Some Truths Marriage Has Taught Me

Some Truths Marriage Has Taught Me

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Yesterday marked thirty years of marriage to a woman I met when she was still technically a “girl” almost 32 years ago. God has blessed her with extraordinary beauty and youthfulness, but He has blessed me by her in ways far deeper than that. She constantly encourages my spiritual growth, helps me read my spiritual compass, and drives me to be closer to God and do His will better. This is not only a daily benefit I enjoy in marriage, but a benefit I typically enjoy throughout each day! Yet, she is also fun-loving, has a great sense of humor, and loves life and people profoundly. I could not have asked for a better mother for my children, and I could not have dreamed for a better companion to travel life’s road with.

Paul indicates that God created the marriage relationship to illustrate the relationship Christ would have with the church (Eph. 5:22-33). That’s profound! The Author of the most intimate relationship on earth wants us to learn and grow through this transformation connection we call marriage. He teaches us vital truths throughout His Word that we grasp and understand to our great benefit. Consider a few of them.

  • “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Prov. 12:4a).
  • “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).
  • “House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov. 19:14).
  • “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Prov. 31:10-12).
  • ““You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices” (Song 4:9-10).
  • “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself” (Eph. 5:28). 
  • “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Col. 3:19). 
  • “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7). 

I am impressed with how much God honors and upholds marriage. He invented and instituted it (Gen. 2:18-25). It was His sweetest gift to humanity, second only to the sacrifice of His Son for our sins! He has given us an instruction manual to help us navigate the many ups and downs that are a part of it. It can bring us some of life’s most difficult and excruciating moments. But undoubtedly, it will give us some of the sweetest, most memorable, and sustaining moments, too. 

So much happens in three decades of life, especially in the marriage context. While it seems like just a moment ago that we stood before my dad in Manchester, Georgia, that Friday afternoon, seeing three grown, married children and some inevitable physical changes in the mirror tells me more time has passed than it seems. In the treasure chest of my heart, there are so many memories and events over the span of those years. Invariably, right there in my mental picture of them all is the sweet, pretty face of that blonde, witty, and intense beauty who grounds me, balances me, and pushes me to be my best me. 

It scares me to think about where I would be without her. It humbles me to think she chose to spend her life with me. It blesses me to think that, as the Lord wills, I get to do life with her today and for as many days as He gives us together. Thank God for the blessing of marriage! May I bless my Kathy as she has blessed me! 

1 Peter–Part VII

1 Peter–Part VII

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

For the next several weeks, I’ll be repeating the book of I Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

I Peter – Part VII

While we’re on this topic, wives must listen to their own husbands. If your husband doesn’t believe, maybe you’ll win him over with just your good example! You wouldn’t even have to say anything. Pure and respectful behavior speaks volumes. Don’t obsess over your physical appearance or fashion. Show off who you are inside! A gentle, easy-going demeanor is timeless; it’s also extremely valuable to God. Remember the women lived a long time ago? They were considered special because God was their hope, just like he’s your hope. They also expressed their beauty by deferring to their husbands. Sarah did that for Abraham – she considered him to be her leader. You are just like her when you do the right thing without being afraid of anything. 

Husbands, you’re not off the hook. You share a living space with your wife, so you have to be a student of her needs and wants. Don’t treat her like one of the guys. Remember the differences between men and women. Don’t be rough with her. Make sure you show her how valuable she is! She has just as much a claim to God’s promise as you do. If you aren’t good to her, God will block your prayers. 

Finally, you all need to work together. Show sympathy to each other. Be kind to each other. Don’t think too highly of yourselves. Don’t insult people who insult you. Don’t get even with people who hurt you. Do something good for them instead! That’s actually why God called us, and he wants to do good for us, too. You’ve read, “Anyone who wants to live a good life should watch their mouth. They should avoid evil and do good things. They should look for peace and chase it. God watches out for good people and listens to their prayers, but he’s against people who practice evil.” 

Who’s going to hurt you if you’re obsessed with being good to people? Even if someone hurts you because of your faith, you’re ok! Don’t be afraid of their threats, don’t let it shake you up. Put Jesus in the center of your heart at all times. Have a logical answer ready whenever you’re interrogated for your faith. Tell them about your hope, but make sure you’re gentle and respectful. Make sure your moral lives are good so they can’t legitimately attack your character. If you’re doing the right thing, they’ll answer for how they treat you. It’s better to be attacked for doing the right thing than for doing the wrong thing. 

By 3rd century monk – Link
Defining Submission

Defining Submission

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

What is submission? There are many who hear this word and think of weakness. They believe that if you are submissive, you’re at the bottom of the food chain. Is this really the case? 

The Bible uses this word in several different passages, and we will take a look at these verses in depth and figure out the true definition of submission.  

The original word comes from the Greek, hypotasso, which can be used several different ways depending on the context in which it is used. The first definition is “to cause to be in a submissive relationship” and the second is “to become subject, subject oneself” (BDAG). With these definitions in mind, let’s notice how scripture uses this word. 

James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Who must submit? Everyone. Who are we submitting to? God. What is the outcome? The Devil will flee. In this text, submission is the act of putting God in charge of our lives. In doing so we no longer chase after sin and Satan will flee from us. 

Col. 3:18: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Who must submit? Wives. Who are they submitting to? The husband. For what reason? God has commanded. In this text, submission is what the wife must do in her marriage in order to be approved of God.  A submissive wife is fitting in the Lord. 

Eph. 5:21: “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Who must submit? The Christian. Who are we submitting to? Other Christians. Why are we submitting? Out of reverence (deep respect and awe) for Christ. If we say that we revere Christ, we must submit to each other and place our brothers and sisters above self. 

Eph. 5:24: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” Who is submitting? The church, as well as the wives in the same way we (as a church body) submit to Christ. A submissive church looks to Christ for every spiritual decision. They do this because they are no longer in control. A wife submits to her husband by looking at the example of the church or “the bride of Christ.” 

Titus 2:5, 9; 3:1: “to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative. Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.” Who is submitting? Wives, bondservants, and those who have experienced Christ (2:14). Who are they submitting to? Husbands, masters, rulers and authorities. Why are they submitting? So the Word of God won’t be criticized or abused, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God (10), and because we aren’t who we used to be (3). 

1 Peter 2:18; 3:22; 5:5: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.” Servants are called to submit to their masters. Why? “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (19). In chapter 3:1, wives are to submit to their husbands so that they may win their husband by their actions. In 3:22 the angels, authorities, and powers have been placed under Christ. In 5:5, the young are to submit to the elders. 

Romans 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Who is supposed to submit here? Every person. To whom? The governing authorities. Why? Only God can give authority, those that are in place have been instituted by God. If we refuse to submit (break their laws), “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

Submission is the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. In scripture several groups are commanded to have this attitude:

  • Christians 
  • Wives
  • Servants 
  • Every person 

Submission is not weakness. It takes strength to make this choice. We aren’t forced into submission, but it is a choice each one of us must make. 

Have you made that choice? If you have, understand that there will be times where you fail. Thankfully God is willing to forgive those who have sinned. 

Submission means we give up what we want, and act the way God wants us to act. 

An Unsung Love Story

An Unsung Love Story

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

(Today, I’m pinch-hitting for Carl, who’s on his honeymoon this week. This is the wedding sermon portion of the ceremony performed last Friday in Summerville, GA. It was a beautiful wedding venue and occasion).

Neal Pollard

Introduction

A. One Of The Most Unsung Love Stories In The Bible Is Isaac & Rebekah

B. Their Romance & Relationship Is Revealed In Gen 24

    1. What impresses me most re: them is how they did so much right

        a. Rebekah is a very beautiful & pure young woman (16)

        b. She was a hard worker (16-20) & she had a wonderful attitude (58)

        c. She had a good relationship w/her family & his

   2. Isaac had a good head on his shoulders, he was a man of faith & family

       (25:21)

       a. & it apparently was love at first sight for Isaac (24:67)

       b. He was successful in his life's work (26:12-14)

       c. He was a patient & peace-loving man (26:20)

   3. In a day when God permitted a man to have more than one wife, & 

       his father Abraham did & his sons Jacob & Esau did

       a. Isaac was a one-woman-man

   4. It was a beautiful lifelong love story

       a. It was a story of devotion & affection

D. Their Story Is Not Unlike Yours

    1. I think Emily has the attributes of Rebekah we just saw

    2. Carl is a lot like Isaac in the ways we observed

    3. & your devotion & affection is so much like theirs, too

E. & To All Of Us Who Have Come To Witness This Joyful Occasion,

    There Are Other Parallels For Us To Consider:

   1. Many had invested so much into the moment the young couple met

      a. In Gen. 24, there was Abraham, his servant, & Rebekah's family

      b. They had invested their prayers, possessions & plans for these 2

   2. God was at the heart of both families' lives

       a. "God" is found 7 Xs in Gen 24, "LORD" is found 16 Xs

          1. Both families invoke His name a similar number of Xs

          2. Their faith was strong, & they conveyed that deep faith to I & R

              a. The moments before Isaac met Rebekah, he was worshipping (24:62)

              b. She was willing to leave her home to go to Isaac's home out of her trust in
God's providence & guidance in her life

          3. Their families encouraged them to serve & obey the Lord

              a. Abraham wanted his son to have a wife God would be pleased with

              b. Rebekah's brother & parents saw God's will in this & encouraged her to marry
Isaac

F. For A Few Minutes, I Want To Share With You Both Some Of The Blessings & Promises Shared
With Isaac & Rebekah

I. YOU WILL LIVE LIFE TOGETHER BEFORE THE LIVING ONE WHO SEES

A. When Isaac Met Rebekah, He Was Standing At Beer-Lahai-Roi

    1. It was the well at the place Hagar called "El-Roi," "A God who sees" (16:14)

    2. In 25:11, we read that the newly weds lived in this place

B. May I Encourage You To Remember That Today & Every Day For the Rest Of Your Lives, You
Will Be Living Before The God Who Sees

    1. Let that bring you comfort & hope, to encourage you

    2. He will see your ups & downs; Your victories & defeats

    3. There will be times when His presence & help are undoubtable

        a. Other times, you may be tempted to wonder

C. He Will Walk With You Both Throughout Your Lives

    1. Give Him 1st place, the most honored & cherished seat at the table of your marriage

    2. Pr 15:3--The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil & the good

        a. It's not just a warning vs. sin; It's a promise as you do good

II. GOD WANTS TO HEAR YOU PRAY FOR YOUR SPOUSE

A. There Came A Time Of Stress & Adversity In Their Marriage

   1. You're aware that you'll face moments like those, too

B. It's Beautiful To See How Isaac Responds To This

   1. 25:21--Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife

   2. Of all the good Isaac did in his life, nothing was better than this

C. There Will Be Moments When Your Problems May Threaten To Cause A Wedge Between You Two

   1. The best thing you will ever do in these Xs is to pray for each other, motivated by
your love & care for each other

   2. You will always need God's help; Let nothing keep you from praying to Him together

   3. & let nothing keep you from faithfully praying to God for each other

   4. 1 Pt 3:7--You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way,
as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of
the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered


     a. When Peter says "your prayers," it's plural (God's encouraging both of you to pray
for each other)

   5. When you do, God will hear as He heard Isaac's prayer for Rebekah

 III. ALWAYS KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN

A. I've Heard Sermons And Bible Classes Re: The Danger Of Showing Favoritism With Your
Children & This Couple Is Used As Exhibit A

   1. But after the deception of Jacob & Esau's anger & grudge, Rebekah comes to Isaac &
freely shares her concerns w/Isaac (27:48)

       a. Isaac listens & the 2 of them work together to resolve the problem

B. Don't Wait For Problems To Arise Before You Start Communicating

   1. But certainly, when problems arise, be sure that you communicate freely, lovingly, &
persistently

   2. Companionship is re: needing each other & leaning on each other

C. Carl, Nourish & Cherish Emily; Love Her As X Loved The Church (Ep  5:25-28)

   1. Emily, love your husband so as to honor God's word (Ti 2:4-5)

   2. & realize the vital role communication plays in conveying your love

IV. FIND LOVE & COMFORT FROM ONE ANOTHER

A. Their Marriage Came At The Time Isaac Lost His Mother

   1. But the Bible tells us re: how they shared love & comfort w/one another (Gen 24:67)

   2. God has given you such a blessing in your marriage 

B. Never Miss An Opportunity To Express It To Each Other

   1. Like Solomon said

      a. Song 4:10--How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your
love than wine,


     b. Or Song 7:6--How beautiful and how delightful you are, My love, with all your charms!

   2. & like his bride said to him

      a. Song 1:16--How handsome you are, my beloved, And so pleasant!

      b. Song 2:3--Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, So is my beloved among
the young men. In his
shade I took great delight and sat down, And his fruit was
sweet to my taste.


C. Of Course, Do More Than Say It; Show It--Never Miss An Opportunity

   1. It will keep you on the sunny side of life on the stormiest days
Listening to the best man speech right before their exit.
“A GREAT WIFE”

“A GREAT WIFE”

Dale Pollard

image

Hey men, what makes a good wife?

 If I had the courage to ask a few random guys watching the football game at the local Applebees, they might give me a few stereotypical male answers. Some of them might say, 

“Well a good wife should be a good cook!” 

or “A good wife makes sure I got tea in my glass when I sit in my chair at the end of the day.” Or “A good wife keeps the house nice and clean.” 

The question isn’t what makes a good maid— but a good wife. 

I’m one day in to my second year of marriage. I still have no idea what I’m doing. However, I know exactly what makes a good wife. 

Here are five qualities of, not just a good, but a great spouse. I’m incredibly blessed to see these things in my bride every day. 

A Good Wife Is…

  1. Filled with a desire To please God, more than her husband. 
  1. Not sinless but not satisfied with the status quo— she seeks to always grow spiritually.
  1. Constantly encouraging, but not afraid to be honest about the faults in her husband.
  1. Focused on eternity and helps her husband focus on eternity. Every day.
  1. Forgiving, just like Jesus. 

According to scripture, a good wife is someone that’s always growing but will always be a child of God. 

Proverbs 31 

Now, excuse me— my wife needs me to run an errand for her. 🙂 

What Happens After “Happily Ever After”?

What Happens After “Happily Ever After”?

Monday’s Column: Neal at the Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

It’s something they never tell you in the romantic movie. The ending of the storyline so full of twists and turns, where he and she might not have ended up together but seemed destined to be together, is so happy and perfect. Both are all smiles, with stars in their eyes, when we see “The End” and the credits roll.

They never tell you what happens after the fairy tale wedding or the long-awaited kiss. He refuses to ask directions as they fade into the sunset. They argue over where to eat that romantic dinner. He speaks without thinking and says something thoughtless, followed by tense silence. 

I am not critiquing one of the sacrosanct principles of romantic movies and books. Happy endings can be a great escape from reality and a feel good experience. Yet, when we hold it up as the unqualified expectation for our own lives, we set ourselves up for trouble. Social media is rife with posts and pictures which can perpetuate the fiction that the people we friend and follow are constantly living out “happily ever after.” Life is always grand, and success and satisfaction is the constant. 

Don’t misunderstand. So much of what we experience in life is shaped by attitude. Being positive can help us negotiate those hairpin curves in the road of life. But, coping through positivity is different from allowing disappointment to make us disenchanted with failing to meet the unrealistic expectation that every problem and adversity can be wrapped up into a pretty, neat package with a frilly bow on top. 

It’s quite the balancing act, isn’t it? Scripture teaches to think on healthy, beneficial things come what may (Phil. 4:8). Or, as Solomon puts it, “All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Prov. 15:15). Yet, Job (14:1) and Solomon (Ecc. 2:23) do not sugarcoat the reality that life is often painful, grievous, and full of trouble both day and night. 

May I offer some encouragement?

  • To the newlyweds, neither of you is perfect and there is no way you can always agree and get along without mutual compromise and effort. You will have so many great days, but there will be some mountains to climb and valleys you must pass through. No couple out there is breezing through married life. Turning to one another (and God) rather than on one another when marriage is hard will forge your bond come what may (1 Pet. 3:7).
  • To the new parents, though that baby looks perfect and angelic, he or she will introduce demands, needs, concerns, and challenges you never knew existed before. Each developmental stage will be accompanied by incredible highs and lows. As you look into the faces of your children, you will be looking at eternity and knowing the weight of your decisions and leadership. But, savor those little ordinary moments. You are placing puzzle pieces that will one day become your children’s picture of their childhood. How you handled the hard times will be at least as important as how you handled the fun times (Prov. 22:6). 
  • To the new Christian, it is right for you to relish the feeling of relief and joy over being forgiven and cleansed from sins. The burden of guilt has been lifted. You are experiencing something in Christ that you never knew existed. But, there will be difficult days. The devil lurks (1 Pet. 5:8). Selfish desires can derail (Jas. 1:13-15). Suffering for your faith should be expected (1 Pet. 4:16; Acts 14:22), but by hanging on your eternal destiny is better than you can imagine. Along the journey, you will grow, mature, and develop into someone better and stronger as Christ lives in you (Gal. 2:20). 
  • To the Christian who publicly repents, you had no idea how much support, love, and encouragement you were going to receive. You feel the relief of forgiveness and restored hope. There’s clarity and purpose where there had been confusion and distraction. Things are better now (cf. Jas. 5:16; 1 Jn. 1:9), but the battles and temptations that led you away are still there. You will still have to face the consequences of bad choices, but you will not regret turning to God and your spiritual family for help. This is the first step of your rededication. Keep walking and never stop (Mat. 7:13-14; 1 Th. 2:12).

There are so many other phases and circumstances deserving the same kind of encouragement. The bottom line for each is the same. When viewed with heavenly eyes, each of us is staring at the ultimate happy ending. Even as our exterior deteriorates, our inner man is renewed daily (2 Cor. 4:16). Our momentary difficulties will give way to incomparable glory (2 Cor. 4:17-18).  The best is yet to come (2 Cor. 5). But, between now and then, we all have to negotiate bumps in the road. That’s OK. Keep following Christ on this narrow road and the “ever after” will transcend your greatest hopes (Mat. 16:24ff). 

Marriages Secretly In Trouble

Marriages Secretly In Trouble

Neal Pollard

Social media has done us no favors, with the temptation it presents to project happiness and perfection while masking the trials and challenges inevitable for such a long-term commitment as marriage is. Not only can we be guilty of misrepresenting our own relationship, but we can unwittingly put pressure on other couples who see these projections and increase dissatisfaction with their less than perfect and happy marriage. Of course, the answer to this is not to use forums like social media to air the sordid stains on our life’s laundry. But, there is a need for some reasoning and common sense that can assist us in building better marriages.

The University of Wyoming’s Family And Consumer Sciences department has an excellent study by Ben Silliman entitled, “Intimacy Means Conflict.” They begin with a profound, if provocative, statement, saying, “To love may not mean to fight, but it does mean to become close, to care a lot, and eventually to discover differences and disagreements. Those who love much have a better chance of conflict” (click here). This great study includes some common sense suggestions for working through the conflict:

  • Focus on needs, not solutions.
  • Brainstorm possible solutions.
  • Choose the best option. 
  • Make a plan.
  • Implement the plan. 
  • Seek feedback and evaluate both the process and the outcome (ibid.).

He does not overtly come from a biblical worldview. He is not exclusively focused on monogamous marriage relationships. But his counsel is sound and consistent with biblical principles.  Cross-check each of his suggestions with Scriptural guidance:

  • Philippians 2:3-4
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9
  • 1 Corinthians 10:23
  • Proverbs 16:3
  • Psalm 37:5
  • 1 Peter 3:7; James 3:17

The passages represent that the Bible talks about all these methods and approaches, but it does not suggest that this is all the Bible has to say about these. I am convinced the devil would love nothing more than for married couples, beset by conflict and even repeatedly addressing the same issue or issues, to just give up on their marriages. Wouldn’t he love for us to be convinced that we’re the only ones struggling and our situations are hopeless? I know such thoughts are not of God, who urges us to see possibilities even through improbabilities because of His capabilities (Phil. 4:13). 

It’s fatal to a marriage to ignore or be in denial about the things that produce conflict. And it’s foolish to believe that a marriage is doomed because conflict is present. There is no way to achieve closer relationships without negotiating the unavoidable differences between two individuals striving to be a united couple. May I encourage all of us who are married to redouble our commitment to working through conflict in order to reach closer, Christ-centered relationships. 

66631203_10219065622729624_1950954779282767872_n

Showing Love To Your Mate In Ways That Count

Showing Love To Your Mate In Ways That Count

Neal Pollard

1–Do Something That Is Truly Meaningful To Them (Acts Of Service)(Phil. 2:3-4)

2–Say Something That Is Essential To Them (Cf. Col. 4:6)

3–Pray Something That Is Helpful To Them (When You’re Close Or Not, It Will Benefit You Both)(1 Pet. 3:7)

4–Lift Something That Is Too Heavy For Them (Your Thoughtful Compassion Will Be Appreciated)(Gal. 6:2)

5–Show Them Something That Is Useful To Them (Your Example)(Eph 5:22-33)

6–Give Them Something That Is Appreciated By Them (Forgiveness, Patience, Understanding, Etc.)(Gal. 5:22-23)

7–Go Somewhere That’s Special To Them (Sentimentally; Geographically)

8–Study Something That Pertains To Them (The Bible, Of Course, But Also Other Books On The Subject)

9–Hope Something That Is About Them (Their Best; Their Salvation; Their Happiness)(1 Cor. 13:7)

10–Be Someone That Is Respected By Them (Eph 5:22-33)

valentines-day-2009493_640

Observations From Perhaps The Most Difficult Passage In The New Testament

Observations From Perhaps The Most Difficult Passage In The New Testament

Neal Pollard

What is perhaps the most difficult statement in the Bible is not grammatically complex or difficult to comprehend from an intellectual standpoint. But what elder, preacher, or other member has not agonized over it many times. Asked point blank for His teaching on the subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, Jesus says, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Mat. 19:8-9). There are quite a few observations that can be made from this reading.

  • Jesus makes a timeless statement (“from the beginning”).
  • Jesus makes a universal statement (This applies to “whoever”).
  • Jesus makes an authoritative statement (“I say to you”)–Matthew often reveals Jesus’ contrasting His teaching with the inferior Law of Moses.
  • Jesus does not mandate (necessitate) that divorce occur in the case of fornication.
  • Jesus identifies the exception to the rule (“whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery”)–It is fornication (BDAG–“Unlawful sexual intercourse”).
  • Jesus’ teaching here cannot be negated by other Scripture (cf. 1 Cor. 7; 2 Cor. 5:17).
  • Jesus teaches that another marriage (excepting for one’s spouse’s fornication) is adulterous.
  • Jesus does not free the guilty to remarry.
  • The duration of adultery in the second marriage considered by Jesus persists as long as that subsequent marriage persists.
  • The teaching has been difficult from this inception (see Mat. 19:10-12).

This passage must be taught patiently, lovingly, wisely, compassionately, and prayerfully! Yet, on what grounds can we decide not to teach it? Treating it with the reverence it deserves, why would we seek to dismantle or discredit it? Of course, we would not.  By teaching it, we risk losing good will and favor with many but by teaching it as Jesus taught it we show respect and fidelity to His supreme authority. May God grant us “a spirit…of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7) on this eternally important passage. 

800px-Wedding_rings_photo_by_Litho_Printers

LANDMINES IN RESOLVING CONFLICT

LANDMINES IN RESOLVING CONFLICT

Neal Pollard

“I.” The late Wendell Winkler once said that beneath most marital conflict is basic selfishness. “What about my needs?” “What have you done for me?” “I am not happy, fulfilled, etc.”  The Bible warns of the destructive nature of selfishness (Luke 9:23; Eph. 4:22,24; Phil. 2:3; 2 Tim. 3:2)! One of the most frequent casualties of selfishness is marital happiness. 

“You.” This is really the other side of the conflict coin that blows up progress and growth in relationships. If selfishness is blind to the needs and concerns of the other person, blame and deflection is the total denial of guilt or shared responsibility. “You don’t treat me right.” “Why don’t you pull your weight?” “You are not enough of ‘X’ or too much of ‘Y’!” Accusation, which puts one’s mate on the defensive, is a poor framework for resolving conflict. The very first couple played the blame game, to no avail and with no success. 

“They.” A mirage is “something that appears real or possible but is not in fact so.” We usually think of a mirage in the desert, an optical illusion created by extreme conditions. How often do married couples in conflict see marital mirages? A couple is hurting, and as they look across the burning sand they see “perfect couples” and “perfect marriages.” We are not helping ourselves by comparing ourselves to what is not what it appears anyway (cf. 2 Cor. 10:12). Every marriage is comprised of flawed, sinful people who are constantly faced with overcoming. Whatever you think you see in other couples “is not in fact so.”

“God.” Now, hear me well. God is the answer to all conflict, if we consult Him. Yet, when we blame God or let conflict affect our faith, then our attitude toward God can become a major landmine preventing resolution. “God doesn’t care.” “God isn’t listening to my cries and prayers.” “Where is God when I need Him?” Trials are going to test our faith, but be careful not to give God credit for blame that rests upon us and our spouses. 

The good news is that “I,” “you,” “they,” and “God” can all play a fruitful role in resolving conflict. When “I” am humble and honest and focus on my role and responsibility, good will result. When “you” are treasured, valued, and sincerely loved, things will start looking up. When “they” are reasonably treated as role-models and inspiration, it can be helpful. When “God” is totally trusted and obeyed, there is no insurmountable problem! I wish marriage had no saboteurs or hazards, but the best of them do. Let’s work to avoid triggering them, trusting that God’s pattern for everything, including marriage, gives us the best shot at success. 

blast