Sunday, January 26, 2014
"On Fire": What Are You Prepared to Sacrifice in Order to Be Married?
"Listen to me, daughter; look and pay attention. Forget your people and your father’s family. The king loves your beauty. Because he is your master, you should obey him. People from the city of Tyre have brought a gift. Wealthy people will want to meet you."---Psalm 45:10-12(NCV)
Sacrifice: the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim
I spent some time with one of my absolute favorite married couples (and parents). A wise man once said that if you want to have a healthy marriage, you need to surround yourself with healthy married couples. There's a lot of wisdom in that.
Anyway, one of the things that the husband and I spent a significant amount of time talking about is how worldly Christians are. Now by that, we meant this: It's dangerous how many people will try and apply Scripture to the world's system. And remember, according to I John 2:16, the world is full of lust and pride. It's self-consumed. That's its system. And yes, far too many people try and manipulate Scripture for personal lusts or pride-filled agendas. Remember, Christians on the other hand are supposed to esteem others as better than themselves. That's God's system (Philippians 2:3).
Something else we talked about is how many people don't really seek out the Scriptures for themselves (2 Timothy 2:15-AMP). Instead, they basically "gossip about it"---they repeat what they've heard someone (or many others) say before without really assessing if it's wise, right or not. And a wise man once said that a lie repeated a million times makes it no more true than if it were only stated once.
Something that I have mentioned often is that I have never (EVER) dug the mentality that men should be the pursuers of women and the reason why is they are "natural hunters". Hmph. Do you know two men in the Bible who were hunters? Cain and Esau. Yeah...and things didn't go too smoothly for those two dudes (LOL). And besides. Do you know who else is a hunter? This guy: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (I Peter 5:8-NKJV) And as far as men needing to pursue women, I have said over and over again that when King Solomon said that a man who finds a wife finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22)...well, for one thing yes, that's true. If a guy finds a wife, that *is* good. In fact, he's basically piggybacking off of something that God said in Genesis 2:18 when he declared that it's not good for man to be alone. However, "find" has a lot of definitions. Only one of them is pursue. "Meet with" also means find. "Recover" also means find. "Discover or perceive after consideration" also means find. "Realize" also means find. "Discover by chance" also means find. (Discovering someone by chance requires no pursuing at all.)
And it doesn't stop there...
One of the reasons why people don't appreciate marriage *in marriage* is because they act married beforehand. And this doesn't only apply to sex (Hebrews 13:4). Only *after* marriage is a woman to submit to a man, *her husband* (Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18). By teaching individuals that a guy is to be the pursuer of women, that already puts the woman in a submissive state...waiting on a man to lead. I'm sorry but when you are getting to know someone, they haven't earned the right for you to submit to them. That is something that they have to take vows to get access to. That's "playing married before marriage". The foundation of dating/courtship should be friendship. That is *mutual* and the only one that should be leading *both single people* is God.
And still it doesn't stop there. Check it:
"And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.' Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him."---Genesis 2:18-20(NKJV)
A huge part of the reason why I like (and honor) the Garden of Eden so much is because it shows mankind in a perfected state. And so if in the Garden, Adam could not find a helper...do you really think that *outside of the Garden* men are thoroughly equipped? Give me a break.
No, in order to get to who God has for you, a man doesn't need to feel like he *has to* pursue you. God needs to bring you to him and then he needs (after a relationship with God and a sense of purpose) to be spiritually mature enough to recognize who you are once you arrive. If you have to tell him, you're also going against the biblical formula. God "wakes him up" and then he sees things clearly:
"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”---Genesis 2:21-23(NKJV)
Who did the work in the union of the first married couple? The man didn't. GOD DID. Again, the man was unconscious (asleep) for most of it. There's no telling how many not-God's-best marriages exist now because there was too much "man pursuing" and not enough GOD LEADING.
OK but that's not even the main point for this message...
Here's the next set of the instructions in the Garden:
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."---Genesis 2:24-25(NKJV)
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a woman about the fact that something else that is out of order is how "naked" we tend to be with men before vows are in place; not just physically but emotionally too. After a man vows to his Father (and yours) that he will love you and protect you as Christ loves and protects him, only then does he have the right to know the deepest parts of your body or even your emotions.
However, it's actually Genesis 2:24 that I really want to focus on...
A man is to leave his parents and be joined to his wife.
OK, and what does the lead Scripture for today say? You know, Psalm 45 is one of my favorites. In the New Century Version, it's entitled "A Song for the King’s Wedding" and in it, it says that the woman is also to forget her people and her father's family.
Does this mean literally forget? I doubt it. I mean, "loving your neighbor" (Mark 12:30-31) doesn't negate family. I discern that it's more along the lines of this: "to cease or omit to think of something". In other words, your birth family is no longer your top priority once you get married. YOUR HUSBAND IS (I Corinthians 7:34).
There are a lot of people I know who are in troublesome marriages just because they choose to ignore this one piece of divine instruction. The husband gets a job in another city (or country) but the wife declares she is not gonna leave her mama ("leave and cleave" cuts both ways, y'all-Hebrews 4:12). The husband wants to start a ministry but the wife objects because of her parents' advice. The husband joins his wife at his in-laws' home but things are tense because the wife calls over there every time there's a problem within the marriage.
If you are not ready to leave your family structure in order to create a new one with your husband, you are not ready for marriage. For some people, that will be difficult. For some, that is a part of the marital sacrifice.
I have said in the devotionals that I pen on more than on occasion that a part of the reason why a lot of men have issues with their wives submitting is because people are so busy writing personal vows for their wedding ceremony that they are leaving out *the purpose* of the traditional ones: declaring the order and structure of how their marriage should go.
I actually SMH at the fact that most *bible believers* have taken "love, honor and obey" out of their vows. Why? Because God is the Word (John 1:1) and he never said to. The Word actually says this to Titus 2 women:
"But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed."--Titus 2:1-5(NKJV)
First up: Women who are advising you to not submit or to buck up against your husband? They are not giving you wise counsel (no more than people who advise divorce. God hates divorce-Malachi 2:16). They are actually "bucking God's system"...and that's just what the world does. Secondly, did you peep how right after it said that older women are to teach younger women to obey their husbands that a part of the reason why is so that God's Word will not be blasphemed? Yes, it's *irreverent* to not keep God's Word. All of it. Even the uncomfortable parts.
Shoot, I've told people I counsel before that a part of the reason why they are in the state they are in is that they were so busy trying to be "romantic" in their vows that they weren't being *realistic* and *practical*. And yes, *orderly* (I Corinthians 14:40).
Does that mean I won't have personal vows in my wedding? I'm a writer who got my start as a poet so...probably. However, those traditional ones are going in there too and yes, I am going to go the non-feminist-yet-totally-godly route and say OBEY because the Word says that is what I am supposed to do for my husband. (As you can also see in Psalm 45.)
Submit means "to yield oneself to the power or authority of another" and "to defer to another's judgment, opinion, decision, etc.". Obey means "to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of" and "to submit or conform in action to (some guiding principle, impulse, one's conscience, etc.)".
OK, so you saw that submit is a definition of obey, right?
If you can't say that you'll obey "him", then you don't need to marry him. Submission is another part of the marital sacrifice.
Honestly, when it comes to the healthy couples I know, submission is totally in practice and there's no abuse in it. By submitting, the wife has not lost her power. It's just that rather than using it to challenge her husband, she's using it to empower him to make his relationship with God stronger which makes their marriage better. I mean, do you have a problem submitting to God? Well, a man loving God as Christ loved the Church is a man you shouldn't have a problem submitting to either. God is giving him the tools to be able to lead you. That is something to rest in. Not fight about.
However, let me repeat. SUBMISSION IS EXPECTED IN MARRIAGE. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SUBMIT TO YOUR HUSBAND, NO ONE IS MAKING YOU STAY SINGLE.
I promise you that I sense deep within me that some of y'all are going to make some *serious relational shifts* in 2014 and so this is the time to really think about if you're willing to make certain *biblical sacrifices* in order to one, get married and two, make your marriage work---and last.
The world tells us to get married for what we can get.
The Word tells us to get married for what we can give.
In order to be married, singles have to be willing to make certain sacrifices.
If you're not willing, no one is making you getting married. *Don't do it*.
If you are, get prayerful before saying "I do". Sacrifices are coming. For sure.