Friday, 7 December 2012

Grading on a Curve

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33

In my life time I have logged a good number of classroom hours.  I always felt relieved when the teacher or professor said they were going to grade on a curve.  Even though I was usually helping to lower the curve it gave me a sense of false confidence that perhaps I could earn a reasonable grade.  This became increasingly difficult as I went on to graduate studies.  There was no curve and an “A” began over 93 percent.  Thus I was unable to help my fellow man, by setting the bar low as I had done in so many of my previous classes.

One of my absolute favorite classes was a New Testament survey course.  The professor told us when we would be having quizzes and exactly what would be on them.  He did the same thing for the final.  His rationale was that he wanted us to learn material that he deemed important.  He usually included an essay question that would allow the over achievers to differentiate themselves.

So what does my pathetic academic record have to do with marriage?  Let me connect the dots.  I recently read a blog that suggested that couples should reflect on their marriage and ask themselves “Is my marriage all I thought it would be?; How does my partner measure up?, etc.”  In a way this is grading your marriage on a curve.  You are subjectively and arbitrarily setting a bench mark to which you are comparing your marriage. You either compare your married life to your preconceived notion of what you thought it would be like or to the marriages of couples whom you know.  To set the bar really low you can take solace in the fact that you are not among the fifty percent of couples who divorce. 

Now back to my New Testament survey course.  God, not unlike my professor, wants us to learn specific things about His marriage course.  He doesn’t’ want us to spend needless hours wondering what it takes to get a good grade in marriage, i.e. have a marriage that is joy filled and that brings honor to Him.  In relatively few verses He provides the answer to the question, “How can I be the husband / wife that God has called me to be?”  Ephesians 5:21-33; 1Peter 3:1-7; and1Corinthians 7:1-16 provide most of the answers you will need to do well in His course.  

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Friends of the Opposite Sex

The question has been asked whether or not it is okay for a married person to have friends of the opposite sex.

It is hard to give a definitive answer to this question but my gut tells me that it is not a good idea.  First of all current research seems to be indicating that the best marriage partners are people of the opposite sex who are or could be best friends.  You have much in common, or you are interested in the person for some other reason, or you just enjoy the company of one another.

Secondly, a recent study done by the University of Wisconsin indicates that men are often attracted to their female friends AND they presume their female friend is attracted to them.

We are not talking about casual acquaintances when we are talking friends.  A friend is someone you call in the middle of the night when you have just received bad news.  A friend is someone in whom you confide your deepest, most intimate secrets.  A friend cares about you so much that they accept you for who you are but they are willing to run the risk of being candid regarding some possible flaw.  A friend is someone you laugh and cry with, someone who will sit in a hospital waiting room with you for hours awaiting the doctor’s report.
I’m good at stating the obvious.  Let’s assume that a relatively high percentage of married couples are in a marriage that they find less than fulfilling, which our divorce statistics would tend to substantiate.  Let’s assume two well meaning individuals of the opposite sex, who are in a marriage that is less than satisfactory, begin to develop a friendship.  How long will it be before they each realize the other is unhappy?  If you can’t see where this is going you have led a very sheltered life.

1Peter 5:8 tells us that we should be “sober minded; be watchful.  (Because) Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Satan likes nothing better than to bring down a marriage, particularly a Christian marriage because such a marriage is to be a reflection of the Son’s relationship to His bride, the church.  Marriage is to glorify God.  If Satan can make a mockery of it, he gets one in the win column.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Win - Win

25 “.... so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  1Corinthians 12:25-6

Gary Smalley
In an article co-authored by Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham entitled “Win-Win” they emphasize the importance of considering each other as equally important in the quest for a fulfilling marriage, one that brings glory to God.  They offered the following analogy to drive their point home:

Imagine what would happen if your body tried to function according  to the rules of a win-lose system.  Suppose your heart and your kidneys got into a heated debate about which one most needed a steady blood supply, winner take all.

“Hey, I pump blood through the whole body”, declares the heart. “Without me, every organ dies – including you.”That my be,” retorts the kidneys, “but if the blood doesn’t go through me, all you accomplish with your incessant pumping is to poison the entire system. And then guess who dies?

What affects on part of the body often affects another and so it is with a husband and wife.  “The heart cannot win at the expense of the kidneys any more than the kidneys can win at the expense of the heart.”

 When God provided Adam with a “helper”, He was providing Adam with someone who could make up for some of his deficiencies much like Adam could augment that which Eve brought into the relationship.

In 1Peter 5:5-6 the Apostle Paul encourages the members of the body to “… clothe ourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

When a husband and wife take advantage of the skills, talents, abilities and perspectives that each brings to the marriage they have the potential to accomplish much. 

Sometimes as couples we focus on the weaknesses of one another instead of the strengths.  Make a list today of all your partner’s strengths that supplement, augment or makes up for your deficiencies.

This becomes even more important when you are one of God’s more “mature” children. “Kathleen have you seen my car keys?”