Category Archives: Marriage

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.

Handle with Care

Is it okay with God if you get divorced?  That question has literally been asked for thousands of years.  But it is the wrong question.  To see why, look at how Jesus answered it:

“Some Pharisees came to him to test him [Jesus]. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”” (Matthew 19:3-6 with my added emphasis and note)

When Jesus was asked about divorce, His response began with the origin, design and formation of marriage.  At the beginning of creation, marriage was designed by God as a union between a man and a woman.  God forms the two together, mixing them to become one.  Kind of like how epoxy is mixed together from two separate and different parts.

If you have epoxied two things together, is it okay with the guy who invented epoxy if you try to take them back apart?  Wrong question.  If you asked him, he would say, “You can’t take them apart because they are now one.  You can break them apart, but  I wouldn’t recommend it, because you will damage them.”

The question with divorce is not, “Will God get mad?” but, “Are we going to hurt ourselves (and a whole bunch of others)?”  God gave us marriage to bless us.  He has told us that this “oneness” is a precious thing that He has done.  He warned us not to break it.  Why?  Not because He will get mad, but because we will hurt ourselves.  Divorce is contrary to God’s design.

In this day and age, the chances are pretty good that you are already divorced.  Can the damage be healed?  Of course, but only partially, as you already know.  Is God mad at you?  To the contrary, He loves you and aches for you.  He longs for us to live with joy, according to His design.

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