Biblical Communication: A Marriage Survival Art
Not exegesis of texts but focus on applications and implications of several texts
Not exhaustive - we won’t cover all aspects of marriage and communication or every biblical text
No homework - but perhaps some optional opportunities
Start on time…end on time
Why are you taking this class? Perhaps…
- You liked the title of the class
- You flipped a coin
- Your spouse insisted on it
- You need assistance with communication
- You have a “friend” who needs help with communication
- You are curious
- You woke up in a bad mood this morning
- You get a kick out of asking the teacher difficult questions
- You have nothing better to do with the extra hour the time change gave you
What are the purposes of communication?
Human beings have been given the ability to communicate for a variety of reasons. Common ones might be:
- To make conversation - “Are you planning to vote in the election?”
- To convey information - “You can vote early at the library.”
- To publish facts - "Normally the party out of power gains in mid-term elections.”
- To render judgements or viewpoints - “The Republicans have made a mess.”
- To come to a conclusion - “It makes no difference which party is in power.”
- To express feelings - “The media bias angers me.”
- To share yourself - “I plan to vote a straight Democrat ticket.”
- To solve conflicts - “My wife doesn’t know if she can live with a Democrat.”
We will spend our time focusing on this last purpose of communication - solving conflicts. I believe good communication is crucial to success in any interpersonal relationship, in or outside of marriage. However, communication skills are widely ignored.
Believe it or not, Judy and I are now in our sixth decade of marriage. We are committed to each other, to our marriage, and to our Lord. However, anyone who knows us knows that we do not have a perfect marriage. We still have conflicts. We still need to grow in our ability to solve them. Nonetheless, we are willing to share some Biblical principles, lessons learned from life together, and observations gleaned from ministry. (for purposes of this class, “We” = “I”)
Strengthening Your Marriage. Wayne Mack. P&R Publishing.
Communication: Key to Your Marriage. Norman Wright. Regal Books
His Brain, Her Brain. Walt and Barb Larimore. Zondervan
Love and Respect. Emerson Eggerichs. Thomas Nelson
Christian Living in the Home. Jay Adams. Presbyterian and Reformed.
War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles. Paul Tripp. Communication and Conflict Resolution: A Biblical Perspective. Stuart Scott
Pursing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflict. Robert Jones
Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti. Bill and Pam Farrel
Definition of Marriage - Divide into small groups. Each group to select a leader and a scribe and do the definition of marriage group project as per the handout below.
After listening to the group reports, give the definition below proposed by Wright (p 12) and ask for response from plenary class members:
“Marriage is the total commitment of the total person for the total life.”
(note that the definition (as most definitions) does not cover every facet - ie it doesn’t say marriage is a formal arrangement between one man and one woman)
Share 5 take-aways from Genesis 2:18-25 that should influence our understanding of marriage:
Companionship v 18 - not good to be alone
Completeness v 18, 21 - helper suitable
Divine origin v 18-22 - God…
Wow factor v 23 - This is bone of my bone…Woman!
Relationship Development v 24-25 - leave, cleave, weave
Definition of Marriage Group Project
Choose one of the following definitions of marriage as the best of the lot and jot down what about that definition you find attractive. Majority rules.
“…a covenant of responsible love, a fellowship of repentance and forgiveness” Wayne Oates
“…a covenant made under God and in the presence of fellow members of the Christian family.” David Augsburger
“One new life existent in two persons.” Dwight Small
“A system by means of which persons who are sinful and contentious are so caught up by a dream and a purpose bigger than themselves that they work through the years, in spite of repeated disappointment, to make the dream come true.” Elton Trueblood
“Marriage does not demand perfection. But it must be given priority. It is an institution for sinners. No one else need apply.” David Hubbard
Now read Genesis 2:18-25 and create and write out your own definition of marriage. Group collaboration required.
Definition of Communication - Divide into small groups. Each group to select a leader and a scribe and do the definition of communication group project as per the handout below.
After listening to the group reports, give the following definition proposed by Wright (p 52) and ask for response from the entire class.
“Communication is a process (either verbal or nonverbal) of sharing information with another person(s) in such a way that the other person understands what you are ‘saying’. Talking and listening and understanding are all involved in the process of communication.”
Definition of Communication Group Project
Your group is tasked to draft and write out a working definition of communication. Collaboration required. Be prepared to explain why you chose certain phases and notions.
Intersection of Marriage and Communication
Overview of Biblical Concepts Regarding Marriage
Divine Establishment: Adam and Eve - Genesis 2:18-25
Divine Model: Christ and the church - Ephesians 5:23-24
Divine Directive: Roles and responsibilities - Ephesians 5:25-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7
Divine Goal: Glorify God - I Corinthians 10:31
Divine Tools: Holy Spirit, teacher (John 14:26) + the Word, text - (2 Timothy 3:16)
Putting It All Together
Marriage partners are expected to become “one” - “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” We call this the “leave, cleave, weave” principle. This is a life long task. An obvious question is, “how can a husband and wife do this”? The simple answer might be, “study your textbook, listen to your teacher, and just do it.” Good advice. However, from a practical standpoint, I am convinced that one of the keys to accomplishing oneness in marriage is good communication. In other words, good communication enables us to “just do it.” I am not alone in this observation:
Jay Adams, founder of Biblical counseling, states that communication is “…the basic skill needed to establish and maintain sound relationships. A sound husband and wife relationship is impossible apart from good communication….Apart from the open channels of truthful communication…there can be no truly Christ-centered home.” (Christian Living in the Home. Jay Adams, p 27-28).
Wayne Mack, former pastor and Biblical counseling professor, concludes, “Whenever you find marital failure, you will find a breakdown in communication. Whenever you find marital success you will find a good communication system.” (Strengthening Your Marriage. Wayne Mack, p 56).
The thought process might go something like this:
1) Interpersonal relationships can be destroyed or strengthened by mere words (cf Proverbs 15:1 and similar).
2) Marriage is the highest form of interpersonal human relationships.
3) Communication has the power to destroy or strengthen marriage.
Hence this course:
Is based on the notion that developing communication skills goes a long way toward living out our commitment to one another, to marriage, and to God.
Is of one piece with the observation that communication issues are at root of so many marital conflicts.
Will focus on communication nuts and bolts even though communication isn’t the only factor in building a successful marriage.
© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2018. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.