For questions or comments regarding this study please contact Brian Hommel at brianhommel@upi.org

The following are resources that were used and that are recommended for further reading:

 


“ God knows what He is doing in the way that He has designed marriage to work, and therefore any hope of success in marriage lies in our understanding and submission to His design and purposes for it.”
— Brian Hommel

Study 1: marriage is glorious but hard

Summary Statements

  • God is the designer of marriage and therefore any hope of success in marriage lies in our understanding and submission to His design and purposes for it. 
  • Our Lord hasn’t called us to take on the responsibility of changing our spouse.
  • The secret to success lies in the power and pattern of the gospel.
  • We will not find ultimate satisfaction, security and salvation in the person that we are married to but rather in the purpose of marriage as given by the God who designed it.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: What was a funny thing that you learned about your spouse that you didn’t otherwise realize or know before you got married?

 

  • Question #2: How would you define the meaning and purpose of marriage?

 

  • Question #3: What do you enjoy most about being married? What are some things that make marriage difficult at times?

 

  • Question #4: Read Philippians 2:3-8. If we devoted ourselves to living with this kind of humility then what implications might this have on your marriage? What might your marriage look like if this was your central theme?

 

  • Question #5: How do you handle changes that need to be made in your marriage? How does your spouse deal with change?

 

  • Question #6: Hypothetically, if you and your spouse were to separate would you assume that you had married the wrong person? What are your thoughts on “soul mates”?

 

  • Question #7: In what ways does the gospel of Christ and the fact that there is no such thing as “soul mates” alter your perception of marriage? 

study 2: CONSUMEr vs. covenant marriage

Summary Statements

  • In a consumer relationship, my needs are more important to me than the relationship.
  • In a covenant relationship, my needs are not as important to me as the good of the relationship.
  • So a consumer marriage will remain focused on what we are expecting to gain while a covenant marriage will remain focused on what we are willing to give.
  • True love is a sacrificial commitment to the good of someone else, and therefore true love is more fundamentally an action rather than a feeling or an emotion. 
  • God has never said, “Adjust to me, or I’m out of here.” The cross of Christ proves God has forever promised, “I will adjust to you, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: Have you ever bought anything that you later regretted purchasing?

 

  • Question #2: Have you or someone that you know grown up in a divorced family? What consumer-driven tendencies have you noticed in couples that have gotten divorced? What are some consumer-driven tendencies that you’ve noticed in your own life and marriage?

 

  • Question #3: In a consumer relationship, performance is central. However, in a covenant relationship, commitment is central. Do you find it difficult to be yourself in your marriage at times? And if so, why do you feel that way?

 

  • Question #4: What are some dangers of wearing a “mask” in a marriage relationship? Why do we try to hide our true identity at times?

 

  • Question #5: Do you believe our personal happiness is a central theme in our Lord’s plan for us? If not, then what is the central theme of our Lord’s plan?

 

  • Question #6: What does service look like within the confines of a consumer marriage versus a covenant marriage? What does sex look like within the confines of a consumer marriage versus a covenant marriage?

 

  • Question #7: How does the gospel impact your perspective on what the marriage covenant really means?

Summary Statements

  • Those who never experience the struggle of having to forgive others fail to grasp the depth of the way in which Christ has forgiven us. 
  • Building your case will build an impenetrable wall around you that keeps the love of others locked out and your love for others locked in.
  • The only way to maintain a marriage environment that promotes honesty and love together is for each spouse to become very good at forgiving and very good at repenting.
  • The gospel of our Lord and what He has done for us gives us no reason for building our case and every reason for extending God’s grace.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: Why did God say, “It is not good for man to be alone”? In our modern age where we have instant access to so many people at once, would you say that we are a less lonely society or actually a more lonely society?  

 

  • Question #2: Did you grow up in a family where the home was primarily an atmosphere of grace or primarily an atmosphere of law and performance? 

 

  • Question #3: Would you say that you are quick to defend and protect your spouse or perhaps quicker to defend and protect yourself?

 

  • Question #4: What are some excuses that we tend to come up with for not forgiving others of their wrongs or sincerely repenting of our own wrongs?  

 

  • Question #5: What are some of the potential dangers of building our case and withholding grace and forgiveness? What will this do to our relationship with each other, and what will this do to our relationship with God?

 

  • Question #6: What are some of the dangers of primarily speaking the truth but without showing gentleness and grace? What are some of the dangers of primarily showing grace without ever really telling truth?

 

  • Question #7: How do you know that you’ve truly forgiven someone before God and that your healing is no longer reliant on their repentance?

 

  • Question #8: Why are we so prone to judge others (especially our spouse), and when we do judge others what are we ultimately saying about ourselves? How is playing the victim, building our case and judging others not in step with the truth of the gospel?

study 4: marriage revolves around service

Summary Statements

  • A Christian marriage requires mutual grace, but a Christian marriage revolves around both spouses serving one another in love. 
  • It is our own pride and selfishness that most often leads to our difficulties and failures in marriage.
  • If we have any hope of fulfilling God’s design and purpose for what our marriage was intended to be, then we must learn to let go of our pride and selfishness and instead live by and be led by the pattern of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. 
  • Scripture declares that we are to submit to one another in marriage out of our overwhelming wonder and awe of the greatness of our Lord and His love for us.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: Do you tend to be someone who doesn’t mind confrontation or are you more likely to run for the hills whenever conflict arises? Do you believe that conflict is unnecessary or a bad thing that should be avoided?

 

  • Question #2: What has your marriage taught you about yourself thus far? In what ways has being married revealed some of your own selfish tendencies or struggles with pride? 

 

  • Question #3: Do you believe that time eventually heals all wounds? When you say, “I would never do this or do that”, what are you really saying about yourself and the person you are addressing? 

 

  • Question #4: How might being overly competitive negatively affect your marriage? In what ways do you find yourself trying to prove your worth to yourself and others? How might this hinder your service to others?

 

  • Question #5: Who is the Holy Spirit? In what ways does He equip and empower us? In what ways have you personally experienced His work in your marriage or at some memorable moment in your life?

 

  • Question #6: What are some of the excuses that we come up with for not submitting and serving our spouse on a daily basis like our Lord calls us to? In what way does the gospel of our Servant-King empower you to serve?

 

  • Question #7: How do we arrive at the address of truly serving our spouse joyfully without any other ulterior motives for doing so?

Summary Statements

  • The institution of marriage is God’s sacred illustration of His love and redemptive plan for mankind that has our future glory as a new creation as its end goal.
  • The most valuable and enjoyable relationships that we experience here on earth are those in which the relationship is never merely about the relationship itself.
  • The sanctifying mission of marriage requires the mutual vision of helping one another love Jesus more than we love each other.
  • Christ did not love us because we were lovely, but He loved us in order to make us lovely.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: What is your goal in marriage? What is the end goal that you are striving for in your relationship with your spouse?


  • Question #2: What might you consider to be the most devastating thing you could lose in this life? At the end of your life, do you think it’s possible that you would ever say something like, “I sure wished I would have worked more and spent less time with other people”?


  • Question #3: What are some of the dangers of putting up protective walls around yourself in order to not be hurt by others? If you choose to keep past experiences of pain and hurt hidden, is it possible for those past experiences and pain to control the way you live in the present and future? 


  • Question #4: Think of someone that you are really good friends with. How did you two become friends? What drew you to one another in the first place?


  • Question #5: In what ways does loving Jesus more than we love each other help us love each other better?


  • Question #6: What are some practical ways that you and your spouse can begin to proactively keep the ultimate meaning and sanctifying mission of marriage at the forefront of your minds?


  • Question #7: Do you sometimes feel as if your spouse is giving the best of themselves to their job, hobby or others, and at the end of the day, you are just receiving what’s left of them?

study 6: our responsibilities and roles

Summary Statements

  • Marriage was never intended to be our finish line in this life here on earth, but rather the mutual commitment to help one another on the way to the ultimate finish line in glory with our Creator.
  • We were never meant to be our own master, and we will never find ourselves in the position of being our own master.
  • Spouses have been given a specific role and a specific way for reflecting the love of Christ.
  • Marriage as God has intended it has always been a significant confrontation between the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of this world.

Discussion Questions

  • Question #1: What are some of the reasons we tend to fight in marriage? What makes it so difficult to just consistently get along with one another?

 

  • Question #2: Do any of these examples resonate with you? Are any of these something you’ve experienced in your own marriage at times? What can we do to make sure that we begin to truly value our spouse and bless them rather than finding ourselves in consistent disagreements and difficulties?

 

  • Question #3: Experiences of betrayal can leave a deep wound that is hard to recover from. What is betrayal and how do you recover from it?

 

  • Question #4: Are you someone who looks to work together and receive help from you spouse or are you more inclined to do things by yourself?

 

  • Question #5: What are the specific roles of the man and woman in marriage? How would you describe or define these roles in your own marriage?

 

  • Question #6: When you think of the word ‘submit’, what comes to your mind? Do you tend to view the word more negatively or positively? How would you define your leadership style?

 

  • Question #7: In what ways is your marriage confronting and challenging other relationships in your own specific circle of influence? In what ways could your marriage demonstrate the gospel of Christ before you ever even share the gospel of Christ with those around you?