September 17, 2017
Pastor Jeff Struecker
This sermon series is built around giving you the opportunity to ask honest questions. As pastors on this staff, we view it as a gift when people think deeply about some of the things we’re talking about and when people have some questions and are looking for some help. We think you give us a great privilege when you ask us those questions. So today, live, during the service, we’re going to give you the chance to ask a question.
In order for us to get ready for where we’re going today, let me give you a problem that’s happening in our society. In fact, it’s happening in millions of homes in America. This problem is happening all over our city, and I can tell you from first-hand experience, this problem is happening all over this church. Perhaps this is a problem in your home as well.
Here’s how the story goes: Boy meets girl. They get to know each other. They fall in love. They decide to get married, and they believe they’re going to live happily ever after. But, he gets a job working 60-70 hours a week, or perhaps he gets 2 jobs, because now he’s got a mortgage, and the bills are stacking up so high, that it can choke an elephant. She gets pregnant a time…or 2, and now he gets home late from work. And when she gets home from work, she’s picking up the dry cleaning, she’s getting the groceries, and she’s getting dinner ready…By the time that the children are fed, bathed, and in bed, husband and wife fall into bed and pass out from exhaustion. Over the course of a day, they’ve not said 10 words to each other.
In fact, the statistics say that in America today, the average married couple spends (get this) less than 3 minutes a day in meaningful conversation. And this goes on for weeks, it goes on for months, it goes on for years…to the point that one day, she says, “I don’t even know who this man is that I married.” One day, he says, “I don’t even know why I’m still married to her. I don’t even know who this person is anymore.”
Now, I want to ask you, church, what’s missing from this picture that I just described? What is it? Say it out loud. I’ll give you a hint. The answer is at the very top of your worship guide here today. In case you were wondering (some of you need some help in this area. I guess it’s good that we’re talking about this), the problem that is missing in this relationship is romance, and without romance, this gets really frustrating, really quickly.
I think one of the most important books I’ve ever read on marriage -I want you to consider buying this book. This is a book that every couple, even couples who are not Christians, could benefit from. -is a book called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Gary Thomas wrote this: “Talking and touching are 2 of the most important ways to give yourself to your spouse in marriage.” Talking and touching are incredibly important. They are incredibly powerful in marriage.
So today, we’re going to talk about the idea of romance. We’re going to talk about what it looks like, guys, for you to romance your wife. Ladies, what does it look like for you to show your husband that he still really is the man of your dreams? And in order to prepare us for what we’re going to hear today, I want you to write this sentence down. This is a sentence that you probably need to remember as a Christian couple, or I know you have friends who you might want to give this sentence to, as a way of keeping this in mind in their marriage. Here it is:
Romance is the spark that sets passion on fire in a marriage.
Write that down, and put that in those personal notes in the mobile app, and e-mail it to yourself. Have you got a marriage that fizzles right now? ‘You got a marriage that’s pretty frustrating right now? Maybe there are other problems, but chances are, you have a problem with romance in your marriage too, and if you want passion to be set on fire in a marriage, if you want a Christian marriage that’s going to be God-honoring and Jesus-exalting, you’d better make sure you work at the area of romance for the rest of your lives.
I. Romance communicates your heart
Romance is the spark that sets passion on fire in a marriage. We’re going to look a little bit at romance from the Bible, and here’s the first thing I want you to know about romance. Romance communicates something. It communicates something very, very powerful, because romance communicates the heart. Romance doesn’t just say, “I love you” (your spouse needs to hear those words from you), but romance shows that I love you.
Romance, like a fire on a crisp, fall evening in the firepit in the backyard, can be very pure. Romance can be very powerful. But romance can also be very destructive when it gets outside the firepit. -when that fire gets spread to the dry Georgia/Alabama trees in the summer. That fire will consume everything around it.
So, romance is very pure; it’s very powerful when it’s done right, when it’s held inside a Christian marriage. But ‘you let it get outside of marriage, and it can be very, very destructive.
The greatest sermon every preached in human history was preached on a mountainside thousands of years ago by Jesus. It’s the Sermon on the Mount, and in this sermon, Jesus sets the standard for if you believe you can get into Heaven by being good enough. Here are some things that you’re going to have to be able to achieve if you’re going to try to get into Heaven by being good enough. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapter 5), Jesus talks about marriage and lust and romance and adultery. Here’s what Jesus said. In Matthew chapter 5, verse 27, there’s a crowd of people sitting on a mountainside listening to this preacher teach about how to earn your way into Heaven if you’re going to try to be a good enough person, and here’s what Jesus says:
27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Do you see what Jesus is saying? This area, if it gets out of control, will consume you. It can destroy you. It can lead to Hell. Romance, when it’s done right, is very pure; it’s very powerful, but when romance gets outside of the bounds of marriage, its destruction is limitless.
Look, I hear this kind of language in our society, and it makes me crazy when guys start to talk about a girl like a “friend with benefits”, when girls start to talk about their “boy toys”. You know what? That kind of language is okay inside of marriage, but there’s no room for that kind of language outside of marriage. The thing that you give when you give your heart away is incredibly powerful, and it can do great good to somebody else, or it can do great harm when it’s done wrong. And we have a duty as Christians to communicate our heart to our spouse in a Christian marriage. It’s the thing that you owe your spouse as part of this marriage relationship.
Jesus talks about lust today, and Jesus says, “Guys, let me warn you about something. For you guys, when you see that beautiful woman walking down the road, it’s just natural for your eyes to go toward a beautiful human body. That’s okay. But, when you start to take a second or a third look, when something starts to happen inside your heart, and nobody else in the world knows about it, God the Father knows what’s happening in your heart.” Jesus said you don’t even have to do the physical act of adultery. You’ve already committed the attitude of adultery, and when you’ve done that, you’ve already crossed a line that God says you deserve punishment for.
Ladies, check it out. When you’re watching that romance movie on television, when you’re reading that romance novel, and you’re saying, “I want that man instead of my man,” your heart may have already crossed a border that nobody else in the world knows about but you and God. And when you’ve crossed that border, God in Heaven knows what you’ve done, and He holds you accountable for it.
I’m convinced every person on that mountainside said, “Wait a second. I’ve messed up in this area.” I’m convinced that every one of you -I don’t even have to know who you are- every one of you in this room would say, “Well, if that’s the standard that you have to live by every day of your entire life, I’ve messed up in this area too.” You don’t even have to tell me who you are, because Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, the Pope all rolled up into one can’t say, “I’ve been perfect in this area.”
You see, Jesus is ramping the level of perfection up to a standard that nobody in this room can say, “I’ve done it right all my life on this one.” But here’s the truth: Lust, adultery…It’s really selfishness at its absolute basic level. Adultery is idolatry. It’s basically saying, “I don’t care about my spouse. I don’t even care about God. I’m going to do what I want. I’m going to do what feels good, and I couldn’t care less about the consequences. Adultery says, I worship myself, and I worship pleasure more than I worship God. And when that happens, adultery does great harm in a marriage.
Jesus said it’s not just the physical act of adultery, it’s adultery in the heart, and romance communicates what’s happening or what’s not happening in your heart.
II. Romance demonstrates respect
But romance goes further than that. You see, romance also demonstrates respect for the other person. Now, by this I mean, it demonstrates respect for who the person is, not what they do for you. Look, I’m convinced, most people, when they get married, when they walk down the aisle, when they stand up and when they make their vows before God, in the back of their minds, most people are thinking (and this is only natural, so it’s okay), but I’m convinced most people are thinking, “I love this man for what he does for me. He makes me feel like the queen of the world, and that’s why I love this man.” Or, that guy’s thinking, “I love this woman, because she is so beautiful and because she’s got my heart, and I feel like the most important man in the world when I walk down the street with her arm-in-arm.”
That’s okay unless it’s the only reason you’re getting married, because basically, you’re marrying that person for what they do for you, not for who they are. -if that’s the only reason you’re getting married. And here’s really the problem: When you love someone because she does X for me, or I love him because he makes me feel Y, one of these days in a marriage, she’s not going to do X for you anymore. He’s not going to make you feel Y anymore, and then you’re going to have to struggle with, “Well, how do we make this marriage work now?”
‘See the truth is, romance goes deeper than what that person does for you. Romance loves them and honors them for who they are as a person. It demonstrates respect for them as a person.
‘Y’all know that famous passage in the Bible from this book of Proverbs, Proverbs chapter 31? It describes the perfect wife. ‘Everybody familiar with that passage in the Bible? Many of you ladies have said, “That’s the kind of woman that I want to be. Many of you guys have said, “That’s the kind of wife that I want to marry. Well in that same book of the Bible, Proverbs, just one chapter earlier describes a different lady. Listen to how Proverbs chapter 30 describes this selfish, or this bitter woman:
21 There are three things that make the earth tremble— no, four it cannot endure: 22 a slave who becomes a king, an overbearing fool who prospers, 23 a bitter woman who finally gets a husband, a servant girl who supplants her mistress.
And every man in this room cringes on the inside a little bit when he hears verse 23. ‘Cause every man in this room knows a friend who married that kind of woman. -who married that bitter woman who only thinks about herself, only cares about herself, who is so selfish that she’s going to make his life miserable if he doesn’t make her life the way that she wants it. Every guy in this room knows somebody like that. That’s why every guy in this room cringes at verse 23.
The Bible says it is an earthquake of destruction in a marriage if you married the kind of woman who is going to make your life miserable to get her way, and the truth is, she doesn’t care about you. In fact, she married you only for her, and she married you for what you could do for her, not what you two would do for each other. -or not the relationship that you would have for each other. She, in verse 23, is the object of her own worship. She worships herself and what somebody else can make her feel like. She has no concern for this marriage.
Romance is incredibly powerful. Romance honors the other person. Romance respects the other person for who they are and for who they are as a person, not just for what they do for you. Ladies, I’m going to ask you an honest question. How many of you ladies in this room would love it if your husband brought home a bouquet of flowers today? Guys, take notice. How many of you ladies would love it if he brought this beautiful bouquet of flowers home and said, “This bouquet of flowers I give you in exchange for letting me watch football all day long today, and leave me alone.”? How many of you want that, ladies? ‘You want those flowers?
Guys, I want to ask you a question. How many of you guys would like it if you, when you were getting ready to go to bed tonight, your wife made herself look beautiful, and she made herself smell pretty and she wore this sexy negligée and she basically was offering you sex today on the condition that you buy her that car that she’s been asking for? How many of you want that kind of a relationship?
The truth is, I don’t know what you call that kind of relationship, but you don’t call it a marriage, because a marriage gives to the other person because you value the other person, because you respect the other person. A marriage honors the other person for who they are, not just what they can give you. Romance respects, romance honors people, romance communicates at the heart, “I love you for who you are, not just for what you do for me.”
III. Romance generates passion
Here’s the last thing I want to know about romance. Romance is supposed to generate passion. That’s the way that God created this thing in the very beginning anyway, and ladies, you have as much of the responsibility for the romance and the marriage as he does. God gave us an entire book of the Bible that deals with love and romance and marriage and sex. It’s called the Song of Solomon, and in the Song of Solomon, you have this passage where a wife is passionately pursuing her husband, where she is romancing the man who she married. Song of Solomon chapter 7, listen to the lady and how she pursues after her man. Starting in verse 9:
Song of Solomon 7:9-11
9 May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine— Yes, wine that goes down smoothly for my lover, flowing gently over lips and teeth. 10 I am my lover’s, and he claims me as his own. 11 Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers.
‘Anybody need to remember what happens out in the field with the wildflowers? This woman is passionately pursuing her husband. This woman wants her husband to know even after marriage, he’s still the man of her dreams, and in a Christian marriage, a man is supposed to honor his wife and is supposed to remind his wife that she really is still the person that he wants to spend the rest of his life with. In this verse, you can see a woman that continues to romance her husband.
Now, in my library I have at least 50 books on the subject of marriage, most of them written by Christian authors. Not one of them (this makes me crazy), not one of those books tells ladies to continue to romance, continue to pursue their husband after marriage. Most of those books say, “Guys, you’re supposed to still date your wife after you’re married, and it’s true. But not one of those books says, “Ladies, you’re supposed to do this for your husband as well.”
So, I’m just going to remind you of what everybody in this room probably already knows. Ladies, you are responsible for 50% of the romance in marriage, but listen to this, you‘re responsible for 100% of the romance that man is supposed to receive. Don’t you dare leave him open. Don’t you dare leave him susceptible for some other lady to sweep in and to give him the kind of romance that he deserves. And guys, you are responsible for 50% of the romance in the marriage, but you are responsible for 100% of the romance that woman is supposed to receive. She’s not supposed to get it from a harlequin novel. She’s supposed to get it from you, and if you don’t provide it for her, you’re leaving her heart open for an affair. There’s never a good excuse for an affair, but the truth is, sometimes you made it very easy for somebody else to sweep your spouse off of their feet, because you neglected this incredibly powerful, very important area of marriage. You forgot to pursue your spouse.
But now we have a problem. This is true. I’m going to be honest with you. I see this in counseling all the time. Ladies, what you find romantic is not necessarily what your husband finds romantic. So, you want to love that man, you want to show that man romance, and it’s only natural that you’re going to try to do for him what you find romantic, but the problem is, he doesn’t find that romantic at all. And guys, it’s only natural for you to try to show your wife romance in the way that makes sense to you, but the problem is, that may not be what your wife finds romantic it all. In fact, there may not be anybody on the planet who knows what your wife finds romantic, but you better figure it out.
Here’s the truth: You have to show romance to your spouse in the way that they see it, in the way that they understand it, not in the way that you understand it. In other words, you have to become an expert in your husband, ladies. You have to become an expert in your wife, guys, and become an expert in showing them romance in the way that makes sense to them, ‘cause if you don’t, you leave them incredibly vulnerable to an affair.
I want to give you an image to think about when it comes to a Christian marriage. I want you to picture in your mind that a Christian marriage is like a castle. It’s strong, it’s beautiful, and every woman that’s a little girl says, “I want to live in a castle like that. I want to be treated like that when I become a woman.” Every man, when he’s a little boy says, “I want to grow up and be king of the castle like that.” That’s the way a Christian marriage is supposed to look, and in order to protect this marriage, you build this moat around it, so that the enemy can’t come and slip inside the castle and slip inside this marriage. This moat is there to protect your marriage from attack, but I want you to capture this imagery. Your heart, her heart, is the drawbridge on that moat, and if you don’t provide the romance that man needs, if you don’t give that woman the romance that she needs, you left the drawbridge down, and now your marriage is incredibly vulnerable, vulnerable to anybody else to slip in and start to steal the queen of the castle, start to steal the king of the castle’s heart away.
So, if you want to protect this marriage, if you want to make this marriage strong, if you want to make this marriage powerful, you’ve got to protect your spouse’s heart, and the way you do this is through romance.
Maybe you’re hearing today that you have a heart that has a problem, that you have a heart problem, a lust problem, you have a romance problem. You have an issue at the heart-level that needs to be addressed, and perhaps you’re hearing for the first time today, and you’re learning the truth is, Jesus said if this is what it’s going to take for you to get into Heaven, you’re realizing for the first time, “You know what? I can’t do that. No human being can do what Jesus just said.” That’s the very point. Jesus is making this description so that you and I would see, you can’t pull this one off on your own. You need God to step in and to change your heart. You need God to rescue you at the heart-level and to take your old, wicked, sinful heart and exchange it for a new, pure, holy heart. That’s something you can’t do on your own. That’s something that only the Holy Spirit of the living God can do, but He promises to do it for you when you come to Him in faith.
• I’ve let sex and self become gods in my life. Today, I turned from all my sins and asked Jesus to save me from myself.
– I have allowed this area to slip in my marriage. Pray for me to pursue my spouse this week.
+ I will protect my heart by only being romantic toward my spouse.
- Were your parents romantic toward each another in front of you? If so, how did they show their affection?
- What do you consider the ideal date? If you’re married, what does your spouse consider the ideal date?
- Why is romance hard to maintain, the longer a married couple has been living together?
- We give our time and attention to the people we love. What do you think about the couple that sits across the table from one another at dinner but never talks to each other?
- Love letters should communicate one’s heart. How would you feel if you received a love letter that only talked about the sender and not you?
- A lack of romance in a marriage leaves a spouse’s heart vulnerable. A vulnerable heart, if not guarded, can be open to an affair. How do you protect your heart from sex outside of marriage?
- Pray for Christian marriages to display godly romance in our city.