Sunday, May 06, 2012

Anything is Possible for Your Marriage


This morning at Celebration, Larry asked me to tag team with him to do a question and answer as part of our new series, "Anything is Possible." The theme today was marriage and the following are the questions that were asked, and my answers to them.

What was the biggest surprise you had about marriage? 

 How difficult it is. I have heard people say, “love should be easy…” Not always. We have a lot of fallacies about love, and one is that it’s always easy but if that is true why does the bible give a whole bunch of advice about loving people when they aren’t necessary loveable?  

I don’t think anyone realizes before they get married how little of a feeling there will be sometimes, and how much they will have to stay committed to do the right thing.

Some people almost worship their feelings. Some people think when they feel something they must do what it takes to make that feeling better…to attend to it, sometimes even to baby it.
When we do what’s right even when we feel wrong, we are growing spiritually.

Stop avoiding hard things.

“It’s hard to be the one to forgive…”
“It’s hard to be the one to make the first move in my marriage…”
“It’s hard to keep going when people treat me this way…”

Wake up. A lot of life is hard. And you will miss out on a lot of what God has for you if you go by your feelings! 

So much of a Christian's journey is making a decision, and following through especially when you don't feel like it.

What do you see as some of the biggest threats or challenges to marriages today? 

False expectations especially through the rise of pornography. In the past if someone wanted to access porn they had to go to a store and buy it. This would mean getting in the car, driving to the store, facing a store employee, and making  a purchase in public.

Many people wouldn't take that risk.

Years ago we didn't face as much pornography addiction in the church as we do now. This is because internet access has made it so easy. Many women are downloading erotica on their Kindle or Nook and reading without anyone but themselves and God knowing. 

We know it’s wrong but it also creates so many side issues in relationships – specifically some things I see that really cause issues: 

  •    Everything revolves around outer appearance
  •    Much of porn is one sided – not much in it for women, quite frankly. The women in porn look like they’re enjoying it. The fact is there’s not much in it at all that is pleasurable for women.
  •    Previous porn images become their “go to” – their “favorites” - Even if a person breaks free from watching pornography they have those images in their mind and often within marriage they will call those scenes up or go to those acts with their spouse as first choices of things to do – makes the relationship much more about accomplishing sexual feats than connecting body, soul spirit – there is a big difference between having sex and making love.    

I see this as a huge threat to oneness and the fulfillment in a marriage. 

Even if you have been delivered and no longer watch porn, please don’t hold your spouse to those expectations that were developed through porn!

How important have values and standards been for your marriage and household?
 
Extremely important, and we have had to hold to those standards no matter what our family or friends thought, which was sometimes hard.

Joshua 24:15 says, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

It takes a lot of guts to draw a line in the sand and say, “this household serves the Lord. Period. That’s the way we do it around here."  I always say that to raise a family successfully you better have a good set of ear plugs and blinders for your eyes because you will have to continually block out what others say.

With all the Christian teachings and resources out there, are you surprised that many Christian marriages have so many challenges today?

No, I'm not surprised. Some teaching sounds good or even makes common sense in some regard but it’s not biblical. I know that a lot of the time improvements will be short lived  when people say they picked up a book at the Christian bookstore or they are going to a conference. This is because we don’t realize how conditioned we are in western world Christianity to believe certain things. The model of Christian Man/Christian Woman, Husband/Wife, Mother/Father that is upheld by many Christian books and conferences and teachings doesn’t exist in the Bible. 

Women come to me and tell me they want to be the Christian wife or mother the Bible commands them to be. I say, "describe that for me" but when they do I don't find what they are describing are biblical commands, but rather cultural Christian expectations. What they share with me is often times an unbalanced and in many cases unbiblical view that causes confusion and resentment and although anyone can live that way short term it doesn’t work for the long haul.

Let me say that most of these resources if not all come from a point of wanting to help people. The motivations are right, but the outcome isn’t lasting. 

Most of the time when I question people about biblically incorrect or unbalanced views and ask them to provide scripture they say that it’s just how they were raised, how their original family operated, what their first pastor taught them, or say it just makes sense to them. But none of those things make something biblical. And when we’re not lining up with the Word it won’t last.

What do you see as the main thing that stops couples from achieving goals? 

Selfishness. Unwillingness to work together for the good of each other, and each person in the family.

If you had to boil it down to just one thing a person needs to be successfully married, what would that be? 

 Unselfishness. 

Marriage is an everyday exercise in getting over yourself.

Philippians 2:1-5
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ  had.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…

Homes will always be out of order where selfishness is not under control – the Bible says this.

James 3:16
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  

The theme this morning is, "Anything is Possible for Your Marriage." What is one last thought that you have concerning this? 

Anything is possible and prayer is a huge part of that for me. 

Statistics show that while one of every two couples divorce, only one out of every 1,150 couples who prays together will get divorced.  The biggest change in my marriage has come about through allowing myself to be changed by God, and praying  a LOT.

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