POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Mawidge...mawidge is what bwings us togewer today...

Most people who have seen the movie The Princess Bride simply cannot forget the scene where the impressive clergyman begins the rushed wedding between Buttercup and Prince Humperdink. If you have never experienced such delights you can grab the scene here. Marriage itself however, is not just a goofy matter in life. It is perhaps the source of humanities deepest delights and most profound relational struggles. It truly is a realm of both joy and pain, sunshine and rain.1

In this essay we will have some overly ambitious goals. First, we will endeavor to define marriage biblically. Second, we will look at the teaching about the roles and responses of men and women in marriage as seen in Ephesians 5. Finally, we discuss our struggle as men and women to follow God in his designs for marriage before making a hopeful conclusion. We have but a small space here for our discourse, so we must get right to work.

What is Marriage?

Marriage finds its beginnings with the first man and woman in the book of beginnings in the sacred Scriptures. After the creation of the human beings, male and female in his image and likeness, God gives a second detailed accounting of how he joins the first two people together. God brings the animals to Adam (which is simply Hebrew for “man”) and he is giving them all names. As much as dogs are a man’s best friend there was not a helper suitable for him. The man realized that none of these creatures were like him and certainly did not complete him. The Scriptures then teach that out of the man God fashions or forms a woman as a helper suitable to him. This creature is presented to Adam naked and he did not ask her to put on flannel pajamas. The man and woman were indeed made for one another in every way so at this point in the story we read the following description of marriage:

 24Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (ESV)

Marriage is described as a man leaving, then cleaving to his wife and then weaving their bodies together in intimacy. The symbolism is clear. A man must grow up and step away from Mommy and Daddy. He forms a new family with his wife and the union is consummated by the self-giving of one another’s bodies in the act of marriage. The formation of a new family through the union man and woman is also foundational in the bringing of new human beings in the world. It is also the best context to teach and raise them.

Interestingly Genesis 2:24 is repeated by Jesus in the gospels and stresses the permanence of this relationship on the earth (Matthew 19:4-6). Finally, it is cited once again by Paul the apostle in Ephesians 5:31.

Marriage is a Covenant

In our world there are many opinions about what marriage is and how it should function in society. The most prominent views in western culture is that marriage is either about a couple’s romance, their social contract for societies good or an institution that is all together outdated. Scripture however presents marriage as a covenant, something much deeper than mere love or social utility. Let’s look quickly at these differing views.

Marriage as Coupling

Many today have a fun, warm fuzzy view of marriage. It is about amore, true love taking place on a balcony covered with roses. Anyone who has been married more than a few months knows something else must enter the equation for marriage to have more meaning and staying power than mere “love.” What happens many times to couples marrying for emotions or youthful lust is that divorce quickly follows when we “fall out of love.” There are even new inventive marriage vows that reflect this sort of thing where couples promise on their wedding day to be married “as long as love lasts” or “as long as our marriage serves the greater good” Let’s just say that romantic love is a gift from God; it is a good thing. Yet it is not the only thing and it certainly is not the tie that binds us together. It is a wonderful product of a good relationship but not the sum total of marriage.

Marriage as Contract

Another view today is that marriage is simply a legal agreement between two people that affords certain mutual benefits upon couples. Health care rights, rights of survivor-ship, financial dealings, the ownership of goods and the custody and raising of children are defined by this thing called marriage. These things have been associated with marriage but they are certainly not what marriage is. Couples who have long lost that loving feeling may remain arranged in marriage for contractual reasons. It is better for the kids or it is better for the bottom line.

In a culture which tends to disparage marriage, people can look at this social arrangement as nothing more than a piece of paper. Movies such as “He’s Just Not That Into You” proclaim this view boldly. The romantic coupler says “our love is more than a piece of paper” and the “contractual negotiator” seeks to have sharing agreements without going through with marriage. Selfish men particularly like these sorts of arrangements because they get all they want from women without having any sort of real commitment. Women for some reason, maybe because they like men more than cats, play along with this “we have more than a piece of paper” shtick.

Marriage as Covenant

Though marriage certainly involves love, even romantic love, it is more than this. Though marriage certainly involves certain social and legal arrangements, it is more than this. Marriage at its essence is a covenant, a promise of two people to one another before God. New Testament scholar Andreas Köstenberger defines the covenantal view of marriage as follows:

Marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman instituted by and publically entered into before God (whether or not this is acknowledge by the married couple), normally consummated by sexual intercourse. 2

Scripture presents a challenging yet beautiful view of marriage. Men and women are each equal in value and standing before God. No one sex is superior or inferior but equally made in the image of God. Further, men and women are not the same in how God made us. We are designed as compliments to one another, have different roles in marriage designed with potential harmony in mind and not a battle of the sexes. Marriage also is designed to shape and mold our lives, bring us to confess and repent of sin and become more like Jesus together.

Furthermore, marriage is actually more about God and his purposes than it is about us. God in his kindness has chosen to bless human beings with marriage for their good and as a reflection of his faithful covenant love for his people. This is seen most clearly in the New Testament letter to the Ephesians. In this teaching we find both a blueprint for living our marriage covenants and God’s ultimate mysterious purpose for creating human beings to bond in this way.

Ephesians 5:22-33

Instruction for Wives

Paul’s instruction to wives is that they submit to and order their lives under the leadership of their husbands. The verb submit in Ephesians five is actually in the middle voice, indicating the wife’s voluntary choice to be on her husband’s team. She is called to this by God, not commanded to do so by her husband. Submission should never be the demand of a man but rather a response of a wife to the design and plan of God for marriage. Furthermore, Scripture does not teach that all women submit to men. This is only for her husbands so let me encourage the young women like I am already teaching my own daughters. If a man is not the type of person you want to follow, don’t marry the fool. What sort of man then should the Christian woman seek—one that is committed to Jesus and walking in his way. Which leads to the exhortation for husbands.

Instruction for Husbands

Husbands are called to love their wives. Yet not just any sort of definition of “love.” Rather, husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church. This means that a husband should lead his wife not as a lord of the manor but as a sacrificial servant. Leadership in marriage should be in the way of Jesus not in the way of the world. Jesus described this sort of leadership to his followers in this way:

25But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,27and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,28even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28 (ESV)

His own example was to put a towel around his waist and wash the feet of his disciples (see John 13). Husbands should follow his lead with their wives. Just for the guys, I wrote a little bit on how I seek to love my own wife here on the blog. Take it for what it is worth.

Our Struggles

The teaching of Scripture is clear but this does not mean that our hearts willfully submit to God and his designs for our marriages. In fact, our sinful nature struggles deeply to follow this teaching. Men and women both wrestle with submission and service. Both our struggles flow from our desire to be self-focused, self-guided, individuals rather than one flesh in covenant with God. The following charts illustrate for both wives and husbands the uniqueness of being a husband or a wife and the struggles with sin we face as we seek to be faithful to God’s designs and purposes for our marriages.



Calling by God

Out of reverence for Christ follow him by respecting your husbands (Ephesians 5:21, 33)

Role we live

Helper (Genesis 2:18)

Response to our Spouse 

Submission (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Temptation and Sin

Belittling your husband, disrespecting him, nagging, being overly critical and beating him down

Being passive and not being helpful by using your gifts, passions and leadership in the family




Calling by God

Out of reverence for Christ follow him by loving your wives (Ephesians 5:21, 25-30)

Role we live

Servant Leader (Ephesians 5:23, 25)

Response to our Spouse 

Praise (Proverbs 31, particularly verse 28)

Temptation and Sin

Being a tyrant with your wife. Being heavy handed and an authoritarian who abuses his leadership role

Being passive and absent from your leadership role. Abdicating your responsibility.

Frustrating your wife with your lack of action, planning, prayer and leadership


God’s vision for marriage is designed to deeply bless us. If we trust him with our lives and follow his Word, marriage can be a resounding joy to our lives. Living life apart from his Word can make marriage a massive mess. Furthermore, God is mysteriously displaying his gracious love as is shown in Ephesians 5:31-33.

31Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

As we live in marriage, we may experience the love of a husband or the respect of a wife and by doing so LIFE will illustrate DOCTRINE. Faithful covenant love is seen in and through a relationship on the earth. It is a great and gracious vision for our lives.


  1. Cheesy use of the lyrics of Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, “Joy and Pain”, It Takes Two, Profile Records, 1988.
  2. Andreas J. Köstenberger and David W. Jones, God, Marriage and Family—Rebuilding the Biblical Foundations (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004) 85.   

To Change or Not to Change...Your Name

Ladies, USA Today is reporting on a recent study that says 70% of all brides think changing to your husbands last name upon mariage is the way to go.  Here is a paragraph from the essay which I think makes the issue very clear:

Respondents who said that women should change their names tended to view it as important for establishing a marital and family identity, she says, while those who thought women should keep their own names focused on the importance of a woman establishing a professional or individual identity.

Ladies, all the ladies, louder now, help me out.  What do you think? To change or not to change the name - that is my question? Hit the comments below…

Mawwiage, mawwiage...wove, true wove...

I am waiting for the day that a crazy young couple asks me to mimic that crazy preacher in Princess Bride at the opening of a wedding.  Not likely to happen, but I’ll go on record that I am more than willing to oblidge - would be funny.

On a more serious note I love weddings and I love marriage even more - it is God’s gracious gift to men and women as they travel through this world.  This weekend I enjoyed doing the wedding of my friends Shaun and Lesley - a great time celebrating the faithfulness of God in our lives and the gracious gift of the marriage covenant. 

Later this summer we’ll be looking at Marriage through the great lens of Scripture in Ephesians 5. I look forward to looking at this passage of our holy writings to see the beautiful living metaphor tha is the marriage covenant.  In a husband’s sacrificial servant love for his bride and a wife’s joyful submission and love for her husband we get a picture of Christ’s love for his church.  Though it is an ancient vision of marriage that many snub arrogant modern noses at, it is a beautiful dance that this much better than “the battle of the sexes” and randomly defined, throw away relationship we see in our culture today.

Anyway, true wove, is from God - not from romantic hearts saying things at a wedding.  The show of a wedding quickly fades into the reality of life together in a fallen world.  It is then that the love of God, the grace of God and the hope of God is the rock upon which marriage must be found.  The type of fare in chick flicks is awesome (yeah, I said it, you got a problem?) but it is vapid and blows away before fickle hormones and the daily torrents of life. 

Deepening love is founded on a covenant promise of the soul before God - other things called “Mawwiage” tend to blow away like chaff in the wind.  None of our marriages are immune to the challenges of sin, selfishness, vanity, unforgiveness, infidelity and hopelessness. Pray for marriage today - that no matter what others want to do with it - redefine it, slander it, throw it away - we would bring back some old school words to our marriages today: a promise of faithfulness til death do us part.

A Marriage Meandering

Last week I stepped out of life for 6 days with my bride and friend Kasey Monaghan. The more years I have spent with this woman the more I have come to appreciate her laughter, her heart for adventure, her loyalty, and her compassion for me body and soul.  I love that she respects me but does not take me too seriously.  I love that she calls me on my junk and loves me in my weakness.  I love that she looks cute in a pony tail and plays soccer tenaciously.  I love that she can cut our grocery bill in half by diligent efforts and coupon craziness.  I love that she likes Sci Fi and Fantasy flicks and will even stay up late with me knowing a tired morning cometh.  I love other things as well, but that ain’t your business.

Times away like we had feel too short and I know we are both longing for another week some time ahead where we will be able to dance, laugh, rest and not have the life draining (and life glorious) role of being parents. I am perhaps procrastinating some sermon writing mid day here, but this has been on my heart all week and it has to come out.  I wanted to share with you some of the things that have made our almost 13 years of marriage. (Yeah, I don’t care about the number 13…our 7-8 years of marriage were actually our hardest - so no stupidstitioius stuff from me). Some thoughts on being and staying married.

Cultivate Time

So much of life is demanding of our time.  This week I realized that I don’t go on vacations for the sake of vacations…I go so that I can rest and then come back and do my work.  I love my job, I love my weird hobbies and I love my kids.  It can be easy to become utilitarian in marriage.  You connect on fixing the crawl space, shopping for dinner, managing household schedules, dealing with problems and taking out the recycling bins. One thing I have enjoyed in the midst of life is cultivating time with Kasey. Time we just spend together.  It is tough sometimes because after you get 3 little kids in bed you have no life left in you; but Kase and I have used evenings to dial in together if for only small respites watching BSG on Hulu.  I am not perfect, I work hard, I probably do not sign off and turn off enough from my work. But I try to pull away in small ways with my friend - because I love her.

Empower her passions

I love seeing Kasey come alive in various venues. She is a great soccer coach and still a feisty competitor.  So I actually love it on Saturday mornings when I can help get her to the fields as a player and a coach. I like to juggle kids for her and take them to practice and game fields to play and be with Mom.  My wife is also a very intelligent person giving so much time to shape the next generation of the Monaghan home team.  I am anticipating a day when the kids are all in school each day and Kasey can develop whatever talents she desires. She may want to engage a career, she may not.  She may want to go back to school, she may not.  She may want to spend more time resting.  Whatever it may be, I want to be there to help empower.

Listen when she protects you

My wife expresses care for me by telling me when I am tired, asking me many times “should you go to the doctor?” and saying “you need time off.”  I don’t resent it; I don’t always listen though.  It is a dance we have developed together over the years.  If she was not persistent I would be burned out long ago or in a fetal position sucking my thumb from being stressed out. I do listen more than she thinks.  I sleep in, or get away, or go to the doctor because of my wife’s protective love.  If it were not for her I would have bigger bags under the eyes and probably never see a dentist.  My wife can “see me” in ways that I simply cannot see myself…so I listen to her more than anyone because she knows me. To be honest, it is being known that is a true sign of deepening love and friendship.  Kasey drives me mad at times, but she knows me; I trust her.  Men, listen to your women.

Experience and Live Grace

Our marriage was shaped in the early days by the gracious gift of some friends (thanks Mike and Kim) to send us to a Family Life Marriage Conference.  At that gig, I heard a verse that has been in the heart ever since.  Ephesians 4:32 reads: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 

The second part of this Scripture encourages us to forgive one another; but any head shrink can tell you he discovered “forgiveness therapy” and put you through some weird exercises. The teaching we have here takes a step further in forgiveness.  We are to forgive one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. If you understand you are a jerk, sinner, selfish human being…who needs grace and forgiveness…you will have much more grace for others. If you are “a great person” who everyone else is always screwing over…well, you will have problems loving and being loved. I know God forgives me in Jesus - I also know I need that - so I know I ought forgive others, particularly those who sin close by. Marriage cannot live on the air of self righteousness and accusation, it breathes deeply on grace.  Don’t be stupid; say you are sorry, forgive them…then make up. That part is fun you know.

Seek Kindness in Your Hands

The first part of Ephesians 4:32 exhorts us to kindness.  If I could give a word to men it is to exhibity kindness towards your wife and children.  Men are at times harsh, cutting, attacking creatures - like a bull in a china shop we can tend to wreck things and ask others to pick up the mess.  Kindness does not mean weakness, it means your strong hands and shoulders should be full of love not anger and pain. I fail here; I am not always kind.  Yet if anything sticks with me more than anything, it is when my wife tells me I am a kind man towards her and my children (particularly my daughters). OK, now I am teary eyed at my freakin keyboard.

Love Her Children

Wednesday night my little girls, Kayla (7) and Ky (5), took baths early, dressed up in sharp little outfits complete with clip on earrings.  Ky had braided pig tails and Kayla a stylin little purple hat.  I put a sport coat over a wrestling t-shirt and we headed out on a Daddy date.  I fully open doors and giggle with the girls.  We went to TGIFs ate chicken fingers, carrots, fries and grilled cheese.  Then we hammered three spoons down on something called Browny Obsession.  I can’t tell you how much fun we had and how much we laughed.  We even discussed how animation is done…flipping napkins with stick figures drawn on them…then on to frame rates, computers and Pixar.  That night Kasey gave me a big hug and told me how much she loves the way I love our kids.  Look men, I am not patting my own back, I get much joy from being with my kids and family.  But by stopping work, throwing down the laptop and putting on the sport coat - a mother lit up.  Love her kids men.

Make Love not War

OK, POCBlog is a PG affair but do pursue one another and make time for one another. Ladies, the men feel really loved when you initiate and come hunting for them.  Even if he is tired, he’ll make time.  And as I said above, if you have been at war, make up…it is fun.  Young couples - don’t wait ten years to try to pay attention to each other.  Don’t let this part of your relationship get lost in life’s shuffle.  Talk to other couples about this if you are struggling and don’t buy into this culture that says everything has to be some 4th of July fireworks show.  Pay attention to one another don’t be selfish.

Laugh, Plan, Get Away

A friend and his wife from one of our stops along life roller bladed by Kasey and me one morning when we were out for a jog in Colorado.  He said “a family that plays together stays together.” (Thanks Dusty) Of course, we knew he didn’t mean “pray” though that is certainly a good little rhyme as well. Kasey and I made the decision a while ago that we would try as we could to do vacations with just the two of us. Many, many thanks to our families who have helped make this happen since the kids have come.  We have never lived too close to our parents as our mission has moved us out to different places, but they have been wonderful to come to us so we could get out together.  Most of the cool stuff we do is Kasey’s idea - I need to initiate more I confess.  But I am glad we took swing and waltzing lessons a few years back at a rec center. I was able to swing, dip, two step and fling Kasey around a dance floor last week; I got skillz and Kasey was beautiful - and happy. If you never hear your wife laugh any more, you need to repent and pursue her guys.

Look, I present no utopian marriage. One morning on vacation I was very frustrated because my wife makes silent plans that at times she doesn’t tell me about.  Then it encroaches on my plans (which I think I speak about??) and we get frothy.  But we listen, we forgive and then we do what she wants - just kidding.  I lead our family, but my dance partner is the most important person in my life.  I just regret I don’t show her enough, tell her enough, have actions that demonstrate it enough - but I also don’t just have a rookie card in the marriage game.  We have some laps now but are still launching out as well.  Pray for Kasey and me; and pray for marriage in our culture.  It is really dumped on too much.  I pray this little bit of ascii text may spit in the wind of a culture that divorces quickly, mocks married life and misses some of life’s deepest blessings along the way.

Kasey, if you read this, thank you for knowing me…all of it.