October 8, 2017
Pastor Jeff Struecker
In the next two weeks, we’ll wrap this sermon series up. Next week, here’s where we’re going. We’re going to talk honestly, from the Bible, about homosexuality. – What does the Bible teach about homosexuality, and how should Jesus’ church respond to homosexuals? The following week, the last week of the sermon series, we’re going to talk to people who are single, and because they’re single, they’re struggling with celibacy, and we’re going to talk honestly about being single and about being celibate.
Nobody in this room is more ready than I am to get this sermon series over with, but for today, you can see at the top of your worship guide or at the top of that mobile app, we’re going to talk about passion within marriage ‘til your dying days…timeless passion. -how to be sexually fulfilling to your spouse all the way up until the last days of Christian marriage.
Now, let me just tell you where we’ve been over the last few weeks, just in the subject of sex within Christian marriage. Because I’ve been trying really hard to give you the Bible’s teaching on the subject in general terms, I haven’t covered every verse in the Bible. There’s not enough time to cover every verse in the Bible, but I have tried to be honest with you. These are the verses that kind of summarize for you the whole teachings of the Bible. I’ve tried hard not to be vulgar, but I have tried to be honest. And if we were to review, this is basically what we’ve heard in the last few weeks, including today, about the subject of sex within Christian marriage.
First and most important, God created this thing called sex. He created it for your good and for his glory, and as Christians, we’re supposed to let every aspect of our life, to include sex, honor God. We also learned a few weeks ago that romance is incredibly important in marriage. You never get to the point that you don’t have to work toward romance and give a little bit of yourself, and most people don’t view romance the same way. So, in Christian marriages, it’s not uncommon for what she finds to be romantic, he doesn’t, and what he finds to be romantic, she doesn’t. You have to work at this.
We said three weeks ago, that sex in the Bible is exclusive; it’s supposed to happen within the confines of marriage. Sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, is prohibited by the Bible, and last week we learned that once you’re married, your body belongs to your spouse, and your spouse’s body belongs to you, and you’re supposed to be available to each other. Today, you’ll see that even late in life, you should remain passionate about your spouse.
Now look. I’ve done this on purpose. If you were to put these five sermons together on the idea of what the Bible really teaches about sex within marriage, we’ve made an acrostic. What is that word? Say it out loud.
God honoring sex
Available for each other
It’s GRRRREAT (like Tony the Tiger). That’s how sex in marriage is supposed to be.
Now, we’re going to talk about what happens when you get late in life. And, in order for us to look at this objectively, we’re going to go to the world’s foremost experts on marriage later in life. It’s a couple by the name of Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher. Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher met, fell in love, and were married in James City, North Carolina. In fact, I’ll show you a picture of them from when they got married, June 13 (listen to this), 1924, and then a picture later on when they had been married for 86 years.
Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, in the year 2008, became the world record holders (Guinness Book of World Records) for the longest human marriage in history. There were certainly other marriages, probably back in the book of Genesis chapter 1 through chapter 9, that lasted longer than this, but we don’t know when they started; we don’t know when they ended. We know when this marriage began, and we know when this marriage ended, and in 2011 when Herbert passed away, he was 105 years old. In 2013, when Zelmyra passed away, she was 105 years old. In 2008 this couple officially became the longest marriage anywhere in the world in human history.
Guinness said that when Herbert passed away, this couple had been married for 86 years, 290 days. Let’s just go ahead and round up to 87 years. When you’ve been married to the same person for 87 years, you’re pretty much an expert on getting married and staying married, and we’re going to hear an interview that was conducted by several news agencies that this couple did after they received the Guinness World Record for the longest marriage in history (‘still hold it today). -By the way, you can break it as long as you’re willing to go past 87 years with your wife, so that’s a goal that you might want to set for yourself.
There’s another expert on marriage, but I would say this guy is not the kind of expert that you want to follow. His name was Solomon. He lived in Old Testament days. He was the king of Israel, and Solomon had 300 wives and 700 concubines. Solomon knew a thing or two about marriage. Solomon made a mess of his life when it came to marriage, and I’m convinced later on in life, Solomon was writing some advice to his son about the mess that he made, and he was giving his son some marriage advice in Proverbs chapter 5. Solomon is a great example of what not to do. In fact, I’m convinced he’s telling his son, “Don’t do what I did. Don’t go through the mess of marriage (or marriages) that I went through.” In Proverbs chapter 5, Solomon says this about marriage to his son. He says:
18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love. 20 Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman?
Notice that word wife is singular. Solomon is saying to his son, “I’m an old man. Learn from my mistakes. 299 wives is too many. If I were to go back and do this all over again, I think I would have one wife, and I would spend all of my time and all of my efforts and all my focus on this one wife, instead of sleeping with 1000 women and the disaster that that made in my life.” And then, notice what he says next. Solomon is saying, “Get married early. Stay married for the rest of your life, and enjoy that marriage for the rest of your life. Stick with this one woman. Don’t trade her in for a newer model when she gets a little bit older and when she doesn’t look the same anymore. You stay married to her and enjoy that marriage.”
And to make sure that his son understands this, he gets very explicit with his son about what he’s talking about. What Solomon is teaching is, “Look, I made a mess. I pursued physical relationships with women, and I didn’t pursue a marriage, and it made a mess in my life, so son, learn for me. Get married. Stay married, enjoy that marriage, and be passionate late into life. The woman that you marry young, stay passionate with her for the rest of your life.”
Here’s a challenge that I’m going to give you from the Bible today. These over- arching verses describe everything that we’ll learn about the Bible today, but I want to ask you to write something down, because this describes what the Bible teaches when it comes to passion in marriage later on in life. Here it is:
Passion keeps your heart young even when your body gets older.
Passion makes your heart young even as you age physically, and this kind of passion that we’re referring to today is passion within marriage. Would you put this in those personal notes in your mobile app, and then email it to yourself as a reminder? Keep passion alive even to the late years of your marriage like Herbert and Zelmyra. Don’t make the mistakes that Solomon made.
I. Be the kind of spouse that gets better with age
Here are three teachings from the Bible when it comes to maintaining passion late into marriage. Number one: Be the kind of spouse that gets better (not just older or cranky, or you start to fall apart with age), the kind of spouse that gets better with age. All of us in this room are looking for that kind of love.
By the way, pop star, Ed Sheeran, is looking for that kind of love. He says he wants somebody who’s going to love him when his hair is all but gone and his memory fades, when the crowds don’t remember his name, he wants to have the kind of relationship with a woman that when her legs don’t work like they used to before, and he can’t sweep her off of her feet, they’ll still be in love at 70 like they were at 23.
This is the Bible’s teachings to Christian couples about marriage: Make a commitment for a lifetime, and then work at passion in your marriage for the rest of your life. Malachi, in the Old Testament, chapter 2 says it this way:
Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. 16 “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”
This is obviously a reference to back in the Garden of Eden when God created marriage, and he brought Adam and Eve together. This is the language that Malachi is using. What Malachi is saying is, back in the Garden of Eden there was a spiritual aspect of oneness, but there was also a physical aspect of oneness, and it was understood that oneness in marriage included the act of sex.
“And what does he want?” Malachi asks, “Godly children from your union.” That’s not all that sex is supposed to do in marriage, but that’s an important part of sex within a Christian marriage. “So guard your heart,” Malachi says, “and remain loyal.” Listen to me, guys. Hear from the Bible, ladies. “Remain loyal to the wife of your youth.” Do you see that phrase again? –of your youth. The idea is one wife. You stick together for the rest of your life, and Malachi, to drive this point home, says something that almost never shows up in the Bible: “For I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Israel. To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, says the Lord of Heaven’s armies, so guard your heart. Do not be unfaithful to your wife.”
Only three times in the Old Testament do the words, God hates, show up together. It happens in Deuteronomy chapter 12 when God says, “I hate the human sacrifice that these nations are making to false idols.” In Deuteronomy 16, the Bible says, “God says, ‘I hate when my people worship false idols’.” In Malachi chapter 2, God says the same words “I hate divorce”.
In other words, “I hate this as much as I hate human sacrifice. I hate this as much as I hate it when people worship foreign idols, when people worship other gods. So, how do you divorce-proof your marriage? How do you keep the passion alive later in life? How do you keep getting better with age and not just grow older?
Well, this question from those reporters was asked of Herbert and Zelmyra. One reporter said, “Is there anything that you would do differently after more than 80 years of marriage?” And together they said, “We wouldn’t do a thing different. There is (this is their words, not mine), there is no secret in our marriage. We just did what was needed for each other and for our family.”
And I would suggest that they did it over and over and over again, and as they got older, they just kept making passion a priority and kept working at the marriage. Even at 86 years of marriage, they kept working on it. Herbert and Zelmyra would say if you will keep working on your marriage, it will get better as you get older. If you do that, you bless your spouse, you honor God, when you put that kind of energy into your marriage.
II. Don’t let time erode your desire for each other
But here’s the second thing the Bible’s teaching us today: Time, pressure, just life itself, will start to wear your relationship down if you let it. Don’t let time erode your desire for each other. Look, time can erode your marriage, or time can make you enjoy your marriage more, but the difference is up to you to make an investment, and if you make an investment, your marriage will start to get better, not worse, as it grows older.
Almost anybody who is in this room who has grown up in church has heard this story before about the birth of Isaac, but did you ever stop and think about the conditions of this baby’s birth? I want you to think with me for just a second about what the Bible is saying in Genesis chapter 21 when Abraham and Sarah have a baby. Here’s what the Bible teaches:
The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. 6 And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7 Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”
This such a big deal that the writer of Genesis is going to mention this more than once to stress that Abraham was really, really old when this happened. Here’s how old he was. This happened at just the time that God had said it would.
A hundred-year-old man and 90-year-old woman have a baby. Do I need to remind any of us in this room how a couple makes a baby? What the Bible is teaching us, is that Abraham is passionate about this woman late into life.
Now, you may know the Bible well enough to know, “Yeah, but Jeff, a long time ago people lived a lot longer then, than they do now.” It’s true, but I also want to remind you that in Abraham’s day, they didn’t have any machines to help out. Not only did they live longer, but life was a lot harder in Abraham’s day. If your back aches or if you have some pains with getting older, I just want you to think about life where there were no machines to help you. Everything that you got out of life, you had to do by hand, and at 100 years old, Abraham is still passionate about this woman. He’s still head-over-heels for this woman, Sarah, and they have a baby together, and they spend the rest of her life enjoying this baby. In fact, Abraham is so passionate about marriage that the Bible teaches, even after Sarah dies, he gets married to woman by the name of Keturah and has more children with her.
When Herbert and Zelmyra were asked the question about their marriage, the reporter said, “Does communication ever get easier? How do you keep your patience?” It’s a great question. I don’t know who this reporter was, but basically, how do you keep your patience with each other for 87 years? Here’s what they said (‘fascinating answer. This was probably Zelmyra who answered this question, though I don’t know which one of the two answered it), they said, “The children are all grown, so now we have more time to talk, and we can (their words, not mine), we can enjoy our time together.” And here’s how they enjoy their time together at 87 years of marriage: “Rocking on the front porch together”. That’s fun and passionate for a couple that’s been married for 87 years.
My prayer for our church, my prayer for your marriage, is that it keeps getting better and better and better as it gets older and older, not that you just simply grow old together. One of the ways that happens is when a husband starts to passionately pursue Jesus and when a wife starts to passionately pursue Jesus, and as they’re passionately pursuing Jesus together, they start to become more passionate to each other in the marriage, because now they’re starting to act more like Jesus. Now they’re starting to live more like Jesus for their spouse, and the whole marriage gets better. This is a way to protect your marriage from life pulling you two apart, from time eroding the relationship.
III. Don’t retire from working at your marriage
The last thing I want you to hear from the Bible today, is that you never get old enough to retire in marriage. You don’t ever get the privilege of no longer working at your relationship. You’re going to have to keep working at it even when you’ve been married for 87 years. Don’t retire from working at marriage. If you will put the work into it now, you’ll reap the rewards. If you put work into your marriage early on, those rewards will be greater later on in life. If you keep investing all along, the marriage keeps getting better and better and better.
There’s an entire book of the Bible that’s written about marriage and romance and sex. It’s called the Song of Solomon and listen to me, church. If you ever hear a Bible teacher tell you that that book of the Bible is about something other than marriage and romance and sex, they’re teaching you incorrectly about the Bible. In the book, Song of Solomon, Solomon describes what a strong marriage looks like. I don’t know that Solomon could say this about his marriage, but here is what he says. You don’t retire from working at marriage. It looks like this:
Song of Solomon 8:7
Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.
If he were here, Solomon would say a tidal wave is not supposed to split you two apart, and rivers cannot drown it [love]. Hurricane Harvey should not be able to pull a married couple apart if Jesus is the center of the marriage. Rather, it says this: “If a man tried to buy love with all of his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.”
Solomon is saying you can’t make enough money to buy this kind of love. You can’t give a gift that will earn you this kind of love. It’s going to take hard work. It’s going to take a lifetime of investment, but if you’ll put that hard work into it, if you will make that kind of investment, then your marriage can become great, even after 50, 60, 87 years.
I doubt that there’s anybody in this room who does not recognize the name Hugh Hefner. Hefner made his fame and his fortune selling sex without commitment and sex outside of marriage. You’re all probably aware that Hugh Hefner passed away this week at the age of 91. Eight years ago, Time Magazine did an interview with him. They called it, “10 Questions with Time”. They sat down with Hugh Hefner, and they asked him 10 questions. My assistant, Rosie, helped me find this video. I watched it, all 10 questions. There’s nothing vulgar, nothing said in those 10 questions that would be offensive, but it’s soul-crushing the way this man views marriage and sex and morality.
In one of those questions, somebody asked, “You’re an 83-year-old man, and Hefner, you’re surrounded by 18-year-old girls. Doesn’t that make you a dirty old man?” That’s a very fair question to ask, and his answer was so disturbing, that I’m not going to try to answer it for you or let you hear his answer to this question, but it’s mind-blowing the way that Hugh Hefner answers the question: aren’t you a dirty old man if you’re 83 years old and you’re still sleeping with 18-year-old girls?
There’s a Grand Canyon’s-worth of difference between what Hugh Hefner views as morality and what the Bible teaches as morality when it comes to sex. And Hefner, whatever his distorted upbringing (by the way, in this interview he says, “The reason why I am the way that I am, is because I didn’t get any love and any affection when I was a child. That’s why on Christmas Day 1953, I launched Playboy Magazine.” ‘Tells you something about the man’s faith), but he says, “I believe I’m on the side of the angels in Heaven. I believe I’m a pretty moral man living the lifestyle that I’m living.” By the way, this is true of many people in our country. They don’t view any connection between faith and what happens in the flesh. This is what’s dangerous about taking the ideas of sex and divorcing them from the Bible.
Does the Bible speak on the subject? Yes, it has a lot to say about it, and what it says is, this and every other area of your life should be submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ.
‘See, I’m convinced that what Hugh Hefner was looking for since he was a young man (35 years old when he started the Playboy empire), is he was looking for the kind of love that would last, but Hefner was incapable of finding it. Hefner was missing something that a woman can’t give to him. Hugh Hefner was looking for something that only Jesus can provide, and there are guys who will go from relationship to relationship, there are women who will go from man to man to man, because they’re looking for a savior instead of for a spouse. They want somebody who’s going to make life better, and they’re trying to find it in another human being.
Maybe you walked in the door, and that’s what you’ve been looking for. You’ve been running to relationships, hoping relationships with other human beings is going to settle your deepest desires in your heart. There’s no human being who can live up to that. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can provide that for you. Maybe you’re the kind of person in this room who’s married, who’s following Jesus and whose life is just pulling you and your spouse apart, and you and your wife or husband don’t have today what you once had. If that’s you, I want to challenge you. Would you please take a next step today? Would you please commit on going to work hard to keep life and time and pressure from pulling your marriage apart? I hope every married couple in this room who claims the name of Jesus would be able to say, “I will make my marriage passionate for a lifetime, because I don’t ever want my wife to be vulnerable. I don’t want my husband to be in need. I want to be the one who meets my husband’s needs or ministers to my wife in all aspects of our marriage.”
• I need to get my heart right before I can get my marriage right. This morning, I asked Jesus to transform my heart for the first time.
– I have allowed time to take a toll on passion in my marriage. This week I will make passion a priority in marriage.
+ With God’s help, I will make my marriage passionate for a lifetime.
- Who has the kind of marriage you would like to emulate? What is it about their marriage that you most admire?
- Do you think that Sarah and Abraham were passionate about their marriage at 90 or 100 years old? Explain your answer.
- Describe what you want your marriage to look like late in life. What are you doing today that will lead to that kind of marriage in the future?
- Are you excited to see how the passion grows deeper as the relationship grows older?
- Friendships take time. Are you better friends with your spouse today than when you first met? If so, in what ways?
- What precautions are you putting into your marriage to protect your heart for the long haul?
- Pray that your marriage will get better with age.