Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Keeping Your Marriage Vows, Day 1

Crawford Loritts:The most powerful person in a man’s life is his wife.

Leslie Basham: This is Dr. Crawford Loritts, counseling a group of women.

Don’t ever underestimate the power you have in terms of your response in your husband's life. Don't ever underestimate it.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Thursday, May 19, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth:
 A woman from Canada whose first language is French wrote to Revive Our Hearts to tell us what the Lord had done in her life through a series called “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” We aired that series on the Song of Solomon this past spring here on Revive Our Hearts. She said this study . . .

Has been an answer to my cry to the Lord. I was longing for His love to come deeper into my life. 

This series also helped her in her tough marriage situation. She said,

This study is also helping me love my husband better because of finally being sure of Christ’s love for me and also for my husband. 

Today we’ll hear a message about keeping your marriage vows and thriving in marriage. But let me mention. We’re able to bring you this kind of practical programming thanks to listeners just like you who see how God is using the program. These listeners support the ministry by praying and by giving financially. We need to hear from you this month as we wrap up another fiscal year.

Our budget cycle is coming to an end, and we’re making plans for the next twelve months. We've been praying and asking the Lord to provide close to a half million dollars needed to help us end this fiscal year in the black so there is no interruption in our ministry outreaches.

As a transcript reader, your gift will be doubled here in May by some friends of the ministry who want to encourage you to be generous in your support. Click here to give. When you donate any amount, we’ll send a CD that has blessed my husband and me so much by pianist Jan Mulder. We'll be happy to send you that CD, Love Divine, which was specially produced
for Revive Our Hearts, as our way of saying "thank you" when you send a gift of any amount.

Today we’ll hear from pastor Crawford and Karen Loritts. They gave a practical talk on marriage at one of the True Woman Conferences. Let’s listen to this this biblical counsel for wives and any woman who one day hopes to be a wife. Here’s Crawford.

Crawford Loritts: A number of years ago, I was visiting a friend of mine who has a big, gorgeous, lovely home outside of Washington, D.C. He was just a great guy, and he and his wife had just purchased this lovely piece of property. So he was showing me around. He has this big, beautiful golden retriever, too. So here we are, and he’s showing me around the property.

It’s several acres and a lovely home, just gorgeous, but I noticed there wasn’t any fence anywhere around the property. It sits back a little bit, but it’s up against a very busy thoroughfare. So we were walking around, and the dog is following us.

When we get ready to go into the house, I noticed that the dog stays out. I said, “George, aren't you afraid the dog will run off and get out in the street or that something’s going to happen?’

He sort of smiled at me, and he whistled and called the dog. The dog ran up, and he said, “Crawford, I want you to look at something.”

On the collar was this little imperceptible, tiny receiver. He said, “All around here we have something called a hidden fence, and when the dog gets close to the hidden fence, he hears a sound that you and I can't hear, and it's irritating and he backs away.”

In marriage, we need to remember that there is a hidden fence that surrounds the exclusive relationship that we have established. Every once in a while we need to go back and rediscover and remind ourselves about that hidden fence.

Karen and I could have talked about an awful lot of things related to marriage today, but as we thought about this weekend I said, “Sweetheart, why don't we just go back to some very basic things that we typically under pressure, with the stress, struggle, and strain of life, the hassles of life, the problems in life, the bad choices that we even make as adults that affect our relationships, the intrusions in our relationship.

Why don't we go all the way back and remind all of us what is a part of that hidden fence? The first thing is a vision. We need to be reminded of the vision for marriage. What does that look like? All the way back in Genesis 2 . . . By the way, Bible scholars say when you're confused about something or the purpose of something, the very first thing to do is go back when it was first mentioned. It is called the law of first mention.

When you want to know the reason or the purpose for marriage, you go back all the way to the beginning and look at the law of first mention. Here is a law, the law of first mention, the vision for marriage, why marriage, and what it looks like, and what it is launched with is outlined here in Genesis 2:24.

God brings Eve to Adam. She was created for him. And God said these things: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast,” or the old King James version, “cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” The vision for marriage is wrapped up in those three statements: leaving, cleaving, and the becoming of one flesh.

Leaving has to do with the privacy of the relationship. It has to do with the fact that nobody is in charge of your marriage except you and your husband. Nobody is to interfere with the relationship. You and your husband are in charge of the marriage.

Now please don't get upset with me but sometimes, just like I tell men, I’m going to tell you. Some of you are forty years old, but you're still acting like a sixteen-year-old girl when it comes to your responsibility in marriage. We have to leave, leave home emotionally, leave home physically.

Now, in today's economy obviously there are times in which we need help. But to be married means that we have accepted the responsibility that we are now independently dependent upon God and going through life together with a marriage partner.

This is a word that I give to the parents of young people who are being married: “Take your hands off of them.” Leave. Leave. Leave. I tell folks all the time, “Stop making the huge mistake of inviting your parents into your business.” It's a big mistake, and the emotional co-dependency that's there. They are going to be very dead one day, and when they're dead, some of us will continue in our dysfunction. I'm serious about this. There is nothing worse than an adult who has been dependent upon their parents emotionally for their whole lives, and now they don't know what to do.

The vision is that we leave. Leave financially. Leave emotionally.

The vision means that we cleave to one another. There is a new identity that is forged when you say, “I do.” It is not two hyper individuals who are enjoying sexual release and having kids and the dual income that's helping us to pay the bills and enjoy a lifestyle. That's the world's negotiated perspective and vision for marriage.

God's vision for marriage is that there is a new identity that's formed, and so you cleave. It is the idea of being bonded to one another. In a certain sense, Karen is me and I am Karen, and there is some intentionality about this. We don't turn on one another when there is a crisis, but we turn to each other and to God.

There is an intentional moving toward one another. That's the vision, and thirdly, the becoming of one flesh. Now, we typically give a one-dimensional perspective on that saying it's sexual intimacy. It is sexual intimacy, but it's deeper than that. It is not an unhealthy smothering of your mate, but rather it is the idea that I want Karen, because she is me, to be everything God wants her to be. It is a oneness that fuels each other. Now, what happened when you said, “I do”?

Part of the problem in our culture is that we've allowed the culture to define what marriage is for us.

  • Biblical marriage is not an agreement between two parties.
  • Biblical marriage is not a contractual arrangement.
  • Biblical marriage is not a matter of having prenuptial agreements where you protect yourself.
  • Biblical marriage is anchored in the old, historic covenant ceremony.

The word for covenant in Hebrew is the word bariyth. It means “sacred, solemn, binding agreement.”

I told each one of our children when they said that they were going to get married, when our sons-in-law of our daughters when they first came and asked me this, I would say this and it would scare the liver out of them. By the way, at that point fear is good. I would say to them, “Okay, I want you to look me in the eye, son. What you are getting ready to do requires all of you and it is forever. Do you understand me? It's not about feelings. This is your life.”

I said that to my sons when they were telling me, “I’m going to ask Corey to marry me.” “I’m going to ask Lucritia to marry me.” I said, “Okay, okay, fellas, sit down here, like this, buddy. It is forever.”

The covenant ceremony rested upon eight things. I’m not going to go through all eight of them, but I would like to highlight a few of them. Whenever anybody entered into a sacred, solemn, binding agreement, they entered into bariyth.

Number one, there was the statement of the agreement. You knew exactly what you were getting into. You knew exactly what you were getting into. You were leaving, cleaving, and becoming one flesh in the case of marriage. But in the case of covenants, especially God when He established the Abrahamic covenant, He outlined what the vision is, what it looks like. You outline in a covenant what it looks like. This is what we're agreeing to: we're agreeing to leave, cleave, and become one flesh.

The second thing that they would do is they would slay an animal. It wasn't something that was inexpensive. They slayed the most expensive animal they had symbolizing that they're willing to sacrifice all in light of bariyth. In light of the sacred, solemn, binding agreement.

When two people say, “I do,” they say, “I'm excluding all other relationships at the heart level. No one ever will get to this place in my heart. I am excluding everything. I'm sacrificing my future. I’m sacrificing my intentions. This person is now the most important person in my life, period.

The third thing they would do often would be to exchange belts. Now, belts don't mean much to us today. I wear a belt and trust me, it ain’t to keep my pants up. With my girth, I don't need no belt to keep my pants up. Okay? I wear one, you all do, too. You have all kinds of belts, and my wife does, too.

But back then, belts were very significant. You wore belts, particularly in the Old Testament, because often you had to tuck things in your belt. You want to take your garment, if you were running, and push it down in your belt. A belt was worn for support. So when they would exchange vows, the agreement, they would sacrifice something. Then they would give the belt, and that belt says, “I live to support you. I live to support you. There is never going to be a question as to whether or not I'm in your corner. You will never doubt who is always number one in my life. You will never doubt whether or not I have your back. We have entered into sacred, solemn, binding agreement.”

Then often the last thing that they would do would be to exchange weapons. Interesting. They would exchange a sword or a spear. But what the exchange of weapons said was, “Your enemies are now my enemies, and we are not each other's enemy.” Bariyth.

Did you know that the wedding ceremony is probably the last vestige of the ancient covenant ceremony? The vows, the exchange of the ring. Yes. “Until death do us part.” Yes. So even though our culture doesn't intend to call it that, it really is the last vestige of the old covenant ceremony.

And I think, ladies, as we look at our marriage and you look at the troubles and the challenges . . . I'm not saying there is never any reason for divorce. I don't even want to go down that road. But what I am saying is this: When you said, “I do,” you didn't do that because you wanted nice dresses and a champagne reception and a great honeymoon. You entered into bariyth.

The third part of this hidden fence . . . The first is the vision, okay? Leave, cleave, become one flesh. That's what I'm all about, and that's what the marriage is all about. Secondly is to take a look at: What did I do? When you said, “I do,” you did. You entered into a sacred, solemn, binding agreement. But the third thing is to understand the relationship, to understand the biblical guidelines for the relationship.

I just want to take you to Ephesians 5. Here is where the apostle Paul says, “Okay, this is what, in essence, a distinctively Christian marriage should look like.” He says in verse 22,

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as a church submits to Christ, so wives should submit in everything to their husbands (vv. 22–24).

I'll let Karen talk about the “s” word a little more than me, but I will say a couple things about submission.

You should never submit to your husbands in areas of sin. You should never submit to them if they're asking you to lie or if they're asking you to do harmful things. God never wants us in the name of submission to submit to sin.

Submission does not mean an admission of weakness. Submission has nothing to do with an admission of weakness. Submission has to do with the acknowledgement of headship, not an admission of weakness. My wife is far more gifted in many, many, many areas than I will ever be. She can do things on the back stroke that I'll struggle with. It is not an admission of weakness. It is an alignment issue. It is honoring the fact that my husband is the head of this household.

Thirdly, submission does not mean that your husband is always right. He could be as wrong as two left shoes.

Submission, number four, does not mean that you don't lovingly correct or challenge your husband. Karen does that to me all the time. If she feels like I'm wrong, typically this is what will happen. At this stage of the game, I’ve got to tell you something: I can't imagine anything that I would do if my wife was vehemently opposed to it. I just need to say that right now. After almost forty years of marriage, I don't know of much that if she was that upset about it that I might say, “Hey, Leroy.” Experience ain’t always the best teacher, but if it's the only school a fool attends, I might want to step back a little bit.

But, having said that, she has said something like this to me in the past. We have gone at it about things that she's disagreed with me about, and this is what she'll say. “Well, honey, I just want to tell you, I think you're wrong, but I got your back. I'm going to submit to this, but I think you're wrong, and I'm going to go to God.” (Laughter)

Now, I've learned when women start praying, that's an unfair advantage. (Laughter) So I've been whooped a couple times by Jesus by being just full of my testosterone, shall I say? Uh-oh. I can't say that? Okay, so that's not what submission is.

The hardest job in this text, and I say it all the time. I'm not just being cute. It's a man's responsibility. As husbands, we're to love our wives as Christ loved the church. If the men were here, I'd say to them, “I don't know a woman in the world who would not respond to that type of leadership, as Jesus loved the church sacrificially and attentively, giving Himself up for her.”

So the vision is, in terms of the role, this part of that hidden fence, the relationship, a wife is to submit to her husband and not just be, you know, a pain, emasculating him because every time he turns around he feels challenged.

I just need to shoot straight with you. One of the biggest problems that men have in this culture is that they've been feminized. I didn't say homosexual. They've been feminized. Many have grown up in situations where their fathers were not involved in their lives or they were totally absent. They've grown up with strong, domineering women, and they have felt beaten down. Sometimes they’ve married women who were strong. Now, I’m not against strong women. I’m married to one of them. They married women who are strong, and he's trying to take leadership and in everything that he does, he's being cut off at his knees.

So I want to encourage you. The most powerful person in a man's life is his wife. Don't ever underestimate the power you have in terms of your response in your husband's life. Don't ever underestimate that. It’s unbelievable. You may have to lose some things and allow him to make some foolish decisions which may be wrong, granted, but that will reap a bumper crop in terms of the health of the relationship because he knows that you're not fighting him but you're with him.

Nancy: That’s Pastor Crawford Loritts, speaking at a True Woman Conference. He’s been laying a biblical foundation for marriage. Crawford and Karen Loritts delivered that message during one of the breakout sessions at True Woman '10. These sessions are designed to speak to women based on their needs and life situations.

This year at True Woman '16, we won't be offereing any breakout sessions. But we will be offering a pre-conferenc with six different tracks that you can choose from. True Woman is coming to Indianapolis September 22–24. To sign up for True Woman '16 and a pre-conference track, be sure to visit

Tomorrow, Karen Loritts will build on the foundation that her husband Crawford laid today. She’ll offer practical ways for wives to honor and respect their husbands, even when it seems difficult. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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