When Sinners Say "I Do" Cont'd

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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.”

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!

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8 Responses to When Sinners Say "I Do" Cont'd

  1. Grace says:

    That’s a good question…maybe he just means constantly demanding something (such as physical affection) and expecting to much from your spouse?

  2. Matt and Betty Morris says:

    I agree with Grace. Right now, in my situation (my husband lives in a different city), I DESIRE, so much that Matt would move back to Savannah. So much, that in the beginnning, I was a horrible nag, and I blamed him (Matt) CONSTANTLY, and tried to make him feel guilty for moving. Do I need my husband? YES. I need him everyday. But my desire for him to be here, and they way I was responding to that desire, was sooo sinful, and caused way too much strife for our young marriage. So in that case, I was desiring (but thinking I NEEDED) something that God obviously knows that at the moment, I don’t need. And He is providing for us. But my response to that desire was (and sometimes is still) sinful. That is just one way that I can think of that desires can be sinful.(which, now that I stopped being a brat, I can see how God is working in and through us in our situation). I hope all this mess I just typed makes sense ;) thanks so much for your post!

  3. Susanna Rose says:

    I appreciate these comments and think I’m starting to understand a little more what Harvey is getting at so thanks!:)”So in that case, I was desiring (but thinking I NEEDED) something that God obviously knows that at the moment, I don’t need.”Betty-great observations! It seems like God is showing you a lot in this difficult time!

  4. Not-as-Newlyweds says:

    I appreciate the synopsis you post for each chapter. I would agree with the “need” vs. “want.” I think it’s also about your heart. I guess, kind of like Betty, I’m thinking of times *my* Matt :) has to work late. He’ll work late hours, come home for a late dinner, and then set up shop here at home working til the wee hours if a project’s deadline is approaching. On one hand, some quality time with him or not having to go to bed alone are good “wants” for me to have (and do I have them!). But in those times, what Matt NEEDS trumps my want/needs. He NEEDS to support him, to be encouraging, not to place even more expectations upon his shoulders when he is already burdened. Instead, I seek to lift any burden I can and ease the way for him to accomplish the work to which God has called him and the job with which God has gifted him. Neither his “need” nor my “need” are life and death needs. But under those circumstances, his takes first place. And he has never failed to bless me tenfold when the stressful deadlines have passed. Not that I serve and honor him in order to gain that, but when you’re seeking your spouse’s best before your own, it is so often sweetly reciprocal like that.Your reading of this book has made me determined once and for all to read The Sacred Marriage. I’ve been wanting to read it for so long and have heard such wonderful things about. As soon as my kiddos are out for the summer (and therefore I am too!), I hope to pick it up. I *loved* Sacred Parenting. Maybe I’ll even post tid-bits as I read like you have. ;)Thank you for sharing, and thank you for your sweet comment back as well. I’m just so glad the Lord was able to speak through what He brought to my mind. :)Blessings,Becca

  5. The Matriarch says:

    Interesting article and comments. We will have to talk some more next week!

  6. james says:

    Hey great stuff!!Hey Matt and Betty Morris,it was bad on your part,but its good you realised your mistake.I also want to raise question,What should one do if he/she finds hsi/her partner cheating on them?james

  7. Ally says:

    Thank you for summarizing all of this. It’s really helpful and seems like some of this could be applicable to other relationships too.

  8. Susanna Rose says:

    “Instead, I seek to lift any burden I can and ease the way for him to accomplish the work to which God has called him and the job with which God has gifted him.”Becca, what awesome wisdom! I need to think about doing this more, especially when Rick is in a particularly stressful work situation or whatever the case may be! Thanks for adding this!

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