Author: Robyn

I am: a daughter of The King; my husband's wife; my kids mom; and my dogs human.

Teamwork or Toxicwork

Marriage can be a good litmus test to find out if there’s a disconnect in our theology.  When our claim to God is all about the grace we’ve received from Jesus the Saviour, to the exclusion of the grace we give to one another through Christ the Lord, we’ll be unbalanced.

Biting and devouring in conflict, disagreements and disharmony, separation from each other and failure to give grace to our brothers in Christ: these are evidences of an unbalanced Christianity.  When my focus is only on what I’ve received from God instead of how I can live for Him, there’s a disconnect between how I talk and how I walk.

Children first crawl so they can walk and they first babble so they can talk.  We first receive grace so that we can mature and give it away in obedience.  The longer we live in the “Saviour” mentality – tightfistedly hanging onto grace – the more selfish we are … the more unbalanced we’ll seem, like a 18 year old that acts like a 12 year old.

When my faith has embraced Jesus Christ as both my Saviour and the LORD of my life, inevitably it will transpire into my marriage.

 

 

 

 

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SEX PARADOX? MAYBE NOT

In Part 1, I explored the main reason why I don’t believe there’s any special kind of paradox found in 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, that instead, it’s just a matter of which spouse is more mature in their holiness and humility.  The definition of a paradox is something that, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.  I believe that’s true of lots concepts found in Scripture:

We live when we die (John 11:25)

We are at our strongest when we’re at our weakest (2 Corinthians 12:10)

We get through giving (Acts 20:35)

I don’t believe 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 fits the criteria of a paradox.  In Part 2, I want to build onto that idea.

* * *

In almost every instruction concerning marriage, God follows a pattern.  When He address the couple, He speaks to the wife first1:  Submit to your own husband.  Then secondly, He tells the husband:  Love your own wife.

But, in these particular verses, even though God’s subject is marriage, He’s not using any of the same language that He normally does – words like:

  • Love (agapaō)
  • Reverence (phobeō)
  • Submit (hupotassō)

Switching It Up: 1 Corinthians 7:2-3

In 1 Corinthians 7, God draws our attention by changing the order – He addresses the husband first.  If He was following the established pattern, the verse would read, let each wife have her own husband, and let each man have his own wife.  But God didn’t frame it the same – He reversed the order by addressing the wife second.

THEN in verse 3, He puts an even finer point on His intention when He presses in on the responsibility – He continues aiming at the husband, The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs […].  Again, her responsibility is stated second, like a response to him, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

This isn’t a new method for God – we see Him doing it in the garden, right after the fall.  Both Adam and Eve were hiding from God, but He specifically called-out Adam individually, the one with the responsibility.  He speaks directly to the one who’s accountable for their responsibility at that moment.

Switching It Back: 1 Corinthians 7:4

But at verse 4, God does it again.  He pivots back to His original pattern of addressing the wife first.  His subject has changed.  He’s not talking about desire anymore, but about giving up control, The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does[…].  How does the husband have control over his wife’s body?  He controls the power to seduce her.  She controls the power to succumb to that seduction.

Think about the last time you had sex – when did you have the most authority over your husband’s body?  When he was in crescendo – during his climax/orgasm – and afterwards.  This is the time when, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

God isn’t prescribing the rules of who gets to demand or command sex; He’s describing the responses of male and female sexuality, the way He created desire in each of us.  As He drills down on the deepest level of relationship, He’s unfolding a transcendental experience of how sexual desire works: It is cause and effect.

First to Experience Desire

Eve’s creation was a response to a missing component2 in Adam’s life – she’s a responder to his whole being because she’s everything he’s not. 

Adam recognized that there was no one for him through the experience of naming the animals in pairs. He was able to identify an absence, which shows that was looking for something else: his pairing for procreation. He was looking for – her. He had already begun to feel desire first

Husbands go first simply because, more often than not, they’re the first to feel the desire3 for sex.  So, it becomes theirs to plan out, to execute the completion of the task.  All the euphemisms about sex back up this idea, such as – “men are like microwaves and women are like slow cookers” – there’s a reason for those sayings.  They’re all rooted in a fundamental truth: men’s erotic desires are concrete and sit close to the surface – thus easily accessed.  While the erotic desires of women are abstract and buried deep within our emotions, which makes it necessary for them to be drawn out to the surface.

God placed a massive capacity for expressive sexual reciprocity within the heart of women – a veritable red hot burning fire; but a husband will rarely see it unless he’s willing to seduce it to the surface to match his.

Pick-up Artists

Sadly, it’s the PUAs who’ve got it right.  These men know the secret truth about the game of sexual tension – but they use it wrong, that’s why women hate them.  They know that once her fire is ignited, it’s almost impossible to turn off.  Using their masculine energy, they CAUSE sexual tension which generates the EFFECT of female sexual desire.

Logically we know, a woman doesn’t magically change just because she becomes a wife.  Yet there’s this idea perpetuated that says, when a man gets married he now gets a “pass” when it comes to creating that sexual tension – just like in the game of Monopoly: automatically receiving that 200$ for doing nothing more than “passing GO.”

There’s where we find the disparity: female desire is created out of sexual tension.  Yes, it’s a game – a game of cat and mouse, not Monopoly.

Think Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory.  Sure, we laugh at him because he’s so bad at it – lecherous, explicit and down-right corny.  You know why it doesn’t work on Penny?  She’s outside his numbered zone so there’s no attraction and – she’s not his wife.  Corny works on wives because the attraction has already been established, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a wedding.

Conversely, if a PUA used the same lack of approach as some husbands do … they too, would never get laid.  It’s not a Christian secret, God created all men with the same aptitude to be sexual aggressors and wired all women to respond to seduction4.

Reducing 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 to prescriptive behaviours that are found within the roles of husband and wife, completely misses what God intends for His description on sexuality.  Instead of bringing sex to life in its fullest substance, a red hot steamy ride in living colour, fully experienced through its power — it gets sanitized through legalism – dehumanized to basics and turned into the most elementary form of sexuality.  I can think of no faster way to kill desire.

 

 

 

NOTES

1-first.  Address the wife first: Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Peter 3:1-7

2-component.  I don’t mean that the wife is an afterthought.  God already knew He was going to create the woman, He was waiting for Adam to realize that he needed her, before God created her.  God said, “it was good” after He finished creating Adam and the animals.  Then, He said it was, “not good that man was alone.”  In order for man to be in “Our” [God’s] image and according to “Our” [God’s] likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) Adam had to be a relational being.  Yes, he could function in the Garden and cultivate it, this was good — but “alone,” he couldn’t be in relationship nor could he populate the Garden.  In order to complete Adam’s creation process, he would be changed from a “he” to a “we”.

3-desire.  There’s a small margin of women that have a higher drive, but it’s rare and usually an anomaly.

4-seduction.  Luke 18:6 – And [his] master praised the dishonest (unjust) manager for acting shrewdly and prudently; for the sons of this age are shrewder and more prudent and wiser in [relation to] their own generation [to their own age and kind] than are the sons of light.  And, Matthew 5:45 – To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

 

SEX PARADOX? MAYBE

I recently read a post by John Piper that calls 1 Corinthians 7 “paradoxical counsel to married couples”.  However, as I read further on into the post, he says that it’s the husband who has the power to solve this problem,

“The leadership of the husband is defined by Paul not mainly as demanding his rights but as laying down his life for the good of his wife (Ephesians 5:25).  Therefore, the predominant resolution of the sexual paradox is that the husband gently and tenderly takes the lead in seeking to maximize his wife’s pleasure, taking her longings deeply into account, rather than pressuring her to adapt to his.”

I find the idea of any paradox intriguing and even more so because it’s about sex.  As I was reading his  post, two questions kept popping up for me.  First: Is this really a paradox?  And second: If it is, why is it only the husband who can resolve it; there are two people in a marriage?

At a first read, 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 could sound like a confusing D/s script.  The wife’s the dominant she’s got the authority over her husband, he’s the submissive.  No wait, that’s wrong, it’s the wife that’s the submissive, the husband has the authority …

… back and forth the verses read.

It does seem confusing yet I know that’s never God’s intention with us.  Also, I’m convinced He’s got good reasons for revealing information to us the way that he does.  So, what’s the reason?

Is The Husband Really More Effective?

While John Piper’s interpretation that a godly man, through his role of husband is able to break the paradox – isn’t it just as true, that a godly woman through her role as a wife, possessing equal ability from the same Holy Spirit, could also break the paradox?

Wouldn’t equality indicate that the influence found in the role of a wife would be just as powerful as the strength found in the role of a husband?  Influence and power are completely different kinds of abilities, but that doesn’t make the wife’s influence any less effective in solving the paradox.

Yes, for sure, God fitted the husband’s position with the responsibility to lead in the hierarchy, so he should go first, but it rarely happens that way.  The truth is, due to immaturity from brokenness and living in a world that’s wrecked beyond repair; it takes our whole lives to grow up – not just husbands but also us wives.

The Real World Experience

I think most Christians would agree that John Piper is a well-developed believer and a pretty mature husband, so I mean no disrespect.  I agree with him when he says that stalemates in marriage “are real life.”  But, when he presents that there’s only one solution — and that it’s found, only in the husband’s role, he’s omitting the possibility that the wife’s role might be just as valid to solve this paradox.

It’s confusing for some wives to hear that this paradox can only be solved by the husband.  The reality for some wives, is that their husbands don’t have the maturity to recognize that they’re the head and bear the responsibility of leadership.  To those wives, a one-sided solution is a completely unworkable proposition.

Sacrificially Serving the Lord

There’s an alternative for wives when their husbands won’t step up to the responsibility of leadership – it’s just not a popular alternative:  Biblical Wifely Submission.  It’s sad that postmodernism doesn’t understand the power that submission wields.  In marriage we can’t just sit in a state of perpetual “stalemate” without devolving into a toxic mess – it will inevitably lead to divorce.

When the husband is more mature, then the solution of, laying down his life for the good of his wife ” will work.  This is commonly known as servant-leader.  In John Piper’s example, it’s the husband that’s more mature, which makes him capable of leading with a servant’s heart.

On the other hand, when the wife is the more mature spouse, she will act fully within her role of wife and be willing to sacrifice herself to break the stalemate.  The wife will be laying down her life for the good of her husband”  As the more mature spouse, she is just as capable of submitting with a servant’s heart.

How would it look if the wife was more mature?  Let’s stick with the original application that John Piper used, but instead, giving equal ability to the wife:

“The leadership submission of the husband wife is defined by Paul not mainly as demanding his her rights but as laying down his her life for the good of his her wife husband (Ephesians 5:25 24).  Therefore, the predominant an equal resolution of the sexual paradox is that the husband wife gently respectfully and tenderly willingly takes gives the lead in seeking to maximize his her wife’s husband’s pleasure, taking her his longings deeply into account, rather than pressuring her him to adapt to his hers.”

Competition of Self-sacrifice

At the end of his post, John Piper concludes,

It is resolved in the mystery of love that discovers even here, when our physical pleasure is more prominent than anywhere else, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). There is a holy and humble and self-sacrificing competition to make the other maximally glad. The logical stalemate is broken by the miracle of grace: With God all things are possible.

He’s saying that the paradox is solved by the correct leadership of the husband — what I’m saying, is that it can also be solved by the correct submission of the wife.   It’s not a competition or a race for the role of who will lead and who will submit…it’s a competition of who fulfils their own role first.  The question is, Who will go first in this competition of self-sacrificing?

Clear to See

Often, this verse is erroneously quoted as some kind of baseline for mutual submission – the removal of all power and authority.  A cursory read makes it look like there’s absence of power — it seems like one statement cancels out the other:

  • the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. He owes her.
  • the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. She owes him.

I don’t think God’s intended outcome is mutual submission, a stalemate or confusion; I think the intention is to sift the heart of a person, through a relationship of the closest proximity – one flesh, to expose their heart.  It’s an example of a verse that enables the selfish spouse enough rope to hang their flesh (Romans 12:19-21), and the mature spouse (or perhaps, the less selfish one) an opportunity to grow in a bit more grace.

SOUL-ution

Ask the Lord to show you if your the one with the noose around your neck. Or, if you’ve been humble enough to submit by laying down your life for the good of your husband.

 

 

Part 2:  Sex Paradox?  Maybe Not

 

My Husband’s Heart

… this world is passing away. ~1 Corinthians 7:31

If we get too caught up in the present world it’s easy to forget that even though we’re married, our husband’s hearts are merely on loan to us.  Both roles in marriage were created as temporary means specifically for earth. That means being a wife is not my end game.1

God gave me My husband’s heart in trust, not to own but to briefly hold. Even though I’m one flesh with him through marriage, God still owns his heart and knows best how to remake His creation.

The Invitation

God has invited me to witness as He changes and reshapes this man through our marriage.  Like the best cardiologist ever, God’s not inviting me into the operation to muck about with what I think needs to be changed – He’s not inviting me to take over the procedure, nor apprenticing me to do His job.

Instead, God’s invited me to help Him, through my role as a wife to one of His sons.  To be present and patient as my husband learns to live out of his renewed mind and heart.  It takes practice to walk out of the flesh with the Spirit on new legs of faith, so there will be trips and falls. My role is to help him through his recovery.

It’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of. God doesn’t need my help any more than He needed Ezekiel’s help with the vision of the dry bones.2  Instead of just telling Ezekiel about the prophecy like He did with so many others, He brought Ezekiel alongside to be a part of it – it was an invitation.  And God has invited me too; He’s invited me to witness His work.

Two Real Realities

We live in a world that we’re just passing through – we don’t belong here, and we won’t be here long.

Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them.  For this world as we know it will soon pass away. ~1 Corinthians 7:31

Sometimes, living in this present place makes it feel like our current experience is more real than our future destination.  When in fact, both are real…it’s just that one of them…is going to last much longer…than the other.  I know it sounds almost too sci-fi, but we really do have permanent residence in the alternate reality.3

Moving From Past To Future

Look back on a disaster or trial that happened ten years ago … five years ago … 6 months ago.  They don’t last.  When we consider the passage of time, our perspective can change about our current situation.

God never denies that life can get hard sometimes and He never says that marriage is going to be easy or effortless all the time!  But when our present reality seems too hard, He’s given us an aim for our focus:  The Future.  Instead of looking at the current, visible problems (allegedly) stemming from (only) your husband, look at what you can’t yet see: his healed heart.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:17-18

As your husband’s wife, God has graciously chosen you to experience the greatest miracle that He’s going to do in this man – change his heart.  But you only get to witness your husband’s heart made whole by trusting God and waiting for Him to do it.

SOUL-utions

Don’t misconstrue your invitation to be a wife as an appointment to be the change agent in your husband; that’s the job of the Holy Spirit.

Do speak gratitude for what God has already done instead of complaining about what’s lacking – the parts that He is still working on.

 

 


NOTES:

  1.  Matthew 22:29-30
  2. Ezekiel 37
  3. Hebrews 11:13-17; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20-21

Don’t be duped

The more I understand about feminism, whether it’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd wave, the more obvious it becomes that it’s not compatible with God’s idea of femininity; nor is it actually about equality.  And when we’re raised in a culture saturated with a particular idea, it’s bound to permeate some of our views without us realizing it.

To see if a belief you have is rooted in feminism, you just have to contrast it to a principle that Jesus teaches, and see where it leads.  He tells us to use our whole minds in the course of loving him – perhaps part of the reason is so we don’t get duped like the small minded, weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women that Paul wrote about.

Here’s an example of a feminist perspective that, in the past, would’ve appealed to my flesh and fed my victim mentality:

Generally, when writers write, they have a main idea called the topic sentence and they surround it with supporting sentences.  It’s the primary message an author wants to convey to the reader.

BUT, when it comes to the visual messages we find in images or memes, you don’t always plainly see what the creator of the message is actually conveying – there’s no topic sentence.  What you see are the supporting sentences.  Usually presented in a vein that’s catchy, rhyming, romantic or utopian – these are more like sound bites directed at the emotions.

This meme is really about  MEquality

It resonates with romantic feelings of freedom, independence and courage; while the undercurrent belies a truly immature definition of love.  Her claim is actually very self-centered.  It’s an outgoing sentiment that would be better spoken from her man to her or about her  – like in Proverbs 31, when the husband brags about his wife, “Baby, you rock!” (verse 28-29 – paraphrased).

– but what really ramps up the toxic, is the disguise.  It appears that her man is the object of her affection; that he’s the subject of her compliments.  But as you read through, it becomes clearer and clearer that her focus is on what she gets from the relationship.  She’s the focus – not him.

Could the Church say this of Christ?

Doubtful.  I think Christ wants to change and renew His bride; He wants her to grow up by, sanctifying her, by cleansing her by the washing of water with the word, to present her to Himself in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, … she will be holy and blameless. (Eph 5:26-27)

Could the Apostles, who were the first members of The Church (and our example of how to relate in marriage) ever say this of Jesus? I don’t think so. He was training, discipling and even correcting them!  Christ found their behavior unacceptable.  Yes, He loved them unconditionally – but that didn’t mean He was going to leave them in the condition He found them in, rather; He was going to begin the process of changing everything about them through transformation by renewing […]. (Rom 12:2)

It’s more blessed to give compliments than to take them

A meme that would really uplift your man would read more like this:

It truly compliments my husband’s qualities, makes his abilities shine.  I’m able to do my part as a wife better because of him.  You can see the difference in the two mindsets by pressing both of them up against the verse, Acts 20:35; we’re reminded that, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Guard your heart with vigilance

Living in the information age means we intake a lot of diverse data, and sometimes it’s tough to see just how anti-marriage (and anti-God) some of the relationship information is.  This meme might seem insignificant but that’s how it starts – one little meme, then another, and another – and before long you’re thinking, “Our marriage would be better if he would love me without restrictions — if he would listen to what I say and trust meMy life would flow easier if he would just let ME be exactly the way I am and want to be.”

And before you know it, all the problems in your life and marriage are because of your husband.  Nothing’s your fault, you don’t need to change anything – it’s him that needs to change.

The message of self-focus in this meme is actually pretty unhealthy for a wife to consider:

  • That the love she’s receiving has more value than learning to give love without restriction.  ~Titus 2:3-5
  • That the trust she receives has more value than learning to fearlessly give the gift of trust.  ~1 Peter 3:6
  • That the unconditional acceptance she receives has more value than learning to give unconditional acceptance without making demands. ~Ephesians 5:33

We’ve got to guard against little things that appear innocuous, but separate us from our husbands when they’re added up.  We need to trust David’s advice and refuse to take a second look at corrupting and degrading things. Of course, we are going to have deadly information come into our field of vision, we’re living in the world – but that doesn’t mean we have to focus on it and let it corrupt the view of our husbands.

If what you read, doesn’t lead you to give away the grace that Christ gave you, then it’s leading you to hold it just for yourself.  C.S. Lewis rounds it out nicely when he says,  “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inchevery split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

A 21st century paraphrase might read: There is no neutral ground in the information age:  Every book you read; every meme, illustration, song and movie you hear and see; every split second on a screen, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.  There’s no fence sitting, the Kingdom of God is either being advanced in you or you’re working to counterclaim it with Satan.

SOUL-ution

  • Don’t just believe it:  Know what it is, why and how you came to believe it and who lead you to it.
  • The grace of Christ is always the litmus test:  Does it lead you to give it or take it?
  • Do look to culture!  Sounds weird I know, but it’s a good place to start examination.  Although we might say, “I belong to Christ” – Do we look like Him or the current culture that surrounds us? Do we walk the talk of the world? Do our views conveniently couple alongside the world?

ARE YOU A DISTRACTED WIFE?

We often hear that going with the flow’s a good idea, and lots of times it is—unless that flow takes us in a bad direction.  I don’t know a wife that consciously says, “Today, I’m going to be distracted from my husband.  Today, I’m going to disconnect on purpose.”

I think stagnation is one of the deadliest precursors to distraction and disconnection.  Marriage isn’t static.  You could even say, it’s kind of like a living organism—it either moves in a positive direction towards growth and life, or it stops moving, stagnating through a kind of status quo into death.  Stagnation is very subtle, it’s almost imperceptible so it requires a vigilant heart.

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

I think these might be some things we need to guard against.

Help or Hindrance

You’re only seeing faults.  You’ve moved away from the helper and harmonizer that you started out as, and you’ve begun the change into a hindrance.  Focusing on your husband’s faults is like viewing him through a wide angle lense … you’ll just find more faults.  Eventually, they’ll crowd out anything good he was, is, does or could be.  I think God calls us to be an example of harmony.

It’s helpful to focus on your husband’s strengths.  The more space they take up, the less room for weaknesses.

Bad to Worse

Assuming anything less than his best.  When you feel a doubt of good intentions creeping into your mind, you owe it to God, to your husband and to yourself, to cut it off at the pass before you plunge into mind-suck.  Mind-suck is that emotional spiral that’s driven downward by anything your man has done ‘wrong’, that you’ve failed to let go of.  These emotions and thoughts transfer into your eyes, attitudes and words.  Assume his best:  Give doubt the benefit.  This not only keeps unity in tact but is love made active.

Write down your doubt, put it in a box and symbolically leave it with God—after all He already knows what it is and how He’s going to fix it.

A Personal Touch

You’re not reaching out as much.  Whether his love language is touch or not, it’s needed for all of us.  Initiating touch isn’t about making up after a fight, condoning sin (real or imagined), or an admission of guilt. It’s not about who goes first, or anything else.  It’s merely an acknowledgement of humanity.  Some of us need more than others, some of us need less.  Some of us want more but struggle to reach out for it.  God knew that we needed a personal touch and sent us a savior to do it.  Even though Jesus knew what we were like, He came to earth anyway — He touches each of us exactly as we are.

Don’t wait until everything’s perfect between you, or for someone else to go first, adopt the Nike slogan and just do it.

He’s a Guy

… and you’re a girl.  Shocker—I know.  Think of your marriage like it’s a box of crayons.  For ease, (but hopefully not too cliché) let’s say you’ve got all the warm colours and he’s got all the cool colours.  Sometimes you need pink, sometimes you need blue.  And then there are times when purple is necessary and it requires both of you.  Purple doesn’t become purple, because blue emasculates itself to keep pink happy.  The fact that men and women are so different, it’s amazing that we’ve got anything in common!  Instead, bring all your female—and let your man bring his own masculinity.

Don’t just tolerate the gender differences, embrace them!   It was God who put them there in the beginning—let Him make it work.

Unreal Expectations

Comparisons are the kiss-of-death.  When we were first married, my husband hadn’t accumulated the abundant abilities that he now possesses after 30 years of marriage (insert bragging privilege:  he can now troubleshoot and fix just about anything electrical, technical or mechanical … and relational).  Anyway, I was complaining to my mom that we had gotten into this big fight because he wouldn’t just let “Dad” look at our car.  I went on, “It’s frustrating because …”  And she cut me off with a chastisement fit for a toddler, which is how I was acting.  “Robyn-Anne!” I knew I was wrong because she used my middle name.  “Your father has been working on cars, tractors, lawnmowers, furnaces, equipment et al, for years.  He’s been exposed to all this through raising a family and his career.”  She shook her head, “You can’t compare your father’s ending to your husband’s beginning.  That’s an unreal expectation on your husband.”

Keep your expectations a little lower than your gratitude, and you’ll see the real man emerge on God’s time.  Your vision is limited at best, only God sees the finale.

* * *

Be all in.  Understand that you are literally one flesh with your husband.  That means when your husband has trouble … you’ll experience it by association.  When Satan wants to come after you—he’s going to coming through your husband.  Don’t give up doing good just because you’re encountering some rough terrain.  You started this race together—you have no idea what blessings lay just beyond … out of sight.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. – Galatians 6:9

We’ll always have to beware of disconnection; it isn’t something we can conquer and be done with, like an event that’s marked by start and finish with a certificate of accomplishment.  As much as a Certificate of Marriage appears like the achievement of an event, the wedding day—in truth, it’s the date that marks the beginning of the process of staying connected.

Any investment of good you give your marriage will always advance it in the right direction.

The Marriage Triangle – Unity, Part 3

Unity With Others

Although I’ve said in Parts 1 and 2,  it can’t be overstated – unity is the goal for every relationship in Christ, including marriage — The purpose for unity in marriage is different.

Inside relationship with others we try to keep unity by, getting along as much as it depends on us (Rom 12:18).  We try to keep unity by, submitting to one another (Eph 5:21).  And even though we know we’ve, freely received everything we need to get along with each other (2 Pet 1:3-4), sometimes, no matter how hard we try to keep the unity through honest conflict resolution with one another, (Matt 18:15-17) – it doesn’t work.

If a sister or brother continues to sin against you and you’ve followed the steps for reconciliation outlined in Matthew 18, then a break in friendship is the next step, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector.

Marriage Eclipses the “I”

When you get married, the marriage is the top priority, you are second.

While you can be reconciled with a brother by following the steps in Matthew 18, applying the outcome works against the one flesh.  The essence of marriage is intimately close, and to treat your husband as a pagan and a tax collector is intimately far apart, and seeks to destroy the one flesh covenant.

The escape clause in Matthew 18:17 is meant for dissolving friendships — not marriage.  But, if we’re going to direct it towards marriage, then we must accept the indictment from Jesus (Matt 19:8) that comes with it, Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.

Jesus didn’t say you couldn’t divorce your husband, only that if you do, you’ll be revealing your hard heart.

So, what’s the alternative, if you don’t want to be hard hearted?

Let the covenant do the work God designed it to do—it’s based on His truth not your feelings.  It’s the connection during crisis, when God is all you’ve got left.

LOVE: a better way

When I started this series, it was because we found the original marriage triangle ineffective – it had no practical application for a struggling marriage.  The theory was too kitschy—clean, seamless.  And very logical: you both grow closer as you grow closer to God—orderly, sanitized.

It just didn’t resonate with any of the wreckage that the both of us had become, or the conflicts and raw pain that were increasing in our marriage.  Maybe it was because we had both lived by the world’s standards for so long.  Or maybe it was just the nature of who we were as a couple, I’m not sure, probably a combination.

The shift in paradigm, from the traditional marriage triangle to a new One Flesh Triangle perspective, stops the chaos of selfishness and always re-centers me to the basics of God’s love—back to the beginning of Him and me:

I love Him, because He first loved me. -1 John 4:19

During trials and conflicts (which I’m happy to say are now basically non-existent in our marriage), the imagery from the One Flesh Triangle immediately reminds me of what’s important—loving God, because He first loved me.

LOVE: begins and ends with God

But how?  How do you love God back?  He is everything—has everything.  He has so much love that it’s infinite—He gave everything and held nothing back.  Love is who He is—His mainspring.

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating her brother, thinking nothing of it, she is a liar.  If she won’t love the person she can see, how can she love the God she can’t see?  The command we have from Christ is blunt:  Loving God includes loving people.  You’ve got to love both. -1 John 4:20-21

How, is it possible to give God love?  By loving the brother who’s right in front of you:  You.Do.It.First.  Demonstrate love the way God does—Instead of giving us what we deserved, He loved us first.

I  don’t get to mistreat my husband because I think he deserves it, nor do I get to belittle him because he won’t do what I think is right.  I don’t get to toss him to the curb because he’s not the kind of husband I want him to be.  My husband’s sin is not greater than mine. (Col 3:6-7; Eph 2:1-3)

Look again at the One Flesh Triangle.  I receive God’s love but the only way to love Him back is through my husband.

And the king will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ -Matt 25:40

Read the signs

If there’s a fair amount of strife in your marriage or some triggers that never go away – If you’ve heard the same phrases repeated in arguments and disagreements –  If your communication often breaks down into “every-man-for-himself,” you might just need a new marriage paradigm like we did.

I found with our Marriage Certificate along-side the image of the One Flesh Triangle, there was (and is) no way Satan’s going to divide us—Semper fi!

 

SOUL-utions

  • Do acknowledge the love you’ve received from God through our Savior (2 Peter 1:1), it encompasses all His power and strength as you take steps to align your life under His Lordship.  God gave you all of everything you need to take that step (2 Peter 1:4)
  • Don’t let Satan trick you into getting stuck in that rut between verses 2 and 4—only concerned with what you get from God our Father.
  • When we’re born again, we’re all immature and drinking only milk-it’s the beginning growth.  But, as Paul implores us, choose meat and grow-up (Heb 5:12-14).  And when we do make that choice, Peter instructs us how to walk it out (2 Peter 1:5-7).