Thursday, December 12, 2013

UGW Q11b: Marriage Trouble

            I think that we as a society need a wake-up call in two major areas.  (There are many more, but I’m only referring to two here that are on my heart).  Our constant selfish search for satisfaction outside of God’s marriage design, and our “deliberate ignorance” when it comes to the harmful things that we allow into our homes, our minds, our food, our bodies, our children’s bodies, etc. 
            It’s no wonder that marriages don’t last and that the younger generations don’t believe in marriage anymore when you look at the way that they are nowadays.  Very few save sex for marriage anymore or keep it in the marriage bed.  We run around satisfying our passions with anyone, anytime, because we’ve been taught that it’s all about what we want.  Live it up now!  Be young, be free!  It’s all about making ourselves happy.  (When it’s become acceptable to have websites whose main purpose is to help people pursue affairs and when casual sex is something to enjoy and laugh about, you know that we as a society have gotten baaaad!!!)      
            But there are prices to be paid for that kind of “freedom.”  That kind of “happiness.”  Not only potentially with our physical health, but with our emotional, marital, family. and spiritual health, too.  We cannot have the kind of deeply secure, safe, and satisfying marriages that are best for us if we share our beds and bodies with someone other than our spouse. 
            And these goals and boundaries need to be in place before marriage.  I don’t care what everyone else says about “sexual freedom,” whatever you do outside of or before marriage robs you of some of the safety, security, and pleasure that you would have in your marriage. 
            There should be no “seeing if you are sexually compatible” first.  Because that right there is the antithesis of commitment.  I mean, think about it, if you had no one else to compare your partner to, then you wouldn’t know any different.  You would grow together in that area.  And there would probably be no reason for discontentment.  You would simply appreciate what you have and be drawn to and committed to your spouse for the person that they are, instead of comparing them to others to determine their “keep-ability,” judging them based on what they do for you in bed.  And vice-versa.  (And you would be free from the emotional pain and insecurity of being evaluated or compared to others, and free from the risk of STDs.  Seriously, STDs do not have to happen.  We are responsible for continuing them.  If everyone was monogamous, STDs would be wiped out in one generation.  That’s something to think about.)               
            I am not saying all of this to “preach” or to make anyone feel guilty or doomed (God is a God of forgiveness and fresh starts), but my concern here is with the sad state of marriages nowadays.  The damage done to families.  And with the lies that are being passed onto the younger generations.  To tell them that they have freedom to do whatever they wish and that “as long as you’re in love, it’s okay” robs them of the best marriage possible.  I think that people nowadays have trouble living in (or wanting) a committed, monogamous marriage because the focus has been on casual relationships, casual sex, and “Me, me, me, it’s all about me and what I get out of it.” 
            And this is not the way it should be.  God created sex to be a bond between a man and a woman when they are married.  He created marriage to be a committed union, not a “what do I get out of this” semi-union.  And if things are going to change for the better – if families are going to become strong and safe, instead of dysfunctional and broken -- we are going to have to start doing it God’s way.  If not, God help us all, because we are doomed then!                           
            And not only are we taught damaging things before marriage, but after marriage, we are also taught to not let anything get in the way of following our hearts and our dreams.  Mothers and fathers alike seek to live their own lives because they have been taught that “it’s all about you.”  “Put yourself first; it’s good for the kids to see that!”  “Don’t sacrifice yourself for anyone or anything.” 
            We’ve been taught that we should not let any man, woman, or child keep us from pursuing our dreams or our passions.  And we are taught that it’s actually good for the family that we are so satisfied and self-fulfilled.  (Yes, we need to take care of ourselves and treat ourselves every now and then or else we’ll go crazy.  But I’m not talking about that.  I’m talking about people who put their families on the back burner so they can pursue their own goals.)
            And we give up too easily when the hard times come, when we become unhappy or dissatisfied with our spouse or our place in life.  Because we’ve been taught that it’s all about how happy we are.  And if you’re not happy, then move on to what does make you happy.  And so instead of learning to be content in our roles and fighting for our marriages - instead of remembering that we took a vow before others and God - we decide that we want something better or different or more exciting.  Something that takes less effort or energy.  Something that makes us “happy.”  And somehow, we think that this is a pretty good excuse for walking away or for neglecting our families and pursuing our dreams.    
            And yet, as our misplaced priorities pull us away from our families and make a mess of our lives, we wonder, Why?  But do we stop to consider the role that we had in it?  Do we try to see how we could change or ask God how He wants us to live or decide to honor our vow anyway?  Do we stop to think about what’s good for the family unit as a whole, or to consider that maybe God has more in mind than our own “happiness”?  Do we try to see how we could glorify God in the position that we are in, or do we think that we won’t be fulfilled or satisfied or God-glorifying unless we get what we want? 
            It’s no wonder the younger generations don’t see any point to marriage, when the older ones don’t show them that a good marriage is valuable and worth fighting for!  It’s no wonder that families are falling apart, when we don’t keep them as a top priority.  So I’m going to say it out loud . . . We need to be people who know how to commit and to stick it out!  And we need to be people who make our families our main concern, next to our relationship with God.  All of society and future generations hinge on that! 
            [Now, let me say that I am referring to the serious importance of commitment here when it comes to typical marriages.  I am not necessarily talking about those whose spouses cheat on them or who physically abuse them.  Because when it comes to adultery, there is biblical grounds for a divorce, if you so choose it.  Although, there are many stories out there of people who have worked through the consequences of infidelity and have made their marriages better and stronger, by the grace of God.  Do not go quickly and rashly into divorce, but first consider if you can work it out with a counselor or pastor. 
            And when it comes to abuse, I would never recommend that someone keep themselves or their children in harm’s way.  The abuser needs to take responsibility for their actions and to see the consequences of their behavior.  Do not hesitate to remove yourself from the abuse and to leave the abuser alone with their sin before God.  Maybe by separating from them for a time, you will be safe and give them a chance to see what they have been doing.  (And reporting it to the police may be necessary.) 
            Ideally, reconciliation is the goal, but that hinges on the abuser’s willingness to change and on the victim’s willingness to forgive.  Both have to deal with these issues before God on their own if the marriage is going to work and become God-glorifying.]             
            Personally, I would love to see us go back to a one-income society, where mothers can stay home while the children are young.  (Or fathers, if they prefer.)  It is so sad to me that our society has made staying home too financially difficult for families and that they do not value at-home mothers (or fathers) the way that they should.  Now, notice that I didn’t say that mothers can’t work, but it’s my opinion that families – and society as a whole – would be better off if a parent was at home while the kids were little.
            (No angry letters, please.  I’m not judging working mothers here.  I happen to know a lot of them.  And I know how much they love their children, sacrifice for them, and want what’s best for them.  And this is something almost all of us have in common, whatever our position in life.  But I would encourage anyone who really wants to stay home but who feels like they have to work, to pray about it.  Ask God to help you find a creative solution and to take care of you while you stay home to take care of the children.  It is possible, but it does mean prioritizing and making sacrifices.  Trust me, I know.  We have basically always been a one-car family, which means that I have had to learn to be content to be home all day, unable to get out with the kids.  But that’s the choice I have made, the sacrifice I am willing to make.)

Posts in this "Understanding God's Will" series: