My name is Mike Edmisten. I’m the pastor here at Connect, and I’m so glad you’re with us today. This is the third week of our series called I Want A New Marriage.
And here’s the interesting thing. Some of the most interesting comments I’m getting from this series are coming from single folks. It’s crazy how this series has been ministering to people who are single. I know that not everyone here is married, but the odds are strong that a lot of you will be married, or you’ll be married again, someday. And this series really can set your future marriage up for incredible success.
And if you are married right now, today is going to be fun. But it’s also going to be really uncomfortable at times, because we’re going to talk about a couple of things that EVERY married couple needs to talk about, but most usually don’t.
Let’s pray, and we’ll jump in.
Marriage is about revealing, not concealing. I’m giving you the sermon in a sentence right upfront. This is what we’re going to be talking about all morning. Marriage is about revealing, not concealing.
Far too many marriages are hurting and suffering and even dying because of concealment. Husbands and wives are content to conceal rather than reveal, and that can devastate a marriage.
But today, we’re going to talk about opening up honest, real conversations. We’re going to talk specifically about two conversations that you have to have in your marriage. And these conversations aren’t one-time talks. These conversations have to be ongoing. They have to be never-ending in your marriage.
If you want a new marriage, you have to deal with these two issues. You have to be willing to talk about it. You have to be willing to reveal rather than conceal.
So let’s get into it.
Here’s the first conversation that you’ve got to have in your marriage. Money.
And immediately, there are some married couples that just cringed. Because you fight about money…a lot.
Well, this isn’t exactly good news, but I will tell you this…at least you’re not alone. Money is the #1 source of conflict in most marriages. More married couples argue about money than about anything else.
But the thing is, money fights are never just about money. Finances affect everything. Conflicts about money can reach into every corner of your life and your marriage.
And Jesus Himself tells us why. In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, NIV)
You want to know why money fights are never just about money? Because money is directly connected to your heart. Jesus said that money is just about the only concrete way to really gauge what is in someone’s heart.
So money fights are never just about money. That’s why they’re so pervasive. That’s why they can get so heated. And that’s why, for so many couples, they never seem to go away. Because it’s not just about money. It’s about so much more than that.
If a couple is not on the same page financially, they are not on the same page in their hearts. And that means there will be tension and discord and conflict in the marriage.
But God gives us a better way. And you can really sum it up in two parts.
Be wise and be generous.
Seriously, if we would just adopt these two simple financial principles, a whole lot of financial conflict in our marriage would just disappear. It’s absolutely true.
So many of the money fights in marriage happen because we’re just not wise in how we handle our money. In fact, we’re downright foolish.
In Proverbs 21, Solomon wrote, “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” (Proverbs 21:20, NIV 1984)
The wise person saves. The wise person prepares. The wise person plans ahead.
The foolish person devours it all, right now. And they usually don’t stop there. They don’t just devour all that they have. They even devour what they don’t yet have, by going into debt.
But in the next chapter of Proverbs, Solomon reminds us that, “…the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7b, NIV)
It’s hard to be free in your marriage when you’re living in slavery, but that’s what debt is, and that’s exactly what most couples are doing.
We’ve got to have a new car, because only losers would drive a used car. We don’t have the money to buy it, but it’s cool. We’ll finance it for 5, 6, even 7 years. The borrower is slave to the lender.
Yeah, we’ve got another unplanned expense coming. And we haven’t been wise enough to actually have an emergency fund on hand, so we’ll put it on the Visa. What’s a little more credit card debt?
Do you know how much credit card debt the average family carries in 2015? $15,609. And that’s just credit card debt. That’s not student loans or car payments or anything else. The average family is carrying well over $15,000 of credit card debt alone. The borrower to slave to the lender.
Is it any wonder why money is the #1 source of conflict in marriage today? If the borrower really is slave to the lender, then most of our marriages are in bondage. And it’s really hard to be joyful, it’s really hard to be intimate, it’s really hard to have peace when you’re enslaved.
And most of this enslaving debt we’re carrying is a direct result of financial foolishness. We haven’t been wise with our money. We’ve been fools.
“I have to have a brand new car.” Says who? Who wrote that rule? Guess what? There are plenty of families here today who drove to church in their USED cars. My family happens to be one of them. In nearly 18 years of marriage, Nicki and I have purchased exactly one new car. And I don’t see us ever buying another one. And you know what? We’re still here! We survived the peril of driving a USED car. In fact, we do it everyday. And guess what? You can, too.
And guess how much credit card debt we’re carrying? Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. I’m not saying that to brag. I just want you to know that it can be done.
You know why we’ve made that choice? Because the borrower is slave to the lender, and we don’t want to live in slavery. We want to live in freedom. And you know what happens when you live in financial freedom? All of a sudden, the money arguments fizzle out.
But here’s where it starts. It starts with a conversation. You and your spouse have to actually talk about this. Not argue about it. Not fight about it. Talk about it. Sit down, and actually write out a budget. I know for a lot of people, “budget” is a bad word. Well, if you enjoy having money fights in your marriage, don’t worry about a budget. But if you actually want the financial conflict to end, sit down together and write out a budget.
Make a decision to live below your means. That’s the only way you’re going to get out of debt. That’s the only way you can actually live with some financial margin. It starts by deciding to spend less than you make. I know, that sounds like a crazy concept. But it works every time it’s tried.
And that’s why we’re going to offer Financial Peace University again this year. It will be our very first Connect Class under our new system of groups and classes. We’ll be rolling out the details for it soon. But we’re passionate about this because it matters. If a marriage is screwed up financially, it’s screwed up everywhere else, too.
The key lies in making wise decisions. Sit down with your husband or your wife and put this question on the table for both of you to answer.
“Where are we being foolish with our money?”
Remember, marriage is about revealing, not concealing. Get it out in the open. Talk honestly and openly about where you’re being foolish with your money.
And as you’re having these money conversations, remember these two principles. Be wise and be generous.
As you’re looking for ways that you’re wise or foolish with your money, go deeper. In these money conversations, ask, “Are we being generous with our money?”
Listen to this promise in Scripture about generosity. “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)
And it’s just as true if you read it like this. “A generous marriage will prosper; a marriage that refreshes others will be refreshed.”
This is true for individuals. And it’s true for couples.
I don’t know about you, but I want my marriage to prosper. I want my marriage to be refreshed. But in God’s economy, that only happens when I stop making it all about me. That’s what generosity does. It takes the focus off of me. Generosity creates a life that is not all about me. And that’s when God goes to work. That’s when God blesses. That’s when He starts applying words like “prosper” and “refresh” in our lives.
So in these money conversations you have in your marriage, here’s another question to lay out on the table.
“Do we tithe? If not, why not?”
Get it all out on the table. Marriage is about revealing, not concealing. “Do we tithe? If not, why not?”
A tithe is returning 10% of your income back to God through the church. And as you’ve heard me say before, the Biblical support for the tithe is massive.
But remember what this really comes down to…it comes down to your heart. And when it comes to generosity, it reveals the collective heart of you and your spouse together. Generosity and tithing help you create a life that is not about you. It prioritizes things in a way that allows God to work, because He’s truly first in your life and in your marriage.
And by the way, if you’re single, you need to be getting this straight now. Get things prioritized in your life now. If you’re healthy now, you’ll be healthy when you’re married. If you’re unhealthy now, you’ll be unhealthy when you’re married.
And if you happen to be dating someone, you need to know if they’re healthy. You need to know the state of their heart, and again, Jesus gives us the formula. If you want to know where someone’s heart is, follow the treasure.
So, for example, if you’re a single lady and you’re dating a guy, and you really want to see if he measures up, ask him this question: “Do you tithe?”
You think I’m kidding? I’m dead serious! Ask him that question, and you’ll get incredible insight into what he values. Because treasure always follows our heart.
Here’s the bottom line. It’s true if you’re single, it’s true if you’re married. You’re going to be screwed up financially until you put God first.
And if you are married, you’ve got to understand this. You’re going to be screwed up financially until you put God first, and a marriage that is screwed up financially is going to be screwed up everywhere else, too. It’s just the truth. If you don’t get this right, you really won’t get anything else right because this affects everything else. And the reason it affects everything else is because it’s about your heart.
That’s why money is the #1 thing that married couples fight about. Any guesses about what comes in second? What is the #2 thing that couples fight about?
You know you’ve been waiting for this one, haven’t you?
“So, what is the pastor going to say about this?”
I’m glad you asked. Here you go. I want every married couple at Connect to be having consistent, passionate, intimate sex.
And every married guy in this room just started taking notes. You weren’t taking notes in the money stuff, but you’re taking notes now because tonight you’re going to go to your wife and say, “Remember what the preacher said?”
I’m dead serious. This is what I want for your marriage. I want every married couple at Connect to be having consistent, passionate, intimate sex, because I’m sick of seeing marriages fall apart. I’m sick of seeing divorce rates continue to rise. And I want to see the marriages in our church live by God’s design for marriage.
When you read how marriage is described in the Bible, it is always, always, ALWAYS described as a sexual union. In fact, sex is how marriage is described in Scripture more than any other way. That doesn’t mean that marriage IS sex. It’s obviously more than that. But it does mean that if a marriage is unhealthy sexually, that marriage is unhealthy period. Are you hearing me? If a marriage is unhealthy sexually, that marriage is unhealthy period.
Here’s how Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 7. “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.” (1 Corinthians 7:3, NLT)
Now, that sounds awesome. And it is. Churches and pastors get a bad rap in our culture today as being anti-sex. That’s not true. I’m pro-sex. Within marriage, sex is good. It is God-given. So when it comes to married sex, I vote yes.
But look closer at this verse. “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.” (1 Corinthians 7:3, NLT)
Husbands and wives should fulfill their spouse’s sexual needs. Here’s my question….do you know what those needs are? And don’t say, “Well, we’ve been married long enough, I think I’ve got it figured out.”
I didn’t say, “Do you think you know what their needs are?” I said, “Do you KNOW what their needs are?” Have you ever asked them? Do you ever actually have a conversation about the sexual health of your marriage?
And immediately, there are a ton of couples in this room who are getting uncomfortable. It feels awkward and weird to talk about sex with your spouse. So let me get this straight…you can sleep with them, but you can’t talk to them? That doesn’t quite add up, does it?
Let me clue us all in on something that should be obvious, but more and more, it needs to be said. Men and women are different. I realize that this increasingly controversial in our gender neutral culture. Things like gender neutral restrooms are popping up everywhere. There’s even one at the White House now. Our culture is buying into gender neutrality in a big way.
But my job is to lovingly, but directly, teach the truth that we see in Scripture. And the truth is, men and women are different. They just are.
You don’t have to go any further than the very first chapter of the Bible to see this. In Genesis 1:27, Scripture says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, NIV)
God’s design is man and woman, male and female. In other words, different. And when we understand and embrace this truth, we’ll find that different is good!
Go back to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7. “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.” (1 Corinthians 7:3, NLT)
Men and women are different, by God’s design. And they have different needs and desires, by God’s design. But so many marriages experience frustration and tension and conflict because one or both spouses aren’t willing to have frank, open, honest conversations about these differences. And like we said a few minutes ago, if a marriage is unhealthy sexually, it’s unhealthy period. But if health is what you want in your marriage, you’ve got to work for it. And you’ve got to talk about it.
For example, wives, do you realize that if you always want to leave the lights off when you make love, you’re probably robbing your husband of one of his greatest needs and desires? To put it simply, your man wants to see you. All of you.
I know you think you have some pretty good reasons why you want the lights off. Your body isn’t what it used to be. You’re not as young as you used to be. You’re not as thin as you used to be. Things like pregnancy and breastfeeding have taken their toll. And on top of all that, when you compare your body to the woman on the magazine cover or the billboard, you just feel like you don’t measure up. You don’t feel beautiful. You don’t feel sexy. And making love in the dark is one way to hide all of that.
Here’s the problem with that. Marriage is about revealing, not concealing. And that doesn’t just mean physically. That means emotionally and mentally and spiritually, too. Marriage is about revealing, not concealing.
Marriage is the one human relationship where we reveal everything. Absolutely everything. No secrets. No hiding.
That was God’s design for marriage, starting with the very first marriage. After God created Adam and Eve, listen to what Scripture says about their creation.
“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25, NIV)
That’s godly marriage. Naked and unashamed. That means emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically naked. No secrets. No shame.
So ladies, when you always turn the lights off before you are intimate with your husband, you’re allowing your marriage to fall short of this standard. And you’re robbing your husband of a precious and wonderful gift. You. You are his gift. He wants to see you. All of you. Because he loves you. He is enamored by you. He is excited by you. He is aroused by you. Because he married you. He didn’t marry the model on the magazine cover. He married you. And he wants to enjoy you.
And on the flipside, gentlemen, how often do you tell your wife that? How often do you tell her just how you see her? How beautiful she is? How attractive and sexy she is? Because guess what, guys? She doesn’t believe it. And who could blame her? Everyday, your wife lives in a culture whose standard of beauty is judged by thigh gaps and starvation diets and PhotoShop. She can’t compete with that. And husbands, it’s your job to tell her that she doesn’t have to compete with that.
But guys, listen…that doesn’t just mean jumping in bed. It means conversation. It means revealing yourself emotionally to your wife. A lot of wives turn off the lights so their husband won’t see their body. And a lot of husbands put up walls so their wives won’t see their feelings. Looks like you both are ashamed to be naked, and that runs absolutely counter to God’s design for marriage. Marriage is about revealing, not concealing.
Men, if you want your wife to visually generous with you, you have to be verbally generous with her. You’ve got to talk with her. And it’s got to go deeper than, “Hey baby, you wanna do it?”
Men, you have to talk with her. And that means you’ve got to stop looking for sex tricks and tips to “blow her mind.” Guys, if you’re getting your sex advice by reading Men’s Health, you’re a loser.
This isn’t about some new tip or technique or position, most of which don’t work anyway unless you’re both Olympic gymnasts.
This is about an ongoing conversation. God didn’t design sexuality to just be part of your marriage. It’s not just one of many compartments in marriage. God designed sexuality to flow throughout your marriage. Money affects everything in your marriage. Sex does, too.
Now, I realize that I’ll get kick back from this. Every single time I preach about sexuality in marriage, I get push back from someone. Usually when the message goes online. But I’m going to keep preaching it, because marriages are suffering and dying from misunderstanding and miscommunication about sex. And if something is killing marriages, the church had dang well better be willing to stand up and address it. That’s why we take it head on here at Connect.
Husbands, wives, look at this verse again. “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25, NIV)
Here’s the question…could you insert your name into that verse? Does that verse describe your marriage? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Could you describe your marriage as naked without shame?
I’m betting that there are more than a few people here today who would say no. If you’re honest, there are a lot of people in this room who would say, “No, that doesn’t really describe our marriage.”
Ok. That’s a good place to start. At least you realize there are issues to work through. The next question is, what are you going to do about it?
The answer to that question really depends on where you are in your marriage, how deep the issues are, how much communication is or is not happening, etc.
For some of you, you need to go home tonight determined to take matters into your own hands, literally. Husbands, you need to take care of the kids and them to bed. Wives, you need to slip into something other than your flannel pajamas that your husband couldn’t see through if he had x-ray vision. And you need to rekindle the fire in your marriage tonight. You need to close the bedroom door and get Pentecostal. I’m talking about speaking in tongues and laying on of hands. Hallelujah!
For some of you, that’s what needs to happen. But for others, it’s not that simple. The issues have been building for a while. And while the issues build, the intimacy dies. And to be honest, you can’t start in the bedroom. Maybe you need to start in the living room. Put the kids to bed, sit down tonight, and just talk. Have an open and honest conversation about where the train went off the tracks. What happened to the intimacy? What happened to the romance? What happened to the spark and the passion?
But don’t go in accusing, because I’ve got news for you. This is almost never a one-way street. Marriages that are starved for intimacy almost always have two people to blame. But that’s ok, because if those two people know that, then they can work together and pray together to fix it.
“Wait a minute…did he just say pray about it? We’re supposed to pray about our sex life?”
Heck yes, you are! I’ve got news for you…God knows what happens in the marriage bedroom. God sees what happens in the marriage bedroom. And God is pleased with what happens in the marriage bedroom. It was His idea all along. In fact, marriage was His idea all along.
And when we kick against God’s design, that’s when things fly apart. That goes for marriage, family, and everything else in our lives. When we kick against God’s design, that’s when things fly apart. We have a God who loves us and really does want what is best for us.
You don’t have to look any further than the cross to see that. How do you know that God wants what is best for you? Because God already gave His best for you. He gave up His own Son for you.
Jesus died on a cross, in our place, for our sin. And three days later, when He walked out of that tomb, He defeated sin and death and set us free.
That means that whatever is going on in your marriage, your family, or your life, it’s not over. It’s not over because Jesus specializes in second chances. And third chances. And tenth chances. And hundredth chances.
There is nothing so broken in our lives that He can’t heal us. That’s true if you’re single. Married. Divorced. Whatever. There is nothing so broken in your life that Jesus can’t heal you. That’s the power of the cross and the empty tomb. And that’s why Connect is all about Jesus.
And don’t miss this. Yeah, we’ve been talking about things like money and sex this morning, but ultimately, what we’re talking about areas where a whole lot of lives and marriages are broken. And healing brokenness is what Jesus does best. So you know what we’ve really been talking about all morning? We’ve been talking about Jesus. We’ve been exploring our own brokenness, but we’ve been doing in the presence of our Savior who specializes in making broken people whole, sick people well, and dead people alive.
And that’s why we want you to know Him.