When Sinners Say “I DO” -Forgiveness in Marriage
We can’t deny it (even though we often are defensive of our actions), we are ALL sinners. That’s what the Bible tells us. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
And even though most of us attempt to explain away at least some of our wrong attitudes and actions, they find their way out into the light eventually. (Whether or not we face the truth of our sin is another issue, because we can become very good of seeing the “speck” in the other person’s eye and overlook the “log” in our own.)
Marriage especially, can accelerate the process of bringing out our bad sides. After we say “I do”, that which was hidden or we didn’t realize was buried deeper inside of us, comes out when our comfort zones are bumped into or stepped upon by our spouse. It’s a natural process that many of us dislike and try to run away from. But in reality, all of us can be used by God to sharpen each other, if we look at our marital situations in God’s illuminating light, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man [or woman] sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:11).
There are all kinds of lessons that can be learned, When Sinners Say “I do.” That’s why we’re excited that we came across a book by that title written by Dave Harvey. We feel like it could teach us some good principles in marital living. We also came across a radio program series, titled, “Love Always Forgives,” produced by the terrific ministry of Family Life Today, that you may find helpful.
Below, we’re going to give 3 quotes from each program (so you can read a sneak preview) and then a web site link for each that you can click into, and make your choice to either listen to the broadcasts or read the transcripts they make available.
The first program is titled What Really Matters in Marriage, and was originally aired on May 28, 2008. The following are 3 quotes from that program. Dave Harvey said:
Ephesians 5 talks about how God has created marriage as a parable of Christ’s love for the church. And one of the realities about marriage is that it says something first about God and, in God, Christ’s love for the church. And to see that, we have the privilege of being caught up in something that’s so much bigger than any of us. It’s really about Christ and His passion for His people.
Dave explains a bit more about the above concept and then goes on to talk about certain disagreements (that you may relate to) that he and his wife have had, that have taught him some important lessons. He says:
We’ve certainly experienced our share of conflicts in our marriage, and I would say that all of them follow a familiar pattern. We will engage each other, we will be tempted to say things that we shouldn’t say, and then we have decisions to make about what we believe and how we want to relate to each other.
Have you been there? During this radio program, Dave talked about the lesson he learned and how it has since changed how he apologizes to his wife. He also discussed certain things he’s learned about human beings in general in how we sometimes back away from taking full responsibility for the things we do that we shouldn’t. And yet moving towards God requires more than that. He says:
I do think that inherent to all, sin is an attempt to divert attention from the sin, and so there is something in each of us that when we go to actually confess, we’ll want to locate the responsibility for that sin outside of ourselves. I think part of moving towards God, part of applying the Gospel, is saying, “No, I am the man. I did that sin. This is the sin I did,” and being specific because it’s one thing to say, “Well, I was a little upset with you, dear,” but it’s another thing to assign a biblical term and say, “I was angry, I was feeling wrath in my heart.” Boy, that has a sting of conviction that those more generic terms don’t bring.
To listen to or read the entire transcript from this radio broadcast, please click onto the link provided below:
Day two of the three day broadcast is titled, Love Always Forgives. This broadcast can truly challenge many who struggle with forgiving a spouse after they argue and have been hurt by them. But Dave Harvey explains:
One of the reasons why God allows us to experience conflict is to recognize what is in our heart, and so part of God’s design in us coming together is to understand who we really are. Conflict is understandable, it’s to be expected, and yet it’s also an opportunity to go to school on who we really are and to apply the Gospel.
Dave gives further explanation and then says:
Conflict is part of what happens when people come together and part of what happens in marriage. And it’s not as important that it happens, as much as it is what you’re doing with it and what you’re learning from it. It’s what happens when sinners say, “I do.”
He then tells of a couple named Jeremy and Cindy who had a storybook married life but eventually their foundation of trust in a marriage and the process of forgiving was challenged after Jeremy committed adultery. He goes on to say,
Both of them came to a place where they never thought they would be. I mean, here they were Christians, and they had dedicated their lives to Christ, they had dedicated their lives to one another in marriage, and yet they were sitting there asking questions about whether this marriage was going to work. Could they go on?
…Our answer can’t begin with people, our answer must go to God and must go to the Savior, and we have to be reminded of what happened when Jesus Christ died for our sins, and the sins and the terrible and tremendous offenses that we were forgiven of. It’s only the cross that puts the sins of other people into perspective. It’s only as we look and as we perceive what actually we’ve been forgiven of that we can turn to somebody else who has sinned grievously against us and forgive them.
Dave explains this concept further and then tells of other friends who had to leave the mission field because of adultery and the battle they had with forgiveness. It’s a compelling story that we could learn from. To listen to or read the entire transcript from this radio broadcast, please click onto the link provided below:
The third day of the three day radio broadcasts on the subject of “when sinners say I do” is titled “Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment.” On this subject, Dave Harvey says:
Mercy acknowledges the reality that we live in a fallen world; that we have limitations and weaknesses; and that we are called to relate to one another in kindness in those things, even if we’re correcting our spouse, or we’re being corrected —even there, there is a heart of mercy that we are to bring to one another because marriage is fundamentally about ministering to each other.
Dave further explains the issue of mercy as he tells of a woman named Emma who was deeply hurt by her husband Gordon and yet she displayed Christ-like mercy in how she reacted daily to his injustices. He explains:
What Emma did as a result of the way that Gordon treated her and just to review it, Gordon and Emma met as he was new in ministry and met at a church function, got married shortly thereafter, and on their honeymoon, Gordon informed her that he didn’t love her, that he married her because he thought that that was the best thing to do in ministry, to be married. That began 40 years of Emma having an experience of a distant husband, disconnected, and probably unconverted.
Yet Emma’s disposition was not one where she was living, just always responding to the next thing he did do or didn’t do. But she drew her guidelines for how to respond from what she saw in Christ, what she saw in the Gospel, and she used that to determine how she would live with Gordon.
Dave further explains what he learned of Christ through Emma’s actions and said:
We are commanded in Scripture to be merciful as our Father in heaven is merciful, and yet what we don’t often realize is that mercy is specifically referencing sin. When it says that God is merciful, that means that He has suffered with sinners and for sinners. He has —it defines His disposition towards us despite the fact that we are weak, that we are fallen, and that, apart from Jesus Christ, we are bent in the wrong direction. We are bent to disobey God and yet even in that state, even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He came towards us out of a merciful heart to draw us to Him. So it’s God in relationship to us, as sinners, that really defines that mercy.
You can listen to or read the rest of this radio interview (which we highly recommend) by clicking on the link below:
This article was compiled by Cindy Wright of marriage Missions International.