Only God can grant a successful marriage

How do some people achieve a blessed marriage, while others do not?  Maybe God might have something to do with it.

Readership: Christians; The married;

Coming to Faith

After reading Scott’s testimony in How I Discovered that I Wanted to be Married (2020-4-27), it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t anything that he did (or didn’t do) that took him closer to his desire of being happily married.  In fact, it seemed like all of his doings only took him further away from it.  He himself has stated on multiple occasions that he was clueless about why his marriage to Mychael has become blessed.

However, from reading his last post, We Marry Our Own Cross (2020-05-18), we do find some things he did which allowed him to eventually arrive at a blessed state.

  1. One is his determination to keep trying, to keep going, to make the effort, and to do the work.  This is essentially the element of commitment, and this was entirely his decision to do so.
  2. Second, he had a strong desire for intimacy, and this desire humbled him enough to take action.
  3. Third, he had a vision (based on his friend’s parents’ marriage) of what an ideal marriage should be like.  There wasn’t much logic or cognitive reasoning behind this.  He simply believed in his heart that this was something he could achieve for himself, and he latched on to his heart’s awareness of that blessing, and held on to it no matter what the reality of life was serving up to him.

Taken together, this is faith!

Coming to God

In a recent post, Start With Me Reprise (2020-5-16), Ed Hurst described this same dynamic of faith in spiritual language.

“Faith cannot arise without humility.  Humility is an integral part of how faith works.  And without faith, it is impossible to please God; you cannot return to Eden.  Humility is nailing the fleshly nature or “carnal nature” to the Cross; it is turning the Sword of the Spirit against your own soul.  Both of those parabolic images point to the same thing.  The Bible uses other terms, like “death of self” (or denying self) to indicate things that cannot be explained.  They are miracles, rooted in the Spirit Realm and defying explanation.  Faith puts a death sentence on Adam-in-you, in order to give life to Jesus-in-you.”
“Scripture leaves us with the image of Eden being guarded by the Flaming Sword of revelation.  That’s not to block your entrance, but to restore faith [through humility] before you try to enter.  You take that Sword into your own hands and use it against your own fleshly nature.  It’s the means by which you discern the thoughts and intentions of your own soul, by which you judge your own sin.  This is why I say you should pray the wrath of God down by asking Him to start with you.  You know from that experience with the Flaming Sword that it heals whatever good thing God has placed in your life, and slices off everything you got from the Devil.  You long for His wrath, because you know what great good comes from it.  You know that His wrath is His blessing.”

The part in boldface is a long difficult journey for most.  In my own or Scott’s case, these thoughts and intentions are the things we felt like we needed to do in life.  But for all our efforts (which turned out to be “efforts in the flesh”), we weren’t able to find a way to make it work according to God’s outline.

For Scott, it was pursuing Meet Cute experiences, serial monogamy, and getting married for the first time.  He could probably add many other attempts to the list.

For me, getting married and having a family was something I always believed was God’s will for my life.  I could clearly see the error of Scott’s approach, but I went to the opposite extreme, clinging to a path of legalism for many years.  I could avoid sexual liaisons and women I deemed unmarriageable, but I couldn’t find a way to get into a fulfilling Christian marriage.  I didn’t know how to make this happen until I started having sex in my early 30s.  But through fornication, I found not just one, but a number of “Christian” women who wanted to marry me.  And I also discovered that women use sex to qualify men for marriage.  (Readers could argue that this approach isn’t Christian, and I agree that it’s not, but it is what it is.  Go figure!)  I would have never learned this important detail from going to church or reading the Bible.  I realized that by pursuing purity, I was only keeping myself ignorant about how women operate.

Coming into Self-Awareness

For the longest time, and for the life of me, I couldn’t identify what my sin was.  Was it not being content with singleness and thinking that I should be married?  Or was it being so legalistic that I rejected real opportunities to have a typical relationship, thinking it was little more than a temptation to have sex?  Or was it discovering how to get into marriage through fornication?  Or was it merely my ignorance?  Or if there was something else, then what?

Over the past few years, I’ve realized that the entire culture (including the church) and the marriage marketplace (MMP) was stacked against me.  Finding a blessed Christian marriage in this society is hopeless!

So in summary, there was all this confusion and sin that Scott and I had to wade through before we found our way in life.  All this has made me realize that my sin is deeper than anything on the conscious level of my awareness.  It is my nature.  It is well-established.  It is institutionalized.  Until I can figure out who I am, and what the object of my faith is, and how to navigate in that direction, through my own brokenness and through this messy life, then sin is more or less unavoidable.  And thinking that it could be manageable through my own efforts, is legalism — something that St. Paul continually warned against.  I am sure this is why God chooses to be patient and gracious to us as we slowly pick up the learning curve on the trajectory of our own choosing.  God never required us to be married, you know. It was our own choice, for better or for worse.  Yet in spite of our grievous mistakes and meanderings, God picks up the slack, and even goes so far as to grant us the object of our desire, eventually.

“But without faith [and by extension, humility] it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

man rock climbing

Coming to God is not the same as Coming to Church

Derek left one comment of extreme importance which has gone without response,

“We should not look to the church for answers, for it has none.  It is utterly lost, and the beer virus has unambiguously highlighted this for everyone to see.  It is crystal clear.”

Dark Brightness repeated this stance in The Antipodean Prophecies (2020 April 7).

“You are worried about your job, as the suggestion that we should be nice is being weaponized.  This world works by oppression and fear. We are to instead look to Christ. Not the church — it is converged, as an institution. Not at each other, for we are flawed. And not at the current results or productivity we have, for at times it feels that nothing real is happening.”

That readers came to this conclusion through reading this post On the Significance and value of the Meet Cute experience (2020-4-3) is a source of amusement to me, because this further confirms one of the conclusions that…

“…the Biblical conscription of marriage is d@mn near impossible to attain through an independent discovery.”

Continuing with Derek’s comment,

“We can look to other Christians or members of our local community. Perhaps there is assistance to be found. But ultimately, you must rely on individual study and revelation from God. There is no other practical and consistent option.

If you are a man who wants to find a wife, you must rely on God in a way that has rarely been required in history due to the breakdown of Christian institutions (including family).

I got lucky by being in one of the few communities that still had viable Christian institutions. Ed, on the other hand, seems to be demonstrating the modern approach that must be emulated. A man, once red-pilled or ‘born again’, must embrace Christ alone despite the difficulties of the approach.”

Conclusions

“God promises that he will not forsake those who seek him.  Advice that we all can provide may or may not be useful, depending on context.  But if you truly believe that trusting in God is a real and reliable thing, then you truly believe that it is the only consistent option.  Indeed, difficult or not, it is a prerequisite.”

So it comes down to this: If you’ve decided that you must be married, then you must find and trust God, or bust!

Related

About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Choosing a Partner or Spouse, Courtship and Marriage, Determination, Discernment, Wisdom, Discipline, Freedom, Personal Liberty, Game Theory, Holding Frame, Introspection, Love, Maturity, Personal Growth and Development, Models of Failure, Models of Success, Perseverance, Relationships, Self-Concept, Strategy, The Power of God and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Only God can grant a successful marriage

  1. Scott says:

    Thanks for this follow up. Occasionally I write a post that I put a huge amount of effort into and the comments go totally crickets! And I think to myself “was it something I said?”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jack says:

      When I write a post that gets a lot of views (indicating that it’s popular), but no comments, I presume it is because it is a well written post. Most of my highest ranking posts over the years are this way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sharkly says:

        Controversy and contention make the comments fly. One trolling comment generates three others. If everybody agrees for the most part, there often isn’t much more to say. I often comment to correct things I think are wrong, or to add things that seem to have been missed, or to ask questions where the author is unclear. As I recall, I “liked” Scott’s last post, and didn’t feel that it needed any comment from me. I could relate to quite a lot of it personally. I respect my brother, Scott, for a great post.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. cobaltsheath says:

    Not to put a negative spin on this post, but the title basically implies that men are on their own when they are seeking to create a successful marriage. Yes, God would be on their side if the desire was truly there, but socially, the guy is basically alone in all of this. Aside from one or two men–men, it should be noted, with whom I don’t enjoy close proximity–that I would consider to be good advisors on the matter, this describes my situation, and probably others.

    In practical. In a (more) ideal world, the church…or at least the couple’s families…would be armpits-deep with the couple in forming and maintaining the marriage, but that’s not available to us right now. The husband could be an apex alpha and the marriage could break down because the social and legal structure simply isn’t there. The wife has everything whispering in her ear to do otherwise; all she has to do is give in to it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Scott says:

    Third, he had a vision (based on his friend’s parents’ marriage) of what an ideal marriage should be like. There wasn’t much logic or cognitive reasoning behind this. He simply believed in his heart that this was something he could achieve for himself, and he latched on to his heart’s awareness of that blessing, and held on to it no matter what the reality of life was serving up to him.

    I have eluded to this before, in writings and one or two videos. My divorce from my first wife was, in fact a crossroads for me. One where i could have descended into despair and resentment. I actually had the one and only moment of “suicidality” I have experienced in the months that followed. What caused me to stay alive is a mystery, and I only have access to this one, nebulous cognition about it:

    I knew that someday the pain would be over. That some day a different reality would present itself to me. I could not describe it. I had no idea what it would look like I had no idea it would be graduate school, army officer, new wife, beautiful babies, finally getting my Montana ranch up and running. Converting to Orthodoxy. No matter. As long as I could hold constant in my mind that something else was on the horizon, I stayed alive for another day. And eventually, that day came.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. elspeth says:

    I do think a successful, fulfilling marriage is possible outside of a Christian framework. It’s totally possible, and some people manage it, albeit very few, but few Christians do it either.

    A successful marriage is almost completely dependent on an understanding that the whole (couple, family, what is being built, whatever that is) is more important than the individual. It’s easier to do that -or at least it should be- as a member of Christ’s body. But there are people who have the gift of this mindset as a part of their personalities. And sometimes two people who are well suited to and well situated to be married to each other find one another and have an enjoyable marriage.

    Therefore, I would amend the title to say that only God can give us a successful marriage that glorifies Him. We forget that His strength is made perfect in the context of our frailties, and often suffering -even in marriage- is what He uses to bring glory to Him.

    I suppose it comes down to how and in what context we define “success” compared to how God would define it in any one of our situations. Our definition of a successful marriage is most often “conflict-free, sexually fulfilling, and materially sound.” That’s enjoyable, but how much spiritual growth occurs from years and years of that?

    After spending the first five or six years learning how to be married, the last 20 years of our marriage has been pretty easy from a relational standpoint. I am certain that were it not for external griefs and pressures, I’d be even weaker spiritually than I sometimes fear I am. I’m thankful for a successful marriage such as it is, but we also know couples who have fought for a great marriage, and the fight has been good for their marriage and family as a whole.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose it comes down to how and in what context we define “success” compared to how God would define it in any one of our situations. Our definition of a successful marriage is most often “conflict-free, sexually fulfilling, and materially sound.” That’s enjoyable, but how much spiritual growth occurs from years and years of that?

      Yup, which is why we need to use the Bible’s definitions of roles and responsbilities.

      After spending the first five or six years learning how to be married, the last 20 years of our marriage has been pretty easy from a relational standpoint. I am certain that were it not for external griefs and pressures, I’d be even weaker spiritually than I sometimes fear I am. I’m thankful for a successful marriage such as it is, but we also know couples who have fought for a great marriage, and the fight has been good for their marriage and family as a whole.

      I think ideally the husband-wife should improve and be easy relationally over time. This leaves more time and effort (not fighting each other) to spend on modeling and teaching the kids or doing other parts of God’s mission serving in the Church or evangelism or others.

      The more issues in marriage you have the harder it is going to be effective for God in other areas of life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jack says:

        The definition of “successful” is open to personal interpretation. So I think the title can stand as a generalized truism. Nevertheless, it is important to have a clear idea of what a “successful marriage” is.
        Elspeth mentioned glorifying God, and we could add the following to complete the description.
        1. It produces a mutual sense of satisfaction and contentment.
        2. It successfully averts temptation and prevents adultery.
        3. It fosters spiritual growth and sanctification.
        4. It produces children who are emotionally healthy, and who carry on the tradition of faith. (I have a belief that the quality of the children are the best observable indicator of the success of the marriage.)
        5. DS emphasized conforming to the roles and responsibilities proscribed by God, which I presume to be necessary but insufficient.
        Personally, I feel a relationship is successful if…
        1. It is delivering what you truly want out of it.
        2. It heals more than it hurts.
        3. It gives more joy than bitterness.
        4. It energizes more than it exhausts.

        Like

      • @ Jack

        I generally agree with that.

        For (4) I would also say is like a model of Christ and the Church not just for children but also for those in churchianity and the world as a witness to others.

        Like

      • Jack says:

        @ DS,

        In my mind, marriage being a model of Christ and the Church is a part of what it means to glorify God. But yes, the glory of God in the home is also what produces God-fearing children.

        Like

  5. lastmod says:

    “Readers could argue that this approach isn’t Christian, and I agree that it’s not, but it is what it is.”

    Translation: God will understand MY sins

    Like

    • Jack says:

      “Translation: God will understand MY sins.”

      Actually, that is not such a bad translation. It sort of agrees with what the Bible says about Jesus being a mediator and an advocate for us before the Father.

      You have your own blog, Jason. You’ve written about your own sins and how you’ve struggled to overcome them. If I remember correctly, C. S. Lewis said something like, “I should not hate my brother merely because his sin is different from my own.” But nevertheless, it is natural for us to dislike those who sin differently than ourselves. I suppose if I could be envious of you because I never tried cocaine, then that might increase our mutual rapport.

      Like

  6. Scott says:

    Jack

    Good insight about other people’s sin.

    Many folks, some of my own cherished friends and loved ones spend a lot of time in that headspace of comparing themselves to others. Trying to figure whose sin was worse, who really deserved what they got, etc.

    I’m grateful I don’t naturally gravitate to that. But I can see how tempting it is. I walk around and I assume that behind the eyes of every human I meet is some thorn. Some affliction or trauma or unresolved issue from the past that causes them a tremendous amount of pain. Even the ones who seem the happiest, most fulfilled, luckiest.

    It’s upon that belief that I connect with people.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Scott says:

    I (try not) to concern myself with the work that may or may not be going on inside them. To figure out a precise accounting of how much easier or harder this person has it then others.

    And even when I do, it’s an abstraction. Like if I’m feeling sorry for myself I tend to say something like “well at least I’m not living in a mud hut in Africa begging my local warlord to not rape my 11 year old and let us drink from the alligator infested shit mud watering hole.”

    Like

  8. lastmod says:

    Oh….now its “sin is sin” but you know “it is what it is”

    Yeah, I’ll tell people the evils and sickness of drug addiction. I thought I was forgiven by the here-after and a higher power but I realized I wasn’t. Sure, I am a productive member of society now, and have been for sixteen years since cleaning up. But I am reminded daily by the world, by fellow christians, and society at large of what I “once was” and I’ll never escape it. I may have indeed changed, but I will never be allowed to progress. I never went back, but that will never be good enough. for people and for god.

    In the culture it seems to depend on what the “sin” or “bad behavior” is. In christian culture (all of them) it seems to follow what translation, what verse, and applied when and where to what situation. Meaning, “oh yeah, I sinned, but there was this man named Jesus who forgave me” versus “well, she has a high n count, she should be shunned, and is not marriage material”
    (mind you, many of you men by your actions helped give these women a high(er) n count. I am sure she is thanking you now,

    Former addicts, hookers, are never forgiven by society at large. We’re on a level with child molesters now.

    When I shed the christian nonsense of watching the “good enough for thee, but not for me” behavior which is ramopant inside christian thought….I actually began to feel better about myself. Not justify my past with “well, it is what it is” but with a mindset of “yeah, bad choices….wrong place wrong time, circumstance….and just plain making a bad choice” mentality I actually began to grow.

    Many with with “sin” may want to change but men like you and others won’t let them while justifying your own through Jesus who can forgive and justify your past “I would not be the man I would be today if I didn’t have lots of sex with lots of women” and “it is what it is”

    While most have to “get right with god” and “live in suffering”

    it just depeands who you are. Your staus, your ego, your looks, your arrogance.

    Like

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