For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, May 9, 2011

What in the World is Going On?

All right, I’ll admit it. I’m a bit down, confused, depressed, discouraged…pick your adjective. In the last few months we’ve been dealing with way too many friends, church members, fellow ministers who are dealing with devastating issues in their marriages. Two fellow pastors are facing divorce. Several of our church families are having major crises in their marriages. Hence the question: What in the world is going on?

And just as I’m trying to get my mind around this seemingly heightened attack from the enemy against the foundational institution of marriage, I read this article from Dr. Al Mohler in which he shares the report of one “expert” who is touting the demise of marriage as an institution. You’ll really have to go and read the article. Some of what this guy says is just jaw dropping for anyone with any sense of morality or biblical faithfulness.

Which is really the whole point. This whole thing is just jaw dropping to me. OK, the “death of marriage” coming from worldly, sinful, godless people is hardly a shock. We’ve been heading for that little cliff edge or some time, and we’re now starting to feel the pebbles begin slipping into oblivion. I get that. I’ve said repeatedly that we shouldn’t expect unconverted people to behave in any other way except as unconverted people. So maybe I should pick my jaw up there.

But when we’re dealing with the marriages of people who claim to know Christ, who have been supposedly walking with Him for decades, in some cases have been in ministry for decades; I’m sorry, the jaw on the floor is going to have to stay. What in the world is going on?

Of course, I think my answer can be found in the question. In most, if not all, of the situations I’m personally aware of the problem comes from that phrase “in the world.” There is too much worldliness in our marriages, in our families, in our homes. Hearing the issues involved in some of these marriage issues, it’s nothing more than the result of having been bombarded with the world’s messages of what “success” and “happiness” and “personal fulfillment” are all about.

Too often, my Christian friends, we spend more time in the world, hearing the world’s ideas, being subtly swayed by a secular worldview that comes through our workplaces, our friendships, our entertainment, etc. And we spend too little time in the Word, listening to God’s ideas, being swayed by a biblical worldview that is supported by our friends, our entertainment, etc. After awhile, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when we start to think like the world.

In nearly all of the situations I’ve been involved in, a desire for biblical faithfulness is thrown out the window in favor of being “happy” or “fulfilled.” I’ve even heard the idea that “God wouldn’t want me to continue living in an unhappy relationship like this.” God save us!

Folks, marriage wasn’t our idea to begin with. We don’t have the freedom to throw it out, to change the parameters of what it means, or anything else. God created marriage to be a portrait of the relationship between Himself and His people. We see that all through Scripture, but especially clearly in Ephesians 5 where Paul directly states this truth.

Now, given that, let’s do a little rethinking. God has entered a covenant relationship with us. Yes, with us: sinful, selfish, faithless people. We fail to live up to that covenant in so many ways (do I really need to remind you of Israel’s history here?). Ask yourself, is God “happy” and “fulfilled” when we repeatedly turn our backs on Him, thumb our noses at His Word, live more for the harlot of the world than for our faithful Spouse? And yet we’re willing to throw our own marriages away for some worldly ideas about what happiness entails. WAKE UP!

Yes, I’m yelling. I’m frustrated. I’m grieved. I’m overwhelmed by the sinful hearts and actions of those who are supposed to love Christ and seek holiness. I know we all still sin. I know we’re not perfect, and all of that. But folks, this isn’t some game. Our marriages are supposed to be sacred covenants. What are we telling our children about commitment, about covenants, about even our covenant with God when we so easily turn our backs on those things by our actions?

I know this is just a rant. But I don’t apologize. We need to rant about this. We need to go to our brothers and sisters in Christ and show them the seriousness of their sin, and the grief they are causing their families, their church families, and yes, even God Himself.

And maybe more practically, I want to shout to all of you out there (or should I say both of you who read this). Protect your marriages! Get in the Word and out of the world. Don’t fall for the lie that a little of this and a little of that won’t hurt. Don’t walk along that edge of sin and temptation thinking you won’t fall off. It can happen to you.

Love your wives, men. Honor them. Serve and sacrifice for them. Seek their good above your own. Not just when things are good. Not just when they are making you happy. Do it because God commands it.

Ladies, submit to your husbands in a biblical way; honoring and respecting them. Love and serve them. Seek their good above your own. Not just when things are good. Not just when they are making you happy. Do it because God commands it.

It’s time the church stood up and made this a bigger priority. It’s time we stop looking the other way and just saying “oh, that’s just the way it is these days.” Stop it! If people don’t hear it from the church, they won’t hear it at all.

And pray. Oh, for all that’s holy, pray! Pray for your wives, men. Pray for your husband, ladies. Pray for the marriages in your church. Pray for your friends and family. Pray that this assault from the enemy would be stemmed, and the foundation of the family would again be made strong. Pray for hearts to be drawn back to Christ, for His honor and glory. And pray for yourselves, that God would keep you from falling into these same traps. God save our families.


Gregg Metcalf said...

Excellent post brother. Until we can bring our marriages to a theo-centric dynamic rather than an ego-centric dynamic, marriages will fail. Don't forget brother, there are many tares and rocky ground professors in the church today because of a failure to dispel such things as "receive Jesus, pray the sinners prayer, try God, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life", and other false peddlings of the gospel. Paul told the Thessalonians very clearly that if they refused the admonitions in 4:1-7, then they disregarded God. I know I know, but you don't know their faith and I was there when I prayed with them... those who are his persevere to the end.

It breaks my heart that those who name the name of Christ will disregard and despise God for self pleasure or self-will. I am with you. My heart breaks with you.

Your admonition is much needed and very timely.

Persis said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head. Even in Christian circles, marriage is more about happiness and fulfillment than keeping covenant. Also if you're looking for a loop hole, it's easy to find a "Christian" author who will back your desire to "follow your heart" at the expense of your marriage vows.

This is first hand experience after nearly 14 years of marriage to a professing believer who was serving in the church. He followed "his heart" in pursuing a relationship with an unbelieving married woman and now believes their marriage is God's blessing.

May God have mercy and bring us back to the standard of His word.