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.
- 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.
- Second, he had a strong desire for intimacy, and this desire humbled him enough to take action.
- 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)
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.”
“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!
Σ Frame: Scott’s conclusions on courtship and marriage incubation (2019-02-24)
Σ Frame: Lest we forget, Marriage was once intended to Glorify God (2019-8-8)
Σ Frame: The Sin of Prioritizing Purity above Marriage (2020-1-17)