“Doing whatever it takes can take you where you may not want to go.” (Dr. Emerson Eggerichs)
When I (Steve) read the above statement from Dr Eggerichs’ book, Love and Respect (Integrity Publishers), it got me thinking about Cindy and my marriage. Let me say at the outset that for many years I wasn’t as committed as Cindy was to “doing whatever it takes” to make our marriage what it is today. Fortunately, God got my attention and He took me where I didn’t “want” to go, but where I needed to go —in order to start becoming the husband he intended me to become.
Over the years, I’ve learned to release many of the immature attitudes I had held onto for so long. I learned how to be more about serving and blessing my wife, than being served. As a result, I am indeed the most blessed of all men. My wife and I are closer than ever. I never would have believed that letting go of what I thought I wanted, would bring me what I truly needed. And even if Cindy hadn’t responded well, there is peace in knowing I’m living my life, as God would have me.
Over the past dozen or so years that we’ve been mentoring couples we have come to realize that a lot of the problems they’ve encountered in their marriages (some they thought were “marriage busters”) were in fact fixable as long as they were willing to go where they didn’t necessarily “want” to go —back to God’s original plan for marriage.
A big problem Cindy and I see in Christian couples today is that we’ve lost sight of God’s plan for our marriages. We believe God showed us that the mission of marriage is to reflect the heart of Christ. Until spouses are willing to do “whatever it takes” so their marriages reflect God’s heart and HIS plan, divorces within the church will continue to match or exceed that of non-believers.
The following are thoughts from Alistair Begg’s book, Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure, as he sheds insight on this issue. Alistair writes:
God’s blueprint for marriage calls for an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman as they enter into a lifetime covenant. The concept of covenant is vastly different from a contractual agreement that may be set aside at the whim of either party.
When God entered into covenant with Abraham, the solemnity of it was emphasized with a “thick and dreadful darkness” (Genesis 15:12) and a number of animal sacrifices (15:9-11, 17). The covenant promises were made under the pain of death.
Jay Adams from his book, Solving Marriage Problems, says:
Marriage involves a covenantal agreement to meet all of your spouse’s needs for companionship (on every level: sexual, social, spiritual, etc.) for the rest of your life. It is therefore, a final act.
Christians, unlike non-Christians today who enter into trial marriages, annual, renewable contracts, and the like, need not live daily under the threat of divorce. The binding nature of a divine covenant assures them that divorce is not an option. That is a wonderful difference that Christians possess. The covenant is a lifetime commitment.
Alistair Begg continues:
Despite the clarity with which the Bible speaks to this matter, many Christians appear to be confused. Recent surveys reveal that as many as two-thirds of those interviewed considered divorce “a reasonable solution to a problem marriage.”
If we are going to at all be successful in avoiding marital failure, it is imperative that we exercise our minds in the truth of the Scripture and yield our wills in submission to God’s clear directives.
Our submission to God’s design must be total and wholehearted —whether we find it immediately to our liking or not. It is in becoming obedient to His Word and His will that we discover true freedom. Consider the benefits:
- Making a lifelong commitment focuses our attention on ‘staying the course’ rather than on short bursts of enthusiasm [which is being faithfully consistent to God’s Word].
- The freedom of marriage in the Lord is rewarding. To be able to share with one another at the deepest levels of spiritual understanding is a great joy [but comes by “staying the course”].
- As husband and wife learn to put each other first, they discover the pleasures that come only when they get past living for themselves. Wives are challenged to “submit to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22) and husbands are told to “love your wives just as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). If these intense obligations are defined in purely negative terms, they may seem deplorable. But seen from God’s perspective, these commands provide order and joy in a relationship. Attempting to continually put oneself first never works. But learning to put a spouse first can become a lifelong pleasure for those with hearts for God’s Word.
- Rejecting divorce as an option allows for great security in marriage. It means that when problems arise —no matter how great those problems may be —the couple will learn to return to the instruction manual of God’s Word and rely upon the help of God’s Spirit.
It’s about living out God’s principles with each other in the manner in which Christ showed us through His life here on earth and through His Word, the Bible. We are to be living examples displaying God’s love —revealing and reflecting the heart of God. “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” -Prov. 3:3-6.
It’s not always easy to let “love and faithfulness never leave you” when your spouse doesn’t do the same —when he/she treats you in ways that make you feel belittled and unloved. But as God’s word says, when it comes to love and faithfulness, “bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Does that mean that you aren’t to express discontent to your spouse, confronting him/her with the things she/he says or does, which needs to change? Of course you can (if you’re living with an abusive spouse, however, be especially careful in this). But when you do say what you feel is needed, speak the “truth in love” —MOTIVATED by God’s love. As you do things God’s ways, “then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
There’s a challenge Rev. Bruce Goettsche, gives, that we want you to consider, as well:
“Have you dismissed what the Bible says about marriage because you don’t think it squares with your own view? If so, think carefully about what you are doing. Do you have any right to veto God’s desires? Does it make any sense at all to ignore the counsel of the one who designed marriage?”
Live out God’s principles in marriage —God’s way. Keep in mind that the principles for loving each other as husband and wife are the same principles outlined for us throughout the Bible. Read it. Follow what it says, and “you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God.”
May it be so!
Steve and Cindy Wright
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3 responses to “Doing Whatever it Takes – Marriage Message #176”
(US) Steve and Cindy, Your article is insightful and for the general reader, something to think about. When we go into marriage selfishly meeting our own needs, then we have no done as Christ desires.
I do have one caveat though. This does not apply to someone who is in an abusive marriage. In that case, there are other things to take into account. Are they in physical danger? Are they in psychological danger? Are there children in the home? (If there are children in the home many states consider witnessing domestic violence child abuse and the children can be taken from the home.)
When talking about confrontation, you stated “if you’re living with an abusive spouse, however, be especially careful in this” and I would agree. However, as Christians, I believe we also have a responsibility in these types of internet articles, to go one step further. If someone is living with an abusive person, this type of doing whatever it takes does not apply. Abusers will use these types of statements to make the wife be incompliance with their demands and actually puts the victim in more danger. I know, I was there myself. I also deal with these issues daily in my ministry. Too many women in abusive situations being told to “do whatever it takes” even if that means dying. And this is not an overstatement. It is said.
If someone is living with an abusive person, they have the right to flee that abuse and find safety. God tells over and over to flee to safety, and in marriage it is no different. Ephesians 5:21 (which cannot be separated grammatically from 5:22) states to submit one to another. That is what marriage should be, mutual submission. But both must have the right heart. Yes, one can be won over by the actions of the other, but not in the case of domestic abuse when the issue is one person having power and control over another person. “I hate divorce, says the Lord God, and a man who covers his wife with violence.” Mal. 2:16. You can find more information on this issue at our website at http://www.ccada.org.
So I encourage you, as you write to others to assist in healthy marriages and commitments, to be sure to outline that domestic abuse is a special case where a professional in this area can help. Blessings as you seek to save marriages, and I ask for your prayers as we seek to save lives.
Hi Kate, We totally agree with you. When a person is in an abusive relationship, it taints everything. You have to approach ANY advice in a totally different way –throwing out (or adapting differently) that which can cause more problems. Glean what you can use and throw away that which could produce more conflict because of the abusive nature of what is going on between you as husband and wife. (Actually, this is true of any human advice, even if you aren’t in an abusive marriage… glean and use only what works –no advice but God’s is without flaw because the giver doesn’t know all of the dynamics, which might change things in some way.)
Thanks for sharing Kate. Welcome! We will make sure your website is listed in the links part of the “Abuse in Marriage” topic as a resource. I like what I see. I pray God increasingly blesses your ministry.
I actually liked this article very much.. in fact I loved it! Especially when it asked if you’ve dismissed what the Bible says about marriage because it doesn’t square with your own view. And as far as veto God’s desires go.. my wife is amazing. And she was the one who brought me back to God because I was an addict when she first met me. She had a lot of flaws too, but we both were attracted to the fact that we went to church and believed in God. 6 years together and 6 years being sober because I was ready to give up drugs anyways.. but she helped give me that push.. or God worked through her to help better my life. But I don’t know what to do about how to end this whole divorce issue.
She separated from me a year ago because she didn’t want to live with parents and she was living with mine. Then she changed it to me and my temper problems but I never got physical. We verbally abused each other but I’ve prayed about that because it’s never me wanting to hurt her emotionally. I guess I’ve always been overprotective about certain things because I feel like she doesn’t like being told what to do when it comes to bar hopping with girlfriends or anything that will lead to her cheating on me again. And she cheated after she separated so I feel like the enemy knew when to attack. And I’m the type of person who does not give second chances. If anyone cheats.. that’s a deal breaker.. and the same goes for me.
But God was able to change my heart and give her another chance and she still won’t move back in.. plus now she wants a divorce after what she’s done.. and she tells me that God is telling her this and that she needs to obey him. After spending time reading her scripture and telling her what I’m hearing from God saying we need to pray about this together and be united and not divided and a bunch of things that makes sense when spending time with God so that I can be at peace.. she’s done nothing but frustrate me telling me that I might be hearing from the enemy and not God and it’s just.. I feel like part of me wants to end it because I don’t want to be with anyone that’s going to try to bring me close to God in the beginning and then once I start reading the bible and allowing it to remind her that God’s will is not divorce.. especially not because of “trying my best but nothing’s changed.”
I mean, I’m a wonderful man. And I don’t know why she gets upset saying I should of known she was hurt this whole time and I should of known what she was thinking when she was hurt. Her and I communicate so well when we do talk.. and usually I am the one talking because she can be quiet at times.. especially when it comes to divorce and lately it’s been irritating me because I feel like she knows what I’m saying is right.. or what God is telling me to say about this whole situation and she won’t just allow God to work together for His good. She thinks I’m just trying to win her back so I get what I want.. umm.. I feel like it’s out of my hands. Any advice? only thing I was thinking was praying for her and allowing God to keep me from saying anything else or doing anything else tell I hear from Him and listen to Him to give me the okay to do anything more.
Have you dismissed what the Bible says about marriage because you don’t think it squares with your own view? If so, think carefully about what you are doing. Do you have any right to veto God’s desires? Does it make any sense at all to ignore the counsel of the one who designed marriage?”