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Building Christian Family
by Helen Santoso and James Gerung

Why are we getting married?

The answer to this question is a base why we are dating and it is very important for us to understand why we are getting married. We are going to look into the scripture from Genesis 2 where God created Eve for Adam.

In Genesis 2:18, God said that it is not good for the man to be alone so God will make a helper that is suitable for him. From this passage, we can take some conclusion namely that there is a concept of helping as Godís purpose in marriage.

In Genesis 2:23-24, The scripture said that Öa man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh. From the passage, the phrase that says that there is a meaning of fulfilling each other in the marriage.

From these passage, we learned that the meaning and purpose of marriage in the first place is helping/serving and fulfillment between two individuals, man and woman. But, after the fall of human, we have to admid that the purpose of marriage is abused and shifted from the original purpose. The world view of marriage could be observed from the lyrics of musics, or theme of movies, etc.

So how we can fulfill the original purpose or marriage in our marriage?

For us to apply the purpose in our life is through careful preparation before the marriage or even before dating.

The discussion on this topic is approached using the purpose of helping/serving and fulfilling and we are going to divide the material into 3 time periods.

A. Before dating.

1. The first thing to do is answering the question of "Who Am I ?" Why we need to answer this question? Why is this important? As a christian that is living in this world, we are called to serve and the meaning of marriage is to fulfill the calling. Before marriage we should define whom do we have to serve (Before or after marriage).

How do we have to answer this question? How detail it needs to be? In answering this question, we need to have a right relationship with God and sometimes we need to make a choice between our choice to fulfilll our self satisfaction or following Godís word that needs us to deny ourselves. Here, we need to answer and to understand our strength and our weaknesses and most important is to find our meaning and purpose of life as a christian (By the word of God/ Bible).

2. The second step is setting the standard.  
Why do we need to set up the standard? We need to set up the standard in order for us to serve into the full extend that God intends us to be. Setting up the standard is intended to guide us to find a partner not based on emotion but based on the scripture. In the case when we donít have any standard, we usually ty to match the person that we like into our criteria (Read: Subjective).

How do we set up the standard? How detail it needs to be? In setting up the standard we can set it up concurrent with finding out the answer to question "who am I?" The standard can be divide into two parts namely

a. Absolute

bulletHe/she must be believer by action
bulletHave a common vision
b. Conditional
In examining whether a condition shoould be absolute or conditional, we need guidance and wisdom from the scripture.
3. Building communication with our family Why we need to build communication with our family? In Eph 6: 1-3, we are instructed to obey our parents for this is right (This is a responsibility for us as a child). Building trust and communication with our parent I important so whenever we talk on topics that might disaggree with them.

How we can build the communication? We need to build communication that conveys that we care, obey, love and respect to them because they are Godís gift to us. For us that far away from our parent, we need to share our live in here so they may see that we are not the same person anymore (That cannot make decision, childish, not growing, etc). (Chamber, Oct 10, 1998)

B. In Dating
Why are we dating? Dating should be constructed toward a marriage. The purpose of dating is to know the person in his/her strengths or weaknesses and then grow together in community, ministry and their christian characters.

Some aspect that need to be build in dating:
1. Ministry

    Why? Every christian should get involved in a personal ministry. Ministry can become a sign of maturity in our relationship with God and also the preparation toward marriage. For a dating couple, they should be able to minister separately and they also should be able to minister together (The Myth of Romance, p.83-84).

    How can we build personal ministry? We begin with ministering in the area that fit with our spiritual gift that will make us more experienced in the area. Later on we will need guidance for our ministry that can comes from the scripture (Bible), more mature christians, and direct teachings of holy spirit (The Myth of Romance, p.85)

2. Communication skills
    Why? Communication has been an important part in a marriage because mostly when we are not building the communication skills carefully, we have the tendency to assume that the other person knows what we know.

    How? We need to build communication skills including the skills to problem solving, perceiving others messages, etc.

3. Clearance in expectation
Why? This is closely related to communication skills but I try to put emphasis on this because mostly this is lefted out in the preparation toward marriage.

How? We need to answer questions as detailed as possible to reduce our expectations and deal with reality. Questions like who is going to take charge of money, how are we going to handle a crying child, how are we going to raise this child, what kind of thing that we scared most to happen to the marriage, etc.

III. In Marriage

Why we are getting married? We already answer some aspect of this question in the introduction and now we are getting to discuss it more carefully.

The concept of serving in the introduction is a concept of serving between husband and wife, but after Jesus came to the world and died on the cross for human sins, we, as a christian, are called to serve others , to become light for Christ. There are some aspect in christian marriage:

1. Serving/ Ministry

    Ministry in a Christian family has essential roles that benefitting the marriage itself. As christian that is called to minister to other, we need to have a concrete ministry. In a ministry, we are learning to perceive the needs of others and that kind of skills will help us in the marriage itself. Having a common vision makes ministry become an important common ground area of marriage.
2. As an area of spiritual growth

The picture of the marriage (Eph.5: 22-25):

Marriage represents the relationship between Christ and the church and this could never be represent by a marriage where one is a believer and the other is not.

Marriage itself is a grace from God; it is not only a natural thing for human.

Parental approval

Do we need approval from parents? Is this a criterion for marriage?

The answer from Scripture seems to both yes and no. Parental opposition may well be Godís way of keeping us from a hell on earth and may be a way of telling us to wait.

What if the approval is not forthcoming? Can the marriage be pursued?

Discipleship and dedication to Jesus Christ sometimes involve a commitment to Him, above the commitment to our parents. If we are tempted to move apart from parental approval, we must be careful that the reason for doing so is our dedication to Christ. But as a Christian child, we still have a responsibility to give honor and respect our parents as long as they live ( Eph 6:1-3).

Further Readings:

Smith, M. Blaine. "Should I Get Married?"

Downers Grove, IL: IntervarsityPress, 1990.

Clair, S. B. & Jones, B. "Dating. Picking (and Being) a Winner"

San Bernandino, CA: Hereís Life Publishers, 1987

McCallum, DeLashmutt. "The Myth of Romance"

Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996

McRae, J. William. "Preparing for Your Marriage"

Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Publishing House, 1980

Chapman, G. "Toward a Growing Marriage" Chicago: Moody Bible Institure, 1979

Ward, Ted. "Values Begin at Home" Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1989

Discussion Questions:

1. What is the difference between Christian Family and Family at general?