Yesterday was Sanctity of Life Sunday. I know many churches covered the subject of abortion in small group and corporate settings. At our church, we did. Abortion has been a hot button topic for most of my life. I can remember choosing abortion as the subject of a persuasive essay I had to write in high school. Obviously, I was/am pro LIFE. But, I can remember (even as a high school student) being so very confused by the many others that shared my regard for the life of the unborn babies but had obvious DISregard for the human lives carrying those babies. Back then, it was over the top. You know.... the crazies who carried signs against murder of the unborn while they BLEW UP abortion clinic?
I was very happy, yesterday, to see that our small group material took sanctity of life further than abortion. Over and over, the authors were asking us to ponder how we can value ALL life... young/old, handicapped, neglected, etc. Sometimes, we focus on the unborn, and they are important. But, we damage and disregard other lives in the process. It's confusing, and it sends a terrible message.
I couldn't read the material without remembering Christ's words very early in the New Testament...
You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court. But, I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Matthew 5: 21-22
This passage of scripture is on my mind, because it makes it clear that, in His coming, Christ did fulfill the Law. But, He also raised the bar. No longer are we accountable ONLY for the external activity. We are held accountable the inner works of our hearts and minds.
The purpose of this blog post is for me to be able to put in print something that has REALLY been on my heart lately. This is a topic that I've gone over a million different times. Each time, I seem to come away with more questions than answers. So, I'm just going to mull it over publicly! :). That's normal, right?
Another area that God, through His word, set apart as holy is marriage. Over and over, the scriptures give instructions for marriage. It starts in the very beginning. And, God's first instructions for marriage go MUCH deeper than, "Do not divorce." He says,
For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh,... Genesis 2:24
Let me just go ahead and say it.... Here is my concern, my question, my confusion. Why have we made our argument against divorce alone? Why do overwhelming numbers of husbands and wives stay together but with total disregard to God's initial instruction for marriage.... leave Father and Mother and CLEAVE to spouse... become ONE FLESH?
If I follow Christ's New Testament instructions, He's taken everything to a higher level. Our external activity is important, but God looks at the heart. The inner workings of our marriages, I believe, are important to God. "God hates divorce." But, does that mean He is pleased with couples going through the motions of marriage... staying together for the children.... living like roommates in a house?
After Scotty's betrayal and confession, I can say that I was ANGRY. I know I was devastated in spirit. But, as I've said before, I did not feel despair. I had not lost all hope... not even for a second. God spoke to me, as clearly as possible, and told me that He REALLY could work this out. I felt that our marriage could be even better than before. I relayed all of these thoughts to Scotty in those early moments. I shared my hopes, my affirmations. But, then, I said something to him that I still can't believe I said,
"I know that God can use all of this to make something better than we've ever had. But, I'm not sure you're man enough to do the kind of work that's necessary to get there."
Ahhhh.... the memory of that statement still makes me cringe. I'd NEVER said that kind of thing to Scotty before. NEVER! In our relationship, my role was building up! Sometimes, in order to "build up" and encourage, I had to cover up and make excuses for negative behaviors. Our marriage was full of barriers to living as one flesh... defensiveness, secrecy, lack of appropriate marriage skills, etc. But, I never wanted to "rock the boat", so I'd given up hope for any kind of true intimacy. Without calling it this, I'd settled for a roommate instead of the Biblical definition of a husband. And, what I'm saying is I don't think that pleased God. The mere fact that we'd not divorced STILL didn't mean we were living obedient, Christ following lives. And, our marriage did not speak of our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.
Do you know that one statement made to Scotty woke him up? To this day, I cringe when I remember saying those words. But, he is happy that I said them. I was fearful that he wasn't going to be able to let his guard down, humble himself and cooperate with the Lord in repairing our marriage. I was FINALLY being honest, and Scotty remembers that honesty as being a catalyst to his making the commitment to do whatever it took.
(**Let me also insert that statements like that only have positive outcomes if they are spoken in love with a true desire to see the best in the person to whom they are spoken. Difficult conversations can still speak life. But, that statement could have easily been used to cut!)
In our opening session as the Marriage Institute, our therapist made a statement that let us know he did not have a "stay together and do not divorce no matter what belief." At the end of the week, his recommendation may NOT be to go home and stay together. That was odd! I'd never heard anything like that before. But, today, I realize that he was actually saying that marriage is a BIG DEAL. It's a holy matrimony! We are to take it seriously! He was not going to encourage 2 people to go home and stick it out. He wasn't going to recommend staying together just to avoid a divorce.
Why? Because, that does not demonstrate a commitment to the sanctity of marriage! We've got to start calling our situations what they are. It's hard. Even 2 1/2 years later, I shutter a little at my honest words to Scotty. But, they were important. And, I believe we MUST stop making excuses for not living the instructions God gave for marriage.
Even with the fallout we've experienced, the NATURAL pull is to go through the motions in marriage and family. It seems so much easier to do this on our own, not to find the time to really bear soul with Scotty, to get caught up in a busy schedule. But, the NATURAL pull never leads to the Godly life.
My challenge to anyone who's still reading (you're a trooper) is that we seek God's guidance in REALLY honoring His marriage standards. We are to be partners with our spouse. Our marriages are to be holy, set apart. We should enjoy one another, confide in one another, experience intimacy on every level with one another. And, to settle for anything less is sinful. Hmmm.... Ouch?!?!
Ladies, we have a tendency to cover up, to make excuses, to do whatever is necessary to make less than ideal circumstances seem o.k. That's not always a bad thing. But, if that is THE WAY of our lives, I'm suggesting we start being honest with ourselves and with God. We MUST begin to ask for more and be willing to cooperate to achieve it. Maybe we'll need help. And, there's great help out there.
I don't have all of the answers. But, I know this.... Fourteen years of trying to be the one to build Scotty up, to make light of the difficulties, to pretend that our marriage was wonderful did not achieve what those few seconds of real honesty did for him and for our marriage.
Thankfully, I was wrong. Scotty IS proving to be "man enough" to seek the Lord daily in doing this walk of recovery. Honest confession was our first step. Scotty's confession of his sin was important. But, the very important next step was our JOINT confession of need... together, we had to confess that we need an infusion of the Holy spirit daily to live an intimate, God honoring marriage.
Let's VALUE the sanctity of marriage by not settling for less than its designed purpose!
You rarely know how things will turn out, but... - [image: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS8uoyk5Jw2XILk-cR6Bf8KqzjZqfjgToMotvqsvK0P4ewgkhwQmA] Denzel Washington starred in the movie ...
1 year ago