Living in fear is not recommended. If most of us were honest (seldom we want to be) fear is a strong motivator in a marriage. Fear of divorce, fear of being alone, fear of failure, of poverty, of a reputation in Church, and the list can go on. What I have noticed over the years is that many within the Christian marriage culture would rather live in fear. There is something normal to it all. And there is no doubt that fear is normal or expected in us humans. It is a basic part of what makes us a human being. Animals fear, and we do to.
Fear can give birth to control. Are you are always upset at your spouse because they are not doing what you want them to do? That is a result of not being able to control them. And underlying that is fear. When you desire to have your kids be like you, it usually is out of fear! You fear the unfamiliarity of being different or living a different kind of life. “What if my kids do not attend college?” “What if they get married to young, to old, to the ‘wrong’ person?” We live so much like this we tend to not even understand that we are moving out of fear. Fear is the chief motivator. We can call it God and faith; and we do! I find in my own heart i’d rather believe the illusion that I am a faithful guy. This too is fear. Who wants to be seen as not walking in faith in the Church? Being seen as a sinner is what the Pharisees loathed. We value strong people of faith! And we assume they do not fear or are moved by such a primitive emotion. Jesus lived a different lifestyle than the religious leaders of his day. It made them uncomfortable, and they ridiculed Jesus and his discipleship for it. Just think of some of his sayings and how it flew in the face of the religious norm. Here is an example:
Luke 14:13-23 “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
This fear is no greater than when you have been hurt by the other. Say your spouse committed adultery. After such an action has occurred it would be easy to fear a repeat of the offence (no doubt Hosea did). But what if it was no offence at all? Think about this for a minute or two! Are there cultures where non monogamy has thrived? Wednesday Martin’s book Untrue tells about a few cultures that have a different kind of marital situation than we do, where a wife can be with a man other than her husband, and it is considered normal. There is no fear among those in this kind of arrangement when those rules are being adhered to. Or think of the non monogamy of Mormonism, Islam, and Judaism? Was there great fear among the women in these systems? I’m sure to most of the women, it was simply normal. They might not even have thought there could be a different scenario in there world. Did they fear being a wife of many wives? Did they know of a world where they had the choice to decide for themselves? There expectations were different then yours! Fear plays on rules and expectations. You have no fear of getting a ticket is when there are no rules of speeding.
But even in the alternative living scenarios Wednesday Martin reports on in the tribal lives of couples, there’s a understandings within the martial relationship, of guidelines within the culture to follow. And like our culture, when they are broke trust is broke. Then fear can reign, in both, the victim and the offender. And when that fear takes over a life, all you have is restriction, never liberation. My first insight is this; it’s not the format of the marriage that creates fear, Fear can and will reside in us long before any sort of marriage and it is one of the great motivators. Fear can reside in any kind of relationship. Husband, wife. Husband, son. Daughter, Father. Son, Mother. polygyny, polyandry, polyamory etc… Fear is in us, and it will manifest itself in different ways. Control is one major way. I’ll focus on this paradigm of fear in the blog.
Jesus came to liberate! Remember that. In your Christian marriage you should feel a freedom like no other! Free to love one another. And fear (the fear I’m referring to in this blog) is not a part of God’s kind of love. When we love in our power, we do fear, and in turn want to control. This is the normal way of love to be manifested in human beings. Fear is strongly attached to the kind of love we give.
God’s love contains no fear (1st John 4:18)—indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. This means that the man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected.
In the verse above, the Apostle John is talking about God and us. Our individual relationship with God should not involve the fear of torture or continued feelings of guilt. God is love towards his Church. He died for her! This guilt that resides in us for our sins can annihilate God’s love in our life. In the flesh, we are guilty individuals. No one living is righteousness before God. Know one? No one! Fear can be a sign of inner guilt that we are not trusting God’s grace to wash over. As if the Living water of Jesus cannot cleanse it. “Though your sins are as starlet, I will make you white as snow!” (Isa 1:18) Do you believe you are forgiven? Many times we say yes, but the fear in us says no way! Being in Church to worship Jesus can be healing, in the way of constant re-affirming of this truth.
It might be good to share here that there is a good fear, and a bad fear. You should fear a big truck coming straight at you! But if every decision is made in your life as if a truck is coming at your face then your decision making will become suspect, full of panic.
More than not, fear is in a marriage from the very beginning. It started when you dated (or courted or whatever you want to call it) and you just never knew it. And when you were married the inner motivation of why you did what you did was fear. Oh, you didn’t think so, of course. But that’s what is amazing about fear; it can percolate without boiling over or showing any steam. It lies undetected. Living a life by fear can be tiresome. You’ve been there before haven’t you!?
- You have to watch carefully how the other person is acting when you get home, so you can act accordingly.
- Maybe your told what to wear out of fear you might be to attractive to others. You might stumble someone.
- There is a inability to talk about things freely in safety.
- You are consistently thinking of the “what if I do this…” or say that…
- You are not able to share your thoughts on desires, wishes and wants for sex, money or other “sensitive” topics.
But of course, it usually does not come off that way in a Christian marriage. You usually cannot detect when fear is running the show. In religious marriages usually there are some Bible verses on modesty that will be quoted as to reason for the change of cloths, or how you should avoid evil, or even that you are seeking the good of the other by correcting them. You really have there best interest in mind, or so you say. It’s what religious people do. It’s almost hard to fault anyone. It’s hard to let go and allow people to live in freedom. Can you relate? I think in general we are scared of freedom. It amazes me that God is not. He let’s us go! Radically! If there is any reason for the Tree of Good and Evil. This is it; Freedom. There are consequences to freedom. But just as the devil mocks God’s decisions in creation, so humans do as well. “Why would God create the Tree of Good and Evil?” Have you ever heard someone mock God’s decision to do so by asking a question like that before? Us humans are still mocking God along with the demons on this freedom issue. Though humans are unaware of the blessings of such freedom. Freedom that gives them the ability to mock! It is all so odd isn’t it. A song that struck me as I got older with this theme was Depeche Mode’s, Blasphemous Rumors. The chorus goes like this;
I don’t want to start
Any blasphemous rumors
But I think that God’s
Got a sick sense of humor
And when I die
I expect to find Him laughing
My point being, that God seems to have a higher value on freedom than we do in our relationships.
The Pharisees of Jesus day were the same way as us and fell into the same sort of problems as we do. Can you imagine being married to one of them? They lived a life of control, and so it was important in there mind to make others like themselves. Good people they were. They were religious, and in control. They did it by self discipline & public put downs of those not like them, all the while quoting spiritual writings. It liberated know-one, including themselves. It instead hindered, restricted and diminished those around them. And ultimately, it crucified Jesus! We are told that the peopled feared the Pharisees for fear they would be put out of the synagogues! Even without a word from the religious leaders of Jesus day, the people feared them. And the Pharisees themselves lived in fear. Fear of judgement, fear of reputation etc… We are told this kind of religion actually does nothing for us. It actually just rebuilds the disability we already have. If you don’t believe me, study Colossians Chapter 2.
Can we give our spouse to God? Are we able to give the Lord, Lordship over our spouse, our kids, our fellowships? Or have we simply becomes Lord’s over our flocks? But what if my spouse is going to do that again? That is fear talking. They might do that again for all you know. But that is there sad decision. You need to be free of fear if they do choose that path in order to make loving decisions, that are hard decisions, when you need to. So many stay in a marriage out of fear, when the marriage has really been divorced long, long ago.
For many Christian couples there is no adultery in the marriage. But, there is a control that rules the nest. (We seem to think people are “equally yoked” just because they are Christians, but far from it they are). And for many, the marriage has become unbearable. Trying to live up to another’s standards is quite hard. Have you tried to live up to God’s? Good luck! Instead of trying, the Christian is to die daily and ask for help from the Holy Spirit. Why? Because we cannot live the Christ life, only Christ can through us! That’s why! The Spirit of God can help us from a fear based life to a love based life. Attempting to get a spouse (or kid etc..) to live up to your standards of holiness is not going to help. It will simply kill your marriage. It is a burden that is too much to bear. Trying to please a self righteous Pharisee would have been impossible! Jesus, the Son of God couldn’t! Neither can you. You can’t live to please your controlling spouse. You’ll get tired, depressed, sad & without hope.
When you are working on getting rid of your fear, you will no longer make comments about what they wear, or what they were looking at on there computers or phones. You will not have to quote passages and make your spouse or kids cry or feel stupid. Working on fear is taking out a sheet of paper and writing out what you fear on it. Put your spouses name down. Then write out what you fear about your relationship with them. After you write, you will be able to look at it and see exactly what is motivating you in your relationship. Fear is that powerful! When it is on paper it becomes quite revealing as to why we say what we say in conversations. Many times I have thought my words were out of love. They weren’t! It was fear all along.
If you have kids, great! Do the same with them! Write out what you fear. And then look at why you do what you do with them? Why did you send them to that school or had them go to Church? How come you said this or that to them? Fear is what has moved you to do what you do. Again, we can call it Jesus, but it isn’t Him. There is great fear in thinking you are wrong over and over. But the beautiful thing about the Bible is that this is exactly what it says concerning you! So you have no need to hide it anymore. Christianity starts of with this premise: We are failures. To hide from that underscores the entire Gospel. There can be a nice joy to know you have no need of hiding anymore. You can be free.
Luke 5:8,10 “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” ….
“Do not be afraid,” Jesus said to Simon, “from now on you will catch men.”
Nothing is wrong with quoting scripture to them or to a spouse. Actually quoting a scripture can be most beneficial, as we are told to do. Meditating on the Word, and the ways of God should be something we are in constant exercise of. But just quoting a scripture is something devils do and so do Pharisees. There is something that is that is behind the sharing of scriptures that is most important to God. And all of us need help in this, do we not?
Now ask a question? Is God greater than your fears? Can God, the creator of the heavens and the earth intervene, if it be thy will? Is God able? And if our answer is no, then we will need to act out of fear. It might be a nice Christian religious fear that is moving us all the day, but it is fear. No different of a life from any other religious or secular person. The same fear moves us all.
But I have to believe God offers us something different. A life unmovable by love. Jesus is the example. Though rejected and despised, he did not manipulate out of fear. He did not seek to control. Instead he let go. He shared truth, and trusted the Father with the outcome and the judgement of others. There was no use of force or coercion in his actions to get us to believe in Him. The Father let’s the prodigal son’s and daughter’s go.
When we struggle with fear, we need to write and be aware of what is moving us in our conversations. There will be a lot of apologizing for things said or did. “I’m sorry I said those things to you. It was not because I am concerned for your modesty (I don’t want you dressing like that), it is because I am afraid you will leave me. I believe you are beautiful…too beautiful to be with someone like me. That is what is really moving me.” “I use scriptures to get my way and feed into my fear.” “That’s why I parent the way I do, it’s why I am the kind of person I am.”
Try writing your own out!
As you continue to work on this, you will no doubt notice many things said even within the Church culture are said out of fear. If there is anything C.S. Lewis taught us in the screw tape letters is that our adversary is a pro at distracting us from what is really going on.
We need to die. Die to it all! It’s the only way. Let Go and Let God is about dying to the thing…the it!
Galatians 6:14 “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”