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Reviewed by: John Woon, Family Connect 1 Small Group

Most of the Christian marriage formulas boil down to one easy transaction: man in charge + woman who submits = uninterrupted bliss. Unfortunately, this mindless submission often leads to confrontation.

In the book ‘Married Lovers, Married Friends’, Steve and Annie Chapman describe the New Testament marriage formula as partnership, where each partner seeks to submit to each other out of reverence of Christ. Eph 5:21 motivates us to want to work as a team for His glory.

Real submission has to start with submission to Christ. Marital decisions aren’t a see-saw, with husband at one end and wife at the other. There is always a third, an over-riding will to consider — what does the Lord want done here? We have to first submit to Him, and then listen. Then there will be no struggle left, except to find what He wants.

The question of who will be the boss of our marriage partnership can turn every minor marital decision into a major struggle for control. But Christ intended He be the boss of our lives together when we serve Him, by serving and giving to our mate. He’ll improve the state of our union as we walk together in Him.

Scripture portrays marriage as two people coming together spiritually, emotionally, and physically in one love and one purpose. But it’s not hard to see how much more difficult this unity becomes when one or both partners still writhe in pain from wounds in the past. These wounds keep a couple from settling into the oneness God wants for them.

But it is possible to find healing from these wounds and it comes by forgiving the one who has wounded you. But there’s no other way to healing, except by the surgical removal of bitterness with the knife of forgiveness. Jesus insisted on it. He told His disciples to pray, ‘Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.’ (Matthew 6:12) and here’s the good news. When we choose to forgive, we’re writing our ticket to freedom.

One thing we must make clear. We don’t forgive those who’ve hurt us because they deserve it. We forgive only because Christ has forgiven us. We’ve no choice but to pass on the same grace to those who have wronged us. That’s why Paul tells us, ‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger…forgive each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (Ephesians 6:31-32).

Sometimes we cannot forgive others because of the historical baggage we carry with us. Are you struggling under the load of excess baggage? Let Christ set you free from bondage to the wounds of the past. He wants you to know a satisfying today, and an even brighter tomorrow. He came to set captives free. Allow Him to liberate you so you can be free to love.


Two children a brother and a sister
Born to a father who was a slave to wine
They do remember their younger years of sorrow
How their daddy used to hurt them time after time

But somehow, they grew to be so different
Their lives turned out to be like day and night
One lives in peace up in Ohio
One was full of hate until she died

I wondered what could make the difference in the two of them
Both had reasons to be bitter, but one was so sweet
How could one live in peace and not the other?
Not long ago the answer came clear to me

I saw the brother at his daddy’s grave
Placing flowers there his eyes were filled with tears
He said, “Daddy, once again I do forgive you.”
For the way you made us suffer through the years

Now I can see how the two could be so different
How their hearts turned out to be like day and night
He lives in peace up in Ohio
She was bitter till the day she died
A bitter heart was the reason that she died

For more insights on how to strengthen your marriage, read this book.

Reviewed by: John Woon, Family Connect 1 Small Group

You are married. Has the romance faded? Is the communication often one-sided? Has your relationship with your spouse grown cold and lifeless? How can we resurrect such a marriage?

What is the problem? Fundamentally, what a man desires from marriage is peace. But what a woman desires in marriage is oneness. In other words, a man who lives with her in mutual submission.

In Genesis chapter 2, it is written: … the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh (v21). That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh (v24). This is the essence of oneness.

To understand oneness, we need to review the story of the Garden of Eden. Man once had perfect oneness with God and with each other in Eden. God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of each day. But one day, this oneness is broken. What happened? They sinned. Not satisfied being with God, Eve desired to be god. She disobeyed and then got Adam to eat the forbidden fruit as well. Oneness with God died.

Can oneness with God return? Yes, but on His terms through salvation. First, oneness with God happens at salvation. When you commit to Christ, you become one with God. Second, oneness with Christ matures over time as we “work out our salvation through sanctification” (Philippians 2:12). We become like Christ. Our salvation is expressed in an ongoing process of spiritual growth in which we’re strenuously involved.

Can oneness between husband and wife be forged? Yes, but on the terms of deliberate action. Oneness is an act. While feelings of intimacy flow from oneness, oneness itself is not a feeling. It is a state of being. Being married gives us the opportunity for oneness. Oneness lies not in the sentiment of loving our wife as ourselves, but in the act of loving her as ourselves…

We must treat the convictions and gifts of her essence exactly as our own. By nature, men have little interest in male submission. Our response is fight or flight. No wonder oneness in marriage is so rare. Man, we need to soften our hearts if we are to submit one’s right for the sake of oneness. We’re just not naturally suited to this call.

Want to learn more about mutual submission and achieve oneness through the servant mindset? Then, read the Bible. Let the Lord define your rights. Let the Lord teach us oneness through His Word that we apply to our marriage: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20). Likewise, in marriage, you are not your own: Your time is not your own; it’s “ours” (husband, wife, God). And likewise, honour each other with your bodies.

Stephen Arterburn suggested the following to help the husband to forge oneness in his marriage:

  • Make room for the wife to express her gifts
  • Do not control – listen up, discover who she really is
  • Make room for her weakness, suspend judgment
  • Make room for her thoughts
  • View her as a true helpmate
  • View her as an equal
  • Get rid of those sins, it’s no private matter
  • Honour your wife’s sexual convictions

In closing, the authors expressed once more that God’s plan for a good marriage lies in this verse: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21). This is God’s simple plan for oneness in marriage. May we follow it and may our marriage be forever blessed.

For more insights on how to strengthen your marriage, read this book.

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