Pastor Jason, you mentioned in a recent sermon your ministry of “counseling couples towards marriage”. Can you share further about that ministry and some of the themes or areas of emphasis involved?
So, on the front-end of it, we do indeed counsel people towards marriage. In one sense, we are encouraging couples to be counter-cultural as they consider marriage. We hold to Biblical teaching on sexuality, which would mean that you are not physically intimate with your spouse until you are married.
In so doing, we sometimes are encouraging couples to get married before the world would. There is a reason for that. Christians should value purity, not just physical purity but purity of life—more than economic viability, career path, and all those other things that the world prioritizes.
So, in that sense, we don’t follow the world’s patterns. That can be challenging.
In terms of what we give couples, there are four specific areas that we address with couples: the Gospel and its centrality to life and marriage, communication and its importance in marriage, finances, and intimacy in the marriage relationship.
Starting with Gospel, this is the only time when I draw a picture. I usually don’t draw things. However, for this area, I draw a picture of a triangle—with each of the couple at the bottom corners and Christ at the peak.
For a marriage to work well there has to be something drawing them together. If each of the couple is focused on drawing near to Christ, and the roles and responsibilities taught by scripture, that process will draw them closer together.
A lot of times couples are working towards other common goals. For example, to raise good kids. That pulls them together. But at some point, and for various reasons, that goal can be accomplished or go away. Then, that pull goes away too.
In contrast, Christ is constant. Jesus doesn’t go away. The pursuit of that relationship with Him is never-ending. So, we encourage that pursuit. That’s where we start, and we keep going back there.
The second thing, communication, is critical. If a couple can’t figure out how to effectively communicate well, they will have conflict in every other area of their life. And it will only get worse. So, we encourage them to read Proverbs over and over again. It’s one of the best books ever on inter-personal communications.
The next area is money. That is the second most frequent thing that couples fight about. So, we address it with a biblical perspective. That is, that money is a tool that God has given us and not something for which we live our lives.
The last area is intimacy, another thing over which lots of fights occur. A lot of times the Church is silent on the issue, yet the scriptures are not. In reality, we can speak from a position of authority because the God we serve is the God who created intimacy. He created sex, He created marital physical intimacy.
So, we don’t shy away from that. But we also recognize there is a proper place to have that discussion. Typically, we will separate the couple and I’ll talk with the groom-to-be and Becky, my wife, will talk with the bride-to-be. We might talk about other things together but the idea is to prepare them well.
Those are the four main things we discuss—and all sorts of other things come into play.
For example, the idea of “leaving, cleaving, and weaving”, as couples leave their respective families, or ways of life, and begin a new one of their own. Or the idea of “commitment to your spouse” as over-riding any other commitment. We also talk about how to “honor your parents” as a newly married couple. We use a questionnaire to draw out other issues like family traditions, or where to spend the holidays, etc.
It is a very rewarding ministry. It’s a joy for me as a pastor to see a couple getting off to a good start.