A Forgotten Bible Verse about Marriage

Hopefully, you are accessing the plethora of information about marriage, family and its related issues and problems on the Internet.  If you are a bit old school or traditional, then much of the information on the Internet is also available in book form.  There are also thousands of videos available as well.  You can find help or further your understanding of marriage or parents and children.

In this post I want to share a verse that I have not heard used in marriage or family counseling nor have I heard it taught by the church.  As I have thought about this through the years, it simply amazes me that it is not used or applied to the marriage or family relationships.

Matthew 7:12, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them . . . .” (ESV)

Having never heard this verse used in the context of biblical teaching on marriage strikes me as odd.  Yet, in all my 60+ years, I cannot recall one single time when a preacher, teacher, or pastor has referred to this verse or the parallel in Luke when he or she was teaching or speaking on marriage.  I wonder when this seems so obvious if I am missing something.  Granted this verse is in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.  The immediate context Jesus is speaking about salvation by entering the narrow gate.  And, there is no direct application to marriage in the context but . . . .

For my entire life I have seen this verse taken out of context and posted in elementary schools–well, when I was in school some 50 years ago.  It has been preached out of context who knows how many times.  So, one question is, “can this verse be used out of context and not affect the interpretation of it in the context in which Jesus gave it?  The vast majority of time the immediate context or the larger context, including the chapter, discourse, or book of the Bible defines the meaning of a given verse or passage.  However, there are times when a verse may be used and assigned an application that is not indicated in the text of the passage or verse.

Without too much discussion let me argue that this verse may be used in a rather wide application.  The verse itself helps us understand a larger application.  The complete verse is, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)  Remembering the socio-historical context, Jesus is speaking to a large crowd consisting of everyone from the religious leaders to men and women to the outcasts of society.  The Sermon on the Mount in brief is the first statement of what the people called to and in the Kingdom of God are to be in the world.  Verse 12 seems to be directed to each person present that day.  It has no qualifying nouns or pronouns that would imply He was addressing a specific group.  Therefore by extension, we can apply this particular verse to almost any interpersonal relationship, and no harm is forced on the original context.

For Marriage:

Why is this rarely applied to the marriage relationship?  Honestly, I have no idea.  It seems obvious to me that God spoke to the generations of men and women in their marriage relationship that would inhabit the earth for all time.  While the statement in verse 12 is simple, its application is anything but simple.  The verse states very directly as concerns the marriage relationship: if you want a loving spouse, then be loving toward him or her; if you want a considerate spouse, then be consider toward him or her; if you want a forgiving spouse, then be forgiving toward him or her; if you want a generous spouse, then be generous to them; etc.  Do you get the idea?  Whatever you desire from your husband or wife–love, sex, intimacy, time, gentleness, kindness–you should be doing to your spouse.

So, you see the simplicity of this application, then what makes it so hard to live this way?  You heart!  That’s right the “heart is deceitful and wicked who can know it?”  Yes, your heart, my heart, your spouses heart–the very center of our being and who we truly are–is wicked, lying, deceptive, selfish, foolish, mean, I-centered.  I could go on but this deceitful heart is everything that is wrong with mankind.  Each and every one of us will live this way unless we first die to self and live in and to Christ Jesus.  We must learn to live the selfless life we see in the Lord Jesus Christ as testified in the New Testament.

I guess as I think about all the truth that I have read, studied and learned in the Bible, I now think that maybe, just maybe this verse could be the KEY to unlock almost every marriage on planet earth.  I wonder . . .

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