Intersect’s Marriage Q&A Series no.1
The first week of I Said What? was all about the first part of the wedding vows…
I hereby with these words do promise and covenant to take you as my wife/husband. I commit from this day forward, to pursue peace in times of comfort and hardship, whether in plenty or in want, to remain faithful in a loving Christian marriage, to be understanding and forgiving, and to put your needs above mine as long as we both shall live.
…the promise and covenant. We talked about the major differences between covenant and contract, and what a Christian marriage covenant calls us to in our relationship with our significant other. We also talked about 3 lies that try to derail 3 major purposes God has for marriage. If you missed Sunday’s lesson, listen online to week 1’s teaching and download the notes and Home Work for your notebook:
Now, let’s get to what you came here for!
Q & A
Q: Wait, sanctification is a process toward holiness? Marriage is to make ME holy?
A: (by Michael Koiner) Let’s first revisit the definition of sanctification. We understand it to basically mean growth in likeness to Christ. That begs the question: How do we grow in Christian maturity? On Sunday we said one of the big ways is marriage, and how we learn to allow our spouse to help us change for the better. Marriage can play a key part in your maturing process, just like parenthood and other challenges (many that come with great joys!)
There are several illustrations that describe the sanctification process in marriage. I think my favorite has to be the sandpaper illustration. As part of our home renovation, my wife and I recently re-finished some furniture. On one of our many–it seemed like thousands of–trips to the hardware store, we had to pick up some sandpaper for this project. We needed to pick the right kind for the wood we were refinishing. A really coarse grit would tear apart soft wood and not give us the smooth finish we wanted. One that was too smooth wouldn’t take enough off of the top coat that was currently on the furniture. After several minutes of standing there, we picked a 220 grit product for what we needed to work on. In many ways, picking the person you are going to marry is like picking sandpaper. You are looking for the person who is going to push you toward Christ and help you smooth out your rough spots…for the rest of your life. Those of you who are reading this and are not yet married, you are in the phase of deciding which kind of sandpaper to get.
Since sanctification requires cooperation, it’s not just about picking the “sandpaper” to fix your problems. The surface has to be prepped. Is your heart ready to receive the sanding? As a spouse, are you ready for the hard thing your husband or wife is going to have to walk through with you? It’s hard work on both sides, and you cannot do it in your own strength. Here are some good reminders about sanctification:
- You must first be a child of God. If your heart has not experienced the cleansing regeneration of Jesus, than you can never expect to achieve any kind of worthwhile sanctification in any part of your life–certainly not in marriage.
- You are never done. It is a continual process of becoming more and more holy throughout your whole life on earth. And guess what? You will never become perfectly holy. You will become more and more like Christ, but you will always need Him to justify yourself before our perfect God. Your spouse will remind you of this weekly, often daily, when you fail them. This is why it’s so important to be on the same page with your spouse spiritually. (Read 2 Corinthians 6:14.)
- Sanctification is about God, and His work in our lives; not about what our spouse has done to complete us, or how we’ve improved for our spouse’s happiness. You have to cooperate with God for real sanctification to take place in your life.
- There is “fruit,” or outward proof, when real sanctification has taken place. Change on the inside always shows on the outside in some way.
- Sanctification also requires your heart. If you just focus on outward actions and reactions, you are missing the point and you’re not helping your marriage either.
Q: Should we be sensitive to the other person not being ready to hear truth, or should we just speak the truth regardless?
A: (by Michael Koiner) Great question! We pointed out a passage in Ephesians 5 on Sunday, but let’s back up a chapter and look at Ephesians 4:15 which says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” This passage is talking about the how of speaking truth to people, and the heart or intentions that should be behind it. Read in context of the letter, Paul (the writer) mentions that false teachers (teaching false truths) have little regard for the people they are speaking to, and just want to get their own way. On the other hand, mature Christians who are representing Christ seek truth in order to care for the members of the family of faith.
Your question eludes not only to the heart issue related to speaking truth, but also to the timing and the readiness of the other person. We’ve all heard the saying, “you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” No matter how long we wait, the other person may never give us the signal that they are ready. In fact, most people wouldn’t want to hear anything (even good stuff) when they aren’t ready! So here are some steps to take when considering whether or not to go ahead and speak truth to your loved one:
- Be sure to examine your heart and approach your significant other with a desire to make them more like Christ. Be careful not to inject selfish reasoning into your “truth,” which is ultimately using the guise of truth to mask a controlling nature.
- Pray about it. Seek the Lord first by looking in His Word.
- If it’s a major issue in your relationship, seek wise counsel.
- Find a way to talk to your significant other in a way that doesn’t make them feel attacked. Remember, you’re doing this because you love them, even though it’s hard for you. Remind them that you love them, you aren’t going anywhere, and that you would want them to encourage you toward Christ as well.
Q: When it comes to both of us serving the church, should I sit alone in the service if my spouse and I serve at different times? Wouldn’t people judge our marriage if we’re not seen worshiping together?
A: (by Micah Barnum) Asking some good questions here! One of the difficulties of serving on Sundays is the challenge it can place on attending a worship service. Pastors love for people to serve, but we must make sure that our serving doesn’t replace our worship. Ideally, you could find a time to both serve and worship together so you don’t have to make this choice. Now, there are many opportunities to serve that preclude couples from worshiping together. What should we do when this happens?
It is important for us to remember that that one of the purposes of marriage is to give a testimony (Ephesians 5), which means displaying our togetherness becomes an important aspect of our marriage. This, however, does have some limits. We should live in the freedom that we do not have to constantly prove ourselves everywhere, all the time. I would say that on this particular issue, you should feel the freedom to worship alone while spouse is serving and not worry about the opinions of others. If you and your spouse find yourselves in this situation, I’d make sure that you are adequately connecting on a spiritual level so that the occasion of spiritual interaction becomes a normal part of your life.
Q: Balancing serving my husband and serving outside the home is hard! What does that look like when the balance is just right?
A: (by Micah Barnum) I greatly appreciate your servant’s heart! I pray that every husband and wife would find joy in giving their lives to serve others. Finding the balance is tough and requires a good deal of prayer and communication with your spouse. While finding the balance will be up to each couple to discuss on their own, I think talking through your priorities is the best place to start. Here is a list of things I think it would be helpful to discuss:
- What are the needs of your family?
- How are you currently doing in covering these needs?
- What are the needs outside the home and why are you interested in serving there?
- Have you both prayed about the issue?
- What do you feel the Spirit leading you to do?
- Are you in unison on the decision to serve outside the home?
I believe that the primary concern should be for your family—if things are not right at home this should play into your discussion about serving elsewhere. But, if the Lord leads you to serve, I also believe He will provide the time and energy to make that happen. If you discover along that way that that service brings harm to your family you should stop and consider your future involvement. The two key ingredients are prayer (hearing what God has to say) and communication (hearing what your spouse has to say).