Archive for the ‘ Marriage ’ Category

Kids: To Have or Not to Have?

I have to ask myself why God would allow me to enter into and feel such contentment and connection in a relationship with someone who wants children, given my own desires not to have them. Is this something He is trying to break me of? Is He using my boyfriend and his desire for a traditional family (husband, wife, + kids, not necessarily implying specific gender roles) to confront my desires and plans? God, what is Your will for me when it comes to children? How would You have me serve You? Because ultimately, that is my desire. To serve You as You would have me serve You. And Lord… this is a difficult thing for me to say and lay down before You, but if I am to follow you explicitly and unreservedly, then I must profess it in faith and commitment:  I want Your will for my life, not my own. I lay down my perception of the future, of myself, of my capabilities, potential, and opportunities before You. You are the author of my life. Write my script as You see fit, for You and You alone are sovereign, almighty, and all-knowing. Your way is better than any way I could ever dream to design. So Father, be it Your will that I have children, then so be it because YOU have ordained it and therefore it is intended and blessed by You. I want only to always be under Your covering, under Your favor and nurturing, Lord. Draw and keep me near to You. In Your name I pray and trust.

~ Amen.

Future Posts (April)

As I described throughout the earlier posts, I plan to continue this “Garden Principles” series and move on to discuss an all favorite topic: LOVE! I have a million notes written down and I just have to sit down and condense it all. But I will be focusing on the differences between 1) how men vs. women show love, and 2) how men vs. women expect to receive love. But warning – don’t expect this post too soon from now.

Also, I am just starting to read the book The Final Quest, by Rick Joyner.

This is my mom’s top recommended book for serious Christians. She recommended that I read it years ago, but I opted not to because I didn’t think I was spiritually mature enough. But I feel spiritually ready now and am so excited for what the Lord will reveal to me through this book. I bought a copy for a friend – which reminds me, I have to mail it out on Thursday (note to self). But I’m hoping we can bless each other as we read it.

So my next post will likely be the love post and will temporarily close out the Garden Principles series. Although there is so much I have learned from the exploring the Garden and so much more left for me to learn, I feel like God is moving me away from meditating on love relationships and onto meditating on how we are to build ourselves (and each other) up as individual members of Christ. For, in strengthening our individual selves, we strengthen and unite the body. And I think it is especially appropriate that I start The Final Quest now, after I have spent the last month studying 1st Corinthians with my Bible study group. It’s awesome how God lines things up, isn’t it? Perfect timing, Lord, as always. 🙂

God Bless you!

Garden Principles IId – Personal Note Regarding Unequally Yoked Spouses

Now I put a star at the end of the previous post because I don’t want this to be misunderstood. I feel like often people think of male-female relationships as one-sided, as though the actions of each are one-directional. Rather, I think that a synergy is supposed to exist and that synergy is achieved through intimacy. I touched on this in the section on Eve and Women, but I think it is worth emphasizing so that I am not misunderstood. Again let’s consider Christ and the Church. When we as members of the Church have a concern, do we just wait idly by for the Lord to reveal what we are supposed to do? No. What do we do? We talk to Jesus. We pray (talk) to Him. We actively seek Him. We express our concerns, our hopes, and our desires to Him. It is a two-way communication, a partnership. We move toward Him and He moves toward us. This is as it should be between a husband and wife also. They are to communicate with each other; the husband is to listen to and fully consider the concerns, hopes, and desires of his wife, and she is to listen to and fully consider his counsel.

Now, as for submitting to (trusting) your husband’s guidance, I personally only feel that a woman should trust the guidance of a Godly man who is truly striving for enlightenment and intimacy with Jesus Christ. This is my PERSONAL opinion, absolutely not me saying that I have read this in the Bible. I would encourage you to do your own searching on this and bring this question to the Lord. But for me personally, it just makes sense that a Godly woman can have peace submitting to (trusting) a Godly man because he is striving to live according to the husband role  established by God, and is therefore plugged into God and living to exemplify Christ in his daily walk. Thus, if he is submitting to (trusting) God, as she is submitting to (trusting) him (the husband), there is an overall submission (trust) in the Lord. But if the husband is not a Christian actively in the word and actively striving to live according to Christ’s principles, then she is trusting a man who is not trusting God and not weighing all of his decisions in Christ. Rather, in such a marriage, I feel that the wife should look to Christ alone to be her head and to counsel her in matters related to her marriage and life.

Now, because the roles are different, my opinion will be different for men. In my personal opinion, men should still live as the head with their non-Christian wives. They should be ever-connected with God and counsel their wives according to His principles. I would hope that in living this role, he would be successful in leading her to the Lord.

Again, this is just how I see it. I am still studying the Word on this, and Lord please reveal to me if this is wrongful thinking and, if it is, guide me in Your Word to Your truth.

NOTE: God bless Brother wellis32 for reminding me of 1Peter3:1-7:

[1] Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; [2] While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. [3] Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; [4] But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. [5] For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: [6] Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.  [7] 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.

I will have to pray on this a bit more. I’ll come back to this post.

Garden Principles IIc – Thinking about the Whole Picture

I think this view of Adam and Eve is not only important for laying the foundation for what roles a husband and wife are to live (Ephesians 5), but equally important for providing us a model of a husband and wife that fail to act out these roles. When their roles were reversed, they entered into spiritual disobedience and all chaos broke loose.

Personally, it really makes a lot of sense to me that God would challenge men and women to adopt roles that are opposite those that were lived by Adam and Eve in the moment of temptation. We only grow closer to the Lord when we are challenged and challenge ourselves. Therefore, living roles opposite those of the Adam and Eve will challenge: 1) men’s temptation to just focus on their work and not counsel (i.e. communicate) with their wives, and 2) women’s temptation to be in control of their husbands and dictate the direction of their relationships. God wants to stretch us and make us stronger in Him, so I would encourage you to resist these gender-specific temptations and instead push into our Lord. Men, strive to be good spiritual examples to your wives; strive to advise and communicate with them. Women, strive to respect and trust your husband’s ability to lead you and your family in the right (Godly) direction. ** (< continue to next post for star explanation)

Garden Principles IIb – Eve, Women, and Wives

In the moment of temptation, Eve acted as the leader in her relationship with Adam and led him to eat the fruit. In this moment, she was the chief counselor in their relationship and advised Adam on what to do. Thus, we see that God commanded the opposite for women: In Ephesians 5:22, wives are to “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” In v. 24, we see that they are to “submit to their husbands in everything,” and in v. 33, “must respect her husband,” who will “rule over her” (Gen. 3:16).

Now this is very unsettling for secular and Christian women, who interpret these verses to be anti-feminist by intimating that women are to act as doormats and do whatever their husbands command. They apply such sterile interpretations of these verses, as though the relationship between a husband and wife is like a master to his slave. But this is incorrect thinking and thwarts the growth that is intended for both spouses in a Godly marriage.  Women are not to be subjected to the dictatorship of men. No, rather, I believe “submission” is synonymous with “trust.”

Let’s again look at Ephesians 5. After it states that wives are to submit to their husbands (v. 22), it immediately relates the husband to Christ and His relationship with the Church. I think this is done to discourage us ladies from interpreting our submission as subjugation. As the Church, we are not forcefully dominated by Christ. Rather, we must submit to His rule. And how do we do this? By trusting His ability to guide us. Thus, in the same way, we as wives are to trust our husbands’ ability to guide us and advise us in the way of the Lord.

Here’s another way I thought about this. Since husbands are related to Christ’s relationship with the Church, I thought it would make sense to look to Christ and His Bride (the Church) and consider what He most desires from her (the Church). The answer is her Love. Mark 22:37-38 states:

“you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Thus, Christ most desires our love for Him, and how is love fostered and achieved? Through intimacy. And what is required and developed through intimacy? Trust.

Thus, if Christ and the Church represent the model to be followed in marriage, then all of these elements (love, intimacy, trust) should exist between a husband and wife.

Let’s look again at Ephesians 5. I think it is extremely significant that in God’s description of a husband and wife’s relationship, He describes intimacy. It’s as though He built the same case as made above (love <-> intimacy <-> trust) so that we women would understand that trust is what is expected of us in our marriages. In Ephesians 5:28-31, it states:

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – [30] for we are members of His body. [31] ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ [32] This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. [33] However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

These verses point to the unity and intimacy that should exist between a husband and wife, that he should “love [her] as [his] own body” and both should “become one flesh.” And as aforementioned, in intimacy, trust is essential to a relationship and further fostered as the relationship deepens. I think this is intimated by the fact that these verses on intimacy end with the commandment that “the wife must respect her husband.” I don’t know about you, but personally, it is much easier for me to trust and take the advice of someone that I respect.

This was a looong description, but I think it’s much more difficult for people to understand the concept of wives’ submission to her husband, so I wrote more for this section. Moral of the story:  Eve led and counseled Adam when they were tempted. Therefore, women are now challenged to trust the counsel of their husbands.

Now, this is obviously not an easy commandment to follow. Of the three elements (love, intimacy, trust) that must be cultivated in a marriage, trust will certainly be the most difficult for women. As the curse indicates:  Gen. 3:16 – women will have desire for their husbands – i.e. will strive to control them. But sisters, I would challenge you to be aware of your desire and strive to grow in the Lord by trusting the guidance of your Godly husbands.

But in a future post, I plan to elaborate on the ways in which women communicate love, how Eve’s curse provides an explanation for the ways in which women expect their husbands to love them, and how women’s understanding of male communication/love can help them convert their idealistic expectations into realistic ones.

Garden Principles IIa – Adam, Men, and Husbands

So as I just stated above, Adam was not the head of their relationship in the moment of temptation. Instead, he submitted to (trusted) Eve’s guidance and partook of the fruit she brought to him. Therefore, in Genesis 3:16, we see that God challenged man to adopt a role opposite to that which Adam played in the garden. God commanded that Adam (man) will “rule over” his wife and, in Ephesians 5:23, will be “the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.”

Now, this ruling over her does not mean that he is to be an overlord, dictating her every action and restricting her freedoms. No, this is how the world would have us interpret these verses. But is this how Christ rules over us, His church? No, it certainly is not. Christ is not a dictator. He is our greatest counselor, adviser, example, and leader. In Eph. 5:25-26, it states that husbands are to:

“love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”

I think this only confirms a husband’s role as his wife’s counselor, as he is commanded to “wash her through the word.” Now let us think about what exactly is required in order to be a good counselor and adviser. Such requires someone to be wise (and therefore worthy of giving advice!), a good listener, and a good talker. This means that men are to be 1) constantly plugged into the word of God and cultivating their personal relationship with God (how to achieve wisdom), 2) hearing and understanding the full content of what their wife says (good listener), and 3) talking to his wife (good communicator). Thus, men are to be good communicators with God and good communicators with their wives. This is what Adam failed to be for Eve during the temptation and what men are now challenged to be for their wives.

However, men will likely find it difficult to communicate with their wives and develop their role as counselor because of Adam’s curse, given that their preoccupation with work fosters a systematic-style of communication, focused on solving problems, rather than engaging in open-ended discussions of emotional concerns (the style of conversation that comes more easily for women, who are more preoccupied with their relationships). But to dive deeper into this right now is a bit of a digression. In a later post, I will talk more about the implications that Adam and Eve’s curses have for husband-wife communication and how this challenge can be alleviated by both spouses.

In the future, I also want to discuss how husbands are to give themselves up for their wives, just as Ephesians 5:25 tells us Christ did for the Church, and discuss how this intimates differences between a man vs. a woman’s demonstration of love. This especially relates to the Genesis curse!

Intro to Garden Principles II: Adam and Eve Before the Fall

So, as a refresher, in the first post we established that men and women were created equal, but in their disobedience were cursed with non-physical distinctions:  1) men would be most concerned with their jobs and would face the challenge of providing for their families, and 2) women would be most concerned with their relationships and would face the challenge of being “ruled over” by her husband, despite her own desires to control him.

Now, for many it is really troubling that men should “rule over” their wives (Genesis 3:16) and that wives must “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22). But I think they make much spiritual sense when we restrain ourselves from reading these verses with a worldly understanding and instead consider these commandments in reference to Adam and Eve’s relationship and their behavior in the garden.

Just remember that God has a purpose in all He commands and ultimately aims to bring us closer to Him. So, with that in mind, what is the purpose of these commandments?

Let’s look at the first temptation. As we all know, Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As I wrote in the former post, where was Adam when she was being tempted? When the pastor posed this question, I took it to mean where was he physically. But in Genesis 3:6, it says he was with her:

“… she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Therefore, I now take his question to mean, where was Adam in that moment, mentally and spiritually? In these verses, he is voiceless. He did not *communicate* with Eve, counsel her, guide her in this pinnacle moment. Adam did not lead her and was not acting like her head. He submitted to (trusted) her leadership (I elaborate on what it means to “submit” below).

Rather, Eve was the leader. In verses 3:1-6, she conversed with the serpent, she made the decision to eat of the fruit, and she led Adam in eating the fruit. Again:

“… she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Thus, in this moment, she guided her husband and ruled over him.

Therefore, when we consider the roles that men and women are commanded by God to adopt in Ephesians 5, it makes sense that God challenges them to assume the roles that Adam and Eve failed to perform at the moment of temptation.

Let’s look at Adam and Eve separately in order to gain a deeper understanding of this.