Today I’ve responded to a couple of phone calls and several emails on issues regarding marriage. Allow me to address a couple of items with boldness:
Words are important! This foolishness of referring to one’s spouse as “the husband” or “the wife” on Facebook and in conversations must cease. Using “my wife” or “my husband” communicates respect and a deep commitment to the other. The terms we use should differentiate us from those who cheapen marriage by their crass talk.
Ministry is NEVER more important than marriage. A holy vow of matrimony before God and witnesses always takes priority over a call to ministry. There is no grey area. It is straightforward and clear. Your marriage and family are far more important than your ministry. Yes, God expects you to walk away from ministry rather than violate a vow and bring hurt and harm to your spouse and family. (Failure to do so may indicate that ministry has become an idol.)
There is no such thing as a “bad marriage.” A marriage might be difficult but the covenant between a husband and wife and God cannot be bad. By its very nature it is sacred, a trust to be guarded, cultivated, and deeply cared for. That may require a great deal of effort and discipline.
Feelings cannot always be trusted. Lois and I were married for 34 years and 26 days. Did I always “feel” in love? No. But I learned that actions often come before feelings. Our media-saturated culture presents a totally false view of marriage. Base your loving actions toward your spouse on Scripture and models of Christ-centered marriages.
Sexual fulfillment comes from self-control, self-discipline, and self-sacrifice. Always. This is true before marriage, in marriage, and after a marriage ends – either in the death of a spouse or divorce. In other words, sexual fulfillment is not about you.
Get help. Challenges are a natural part of relationships; especially in marriage. When those challenges seem overwhelming, do not hesitate to ask for help. Seeking advice from a counselor and/or spiritual director is not a sign of weakness but of strength and maturity. (If you don’t know where to turn, contact me. I’ll help identify someone in your area within 48 hours.)
Please excuse the harsh tone of these words. It can be blamed on me being tired, frustrated, lonesome for Lois (we would’ve celebrated her 60th Birthday today), or just cranky – or all of the above! Mostly I am very concerned about the number of marriages under attack and families with unusual stress. Please be assured that I am praying for you!