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God’s Institution of Marriage

It’s the “Same Old Same Old”

“Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,  ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”

(Genesis 2:22-24 NIV 84).

“Same old same old.”

This is the answer I received from a friend when I asked how things were going for him at work. He went on to share that he was feeling a bit burned out and yearning for something new and different from his daily work routine.

People generally use the phrase same old same old in a negative sense to describe situations that are boring or annoying (and which they might like to have changed). Yet there’s a sense in which it may be understood positively. Take God’s institution of marriage, for example. Though large segments of our society are attempting to morph it into something new (the thinking goes something like “Why should we stay mired in the same old tired ideas of yesteryear? We need to change marriage’s definition so that it includes couples of the same sex”), yet for us Christians, marriage remains the “same old” lovely institution God ordained at the dawn of time when He created Eve for Adam (Genesis 2:19-22). We hold fast to what God teaches about marriage and His “same old” definition: marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman living together as husband and wife.

There are a few more examples of ways that the phrase same old may be thought of in a good and positive way. Husbands and wives may find joy in knowing that the blessings God designs for them in their marriage are the same as those which He promised to Adam and Eve, the original bridal couple: loving companionship (Genesis 2:18), sexual happiness (1 Corinthians 7:2-5), and the precious gift of children (Psalm 127:3). Husbands and wives may find comfort in knowing that as they seek, in God’s strength, to follow the “same old” blueprint for a happy marriage outlined by Paul (Ephesians 5:22-33), God will richly bless them in their marriage.

Does this mean married couples will enjoy perpetual smooth sailing while traversing life’s sea together? No. Marriages are made in heaven (in the sense that God joins couples together, Matthew 19:6) but they are lived out by humans on a sinful earth. So it’s bound to happen: husbands in their sinful weakness will sometimes fail to love their wives as Christ loved the Church; wives will sometimes fail to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. Hurt feelings may well result and stretches of rough sailing be encountered. When this happens, husbands and wives may rejoice in the “same old” counsel God has given to His Christians of all times, by which He promises to bring comfort and healing to their hurting hearts: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13 NIV 84).

Husbands and wives may also look with confidence to the “same old” Bible passages as a source of spiritual strength. Through faithful hearing and learning of His Word at home and at church, Jesus will draw them closer to each other in the bonds of marital love. He’ll sustain them—for as long as they both shall live—by His “same old” Gospel promise: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV84).

Prayer for the Married

Hear us, now, our God and Father; Send Your Spirit from above

On each Christian man and woman Who have made their vows of love.

Bind their hearts in true devotion Endless as the seashore’s sands,

Boundless as the deepest ocean, Blessed and sealed by Your own hands.

Give them joy to lighten sorrow; Give them hope to brighten life.

Go with them to face the morrow; Stay with them in every strife.

As Your Word has promised, ever Fill them with Your strength and grace

So that each may serve the other Till they see You face to face.

(Christian Worship #603)

Thomas Schuetze is pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.