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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Why Most Marriages Don't Work?

Craig Groeschel - Why Most Marriages Don't Work?


Craig Groeschel - Why Most Marriages Don't Work?
Craig Groeschel - Why Most Marriages Don't Work?
TOPICS: Save the Date, Marriage, Relationships, Dating

How many of you know that marriage can be a blessing when it's a blessing? Raise your hands, raise your hand. You can type that in a comment section, marriage can be a blessing. How many of you know marriage is a blessing when it's a blessing? How many of you know that marriage is not a blessing when it's not a blessing? Don't raise your hand. Don't elbow the person sitting next to you. Just don't smile. Look straight forward, act like you don't know what I'm talking about. Marriage is a great blessing when it is, but man, it can be painful, it can be complicated when it's not a blessing. And this isn't just my opinion. Scripture actually says something very close to what I just said. I'll give you some verses. Proverbs 18:22, says can be a blessing. Scripture says, "The man who finds a wife finds a treasure," finds a blessing, "and he receives favor from the Lord".

Marriage is a blessing when it's a blessing. Proverbs 27:15 shows us that it's not always a blessing. The Bible says, "A quarrelsome wife. Is as annoying as a constant dripping on a rainy day". Drip, drip, drip. Marriage is not a blessing when it's not a blessing. And so to be an equal gender offender, not just offend the women, First Craig 4:9 says, "It's better to step in warm dog poop or pass a kidney stone than to marry a man who is a self-centered, narcissistic jerk". That's from the SBIB version, that Should be in the Bible. Not really a Bible verse. Some of you're going, "Where's First Craig? I can't find it in YouVersion Bible".

Marriage is a blessing when it's a blessing, but it's complicated and can be painful when it's not a blessing. And so, we're starting a message series called, "Save the Date". And I have three specific goals. My first goal is if you are not married, and we'll talk more about this next week to show you that scripture says, "Singleness can actually be a gift. And we want to use that gift in a way that honors God". If we're not married, we want to be not married in the way that honors God. If you're dating, my goal is to help you date in a way that honors God. And if you are married, my goal is very simply to help you be married in a way that honors God. And so, we are going to answer the very practical and specific questions that you are asking.

For example, one of the most common questions that people ask is, "How do I find the right person? Where do I go? What do I do? Do I go to church and you know scan the crowd and look for someone worshiping with no ring finger on their worship finger? Do I swipe the app? You know, do I do a devotion at a coffee shop and leave my Bible open with highlighters and hope someone goes, 'Oh, you're a Christian too.' How do we find the right person"? This is a question a lot of people ask, but we're gonna ask a better and more important question when most people ask, "How do I find the right person"? We're gonna ask, "How do I become the right person"? And the reason we're gonna ask this is because you don't just attract what you want, you generally attract what you are. And we're gonna talk about that, but not today. We're gonna talk about that next week when we talk about the three qualities you need to develop before you marry.

Today though we're gonna talk about something that is a little bit more important to build a foundation. We wanna try to answer the question, when it comes to following Jesus as Christians, what is marriage? And why does this matter so much to define what marriage is? It matters so much because how you see marriage shapes how you approach relationships. It's incredibly important how we view marriage as a follower of Jesus because how we see marriage shapes how you approach relationships. The challenge is that a lot of people today simply see marriage as a contract. It's a contract between two consenting adults.

Many people would say, "Well, you could get married in a church building by a pastor, and then you simply sign the contract at the end of the ceremony. Or you might get buried by the justice of the peace and you sign a contract at the end of the ceremony. Or you could even get married by Elvis in Vegas and at the end of the ceremony you sign the contract at the end of the ceremony". And they would say that, "Marriage is very simply a a contract. It's a legal agreement between two consenting adults". But according to scripture, "Marriage is way, way, way more than just a legal agreement".

And I wanna start with how Jesus defines marriage when he is quoting the very first chapter in the book of Bible. He quotes Genesis 1 and Jesus asked the question, "'Haven't you read?' he replied, 'that at the beginning, the creator God made them male and female,' and said 'For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?' So they are no longer two," but now in God's eyes, they are one flesh. "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate".

Marriage is from God, by God, ordained by God. It's not just a contract. Because when you think about it, what is a contract based on? What is the contract based on? When you sign a contract, a contract is essentially based on mutual distrust. We can't just give our word, we have to sign a contract. And if you sign a contract with someone who's gonna do work on your house, what is your contractor trying to do and what are you trying to do? Essentially when you sign a contract, you're trying to protect your rights and limit your responsibilities. I wanna make sure you do what you said you would do and if you perform up to your required agreement, then I'm in. But if you don't keep your side, then I am out. That's essentially a contract.

And therefore, a lot of people say, "Well if marriage is only that, if it's just a piece of paper, then why would even bother getting married"? It's a very common question. A very fair question if you're defining marriage as a contract. Why even bother? We might as well just live together, which again is becoming way, way more common today. In fact, I've been married to Amy for 31 amazing years and it is a blessing to be married to my best friend. And we met in 1990. And the year that we met, Pew Research did a study to see the difference between couples then and the couples in 2019. In that times period, those who married the percentage went way, way down. Those who live together, the percentage of adults who cohabitate more than doubled in the amount of time that we've known each other.

And according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research today, 80% of teenagers expect to cohabit. 80% of those of you who would have children today would think that the very natural progression in their relational life would be to live together at some point. Which honestly, I don't blame 'em. I mean it sounds like a decent plan. If marriage is just a piece of paper, you can split the responsibilities and you can enjoy the benefits. You can cut your written half and you can share your Netflix account for the glory of God. You save money. You can split the chores and you can share the bed. Bunga, bunga, whatever it would be. You know, that just, it just seems to make complete sense. The problem is that studies show that cohabitation actually decreases the odds of relational success. It doesn't work as well as we would think it would work, even though it seems to make sense if marriage is just a contract or just a piece of paper.

And the reason it doesn't work as well, researchers call it the cohabitation inertia effect. What happens is they say is that instead of intentionally deciding to be more committed, you're sliding into a commitment. You might slide into, "Hey, how about we live together. Make sense, it's a little bit cheaper". And so we co-sign on an apartment lease and we slide into that. And then we think, well, let's just get us our same phone plan together because we can save money and you slide into that. And someone has a great idea, "Let's get a puppy". And you're not really committed, but you got a puppy. And then one day, whose puppy is it? And then if you're not careful, the puppy becomes a kid and you've got a baby. And suddenly, you're incredibly entangled with one another and you find yourself fully entangled but not fully committed. And what that does is it increases the pressure on the relationship. And you may not be fully committed to this person, but you kind of feel stuck and you're really, really invested.

And the moment you start to feel stuck but not committed, it decreases the odds of success in the relationship. And we didn't mean to get there because we're kind of good people and it makes sense that. You know, we're not not hurting anybody. And it kind of made sense on paper, but the odds go down of really having a great relationship. And you don't even have to move in together. You can kind of just do the playhouse thing where you kind of have a drawer at her house or she has a drawer at your house. You got your own little toothbrush there and you kind of just stay the night, a few nights a week. And essentially, even though it doesn't seem like a very big deal in culture, what you of practically doing is you're pretending to be married. You're essentially practicing marriage, doing married like things. And then when things don't go well, you break up, essentially practicing divorce.

And so, it's no wonder then later on when you do get married and you just see it as a contractual agreement, if things don't go well, you take your drawer stuff and you go one way and they go the other. And perhaps that's one of the reasons why so many marriages aren't working today. You see, this isn't meant to be judgmental at all, but how you see marriage profoundly shapes how you approach relationships. And that's why I wanna try to show you today that a Christian marriage is not just a contract, but it's actually a very holy covenant before God. Because while a contract is based on mutual distrust, a covenant is based on mutual commitment before a Holy God. In fact, in the Old Testament, the word that's translated as covenant is the word berith and it literally means a cutting.

Like you think about the the New Testament, the new covenant, what was that? There's always a shedding of blood when there's a cutting. Jesus shed his blood for the new covenant that our sins could be forgiven. And I'll give you a rather graphic example. And this is the reason why this message is PG-13. Because in an Old Testament Hebrew wedding, what they would often do is they would, the bride and the groom would stand before the priest. And once they set their vows, they would go into what was called a chuppah. It's spelled C-H-U-P-P-A-H. It's the the bridal chamber where there might be like four posts and then some drapes that would cover the chuppah. I call it the chuppah, chuppah. And that's where they would actually go into consummate their marriage. And again, this is kind of hard to imagine, but if you could imagine there's a party of people. They're celebrating this couple. And the virgin groom would consummate the marriage with the virgin bride and there would be a shedding of blood.

And this is kind of hard to even say, but they would occasionally put some of the blood on a clean cloth. And then, they would display that for the family and they would cheer and celebrate now that the two have become united as one flesh. And what God has joined together in a holy covenant, let no one ever separate it. It's holy. It's a righteous, covenantal commitment before God. The way they'd make a covenant in a business deal in the Old Testament, two people to make a a deal. They'd cut a bull in half and then they'd both walk through, seven times, and say, "If we break our word, may what happened to bull, happened to us". It's a final commitment. Yes, I promise to be faithful for the rest of my life. Chuppah, chuppah.

Speaking of sex, let's talk about sex since you brought it up. It's been said, maybe you've heard this, it's been said that men think about sex once every seven seconds. I did the math and that's 514 times an hour. Some of you're going, "That sounds about right". Okay, it's actually not right at all. It is not right at all. According to a very well respected study, men think about sex about 19 times a day, 19 times a day. How many times do you think women think about sex? The answer is women think about sex 10 times a day. So if men think about it 19 and women only think about it 10 times, that raises the question, what else are women thinking about? And the answer is they're think about food. They're thinking about food. They think about food 15 times a day. So if you're tracking with me just so you'll know where everything ranks.

Women think about food more than sex and men think about sex more than women think about food. So, that's kind of how it all comes together, which raises the incredibly important question, how do we live with sexual integrity in a culture of sexual brokenness? And to answer this question, we have to remember, well, it kind of depends on how you define marriage. Because how you see marriage approaches, shapes how you approach sex. So what do we know about marriage according to scripture? Well, scripture teaches us that a Christian marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman for life. Scripture tells us in Hebrews 13:4 that, "Marriage should be honored by all". Meaning if you're not married, you still honor the covenant of marriage. If you are married, you honor the covenant of marriage. "And the marriage bed should be kept pure". It should be undefiled.

Scripture teaches us the principle that only the only kind of God honoring sex is sex within the covenant of marriage. And you say, "Wow, that doesn't leave a whole lot of options". Meaning if we're dating, what is it that we can do and what is it that we can not do sexually? And that's the very question that I ask when I started dating Amy because she was my first Christian relationship. And so, I asked my strongest Christian friend, "What exactly and don't leave anything off the list, give me everything that's legal before God to do? I wanna know all of it". And the list was really, really short. There wasn't much on there because scripture teaches the principle in Ephesians 5:3 that, "Among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality".

This is God's standard because the gift of love making is so holy, reserved for the intimacy of a covenant marriage. Because it's so holy, because it's so intimate, because it's so righteous, and because it's so pure, there shouldn't be a hint of sexual immorality. And so, what would that mean? What would be out of balance? Well, certainly adultery, that's more than a hint. And then when you ask, "What about premarital sex"? That's actually more than a hint. That's not something we need to be doing. Well what about like, you know, just like, you know, not like not the all the way, but like just the everything else. It's everything but, like just not the final thing. That would actually be more than a hint. When you take the standards, it gets like ridiculously high. You could make an argument perhaps that crude sexual jokes might be a hint of immorality.

You might suggest that dressing immodestly or posting immodest photos of your great big muscles, brah, or your cute little bikini, that could be considered... Hey, I'm picking on everybody here. I'm picking on everybody here that being immodest. Because Jesus was the one who said, "If you even like just look lustfully at someone else, you're committing adultery in your heart". The standard is indescribably high, so high that I can almost guarantee you none of you have kept it and neither have I. Revealing our desperate need for Christ and our desperate need for grace. It's not about condemnation or judgment, it's about an equal need for the forgiveness of God and the power of God to enable us to live a life that is pleasing to God. You may say... Thank you mom, for that clap. She's actually the one that taught me that.

So you might say, "But like dang, I mean, you know, I got my needs and I mean this is like the 2020s. You know, you just so outdated and stuff. God is such a prude". God's not a prude at all. I want you to understand that God is very pro-sex. Nobody says Amen. God created sex. I'm not saying anything in this message. I don't even know what to think about this. This crazy stuff, this church stuff. God created sex. One person said Amen. Listen, I'll give you a couple Bible verses. You guys are sitting there like scared like, ha. Scripture says this, Proverbs 5:19, "May her breasts satisfy you always". Amen. There's an Amen. That's in the Bible. And may God add the blessings to the reading of His word. Okay, that's in the Bible. And that's nothing compared to what the Shulamite woman said of Solomon in Song of Solomon 7:8. She said, "I will climb the palm tree. I will take hold of its fruit".

Now. I studied Hebrew in seminary. And in the Hebrew, what this is really trying to say is literally, "I will climb the palm tree. I will take hold of its fruit". That's what it says in the original language. That's what it says. The problem is that sometimes unknowingly in the church world, we can kind of make sex outside of marriage seem just bad. Like don't do it, like don't do it, like don't do it. And then you get married, go do it, do it, do it, do it, do it. And like I don't understand. It's like this light switch. It's like these boxers that my buddies got me. So I was, you know, a new Christian. I was dating Amy. And they got me these boxers that said, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, all over it. And then you turned off the light and this was right before we got married and then they glow in the door and say, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That's what they got me.

We treat sex like that when God doesn't say like, no, no, no, no, no, no. What he's saying is he's saying wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Because this is holy. This is righteous. This is a gift reserve for the covenant relationship that scripture calls marriage. God is not some kind of prude trying to forbid you from physical enjoyment. He wants to protect you because he loves you. He wants to bless you with righteous intimacy and he wants to protect you from some of the emotional pain you know. Some of the heartbreak that you've experienced. Some of the crushing disappointments when you, like me, didn't do it God's way. He's not trying to limit you. He loves you. He wants to bless you. He wants to protect you and he wants you to have something incredibly special. So, we've covered a lot of ground. Where are you today in the context of relationships?

So let's talk about it for a moment because I would recognize that some of you right now you are dating and you're going, "Oh man, maybe this relationship that we have right now, the way we're doing it, is not really honoring God. So what do we do"? What I want you to know is that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So don't feel condemned. But if you feel a little bit convicted, that's the loving presence of God leading you to something better. What do you do? Well, you can together apologize to God. What a great thing to say, "God, we messed up. Would you please forgive us? Would you direct us"? And you can let God change you. You could maybe stop doing something you were doing or you may decide it may be expensive and costly, but we wanna move out. We wanna reestablish the parameters in a way that would honor God. Or you may recognize you're incredibly unequally yolked and you're not gonna stay in this relationship any longer 'cause you're not gonna settle for something less than God's best.

You may be not dating anybody right now but you want one day to have a godly relationship. And this may change how you view marriage. You may see it as a holy covenant between two people that God brings together and blesses for life. And because you see marriage as a covenant, that might change how you approach relationships. And so, instead of doing like most other people do, you get a little bit weird. You're different. People will make fun of you. I don't know about you, but I got a weird marriage. It's blessed. It's happy. I don't want normal. Normal's divorce. Normal's broken. Normal's staying together for the kids. If you want something different, you gotta take a different approach. Yes. And God's approach is incredibly different. You might change your approach.

You might be someone who's lives in or are you're living in sexual brokenness right now. Believe me, I've been there before I was a follower of Christ. And it sounds like a good plan. And then emotionally and mentally, you wake up wrecked. What do you do? Well, the good news is that anyone who's in Christ, scripture says, "It's a new creation. The old is gone and the new comes". And you're not just made new spiritually, your emotions are renewed. I would say you can even be sexually renewed. I have a friend who says, "I'm not just a born-again Christian, I'm a born-again virgin". He says that like in his mind, all that's gone and his mind has been renewed by the power and the grace of God. You might be married right now and you're going, "Well dang, we didn't do it right when we were dating". And you might be looking at your marriage right now and going, "And we're not really doing it right in our marriage right now". So what do you do?

Well, maybe you just join hands and you turn to God and you say, "God, would you just forgive us"? And you receive His forgiveness together. You might choose to be baptized together in two weeks and go underwater and say, "We're coming out with a new marriage, new completely in Christ". You might join a life group together and say, "We're gonna start seeking God together". You might start doing a YouVersion Bible plan together. You might start getting crazy together and pray together. And when you pray together, you might start kissing more together. And you just let God do a work. Because I want you to know and I want you to feel it, with God, there's always a second chance, and a third chance, and a fourth chance. His grace is amazing. There is no sin to great for the grace of God.

And this in many ways was my story. Before I was a Christian, I just saw marriage kind of as a contract. Sex to me was a pleasure to be enjoyed. And so, I kind of dated and did the playhouse thing and then Jesus completely transformed my life. And when He did, it changed how I viewed marriage. So for a two-year period, I stopped pursuing women and started pursuing Jesus. Literally, this is cheesy, but this was the late '80s. I had date nights with God, that's what I called it. And I would drink my Neer Beer, waning myself off beer and I would listen to cassettes. If you don't know what a cassette is, you can Google it. Cassettes on marriage. And I would journal and I wrote love notes to the person who had become my future wife. I had this big old box, shoebox, full of love notes. And when I had been dating Amy for three months, I said, "Ah, I think these are for you". And I gave her the love notes that I had written for her. And when I met Amy, we started pursuing God together and it was holy and it was righteous.

And I was sexually attracted to her. A lot. And she was attracted to me a little. And we're like normal people and we wanted to do normal things. And together, we chose to put God's will ahead of our own desires, together. And I'm not gonna tell you we were perfect because we weren't. Sometimes I had to fight her off, "Stay back woman. Cut that out in Jesus name". And you know what I'm whatever. But when we shared our covenant vows on May the 25th, 1991 and I drove her to our bed and breakfast I was, it was five miles away from the church. I was so nervous that I couldn't find my way there. I've been there 43 times, I got lost on the way there, honestly. And I carried her across the threshold of the room and we prayed together and we, for the first time, we sealed what was our covenant vows. And what God did is is He united us into a holy covenant. His standards are so high and His blessings are so worth it.

You see, how you see marriage shapes how you approach relationships. And marriage isn't this practical arrangement. It is a spiritual covenant. And a man will leave his father and mother and the two will be united by the power of God to become one flesh. In the beginning of the Bible, there was a marriage. Genesis 1, Jesus says, "The relationship between God and the church is like a marriage". At the end of the Bible, there will be what's known as the marriage supper of the lamb. When God unites His people together in a relationship with the holy God. It's a covenant as one who's under the new covenant, that we're not saved by our own works, but we're saved by the grace of Jesus. It is holy, it is righteous, and it is good. A marriage that is blessed by God is a bigger blessing than you could ever imagine. God wants you blessed in your singleness. He wants you blessed in your dating. He wants you blessed in your marriage. His standards are high and His blessings are worth it.

So Father, we ask that you do surgery on our hearts today on what is certainly perhaps even a difficult message to hear, but one where there's healing and grace and freedom and goodness and your blessings. Do a work in our hearts, we pray.


As you reflect today, no matter your relational status, I'm gonna ask a threefold question and my hope is that your answer is yes. My hope is that you had all raised your hand wherever you're watching from. If you're not married, you wanna be married. If you're not married, you wanna be singled away that honors God. I'm asking you, do you want to serve Him in you're singleness? If you're dating, do you wanna serve Him and honor Him in your dating? If you're married, do you want to be married and honor Him in your marriage? Wherever you're watching from today, no matter your relational status, you want to honor Him in your relationships. If that's you, would you just lift up your hands right now? If you're watching online, type it in the comments section, that's me. Just type it in.

Father, I pray that no matter what our relational status is with other people, that our relational status with you would be intimate. That God out of an intimate relationship with you that you would overflow. That we would treat people with love and live with sexual integrity and humility, and honesty, and truthfulness. God, in all of the brokenness, in all of our lives, I know there's no one that's escaped the brokenness of this world, but you bring healing by your power, by your grace. A humble heart, God, not to judge others, to consider ourselves better, but to recognize we're all mutually broken. Needing your grace, needing your healing, and needing your forgiveness. Strengthen us, God, to honor you. Lead us God to show love in a way that reflects your hearts. Bring healing to broken marriages. Bring healing to broken sexuality. God, bring healing to our loneliness, our emptiness. Use us to know you and to show your love in all that we do.


As you keep praying today, lemme just reiterate. The Bible starts with Adam and Eve, their marriage. Jesus calls the relationship between God and the church like a marriage. At the end, there's the marriage supper of the lamb. It's showing that God is a holy God and God is a relational God. He's a relational God. He wants you to know Him as He already knows you. And to show His love for you, He sent His son Jesus. Who is Jesus? He's the perfect son of God. He never sinned. Jesus shed His innocent blood to create the new covenant. You're no longer under the law, but you're saved by grace, not by good works.

If you find yourself honestly saying, "Well, I really don't have a relationship with God". That's a very honest place to start. That's where I had to start. I grew up in church but didn't know God. You might say, "I don't have a relationship with God". What do you do? God reached out to you first. While we were broken, while we were sinning, He showed His love for us when Jesus gave His life on the cross. The perfect one died to forgive our sins. We simply surrender our lives to Jesus. When we do, He forgives our sins. No matter what we've done, all of our brokenness, He makes us brand new. If anyone's in Christ, you become a new creation. The old is gone and everything is new. Wherever you're watching from today, those who say, "I need His forgiveness. I need His grace". As you call out to Him, you'll enter into a relationship with Him. He loves you. He's showing His love for you. He's reaching out to you.

Today, step away from your old life. Say yes to Jesus. Wherever you're watching from, those who say, "I need His forgiveness. I need His grace. Today I surrender my life, Jesus. I want to know you". That's your prayer. Lift your hands high now. All over the place, lift Him up and say yes. That's my prayer. Say yes, Jesus. I surrender to you. Praise God for you. Others today say, "Yes, I surrender Jesus". Just lift up your hands and say, "I surrender Jesus. I give you my life today". Online, you can just type it in the comments section, "I'm surrendering my life to Jesus". Type that in the comments sections. I'm surrendering to Jesus, would you all pray it aloud? Pray:

Heavenly Father, thank you for grace. Thank you for Jesus. Forgive my sins. Heal my brokenness. Be my savior and the Lord of my life. Fill me with your spirit so I can honor you in all that I do, in all my relationships, in showing your love. Take all of my life. Thank you for new life. I give you all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray.

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