “Well, the Bible says you’re supposed to die.” [Laughter]

Wash your hands of that and move on. [Laughter]

No, no, the Bible says, “You’re supposed to put all of my interest in front of your own. When have you done that? What if you said you would? As you’re wanting me to submit can you tell me what you sacrificed to lead us to this decision that you want to take? What has it cost you? What have you put aside? How do I know you’re not doing this out of your own interest and your own desires?”

“Submit,” that’s a hard ask. We spend a lot of time talking about that, which is always confusing to me because to me it doesn’t even seem fair. Now grant it, I’m biased. I’m a guy but I’m like, “Submit, that’s the easier one of the two.” Did you see that second half/the role that I’m supposed to play, to lay my life down for her at every minute? What does she need to submit to other than service?”

This is our issue. When we think of leadership, we think of authority. Biblical leadership always/every single time means service. We don’t have a concept for that. That’s why we struggle with these ideas. Mark 10[:45], “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many.”

Talking about leadership. “We get to lead, right, Jesus?”

“No, you get to serve.” So the mandates of marriage are submission and sacrifice. Submission and sacrifice. Again, Paul is beginning to paint a picture of this metaphor that is more about Jesus.

Philippians 2:6 says, “Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage.” Jesus, who was God—He’s not fighting the Father for some authority and saying, “No, but don’t you forget, I’m God, too.” He plays a role equal in rank but playing a different role; equal in worth/in value but plays a different role. Equal in rank but plays a different role.

You say, “I think that’s a dated idea. I don’t think we should play different roles in our marriage.”

Here’s the deal, everybody thinks that to some degree, but let me just tell you that when Monica and I are laying in our bed—alright, we’re there, we’re about to go to sleep and somebody kicks in the front door, there’s not a scenario where I’m like, “Hey, why don’t you go check that out?” [Laughter] “I’m going to wait here. I’m going to hold this down. What you want my gun. Here, take; go see who’s here. Somebody’s present—”

You guys—you guys wouldn’t want me to lead you. You wouldn’t listen to me. We all like these ideas to a certain degree. There was a cruise ship that happened in 2013 and dudes were throwing women out of the way to get on the life raft and the entire country said, “What a joke.”

Those weren’t men. Because everyone knows that the man goes down and the woman goes free. God created us to play some roles.

In marriage we are called to give to each other 100 percent and expect nothing in return which is extremely very, very difficult. Because in my flesh, I don’t want to sacrifice my desires. I want to do what I want to do, and this alone is why we fight. It’s the only reason we’ve ever, in the history of marriage, have ever gotten in an argument.

James 4 says it like this: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” The desires in you—selfishness.

Can I tell you something? Selfishness is the enemy of marriage. Selfishness is the enemy of marriage. Marriage is a university. It’s a teacher. It’s a professor teaching you not to be selfish. It is a source of joy. If you might be thinking, “Well, then I don’t want to do it.” No, it’s a source of joy. It’s a source of fun. It’s a source of encouragement.

I also say to my single friends, “I can do anything for a moment. For a moment I can submit. For a moment I can sacrifice. For a moment I can tell you how beautiful you are. But when I’m to do that for the rest of my life, that’s where it gets really, really challenging. That’s when things begin to fade.

You guys remember this in dating, right? For my married friends, you remember when you dated each other. You guys did some silly stuff. I know because I did some silly stuff. Man.

When I met Monica Rubin, it was just like my heart was ripped out of my chest; sat on a platter. I was hopeless. I was done. I became a student of her. I learned that she liked TCBY, a place I had never been to. But they had this white chocolate mousse yogurt, and she liked it with Heath Bar toppings.

All of the sudden I found myself there every other day. I was—she worked at the salon at Ridgewood Village, and I would bring her this TCBY yogurt and just make excuses, “Oh, I was just in the neighborhood. Oh, you work here. I forgot that. Here, isn’t this what you like. Here you go. I got two just in case.” [Laughter]

I would do silly stuff. I would leave messages—as it began to take off, I would leave these voicemails. I would sing “Boys to Men” to her. [Laughter] I know it’s so dumb. I know you think less of me now. I was just like— [Singing Inaudible]

She loved Fazoli’s. I hated Fazoli’s. [Laughter] but she was like, “Do you like Fazoli’s?”

I was like, “I love it, man. I love it. Man, that trio—get all three. It’s amazing. Let’s go,” right? [Laughter]

I think we view marriage like it’s like the wedding. The wedding is like when the flower is in full bloom and it’s been cut from the vine. It’s there and it’s beautiful for everyone to see. From that moment forward, the next day, it just begins to fade.

And we’ve just kind of accepted that as normal, when really the real gardening starts after you say, “I do.” That’s when you start watering. That’s when you start nourishing. That’s when you start pouring into.

Jesus submitted to the Father’s will, and the Father sacrificed His only Son. In the gospel, you see these ideas, submission and sacrifice. So marriage is one of our greatest opportunities to show the world that the gospel in the way that we submit and sacrifice for one another.

You can ask this question tonight: “How can I do a better job of pursuing you? How can I do a better job of pursuing you?”

Then listen, don’t get defensive and do it.

Bob: It is normal, even natural, for marriages to have a slow drift toward isolation over time. But as pastor and author, Jonathan Pokluda, has said today, when you begin to accept that as inevitable or as just the way things are, you’ve given in to a temptation at that point.

God’s design for us is to tend to our marriage/to work on our marriage. That’s what Jonathan has been talking about in today’s message. We’re going to hear part two of this message tomorrow.

Jonathan is going to be joining us as one of our speakers this year on the Love Like You Mean It  that happens the week of February 6th in 2022.

Cruising is back. It’s safe. Cruise lines have been operating for a few months now. Everything’s going fine.

We are ready to step onboard the Love Like You Mean It Marriage Cruise in February of 2022. The cruise is about 70 percent full so we’re coming to FamilyLife Today listeners to let you know this is your last opportunity to sign up and join us in February for the Love Like You Mean It Marriage Cruise.

In addition to Jonathan Pokluda, there will be other speakers like Dave and Ann Wilson. Ron Deal’s going to be onboard; Dr. Juli Slattery. The Kendrick brothers are joining us and others: artists/musicians. It’s going to be a great week in the Caribbean together. The 2022 Love Like You Mean It Marriage Cruise.


Right now we’ve got a special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners. You can save a little money if you sign up between now and October 4th, so go to All the information you need is available there.

You can call us to get any question that you have answered, or if you’d like to sign up for the cruise call 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Now tomorrow we’re going to hear part two of the message we began today from pastor and author Jonathan Pokluda, who again is going to be with us on the Love Like You Mean It Marriage Cruise in 2022.

Jonathan talks tomorrow about how we can find the hope and help we need when we come to a tough spot in our marriage. There is hope and there is help and we’ll talk about how you find that tomorrow.

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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Episodes in this Series

FLT Podcast Cover 2
Marriage: The Mission and Mystery
with JP Pokluda September 23, 2021
Seeing marriages fail can sometimes make a person wonder, "What's the point?" Pastor and author Jonathan Pokluda clearly explains marriage's purpose and design.
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