fight satan

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?

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The Marriage Triangle: The One-Flesh Triangle

In Part 1, I explained how our marriage experienced trouble when we tried to fit into the template called, ‘the marriage triangle’.  That instead of simplifying marriage concepts, it had made it more confusing.

What we discovered was that the triangle paradigm is more realistically suited to all other relationships within the body of Christ, except the marriage.  So it’s better named, A Family Triangle:

Within every one of our relationships with other Christians, there are three separate interchanges going on:  1-Darrell has his own relationship with God.  2-I have my own relationship with God.  3-And then there’s Darrell and I, as brother and sister in Christ.

It’s relationship #3 that defines this as a Family Triangle instead of a Marriage Triangle, it could be with Darrell or any other brother or sister in Christ whether they are friends, neighbours, co-workers, cousins, etc.

When the triangle supports all other relationships, it can’t also express the one-flesh in marriage.  The one relationship that’s not interchangeable with any other:  The Covenant

The marriage covenant anchors

The Bible leaves no doubt that the Trinity is three in one,  Father, Son, and Spirit.  Within the Trinity, there’s a rich symbolism for marriage – a supernatural blending of multiples into a single:  God is three in One – marriage is two becoming one.

In marriage, people are not separated into 3 different relationships like in a Family Triangle – they’re joined.  God invites us to covenant with Him because He knows we’ll need His help to make it work.  We cannot become a thriving one-flesh relationship without His help because it’s a supernatural relationship.

The covenant holds us together as God begins the process of infusing two earthly people into a single unit:  One-Flesh, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31)

If you’ve anchored your marriage to God by His covenant, it begins and ends with Him.  He created it in the beginning, it’s His idea, it belongs to Him.  He doesn’t join your marriage … you join His marriage.

I think we forget how real that covenant is because we can’t see it.  Unlike the visible rituals of buying the government license at city hall and signing the certificate of marriage at the church, the covenant we make with God – even though unseen – is the real deal. As such, it has far more gravity.

I agreed to covenant with God in marriage through my role as a wife.  I made an agreement with Darrell too, but it’s a contract with another human, a natural being.  God’s covenant is super-natural and supersedes an earthly marriage contract.

At a glance, The One-Flesh Triangle makes the invisible visible and, if we’ve let God anchor us, we’re reminded of that gravity.  At that instant, when we need it the most – in the heat of conflict, frustration, hurt, anger (and sometimes even hate) … it can reset our hearts and minds back to what matters most:  not me, not Darrell – But God. His covenant matters most.

There are ups and downs in every marriage; some have more ups than downs and some go down further than others, but we all need a strategy to remind us of the purposes of marriage.  In the good times in marriage, no one needs a prompt.  But in the hard times, when our wedding day feels like a lifetime in the past … when marriage gets painful and it reaches that breaking point – when we start to think, “This is too hard,” the questions we needed to ask are, will I lean on my own strength or wait for God’s?  Am I going to put the human contract above my covenant with Him?  What’s more important?

SOUL-utions

  • Understand that your marriage is a completely different breed of relationship than all others found on earth; it can’t be treated the same.
  • Accept that your marriage is under tremendous strain from Satan. His main goal, since the day you got married, is to unravel your marriage by coming between the two of you so you’re separated.  He’s the ultimate predator and wants you alone – out of your one-flesh strength.
  • Believe in the realness of your covenant with God.  Trust Him with His own idea of marriage; trust Him with the role He assigned you as a wife.  Let this visual be a trigger to jolt you out of any emotions of hurt, back to the facts.

 

 

SARAH PART 2 – 21st CENTURY WIFE

If you missed Sarah Part 1 you can find it here.

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Peter encourages wives to take a look at Sarah.  While there are many women mentioned in the Bible, it’s only Sarah who’s called out by name and elevated to the position of mentor.  There can be a temptation to focus on her faux pas with Hagar, choose to resist it, in truth we all have areas of weaknesses that trip us up.  Besides, I don’t see that Peter’s intent was for us to focus on her weakness; he is calling attention to her strength as a wife.

God introduces her to us as Sarai the barren, (Gen 11:30) then she’s reintroduced as Sarah the queen. (Gen 17:15)  Peter continues her legacy in the NT by calling her our mother of faith and designates her as someone to emulate. (1 Peter 3:6)

SHE IS A REAL PERSON

In the past, I would read about Sarah and gloss over her because I just didn’t think she had any relevant information to give me.  I mean seriously, we live in two completely different worlds.  This was a mistake on my part; I couldn’t see that Sarah had skin on her (so to speak).  She wasn’t just a character in a book, but a real woman with hopes and fears … just like me.  It was too easy to sit and read her story, from our epicurean world, and conclude that it all worked out for the best; easy-peasy.

How unfair.  This woman was a powerhouse.

Sarah didn’t have the luxury of a Bible to study or verses to memorize in times of doubt nor a mp3 player to scroll down to her favourite worship song to encourage herself.  It wasn’t until I realized that it was just her and God, that I began to appreciate the true strength of her faith.

HER SECRET EXPLODES FOR US

The most awesome knowledge I learned from her, the most startling realization, was that her relationship with Abraham was dual:  Abraham was her husband and also her brother.  Their marriage serves as a powerful analogy for us who are married in the faith!

We know, in heaven there will be no male or female (Gal 3:28) but, in the here and now, we exist in the tension that is found between temporal and Kingdom living.  If we are non-believers our marriage is framed by the temporal.  BUT if we are believers, the marriage has an added dimension:  it is eternal as well.

Abraham articulates this dual relationship as a defence for his shrewdness when he’s speaking to Abimelech,  But indeed she is truly my sister.  She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

I don’t like what Sarah had to walk through, but I do LOVE her courage and trust.  It makes sense that Peter shines a light on her.  She doesn’t panic and frantically look to jump off the crazy train.  Quite the opposite.  Like the stately queen she is, she sits down and buckles herself in.  Expectantly waiting to see what GOD does.

AND FOR US?

In a way, we also live in dual relationships.  Earthly, I am a wife.  Yet spiritually Darrell and I share the same Father, I am also a sister.

Pushing into this powerful analogy from Sarah  I am left with a choice as to which lens I will view my marriage through.

The temporal lens:  Is the short-sighted view that sees only in the present of approximately 100 years.  It sees  in terms of how good can I make it for me now.  How will this affect my life now?  It draws focus to painful circumstances in the marriage that human strength simply cannot bear.  The times of abasing.  It demands that I come to my own rescue, for my own self, with my own ideas and resources instead of waiting for God.

There is no hope for the future.

But with the spiritual lens:  The view sees long into the future.  It is broader.  Stronger.  Higher.  There is room to breathe in hope and trust in God’s complete power over everything instead of my own puny control.  The vision for abounding in marriage can only be made by stepping off the present, into the future, with that higher love.  Love of brother brings God into the picture and with Him comes power, strength and hope.

Love of brother is how Sarah handled Abraham with such gentleness in spite of his request. Instead of viewing him as an adversary because of his human weakness, she chose to be strong in spirit so that it would go well for him.  She knew God would make a way for her where there wasn’t one. (Matt 19:26 & Is 43:19)

CLARITY

  • My husband is my primary brother, all that God asks me to do applies to this brother.  Kingdom living doesn’t exclude a brother because is a husband, I don’t get to pick and choose whom I will or will not serve in the body.  You are a servant of all … or you are not, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all [in importance] and a servant of all.” (Mk 9:35)
  • Far from being a wimpy wife Sarah’s courage elevates the bar of marriage to its proper level, restoring it with honour.
  • Sarah’s action as a wife pushed her marriage far beyond the grasp of any demon.

 

SARAH PART 1 – WARRIOR WIFE

Live with the complete confidence toward God that He will take all things in your marriage and work them together for good.  (Rom 8:28)

Heroines inspire greatness in us, we love them.  Especially ones that are spotlighted in our visible world.  Think: Joan of Arcadia, and Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side.  Even in fiction what woman doesn’t admire Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, in The Help.

But in Sarah, we find a different kind of heroine.

pink 6aaaab

She possessed all the heroic traits, she was:  Tenacious, Daring, Courageous, and Bold, yet they were funnelled in a different direction.  The problem we have with this heroine is that she’s very counter-cultural.

Sarah calls wives to a subversive fight that is played out on an unseen battlefield; her war is in the spiritual realm.  Her success had effects that not only reached beyond the circumstances she was experiencing in her own marriage but also into the generations of her lineage that would give us our Saviour.  Talk about the butterfly effect.  Where would Abraham have landed if she had responded, No, you do this yourself, I won’t help you.  What about the Nation of Israel; what about US!

I love that the complete conversation between Abraham and Sarah wasn’t recorded … some things between a husband and wife are just too intimate for sharing.  Did she argue or belittle Abraham because of his fear?  I doubt that she did.  I think Abraham knew his wife and he knew he could be vulnerable with her.  Notice he didn’t ORDER her to obey …. He requested it.  How much he must have trusted her to make this request.

Tenacious and Daring

Sarah lived her life towards what God would do.  She was a tenacious hunter of demons.  Abraham asked her to trade her safety and well-being for his own.  This takes a daring woman.  Satan came at her through the weakness in Abraham’s flesh:  his fear.

Courageous

Sarah had no guarantee of what was in her future, all she knew was that her husband was asking for her courage.  And in Sarah’s corner we have …

No church

No 10 commandments

No Bible

No spiritual books

No protection

Just her, God and a story handed down from 20 generations ago.  Talk about a determination of faith!

Boldness

Paul talks about times of abasing and abounding, surely this type of struggle in marriage would be one of abasing.  Satan threw his best shot at her and instead of cowering in a victim mentality or protesting about how sinful Abraham’s fear was, she boldly turned, squared herself against Satan and respond positively to Abraham’s request:  HOOYAH

Isn’t she amazing?  I can’t help but get the feeling that Sarah calls to us from the past saying:

“Look at me.  I am a warrior and am ready!”

 

My mouth … my marriage ~ June 19, 2013

PRAYER

I pray for growth in humility and ask that You teach me by putting my husbands wounds ahead of my own.  You know it all God, everyone one of us has baggage from the assaults of Satan, but You Lord, know exactly what they are and where they came from.  Help us to be strong where the enemy has thwarted our husbands.  I know Satan wants to make fodder out of marriage but with Your strength he can be conquered.

When our flesh baits us to complain about our husbands and expose weakness, Lord build in us resistance, reveal the heart – the healed and whole heart  that You see.  By Your Spirit we won’t hunt for our own advantage by pushing our husbands down.

Thank You for creating wives in such power, show us when that power is needed so that we can come to the rescue and fight Satan.  Train us to use that power for the benefit of our husbands and not seek it for ourselves, I know You will do the exalting if we humble ourselves before you.  Amen

 

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