Is Your Marriage Shame-less?

The word shameless conjures up images of people saying or doing things they should not be saying or doing, typically involving sexuality. Think college Spring Break destinations.

Such people are displaying a calloused sense of shame, a calloused conscience, thus “shameless” or no shame, as in no sense of propriety, or a lack of high moral standards.

Western Civilization in Flames:  While Western Civilization seem hell-bent to abandon high moral standards to enjoy the shameless ride in the smoldering handbasket while ignoring the ever approaching combustion horizon, there is another sense of the word shameless to consider: shame-less: a state of being without shame due to propriety, i.e. lacking cause of shame.

[Caution! I am messing with your vocabulary: a “shameless” person commits “shameful” acts while I invented “shame-less” as the antonym meaning “without shame”; this is how my brain sometimes dissects words and starts exploring]

The Beginning: Adam and Eve were shame-less until they had sinned and realized they had acted shamefully and were now shameful.

What a shock it must have been, instantly transforming from innocence to seeing the world through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, thereby experiencing shame for the first time! No wonder they hid from God.

Our Struggle: We are all now born with this sin nature and grow up seeing the world through lust and pride, some of us fighting it as a corruption of God’s original design, and all too many assuming it is normal.

We all either retain a sense of shame by resisting shameless words or deeds, or we make our conscience callused by repeating shameless words or deeds.

Shame-less Impact On Marriage:

Positive: Avoiding shameless words and deeds frees your marriage from that kind of damage. If you were never intimate with anyone before your spouse, then your brain is not going to be playing comparison games, and more importantly, your spirit and soul will not be joined with those people (“the two shall become one flesh”) which causes ongoing issues that end only when God heals them.

Negative: Sadly, for all too many who follow Jesus’ morals this struggle against sin to keep their sense of shame functional has caused unintended damage in their marriages by inhibiting sexuality in marriage.

      “Were you a virgin till your wedding night?”    

                 “Yes!”    

                             “What did you do to achieve that? Has that impacted your marriage?” 

The strenuous interior task of fighting the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life has all too often carried over into marriage by not merely focusing sexuality to the context of marriage, but by trying to repress sexuality altogether.

Shame-Less: Between husband and wife there should be no shame. Not only in words and actions toward others, but also toward each other. What would cause shame to say or do toward others are the very things which the lack of causes shame toward each other: namely sexuality.

Flirting, seducing, foreplay, intercourse, and the whole gamut of sexuality are shameful when applied toward others, but vital to apply toward your spouse. It sounds odd to think about seducing your spouse, but once we look past negative connotations to the actual actions the topic becomes inspirational. Husband and wife should have no shame in their private intimacy. Generally, everything shameless in public toward others becomes shame-less in privacy between each other.

This reminds me of Charlie Rich singing “Behind Closed Doors”.

It’s Biblical: Sexuality is designed and given by God. Let every marriage strive to achieve what Adam and Eve had by God’s design at the beginning: they were naked and felt no shame.

Adam and Eve

If you doubt God intends husband and wife to deeply enjoy sexuality, think about God creating the nervous system’s sexual response: He thought about, designed, and created the spirit, soul, and body functions of intimacy for husband and wife’s oneness and enjoyment and called it good.

Next read Song of Songs out loud to your spouse and brainstorm what the euphemisms mean. Your Western-based thoughts will probably be conservative as you read ancient Middle Eastern passionate poetry (consider how passionate today’s Middle Easterners are). Regardless of your comprehension of the euphemisms, the emotion should come through and be inspiring. And God inspired that book to be written.

Then consider Paul’s instruction to Corinthian married couples to enjoy sex. Corinth was one of the sexual immorality capitals of the world, far more famous and open than Las Vegas and Amsterdam. Corinthians had seen the sinful side of sexuality so long they thought they had to give up sex for God–they did not understand the holy side of sexuality. Paul had to correct them by reinforcing sex is part of God’s design for a holy and healthy marriage! (1 Corinthians 7:2-5)

And remember the instruction of Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” The marriage bed is undefiled–it is a holy thing to come together with your spouse. God designed it and approves of it. “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18) And God told Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful, and multiply ….” (Genesis 1:28) Multiply means have kids, and kids only come from sex!

Physical intimacy is a gift from God for husband and wife. It is also part of the picture, an analogy, of God’s desire for relationship with us. (Ephesians 5) His desire for relationship will always be deeper, stronger, more passionate, more dedicated, than ours can be for Him.

Bottom line: with your spouse be without shame. It is practice for being without shame with God.

In this sense, is your marriage shame-less? Is your walk with God shame-less?

Personal Note: I am happy and blessed to say: Yes! Starting as virgins on our wedding night, we were naked and knew no shame. We praise God we both dedicated ourselves from a very young age to keep our sexuality focused on and reserved for our spouse. This dedication has sidestepped an immense amount of spiritual, emotional, and physical baggage, freeing us to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically naked together without shame, with tremendous results. Our major issues have been internal, in dealing with our sin natures, to bring every thought captive to Jesus. Those bring enough struggles; we are so thankful we have not had the baggage of past relationships. But all is healed at the foot of the cross.

Advertisements

Are Your Kids Modest?

I read Michael Hyatt‘s blog, “Whatever Happened to Modesty” and liked the suggestions he gave his daughters to aid their understanding while growing up:

Here they are: “Four Guidelines for Modesty”:teens

  1. If you have trouble getting into it or out of it, it is probably not modest.
  2. If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.
  3. If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.
  4. If you can see your most private body parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.

Michael’s guidelines are very practical and I am glad he shared them. He asked for comments of what people might say to their kids and my mind went straight to asking about the motivation behind modesty. These were my immediate thoughts:

  • Sexuality is an amazing part of God’s creation. Treasure it, don’t squander it, for it is an analogy of God’s attraction to us and our deepest-being’s desire for Him.
  • In this world a woman’s body sings and the men around her hear that song, usually whether they want to or not. God’s eye is ever on us, longing that we would open our hearts to Him and learn to share His desires.
  • The younger men seem to be affected by the woman’s song more strongly than the older men. The less modest the clothes, the more the tone of the song tends toward seduction, whether the woman realizes it or not.
  • If the body is the bait, what are you fishing for? Sex or your one true love? What do you want your one true love to know you for, your body or your heart?
  • What age do you think you will be ready to marry? Don’t advertise something that is not available.
  • Focus your sexuality on your spouse, whether you have met them or not. If not, then wait for them, keeping and caring for your body as a sacred trust for them.
  • You are not your own, you belong to your spouse. Act like it.

What do you think? Are your kids modest? What should we teach our kids about modesty in this age?

 

The Moon: Romantic or Judgment?

The Moon startled me this morning–an orange disk hovering over the horizon. In the afternoon I drove eastward with the moon high in the sky and remembered a walk my intended and I took one night in our dating days. She looked up, saw the Moon, and asked if I could see the Man-in-the-Moon.

I never really had. I looked at it and described what I–a man in love–did see:  a young woman with long hair flowing back in the breeze, carrying a picnic basket before her, with her long dress trailing behind as she strides forward to meet her love. My young woman loved that!

Today I see the Young-Woman-with-Picnic-Basket, and I see the Man-in-the-Moon, a face looking down sadly on a world full of sin.

But the Moon was not always sad. Between Genesis and the Flood the Moon was pristine, a clear face reflecting the Sun to its utmost.

When the fountains of the deep opened, water and rock shot into space creating comets, asteroids, and meteors. Some of these scarred the Moon into its saddened countenance. This scarring was one effect of God’s judgment on a world full of sin.

Every generation alive was washed off the surface of the Earth and swept into their muddy graves–their just deserts served by the rejected Righteous One. One family was saved in the Ark. The Moon looks sadly down to remind all the descendants of that righteous judgment.

By displaying the past, the Moon warns us of the coming judgment: “God is just! Sin requires judgment!”

And the Young-Woman-With-Picnic-Basket calls out with love and hope and a future, “Therefore abandon sin and run to His grace and mercy! Run to the only salvation available! Run to the cross of Christ, accept Jesus’ death as yours, that His life may be yours!”

Truly, the Gospel is in the sky.

What do you see in the Moon?

Key Mindsets in Our Marriages — 1 Peter

Building on the previous three posts–Modeling Christ and the Bride, Reality, and Identity–I see key mindsets in 1 Peter of how to live, our marriages being the prime area we should apply these mindsets. 

  • Be focused to do the work of the Kingdom with dedicated and watchful prayers because we have the goal and deadline of Jesus’ return (1 Peter 1:13-14, 4:7).
  • Expect persecution which is your part of Christ’s sufferings, and rejoice to the extent you are able to display His glory which will enable you to have exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12-16)!
  • Expect the judgment of God as loving purification, suffering according to His will to develop complete dedication to doing the Father’s plan for His kingdom and glory forever (1 Peter 4:17-19, 5:11)!
  • This is all to be done in mutually submissive humility which is a channel of God’s grace, not seeking position but opportunity to benefit each other (1 Peter 5:5b).
  • Be on your guard, because the enemy attacks with fear. Those who respond in the flesh with fear, worry, pride, scorn, denial, blinding anger, or rage will be devoured. Resist the enemy by being steadfast in the faith, knowing the same sufferings are a common experience. God–the source of grace–will use the suffering as a test and perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:8-10).

We have a deadline; let’s unify to get as much done for the Kingdom as we can. Persecution is par for the course and opportunity for God to be glorified. We should expect God’s refining work in our life–it is as intrinsic as the air we breathe! Unify as a team through mutual humility and rejoice as God is glorified. We have an enemy, so be ready to fend off attack. God uses all forms of suffering to make us into His ideal, so go with His flow, soaking in His healing grace.

To minister to Father God’s heart and model Christ and the Bride in our marriages, we must unify as a team, submit to God’s refining, fend off all spiritual enemies, glorify God in persecution, and soak in God’s grace to be supple in His hands.

The Reality of Marriage—1 Peter

There they were, the famous words—or infamous depending on whom you have been around—regarding wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives. I read them as I studied 1 Peter looking for insight into modeling Christ and the Bride.

I do not recall ever hearing teaching on them in context. By which I mean a marriage study of all of 1 Peter to get the letter’s context.

So I did my own study. Wow! The context is so important!

For my study I categorized all the verses in 1 Peter as statements of Reality, Identity, Mindsets, Goals, or Actions.

Here is a brief version of the Reality you must recognize, accept, and line up with in order to model Christ and the Bride:

  • God exists as the blessed One, and the Father of Jesus
  • Jesus is the son of God—carrying equal authority—and is Lord and Christ
  • God, from His mercy and through the resurrection of Jesus, has reborn us into a living hope and an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that does not fade away, waiting for us in heaven
  • God, in His power, keeps us for salvation through faith

We must believe God—the Father of Jesus Christ—exists to accurately model Jesus’ marriage. We have to believe He exists and He created everything in order to grasp eternity past as the foundation for eternity future. Without that basis there is no way to model Jesus’ marriage.

We must believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and the Lord in order to accurately model His marriage.  We have to know Jesus in His relationship with the Father and in His authority to properly relate to Him, serve Him, and model Him.

We must believe in God’s mercy, the resurrection of Jesus, and that Father God has reborn us into a living hope and incorruptible inheritance in heaven in order to accurately model Jesus’ marriage by living as the reborn new people—adopted by Father God—with the hope of our reward in eternity.

We must believe God keeps us for salvation through faith to accurately model Jesus’ marriage because we must know God’s love and forgiveness to model love and forgiveness to our spouses.

In order to model Jesus and the Bride we have to know God exists. We have to know Jesus. And know Father God. And be reborn into true hope of our inheritance in eternity. And be kept by God through faith for salvation.

And that is just the beginning. That is just the basics of Reality.

A Great Man: Bestafar 1922-2012

These have been busy and hard days, real days, the last days of my grandfather’s life on this side. He died a few days ago. The funeral is this weekend. Here is a brief look at how he gave to people and his advice for a good life. 

“Thank you for coming.” These were the last words my grandfather spoke to me from his deathbed—words of affirmation and loving thankfulness following our agreement to meet in heaven.

My mother, who was visiting with him as she knew time was short, sent the message to the family, “He has stopped kidney dialysis. Come say your goodbyes.”

I rushed to the side of my dying Bestafar who clasped my hands and said, “Welcome aboard.” The love in his eyes with those words meant the world to me.

Yes, Bestafar. As he was the son of an immigrant Norwegian woman we grandkids knew him as Bestafar, which is Norwegian for grandfather (we recently found out it means the best grandfather).

We came, we listened to stories of his life in which I saw him pour his life into others, we received his last advice, and we said goodbye.

His father was Irish and had a chicken farm in upstate New York. His mother was a Norwegian immigrant, along with her five brothers and five sisters. Their father changed from Lutheran to Baptist and the oldest brother immigrated to go to a Baptist seminary (he worked his way through, earned his doctorate of divinity, and went back to Norway to be a Baptist minister). The rest of the siblings followed as those here found jobs for them, and the father came too.

As a boy Bestafar worked on the farm. His uncles helped him grow—one taught him how to drive a team of horses and another taught him how to drive a car. His mother taught in the area’s one-room school house just down the road and made sure he knew the value of education.

He was separated from his father at a young age when his mother left taking him, his brother, and his grandfather to live with his four aunts—all of them teachers or nurses—in a house on Staten Island in New York City. It is suspected she did so because she wanted to continue teaching while her husband wanted to keep her home barefoot and pregnant like so many farm wives.

In the city Bestafar participated in Woodcraft—a competitor of Boy Scouts with an American Indian theme.

After high school he attended Hamilton College and majored in chemistry. In December of his senior year a classmate burst into the fraternity house announcing Pearl Harbor had been attacked—the United States entered World War II. He graduated and a chemist job literally found him.

For two years he worked at Mathieson Alkoli Works, in Virginia, his chemist job excusing him from the draft requirements, until the desire felt by every young man of that age to be actively involved in the war convinced him to enlist.

He enlisted in the Army, his poor eyesight made him Class B, and he was stationed stateside. He guarded German prisoners of war—most of whom were friendly and happy to be out of combat—as they did farm work. This was far below his keen mental abilities, he wanted to do more, so he applied for and obtained an assignment of Sanitary Engineer.

This turned out to be a recruiting facade for the Army’s secret biological warfare research laboratory at Camp Detrick—a lab with similar secrecy and importance as the Manhattan Project. His team was told to find a way to wipe out Japan’s crops. They succeeded by creating a substance that could be exploded over an area to chemically kill the plants (perhaps the forerunner to Agent Orange in Vietnam and our herbicides today), but the atomic bomb strategy was chosen instead. They cleaned up the lab and he ended up in a base telephone office, cleaning and repairing base communication equipment.

During this time he met a nurse in the WAAC into whom he poured his love. She returned his love, they married, and in the usual way children soon came—a son, a daughter, and a son.

After the war he poured into young people by being a preceptor for college freshman and then teaching high school physics while obtaining a Masters degree from Colgate University—one of his classmates and friends was Andy Rooney.

His Master’s thesis was an evaluation of Colgate’s science programs, asking did they do what they claimed—in effect the student grading the teacher. This required him to know the program inside out which led to a professorship, pouring into undergrads “physical science and baby math” at State University of New York (SUNY) in Oneonta, New York, where his mother and two aunts had previously obtained their teaching degrees.

His first child died at age six. Bestafar kept pouring into the people around him.

He kept climbing the educational ladder and entered the PhD program at Cornell University.

His wife developed some issues requiring long stretches in the hospital, so his mother would come take care of the kids, or if she could not come the kids would be farmed out.

To finish his PhD he had to do a one year residency, but his wife’s health declined and took precedence, so he put the PhD on hold, packed up, and drove to Roanoke, Virginia, which had a veteran’s hospital for his wife. He drove in with, “a sick wife, two kids, and no job.” As it turns out, he never was able to finish the PhD.

He interviewed with IBM, “took their test, knocked it cold, and had a job.”  Showing care for his kids education, they chose a house based on where the good schools were.

This was in the early days of computers, and IBM sent him to Washington DC for their basic computer training with punch card programming, to Philidelphia for basic IBM courses, and to Columbia University in New York to take Scientific Programming.

With IBM he co-taught in Washington DC the first Scientific Programming course outside of Columbia University. And when IBM installed their computer at Virginia Tech they sent Bestafar to teach programming to the professors and graduate students—he poured into the teachers and leaders.

After years of struggle with his wife’s health issues, out of concern for the kids they agreed to divorce, and he took the kids.

He was with IBM for twelve years experiencing and advancing the new world of computers until IBM changed strategies and shut down his department.

He changed companies to work for Norfolk and Southern Railroad which had been his client with IBM. After thirteen years he retired as head of NSR’s computer division—the early version of Chief Technology Officer.

With his daughter in late college and his son in late high school he married a widow he knew through church and poured his life into her and her college-age children as well.

His youngest son died at fifty of a heart problem, having earned his Masters at Virginia Tech in chemistry, been a professor, and done many eclectic things. And Bestafar kept pouring himself into the people around him, with a pacemaker addressing his own heart problem.

In his retirement years Bestafar poured himself into other people: at church he taught a men’s Sunday School class long past the point he could hear the discussions, finishing his Sunday School teaching career of about fifty years; he won an award for having ran crews for and worked so many hours with Habitat for Humanity over twenty-five years until his deafness and age were too dangerous; he played with his grandchildren; he emailed the extended family profound and funny things; and for three years he daily visited his wife in the nursing home where she lay paralyzed by a stroke—she could not speak, he could not hear, and he cared for her to the end.

Now at almost ninety years old with kidney failure and tired of dialysis it was his turn to lay in the same nursing home—cared for by the same staff who cared for his wife—and be visited by family.

He poured out his life for his country, for both his wives in turn (he outlived them both), for his kids and step-kids, for all the grandkids and great-grandkids, for students of many ages in many classrooms, for youth and men in Sunday School, and for families with Habitat for Humanity.

I asked him, via a written note, what message he would like to send to his great-grand-children. He thought for a moment and said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you will live a good life.”

Bestafar was a man who showed his love by pouring into people’s lives.

Will you? Start with your spouse.

Cherishing Jesus the Baby, Jesus the Man

This being the Christmas season, I was inspired to think about Jesus when He was a baby. I read the gospel accounts.

It hit me that Mary’s response to the angel’s news she would bear Jesus was not, “Yes, I am about to be married and thank you for telling me my husband and I will have a son.” No, Mary understood the angel meant immediately, so asked, “How could this be, I have not had physical intimacy with a man?”

The answer of course is that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and work the miracle of God becoming man, of God stepping into His creation to experience it “from the inside” as it were. It is not enough to create mankind, God had to experience it!

That got me thinking. A while back I wrote a short story on the conceptual beginning of mankind, when God sat around and thought us up. I posted it in this blog as the menu page “God’s Desire.”

I realized there is a scene I could add in the planning session of Jesus getting a twinkle in His eye and saying They should not only create mankind, but that He could enter into history as a man. Not the first one. No, it would be better to long foretell of His coming, get the people desiring His coming, let the anticipation build to a fever pitch, and then surprise everyone by showing up in a very normal way, specially announced of course.

And here we see Jesus in the gospels, a baby, lying in a manger. Fully God become also fully man. Without sin. Desiring to be held, cherished, protected, joyed-over, fed, cleaned, raised, and loved. Truly Mary was blessed among women, to be the one who held Jesus, cherished Him, joyed-over Him, fed Him (nursing God?!), raised Him, and loved Him.

And it hit me. He desires that we would protect Him. He desires that we would cherish Him enough to protect Him. And that is when I got a glimpse of what holiness is. Just an angle. And here it is: one angle of holiness is love. A love that cherishes and protects. A love that sweeps away sin and death and destruction to protect the baby in your arms.

One description, one angle of His love for us is as a mother holding a new baby in her arms. He cherishes us, sweeping away sin and death and destruction to protect us.

And He wants us to do the same for Him! Even as a mother is transformed by the baby in her arms, He wants us to be transformed and sweep away our sin, deny death and destruction, out of love for Him.

We cannot do it in our own will. Many have made themselves agonizingly miserable trying. It is by grace, not works, lest any man would boast. In love there is no room for pride. He must give us the grace to be able to do it; we must open up to Him to receive the grace.

Thus He came to give us life, and life more abundantly. He came as a baby desiring to be loved and grew into the perfect sinless man desiring to be loved, and because we could not love Him how He wants He came to be the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. Thus He endured the cross, despising its shame, for the joy set before Him! The joy of those who say, “I love You, Jesus!” The joy of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The joy of the wedding feast of the Lamb of God.

Jesus came for the joy set before Him. The joy of you saying to Him, “I love You, Jesus!”

Love produces obedience. Faith produces works. Do you love Jesus as a mother does her baby, enough to cherish Him? Enough to let Him cleanse you of sin and death and destruction to properly love Him? Enough to join Him seated at the right hand of the Father, having your priorities changed to see things from the Father’s eternal view and be motivated by the Father’s heart? Enough to say, “My corrupt nature must die because Jesus should not be touched by sin. I will pick up my cross, die daily, and follow You, Jesus, because You are worthy of the best I can give, the best I can be!”

And He will joy over you, laugh with utter delight, and with a twinkle in His eye draw you deeper into His heart, into depths of love and holiness and glory we do not yet know exist! Because there is no sin there. We start the process now to get rid of sin, and He is faithful to complete the process.

Do you love Him enough to model Christ and the Bride? Husband, love your wife as Christ loves the Church, His Bride; He gave His life for her. Wife, reverence your husband as you do Christ. Your spouse is the first place where the rubber meets the road and you will either follow Jesus’ example or not. Do it! It is worth it! Jesus is worthy!

May the love of Jesus overwhelm you this Christmas! May you truly cherish Him! May your life be transformed by His love! May your marriage bloom with His love!

Alcohol in Your Marriage: Yes? No?

In your marriage do you accept alcohol or reject it?

I think GK Chesterton’s thoughts on alcohol in his book “Heretics” make a lot of sense:

Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it … but drink when you would be happy without it …. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.

This image shows a red wine glass.

Image via Wikipedia

Many people’s experiences and habits of alcohol are bad simply because it is too much. They have not learned moderation. The dangers of alcoholism are known and the other half of the bell-curve is teetotaler-ism which has dangers including pride, legalism, misunderstanding God, and health issues!

I grew up with a mixture. I’ve seen hard-bitten alcoholics and known a few recovering alcoholics. My grandparents and parents drank in moderation until my pre-teens when my parents stopped drinking. In my mid-teens they started again, which threw me for a loop. As I sorted the pieces out I learned to drink in moderation.

My wife grew up in a family with the history of alcoholic relatives and her parents almost never drank, so there was no consistent counter-balancing example of drinking in moderation. My parents gave her that example.

Man’s wisdom aside, what does God say?

In the Bible, God forbids getting drunk, meaning intoxicated, and states those who make a habit of becoming intoxicated will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ first miracle was making high quality wine at a wedding for people who had already drunk all there was and were perhaps intoxicated. This rescued the newly married couple’s reputation as running out of wine would have been social disaster. Were they poor, bad planners, surprised at the number who attended, did not think people drank so much, or was this just for the glory of God? Whichever it was, Jesus saved the day!

For thousands of years wine has been a regular part of mankind’s diet partly because pure water and cities do not peaceably coexist. Wine is water purified and fortified, a drink and a medicine. The daily wine may have had a lower alcohol content. Timothy was a teetotaler (perhaps he thought it would appear more holy?) who developed stomach issues and illnesses so his mentor Paul prescribed wine as the cure.

Jesus drank wine, and was falsely accused of being a drunkard! I see that as evidence of His passion to share the Father’s love and message by going to where the hurting were. But Jesus went beyond accepting wine as a cultural drink. He made wine the symbol of the new covenant, the representation of His blood shed for us for our salvation. He commanded His followers to regularly remember His blood shed for us by drinking wine. And He said He will drink wine when the kingdom of God comes.

My wife and I drink in moderation at appropriate times, and to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us. And as Chesterton put it we drink irrationally and enjoy the ancient health of the world.

Related articles

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?

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?