How to make up with that estranged loved one
(an empowering story from our archives but still so very relevant today!)
Some of us can’t truly enjoy the Christmas season as much as we would like to because of the numbing pain of a broken relationship or friendship. Amidst the festivities, the delectable cuisine, the flickering lights and the joy all around, we feel the emptiness, loss and hurt of not being in fellowship with someone very special, someone who was very close to us, but based on something that happened or didn’t happen, the relationship is strained and you are no longer on good terms.
Whether you are the person who was hurt or the one who did the hurting, Family and Faith Magazine is pleased to share some practical insights on how to restore a broken relationship. We spoke with the extremely knowledgeable and experienced Dr. Barry Davidson, respected Christian counselor and CEO of Family Life Ministries, who told us about some of the key elements for reconciliation – forgiveness, remorse and rebuilding trust.
Have you truly forgiven the person who hurt you?
Forgiveness is perhaps the most frequently discussed issue when it comes to restoring relationships. Maybe because it is something the Lord Jesus has required of believers: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32). To carry out this command, some persons say that forgiveness is simply a decision that we make based on obedience to God’s word. But how can you know when you have truly forgiven someone? According to Dr. Davidson, true forgiveness happens when the person who was hurt is in a position to wish the offender well. He also told Family and Faith Magazine what he considers to be the ‘5 truths about forgiveness’.
- Forgiveness is an act of the will. It is not just something in your head; you have made up your mind and are willing to forgive.
- Forgiveness is very costly. It cost Jesus His life, it is going to cost you your pride. Most times, the victim wants to see that person (who hurt them) suffer, so to really decide that you don’t want them to suffer is costly in that sense.
- Forgiveness should be expressed verbally and specifically. You need to be able to say to the person ‘I forgive you’ and tell them exactly what you are forgiving them for.
- Forgiveness is not conditional, so you are not going to say to the person ‘I forgive you if you promise me that you will never do this again.’
- Forgiveness is not impossible. ‘I can’t forgive you’ really means ‘I won’t forgive you.’
It is stupid to trust someone who is not trustworthy
Nevertheless forgiveness is only one aspect of reconciliation. Another important part is rebuilding trust, which Dr. Davidson maintains is the responsibility of the offender. “You have to forgive in order to be healed of hurt, in order to be in a position to be reconciled. But you don’t have to trust after you have forgiven the person, you may, but your forgiveness can be sincere even if you don’t trust the person,” he explained. He warned that if you have forgiven someone who is not trustworthy and you begin to trust that person again; you are exposing yourself to danger for which reconciliation becomes almost impossible. “A common mistake that pastors make is that they equate trust with forgiveness…but trust is something that is earned. (With regards to) the person who cheated or the person who physically abused his wife (for example), for her to stupidly trust him back in her space would indeed stupid,” Dr. Davidson admonished.
“So what we professionals do is that we encourage the forgiveness because unforgiveness affects the person who needs to forgive more than the person who needs to be forgiven. But we say to that person that that aspect of trust is not your responsibility, it is that person who offended you; it is their responsibility to earn back that trust.”
Dr. Davidson added that the offender needs to work on themselves; grow, heal and change in order to make themselves trustworthy and be in a position to be back in the victim’s space again. “Because what has happened in the past is that we have had people who are abusers; and they physically abuse their partners and they are very remorseful (but they are in) the cycle of abuse; they are remorseful, they want to make up and you make up and they start it again and it has a tendency of getting even worse and we have seen people who have actually died. So what we are saying to people is, yes you have forgiven however this person has to earn back the trust; this person has to be sincere, genuinely remorseful, genuinely sorry, genuinely repentant and really put in the work to be trustworthy again and that’s when you can experience total, real reconciliation.”
How to truly rebuild trust
So what kind of work is involved with becoming trustworthy again? First of all the person has to acknowledge that what they did was wrong. They have to own it, they have to take responsibility. “They need to make sure they are not blaming someone else; they are not justifying their actions. They need to remove all those defense mechanisms that they are likely to have been using and take ownership,” Dr. Davidson advised. In other words they should seem to be saying ‘what I did was wrong and I am extremely sorry.’
The second step is that the offender needs to get help. This is to “make sure that they understand why they did what they did because all behavior has meaning. And to see how they can make sure that for now and the future they are not going back down that road.”
Dr. Davidson added that sometimes getting help might involve total spiritual transformation in which the person who caused harm experiences God’s forgiveness and conversion. He noted however that it is wise for that person to “put themselves under the authority of someone to help them to grow and become this new person.”
Within this context, he pointed to a frequently referenced scripture passage, that he says is often misunderstood. “1 Corinthians 5:17 it says therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away , behold everything becomes new. The passage is really saying therefore if any man be in Christ he is becoming a new creature, old things are passing away, behold everything is becoming new. It’s a process. So you don’t get converted tonight and all of sudden all of the terrible things you use to do by tomorrow you stop doing them, that doesn’t happen,” he explained. That is why discipleship is so important as you are re-socialized to do things differently, he emphasized.
Marriage is more about giving than getting
Applying the 5 truths about forgiveness on the part of the victim and taking ownership for the wrong that was done on the part of the offender are the necessary ingredients for true reconciliation, whether it be in friendships or intimate relationships. But since more seem to be at stake in a marriage relationship, Family and Faith Magazine posed a final question to the veteran relationship counselor. We asked: In the marriage relationship, when one person has expressed forgiveness but the offending party has not acknowledged the wrong and is not remorseful, is it possible to live together in peace? Dr. Davidson responded by saying: “I believe it is going to be very difficult simply because the person (offender) actually is saying I didn’t think I did anything wrong and is a person who is saying I am going to continue business as usual.” Additionally he pointed out that marriage is more about giving than it is about getting. “So when you have one person who is very committed to giving, they are being forgiving, they are giving to the relationship but the other person is just getting, they are not interested in giving at all, then that marriage becomes very exploitative; somebody is being exploited, somebody is being taken for granted; somebody is being used and there is no way you can have anything but a totally dysfunctional marriage,” he counseled.
In other words, it takes 2 to engender true reconciliation. One party needs to truly forgive and the other needs to truly acknowledge the wrong, repent and make changes. This is exactly why Jesus came. The entrance of Jesus into the world meant that all mankind have the opportunity to be reconciled with God. Jesus, offered the gift of forgiveness, eternal life and reconciliation with the Father, and we in turn are urged to repent of our sins, accept his forgiveness and give the Holy Spirit permission to empower us to change our lives. As it relates to our relationships with each other, the same is pretty much true. We must forgive each other and we must also repent and make changes for the restoration of our relationships. May this Christmas holiday see many persons in broken friendships and relationships taking the necessary steps to be reconciled and be able to reflect on the love of Christ together during this holy and meaningful season.
send comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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See previous articles below.
How Should Christians Date?
By Family and Faith Magazine Contributors, Daniel and Grace-Ann Thomas
We have long been bombarded by the media with concepts such as “having drinks,” “grabbing coffee”, “hook ups”, and “flings.” Every other advertisement in between our favorite shows is from an online dating service inviting us to connect with varying people based on like attributes or to check out persons until you ‘find the right one.’ It is therefore not surprising, that even in Christian circles, the idea of casually moving from one person to the next, settling down with someone we like to be around for the moment, then moving on if the situation becomes unamusing, has become an increasing reality.
In a world where this Hollywood style of dating is the norm, how should we as Christians date? We certainly do not claim to have the formula but we would love to share a few thoughts we consider to be key to pursuing a Christian relationship.
Before you even begin to consider dating:
It is very important to spend time assessing and preparing yourself, uncovering and refining your identity, investing time in discovering your purpose and God’s direction for your life. It is critical to nurture your spiritual, academic, emotional, social and financial self. You must endeavor to develop and attain stability in these areas, before seeking to be in a relationship. If you want your potential partner to be advanced, refined and impressive in many ways, it makes sense for you to at least know who you are, and develop yourself as well.
What is the purpose of dating?
The answer is easier than you may think. The purpose of dating is marriage. Your pursuit should not be guided, by frivolity i.e. who looks good today, who sparks your interest right now or trying to ensure you are on the same dating page with your friends.
Do your homework!
It should be prayerful and evidence based, having carefully considered the characteristics you are searching for in a life partner. I like how Daniel’s mother explained this to him. She expressed that these characteristics may fall into three categories: 1. Things your potential partner must have/be; 2. Things that you can trade on and 3. Things that you cannot work with at all. These characteristics may vary from person to person.However we have outlined how they may be categorized:-
Things your potential partner must have/ be
- It’s non-negotiable, he/she must be a solid Christian. The Bible clearly encourages us not to be unequally bound to unbelievers (2Cor. 6:14). Having a partner who you can connect with spiritually, who is guided by their love for Christ and will help build your family on a solid spiritual foundation is essential.
- Share the same morals and values as yourself.
- Someone who you trust to be your life partner and parent to your child/children.
- Someone you find attractive. Persons may argue that looks are not important but we believe that the person you spend your life with must at least be attractive to you.
Things you can trade on
- Job type, Educational development,Culinary skills, Salary, Race, Talents
Things that you cannot work with at all
- An unfaithful potential partner
- A person who is verbally or physically abusive
Now for some general Dos and Donts
- Generalize before you specialize – Go out in groups with fellow Christians (camps, retreats, concerts etc.) where you can foster friendships, observe and pray with knowledge.
- Pray about potential partners that catch your attention – Keep prayerfully seeking God’s guidance and will in this area of your life.
- Ask friends what they think about him/her – Sometimes they can see things that you just cannot when you are experiencing heightened emotions.
- Exercise self-control and emotional responsibility – Do not share your attraction with the person before you determine that this is the direction you are definitely going as it is very important to guard both your heart and theirs.
- Don’t Rush It! – Wait patiently for the Lord (Psalm 27:14). You can trust God with this area of your life and do not need to run ahead of his timing.Even if you believe the Lord has told you that this person is ‘the one’, you do not need to rush and share this information with them as this could complicate the situation. Instead hide God’s word in your heart and pray it into fruition. If it is the Lord’s will it must happen.
- Don’t flirt with the potential partner in person or on social media – Do your best to treat this person like any other friend until you are at a place where you can begin seriously pursuing them.
- Don’t waste your time or theirs – If you know you are not sufficiently personally ready to commit yourself to someone in marriage, do not start dating.
We are Christians, therefore we operate at a different standard from the world. We think differently, we speak differently, we date differently. God must be at the centre of our lives in every way, especially our social and romantic lives!
A note from Grace to the Ladies: Knowing your value and self-worth and being confident in who you are in Christ are key components in the process of choosing a potential partner.
A note from Daniel to the Gentlemen: It makes no sense to date without giving serious consideration to what it means to be a man and a husband.
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See articles from previous editions of Family and Faith Magazine below.
Rethinking Holy Submission
- If your husband is a thief, don’t be a thief with him
- If your wife says eat the apple, don’t disobey God and eat the apple
The Bible is clear about the call for wives to submit to their husbands in a godly marriage (Ephesians 5:22-23). However it is crucial to understand that this submission can only be in as far as the husband is submitted and truly obedient to God. Take a look at this interesting account in Acts 5: 1-11.
“Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”
Do you think Sapphire could have acted differently? Contrast her actions with those of Abigail who was married to a man who the Bible describes as “surly and mean in his dealings.” Check out the full story in 1 Samuels 25. The outcome of Abigail’s actions was positively different from Sapphire’s.
Let us also consider the well-known story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. God gave a clear instruction not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However having been beguiled by the crafty serpent, Eve disobeyed God and ate the apple. Adam, also ignored God’s commands by accepting some of the apple from Eve and ate it. As a result, all humanity suffered the consequence of their actions. Eve should not have listened to the serpent and Adam should have rejected her offer to partake in disobedience. Who knows how history would have turned out if they each chose obedience?
At the end of the day, the Lord Jesus Christ died for both the married man and woman and each of them will have to give an account for their individual actions. The ideal is that husband and wife live out the Godly marriage model described in Ephesians 5 but what happens when one person is lured away by ungodly lusts? Treat them with grace, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit but have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness.
Tell us your thoughts on submission. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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8 Steps to Resurrect Your Marriage
Recently a beloved international Gospel Artiste announced that he and his wife of several years were getting a divorce, this to the shock and dismay of his fans and the entire Christian community. Indeed marriages seem to be taking a battering these days. What can married folks do, to not only survive in their marriage but truly enjoy it and live out God’s purposes? How can those who feel like it is already over have hope for renewal? Here are 8 steps towards resurrecting what may seem dead, back to life.
- Introspect and strive to be a whole person! Your spouse wasn’t meant to complete you but to complement you and covenant with you for the fulfillment of God’s purposes. When you are whole and complete, you make a much better partner for your spouse. But don’t seek after wholeness to win over your spouse, seek after it because that is God’s glorious plan and provision for you. “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10
- Repent! If you are ill-treating your spouse or being unfaithful, one of the first steps to restoring your marriage is repentance. “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7
- Let go of all kinds of bitterness and resentments and forgive! If you are a child of God, forgiveness is not an option. Believers are asked to forgive even as God has forgiven them of their sins. If your spouse has done you wrong, obey the instruction of our Heavenly Father and forgive, and as God’s child you have access to the power of the Holy Spirit to help you release all the pain and hurt. This is also part of how you can achieve wholeness!
- Pray the marriage model of Ephesians 5 over your relationship. In fact research all of what God says about His will for marriage and pray it over yours. Did you see the movie, War Room? Pray as part of a strategic effort to have God’s good and perfect will be established in your marriage. However if the problem you are facing in your marriage seems extremely difficult you should consider prayer combined with fasting. Matthew 17: 21 says, “But an evil spirit of this kind is only driven out by prayer and fasting.”
- If you and your spouse are Believers, believe that God can and will restore your relationship – it seems to go without saying but many persons in a bad marriage are so troubled and depressed, they forget to have faith that God can do a mighty work of restoration in their marriage. Exercise your faith and believe. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” – Hebrews 11:1
- Love sacrificially – sometimes you have to perform acts of kindness that your spouse does not deserve. Perform the act anyway. Love was never about what they deserve; but the expression of God’s presence in your heart. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs,” – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5.
- In a previous edition of Family and Faith Magazine we outlined Dr. Gary Chapman’s 5 love languages – words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Maybe it’s time to rediscover and reassess your partner’s love language – after all, over time we all grow and change. According to family therapist and counselor Dr. Barry Davidson discerning your spouse’s love language “can help heal past wounds and provide a sense of security, self-worth, and significance, so that intimacy remains even when you have to go and get your teeth!”
- Sometimes it’s useful to get help from a third party to help walk you and your spouse through the problems in your marriage. Seeing a professional counselor or qualified Pastor can definitely help to wade through and resolve issues, hold both of you accountable and provide practical actions for each of you to take as part of the healing process.
Do you have any other Godly suggestions for resurrecting a troubled marriage? Send your comments by email to email@example.com
See more articles and stories from previous editions of Family and Faith Magazine below.
Why we Delayed Sex for Marriage
He Said, She Said
Daniel and Grace-Ann Thomas have been married for almost a year. They met in third form at Ardenne High School. “I was sitting by myself at the Agricultural Science Department reflecting on life and Daniel came over to me, struck up a conversation then started talking to me about God. We talked so effortlessly, for what seemed like forever and we haven’t stopped talking since,” Grace-Ann told Family and Faith Magazine.
Unlike many couples today, Daniel and Grace-Ann delayed ‘unwrapping the gift ’ (sexual intercourse) for marriage. Family and Faith Magazine asked each of them 2 pertinent questions:
1) Why did you wait until marriage to have sex?
2) Are you happy that you did? Why?
Answer for Q1 – From an early age my mother Faith Collins, had instilled in me very strong morals and values and how important it was for me to value myself and my body. We had had talks about how priceless my virginity was – a rare ‘jewel’ not to be given away frivolously. She had also expressed to me that a man who truly valued me, would respect me enough to wait for me in every single way. When I went to high school, I got to see practically how the boys thought of and treated girls who they thought were ‘easy’, had given up their virginity or had allowed themselves to be approached in a sexually inappropriate manner- they had absolutely no respect for them. So at about 14 years old, I vowed that I would never be a girl that any young man could talk about and demean in the way that I had seen these boys treat those young ladies. At age 18 when I became sold out in my walk with the Lord, my morals and convictions about God’s design for sex to be shared in the context of marriage were solidified and I decided that I wanted to honor God with my life and body and honor my future husband by waiting to give him ‘ALL’ of me.
Answer for Q2 – I am extremely happy that I did. I feel proud knowing that I can hold my head up high wherever I go, knowing that only one man knows and can speak about me intimately and he is my husband.
I have also grown to understand just how personal and connecting sex is, the repercussions of sex in the wrong context and why God expressed that it should be between a man and his wife, so I’m happy that I was able to reach the ‘finish line’ and overcome the temptations faced to maintain my purity.
Answer to Q 1 – I waited until marriage to have sex for a number of reasons. As a Christian, my goal is to live in loving relationship with Jesus Christ, every day. Pleasing Him is the meaning of life, and that means that there is a standard for how I should live my life. That standard is set by Him, and it’s always the best way.
I understood sex to be a big deal. God made it to bind two people together in marriage, so they would be one stable foundation for the successful growth of children. Sex outside of the right context would just mess that up, and for what? Sin, always leads to death.
In this specific area, it can lead to serious emotional turmoil, health concerns, an unstable family and the list goes on. I did not want to risk my walk with God, my integrity and subject myself to all that stress for a moment of pleasure. Sex before marriage for me was just not worth it, and sin in general never is. I also wanted to share myself with my wife, not any random girl, not even a girl I just liked. Sex was precious and powerful to me and I wanted to experience it with a treasured person and at the right time.
Sexual purity in our relationship was not always easy. Coming down to being together for four years, talking about marriage, and then being engaged, were difficult times. Thank God for my accountability partner, who was also the best man at my wedding, Andre Miller, who helped us fight to keep things holy.
Answer to Q2 – I am very happy that I was able to do so, and that we did not fall together. I was 23 years a virgin and have no regrets. On our honey-moon night, there were no regrets. I was able to honor God with my body, honor my wife by having kept myself for her alone, and I am doing my best to build a strong foundation for our children, when that time comes. That is God’s intent for sex and doing it God’s way always works out best.
Articles from previous publications:
How Married Men Should Interact With Single Ladies
By Family and Faith Magazine Writer, Chris Brodber
Remember that nursery rhyme ‘What are little boys made of, and what are little girls made of’ – For girls: sugar and spice and everything nice – But boys: snips and snails and puppy dog tails? The old-time rhyme was really clear back then, we are quite different indeed and our differences actually affect how we interact with each other as the opposite sex. And unlike most women, most of us men will look at a woman and whether it’s the ‘puppy dog tails’ or something else built-in, something begins to kick-in, and then we eagerly want to touch what we see. Men easily get caught up simply with what we are looking at. Shallow? No, just male!
Job, as a married man, in the Holy Bible, says, “I made a covenant with my eyes, why then should I think upon a maid” (Job 31:1). He was referring to ensuring that he didn’t get into ‘trouble’ from just looking, and then thinking and then inappropriately doing anything with any single woman/maid. Understand that men tend to commit to something or someone from ‘eyes’ first, that is, what we see; while women tend to commit with their hearts first, that is, how they feel.
This is one of the big differences between us. And this stuff doesn’t change when we get married. As men we need to know this. We easily see and want. So why is this important for knowing how to interact with single ladies? Because knowing what can get us into inappropriate situations and ‘troubles’ is important. Knowing the Achilles Heel of both men and women is important to understanding and cultivating wholesome interaction between married men and single women.
Now every decent man should have a desire to defend the woman in his life. Ensuring appropriate behavior towards single ladies is an action that protects the woman in your life from possible pain in the same way that you are inclined to protect her from bandits. In fact ensuring appropriate interaction with single ladies also protects them (single ladies) too, from confusion and pain. Why? Because single women have their unique desires as women too.
A married man can oftentimes become the deep desire of a single lady because somehow she has ‘committed’ herself to him because of something he has made her feel. However prudent married men know how to interact with single ladies. They know how to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships that won’t end in brokenness and pain. For example a wise married man will always allow for some distance between himself and any single lady friend – There is a “too close for comfort”.
A good check-and-balance mechanism for ‘correct distance’ is using your wife’s measurement lines. Let her help you to determine what ‘the lines’ are. Do you remember that rule we use to use with multiple choice exams, “When in doubt, choose ‘C’ “. Well we can use that again – ‘C’ in this case means ‘Check’! Choose to Check your wife! Go Check what she thinks. For the appropriate dos and don’ts, where single ladies are concerned “C” your wife. And if we are afraid to, it probably means we’ve gone past the appropriate line, and are in the ‘inappropriate place’. Yes, when our conscience isn’t strong enough to reel us in, we need our wives to show us the truth.
I remember my wife saying to me, “That lady has a plan – Watch out for her”. Of course I was not concerned at the time about any ‘scheme’ of the lady. I figured my wife was being too sensitive, etc. But lo and behold, she was right. The lady had had a plan to try to eventually seduce me. In fact she had told another friend that, that was her plan, and he eventually told me!
Well-known Evangelist Billy Graham was one of the most successful men in ministry and possibly in marriage too. Not because of a unique gift, I think, but from the good use of common sense and good discipline. It is said that he meticulously planned how to stay in the ‘appropriate place’ with women: He would not give single ladies a ride in his car if he was alone. He planned how to stay pure and proper. And he kept to his position even if it made others uncomfortable. And that’s what all of us men have to do.
How should married men interact with single ladies? By having the right perspective and being disciplined and truthful; by being cognisant that we must protect our wives, the single ladies and ourselves and by being mindful of 1 Corinthians 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
Chris Brodber is an author and Pastor. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous features below.
Some time ago I had some car problems on the road and a nice man came to my rescue, staying with me throughout the ordeal, sending his friend to purchase a car part from the gas station a few minutes away so that they could fix my car and I could be on my way again. Very nice man, I thought. No ulterior motives.
Months later I met a very nice lady who was starting life over because her husband (a pastor) was a horrific wife-beater. Much strength and grace to her for having the courage to finally take action to leave and protect herself and her children. To my shock however, I soon found out that the ‘very nice man’ who helped me with my car was her husband! You certainly can’t judge a book by its cover but if you asked me at the time, this was a decent ‘good up-good up’ Jamaican man, kind enough to patiently help out a sister with car troubles. His no-strings-attached help renewed my hope in a kinder, gentler Jamaica where we serve and help each other. Clearly however, his home life was not kind or gentle.
That is the two-sided mystery in which our communities – inside and outside the church – find themselves. In the public domain, wife beaters are oftentimes ‘nice’ men; helpful, gentle, kind, and generous. In their private lives, they are barbaric villains. It is with that in mind that I must reiterate the biblical framework for how a husband should treat his wife, especially within the context of domestic violence or ‘wife beating’.
Here is just a sample of what the Bible requires in terms of how a husband should treat his wife:
- “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” – Colossians 3: 19. There is no ambiguity here. I would imagine that this instruction to “not be harsh with them” includes no shouting, shoving or slapping. Churches must hold husbands who are harsh with their wives accountable. After all, “a spiritual leader must have a good reputation. He must have only one wife and have children who are believers. His children shouldn’t be known for having wild lifestyles or being rebellious.” – Titus 1:6. Essentially, the good reputation that a spiritual leader has must first be with his wife and children. To be abundantly clear, a wife-beater does not have a good reputation with his wife.
- “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” – Ephesians 5:28-29. So if a husband loves his wife like his own body, he wouldn’t beat her, unless of course he is sadistic. Also, Christ loved the church in a sacrificial way – giving his life for her good. This is a tall order for a husband but is the biblical prerequisite in marriage. This type of sacrificial love is antithetical to wife beating or abuse of any kind.
- “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” – 1 Peter 3:7. So as she is a joint heir (and not your slave) how dare you hit her, a daughter of the King? Additionally, it is interesting to note that treating your spouse poorly or unfaithfully can also cause the universe to frown on your life; bad Karma some may call it. Malachi 2:13-15 reinforces the point: “You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favour on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant…So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.”
So the biblical teaching has a lot to offer on how a husband should treat his wife. The problem is the hearts and minds that have not yielded to the instruction of Scripture and are masquerading as righteous men in our midst. In society we can liken this situation to having adequate laws for a crime, but weak enforcement. The church must call a spade, a spade and stand by what the Bible teaches when it comes to how a husband should treat his wife, using that biblical framework to build an adequate response to domestic violence.
Maybe these wife-beating members and church leaders are why some of the prayers of the church go unanswered (if we believe 1 Peter 3:7 and Malachi 2:13-15). God will not be mocked. It may also be a smart idea to have private interviews with wives about their husband’s character before they are accepted in church leadership.
In the end, may every husband who beats his wife truly repent (stop beating her) and find biblical counselling that both rebukes and counsels him; and may every wife who suffers in silence find the courage to escape and find good counsel that restores her self-esteem, health, and overall well-being. May she also find a friend nearby ready to provide hope, healing, and help. SAH
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See additional articles from our previous editions below.
Head of the Household: When the Woman Earn$ More
By Family and Faith Magazine Writer, Anna Brown
A divorce support website[i] places money first on a list of ten marital problems that may cause divorce. Most couples face challenges when paying bills, saving, and planning for their future, but these challenges have the potential to increase when a woman earns more than her husband.
A 2013 Pew Research Center report found that 23% of American wives earned more than their husbands in 2011, contrasted with 4% in 1960. Without knowing parallel statistics, one can still be reasonably certain that the Jamaican situation is fairly comparable. Illness, unemployment and career options and/or choices are among the reasons that a husband’s income may be less than his wife’s.
Three couples chatted with Family and Faith Magazine. Kurt* and Lisann’s* family is largely maintained by Lisann’s salary as an Engineer while Kurt is completing tertiary studies. In Kurt’s opinion, Lisann is the head of the household, ‘not because of the income difference, but because she is more responsible.’ Lisann disagrees. Shouldn’t she accept the headship?
In the case of Raul* and Stacey*, Raul was a member of the management team of a business that was negatively affected by the recent economic climate. A decision was taken last year to close down the business, leaving Raul without a job. Stacey has relatively stable employment and at present, her salary has been paying the bills. Since Stacey wins the bread, isn’t she the head?
Consider Greg* and Cindy*: Cindy holds a very senior position in a leading private sector company while her husband is a social worker. In keeping with their beliefs about the headship of the husband, Cindy simply hands over her formidable pay cheque on pay day and Greg determines how the money is spent. Is Greg really the head, since Cindy brings home the ‘real bacon’?
Commanding and Controlling
Historically and societally, we tend to associate headship or leadership with power, authority and the ability or ‘means’ to influence others. Ephesians 5 is usually the first Scripture reference brought up in discussions on headship. Examining this oft-misquoted passage, founder of desiringGod.org, John Piper notes that, ‘The roles of husband and wife are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and his church.’
The husband’s role is meant to pattern the way Christ relates to the church (Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – verse 25), and the wife’s role is meant to pattern the way the church relates to Christ (As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands – verse 24).
‘Therefore, headship is not a right to command and control. It’s a responsibility to love like Christ: to lay down your life for your wife in servant leadership. And submission is not slavish or coerced or cowering. That’s not the way Christ wants the church to respond to his leadership: he wants it to be free and willing and glad and refining and strengthening,’ Piper continues. The Biblical view of headship then is not one of power, authority, or means but servant directorship. But if the wife earns more, could a couple arguably split the headship, with the wife making all the financial decisions and the husband making other decisions?
Education and Employment
Consider that the trend of wives who earn more than their husbands is in part driven by improved female access to education. The Pew Report found that among the group of married women with higher earnings, almost half (49%) had a college degree or higher. A 2013 Jamaica Gleaner article, Improving Student CSEC Performance, noted that ‘While the female (matriculation) rate increased from 33 per cent in 2007 to 37 per cent in 2011, the male rates also increased; but fluctuated below 20 per cent.’ Lisann, Stacey and Cindy are all representative of these statistics; all have college degrees, some at the post-graduate level.
Improved access to education often leads to improved access to employment and better paying jobs. A few weeks ago, the Jamaica Gleaner reported on the recent International Labour Organization (ILO) report ranking Jamaica first in the world for the proportion (59.3%) of women in senior and middle management positions. With women such as Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller; President and CEO of Scotiabank Jamaica, Jacqueline Sharp; Founder and CEO of Manpower and Maintenance Services, Audrey Hinchcliffe; Public Defender, Arlene Harrison Henry; and President of the Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ) and President of Guardian General Insurance, Karen Bhoorasingh blazing trails, women have many options today to engage their intellect and intuition, as well as increase the family income.
The Bible instructs husbands to be the head, not because of ‘financial strength’, but because he is assigned that role by God so that in being the head, he should demonstrate Christ’s love. The husband is called to be the one who ‘lays down his life’, the one whose sacrificial love is expressed for the good of his wife. Can that work in today’s society, with women contributing more than just skill in the kitchen and the bedroom, but contributing to the financial strength of the house?
A 2013 paper on gender identity and income by University of Chicago Booth School of Business economists Marianne Bertrand, Emir Kamenica and Jessica Pan found a decisive drop in the number of male-female couples at exactly the point where the woman starts to earn more than half of household income.
If headship is not based on a husband’s financial (or even physical, intellectual, or emotional) strength, but data shows that when the wife’s financial strength increases, so does the likelihood of divorce, then clearly a lot of us struggle with the concepts of headship and submission.
“I strive to live according to the Word of God, however I have difficulty submitting to my husband if he leads in a direction which I don’t agree is wise,” Stacey acknowledges. Piper contends, ‘When sin entered the world, it ruined the harmony of marriage NOT because it brought headship and submission into existence, but because it twisted man’s humble, loving headship into hostile domination in some men and lazy indifference in others. And it twisted woman’s intelligent, willing submission into manipulative obsequiousness in some women and brazen insubordination in others. Sin didn’t create headship and submission; it ruined them and distorted them and made them ugly and destructive.’
Whether or not you agree with Piper’s interpretation, wives “being subject in everything to their husbands” is the standard set by Scripture. Too often however, the standard for wives is quoted without the complementary standard for husbands. Husbands are to ‘love their wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.’ I propose that neither command is easy for either party without divine help. The nature of men and women is to be preoccupied with self and what we want above all else.
To live out these commands requires an internal change – a change of the heart. By himself and in his own strength, a man will struggle to love his wife in a sacrificial way. Likewise, by sheer willpower and/or emotional strength, a woman will find it challenging to submit to her husband in everything. Perhaps then some practical steps are needed for the increasing numbers of educated, strong, capable women who find themselves experiencing ‘financial strength’, and for the men who are married to them.
Suggestions for Husbands and Wives
- Husbands, love your wives. Ephesians 5 goes into great, often unnoticed detail, instructing husbands at least 4 times in verses 25 – 33 to love their wives: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … husbands ought to love their wives … He who loves his wife loves himself.… However, each one of you also must love his wife.” In Luke 22:23, Jesus says that headship is not control; the one who leads should be as one who serves. Husbands, let your headship be self-sacrificing and loving.
- Wives respect your husbands. Ephesians 5:33 commands what does not always come easily: men to love sacrificially, and women to respect. ‘Submission is an inclination of the will to say yes to the husband’s leadership and a disposition of the spirit to support his initiatives,’ writes John Piper. Piper illustrates how expressing disagreement while still being inclined to support a husband’s initiatives could sound: a wife may say something like, ‘I know you’ve thought a lot about this, and I love it when you take the initiative to plan for us and take the responsibility like this, but I really don’t have peace about this decision and I think we need to talk about it some more. Could we?’ The wife who truthfully says things like this is neither weak nor wily. She clearly has a mind, and uses it too; but she is also disposed to affirm her husband’s leadership.
- Working wives, especially if you run the show at work, when you get home you may need to switch gears. Homemaking wives, when your husband comes home, you may need to switch gears also. It can be easy for us (preaching to myself) to give orders in the same way we address our staff or our children. Speak with kindness.
- Discuss who will pay when you eat out, who will pay which bills, how much income you will put toward paying off debts. If the husband feels it is appropriate for him to pay the restaurant bill, discuss it at home before you go out, not while server is topping up your water glasses. Keep the lines of communication open so both of you are on the same page and frustration does not build.
- Don’t talk too much. Wives, if your husband always has to call you before spending a dollar, resentment can quickly build up. It may be a good idea to decide on an amount that neither one of you will spend without mutual discussion. Setting up a joint household account to purchase things for the house is another suggestion.
- Pray together, acknowledging God as your source and sustenance (and not the wife’s or husband’s salary).
- Share the domestic duties. Regardless of who earns more, when both parties share the household duties, you have an opportunity to spend time together, build little memories and express appreciation for each other. Wives, value his participation and help above the ‘right way of doing it’. When the dishes are done, you have more time to spend with each other!
- Husbands, regardless of her ability to buy things for herself, she wants to feel special. Flowers and perfume are always appreciated, but be creative: gas up her car for her on Sunday night so she’s ready to go in the morning, pick up some patties one Friday evening so dinner is easier, buy her a bottle of the hair moisturizer you always see on the counter in the bathroom. The fact that you noticed and took the time makes her feel extra special.
- Husbands, protection and security are not solely expressed by money. Find ways to make her feel emotionally and physically safe with you. Even if it means killing the lizard in the living room!
Lisann and Kurt expected the difference in income going into their marriage so they were fairly prepared for it. Stacey says she and Raul began their marriage in agreement that they would be ‘one in the Lord’, so although one income has caused tension, it has also caused them to grow stronger in their faith and their bond. Cindy and Greg are happier than ever; they are great friends and lovers. It appears as though money is not even a point of discussion anymore given the strategies they employed in the early years.
‘Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.’ Romans 12:10. This verse is not addressing couples specifically but if we let this verse shape our daily lives, humble, loving headship and intelligent, willing submission become easier. With knowledge, preparation and a willingness to honour the other above self, couples can be better equipped to meet this challenge of headship in their marriage.
(*Names have been changed)
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See other features from previous issues of Family and Faith Magazine below!
HARDENED MEN CHEAT
By Family and Faith Magazine Contributor, Christopher Brodber
“Men cheat!” That’s what about ninety percent of women perceive – Are they incorrect? No, they are not. And men are similarly the main users of pornography, the main persons to patronize sex workers, the first to flirt, etc. Men do generally have cheating issues. Every mature adult will acknowledge though, that adult- ery happens with both men and women. So, women actually cheat too! One person has cleverly argued that instead of being the ‘main offenders’, men are simply the ones that get caught the most – It is possible. For instance, I have never read an article where a man confesses to being a lover on-the-side for years. Often too, in the situations where the ‘other’ woman will ‘squeal’ and expose an adulterous man, a cheating wife hardly gets squealed on. So there are occasions that fortify the position many women take – “All men are dogs!”
Well, let’s take a look at the biblical perspective. Because the bible too acknowledges that men do have serious issues here. By no means does it express that God excuses men or condones their cheating, but it shows that God understands men’s issues. Even a Bible favorite, King David, settled with more than one woman. He had several wives. It is written that “David took him more wives and concubines out of Jerusalem” (1 Sam. 5:13). Then his successor, his son, the extremely ‘wise man’, King Solomon surpassed him, having 700 wives and 300 concubines (1Kings. 11:3). So, what’s wrong with us, needing several women? Is it just in our nature to have more than one? Yes it is! Yes indeed, our ‘nature’ is to blame!
Jesus answering this dilemma when it was posed to Him, said “…because of the hardness of your hearts” you want what you want (Matt. 9:18). He said further “from the beginning it was not so”, elaborating that a man was made to have one woman, initially – A man is made to “cleave to his wife.” He says this to inquiring men, that adultery and even divorce is ultimately unacceptable – He tells them that the ‘more-than-one-woman-thing’ as expressed even in remarriage, was permitted by God only because of “the hardness of your hearts”. In contemporary speak, “is because of your issues that God did see with you – things change now”. But of course the men being men, objected saying “if this is the case… it is not good to marry”.
Despite efforts to justify the folly, as we men often do, the Lord made the point clear to them, that there is now, in this era, ‘help you can get in order to discipline yourselves and settle with one woman’. You don’t have to run-down more than one now. He basically asserts that the correct ‘nature’ can be restored to men now, so that as with Adam, having one wife, and unlike even Abraham, you can live well with just one woman. A ‘hardened heart’ is the biblical explanation for cheating.
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<For more on relationships see below>
It’s All About Love!
By Family and Faith Magazine Contributor, Dr. Barry S. Davidson
Some years ago in a survey conducted by a local radio station a number of people were asked to define love, or to say in their own words, what is love? Some people said:
- “love is a feeling you feel when you get a feeling that you’ve never felt before”.
- “love is a perpetual state of anesthesia”.
- “love is a find, a fire, a heaven, a hell – where pleasure, pain, and sad repentance dwell!”
- “love is a grave mental disease”.
- “to love somebody is not just a strong feeling – it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise”.
- “love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person”.
There Are At Least 5 Types Of Love
The first is the Greek word Epithumia. It means to set the heart on; to long for or to covet. In the bible it is used both in a positive and a negative way. When used in a negative way it is translated lust. When used in a positive way it is translated desire. In marriage, husbands and wives should have a strong physical desire for each other.
The second is a Greek word Eros. Eros is romantic love, it is passionate, and sentimental. It is often the starting point for marriage, being the kind of love that lovers fall into and write songs and poetry about. It has been called rapture, exquisite pleasure, strong, sweet, and terrifying because it is so all absorbing. Let me hasten to say, however, that Eros has a problem. It needs help because it is changeable and cannot last a lifetime all by itself. Eros wants to promise that the relationship will last forever, but Eros cannot keep that promise alone. Eros by itself is not good enough. But it is the delightful part of the love-life designed for marriage.
The third love is characterized by the Greek word Storge. This love is the kind of love shared by parents and children or brothers and sisters. It is a caring love, it offers a sense of belonging. It is giving the utmost loyalty to each other. It offers emotional refuge. The marriage lacking this quality of love is like a house without roof, where the rain can pour in.
The fourth love is described by the Greek verb Phileo. It is a love of relationship – comradeship, sharing, communication, and friendship. It is a friendship love, which always expects a response. It is a conditional kind of love. “I love you because… I love you if …”
The fifth love is Agape. Agape is the totally unselfish love that has the capacity to give and keep on giving without expecting anything in return. Agape love is God’s love.
- It is Christ’s love for us.
- It is a sacrificial love.
- It is exercised as a choice of your will and has no dependence on feelings.
- It is a love of action, not emotion.
- It focuses on what you say rather than how you feel.
A marriage possessing Agape love can survive anything! It is Agape that keeps a marriage going when the other loves falter and die. I have just shared with you the five types of love now I am going to share with you the five languages of love.
The Five Love Languages
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, “people express love in different ways. If you express love in a way your partner doesn’t understand, he or she won’t realize you’ve expressed your love at all. The problem is that you’re speaking two different languages.”
- Words of affirmation are one of the five basic love languages. Compliments, words of encouragement, and requests rather than demands all affirm the self-worth of your partner. They create intimacy, heal wounds, and bring out the full potential of your other half. When you make a request of your partner, you are affirming his or her worth and abilities. When, however, you make demands, you have become not a lover but a tyrant. Your partner will feel not affirmed but belittled. A request introduces the element of choice. Your partner may choose to respond to your request or to deny it, because loving is always a choice.
- The second language of love is quality time. Quality time is giving your partner undivided attention. It is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, giving each other your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, or a drive out, just the two of you or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking. Have you ever noticed that in a restaurant, you can almost always tell the difference between a dating couple and a married couple? Dating couples look at each other and talk. Some married couples sit there and gaze around the restaurant. Spending quality time together through sharing, listening, and participating in joint meaningful activities communicates that we truly care for and enjoy each other.
- he third love language is receiving gifts. Gifts are visual symbols of love, whether they are items you purchased or made, or are merely your own presence made available to your partner. Gifts demonstrate that you care, and they represent the value of the relationship.
- The fourth love language are acts of service. By acts of service, I mean doing things you know your partner would like you to do. You seek to please him or her by serving him or her, to express your love for him/her by doing something for him/her, such as cooking a meal, setting a table, washing dishes, vacuuming, taking out the garbage, changing the baby’s diaper, washing or cleaning the car, mowing the lawn, spending time with the children or going to the market. Criticism of your partner’s failure to do things for you may be an indication that “acts of service” is your primary love language. Acts of service should never be coerced but should be freely given and received, and completed as requested.
- The fifth love language is physical touch. We have long known that physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Numerous research projects in the area of child development have made that conclusion: babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact. Physical touch is also a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love. Holding hands, kissing, embracing, and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s partner. For some individuals, physical touch is their primary love language. Without it, they feel unloved. With it, their emotional tank is filled, and they feel secure in the love of their partner. Physical touch, as a gesture of love, reaches to the depths of our being. As a love language, it is a powerful form of communication from the smallest touch on the shoulder to the most passionate kiss.
How To Discover Your Love Language
Discovering the primary love language of your partner is essential if you are to master the language of love. But first, let’s make sure you know your own love language. Having heard the five love languages – Words of affirmation, Quality time, Receiving gifts, Acts of service and Physical touch – some individuals will know instantaneously know their own primary love language and that of their partner. For others, it will not be that easy. Let me suggest three ways to discover your own primary love language.
- What does your partner do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you most, is probably your love language.
- What have you most often requested of your partner? The thing you have most often requested is likely to be the thing that would make you feel most loved.
- In what way do you regularly express love to your partner? Your method of expressing love may be an indication that would also make you feel loved.
Using those three approaches will probably enable you to determine your primary love language. If two languages seem to be equal for you, that is, both speak loudly to you, then perhaps you are bilingual.
In concluding let me say, that choosing to love in the language of your partner has many benefits. It can help heal past wounds and provide a sense of security, self-worth, and significance, so that intimacy remains even when you have to go and get your teeth! Yes it’s all about love.
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What Makes A Marriage Last?
By Dr. Barry Davidson, Contributor
In Jamaica we tend to spend more time getting ready for the wedding than preparing for the marriage. As a result many beautiful wedding days are followed by years of misery or, at best, minimal happiness. I am therefore going to share with you, what makes a marriage last from a survey that was done in Jamaica interviewing people who had been married for forty-five years and over.
- Shared values: – Similar values, having the same social and or religious backgrounds.
- Friendships: – Lasting relationships depend more on “I like you”, than on “I love you”.
- Intimacy: – Intimacy involves listening and listening is the language of love. Happy couples encourage intimacy through praise and mutual reinforcement.
- Fighting Fair: Whether lovers grow apart can often be traced to how conflicts are resolved.
- Tolerance: – Most successful couples, acknowledge that many problems are unsolvable and learn to work around them. They focus on what’s good about the relationship, so that it becomes the core of the relationship, while negatives become peripheral.
- Passion: – Virtually all researchers agree that sexual attraction peaks within the first year or two of a relationship. But the happiest couples still have plenty of ‘sexy’ feelings left. Staying at a peak isn’t necessary for a happy union. An enduring attraction is. An ongoing sexual relationship with one person is the most intense, fulfilling experience any human can have.
- Equality: – The lovers with the best chance for happiness contribute equally to a relationship.
- Trust: – Feeling of love may wax and wane during a relationship, but trust is a constant. Infidelity is the most devastating betrayal of trust a couple can experience.
- Commitment: – Successful couples don’t take each other for granted but work constantly at rejuvenating their good feelings for each other. The most satisfied couples put more thought and energy into their relationship than they put into their children or career. Commitment serves as the cornerstone of marriage; first a commitment to God and then a commitment to each other.
Dr. Barry Davidson is the CEO of Family Life Ministries. Send comments to email@example.com
Can a Christian woman and a worldly man have a happy family?
By Anna Brown, Family and Faith Magazine Writer
Kay and her husband had been married for a few years with their fair share of problems, but after she became a Christian, things got worse. Her husband had been drinking, getting into fights and cheating on her. Family members and friends told her to leave him. Perhaps some of them even quoted the verse – Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? (2 Corinthians 6:14) Can couples who were “equally yoked” (i.e. got married while neither partner was a Christian) but are now “unequally yoked” (at some point during the course of the marriage one partner became a believer) have a happy marriage?
A newly-converted husband or wife, aware that he or she was not previously living in accordance with God’s commands, may find him or herself struggling with associating the marriage relationship, particularly the conjugal aspect, with sin. The wife may fear that doing the things she used to do, for instance attending certain events, wearing a certain outfit or satisfying marital needs when the lights go out, will send the wrong message. The unsaved husband may view the withdrawal of customary favours, privileges and rights as punishment or ‘spite’ for not joining his partner on her spiritual journey, while the wife may be trying to demonstrate evidence of the change in her own life, or indirectly saying to her partner, “I want you to change also.” Avenues of previous cooperation can become areas of disagreement (how children are disciplined, how money is spent, what music is played in the car), resulting in a fair amount of tension. So can a non-Christian and a Christian live happily together, or should they call it quits?
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church he writes, “To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.” (1 Corinthians 7:12-13, ESV) His second letter to the same church therefore cannot be saying that the converted partner should divorce the unconverted one. Kay’s family and friends encouraged her to leave her husband but she stayed. Eventually, no longer consenting to live with her, he put Kay and the children out.
For the couple that chooses to remain married however, how do they resolve the new tension that develops because of this change? The Apostle Peter writes to churches in modern-day Turkey: “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:1-4, ESV)
It is not likely that Peter is talking about Christian husbands who have fallen into sin or have misunderstood the Word of God and are therefore not obeying it, but instead about husbands who are NOT Christians, therefore “do not obey the word.” The instruction to the Christian wives of non-Christian men is therefore to continue to do the good things you used to do before you became a Christian, or to start now to do the good things that you did not do before your conversion.
Equally important to doing the good things though, is how they are done. Women are perhaps more naturally inclined to share how they feel and talk about what is going on with them. Sometimes this sharing can be in the form of “I” statements (as in “I feel” or “I worry” or “I think”) or in the form of “you” statements (“you never”, “you always” or the Jamaican favourite “yuh see you!”). Too much of the former can weary, bore or annoy the listener; too much of the latter can wound, burn or aggravate. It is therefore instructive to note that Peter’s directive to the wives in this situation can be translated “so that they may be won without a word.” The Message translation of the Bible reads, “ There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance … but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. (1 Peter 3:1-6, MSG) It is possible for a husband to be seriously impacted, not by what his wife says, but by what she DOES NOT say. Being subject to, submitting to, respecting, and honouring your husband with a gentle and quiet spirit can soften his heart toward God.
A whole series of articles would be needed to adequately discuss the issue of women submitting to their husbands, Christian or non-Christian, but Peter is reminding wives that it is easier to SAY something than to BE it. The exhortation to the wives is to LIVE the message of Christ while serving and honouring a fallible man. Paul’s focus in 1 Corinthians 7 is different, but he also calls for a gentle attitude and the evidence of the converted life to impact the unconverted partner, even where the unconverted partner wishes to leave: “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so…. God has called you to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15, ESV, emphasis mine)
What about Christian husbands living with non-Christian wives? Peter continues, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers,” encouraging gentle treatment of the wives. (1 Peter 3:7, ESV)
The Christian therefore has the same responsibility whether the partner is saved or not, to obey the Word of God, to “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, ESV) In all marriages, there will be differences of opinion and disagreements, but if a non-Christian partner is willing to stay, the Christian can do her or his part to have a happy family, while continuing to pray for the partner’s salvation.
As for Kay, she continued praying for her husband and one year later he became a Christian and they reunited. Their marriage grew stronger and their family closer. Her husband later went into manufacturing and today they enjoy a close family relationship, as well as a multi-million dollar family business.
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Arguing Before Your Children Can Hurt Them
By Chris Brodber, Family and Faith Magazine Contributor
Because he said it, we knew he had heard it – every word of our exchange he had heard, and it was obvious that he was hurt by what had happened. And his reciting of what we had said was at a terrible time too – in the middle of our conversation with our guest. Well, we were trying to be cute as we sought to silence his quoting us in front of our guest. Then later, the frequency of his repeated questions about our argument made my wife and I realise that our son had been reeling from the experience of hearing us go at it. I now know that we would never understand the full impact of that experience on his mind and heart. The battles he would face alone trying to understand it, we would never grasp.
Whoever came up with “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” They must have been some hermit in the boondocks, without kin, friend or foe. Certainly words can cause the deepest levels of injury. How many of us can quote some painful thing once said about us or to us, or simply said in our presence, and statements that stuck with us like landmarks or mile posts? I know of words from teachers that have limited the performance and development of their students. “All like-a-yuh, will never come to nutten.” Such words echo in them for years, challenging their right to achieve anything significant.
Every thinking adult should realise that, especially with children, words are like seeds sown in good soil. They will all germinate, showing up exactly what was sown in the field of their little minds. And the ‘weeds’ from those ‘seeds’ sown, you can’t uproot them as easily as the ones in the back garden.
For my wife and I, it is ‘all hands on deck’ to undo whatever damage we caused our son and daughter when they heard our heated argument. And it is not only to spare us from the embarrassment of another recital in front of someone. We seek to do damage control more importantly to spare us the trouble of dealing with an angry duo who think shouting and a heated argument are the order of the day; lest they think that is the way to deal with family, friends and foe alike.
Home should be a safe place, especially for the children. It should be the ‘cool greenhouse’ where growing up and nurturing is most easy – where careful cultivation of the best things is done.
Our children are like blank canvases waiting for paint. They wait for the application of paint by caring, creative and experienced leaders. And they want to believe that every application to their soul is right. And whatever is dabbed on is what is meant to be there. Because whatever is dabbed on indeed, will be a part of the future of ‘the canvas’ and it will determine the worth of the final piece. The relationship between the artist and his canvas, is tantamount to the relationship between parents and children.
“Train up a child in the way that he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) – The Bible confirms that the path we set these children on is the path they follow when they are older. Well, the text is more of a command than a confirmation. It commands us to “train” them. To train means to cause development by useful structure, routine and practices.
There are just some things that children are not ready for. Probably when they are older they can understand the ‘why’ and the ‘what’, but the younger they are, the less capable they are to handle the back and forth ‘bullets’ between moms and dads. Some are too young to restrict the power of those negative experiences on their own consciousness; they can’t filter it through their own reasoning. They hear it and simply wonder, and internalise asking, “why?!”
Since God says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt,” (Colossians 4:6) let’s pay attention to that. And if your speech needs to be “seasoned with salt”, which means that it is carefully prepared to be fitting for the hearers, if that is so for the public, it is more so for our children. There are consequences for disobeying the Creator’s directive.
It is a disturbing experience to hear a child ‘carrying on’ and cussing like an adult. Yet I hear it so often. Often times the cussing is not only loud but lewd, with expletives – local and otherwise. Then you wonder, “where did this likkle pickney get that filthy mouth from?” And most of the times it is right at home, often hearing their parents go at it. Thank God that’s not us.
My intention is not to raise disrespectful, contentious and cussing ogres, so I know that I cannot allow myself to portray that to them. I’m glad my wife and I got that lesson early, so that we have adjusted how we talk to each other generally, but particularly in front of them. Their lives are too valuable to scar with momentary tiffs. I still figure though that we will be answering some of those “what is an eidiat?” type questions for a while, because they still come up, just from that one argument. God forbid there be anymore.
So the final fix – My wife and I now have our debates when the children are away or when we are in the privacy of our bedroom. We have adult discussions among the adults. If the children are in earshot of our conversation, then we won’t discuss the testy topics at that time. They expect us to be responsible. That’s exactly what we will hold ourselves to. We are not perfect, but we know that their futures can be jeopardised by the present use of our tongues.
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