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Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Protestants have a hard time listening to and learning from Catholics. Both are Christians, but we all like to find enough of a difference with others to justify not learning from them. Think of how much more true this is with people from a completely different religion? When was the last time you truly learned something significant in your life from someone of a different religion?

Yasmin Mogahed has written a helpful piece on marriage. We can all learn something from it. What so impressed me though, was that what she shared she had learned from a Christian author. She references Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. In this book he lays out research that says that men most need respect from their wives while woman most need love from their husbands. The problem, then, is that when a husband isn’t loving to his wife, she often responds with disrespect, which leads to unloving behavior from the husband and on and on. It is a cycle that can only be broken when the husband determines to love his wife whether she is respectful or not. Or when the wife determines to respect her husband whether he shows love or not. This idea about love and respect comes right out of the Bible, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

I love that this Muslim woman is setting such a good example for the rest of us. She knows that she has a lot to learn from Christians. I have seen this first hand in my own life. It was my Syrian Muslim neighbors in Damascus who taught me what it means to be a good neighbor. This was especially good for me to learn since Jesus the Messiah commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). I have always been so grateful for what they taught me about being a good neighbor through hospitality and genuine concern and love for a neighbor.

When was the last time you learned something from someone from a different religion? If you haven’t, why not?

HT: Tia

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Suhaibwebb.com is a helpful Muslim blog that has articles on Islam, the Qur’an and how Islam impacts the normal aspects of life. I thought the post on six things not to say to someone who is divorced was helpful and worth passing along. Divorce is a serious issue for Muslims and Christians. I’ve pasted below the six things not to say. Read the whole thing for explanations as well as some pointers and what you should do.

  1. “Are you sure?”
  2. “How long were you married?”  And upon finding out it was a relatively short period – “Oh, well, at least it was short.”
  3. “I saw it coming all along.”
  4. “Who filed for divorce? Did you go to court?  What did you get? Who has custody?”
  5. “But you were such a perfect couple!”
  6. “May you get remarried soon!”

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Yesterday I posted the following as a guest post on Life Together. I’ve been so helped myself as I’ve thought about these things that I wanted to post it on my blog as well. For my Muslim friends, this is a good example of how the gospel (Jesus Christ being sent by God to die on the cross for sin and rise again in triumph over sin) produces change in our lives.

Sin – Confrontation – Heart – Idol – Gospel

The heart is the key to behavior and if we want to help one another or be helped we must get to the heart. When we confront we move beyond the behavior and help our brother or sister see how sin is at work. For example, you see a friend speak in anger to his wife. You can ignore it, but that isn’t loving to your friend, to his wife, to his children, or to the others who see Christ dishonored through this man’s sinful speech. You can simply confront him with a bold proclamation against his sin, but that isn’t loving either. We need to gently point out sin and then seek to help him.

You can very gently say something like, “I noticed when we were together earlier that you said ______ to your wife. It seemed as though there was anger in your voice. What was going on?” If your friend is wise he will receive these questions with gladness. If he is like me he might be defensive. Either way, we trust that the same Holy Spirit prompting me to confront is also at work in his heart to conform him to the image of Jesus. He will likely pass the blame for his anger by telling you what his wife did to make him angry. Of course, she may very well have first sinned against her husband, but we know that no one makes us respond in sin. We do that ourselves. So our goal is to help him own his own sin.

He doesn’t need, primarily, better communication tips. He doesn’t merely need a list of do’s and don’t’s in communicating his frustrations to his wife. He needs to see his heart in the midst of his anger. In some way he was living for his own kingdom and his wife had gotten in the way of his goals. Perhaps he had elevated peace of mind as an idol in his heart. His wife then did something that caused stress and he responded in anger because she became a barrier to the peace of mind he wanted. Perhaps he had elevated some activity as an idol in his heart. His wife then did or said something that put the enjoyment of that activity in question so he responded with anger because she became a barrier to that enjoyment. Perhaps having a submissive wife has been elevated to an idol in his heart. He wants the community to know that his wife submits to him so when she did something that calls this into question he got angry at her because she had become a barrier to the status he wanted.

The point is this: Behind his anger is some kind of idol. He had ceased living for the kingdom of God and was living for his own kingdom. His wife did not play by the rules of his kingdom and so he responded with anger. This is the problem of marriage. You bring together two people with two different kingdoms and expect them to live in harmony. You soon learn that the other is not playing by your rules and conflict comes. This is why it isn’t enough to merely give better communication tips. If someone is still living for his own kingdom he will simply use those communication skills to continue living for his kingdom. There needs to be a change of heart. And this is what we want to do when we are confronting friends.

If we are going to help a friend experience heart change we must never forget that there is one means by which a heart is truly changed—the gospel. We cannot love our neighbor without the gospel. The gospel hits at every point of need. This husband needs to change. He needs to love his wife like Christ loved the church. It isn’t enough to merely quote from Ephesians 5 about what a husband is to do. We must help our friend place his story—his life—into the larger context of God’s story. We read the command, “Husbands, love your wife like Christ loved the church.” But we can’t actually understand what that means without understanding the whole story. We need to understand how sin has separated us from God so that God sent his beloved Son as a man in order to die for the sins of his people. And by this death and his subsequent resurrection God has created a new people to whom he promises to use his omnipotent power to work all things for their good.

The gospel makes a claim on our lives. It calls us to change. It calls us to holiness and obedience. So we need to preach the gospel to one another and call each other to greater holiness and obedience. But we will never be able to heed the call of the gospel if we don’t also have the comfort of the gospel. We need to understand that in Christ our sins are forgiven. I can’t live the life God wants me to live if by living it I think God will love me more. I first need to know that God loves me and he couldn’t possibly love me more because his love is already endless. It is the knowledge and experience of that love that enables me to strive for greater holiness. We obey not in order for God to love us, but because he already does.

 

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From Vitamin Z:

I’ll break it down really simple.  Ask yourself this question:  How often do the words, “I’m sorry.  Will you please forgive me?” come out of your mouth towards your spouse?

Not very often?

If not, either your spouse is enabling your sin, you have a low view of your sin, or you are too insecure in your identity in Christ to confess.

I could easily say that the consistent theme that I have seen in marriages that fall apart (or are completely dysfunctional) is the inability to name sin and repent.  But believing the Gospel should compel us to see our sin (that is what Jesus died for right?) and if we believe that Jesus had to die for my sin then why would it be a big shocker that I would have to name that same sinful state to my spouse as part of the means by which I kill it.

Embrace the need to repent and do so verbally to your mate.  The blessing upon your marriage will be huge.

Related Posts:
Repentance
Sin Destroys Peace
More on Repentance
“I’m sorry, I was wrong, will you please forgive me?”

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From the NY Times

The couple chose an olive branch as their theme for the Jewish-Muslim union, and the ceremony under a wedding canopy combined readings in Arabic and English, and a traditional Palestinian wedding dance.

HT: Isalmicate

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I mentioned last week that for our 12th anniversary I made 12 lists of 12 things. I thought I would share one of the lists with you. My hope is that you will be encouraged to trust in Jesus Christ as you think about the ways the gospel can and should impact all aspects of your lives, including marriage.

12 Ways Ephesians 1:3 Should Impact Our Marriage

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 1:3

1. Jesus Christ is our Lord and therefore he is Lord of our marriage. All we do should be in submission to him.

2. God has already blessed us (it doesn’t say “he will bless us”). Therefore, we should cultivate grateful hearts.

3. This blessing is in Christ, therefore we should diligently seek to be found in him by resting in him and trusting him alone for salvation.

4. Because the blessings are in Christ we should not seek the “blessings” found apart from him, which the world falsely promises.

5. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. He isn’t holding out on us. There aren’t other blessings we need but don’t have, therefore we should be content.

6. Because God has given each of us every blessing we don’t need to (and should not) seek our ultimate happiness in each other.

7. Because God has given us every blessing we are free to return good for evil. We are free to give grace when sinned against.

8. Because God has given us every blessing we can be confident that he has given us all we need to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3) and therefore we ought to.

9. Because we have every spiritual blessing we can be generous towards others knowing that we won’t lack anything.

10. Because we have every spiritual blessing we can trust God and continue to follow him even when he takes material or physical blessings from us.

11. Because we have every spiritual blessing we can be confident we will have unceasing joy in his presence and therefore seek this joy in Christ even now.

12. Our blessings are from and in the heavenly places and thus we will most fully enjoy them there. Therefore, when one of us dies the other will grieve, but as one who is full of hope knowing the other is experiencing the fullness of the blessing.

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Sin Destroys Peace

Last night my wife came home from a shopping trip having bought things that she and I had talked about.  She spent more money than I thought she was going to. I wasn’t angry. I was anxious. I was worried about extra expenditures and whether we would have the funds to pay for them. I was sinning. I was not trusting God to meet our needs. I was not bringing my cares to the Lord and asking him to sustain us.

My wife could have responded with grace to help me see my anxiety and then to point me towards the truth that God meets all our needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (see Philippians 4:19). Instead she responded in anger, rightly pointing out that I had not communicated to her my concerns about our finances. She sinned too. This highlighted more sin on my part because it showed how I was failing to lead my family by not communicating to my wife about my financial concerns.

Then I compounded my sin through more sin by feeling all kinds of self pity and self-righteousness as I dwelt on how my wife was treating me.

During this time our 4 year old daughter disobeyed in various ways and had a complaining heart. She was sinning too. At one point I despaired thinking, “This house is full of sin!” It seemed as thought only our 11 month old son was not walking in sin. Then it occurred to me how this sin had sucked out all the peace in our home. There was tension between my wife and I. There was annoyance from us regarding our daughter. There was no peace between us.

It was a vivid illustration to me of how sin destroys peace. It wrecks relationships. If my wife or I had chosen to hold on to our sin there would not be reconciliation and there would not be peace. I knew I needed God to humble my heart so that I would repent from my sin. I needed a Savior who would not only forgive my sin, but also cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I knew that I needed Jesus Christ.

After I put our daughter to bed I spent just a few moments thinking about what I would say when I went downstairs to talk to my wife. When we got married we promised each other that we would never go to bed angry. We have kept that promise for over 11 years now. As I reflected on that I thought, “When we go to sleep tonight we will not be angry with each other. We will be reconciled to one another before the night is over.” Then I thought, “Why not live in that future reality now? Why not put away my self-righteousness, self-pity, and anger (God had already mercifully set me free from the anxiety I had been feeling)?” So that was the attitude I took with me as I walked down the stairs to work through all that had happened with my wife.

As we talked I was able to confess my sin to her. She was able to confess her sin to me. We repented and we forgave each other. And praise the Lord, we had peace again.

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