Thoughts from the “Marriage Manual”

This week marks the Gardner Church of Christ’s spring gospel meeting, and it is off to a spectacular start. Keith Mosher, the guest speaker and a teacher at the Memphis School of Preaching, is just a wonderful speaker. Words can’t even describe. He’s conversational, engaging, funny and relevant. He doesn’t talk “at” you or “over” you like so many preachers do; he talks TO you and makes you think. Seriously, when a preacher can talk for an hour and fifteen minutes, and you don’t even notice, that’s when you know you’ve got a good one.

Last night he spoke of marriage and brought out a few points from Matthew 19:3-6; and Ephesians 5:21-31.

First of all, leaving aside the fact that marriage is stated to be between one man and one woman and can only be scripturally ended by death or adultery (since those are a whole other ballgame), Mr. Mosher started with Matthew 19:5, where Jesus is speaking on marriage and says, “…For this cause (meaning marriage) shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (King James Version).

As Mr. Mosher pointed out, and as so many of us have already observed in society, the adolescent phase of life is getting longer and longer. Instead of children becoming adults at 20 or 21, they are now waiting to really grow up until 25 (women) and 27 (men). They are getting their degrees and then moving back in with mom and dad to finish growing up. They are not being taught to be adults on their own in the world. This contributes to the high percentage of failed marriages these days, because in many cases you essentially have two children getting married and then having no idea how to run their own homes.

People don’t seem to know what it is to “leave father and mother” anymore. I totally agree with Mr. Mosher when he said that “the husband is to be the protector and the wife is to be a supporter in A NEW HOME.” If you’re getting married and then moving back in with mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa or whoever, maybe you should have waited to get married. Whether it’s a maturity issue or a money issue, it doesn’t really matter. If you don’t have the money saved to support a new home, then you should still wait. Now of course, there are obvious, temporary reasons where this might be acceptable. Maybe you’re moving, maybe the house is being remodeled, maybe your husband is deployed and you’re expecting a baby so you move home to get help with the pregnancy – makes perfect sense! But these are all temporary situations.

(This also applies to in-laws and parents being involved in the new home. STOP IT! To all you parents out there who want to make your married child’s decisions and “help” run his or her home – get out of it! That is not the biblical way, and you, regardless of how well-meaning you may be, are disrupting God’s design for their new marriage. [And no, I’m not talking about my own parents and in-laws. You guys are great.])

Mr. Mosher’s second point was the idea of “cleaving to his wife” (or husband, as the case my be). Couples are to be each other’s best friends, closest companions and first resource. The marriage relationship comes even before the children, because you train the children to leave the nest, but you will always have each other. How sad to get all the children out of the house and then look at your spouse (notice, not “partner”) and realize you have nothing in common.

Moving in Ephesians 5: Wives are commanded to be subject to their own husbands. This does not include other men, only the one you married. There is no commandment that a woman is to be in subjection to the whims of the man down the street who thinks he’s better than you because he has a Y chromosome. Ignore that man. He’s got bigger problems. Marriage is structured this way so that it will function properly, because “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church…” (verse 23). Many women take this offensively, with the attitude of “Why should I have to listen to a stupid man?” Well, if you thought he was stupid, why did you marry him?

Men actually have it harder, because they are commanded in verse 25 to “love (their) wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Wives are told to give their husbands the last word, but husbands have to be willing to die for their wives. Now, ladies, which would you rather be? There is no commandment in scripture that wives be ready to die for their husbands. Personally, I think this is because God understands that men are oftentimes difficult to live with and do not always live up to what we wives hope they will be. It’s a reminder to men that, while wives are to be subject, they (the husbands) cannot lord themselves over their wives and exalt themselves to a position of infallibility.

Mr. Mosher’s last two points came from verse 33: “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” He talked about how women, because of the way we are wired, need to hear that we are needed by our husbands; women need to be told how much we are appreciated for our daily efforts in the marriage and the home and whatever else. Men, on the other hand, need to be “reverenced.” Many women hear this word and see themselves physically bowing down to their husbands, and reject the idea. (Of course! Who wouldn’t?) But, that’s not what that means. In this context, it means “respect.” Wives should respect their husbands, not only in words but in deeds; not making fun of him or bringing him down, letting him know he is a good provider for his family, etc. This really shouldn’t be so difficult. If you don’t respect him, why did you marry him?

(Also, if you were just planning to “change him,” why did you marry him?)

 

So, in summary:

  • One man, one woman, NEW HOME.
  • Parents and in-laws, stay out of it.
  • Wives subject to own husbands.
  • Husbands be willing to die for your wife.
  • Tell your wife you need her.
  • Tell your husband he is good at what he does.
  • Don’t marry him if you’re just wanting to “change him.”

 

Thoughts? Comments? Opinions? Have you ever had to move in with your parents or in-laws? How did that work out?

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I Don’t Know Much, but I Do Know Some

“Nut House” has had 70 visits on its busiest day. Most weeks I spike around 50-60 visitors on Monday with new posts and trickle down throughout the week.

            But I’ve become increasingly aware lately that my readership is much larger than that – including grandparents, coworkers of my in-laws and church members who read printed rather than online versions.

            And I hope those 50-60+ visitors continue to read regardless of content, because this week I’m going to take a short break from the newlywed theme and address a few things I don’t know and a few things that I do.

            I don’t know why the Lord permits bad things happen to good people. I don’t know why a young mother in the prime of her life, with two young boys and a fabulous husband, has stage four colon cancer and has called in hospice. I don’t know why someone who has never smoked a day in his/her life can suffer long years with emphysema. I don’t know why deserving couples can’t have children and crack addicts can have multiples.

            Now for what I do know.

            I do know that the Lord loves us all and that nothing can separate us from that (Romans 8:35, 38-39). I do know he wants everyone to spend eternity with Him in heaven (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

            BUT, I also know that we must play by the rules. We can’t just pick and choose which areas we like and throw out the ones we don’t. We can’t say, “I think God would like this because. . . .” If the Lord had wanted full-fledged concerts in His worship He would have added “electric guitars” to Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 when he commands us to worship Him with “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” He didn’t need to wait for electric guitars to be invented – He knew they were coming.

            So many people want to turn the situation around and say that those who “judge others” for being homosexual are the ones who anger God because of their intolerance. No, we should not judge people from our own hearts because we are not perfect ourselves and must avoid hypocrisy. Yes, we must reach out to all people because all souls are worth the same. But when I tell you that homosexuality is a sin, it’s not me that judges you – it’s God. It’s the many instances when He specifically lists homosexuality as an “abomination.” I didn’t write that. He did.

            Christians must belong to Christ – to the church that belongs to Him. He bought it with His own pain and suffering and does not deserve to be pushed aside in favor of any man. The church of the Lord was not founded by Joseph Smith (Galatians 1:6-9). It was not established by the Nicene Creed in the 4th century. It did not include a catalog of special prayers or a crowd of men wearing tall white hats deciding what sin is and is not. If we needed extra books or extra creeds the Lord would have provided them.

            When the Lord sends a soul to Hell for disobedience that does not mean He does not love you. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. But parents punish their children – who they love – when they are disobedient and unruly. Thus will the Lord, our Father, punish those who disobey. None of us will be able to stand before Him on judgment day and say “Well I thought. . .” and reason our way out of the punishment we have earned. Not just been given – but earned. All those who end up in Hell will have earned that position. Scary thought, huh?

            Now for something else I know.

            I know this is not a religious column. But I also know that while that may not be the main focus of this blog, it should not be something I purposely avoid. I know that “political correctness” is a tool of Satan to silence those who carry the truth. I have the greatest of friends, the finest of coworkers and the most beloved of family members who would be lost if the world ended today. I know that and it eats at my heart that I have not done more to show them their separation from God.

            Why are certain topics taboo at family gatherings? Why do we not tell those we love that they are wrong? It’s because we are afraid to lose them. I don’t want to lose them. But at the same time, if I see them in Heaven one day it will make up for never speaking to them again in this life. This is hard to accept, but it must be accepted.

            I expect comments and controversy. I expect to be told that I am wrong and hateful. But I also expect each and every person who responds to provide me with scripture to back up your “I think” or “Well we believe.” Prove me wrong. Show me it’s ok to walk your own path. Show me an example where the Lord has ever accepted someone into Heaven who was “a good person” but not an obedient, baptized Christian. Only the Lord knows the heart of a man, and only the Lord can judge us. But He also provides us with instructions. He knows when we willfully decide to lay them aside and we will be held accountable for them all, even those we do not choose to acknowledge.

I struggle with my own demons and I fail my Lord in countless ways each and every day. I am just as much in danger of falling as anyone else. I am not claiming to be beyond the influence of sin; to make such a claim would not only be a lie but would make God a liar as well, since he has said that “every man has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

            One day we will ALL have to face the music. We will ALL kneel before the Lord, whether you believe in Him or not. Those who do not live in obedience will be lost. So I ask you now, why should you be the exception?