Family Life, June 2018

Family Life: The Divine Trinity, A Model for Marital Unity

Dennis and Jill Eenigenburg

The Divine Trinity: A Model for Marital Unity
By Dennis Eenigenburg*

The most profound and wonderful relationship in existence is found not in a grocery store tabloid, but in the Bible. Here, we find the dynamic and in many ways, mysterious relationship between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Bible presents them as the creators of the universe and intimate companions. The nature of the relationship of this divine society leaves many unanswered questions to our finite minds. On the other hand, the Bible reveals much we can apply to our own relationships. In the following, I would like to focus the application to marriage. The oneness and unity experienced in the Trinity of the Godhead can instruct us in our pursuit of marital unity.

  1. Like the Trinity, husbands and wives, while distinct as persons, have equal value.

In the Trinity: Each member has equal value.
One of the many passages illustrating the equal essence of the persons of the Trinity is Matthew 28:19 known as the “Great Commission.”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
In the Marriage:  Each member has equal value.
“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
In many cultures, including our own, women have been treated as less important than men. This attitude often leads to neglect, abuse and disrespect. As men and women we are image bearers of our Creator, and thus, of equal value before God. As a husband, I want to treat my wife as God’s special creation. She is not only my wife, but she is the princess daughter of the King of Kings through her faith in Jesus Christ. In I Peter 3:7, husbands are reminded to “show honor” to their wives as fellow heirs of God’s grace.”

  1. Like the Trinity, husbands and wives have unique, complementary roles.

In the Trinity: The members have complementary roles.
One example of the unique roles within the Trinity is illustrated by their roles in the redemption of mankind, from slavery to sin to the freedom of Salvation. Paul, in Ephesians 1, tells us we have been:
Predestined by the Father. “He predestined us to adoption as sons.”  V. 5
Purchased by the Son. “In Him we have redemption through His blood.” V. 7
Preserved by the Spirit. “You are sealed in Him the Holy Spirit of promise.” V. 13
In terms of the hierarchy of the Trinity, there are also distinct roles. Jesus, in His prayer to the Father, recorded in John 17:18, said this: “As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them (the disciples) into the world.” The one sending is exercising authority over the one sent. The sent one is submissive to the one sending. In the Godhead, there is a voluntary order of authority. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit,“for if I do not go away the Helper (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go I’ll send Him to you.”(John 16:7)
In the Marriage:  The members have complementary roles.
Most of the attitudes and actions that produce a healthy marriage are the same for both husbands and wives. We are to love each other with divine love found in I Corinthians 13. We are to prefer one another as Christ preferred us over His own well-being. We are to pray for each other and speak the truth in love. We are to raise our children in a way that points them to Christ. But there is also a unique role given to each husband and wife. The wife, for example, is given the honor of conceiving and bearing children. Children are eternal beings with great potential to bring honor and glory to God. The husband, illustrating the role of Christ and the Church, has been given the responsibility to lead, love, provide and protect his wife.
“Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for her.”  (Ephesians 5:25)
The wife is called to support that imperfect leadership as a way of honoring God. “Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) While in many other relationships, women may be in authority over men, marriage is a place where the headship/submission picture of the relationship of Trinity is to be painted.

  1. Like the Trinity, husbands and wives are unified by common purpose of mutual honor and affirmation.

In the Trinity:  The members seek to bring glory and honor to each other.
One of the consistent themes that dominates the purpose of the Trinity is to honor one another by revealing the worship-worthy attributes of each other. One of the words used to describe the way the members of the Godhead honor each other is the word “glorify.  To “glorify” means to “make known or to reveal the greatness of another’s works or character.” Jesus said this about His crucifixion.
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.”(John 13:31)
In the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, the Son and the Father would be glorified.  In other words, the titanic love, sacrifice and grace behind salvation would be revealed and give creation a cause for eternal praise and worship. Speaking of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “He shall glorify me, for He shall take of mine and reveal it to you.” (John 16:14)
Over and over again, we see the individuals in the Godhead displaying the value and the virtues of the other members of the Godhead.
In the Marriage: The members seek to bring honor to
each other and their Lord.
When we survey the “one another” passages in the Bible, we find that we too should affirm and honor each other. In marriage, this includes being thankful, giving compliments, using words of affirmation and acts of service. Just as the members of the Trinity seek to exalt one another, so should we in our marriages and all relationships.  The real unifier, however, is when husbands and wives make it their common priority to glorify God … to live in a way that reveals the character of Jesus Christ living through them. A couple joined together in a bond of worship and obedience to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit will experience two kinds of oneness, oneness with God and oneness with each other. This oneness brings joy and mutual enrichment to marriage and an impact on the world as they reflect the likeness of their Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus put it this way: “The glory which you have given me, I have given them: that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them, and you in me, they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that you did send me and did love them, even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23)
In a world looking for role models, there is no greater relationship to study and emulate than one revealed in the Divine Trinity.
*Co-author with Jill Eenigenburg of The Heart of Marriage.

“Dennis Eenigenburg and his wife Jill lead a ministry called Equipping Network.  Their goal is to serve underserved “shepherds” primarily in third world countries.  One of the tools they use is a marriage seminar they authored called “The Heart of Marriage.”  Since 2012 they have taught pastors and church leaders in 13 countries. In May they taught Heart of Marriage at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Liberia.   Last year they celebrated 50 years of marriage with their three married sons and 11 grandchildren.”

August 2016, Family Life

A Match Made in Heaven

by Lisa Tramontana

Faith Drew This Couple Together

Steven works for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, and Mauree is owner of Baby Boot Camp of Baton Rouge, a stroller fitness class for new moms.
Steven works for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, and Mauree is owner of Baby Boot Camp of Baton Rouge, a stroller fitness class for new moms.

Mauree Harris and Steven Brooksher saw something special in each other when they first met … an inner glow of sorts. It turned out to be a strong faith, something they had in common, something that grew along with their relationship. Both were active in their church, St. Aloysius, and after less than a year of dating, they became engaged. Mauree and Steven are now the parents of three children and recently celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary. They talk about how faith brought them together and keeps them committed to the family they are raising, the love they share, and the life they are building.

Q: What qualities drew you to each other when you first met?

M: I was drawn to Steven the first time I was introduced to him. Aside from his beautiful smile, I was drawn to his confidence, his genuineness and faith. His faith was the most important thing to him, so I knew he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

S: I was drawn to Mauree’s simple beauty. Her faith was very important to her, and she was also passionate about serving those in need. She was very close with the Missionaries of Charity here in Baton Rouge, and I found that really neat. She had a strong sense of her values and beliefs, and I respected that deeply.

Q: Was there a moment that confirmed you had found the right partner/soulmate?

M: After our first date, I went home and told my roommate, ‘If I don’t marry this boy, I don’t know what I’ll do.’ I just knew! He supported my faith, and I never felt ashamed to share my faith with him.

S: I spent a lot of time praying about our relationship as we got more serious. I asked God for a sign that she was or wasn’t the one for me. We traveled on a mission trip to Honduras together, and that was a big confirmation — seeing her servant heart and the love she had for God’s people. After much prayer, I woke up one morning and knew she was the one. Once I knew, there was no need to wait any longer!  

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about your marriage?

M: Knowing that I’m never alone. It’s such a blessing to know that around 6 p.m., he will walk through the door and I will no longer be mothering three babies alone. It’s a blessing to be able to go out to dinner with my best friend whenever I need it, to celebrate the joys of life together, to tread through the valleys of life together. I can ALWAYS count on him to find the positive in every situation. I often take this for granted, but Steven is always there for our family.

S: The deep companionship that we share. We are very different in the way we feel and think about situations, but we always are committed to communicating through any challenges, and that helps us grow stronger. Also, I think the opportunity for two to become one is powerful. It can be very challenging to accomplish that, but it is a real blessing.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of marriage?

M: Agreeing to disagree sometimes. We have pretty opposite personalities and ways of doing things. At times it’s a beautiful blend, but other times, it can be difficult.

S: The “dying to self” part. Everyone at some point thinks they’re entitled to take a break, enjoy themselves, do what they want to do. But to be a truly good husband and father, I know that I have to be willing to serve my wife and children, not expecting anything in return. I have to make sacrifices. I have to let go of parts of my personality, parts of myself, so the two (husband and wife) can become one.

Q: You both have careers. How do you keep your life balanced?

M: We hold each other accountable. There are times when one of us has to encourage the other to step away, put work aside, and focus on our marriage and family. It’s not easy, but we know if we put our faith and family first, we will be more fruitful in our workplaces.

S:  We have to constantly keep things in perspective. If we place God first, our relationship second, our kids third, and our lives fourth, we can keep that balance.

QHow do you keep your marriage strong/happy?

M: We take time to be together — just the two of us. We schedule date nights and trips away. These times are good for our souls and for our marriage. We are blessed with parents and good babysitters!

S:  Healthy communication, sacrifice and prayer.

Steven and Mauree Brooksher with their children, Christopher, 6; Marguerite Jane, 3; and Anna Beth, 7 months.
Steven and Mauree Brooksher with their children, Christopher, 6; Marguerite Jane, 3; and Anna Beth, 7 months.

Q: What part does your faith play in your marriage?

M: It is our everything. Marriage and parenthood brings us to our knees at times. We are so thankful for the gift our faith. We know where to turn the minute our feet hit the floor and our heads hit our pillows. Our faith is the bond that holds our marriage and family together. It allows us to experience the joy of one another, to forgive one another when we fall short, and to offer encouragement to one another.

S:  Faith is the center of our lives. Everything we strive to do comes from our relationship with Christ. We strive to make sure He is at the center of our family.

Q: As parents and Christians, what are your hopes/dreams for your children?

M: I pray that their faith directs their paths, and that they live a fruitful and prudent life. I pray that they are able to experience the joys of life daily, that they are always optimistic and positive leaders among others — that their lights will always shine. I hope they are blessed with dear friends and amazing opportunities throughout their precious lives.

S: I hope they will grow up knowing how wonderful and special they are. That they will come to know Christ in a personal way, and that our love and care for them will help them to feel that.

Q: What advice do you have for couples who may be struggling?

M: Make your faith your first priority. Listen to what the Lord says in prayer, not what the world says.

S: I would say, “Be willing to fight for your family and your marriage.” Place it in God’s hands and remember what Scripture says. The church is the bride of Christ and look what Christ was willing to do. He was willing to die. Couples who are struggling should be willing to fight for the gift of marriage.