We’ve got a football stadium in Michigan called the “University of Michigan Football Stadium,” and that stadium will hold 110,000 people. Now when we think of a gathering of that many people, you’ve got to have some kind of attraction, and I’ve been in that stadium many times across the years when it was full.
A hundred ten thousand people and I have seen all of those people rise to their feet at the same time. Now what could you possibly do to cause a hundred ten thousand people to do the same thing at the same time? What would it be? Well, I’ll tell ya. It is the perfect play. Have you ever seen a football team pull off a perfect play? Why I’ve been in that stadium and whether it was the opposing team or whether it was our team, and they pulled off that perfect play, we would just automatically rise to our feet and applaud. What was it? What is it that draws people into that stadium? One of the interesting phenomenon of the day is the tremendous attraction that we have for sporting events. Now what’s the reason for that?
I’ve heard people say, well, one of the reasons is that we like the violence. But you know, I’ve been paying attention to that, and I noticed that the television camera, whenever a fight seems to be developing, is directed away from the fight. You watch and see. The violence, if there is any, is not dramatized on television. What is the attraction for sporting events? You know what I think it is? I believe that one of the few events in our modern day, where you can still watch people cooperate, is in sporting events. It’s one of the few times in our week, when we can watch people who are voluntarily committing themselves to cooperating with each other. And you know, there’s something about cooperation that we need. Now in talking about marriage, and that’s our subject tonight, husband and wife relations, there is a foundation upon which you’re going to build an effective marriage relationship, and let me read that to you, and I want to relate it to this experience in a stadium.
Now listen to this, this is I Corinthians 1:10, “I beseech you brethren by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Now when I read that, you think about the relationships you have, say with your marriage partner, or with the person that you work with, or maybe one of your friends, and just see how your relationship compares to that kind of a standard. “I beseech you brethren by the name of the Lord Jesus, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.” That doesn’t leave you much le-way does it? Where is there room here for individuality? When does an individual have opportunity to go ahead and do his own thing with that kind of a standard?
Let’s go back to the football stadium. When you go into that stadium there are a lot of things that are predictable. You can predict what the football field is going to look like. You can predict what kind of a ball it’s going to be. Can you imagine going into a football stadium and the team comes out bouncing a basketball? And you say, “I thought this was football.”
“Oh, it is football, but we had a discussion before the game and we decided we don’t like pointed balls today. Now, we wouldn’t want to frustrate anybody around here, you know, we want people to be expressive and original, we don’t want to hem anybody in, so we’re going to use a round ball today.”
You can’t imagine that happening; can you, on a football field?
Or suppose the team comes out and the team’s colors are blue and white, and here are nine fellows dressed in blue and white and two fellows in scarlet. And you say, “How come those two fellows are dressed in scarlet?”
“Well, they didn’t feel like wearing blue and white today. And you know, we’re kind of broad minded, and we don’t want to frustrate anybody, and so we just let them wear what they want.”
You know, you don’t even expect that to happen do you? You expect the team to be dressed like a team.
Now when those fellows play, did you ever notice these fellows running into a huddle? What do you suppose goes on in that huddle? Can you imagine the fellow calling the signals, saying, “Fellows I want you all to have a sense of participation in this next play, and so let’s just talk about it a little bit. What do we do next? I wouldn’t want to impose any kind of a play on you fellows, and uh….”
Can you imagine that happening?
And so six of the players say, “You know, I think we ought to go around left end.”
And five of them say, “I don’t think we ought to go around left end, let’s go around right end.”
So the fellow calling the signals says, “Well, why don’t we just make everybody happy and six of you go that a way, and five of you go that a way.”
You can imagine what would happen on the next play, wouldn’t you? No, you don’t even expect that to happen.
What is it that draws you into the football stadium? What is it that draws you to the television tube when there’s an athletic event? You know what it is, I think? It’s the thrill and the joy, and the pleasure and the wonder, of watching people cooperate. You know, there’s something about cooperation that we need. We’re not made to go it alone. In the consulting room, as I have talked with thousands of people, I’ve discovered this: that the really lonely, unhappy, people are the ones who have succeeded in having their own way. Those are the lonely people. You're not made to go it alone. We’re made to cooperate.
And when we are at odds with somebody, we feel quite uncomfortable about it, don’t we? We don’t enjoy discord. We don't’ enjoy disagreement. Now it’s cooperation that we like, and it’s cooperation that creates, of course, the oil. It is the oil that will make a marriage relationship possible. Cooperation.
You know, there’s a lot of room on the football field for creativity within the limits, even though everybody is committed to the same limits. When a fellow has the ball, he’s got to stay inside the boundaries. And you even have some people, called referees, who are paid to watch every move you make. And the minute you step over the line, there’s somebody there to blow the whistle on you. Isn’t that true?
Sometimes we say, “Look, I don’t like you being on my back. Leave me alone. Set me free. What do you always want to know what I’m doing for?”
You realize that one of the interesting things about an athletic event is that there is a referee there to blow the whistle when you step out of line?
Do you realize that there's something comforting about that? It’s what helps keep the game going ... is that referee. And we expect that team to stay within the limits also. There is something predictable about a game, and this is comforting, and this is pleasurable, and this is enjoyable, predictability. And so the rules that these players follow are the same rules that the referee judges them by. And they are the same rules that the audience judges the team by. And we don’t want that referee to let the team get away with breaking a rule, do we? You see, that's what makes an athletic event an enjoyable event. It’s the predictability of it.
There are guidelines, there are boundaries, there are supervisions, and this is really what makes the game pleasant. Now those are the ingredients that go into any relationship where two or more people are involved. It’s that kind of predictability, and in Biblical terms, it’s centering around this verse. “I beseech you brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
You know, one time I had a lady come into my office. She had interrupted her honeymoon in order to come to see me. She was down in Florida, and she was a little older than most people are when they get married. She was in her early thirties, and she was getting a little desperate about whether or not she was going to find someone. And along came this fellow. And he had a white Thunderbird and a pocket full of money. And that’s a pretty good qualification for marriage, isn’t it? A white Thunderbird and a pocket full of money? And he swept her off her feet and lavished a lot of money on her. And they didn’t know each other very well, nor very long, and then they got married. And now they were starting out for Florida on their honeymoon from Michigan in this white Thunderbird, and all the money they needed. And she began to discover some things about him that she didn’t like.
Now this is the process that any two people go through when you meet, and if you're going to develop a continuing relationship. You see, you get to the point where you develop a mutually agreeable, and a mutually binding relationship. Now she wasn’t used to a big car like this. She was accustomed to going maybe fifty-five, sixty miles an hour, and this big, powerful Thunderbird, when they got on the freeway, he just went whoosh, eighty, eighty-five miles an hour, and the speed limit was seventy. This made her kind of uncomfortable.
And she looked up at him sweet like, you know, like a first day’s bride should, and she said real sweetly, “Honey, you’re going too fast.” And he told her to mind her own business. That was the first shock. And he wouldn’t slow down. And you can imagine, here’s this sixty-mile-an-hour gal and this eighty-mile-an-hour fellow, and they were going to spend a whole half day in a car. And she spent the whole half day protesting in her mind about how fast he was going. You can imagine that builds up a few tensions.
Now another thing she didn’t know about him is that he was reckless. He would pull up maybe behind a big truck and get trapped behind that truck, and he would swear. He’d use good theological terminology, but not in the right way, and she didn’t know he swore, and so that disturbed her. You see this is the first day, so they were kind of out of step. They weren’t in agreement, and this was pretty difficult, I’ll tell ya, by the time lunch time came. Well, they stopped at this place to eat, and then she noticed another thing about him that she had never noticed before.
Every time he took a spoonful of food on his fork, he would hit his tooth with his fork. She noticed this, and she began paying attention to it and the more she listened, the louder it got, and the more disgusted she got. So, you see, there’s the difference of speed, and he swears, and now she doesn’t like the way he eats, and whoosh, away they go for the rest of the afternoon. And they come squealing into this motel, and now is another new experience.
The first time in her life in a motel with a man. So, he walks into the room, unbuttons his jacket and lets it fly, and that’s the way he was used to living, and she is the kind who has everything like that.
She said, “Aren’t you going to hang your jacket up?”
“What? Hang my jacket up?”
So he unbuttons his belt and drops his britches and steps out of them, and as far as he’s concerned, you see, they’re ready for morning. And it never occurred to him that anybody would do anything else.
Well, you can see that when you compare their experience that first day with this verse, “I beseech you brethren by the name of the Lord Jesus, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.” Didn’t fit, did it? And do you know by the time they got to Miami, she was so mad at him that she sneaked off to the airport and bought a ticket and flew home, she was that disgusted with him.
Now my point is that a lack of harmony is very, very painful, and disagreeable, and we just don’t enjoy discord, do we? It’s agreement and a meeting of minds, and cooperation that makes life tolerable, and it’s on this foundation that you build an effective marriage. And you see, this involves, as I was saying last time, a nice, friendly man. Are you a nice man? Would your children describe you that way? Would your employers or your employees describe you as a real nice fellow? And he loves people.
Now this kind of love that I’m talking about, as this young lady discovered, is not generated by moving into the presence of another person. And I’ve discovered this many times as I’ve talked to people who tell me that they’ve lost their love for someone. Now the kind of love we’re talking about, and that’s a vague word, and I think it’s important for me to define it a little bit.
You hear people say, “I love ice cream.” You see I’m a business man, and I’m in the ice cream business, Ferrell’s Ice Cream Parlors, and I’m very happy when people tell me that they love ice cream. Or “I love speed,” or “I love clothes,” we use that word very loosely. Or we move into the presence of somebody from the opposite sex, and we just sort of tingle all over and we say, “Wow! This must be love.” No that’s just a perfectly normal physiological response that you’ll have toward a variety of people.
I have folks come around and say, “You know, I’m married, and I’m attracted to another lady that I’m not married to. What’s the matter with me?” Well, a lot of us have found out that when we get married. You know, after all, half the world is women, roughly, that's a lot of women.
Now the other half of the world is men. Now you see when you get married, all those people, they don’t disappear, they’re still there, aren’t they? And they’re still interesting, and they are still attractive. I have lots of ladies that I know, and I really enjoy being around them, I only have one wife, but I enjoy being around lots of ladies. Now the thing is that being around attractive ladies, that doesn't fade out or being around attractive men that doesn’t fade out.
Marriage involves commitment to one, but it doesn’t imply that the rest of them are going to disappear. Would you buy that? You don’t need to give me any cues, ’cause you and I know what I’m talking about, don’t we?
Now what kind of love are we talking about? We're talking about the kind of love that God gives you. It’s not the kind that’s stimulated by other people. Marriage involves a commitment. It’s a deal, it’s a bargain, it’s a matter of loyalty and there are many ups and downs in marriage, and I’m saying that effective marriage first of all involves a life-time commitment, and it involves a man and a woman sitting down to agree on how this particular relationship is going to run.
Now when two people come to the place where they have the same mind and the same judgment, and the same outlook and the same goals, you are saying that you have given up your rights. Both of you. When two people are shooting for the same objective, when two people are committed to the same plan, you’ve given up your individuality. Now you’re creativity is involved in working together. Now you’re creativity is involved in cooperation, not opposition.
Now, you don’t lose your creativity, but it’s centered around cooperation rather than opposition, and the basic attitude that’s involved is described in the Bible, and it’s in I Corinthians chapter 13, and it’s verses 4-8, and let me read this to you out of the Phillips translation. And you see if you have this kind of spirit. And if you have, you’ll know that it’s because you’ve allowed God to give it to you. No human being will do this to you. Now you can move in the presence of another human being and tingle and experience a physical response, but not this kind.
“The love of which I speak, is slow to lose patience. It looks for a way to be constructive. It is not possessive. It is neither anxious to impress, nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Love has good manners, and it does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not compile statistics of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad when truth prevails. Love knows no limits of its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope. It can outlast anything, and it is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”
Isn’t that great? Wouldn’t you like to be around somebody like that? Imagine living with somebody like that. Of course the important thing is not whether you’re living with somebody like that, the important things is whether the person who is living with you has got somebody like that.
Now you can’t do much about what the other fellow is going to do about you, but you certainly have control about what you're going to do, can’t you? And so what we’re talking about then, if we’re going to make marriage go, we’re talking about a real nice lady like you, filled with the Spirit of God. A lady with a song on her lips and a melody in her heart, and a thankful spirit who intends to cooperate with her husband, that’s the starting point. We’re talking about this real nice man filled with the Spirit of God, the attitude that I’ve just described with a song on his lips, and a melody in his heart, and a thankful spirit, and his intention is to cooperate with his wife.
Now if you can picture that scene. This nice man and this nice lady, sitting down to plan the life that they’re going to have together, and when you have that you have the foundation for building an effective marriage.