I am on my soap box today. Today we had guest speakers in our Sunday school class to speak about marriage and family. As usual, I found myself underwhelmed with their “advice.” While I certainly appreciated their testimony and believe they have awesome hearts for God, I was really disappointed with the messages they left with our class. At first, I was really upset with them, but as I thought about it through the day, I realized that these are common issues that I have with marriage discussions in the Christian evangelical community. The messages that I routinely get from Christian sources are as follows:
1. Ladies, meet your husband’s *needs*, even if you are tired.
2. Husbands, take out the trash sometimes (sub-text – you are more likely to get in her pants if you do so).
(Sidenote, who are these men we are married to? Are they animals? And are we women really this tired? I don’t accept the premise.) If this is all there is to marriage, I don’t need to read another book or hear another talk on marriage. I’ve got it. I am being sassy, but seriously, you have a room full of young married couples (or a book contract), and this is the best you can come up with? Is this really what marriage boils down to – stereotypical, sit-com relationships and quick fixes (i.e. if you talk to each for 20 minutes a day, you will have a great marriage)? I’m going to lose my lunch.
I attend a class full of young married couples. There are people who are brand new to marriage, couples who have a good 5 years under their belt, couples with new babies and toddlers. These are hard years. These couples have real struggles. There are couples in the class struggling with illnesses, family strife, unemployment, infertility, miscarriages, infidelity, etc. These are not problems that are solved with quick fixes.
Recently, we were struggling through a big decision. DH had a plan, and I didn’t like it. As I thought through it, the only reason I didn’t like it was that I was afraid. Afraid to trust him that it would work out. The Lord spoke to me in that instant. He said to me, this is your husband. Do you not trust him with your life? Isn’t it better to trust him and have it not work out than to stay in your safe place and ignore the gift that I have given you in him? The answer was obvious. I trust God. God gave me my husband. God is in control and will never leave or forsake me. Moreover, he commanded that I love my husband as I love myself and to submit to him. Submitting means trusting. Jesus submitted to God the Father when he went to the cross. Jesus trusted the Father’s Word, putting aside his own authority to give glory to the Father. In the same way, God has called me to put aside my own authority and to trust my husband. A small example, but the point is that God cares deeply about our marriages and wants to use them for his glory. We aren’t treating marriage with the respect it deserves when we boil it down to these self-held strategies that don’t address the real issues.
I know there’s a place for these common sense marriage strategies. They aren’t worthless. We’ve used those tricks from time to time. But I can’t help but want more for myself and for these other couples. We need real encouragement, and we need to be pointed to Christ in our marriages. We need the gospel. It’s not really about love and respect. It’s about loving Christ and loving others.
[If you are looking for *real* marriage help and want to read something other than the Bible, I highly recommend What did you expect? by Paul David Tripp.]