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The Threefold Cord

By Watchman | July 29, 2008

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NKJV)

     When God laid it on me to write an entry here about marriage and relationships, I immediately started to argue with Him.  Although I know the subject is an important one since Christian relationships fail at almost the same rate as those of unbelievers, my own experiences in relationships have not always been good.  I told Him I really shouldn’t teach on something I’m not very good at myself.  As always (and rightfully), He won the argument!  His answer to me was “No, you don’t know everything about good relationships, but I do.  You’ve got the Book, so get to it!” 

The gift of marriage and family was one of the first given to man by God.  God created Adam and Eve to be lovers, friends and helpmeets to each other.  He intended the covenant bond between husband and wife to reflect the covenant that He had created between Himself and mankind.  But just as sin crept into the Garden of Eden effectively destroying the bond between man and God, sin has to some extent destroyed the covenant bond of marriage.  Understand, God is not condemning those who have been divorced to the fires of hell:  God loves you; God is not mad at you and God will forgive the sin of a broken marriage as quickly as He will any other sin of which we repent.  However, many of the problems we face in marriage today could be overcome without the break-up of the family, if we would only turn to God’s Word for help instead of to the divorce courts.  God’s laws, as has been pointed out before, were made for our benefit and happiness, yet even many Christians prefer to gloss over these laws–mostly, I believe, because a faulty construct has been put upon His meaning in modern times.  Ephesians 5:21-33 is so frequently quoted by women as evidence that the Scriptures (and Paul) call for the subjugation of women, or by men trying to prove their place as decision-maker and disciplinarian:

…submitting to one another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle…but that she should be holy and without blemish.  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” Paul later ends his teaching with the words “…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Let’s just take a look at what these verses actually do and do not say… 

         Nowhere does this passage suggest that a man or a woman must subject themselves to mental, emotional or physical abuse, nor does it suggest that any person must live with another’s alcohol or drug-induced rages.  Nowhere does this passage suggest that men have a right to discipline their wives or treat them as unpaid slave labor.  Loving your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her indicates treating her as someone very, very precious indeed; someone whose well-being and happiness is your first priority, a priority you would die for.  These passages also do not allow women the luxury of husband-bashing, a fairly popular sport nowadays.  Respect is to be the order of the day.  Please remember here, however, that these words were addressed to believers.  No believing man or woman is to submit to any authority who would advocate that which the Lord has condemned.  Man or woman, one’s real submission must be to God and His Word. 

     There is no doubt that God intended men to be the spiritual leaders in their families.  Somehow, over the past hundred years, this role has been given up by the majority of men and handed over to the women of the family.  Somewhere along the line being a child of God became an almost ‘unmanly’ pursuit.  Certainly, those families in which the females have picked up the spiritual slack are still being blessed by the faithfulness of those women, who may yet influence their husbands to be won to Christ by their conduct and example. 

     So when our marital relationship starts turning sour what can we do? 

1.  Remember that marriage is a covenant relationship.  The Old Testament tells us that covenants cannot be broken without severe consequences.  They are everlasting.  Our covenant relationship with God would be irrevocably broken through our sins had Jesus not died on the cross and arisen three days later to bridge that broken covenant between God and man.  Divorce should be a last option, not a first.

2.  Pray together.  Not just that your spouse will change his/her heart or mind, but to have the Holy Spirit open the eyes of your hearts to what the real problems are and how they might be overcome.  Prayer should always be a first option, not a last!

3.  Seek assistance from a Christian counsellor or mentor.  Remember that Scripture tells us that the older men are to exhort the younger, and the older women to teach the younger. 

4.  Resist the temptation to turn to those of the opposite sex to fulfill needs you think you aren’t getting filled at home.  It doesn’t matter if you feel neglected or not or whether you are temporarily separated or not, this is the sin of adultery and it is not an acceptable way to handle marital difficulties. 

5.  Search your own heart to honestly see where you could make changes yourself.  Would trying to be home on time to eat dinner and play with the kids make a difference in your marriage?  Would cutting back on the volunteer time at church help you to get things done around the house your wife has been asking you to do for the last six-and-a-half years?  Would accepting a lower-paying or less-prestigious job that would allow you more family time be a possibility?  Have you become discontented and snappish when you should be gentle?  Are you adequately providing emotional support for your loved one?  Have your priorities become work or service or friends instead of family?  Try rearranging your list of priorities, putting family first. 

6.  Remember that love is a choice.  The ecstasy that accompanies the newly-wedded state often doesn’t last.  There’s not a person in the world who can live at a fever-pitch of euphoria all of their lives.  We can choose to continue to love  when our relationship gets rocky, or we can choose to let anger overshadow our love.  Try to keep ahold of the first love; reminding yourself daily of what it is about your spouse that first drew you.   CHOOSE TO FORGIVE! 

7.  Most importantly,  remember that marriage is a three-fold cord: Husband, wife and God.  When God is pushed out of the relationship the husband and wife are left floundering without the support God intended them to have. 

God gave us marriages and families in order that we might work, love and recreate in healthy and happy lives with a maximum support system to help us when we stumble and fall.  Sometimes, especially in these uneasy times, divorce may become inevitable or even necessary, but it is never desirable and was never included in God’s original plan.  Love and forgive each other, love God and follow in His path, and seek His face that your joy may be full.


Topics: Kingdom Living | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “The Threefold Cord”

  1. Bodyc Says:
    March 17th, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Hi there,
    Thank you! I would now go on this blog every day!

    Thank you

  2. How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days Says:
    May 3rd, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Hi, nice post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I’ll certainly be subscribing to your posts.

  3. Mariappan Eddiah Says:
    November 26th, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    “Marriage is a threefold cord, the love of husband, wife and God, entwined together to make it tough and durable.

    Marriage is a musical instrument where each string, retains its own note, and yet quivers with the same melody.

    Marriage is a garden, where each plant, has space to change, mature and within it is set free to find fulfillment.

    Marriage is a place of sanctuary, the home of peace and safety, where people can be renewed and healed from wounds of life.

    So, God made marriage to be strong and beautiful,
    and to be a source of blessing to all mankind.”