Linda Lou Taylor was married to George Scott in 1957 in Anderson, Indiana. She was 16 and he was 31 years old. The marriage lasted for 7 years. Linda admits that she liked getting married, in fact, she said she was addicted to romance. Over the next 33 years, she would be married again 22 additional times.
She is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as holding the greatest number of weddings, 23, and is called ‘the serial bride’. Over the decades, she married, (to name a few) a one-eyed convict, a preacher, a bartender, 2 homeless men, a couple of plumbers and a few musicians. One man, she married 3 times!
Her shortest marriage lasted 3 days, because she said that, “The love just wasn’t there”. She had seven children, all from different husbands and multiple step-children. At the age of 68, Linda had gone 12-years without a husband but had said that she was always on the lookout for number 24.
Linda was originally born in Alexandria, but spent most of her life in Anderson, IN. Claiming to have always been faithful to her husbands, Linda said that ‘if she had to live her life over again’, she would never, ever marry so many men. Some were abusive and many abandoned her.
She must have been a fascinating woman; Linda claimed that several thousand men proposed to her. She died on December 27, 2009 at Saint John’s Medical Center, without getting remarried.
Today, I want to talk about a model of what marriage could and should be like. So, I will not be discussing Linda and her many marriages but instead Pricilla and Aquila. They are the best example of what a marriage should be in the Bible.
Pricilla and Aquila are mentioned 7 times by name in the Bible and nearly always together, literally side by side. They are literally yoked together in unity of spirit and purpose. They are 2 people joined to become one flesh.
We first encounter the couple in Acts Chapter 18. Paul had been in Athens, preaching the Gospel, when things had taken a bad turn. A few men had become followers, but overall, most were hostile and in defiance of the Word. So, he had been driven out and was likely feeling rejected and discouraged.
Paul traveled on to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus and his wife Pricilla. Just a little background; Pontus was a Greek Community located on the southern coast of the Black Sea in Turkey. From there, Aquila and his wife Pricilla had moved to Rome.
The Roman Emperor Claudius was annoyed with the Jewish and Christian believers, because he thought that they were causing a disturbance, so he issued a decree expelling them all from Rome.
Aquila and Pricilla then moved to Italy and finally, they had just recently moved to Corinth, a seaside community. Corinth was the kind of community you went to when you wanted to fade away for a while. Travelers came and went.
It was also a haven for scoundrels and known for all kinds of debauchery (As many seaside ports were). So, it was easy to become invisible there.
Pricilla and Aquilla needed a place to lay-low and they needed to make some money. Paul was from Tarsus, a place known for its fine Goat skin used in tents. Because they were tentmakers, like Paul, he stayed with them and they all worked together. Their home was a place for Paul to rest and to get strength again.
The men were good at preparing the leather or goat-skin hair fabric. They cut it, designed the posts ‘to hold up tents’ and created the ropes and knots to tie it up. Pricilla was good at sewing the pieces together.
Tents were used by visitors to the early Olympic-style games, played in Corinth. The material could also be used for awnings, sails or for mending sails. It guaranteed that they would always have work and an income. They were bi-vocational.
Every Sabbath, they would go to the synagogue, and Paul would preach to the Jews and Gentiles. But the people would argue with Paul and it left him even more tired and frustrated. It was Aquila and Pricilla that kept him going, and they encouraged him to stay.
On one occasion, when the crowds got violent and rough, the couple and other Christians came to Paul’s rescue. Later, in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul wrote, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ. They risked their lives for me. Not only I, but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful for them.”
Paul was very frustrated because things were not going well, that he planned to leave Corinth. But God came to him in a dream and encouraged him to stay there longer. So, Paul remained a year and a half with Pricilla and Aquila, teaching them and others about Jesus.
Finally, the Jews and the synagogue ruler had had enough of Paul and they took him before the court. They claimed that Paul was persuading people to worship God in ways ‘contrary to the law’. But the judge dismissed the case and set Paul free.
That was the last straw for Paul, he decided to leave and sail for Syria. Pricilla and Aquila went along with him. They arrived in Ephesus, and that is where Paul left the couple to establish a new home church. Paul preached in the Synagogue and then left on a ship to continue spreading the Gospel.
While in Ephesus, Pricilla and Aquila witnessed an Alexandrian Jew, named Apollos, teaching in the synagogue. Alexandria was located on the north coast of Egypt and was known for its cultural and educational center. Its library was the largest in the world at the time, containing 700 Thousand scrolls and other documents.
Apollos was highly educated and was clearly knowledgeable of scripture as well as being a gifted speaker. He was described as ‘fervent in spirit’ which is translated ‘burning or boiling hot’. But he did not know about the full impact of the life and resurrection of Jesus.
So, Pricilla and Aquila invited him over for dinner and they gently explained the way of God, at work through Jesus, more adequately. Scripture says, they took him aside, as to not embarrass him in public. Notice that the text says, they taught him together.
Of the 7 times the couple is named in scripture; 5 times Pricilla is mentioned first – before her husband. This indicates a few things to us;
First, that her name was ‘more highly recognized’ than her husband’s name. In their culture, women’s names were often not mentioned and always after the husband’s name. Her name being named first was no coincidence.
She was highly educated in the gospel and clearly a good teacher. Some scholars call Pricilla and Aquila the first clergy couple or the first missionary couple in the Bible.
Second, because their names were switched in order, it indicates they were known as equal partners. They did not let pride divide them and they supported one another fully. That was also uncommon in their day.
First-century women were often uneducated in the scriptures. They were forbidden from touching the Torah scrolls or taking part in reading scripture. They were excluded, because their questions were considered too simple or misdirected.
In other faiths, women in the church dressed flashy and became temple prostitutes. For these reasons, women were often told to remain quiet and to never teach the men. Yet, Pricilla was different, and Paul knew it.
While there is no indication that Pricilla or Aquila were preachers in the synagogue, but there is amble proof that he and she were leaders and teachers in their own home. (it is mentioned twice in scripture) Eventually, they would return to Rome where they continued teaching. Then, when persecution began again under Nero, they returned to Ephesus.
Pricilla and Aquila are a great example of a Godly couple for at least 3 reasons; First, they worked well together. Second, they supported each other and other believers. And third, they kept God first in their lives.
Not every couple works well together. Some couples report, that when they work together, they just get on each other’s nerves. They both see the flaws in the other person, and it is too much to overcome.
But Pricilla and Aquila learned the gift of balance. Each did their part. Instead of micro-managing one another, they trusted each other. When conflicts came up, as they do, they learned to give each other some room. Instead of focusing on their partner, they learned to do what they did best.
There was no competition or un-necessary conflict. There was no bruised egos or one-ups-man-ship. Aquila was not threatened by Pricilla’s strengths or skills. They learned to co-exist peacefully.
They also became each other’s cheerleader. They looked for the good and supported one another. They were careful to pull Apollos aside to teach him and not embarrass him in public. They understood how to be respectful and kind.
They knew how to be flexible, communicate clearly and forgive one another. They didn’t take everything personally. They saw the good in others and learned to build them up. It is so easy to point out the bad things, but it takes time and commitment to see and honor the good.
Finally, they knew how to keep God first in their lives. They read the scriptures, asked questions, and most likely prayed together. They spent regular time in the synagogue and in teaching in their home.
Like I said, they were unified or yoked in spirit and purpose. They looked past themselves to God’s greater plan. They, like clergy couples, also moved from time to time and so they had to learn to be each other’s best friend. Couples that learn to stay together must have; faith, trust, compassion, forgiveness, respect, and commitment. They must see each other as equals.
They must have good communication, be encouragers of one another, be flexible, learn to laugh, have fun and give each other room to breathe. And most importantly, they must be united under one joint cause, in their case it was the work of the kingdom of God through Jesus.
The Bible makes it clear that there is power in numbers. Luke 10:1 reminds us that when Jesus sent workers out, he sent them in groups of two. One spoke and one prayed.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reads, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” Verse 12 adds, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken”.
Finally, in Matthew 18:19-20 we read, “Again, I tell you, that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you, by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
The last point I want to make, extends beyond this couple. They understood how to work well with others. They added others to their circle; people like Paul and Apollos and it increased their reach.
This is just a fun fact. Did you know that a single bee in its lifetime, only makes 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey? But when the build a hive, 50,000 bees can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey in a year.
Apply that now to the church. Jesus took 12 men and before long, their numbers exploded. Imagine what we could do if everyone contributed, instead of just 20 or 25. That is something to pray about and act on.
Your assignment is…to look up the passages in the Bible where it talks about being unified. The Bible teaches about us being unified as believers, as couples and unified in Christ. What might it look like if we were all bound together under one cause? We are one body, the church, under Christ. You see, that is our goal.
My prayer is you that you become so passionate about the kingdom of God, that we can become all God has intended sooner not later. When we do, I believe we will continue changing Muncie and make our mark on the world for Jesus. May it be so.