divorce

Beware of the Marriage Cannibals

What do you call it when someone turns against the team?  Sometimes we say they’re a traitor, deserter, or even hypocrite.  In medicine, it’s called autoimmunity:  an immune response caused by systemic inflammation that leads your body to attack itself.

What about in marriage, when one spouse turns on the other and begins attacking the team?

In Galatians, Paul uses some graphic imagery to make an emphatic point:  Tearing at each other by biting and devouring has the same effect, relationally, as cannibalism:  Consuming one of your own.

If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? (5:15)

When a spouse does this, they’re cannibalizing their own marriage.

What does it look like to bite and devour — have I been cannibalizing my own marriage?

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. (Galatians 5:19-21, emphasis added)

Wow, wow, wow – if we can get a visual of just how dangerous it is to live out of our flesh instead of our spirit, we’ll be able to see how much real damage we can do to our husbands, to ourselves, and to The Kingdom –it can change our hearts.

Marriage Cannibal:  it’s a choice 

No one is a cannibal on their wedding day. In fact, we’re the opposite of a marriage cannibal on that day!  This change happens after the wedding and is triggered by who we listen to.

Marriage cannibals want you to expose all your husband’s mistakes, misdemeanors, and missteps.  They tell you how right you are and how you deserve better.  How unfair your circumstances are.  All the while inching you closer to your flesh instead of The Spirit.

Is it intentional?  Sometimes it is – sometimes women are so hurt over their own failed marriage(s) they can’t get beyond their own bitterness. They end up destroying any other marriage they come in contact with –misery loves company.  And then there are some unwittingly used by Satan:

For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,  always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Tim 3:6)

… and they end up being out for themselves.  They feel justified as they feed on the misery that you’re serving up from your marriage.  They do this under the guise of helping and encouraging your situation, all the while sharpening your focus on the faults of your man.  Their motive isn’t really solution-oriented, it just feels like it is because they’re giving you center stage of attention.

It doesn’t matter if the split for the responsibility of the conflict is 95% your fault and 5% your husband’s.  A marriage cannibal will talk you away from any responsibility you have while simultaneously narrowing your focus on that 5% of his.  Blame’s the name of the game.

The first marriage cannibal was Satan

He uses the same technique today that he used in the garden:  Creating doubt through a perceived sense of lack.  He wasn’t after Eve, he merely used a weakness of hers to reach his real target, Adam – divide then conquer.

Any advice or counsel that focuses on the faults of your man instead of the power of Christ’s grace, is underpinned by Satan’s methods.  You’ll know them because they’ll appeal to your flesh – just like they did with Eve.

DIVIDED:  Satan used a lie to shift Eve’s focus away from God’s truth so she’d doubt Adam, You won’t die!  Then, as a liar does, he spins it bigger, God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.

AND:  Eve doubts, The woman was convinced.  So she took some of the fruit and ate it.  Then she gave some to her husband.

CONQUERED:  Adam yields, and he ate it, too.  At that moment their eyes were opened.

Satan achieved a “twofer” here:

  • Division between husband and wife (Genesis 3:16)
  • Division from God (Genesis 3:24)

Cannibalism of marriage: the movement

A true saying is that, it takes two to tango.  It takes two to make the marriage work and two to break it down – but it only takes one to initiate divorce1.  In the past, when it was just our husbands that had the freedom to initiate divorce, the divorce rates2  were low.  However, when us wives got that same freedom, divorce rates skyrocketed3.

Unfortunately, it’s women that are leading the destruction of families – not men. (2 Tim 3:6-7)

When you listen to a marriage cannibal, you’ll end up distrusting God’s:

  1. Son (Hebrews 1:2)
  2. Message in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16)
  3. Power (Romans 4:17)
  4. Timing, and (2 Peter 3:8-9)
  5. Ability (Luke 1:37)

And you’ll believe that:

  1. The grace you’ve received from God through Christ is sufficient for your sin, but not for your husband’s. (Romans 3:21-26)
  2. The circumstances in your marriage are the exception and make your marriage harder than anyone else has ever experienced. So, therefore, you get a special dispensation of grace. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:12)
  3. Your husband’s problems are not fixable, even by the Creator of the universe. (Ephesians 3:20)
  4. Your sins are smaller than his, and God doesn’t have as much work to do in you as He does in your husband – he’s holding you back from a good life and you want to be happy now. (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11)
  5. Your life will be better without your husband. You have to depend on your own ability to make that happen instead of waiting for God to make it happen. (Isaiah 43:19)

SOUL-utions

  • We all need to talk to people about problems in our marriage from time to time. Choose wisely – choose one person.  Choose as a last resort.  Don’t choose a person as a replacement of the Holy Spirit, and if the advice doesn’t lead you to give the grace of Jesus Christ, choose someone else.
  • God tells us to test fruit and He encourages us to test Him. Check the source – what does her own marriage look like?  Examine the fruit in her marriage, she must be able to back it up with real experience.  If she doesn’t have fruit yet or the fruit is suspect, choose someone else.
  • After you’re done talking to her, do you hate your husband more? Or, love him more (or at the very least, hate him a little less)?  Have they thrown gas on the sparks so your anger and self-pity are escalating to a consuming fire that needs to be fed?  Or, have they helped you diminish the sparks by sprinkling the water of grace on them?  If not, choose someone else.

 

 

 


NOTES

  1. initiate divorce:  “… 70-75% of divorces were initiated by women […] and is a rising trend.” –Michelle Langley (Incidentally, her research is part of why and when I started following trends and information about marriage)  Her book is called, Women’s Infidelity, and was published in 2005.
  2. divorce rates:  according to the National Center for Health, 50% of marriages in the United States now end in divorce with 80 percent of the initiation filed by women.
  3. divorce rates skyrocketed:  “#25. Wives are the ones who most often file for divorce at 66% on average.” That figure has soared to nearly 75 percent in some years.

 

 

 

Grace Changes the Storyline

 

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We cheapen grace when it’s only received, but the value of grace is exponentially maximized when we give it away.  Grace will always change the storyline because it changes everything it touches, especially in marriage.  The closer the relationship the deeper the risk for pain, but this is how we bring the greatest results, for everyone.

Joseph changed his storyline the day he forgave his brothers (Genesis 37-50) when it was within his power to retaliate.  David changed his storyline by showing respect and kindness to an enemy that was trying to destroy him (2 Samuel 9), instead of going to war.

Jesus didn’t change our storylines so that we could take His grace and only receive it for ourselves, but rather so that we could share it with each other.  He gave us a real life demonstration at the cross of how this grace changes outcomes:  He showed us how to capitalize on it.

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THE POWER TO CHOOSE

Unity is the common thread that is weaved over every story where grace touches.  Grace bridges us from separation because of offence to unity and in the process makes us spiritual heroes in God’s eyes.

God gave me the power to change my own storyline from retaliation to forgiveness through the power that was bestowed on me when I received Grace.  Grace has a power that the world just doesn’t get.  It isn’t until you exercise it through giving it away that you can increase its strength and feel its empowerment.

I hear over and over again how difficult it is to step out of the euphoria of the wedding day into the reality where marriage is lived out.  I agree completely:  With some marriages, it is impossible to do – in human strength.  But when you bring a supernatural being into the picture, the view changes.

God has good plans for our marriages (Jeremiah 29:11), plans that we cannot even begin to understand (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Plans that He ordained from the beginning (Ephesians 2:10 ).  He knew all this before we were born (Psalm 139:16).  He then spends the rest of our lives renewing our minds (Ephesians 4:23) and changing our hearts (Romans 2:12) to come onside with His plan of grace.

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Adversity

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This analogy has a great application for marriages.  It’s only in the storms that weak spots are exposed.  When they are exposed the builder doesn’t scrap the whole ship as a failure and start over.  Rather, now that a weakness is exposed it can be fixed and made stronger.

The storms in marriages reveal weaknesses in both people, not failures; areas that are still unhealed, unhealthy and incomplete.  Every marriage is a one-flesh ship, so to speak, and will face storms.

Weakness or Failure?

The design of marriage is for support during weakness – not condemnation in failure.  Storms will happen, you can’t live in this world untouched by them.  The Message describes the world as squalid and polluted and it makes sense, Satan owns it.  So we need a ship-mate who’s got our back if we are going to make it through.

God chose you to be your husband’s wife the day you met him.  You agreed to be his team-mate on your wedding day and sealed the deal on your wedding night.  In this, God invites you in on His plan: to witness Him renew your husband’s mind and change his life.

It’s in these storms that God does His best work.  It’s in these storms that we get to demonstrate our authenticity of faith; whether the storm is a simple rain shower or one that reaches extreme levels of intensity that beat and pound against the hull of a marriage for years.

Victors Are Selfless

Sarah gives us an example of how to handle ourselves in a storm.  When Abraham requested that she allow herself to be taken into Pharaoh’s harem, she saw the request not as a failure of a husband but as a flaw that was being exposed.  The sin of fear that needed healing before it got any worse.  In her example we see that she didn’t:

  • Take it personally – she didn’t see it as an attack on herself, or
  • Make it her business to set him straight or fix the circumstances– she didn’t believe she could do a better job of healing him than God.

Her spiritual maturity is confirmed by her ability to put him first.  His emotional damage was obviously worse than hers, she was stronger.  She didn’t say, No way, Abe.  You are not going to drag me down with you just because you are afraid.  She knew he needed her strength and power, not her criticism, and used this opportunity to intercede for him rather than go on a faultfinding mission.

It appeared as though Abraham was giving up on her and their marriage by choosing himself over her:

[…] they will kill me, but they will let you live.

Sarah was able to rise above our human propensity for selfishness by choosing the view of her life in eternity rather than the view of what was temporarily happening.  We cannot look at people from an earthly perspective.  We are to look beyond ourselves and our circumstances.  She gave us the amazing example of living for someone else and Paul put it into words this way, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves.

We need to accept that we’ve married fallen sons of God, not angels and not saints; they are going to sin.  Sometimes that sin is going to spill into marriage … against a wife.  It’s not fair, but it’s going to happen.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it right, “We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”

There will be adversity so Paul tells us consequently:  Your husband has received the same Saviour you have.  Your sin is not less than his, just different; but forgiven equally.  Consequently, view him from God’s point of view:  in progress.

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Loophole

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Loophole:

an error in the way a law, rule, or contract is written that makes it possible for some people to legally avoid obeying it (merriam-webster.com)

I didn’t think of myself as a quitter, but when it came to our marriage I wasn’t so sure anymore.  Marriage had turned out to be more than I bargained for.  It was too hard and I wanted out.  There had to be a way, something I’d overlooked or read wrong that would give me the loophole I wanted.  Little did I know that in my search to get out of our marriage, I had inadvertently started a wrestling match with God.

It was in Matthew 19 that I saw a loophole forming, right there in verse 11:

Not everyone can accept this statement, only those whom God helps. 

And the more I thought about it the clearer it became …only those whom God helps.  Right.  If God was for this marriage it would be easier.  There would be peace.  I began to see hope.  Yes, divorce is a hard process but afterward, life would improve for everyone.  It had to be better than what we were presently experiencing.  I could see my loophole getting larger.

… Until God asked me if I was a eunuch.

Wait?  What? …. A what?

Have You Not Read?

When God asks you a rhetorical question, you just know He’s got your number.  We’ve seen this line of questioning before. Jesus did this with the Pharisees back in verse 4:

Jesus answered, Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female?

… have you not read …?  Obviously, they had read it – they were the religiously educated, Jesus knew that.  Yet, the intent of his question indicates they missed something. … just like I was missing something too.

I missed it because, like the Pharisees, I was looking for something that wasn’t there.  Fishing for an excuse, any excuse to twist God’s Word to my benefit.  Any excuse that says it’s ok to give up on marriage, on a spouse … on a person.

To challenge the Pharisees, Jesus began with an overview from way back in Genesis, as though they really hadn’t read from their own scriptures.  But before He could finish, they interrupted Him with another question.  Then the disciple’s interjected with a comment of their own.

Misfire From Both Sides

On the one side of Jesus, the Pharisees are saying they should be able to break the marriage contract whenever they choose.  And on the other side, the disciples are emphatic about not even venturing into a marriage if it’s going to be a covenant situation.  Both sides had different reasons but both groups were missing the bigger picture in order to avoid doing the hard work that marriage sometimes demands.

First:  The Pharisees want to be able to trade-in for a new partner:  Jesus tells them their focus is all wrong.  Their reasoning is that if they have all their Ts crossed and Is dotted through a contract of divorce, dissolving the marriage along with the contract is clean and tidy: sanitized.  The paperwork is all in order.  But Jesus wants them to look back further than their own relationships, beyond themselves, back to when marriage was established and grasp its original purpose:  Not a contract; rather, a covenant to stay together.  But they won’t have any of it, instead, they shot back in rebuttal:

“If that’s so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?”

Jesus tried to be a teacher and help them but they resisted with technicalities.  So He responds with more deliberate words, You are the stubborn, hardhearted ones to pursue divorce in the first place.  But if that weren’t enough Jesus pushes back with more, So you want to play hardball with technicalities?  I have a technicality for you.  You thought you could just divorce by saying your spouse cheated so you could find someone better?  It doesn’t work that way.  You want to leave your marriage?  Alright, but you cannot ever get married again because you will only bring your hardheartedness into another marriage.

WOAH-WAH

Apparently, there’s no trading in, or trading off.  Only trading out.  The technicality is too much for them, they got more than they bargained for.  They came out to play Jesus for the fool, but instead He bested them at their own game!  And they just quietly disappear before the end of the chapter.

And then:  The Disciples don’t even want to start without an escape clause.  Jesus recalls Genesis 2 in an effort to draw our attention to the original purpose of the male/female design of creation:  so that they would covenant in marriage.  No escape clause is the whole purpose.  Remaining single because there’s no escape clause goes against the intended design.  The only pure motive for choosing to not marry is to serve God.

At this point in the conversation, Jesus had turned his attention to the disciples and was directly addressing them.  The only people that don’t have the capacity to accept the covenant of marriage are eunuchs, everyone else does.

“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said, “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

I wasn’t a eunuch (as God rhetorically reminded me) which put me in the category of everyone else.  It applies to …everyone …else?  I didn’t like that very much.  “God, You’re not actually saying that it does apply to everyone else, are You?  Just that it doesn’t apply to eunuchs.”  OK, that was wrong, I knew it.  I had tried the same trick that Pharisees had: a technicality.

Although there was less confusion about my own heart, I was still disillusioned about our marriage. It didn’t seem fair.  What about him?  Why am I the one with the hard heart towards him?  I could feel God’s hand pull me out of my self-pity pit:  “No, it’s not Darrell you will become hard hearted towards … it’s Me.”

This was my game changer:  It’s not about my spouse and me, but God and me.

Accept it, if you can

If I left our marriage my faith would weaken because I wouldn’t have given God the chance to come through for me.  To demonstrate His power through me … through our marriage.

To leave Darrell would be to not trust God to work out all things in our marriage. Leaving him would also be saying to God that Darrell is such a lost cause that even the Creator of the universe isn’t able to do anything in him.  I would be saying that God is not able to finish the good work He started on our wedding day.

And if I didn’t trust Him in this area of my life, what would be the next area that I would withhold from Him?  And then the next?  God is everything He says or nothing at all.  I don’t get to pick and choose the areas of my life that He gets dominion over.

So.  I’m not a eunuch, clearly.  My only other choice was to seek a divorce with a hard heart towards God.  Or, stay in admittance that Christ’s teaching on marriage was for me to accept.

With that thought, my loophole vanished.

 

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Neglect

DRIFT

Neglect always leads to drifting.

There is no area of life where neglect is beneficial. Life – people – relationship: all require work. We were not built for static. Attending to – caring for – doing: We were built for activity.

PHYSICAL

  • Neglect to work out; your heart and muscles drift into weakness and atrophy
  • Neglect to eat right and your body drifts into poor health

MATERIAL 

  • Neglect your work you get passed over for promotions
  • Neglect to pay your mobile fee and your phone becomes useless

EMOTIONAL/MENTAL

  • Neglect to manage your emotions and your filters weaken
  • Neglect to keep your mind sharp and cognitive ability becomes dull

 Neglect = Drift = Dullness

Since all this is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away. –Heb 2:1

For this nation’s heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed, lest they see and perceive with their eyes, and hear and comprehend the sense with their ears, and grasp and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them. -Matt 13:15

Fat & Dull = Lazy listeners ‘ask for it’

We all have areas in which we have become lazy listeners that make us neglectful:  In what ways are you neglecting your marriage?

A phrase you hear repeatedly from your spouse can indicate an area of dullness. You can listen to God through your spouse or you can let regression continue. But God always corrects one way or another. Just like you as a parent wouldn’t allow one sibling to constantly take advantage the other; He won’t allow His chosen to become a family of spoiled brats that hurt each other through the inaction of neglect.

You either act through listening and hearing or God will give you the help you are begging for. (Heb 10:31)

 BEWARE OF THE BAIT

Resist the temptation to ask, “In what ways is my spouse neglecting our marriage.” God doesn’t ask us to account for each other. I won’t be held accountable for the actions and behaviours of my husband; only my own as a wife. (2 Cor 5:10)

Neglect is a tool of Satan’s that is intentionally deceptive so it can be quietly destructive.  Drifting is just a slower path than directly sinking; the destination is the same:  divorce – death of the marriage. In order to keep your marriage afloat and on course it must be driven, steered, worked and attended to.

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What Purpose Does a Godless Marriage Serve?

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In a recent post over at Return of Queens I responded with the following comment on Pills are for Sissies:  “Yes, generally speaking PUA’s. They take the natural design of the attraction in masc/fem and twist it into something it was never meant to be – a tradition of men. Female submission to male authority was never meant to be merely a tradition for men to use for their own ends (temporally while on earth). But had (and still does have) a much, much higher purpose in mind.”

QueenA invited me to expand my thoughts on that idea.  The post I submitted as a guest contributor is the elaboration of that comment.

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There’s many ways to label the role of husband and wife in marriage but basically what it boils down to is someone has to lead and someone has to follow.  Marriage is made to emulate Christ and the ethereal church.  It’s pretty straight forward that God is in this picture.

[ … ] To continue reading click over to Return of Queens.