The 5 Lost Concepts of Marriage

Marriage ministry in Latin America: the crumbling skyscraper with no foundation

Although there are many helpful marriage ministries in the U.S. (preparation, enrichment, restoration, etc.), they are scarce in Latin America. Even in the U.S., there are few worthwhile marriage resources available in Spanish. Among the relatively few Christian marriage resources that are available in Spanish, an even smaller number are truly biblical. Nearly all of the biblical resources we have found in Spanish deal with "how to" issues (i.e., how to communicate better, work together as a couple, resolve family conflicts, manage your finances, express love, etc.). While these are helpful, they are most useful to couples who already have a somewhat stable marriage and are motivated to improve their relationship. These "how to" resources are useful to address specific areas of need in couples who are not struggling significantly and are not facing a major crisis.

However, in our experience and observation, most married couples do not seek help until they experience one of these deeper needs, such as:

—The marriage struggles are deeply embedded in the relationship,
—The couple exhibits family patterns of destructive behavior,
—One or both spouses have developed sinful attitudes that are ingrained in their personalities,
—The family is facing a crisis situation (infidelity, depression, the death of a child, financial ruin, a debilitating long-term illness, etc.),
—The culture has adopted axioms that cause marriages to self-destruct …

Most of the materials available in Spanish do not address these deeper needs. So, when a couple experiences one of these crises and seeks help, they feel left out in the cold because their difficulties are far beyond the scope of the "how to" materials that are available.

The solid foundation that is required

We have found that by focusing not on "how to," but rather on the fundamental theology of marriage, even couples on the brink of certain disaster are able to find a sure foundation in Christ and His Word. It is most helpful to first expose the erroneous cultural perspectives on marriage, and then counter them with the power of God's design. The main themes we have found most helpful are:

1. The Divine Purpose of Marriage: To Reflect His glory
2. The Priority of the Marriage Relationship (over every other human relationship or responsibility)
3. Marriage is a Covenant, not a Contract.
4. Oneness in Marriage (and how our culture destroys it).
5. God's Vision for Your Marriage.

Building on the solid foundation

Once the couple has applied these foundational biblical principles (the basic theology of marriage), they are on solid ground and are able to move forward to deal with their specific areas of need (communication, finances, parenting, etc.). After a year of living out these principles in their marriage, the likelihood that they will make great church leaders is much increased!

The couples who have applied and can articulate these principles are the ones that I recommend to be trained as small group leaders for marriage ministry. Once they have proven to be effective small group leaders and have gained the experience of leading several small groups, they become great candidates to be trained as marriage mentors, which is a much more intimate and personal discipleship ministry.
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