|Publisher:||Focus on the Family|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
DR. TONY EVANS is the founder and president of The Urban Alternative, a national ministry dedicated to restoring hope in personal lives, families, churches and communities. Dr. Evans also serves as senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. He is a bestselling author of numerous books and his radio program, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, is heard on more than 500 stations every day. For more information, visit: tonyevans.org.
Read an Excerpt
Connecting God's Purpose With Your Pleasure
By Tony Evans
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Tony Evans
All rights reserved.
A KINGDOM MARRIAGE not only shares passion, but more important, it has a purpose.
Passion matters and happiness is great, but rather than being the purposes for marriage, they are benefits. Marriage exists to glorify God by expanding His rule and reach. It uniquely reflects His image like nothing else. When you pursue God's purpose as a couple, then everything else you value in life — such as happiness, love, and satisfaction — will fall into place.
The absence of a kingdom purpose for marriage makes it appear as if many couples have been married by the secretary of war rather than the justice of the peace. A passenger on a plane one day noticed that the man sitting next to him had his wedding ring on the wrong hand, so he asked him why. The husband replied, "Because I married the wrong woman."
Far too many couples today feel that marriage has turned into too much trouble, like the man who said, "My wife and I were happy for twenty years. And then we got married."
Friend, when God established marriage, He established it to last. It is only when we have removed ourselves from His purpose for our relationships that we face the untimely unraveling of what was meant to be permanently satisfying.
A young girl was entertaining herself by playing with her grandmother's hands. When she asked why her grandmother's wedding ring was so large and gaudy, the grandmother sighed and then smiled and said, "Child, it's because when I got married, rings were made to last."
The problem today is that we have transposed the benefit of marriage with the goal, so that when the benefit — happiness — is not working out, we quit and move on, or we resign ourselves to living a life of unhappiness. A large percentage of marriages end in divorce, and many couples who remain together do so out of economic or practical constraints, not love and a shared purpose. Again, kingdom couples share a purpose, not just passion. Emotions change, but the purpose remains and is what can tie two people together until death do they part.
Most people subscribe to the popular notion of marriage that begins when two people fall in love and share an emotional experience identified by chills, thrills, and butterflies. With eyes only for each other, the infatuated pair promise undying love at the altar only to discover that after they say "I do," they just don't anymore. Divorce seems like the only way to forge a truce. In fact, many men and women tell their biggest lies on their wedding days. They promise to "love, honor, and cherish" in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, for as long as they both shall live. Then, before long, they are divorced or wish they were. If religion is part and parcel of the relationship, many couples will stay together for the sake of the kids. Yet they do so in loveless environments punctuated by conflict, selfishness, and the opposite of the true image of God.
When children grow up in loveless homes, they don't learn the crucial lessons necessary to develop good self-images now and to build strong marriages for themselves later. When kids witness their dads coercing or demanding submission from their moms, they take on a warped definition of manhood and womanhood, which often results in poor behavior and communication later in life.
Our marriages today are crumbling at such a high rate not because we no longer get along but because we have lost sight of the blessing tied to biblical marriage. Marriage is not merely a social contract; it is a sacred covenant. It is not simply a means of looking for love, happiness, and fulfillment. Those things are important; in fact, they are critical. But they are not the most important or the most critical. Yet because we have put second things first, as important as second things are, we are having trouble living out either. When God's purpose and principles for marriage are undermined, His image becomes distorted, and our ability to influence others on God's behalf erodes.
Kingdom couples must view marriage through God's kingdom lens. A kingdom marriage is defined as "a covenantal union between a man and a woman who commit themselves to function in unison under divine authority in order to replicate God's image and expand His rule in the world through both their individual and joint callings."
A Lasting Tribute
Victoria's father died when she was only one. Raised in a single-parent household, Victoria didn't have a model of marriage to follow. Her relationship with her mom was strained at the best of times, and they were completely estranged as she grew older. Tossed here and there to different places and people, Victoria grew up in a contradictory world that provided little direction and consistency. What hope would she have of finding a happy home?
At the age of eighteen, Victoria faced new responsibilities. She was crowned Queen of England, something few people expected, since she wasn't first in line for the throne. However, the two men before her had died, and she found herself receiving a title at a time when it meant precious little. The English monarchy was in question, carried no real influence, and sat precariously on a line between honor and contempt. It was the early 1800s, and one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world had a teenager as its queen.
Yet just a few years later, Victoria married the man who would help her change the face of the monarchy for good. His name was Albert, and funny enough, she proposed to him. (Since she was the queen, he was not allowed to propose to her.) They soon married, and her diary and accounts reveal that they were deeply in love from the start. Later she wrote, "Without him everything loses its interest."
Their marriage stayed strong and lasted until Albert's untimely death in his early forties. Yet even though it was short, what their marriage produced was nothing short of remarkable. It not only strengthened Victoria's rule, as Albert became his wife's chief adviser and promoter, but it also expanded the dominion and rule of their nation throughout the rest of the continent through their children. Victoria and Albert raised their children with a kingdom mind-set.
German by birth, Prince Albert was considered an invading foreigner and "British interloper" by most. Yet he became a respected leader in the nation as he honored Victoria's position and strength while seeking the good of her career and nation through his influence in political and domestic issues. The view of the monarchy completely changed by the end of Queen Victoria's reign, and it came to be known as a powerful tool for good for the land. The nine children the couple raised likewise went on to increase the reach of that good into countries near and far.
Each of their nine children, and many of their forty-two grandchildren, married into royal families. This included a German empress and queen of Prussia, a king of England, a grand duchess who was a champion of women's causes and a promoter of female nursing, a cofounder of the Red Cross who also married into German royalty, the wife of a governor general of Canada, a Canadian commander in chief, and various other influential leaders.
While it is widely purported that Victoria valued her marriage far more than she valued her parenting role, she and Albert took their duties to pass on their dominion and legacy seriously, and they were effective. In that, and much more, their marital success contributed to the success not only of England's citizens but also of people throughout the world who were positively impacted by the improvements in women's rights, social services, and the attention to peace their leaders sought.
But what happened after their marriage ended impresses me most about the love and strength of their union. Following Albert's untimely death, the queen showed him the greatest honor any wife could give. Victoria was still young when widowed, and she could have had any royal suitor in the world. Yet she chose to remain in mourning over the loss of the love of her life. For four decades, Queen Victoria clothed herself daily in black, staying true to the memory of her marriage even after death had parted them. Many thought her grief was excessive, but Victoria's love for Albert demanded nothing less. I have found no greater testament to a spouse's love than what the queen unwaveringly gave to her prince.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert shared the fruit of happiness in marriage despite the obvious challenges of a large family, the pressures of duty and office, and certain male-female sensitivities resulting from her superior role. Yet they did it all successfully while carrying out the mission of expanding their dominion and influence upon the world.
As followers of the one true King over all, we should seek to honor each other no less, to love each other no less, and to expand God's dominion and rule no less through all we do in our marriages.
The King and His Kingdom
The key to influencing our society and world with lasting impact is found in solidifying biblical marriage in the way God intended. It starts with both wife and husband reflecting God and His image and modeling that reflection within the roles and responsibilities of their union. This begins with a correct understanding of God's kingdom and their responsibilities in it.
Yet because the body of Christ in America has focused much more heavily on buildings, programs, and entertainment, far too few have a full understanding of God's kingdom or what biblical commitment looks like.
To gain some background, let me begin by stating that if you are an American, you are most likely an American because you were born here. If you are a part of the kingdom of God, it is because you have been born again into His kingdom through personal faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the sinless Savior, Jesus Christ.
Understanding the Kingdom with regard to your marriage is the key to understanding the Bible. The unifying, central theme throughout the Bible — from Genesis to Revelation — is the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.
When we lack an integration of the kingdom theme in our Bible study and application, the Bible becomes a collection of disconnected stories that are great for information and inspiration but seem unrelated in purpose, direction, and contemporary relevance. Scripture exists to highlight God's movement in history. It shows us the connection of the Kingdom. Fully grasping this concept makes this several-thousand-year-old manuscript relevant to our day-to-day decisions. The Kingdom is not only then; it is also now.
The closer God and His rule are tied to the definition of marriage, the more order, productivity, and fulfillment are experienced in our marriages. The further away God and His rule are, the more chaos occurs in the home.
What is the kingdom? Throughout the Bible, the kingdom of God is His rule. The Greek word used for "kingdom" is basileia, translated "rule" or "authority." Any kingdom consists of three crucial components: First, there is a ruler; second, a realm of subjects who fall underneath this rule; and third, the rules of governance. God's kingdom is the authoritative execution of His comprehensive governance over all creation. His kingdom is all-encompassing. It covers everything that exists.
The universe we live in is a theocracy. Theos refers to God, and ocracy refers to rule. A kingdom perspective means that the rule of God (theocracy) trumps the rule of man (homocracy). Scripture expresses it this way: "The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:19, NIV).
God's kingdom is larger than the temporal, governmental, and social realms that make up our world. It is not confined to the walls of the church in which we call on His name in a corporate setting. The kingdom is both now (Mark 1:15) and not yet (Matthew 16:28). It is not only near (Luke 17:21) but also far (Matthew 7:21). Jesus spoke to the heavenly origin of His earthly kingdom shortly before His crucifixion, when He responded to Pilate,
My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm. (John 18:36)
God's kingdom consists of covenantal institutions that include the family, the church, and civil government (the state). God rules them all, and each is accountable to Him and His standards as their sovereign, regardless of whether they recognize that rule. Failure to function under His authority produces chaos and consequences similar to what Adam and Eve experienced in the garden and what we see all around us today.
The foundation of civilization is the family, and the foundation of the family is marriage. Therefore the destruction of marriage naturally results in the destruction of civilization, which is why it is critical that we make strengthening marriages and families an integral part of the church's mission.
All three covenantal institutions (family, church, and civil government) were designed to operate on a standard of absolute truth. We see this show up first in the garden when God told Adam and Eve that they could eat freely from any tree except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God wanted His revelation and not human opinion to be the basis and foundation for their relationship. When they ate of this tree, they removed themselves from the absolute nature of God's command, ushering reason into their future equations. As a result, today we must be careful to always place our reasoning underneath the umbrella of absolute, revealed truth. Truth is fundamentally God-based knowledge. This standard of truth is nonnegotiable, transcending cultural, economic, belief-based, and situational lines.
Not only does the Kingdom agenda operate on this foundation of absolute truth, but it also operates under the only all-inclusive principle presented to us for understanding the work of God and His kingdom. This principle is His glory. Romans 11:36 says that "from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."
Glory denotes significance and value. Since everything originates from God, takes place through God, and goes to God, God's glory exists intrinsically in Himself. Whether we ascribe glory to God or not is irrelevant to the amount of glory God has. His glory is already fully present in Him. Yet the degree to which we personally experience and access God's glory in our lives, our marriages, and our homes is found in the extent to which we align ourselves under His comprehensive rule. When we align our lives under God and His rule, He radiates and magnifies His glory to, in, and through us. We experience the abundant life and abundant marriages Christ came to secure on our behalf (John 10:10).
The number one way to bring God glory is by surrendering to His sovereign rule. This acknowledges His supremacy over every area of our lives. When we operate in our marriages based on these principles of the Kingdom agenda, we are free to experience God's hand of blessing and His promise to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).
Conversely, when we do not operate according to God's kingdom and His rule over our lives, we limit our opportunity to experience His hand working all things together for good. This is because we have chosen to define God according to our purpose rather than His. But God will be defined by no one but Himself. It is the rule of God (theocracy) and not the rule of man (homocracy) that is paramount. If God's kingdom is comprehensive, as we have seen, so is His Kingdom agenda. The Kingdom agenda may be defined as "the visible manifestation of the comprehensive rule of God over every area of life." For the Kingdom agenda to be made manifest in your marriage, it calls for aligning all you do, think, and say under God's rule. When that is done, you will experience the fruit of all the good that God has planned for you.
The reason so many of us are struggling as believers is that instead of fulfilling His agenda, we want God to bless our agendas for our marriages. We want God to okay our plans rather than our fulfilling His. We want God to bring us glory rather than our bringing Him glory through honoring the marriage covenant as He intended it.
The Purpose of Marriage
God established marriage in a perfect environment. In fact, marriage came before sin. God created the first family and gave them His blessing, His commission, and His image:
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:26–28)
Excerpted from Kingdom Marriage by Tony Evans. Copyright © 2016 Tony Evans. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Part I The Foundation of a Kingdom Marriage
1 Origin 3
2 Order 17
3 Opposition 27
4 Oaths 39
5 Oneness 49
Part II The Function of a Kingdom Marriage
6 Roles 65
7 Resolutions 81
8 Requests 93
9 Restoration 107
10 Resources 119
11 Romance 131
12 Rebuilding 145
13 Return 155
Conclusion: Turning Water into Wine 165
Appendix: The Urban Alternative 171
Scripture Index 179
What People are Saying About This
Kingdom Marriage takes you where very few marriage books go: straight into the spiritual realm. Dr. Tony Evans talks about spiritual warfare, spiritual purpose, spiritual strongholds, and much, much more. If you’ve read fifty marriage books, you still need to read this one, as it is unlike all the others.