Unity With Others
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!
- 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).