Category Archives: Marriage

Weaker Equals

Women are weaker than men.  I know, you’re not supposed to say that out loud and I realize there are some women stronger than some men.  But in general, women are weaker.  If you don’t realize women have certain differences in how they have been designed, you have not been paying sufficient attention.   BUT…  weaker does not mean lesser.  That’s why Peter writes:

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.  (1 Peter 3:7)

Instead of belittling a wife who is weaker, a husband is to treat her with understanding and honor.  Understanding because she may not be able to lift that end of the sofa.  Honor, because she is not lesser in her weaker make up.  I own a guitar and a case for it.  The case is stronger than the guitar and is used to protect it.  When I play music, I have discovered that the case doesn’t sound as good as the guitar.  The guitar makes beautiful music precisely because it was designed to be weaker.  Weaker is not lesser.

Moreover, Peter reminds husbands that their wives are equals.  They are heirs of God’s grace, just as their husbands are.  Weaker is not lesser, it’s just different.  Different but equal.

But, what’s all this about mistreating a wife hindering prayers?  When we pray to God, we ask Him to treat us in ways we do not deserve.  We cannot ask God for grace while at the same time failing to treat our wives with the honor and respect they do deserve.  They may be weaker, but they are equal.

PS – Having witnessed the delivery of my children, I have seen that women are stronger than men in some amazing and necessary ways!

Just sayin’….

Seasons

If you want to write a hit song for Millennials, here’s how (that is, according to a joke I saw recently):  First you start with some banjo.  Then all the musicians shout “Hey!”   The body of the song should contain complaints about life by Millennials.  Then another “Hey!”  Finish with a bit more banjo, played faster and fading out.  Like any good joke, it’s an exaggeration based on a bit of truth.  And the truth is, young people tend to complain when things aren’t going the way they hoped.  And write songs about it.  It’s not just Millennials.  My generation did it back in the 60’s.  “I’m just a man of constant sorrow. I’ve seen trouble all my days.”  We sang that with earnest looks, even though our “days” were just getting started.

But, spend time with an old farmer, someone who has struggled through the ups and downs of a tough life, and you’re much more apt to hear a fiddle tune than a bunch of complaining.  The farmers I have known are well acquainted with the fact that life ebbs and flows through good times and bad, and that complaining only makes it worse.  In fairness to Millennials, their generation is also known for a desire to “keep it real.” And in time, by “keeping it real,” they will be known for patient acceptance of life’s various seasons.  Because those seasons are real.

Perhaps the most famous section of Ecclesiastes are these next verses.

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Try to identify exactly which of these seasons you have experienced and when.  Call to mind any of the ways you experienced God’s influence and care during them.

For Men Only

File this under “Things I Wish I Had Known.”  I wish I had understood what this meant when I was first married:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  (Ephesians 5:25-28)

I’ve heard sermons on how Jesus “gave Himself up for” the church and how husbands should adopt that attitude, but never one that continues on to explain how the “to make her holy, cleansing her…” and “…to present her to Himself …  holy and blameless” pertains to marriage.  What’s that all about?  I wish I had someone sit me down as a young man and explain all that in an understandable way.

Let’s start with this:  When you hire a babysitter, your deepest hope is that he or she will take care of your child with all the love and care you would.  You entrust your child into the sitter’s care.  When you enter into marriage, God entrusts you with the love and care of His precious daughter.  And she has been brought up in a world that is awash in distorted ideas about what it means to be a woman.  Even if she is not one of the one-in-seven girls who is sexually abused as a child, she has been bombarded with destructive lies about what makes a woman attractive and valuable.   Part of a husband’s role and responsibility is to treat his wife with honor and respect, protecting her and gently cleansing away those twisted attitudes.  To do so involves some “giving himself up.”  But the end result is marriage with a real woman, who knows her full value, instead of one who desperately tries to measure up to unrealistic “performance” standards.

As we eventually discovered, the payoff is worth it.

28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  (Ephesians 5:28)

 

Faithful

“Stuff that works, stuff that holds up The kind of stuff you dont hang on the wall  Stuff thats real, stuff you feel  The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall ” 

 That’s from a great song by Guy Clark, about things that don’t let you down.  You go to use a tool, or start a motor and the tool doesn’t slip or break and the motor starts – reliably.  You can count on it.  Or, you call a friend, knowing you can count on that person.  He or she will be there for you.  If they say they’ll do something, you don’t have to wonder or worry.

You want to be that guy, the one they know they can count on and trust.  In a word, you want to be faithful.  God is faithful.  He stakes His reputation on reliably doing what He said He would do.  Think how nice it would be to be known for that character trait.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

Proverbs 3:3 -:4
Good advice, that.  Be worthy of trust, like the stuff that works.

Turned Heads and Hearts

Come Sunday, it will have been a year, a tough year.  A year ago today, my wife, Ann Maree, was taken by ambulance to Hospice for her final struggle.  Understandably, I spend a lot of time thinking back.  Our 50 plus years of courtship and marriage were way too short.  We had some wonderful times.  We also went through some pretty big changes.

The best and most powerful change came as we individually discovered the truth about Jesus and welcomed His Spirit into our souls.  At first, the changes were fresh and exhilarating.  Gradually that excitement evened out into a satisfying and fulfilling joy.  Worry was exchanged for contentment.  There was a dramatic shift in how we saw life in this world.

As an example, Annie was good lookin’.  Yes indeed, she turned heads.  But strangely, that physical beauty was, for her, a source of insecurity.  Maybe you can relate.  But when Jesus showed her how much God loved her, that anxiety was gradually laid to rest.  It was transformed into a thorough sense of inner beauty and inner peace.  Heads still turned, but that wasn’t of as much importance.  Recently, I came across this, underlined in her Bible:

Your beauty … should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  (1 Peter 3:3a & 4b)

When folks remember Ann Maree, most of the time they talk about how she had “…the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…”

Yes indeed.

You Can’t Say That…

Women are weaker than men.  Are you shocked?  Is it even legal to say such a thing?  Is it sexist?  My dictionary says that sexism is arbitrary   stereotyping of men or women, based upon their gender.  But when you describe a difference between men and women that is grounded in reality, it is no longer arbitrary.  Over the course of my life, I’ve discovered some very wonderful differences women have from men.  And, women are, in fact, weaker.  That is why they compete separately in athletics.

But does being weaker make women lesser?  Not according to this verse in the Bible:

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, …  –  (1 Peter 3:7a)

Husbands are instructed to be understanding of their wives and to show them honor as the weaker partner since, as co-heirs  of God’s grace, they are equals.  Weaker, but equal: how can that be?  Or, perhaps more to the point, why would that be?  Is it possible that women’s weakness makes them uniquely equipped for a special function?  And also, men, in their strength?

My guitar is very fragile.  It must be fragile in order to resonate with a beautiful tone.  So, I protect it with a tough case.  The case is stronger but it is not better or more important.  When I want to play music, most of the time I use the guitar, not the case.  But without the case’s protection, my guitar would have been destroyed long ago.  Which is more important?  It depends on whether you are talking about music or security.  The guitar and the case need one another and work together in their separate roles.

As do women and men. “They” say we can’t say such things.

“They” are wrong.

 

Getting Us Ready

When it came time for God to send His Son to save the world, first He sent a prophet to get us ready.  By doing what?  What would need to be done to get a people ready to receive the Son of the the Creator, ready to fully profit from His coming?

You might think the prophet would take them on spiritual retreats to fast and pray on the top of a mountain.  Perhaps a lot of humming and incense would be involved.  But, according to the last thing written in the Old Testament and the first thing in the New Testament, proclaimed by an angel to the father of this prophet, a major part of what he would do would be:

“… to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”  (Luke 1:17b, quoting from Malachi 4:6)

That seems a pretty basic thing to do to prepare people for God’s arrival.  And it is.  But, as we have experienced in the last several decades, the health and strength of a people is directly proportional to the loving concern of fathers for their children.  And vice versa.  When fathers abandon their children, even emotionally, the whole sound structure of wellbeing begins to crumble. 

Jesus came to bring us eternal life and reconciliation with God.  He came to bring the power of the Holy Spirit to us.  But He also came to repair the broken fabric of how simple, healthy life on earth was designed to be lived.  Starting, even before He showed up, with fathers.

We’d do well to pay attention to that and act accordingly…

The Trouble with Democrats… and Republicans

Next time you are arguing about politics (or anything else…) pay attention to what is going on in your mind when the other guy is speaking.  Most people spend that time putting together their next argument and mentally rehearsing it, while only halfheartedly listening to what is being said to them.  They may hear a word here and there, enough to get the gist of what they assume the other person is saying.  And when they get a chance to reply, the same thing happens in reverse.  Which is why arguments are rarely constructive.  Nobody is listening.

James, the brother of Jesus wrote this good advice:

 

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,…” –  (James 1:19 (NIV84))

Real listening is more than registering noises in one’s ears.  Listening means attempting to truly understand the emotions and meanings being conveyed.  Real listening has not happened until you can restate what you heard, in your own words, to the other person’s satisfaction.  That last part is the key.  The idea is for them to look startled and relieved, with the realization that you really understood it, your really got it.  If you work for that to happen, before you state your positionthen you will have a better chance of being understood, too.  But as long as two people simply lob angry slogans at one another, without listening, not much is accomplished.

It seems to me that much of the hostility and divisiveness we experience in our culture could be reduced or even eliminated by the simple act of listening.  Real listening.  Give it a try and see if James wasn’t right.  Be quick to listen and slow to speak.  And slow to get angry, too…

“…for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  –  (James 1:20 (NIV84)

Your prayers for Ann Maree were graciously answered this morning, around 1:30.

Ann Maree is home at last!    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last October, after the full scope and sobering consequences of her cancer were known, God woke her in the small hours and gave her a foretaste of the unbridled “shalom” awaiting her in Heaven.  She was laughing and crying the next morning, trying to find words to convey what she experienced.  And so grateful to Jesus for His promise to her of that destiny.   This morning I imagine her family and friends in Heaven are saying, “You think that was cool, check this out!”

Here’s a song for Ann Maree, again taken from the Psalms:

“I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave
,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

(Psalm 16:8-11)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

PS – If you would enjoy seeing some of Ann Maree’s artwork, go to annmareebeaman.com.

Divorce: Yeah, But…

Nobody goes through divorce without getting hurt.  If you have been hurt that way, it is understandable if you feel judged by Jesus’ blunt teaching about divorce (See: Handle with Care).  If you want to argue with Him, if you want to say, “Yeah, but…” you are not alone.

““Why then,” they [the Pharisees] asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”” (Matthew 19:7-9)

Moses didn’t command people to divorce, but permitted it as an accommodation to their hardheartedness.  And, once again, Jesus points us back to the original design of God for marriage: a lifelong oneness between a man and woman, formed by God, and protected by a mutual covenant of faithfulness.

Right after “You shall not murder,” the seventh commandment is “You shall not commit adultery.”  Although we tend to equate adultery with a sexual act, adultery, at its root, is any act that violates the marriage covenant of faithfulness.  Adultery goes against this solemn command:

“…Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”” (Matthew 19:6b)

Divorce is an act of adultery, Jesus taught, because it breaks the covenant of faithfulness, that is, unless it has already been broken.  Jesus wasn’t being judgmental.  He was teaching an important truth to help people stop hurting themselves.  He showed the same attitude when He spoke to the woman who had been caught in adultery:

“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”” (John 8:10-11)

Think of marriage as a fertilized egg.  The shell is part of the egg, the part that protects the living and growing part and holds it together.  If you break the shell, you destroy the egg and it stops growing.  The mutual covenant of faithfulness pertains to much more than sexual behavior.  And faithfulness, like the shell of the egg, protects the living and growing part of a marriage.  If you break faithfulness, you damage and likely destroy the marriage.  Divorce certainly breaks it.

In effect, Jesus said, “Don’t do that to yourself; don’t break faithfulness with your spouse.”  I am convinced Jesus understands why people choose divorce.  He certainly knows the pain of betrayal.  But He does not back away from advocating the importance of living by God’s original design in marriage.  He knows it’s better.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.