Friday, 18 January 2013

Positionally Speaking

 Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Psalm 85:10


In an interesting post by Dennis Rainey, President of Family Life, he described American marriages as being in one of three formations.  The first he entitled “Face to Face”.   This position describes, according to Rainey, the typical newlyweds “cruising down the highway of life…fingers entwined…affectionate, etc.”  The next posture he describes is “Side by Side”.  He describes this couple as doing life together with kids in tow.  “Their relationship is showing signs of strain…sometimes it takes everything they have got to stand beside one another as they make it through the day. “Back to Back” is how Rainey described the third pairing.  “They are like a ship passing in the night…their house is more of a hotel than a home.  Friction, harsh words, verbal jabs and anxiety have replaced intimacy.”  Unfortunately this is not a pretty picture but what I believe is all too accurate.

This progression does not have to be a foregone conclusion.  IF God is truly at the center of a couple’s marriage they can, as Rainey suggests, walk through life “arm in arm”.  This couple walks at the same pace and in the same direction.

What does that mean?  From my perspective it means they have a vision for their marriage – a vision to glorify God.   They are in a covenant relationship, meaning they are committed to each other for life, there is no exit strategy.  They anticipate that there will be bumps in the road, as you would expect when two sinners join together in holy matrimony but they use those periods as growth opportunities.  They seek to do God’s will for their lives, they pray together, and as much as humanly possible love and respect one another as spelled out in Ephesians 5:21 to 33.

Marriage is to be a reflection of Christ’s relationship to his bride (the Church).  The husband is to love his wife with the same intensity and intentionality that Christ loves his bride.  The wife is to respect her husband in the same way that the Church should respect their Savior.  This glorifies God because this couple radiates love, for each other and for those with whom they come in contact.

The good news is that if you are in one of the positions described by Rainey, i.e. face to face, side by side, or back to back it is never too late with God’s help to transform your marriage into one that honors Him.  It just requires that you come together in prayer, recommit your marriage to Him and then apply the litmus test of “Did what I just do, or not do glorify God?”  “Did my tone of voice or my words glorify God?”

 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A Holy Discontent


But godliness with contentment is great gain.  1 Timothy 6:6

Kermit
I just finished reading a blog that encouraged us as Christians to be content with what we have. The primary focus of the blog was to encourage us to avoid

 the American Dream Syndrome--the notion that you can have it all, that you deserve it all. The more stuff you have, the better off you are. Desire to acquire. The slogans, like the wish lists, are practically endless.”   

Another part of the American Dream Syndrome is the Cinderella Fantasy, i.e. “some day my prince will come…and they lived happily ever after.”  Unfortunately the prince or princess often fails to meet our expectations and we are anything but content.  So we go in search of another frog that we can kiss and hope that this time the frog will really be transformed into a member of the royal family we so richly deserve.

In my opinion there may be something even more diabolical than being discontent with the person that we have pledged to marry until death do us part or until we become disenchanted.  That would be a couple who has become complacent and satisfied just being roommates.

As regular readers of this blog know my mantra is that the purpose of marriage is to glorify God.  A marriage that resembles a polite cohabitation is not a marriage that glorifies God.  Yet couples are deluded into thinking that because conflict is reduced to a minimum and they “appear” in public to be a loving, devoted couple that all is well.

Why would God be glorified by a sham?  In what way is the husband demonstrating a love for his wife that resembles Christ’s sacrifice for His bride the church?  In what way is the wife respecting her husband with the same type of adoration she demonstrates for her Lord? 

Let’s not set the bar for our marriages so low that our twenty year old cat (Prescott) could easily jump over it – believe me that is low.  Let’s shoot for a marriage that promises great joy (not necessarily happiness), let’s aim for marriages that reflect the love of Christ toward one another and toward those who come to know us.

Monday, 14 January 2013

R.C. Sproul
In his post “13 Things I Need to Get Better at in 2013” R.C. Sproul wrote the following about needing to practice a judgment of charity:

We are going to end up disagreeing with one another. What is far worse, however, is that we will often determine that the person on the other side of our debate takes his position because he is wobbly, worldly, wanton or wicked, when maybe he’s just wrong. Or maybe I am.

When it comes to marriage I don’t think most couples think their spouse is wobbly, worldly, wanton or wicked – just wrong.  A paraphrase of James 4: 1-2 from the Message states “Where do you think all these appalling quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves.”

Our spouse is wrong because their opinion differs from our own.  And if James is correct, and let’s assume he is, it is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong.  It is a matter of our spouse’s incorrect perception of the question at hand as compared to our firmly held conviction.

Here is where a judgment of charity comes in.  The next time you find yourself on different sides of an issue assume that your spouse’s rationale is every bit as valid as your own – work with me.  Inquire, in a non-judgmental way why your spouse believes as they do and listen intently enough so that you could explain their position to an objective third party.  Then subject your rationale to the same scrutiny.  Is your position truly more valid than his/hers?

Maybe yes and maybe no but at least you will not marginalize your partner.  You may discover your reason for wanting your way is just to prove your right, to win, or to control.  You may come to the realization that your belief is based on something left over from your childhood.

It has been said that if we both are on the same page 100% of the time then one of us is redundant.  Furthermore God’s concept of a “helpmate” wasn’t to be a rubber stamp for her husband’s whims but she was to make up for her husband’s inadequacies.  She was designed to supplement and augment her husband in his role.