What a powerful interview Bethany finished up with Ben! In listening to this I find great hope in the promises of Christ! Thank you Ben for the great courage in sharing your story with us at R.L.M.
Could you imagine what it would be like to go through such a trial? Many have with the statistics for men having an affair at 21% and women around 15%. We live in a world that has been strongly influenced by the Christian virtue of chastity. Not only that but the Christian doctrine of marriage has spread it’s wings over the entire globe seen in monogamous marriages. Even in our culture today an affiar is heartbreaking and potentially un-restorable.
Can you recover from an affair? How?
The Bible gives us a great birds eye view of a world that has gone astray after other lovers only to find that they don’t satisfy.
“When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think, ‘I might as well return to my husband, for I was better off with him than I am now.” Hosea 2:7
Jesus was the rescue mission to make reconciliation possible between God and his creation.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29
It’s a story that all stories come out of. That’s why it is called “The Greatest Story of All Time.”
Be encouraged as you listen and may the Lord give you great hope!
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
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.”
What a title! I hope I have your attention now. We live in a sad time where we don’t equate the two right? Sex, the glory of God…what do they have in common? I was speaking the other day at the university and before the service we sent out teams to get the students to come in and attend the talk I was giving on better pleasure. One of the leaders who went out encountered a girl and ask her if she would be interested in listening to a talk on porn and the bible. The girl looked at the leader with a blank stare and began trying to figure out in her overwhelmed brain now the two go together. That is kind of how it is with sex and the glory of God. Oh they go together…or they should.
Now I can tell you a quick way to start your marriage of in a jacked way; do not pay attention.
This is important.
If you and your future spouse do not see the pursuit of Christ in the most intimate of places…the bed room…then you will have some potential problematic issues for sure.
All things are to be done for the glory of God. Even sex.
What would it be like if you don’t see sex as a way to glorify God? It would become a secular experience alone. That’s porn and porn is duty…they get paid!
What makes sex a God glorifying experience? Wouldn’t it simply be what makes eating food sacred act as well…or anything else for that matter. When we live our lives with a heart of thanksgiving to The Lord and prayer we see from rabbi Paul that it is a God glorifying act. See Tim ch. 4
When sex becomes a God glorifying act it is done with the same attitude. Thankful hearts come to the marriage bed! Hearts that want to seek the joy of Christ in the act of sex. If this is foreign concept to you, I apologize..we pastors need to teach the entire bible which is all about a real, intimate relationship between God and His people. See Ezk 16, but really, the whole bible is about this oneness. See John 17 too!
See Christ exalting sex is all About what you bring into the bed, When a man or woman say watches pornography and then enters the bed they import those images to find arousal. That is lust, not love, no matter what body is in the bed with you. That cannot glorify God even if its with your wife. Why? Lust seeks its own, love does not. Love pursues the joy of the beloved while lust
knows not such things but is satisfied only in self. For God to be glorified he must be the focus, and God does not lust the world, he loves it Sex should reflect that, everything else is a lesser joy,a distortion.
Christ glorifying sex is the best, because God is the greatest pleasure! If pursuing Jesus in your heart when in the marriage bed then you a going after the better pleasure. Come drink from the river of Gods pleasure. Taste and see that he is good. At His right hand are pleasures forever more.
Why would we remove God from the marriage bed? Maybe it’s been the way your were brought up. Maybe affection was not showed or modeled to you as a child or teen. Giving yourself to someone is a big deal, there is no abuse like sexual abase, so lets exalt it! But if we don’t seek to glorify our Lord in it, then it is just porn, common is that way, a path most taken.
Sex can be scary for newly weds. Pray, be thankful for the gift you are to one another. Ask The Lord to give you a heart for His glory and you won’t go wrong. Love and not lust will rule. For we are one with Him in Spirit it says, so you are acting out a sermon on your marriage bed…Christ and the Church, becoming one…a prophetic dance it is! What joy for those called to marriage. Enjoy!
19yrs ago at Calvary Chapel of Simi Valley, Pastor Dave Guzik officiated Sylvia Urban Ouellette and I getting married in front of our friends and some family members. What a special time for us.
I returned from living in Kauai just a short time before. We were young and making a decision to go after a relationship with Jesus with all we had and we never looked back! To our friends that supported us, we were stoked to have them be a part of this radical step of faith.
We did not plan a reception or have wedding rings. There were no invitations mailed out for the wedding either. Pastor Dave thought it a cool testimony to perform the wedding ceremony on a Sunday service for the Church! What a concept right?
Sylvia looks just as gorgeous today as she did back then. I think she get’s better looking with time. But that is the working of love. Love works in consort with time. The longer love works the stronger it becomes and the deeper it’s roots go.
What I believe makes my marriage strong is the following list I made up for those that desire a stronger marriage. Sylvia and I have the same flaws as all of us on the planet. We are no different from anyone with a fallen nature. I do thank God for the grace of His Word that is in our hearts that has kept us at such a joyful state for so long now. Through my own bout with porn and selfish-gratification my wife has stood by me and fought along side with me. What could have easily torn down our marriage God used to have us fight together the lust of the flesh! The result has been growth in our relationship.
We are both complete in Christ!
We don’t need each other!
We both have our own relationship with Jesus….Accept it!
We both have different gifts! Don’t make the other like you!
Spend time laughing with and at each other!
Spend time pleasing one another! For that is your own joy!
Spend time sharing what God is doing in each of your lives.
Do things by yourselves that are special just between you two!
Be merciful to each other… None of us are as good as we think we are.
Give grace like Jesus!
Forgive one another! Jesus forgave you!
Fight together against the world! Make it you two against the Matrix, because it is!
I picked up this report from the blog by Kaspersky Security company.
The Pornography category in the Parental Control system of Kaspersky Lab’s home user products is triggered over 4 million times a day. In other words, there are about 3,000 attempts to access adult content sites by minors every minute. This is confirmed by data collected worldwide using Kaspersky Security Network technology.
I am not surprised by this. But what I am surprised at is the consistent idea that this over stimulant sex culture is a men only problem. I would not hessitate to say that more and more women are finding there own joy in Adult internet sites too and I would imagine that this will grow.
If you were a woman living in the U.S.A. and grew up in our culture you would be thought off to go to college & get a good paying job. This is no different than a man. For a woman in todays world I couldn’t imagine any different. I never really herd teen girls saying they would like to live at home untill they met a nice man, then get married and raise children! That sounds so pre-historic doesn’t it? So if you or I were this woman of today working hard in college, striving for a nice paying job, why would we want a man to wreck it? Let’s face it dating has it’s challenges but marriage can be a total disaster for your career and from the looks of the statistics on divorce your right! You have a 50% change of striking out. In baseball that might be Ok, but in the game of life that’s some major risk most are not ready engage in. So what is the alternitive? How about porn? Now before you go off on me I hope I am getting a point across as to the growth of woman and porn usage. What would you or I want our daughters (or son’s for that matter) to do when in College;
A – Have emotional, physical, dating relationship in College
B – Watch porn and stay single
I think if some of us got down right honest we might choose B with our young adults. Dating simply has it’s price and that price is very high. What if my daughter get’s pregnant? Do I want her to give up a careeer to be with a guy she just met 5 months ago? And if this woman graduates colllege and lands a great paying job, dating just get’s in the way of the goal. How can she be financially secure (whatever that means) if she enters into the risk of intiamacy with a man and the potential for having children. She could potentially lose her job and her health benefits! And with a divorce being a potentially true event in her life, plus the counseling and medication needed to get over such a traumatic experience, the cost is way too much. The potential for calamity is too great, and so there is the alternative.
Put it that way and I can see why a woman would fall prey to porn. It’s safe in today’s dog eat dog world. Porn plays into how we value family in our society and in turn father hood & mother hood. A woman is not valued for child bearing, but for being like a man in her ability to provide. The gap is closening it seems. Men are not needed to raise children anymore and women don’t need men around for intamacy needs too. It’s no longer a man’s job and women’s job. We are one!
Technology has made it possible.
It is not just every man’s batttle the issues with porn, sexual immorality and adultery. It is a human battle. A battle against what was intended at the beginning and we seem to be further away now from a world that once placed stress in different places on men and women.
Jesus fought this battle in His day as well when seeing the distortion to human relationships in 1st Century Palestine.
Matthew 19:4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made[a] them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’[b] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?[c] 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Jesus seems to want us to look back to find ourselves out of this pickle we are in.
How to fix it? Stop porn? Then maybe your daughter will find her pleasure in physical people instead of by herself. Or, maybe we need to teach our kids that the way things are is a distortion of the intended way. Maybe we might need to let our kids know that we are are sorry for placing such a emphasis on money, things acquired, continued education for further gain of riches, and that being a family where a mom stays home and a dad works hard is where it’s at. Maybe it’s time to downsize! Maybe owning your own home and getting in debt is not the dream it was made out to be. Just maybe there is a simplicity and peace we are missing as we run around in this Rat Race. Oh, how what makes us valuable has become complicated. But maybe, just maybe we got it all wrong and there is a better way?
I am a participant & an observer as you are. We will see!