by Ted Cunningham
On the second Sunday morning of every month, our church teaches on marriage and family. The goal is to inspire singles, spouses, and parents with a healthy view of marriage and family by taking personal responsibility for their lives. We call it Twoignite Sunday and use 3 words to guide the messaging: honor, enjoy, and prioritize.
Honor – Hebrews 13:4 states: Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral (NIV). At first glance, we tend to focus on the marriage bed kept pure. To do so overlooks the clear teaching that each of us must lift high the institution of marriage. Honor decides. It makes a decision to esteem as highly valuable. God did not ordain marriage to be a miserable weight you wear your entire adult life to bring you closer to Him. Our goal with honor is to paint a beautiful and desirable picture of marriage and family for every single person in our congregation.
Enjoy – Ecclesiastes 9:7-9 says: Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun (NIV).
Life is difficult, yes, and you do not have complete control over the events and circumstances that life throws at you. However, you decide whether or not to enjoy each other. You can’t escape the grind, but for goodness sake, do not turn your spouse into the grinder. God did not give me my spouse as part of the grind. God gave you your spouse to go through the grind together. You do not have to choose between life and a spouse. You can enjoy life with your spouse in the midst of the grind.
Prioritize – In the midst of the grind, you must prioritize your marriage in the home. The kid-centered home is not good for you, your marriage, or the kids. Genesis 2:24 is a parenting and marriage verse that prioritizes marriage: That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. The bond between husband and wife is glue-like and meant to be permanent this side of heaven. That is not the bond we have with our children. Your children will not be with you forever, so start planning and preparing for their departure sooner rather than later.
A question I get asked quite often at our church is, Ted, are you not concerned, being a church that talks about marriage so much, that you are going to marginalize people? That is a fair question and deserves an honest answer. Every time we talk about marriage and family we speak to three people in the application of the message. Our church desires to encourage singles, enrich spouses and equip parents.
We desire to paint a beautiful picture of marriage for singles. We want them to see marriage as normative. We want them to not be afraid of it. For many singles, they come from a broken home and a healthy marriage was not modeled for them. We long for singles to esteem marriage as highly valuable. We want singles to understand also that they are backup singers to the duets all around them. We want singles to hear that their single friend is now engaged and not respond with, Are you sure? Don’t ruin your life right now, so early. Slow down, take your time.
Couples need to regularly hear that you do not need to choose between life and a spouse. You can enjoy both at the same time. Marital satisfaction involves skills and factors couples can do something about. Regular marriage and family teaching reminds couples that marriage takes daily decisions to move closer to and not away from each other.
Topics such as compatibility, the kid-centered home, enjoying marriage, sexual intimacy, differences, and communication equip parents to disciple their children for future relationships and marriage. We seek to give mom and dad tools and conversation guides to help them be the first authors of their child’s heart. Relationship formation starts at home.
Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. He is the author of Fun Loving You, Trophy Child and Young and In Love as well as co-author of four books with Dr. Gary Smalley: The Language of Sex, From Anger to Intimacy, Great Parents, Lousy Lovers and As Long as We Both Shall Live. Ted and his wife, Amy, have been married for 17 years and live in Branson with their two children, Corynn and Carson.