Do Rolling Stones Make Good Marriages?

Most of us have heard the proverb “A rolling stone gathers no moss” which has a dual interpretation aptly phrased by Mareli Csabai in her blog Stirring Lines (link):

A person who never settles in one place will never be successful.
A person who does not keep active will grow moldy.

In this proverb we find two useful lessons for marriage.

In the first sense stop rolling and settle in to be dedicated to your spouse. The verdant moss is a testimony to your devotion.

Moss

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In the second sense keep rolling and moving to devotedly pour effort into the health of your marriage. The cleanliness of your stone is a testimony to your devotion.

So which is it? The beauty of language (or is the frustration!) is both interpretations are valid. I prefer the angle of being grounded and fruitful and in this view I have good company as GK Chesterton said in his book “Heritics“:

The rolling stone rolls echoing from rock to rock; but the rolling stone is dead. The moss is silent beause the moss is alive.

Chesterton criticized world travelers of having dead souls as they rolled from place to place, never rooted and grounded in a community where planted in proper context the soul is full of life.

I hear wisdom offered to those rolling echoing from relationship to relationship, because their souls are thirsty and starved, comparatively dead next to those peaceful and alive, devotedly grounded in a lifelong marriage.

A devoted, lifelong marriage enables the two united souls to go beyond surviving bouncing from relationship to relationship to thriving in the one relationship!

Do rolling stones make good marriages? No, I do not believe they do.

  • How are you rolling along? Are your activities strengthening or draining your marriage? Are you pouring love into your spouse or are your efforts divided extra-maritally whether people or activities?
  • How are you growing moss? Is your devotion strengthening or draining your marriage? Are you devoted to your spouse or is your devotion divided extra-maritally whether people or activities?

Is Your Marriage Great? A Philippians 1 Checkup

To have a great marriage you must connect and unify with your spouse in your spirit, soul, and body and be “plugged in” to God who made marriage. The mechanism only works if plugged into the power source! One way to connect, unify, and plug in is to bless each other.

Here is a checkup for your marriage paraphrased from Philippians 1:2-11. It is a blessing to speak to your spouse. Can you read this to your spouse and truly mean it?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every time I think of you I joyfully thank God that we know God and have each other.

I am confident that God is at work in our lives and that He will finish His work.

I have you in my heart because we share our lives: how we live, how we work, and how we hope and pray, which means I give you grace.

For God is my witness how my great longing for the best for you comes from the depths of desire of what Jesus longs for you.

So I ask God that your love may increase more and more in knowledge and discernment that you may test and approve what is excellent. And that you may be sincere and untarnished by offense until the end of your days. And that you may be continually filled with the fruits of righteousness from Jesus for the glory of God our Father.

Is this your attitude toward your spouse? If so you pass the checkup and are on the road of  great marriages! If not, do not worry — now you have identified areas to work on!

Everything worth having takes work, and a great marriage is the most valuable thing you can pursue! If the grass looks greener over the fence, fertilize your own yard! Focus on improving who you are and where you are at, otherwise everywhere you go you will have the same results. A great marriage is well worth anything you have to do to achieve it!

Questions to Ponder

  • What joy does your husband or wife bring you? Celebrate what is great!
  • Where in your heart is your spouse? How deeply connected are you currently?
  • What are the deepest things you share with him or her? How vulnerable are you right  now?
  • Do you give grace to your husband or wife? Are you their safe zone or penalty box? Are you a nagger or an encourager?
  • Do you feel Jesus’ heart and desire for him or her? He sees and loves the best they are right now, and sees their true potential and encourages it.
  • How are you helping your spouse have a great life? How do you help them through the day to get beyond surviving to thriving?
  • Are you begging God that his or her love may increase so they may test and approve what is excellent? So their soul may be unstained by offense? So they may be filled with the best things God has to offer? So they may bring glory to God?

How Theism Affects Your Marriage

What you believe boils down into one of two categories: either God created everything or everything spontaneously came into existence. Theism or atheism. Creation or evolution. Your choice of belief will impact your marriage, for better or for worse. Here is one of two posts examining this issue:

How Theism Affects Your Marriage

The all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present Being, aka God, desired something a long time ago which motivated Him to come up with a plan. He executed the plan and thus we have the dimensions, energy, mass, the universe, galaxies, our solar system, Earth, plants, animals, and humans.

Some of His angels were not thrilled the future will involve this new “mankind” being raised above them. So they rebelled against God and the concept of sin became a practiced reality. They passed it to Eve, to Adam and we have the fallen nature to this day.

All-knowing God planned for this to happen and called Jesus the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world“, meaning before creating the world God planned to have to woo us and purify us from sin with His offer of salvation and grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection to get us on to building character. And He gave us marriage as the training ground to build character.

Genesis 2:23-25 records God’s establishment of perfect marriage, Ephesians 5:31-32 identifies marriage as an analogy between Jesus Christ and the Church, and Revelation 19:7-9, a glimpse of the future, rejoices that the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus) has come.

How does this affect your marriage?

First it means there is a God you are answerable to. He has given you the Bible to help you understand who He is, who you are, how He wants you to relate to Him, and how He wants you to live.

Second it means other people are answerable to God. You are a child of God; your spouse is a child of God. How then shall you treat other people, and especially your spouse?

One day you will stand before God and hear Him ask, “How did you treat My child, your spouse?” He will open the books and read your deeds. Make your deeds good so He will say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Third it means your marriage with your spouse is practice for marriage with Jesus. How then shall you live? Focus on making your character like His. You have a spouse to practice on. Get to it!

Theism affects your marriage by providing a standard and goal. A very high standard, and an astonishing goal. Theism provides the basis for logic, law, ethics, and morals, for theism saying there is One higher than us Who created everything with a purpose and plan to Whom I must answer.

Three Components of a Great Marriage

Gazing longingly into your spouse’s eyes over a candlelight multi-course dinner of your favorite foods served with live romantic music wafting around you, enjoying playful yet meaningful conversation, courses interspersed by slow dancing in each others arms on the balcony under a full moon, followed by a night at a fantastic bed and breakfast where kissing builds into intensely passionate sex endangering your eardrums!

Is that a great marriage? Nope, that’s a great date with your spouse.

Great marriages require three components to line up: spirit, soul and body, i.e. the three components of your being. (Click here to see one verse where the Bible refers to all three)

Spirit

You must agree on the eternal things. Do you both love God? The same God? Are you both continually developing more of His character in you? To achieve the plans He has designed you for and for you? To explore further read the book “Is God In Your Marriage?”

This is the deep level people instinctively know is important yet many keep to themselves (or go on a trip to “discover themselves”) but in marriage you cannot! It will blow up in your face. You must share and agree.

Soul

You must agree on the personality, emotional and decision-making level! This soul level is where most people meet, get interested, fall in love, get married, and then fall apart on.

This is the level most help books are written on. Here are my favorites so far:

“The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. Become the leading expert at speaking your spouse’s love language!

“Love & Respect” by Dr Emerson Eggerichs. Love her. Respect him. It is vital to make your marriage great.

“The Mystery of Marriage” by Mike Mason. Be devoted to your spouse. Do you know what devotion is?

“Married for Life” by Bill Morelan. Collected wisdom from couples married 50+ years.

Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. Marriage is more about holiness than happiness.

The soul is supposed to be a lot of fun, because it is who you are! If you cannot have fun being you with that guy or girl, don’t marry them!

Body

Physically you need to agree. This is the practical matters of life meaning: health, diet, exercise, clothes, housing, vehicles, decor, money, jobs, and sex.

This is “what does life look like” and you must agree.

And this is what usually gets blamed when the issue is really at the spirit or soul level, like the tip of the iceberg. If the spirit and soul levels are working right the body level will follow along quite easily.

Bring It All Together!

The bedrock of a great marriage is unconditional commitment to unity in spirit, soul, and body. A house divided will fall! Unity requires effective communication.

Are you unconditionally committed to unity with your spouse in spirit, soul, and body?

Are you effectively communicating with your spouse as their love language expert and  primary source of love? Are you getting better at it?

What Marriage Can Teach You About Eternity

I see marriage as the central concept of relationships and our classroom for what is to come. In Genesis God gave us the concept of marriage and in Revelation John was given a glimpse of the future fulfillment: “the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.”

Created by Phil Scoville on June 25, 2005 Down...

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What does the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus) with the Bride (those whose names are written in the Book of Life) mean for eternity? I believe God has given us the concept and training ground of marriage to teach us just that.

I am puzzled as to what the Bride’s marriage to Jesus for eternity means physically. But I am not puzzled in the areas of spirit and soul. Our relationship with our spouse in spirit and soul, with sin eliminated and true holiness increased, is the same mode and content as our relationship with Jesus. The best relationship skills we learn in earthly marriage with our spouse have direct application to the coming eternal marriage with Jesus.

Here is what I mean: In spirit and soul, in the midst of loving, intimate vulnerability the Bride surrenders to the Groom’s ministrations which produce joy and delight at times building to ecstasy, and in the right times the Groom plants the seed of a new work in the Bride.

The fruit of the commitment to live together as one and of loving intimacy, this new work, grows and changes the Bride and Groom’s life. Anticipation of what the new work will be like produces wonderful changes. When the new work has gestated long enough it is brought forth which is itself an amazing process which ends in extreme, deep joy!

Bride and Groom nurture this new work, pouring themselves into it, reveling in the joy of the journey with all the new developments.

This is the spirit and soul of marriage. The physical pictures this description bring to mind merely shows how the spirit, soul, and physical are intertwined.

So what can we learn about eternity from marriage? It is good! It is the epitome of what you are practicing now: getting to know Jesus, eliminating sin, and increasing in true holiness.

Unless of course you are not getting to know Jesus, are not eliminating sin, are not increasing true holiness, then eternity will be the epitome of what you are practicing in your marriage now: eternal suffering in the lake of fire.

How are you improving your marriage? How are you eliminating sin? How are you increasing in true holiness? How are you preparing for eternity with Jesus? Or are you?

How to Handle a Spiritual Nut

What do you do when someone tells you they had a spiritual experience that changed their life?

In “Till We Have Faces” CS Lewis, an Oxford Don around WWII, examines this very issue. He set the book in Greek mythology (not for the sensitive soul) to examine what to do when a most beloved sister claims to have had an enriching and life changing spiritual experience.

Parthenon detail replica

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Lewis portrayed what NOT to do, namely to attempt to convince your loved one their spiritual experience was “just in their mind” for in the end you may destroy them and find they did have a spiritual experience.

Gamaliel, one of the most respected Jewish teachers almost 2000 years ago who mentored the Apostle Paul, was also faced with this question.

The Jewish Council, on which he had a prominent seat, was faced with a group of men who joyously proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus with the resulting message of Father God’s love and salvation through Jesus. The Council wanted to kill these men for proclaiming a spiritual experience different from their own.

Gamaliel advised the Council to leave the men alone, for if their experience was of natural origin it would fade to nothing, but if their experience was of supernatural origin they would be fighting against God.

Advice from an Oxford don and a Jewish elder: do not harass them about it. They did experience something. Time will tell whether it was natural or supernatural. And you should seek to benefit from what God is doing rather than fight against it.

Regardless of how outrageous it may sound, be patient, love them, offer truth and wisdom, let them process their experience, and see what you can learn.

Francis of Assisi

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What truth and wisdom can you offer? Here is the touchstone to examine all supernatural experiences: where is Jesus in their experience? Are they drawn closer to or driven further away from Father God, Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our Faith, and Holy Spirit our Councilor? Are they drawn into deeper dependence on God or are they becoming more self-centered? Is it resulting in humility or pride?

If God and supernatural experiences are not part of your life, invite God into your life and find out how amazing He is!

Recommended reading: “Practicing the Presence” by Brother Lawrence and a biography of St Francis of Assisi. These are on the “Too Good to Miss” list.

What Everyone Should Learn from Marriage

My last comment was, we practice marriage now; what does it mean for eternity? What are we supposed to be learning from marriage?

We practice marriage. We have this annoying flaw called sin. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “If we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”

Practice makes permanent. If we practice sin, our marriages will be wounded and stunted. We need to minimize sin and practice what is good to have a healthy and strong marriage so it will function as designed to achieve the goals of marriage.

Vector image of two human figures with hands i...

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Goals? What are we practicing for? What should we learn from marriage? Marriage is the primary training ground for all types of relationships, especially our relationship with God. Marriage is the context that offers the relationships of husband-wife, father-son, father-daughter, mother-son, mother-daughter, and brother-sister.

These types of relationship describe aspects of our relationship with God, give us practice grounds for developing a full, healthy, multi-angle relationship with God. And if we cannot have healthy relationships with ourselves, our spouse, and those around us, we will not have healthy relationship with God.

What do we practice? Love, truth, wisdom, and life. Why? Because Jesus is love, is truth, is wisdom, is life and we are made in His image, flawed with sin. Jesus will be these things in His marriage with the Bride (whatever He means by the concept and analogy). He is refining the sin out of us, from glory to glory, to be like Himself, to have His character. So we will be love, truth, wisdom, and life back to Him to the extent we allow Him to work these attributes in us, practiced with our spouse.

And what does it mean for eternity? As we minimize sin and maximize His character, becoming our true identity and developing the good, healthy relationship with our spouse that God intends, we get a glimpse of one of the core concepts of what eternity will be like: marriage with Jesus. Again, whatever He physically means by the concept and analogy, but the spiritual and soul level character and emotion is illustrated. Talk about Heaven on Earth! The Kingdom of God has come! And it is best developed and revealed in our marriages!

Are you giving love, truth, wisdom and life to your spouse? And to God?

The Meaning of Life

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. How? The danger is to focus on actions to reform our identity. God reforms our identity to result in the actions. What identity is God perfecting us toward?

Revelation says we are marching on this timeline toward the ultimate bottleneck: the great white throne judgment. Jesus is the only way to the Father and those who have rejected Jesus will be thrown into the lake of fire and those who have accepted Jesus will be welcomed. It is our choice as to which we are: alive with Jesus or dead without Him.

The great white throne judgment is when God makes our individual choices official and final for eternity. I anticipate He who is love will anguish over each one who eternally rejects His offer of love and life and chooses death.

After finalizing our choice for eternity and directing the dead to their reward of eternal fires, God welcomes the alive to the marriage supper of the Lamb (aka Jesus, the sacrificial lamb slain to redeem us from our sin).

And here is the glimpse of the meaning of life. As Genesis records, God established marriage as an important concept. In Revelation that concept is fulfilled in the marriage of Jesus to the Bride.

Pairs

From Genesis to Revelation the concept of marriage is addressed from many angles. In Ephesians Paul identifies the Bride of Christ as the Body of Christ. In Revelation John wrote what he saw: the Bride of Christ identified as the people who inhabit the New Jerusalem who are in turn identified as those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Therefore I state the meaning of life is to become the Bride of Christ and spend eternity with the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit in whatever state He means and is describing with the concept of marriage.

We practice marriage now; what does it mean for eternity? What are we supposed to be learning from marriage?