Temptation and Rationalization
Sometimes people come into my office because they are battling with temptation in some area. Lately, it has occurred to me that a big part of such people's problem is that they are actually "tempting God" (Matthew 4:7). Climbing a mountain without reasonable preparation is one way we might tempt God. Viewing pornographic sites on the Internet is our weaknesses, tempt God to withdraw His protection.
You who are struggling in your marriage might tempt God by bailing out when that is not happy" or "God will forgive me" has been used to rationalize divorce. Rather, like Christ did, "submit (yourself)…to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you"
Therefore, let us not insist that others submit. Let us just practice it ourselves. Since submission, which Christ modeled when He went to the cross, is so central to the gospel, we may do it ourselves, to God and one another, and proclaim it to the world as part of the good news. Amen? Amen!
War and Peace
America has been in the battlefield recently. We do not live in a safe world. In fact, as reports of the atrocities of the Saddam Hussein’s government have come to light, we see that great evil exists in this world of ours. The end of the Cold War with its Soviet iron curtain, like the end of World War II with its Nazi Holocaust, did not bring permanent peace on earth, nor did it rid us of evil.
Robert Frost said, "I have it in me so much nearer home to scare myself with my own desert places." I find the literal "home front" the best place for us to win the war, win the peace, and overcome evil.
The biggest victory for America today would be the "turn(ing) the hearts of the fathers to their children" (Malachi 4:6) and, also, the hearts of husbands and wives to one another. As a poet said, "Let it begin with me."
They are used for advertising, on sports teams, and in poetry. They are also employed in marriage relationships. Certain things are symbolically important to your mate. For example, a man might be complaining that his wife does not return his advances of affection. But symbolically he might convey much more love if he pitched in when she needed help at something or perhaps just sat around and listened to her concerning some struggle with which she is dealing. On the other hand, a woman frustrated with her partner being somewhat of an absent husband and father might win his interest back by relating to his symbol sets. Perhaps it is symbolically important to him for her to participate in certain activities with him outside the home. Symbolic actions do matter and do make a difference.
The Couch Potato
"So he/she won't change. He/she is so mean with you and the kids. And you say he/she parks in front of the 'tube' from sunrise to sunset on days off. Well, you deserve better. No one should put up with that kind of abuse. You should take better care of yourself."
I suppose if I spoke the above, I would be some clients' dream. Finger pointing and the "blame game" is a favorite hobby in many family relationships. How much more difficult it is for the natural mind to "esteem others better than himself' (Philippians 2:3) and to lay down his life for others as Christ did (Philippians 2:8). That is why for cleansing, healing, and growth, it is vital for us to put on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). Then, obedience and kindness becomes a joy (Ephesians 6:6) and is actually easy (Matthew 11:30).
What are some good questions to ask a couple before they get married?
Here are a few:
1) What are your expectations of each other?
2) How many children do you want?
3) Should the wife work outside the home, and how much?
4) How do you want to handle the finances?
5) How well have the two of you done in resolving problems together?—
What are some examples?
6) What do you think about using credit and having debt?
7) What are your goals for spiritual life and practice in the home?
If an engaged couple tackles all the above questions and others relevant to them
successfully, they will have a much better chance at a good marriage than one that is rooted in romance alone. Romance is good. But so are practical problem solving skills, especially in seeking God's will as a couple together.
One Man, One Woman is Enough
Someone wrote me recently, asking the question, does the Bible endorse polygamy, that is, marriage to more than one spouse? Do not people have a predilection to have more than one partner? Is there not a biological basis for falling in and out of love. Well, actually, the Bible overwhelmingly promotes MONOgamy (one spouse). In fact, it is a chief analogy of the MONOtheistic (one God) emphasis in the scriptures, that which made Judaism originally distinct (Deuteronomy 6:4).
God is certainly singular in regards to the woman, and the man for that matter when He says in Genesis 2:24, “A man shall be joined to his wife.” Every translation affirms that notion. Even the New Testament recognizes it when Jesus says, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the TWO (not three or more) shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). Paul affirms Jesus’ words by stating, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (singular), and the TWO shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31).
God, indeed, made man to have a “predilection” for clinging to a single “helper.” Fallen man has twisted that predilection, making it short term. The “biological basis” for falling in and out of love is bogus, a function of man’s sin nature, and just as absurd as a biological basis for worshiping multiple gods such as wine, wealth, women, and power. Incidentally, I speak from personal experience. We have been married for over 30 years, and I love my wife with more passion and joy than when we were mere “children” as newlyweds.