by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — God has a plan for marriage and his plan works.
This is what Blenheim couple Bill and Jenny McElhinney, members of
the Lamb of God community, stressed in the marriage enrichment seminar held at the Kelston Girls’ High School in New Lynn on May 3.

Marriage enrichment presenters Jenny and Bill McElhinney of Blenheim.

The seminar drew from Scripture and the huge resources available
through the Sword of the Spirit international community and experiences from the McElhinney’s 43 years of marriage.
“We are talking out of our own personal experience, not just some
theory. We’re not saying this is what you are supposed to do. We are
saying to people, this is God’s plan for married life, we have put it into practice in our life and it works,” Mr McElhinney said.
The couple believed many marriages which fail today do so because
they do not have strong foundations in the Christian faith.
“It’s important to have a Christian base, too, to be talking about it to other Christians as well. People who aren’t Christians wouldn’t relate to it,” Mrs McElhinney said.
“They will find parts of it difficult,” agreed Mr McElhinney. “It can be challenging.”
Men
He pointed out that whereas a couple of generations ago, the man being the head of the family was quite the norm, this notion would cause controversy in modern society.
“People would recoil from that, but it’s still a Christian truth,” he said.
“We’re not talking about equality. We are all equal in the sight of
Christ. God made us all equal. But somewhere along the line, you have to sort out who’s going to be in charge, who’s going to take responsibility in the family, who will say that the buck stops here.”
He said the Scripture passage that really trips people up is St Paul’s exhortation on the roles of husbands and wives outlined in Ephesians 5:22-33.
“This is where things get difficult because people don’t understand.
The Scripture starts off by saying, ‘Wives be subject to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church’.”
“Of course as soon as you hear that word ‘subject’, people go, ohoh-
oh,” he said.
But he said a lot has been lost in the translation of the Bible from
Greek to English.
“It’s just the way it’s put so bluntly in the Scripture. Because people don’t understand Scripture properly, they misinterpret it. You can probably rephrase it as ‘wives, work together with your husbands to the best effect to your family and your relationship’,”
he said.
Women
Mrs McElhinney said this does not take anything away from the role
of women.
“The husband and wife relationship really mirrors the Lord’s relationship with us. We lay down our lives for each other. It’s a loving relationship, but people don’t see that in the world,” she said.
Mr McElhinney explained it is not about dominance, but about
complementarity.
Men and women approach things differently.
“We need to understand that and work with that and say that it’s a
good thing because it’s the way God made us,” he said.
He said many men in the modern world have abdicated their leadership
role.
“We are trying to encourage people to take up those responsibilities
and take up those roles. We say to people and we say this very bluntly and firmly, that the primary role model in any family
is the father. A lot of cultures recognise that, but in Western society, we sort of lost that somehow,” he said.
The participants in the seminar ranged from couples married 51 years
to eight weeks.
Mr McElhinney said it is better to join the seminar early in the marriage, but it is also good that those who have been married a long time are still looking for ways to enrich their marriage.

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