This is yet another telling example of the eroding institution of marriage in our society… Yesterday, the soon-to-be new pastor of our church preached a powerful sermon on divorce. He mentioned seeing a poster recently in a subway advertising a divorce lawyer service and the number to call was 1-800-BREAK FREE. Our world offers such an easy way out. It is admittedly no fun to counter the sin in our marriages as it demands humility and a reliance upon God above all things. But God has promised to be right there with us, extending His grace to us, and He will see that come what may, the storms in our marriage can be weathered…1-800-BREAK FREE will not be necessary!
Chapter 4: Taking it Out for a Spin
I’m continuing the journey through this book. In chapter 4 of “When Sinners Say “I Do,”” Dave Harvey emphasises the importance of putting our theology, what we know and believe about God, into practice in our marriages. To do so, he gives 4 roads we can take, all of which will lead us in right directions, providing blessings to our marriages.
- First Gear: In humility, suspect YOURSELF first. Harvey reflects on how the term suspicion usually gets a bad rap in a culture because it is usually associated with fowl play or other negative connotations. Within marriage though, he shows that suspicion can not only be a positive thing but that it is an essential element of a growing union. If we are first suspicious of our own hearts when conflict arises instead of our spouses, we acknowledge “that my heart has a central role in my behavior, and that my heart has a permanent tendency to oppose God and His ways.” Suspicion of our own hearts, a concept new to me but one which makes sense!
- Second Gear: In Integrity, Inspect Yourself. If we begin growing in suspicion of our own hearts, we will naturally begin inspecting our hearts more readily as well. What will we find? If we are honest, we will find many logs and specks, reminders of our own deep sin. This will then affect how we address our spouse…if we truly see our own sin before theirs and are broken by it, we will not fall into hypocrisy and will not continually be engrossed in, as Harvey calls it, a “speck hunt.” The whole of this second road comes together beautifully if both spouses approach marriage in this manner, aware of their individual logs and specks.
- Third Gear: Admit that Circumstances only Reveal Existing Sin. Yes marriage may bring out our sins in a clearer fashion, sins we didn’t know we struggled with or thought we had triumphed over. This is a good thing since there is no where to hide. As Harvey writes, when Adam was caught sinning in the Garden of Eden, his response to God, the first words he uttered about Eve, were: “Lord, it’s the woman You gave me.” Thus Adam began the process of blame shifting, acting as though Eve, God’s gift to him, was the reason for his sin, not Adam himself. This thinking is in direct opposition to how God wants us to view our husband or wife. As a beautiful reminder of this fact, Harvey says, “Your spouse was a strategic choice made by a wise and loving God. Selected byHim, for you, from the beginning of the world, your spouse is an essential part of God’s rescue mission for your life.” Perhaps we should all write this quote down and put it on our fridges!
- Fourth Gear: Focus on Undeserved Grace, not Unmet Needs. If we have proper understanding of how undeserving we are of God’s love and forgiveness, we will better be able to focus on grace in our relationship with our spouse. We are always told by the culture around us that we could have more and that indeed we need more to be truly satisfied. Needs may look completely innocent such as the need for physical affection or time. Harvey points out that though the source of unforgiving looks, angry words and cold shoulders is not unmet needs but rather, unmet desires. We want things no matter if it is a right desire to want them or not . Perhaps then, many of our conflicts arise from nothing more than the desire to be fulfilled in some way and not really from our spouses supposed inability to meet a need. It is important to remember that desires will always be at war within us and we should learn to distinguish between the two as desires can often lead us to sin.
This quote from Harvey gives promise and reassurance: “But sinners who say “I do” have a different road to travel. It is the road of astonishing, and undeserved grace-a grace so remarkable that is shows us the problem and then delivers the solution.”
Question: Does anyone
else feel the differentiation between unmet needs and unmet desires (point #4) within marriage is a confusing one? How can it be wrong to feel I need say affection from my spouse? I must confess I do not completely understand what Harvey is trying to say here and would love some input!