"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Insulation: It Isn't Always What You Think

Insulation keeps the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  It creates a barrier of protection around you and your family.  When correctly installed it protects you from harmful elements that would cause harm if allowed to come inside. 

What about your house?  Not your physical house, but your marital house?  Have you insulated your marriage against enemies who try to breach the walls and tempt you to sin?

Have you done what it takes to protect your marriage against attack?  Are you sure?

Most husbands overlook an important aspect of protection and most churches treat this avenue as if it were toxic waste.

What am I talking about?

Simply put, husbands have been given the responsibility since Adam of caring for the garden.  Today the garden would be our families.  Adam, as we know, failed in his protection of Eve, the woman God gave him as a helper.

Keep in mind that Adam was placed in charge and Eve was his helper. So when she was tempted by the serpent it was Adam's responsibility to say "Hey Eve!  Come over here and give me a hand with this." and get them both out of there.  He was ultimately in charge of the relationship and therefore was at fault when he allowed the wall to come down and sin to enter. 

How does this relate to modern society and marriage today?

For decades sexual sin has been the most common reason for failing marriages.  A husband who becomes sexually unfulfilled at home seeks out fulfillment by having an affair.  The affair leads to divorce and what was once a very happy marriage ends in tragedy.

Who is to blame for this kind of sinful heartbreak?

Husbands.

Let me explain.   

When the marriage begins, every little thing seems like paradise.  A brand new husband and wife are excited just to be together, learning about each other and making all kinds of adjustments.  Life is blissful.

Then comes the day when a husband might want something his wife is unwilling to do.  It might be a new position or a new variation of foreplay, etc.  It could be any number of things.

Nine out of ten times a difference like this isn't a big deal and is covered by love, grace and understanding. However, if the "something" is something that will circulate in his mind and resurface constantly, causing sinful thoughts and temptation, then it is a very. big. deal. 

By not making clear the importance of the "something" and the potential for temptation that would be caused by his wife's refusal he has opened up their marriage to possible upheaval and devastation. By not insisting on certain things in the beginning of the marriage he has turned away from his responsibilities to care for his garden.  He has opened up Eden to the serpent.

**NOTE**  I am not talking about a man who selfishly demands all the sex he wants, when he wants, how he wants, without regard for his wife.  This post specifically addresses those things that cause inner turmoil in a husband's heart, to the point where he is tempted to sin. 

Wives are the only acceptable option for husbands to experience sexual fulfillment.  When there is a potential problem in this area it's the husband's responsibility to protect the marriage by whatever means necessary.

Am I suggesting that husbands should force their wives to submit?

No one can force a wife to submit to her husband's authority.  Submission is a choice.  If a wife decides to rebel instead of submit there is little a husband can do.

Well, then, what can a husband do?

Pray
  • Pray for your wife.  Pray that she will understand the struggle you are having with sex in your marriage.
  • Pray for your own strength, that you will be strong in the face of temptation and that you will always remain faithful to God and your wife, and stay true to your marriage covenant.  
  • Pray for your marriage and for the wall of protection to remain strong in the face of sexual temptation. 

Talk
  • Talk to your wife.  In a very loving way make sure she understands the consequences of your choice to not express the importance of certain things.  Make sure she knows that you intent to take the lead in some areas of your marriage, and that you need her to submit to your authority as her husband.
  • Talk to a mentor or a trusted friend.  Seek advice and counsel. Be brutally open and honest about your frustrations and temptations you are facing.  
Read
  • Read your Bible.  Get into the Word and grow closer to God, knowing Him better, and letting Him know you better.
  • Read marriage books, blogs, and other online resources.  Learn how to love your wife as Christ loved the church, giving Himself up for her.  Learn what dying to self really means.
Adjust
  • Adjust your heart.  Where there is temptation there is often a weakness that makes a person susceptible to that sin. 
  • Adjust your life. Fill in the gaps.  Make yourself busy whenever you are tempted with sinful thoughts. 

Accept
  • Accept the reality that you might live with this gap for the rest of your earthly life.  It isn't easy to come to this decision.  In fact it's quite hard. But it also is quite necessary. 
Can you think of other suggestions for husbands who face this kind of dilemma in their marriages?  Have you personally dealt with this issue?  If so please feel free to express your thoughts (respectfully) in the comments.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's In Your History

Priorities.  They come in all shapes and sizes, in many situations.  There are high priorities and low priorities.

The Bible gives us a list of priorities to follow as christians:
  • God  (Deuteronomy 6:5)
  • spouse (Ephesians 5:25 for husbands Ephesians 5:22 for wives)
  • children (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4)
  • parents (Deuteronomy 5:16)
  • extended family (1 Timothy 5:8)
  • brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24)
  • the rest of the world (Matthew 28:19)

Priorities drive our decisions, our activities (or lack thereof), our daily routines.  They are the stuff our lives are made of, and the sooner we put them in proper order the better off we'll be. We humans have a history of saying one thing and doing another.

Speaking of history ....

The history link on our computers provides a snapshot of our online activities for a period of time.  It tells us what our priorities are during that time on the internet.

What would I find if I looked at the browser history of your computer right now?  Would I find mostly shopping?  Social media?  Pornography?  Work projects? Or would I find some indication of the priorities listed above?

Do you mostly browse links related to God and your growth in relationship to Him?  What would I find next?  Would it be something that blesses your spouse and your marriage? 

I have a few friends with whom I exchange laptops on a regular basis, for a few minutes to a half hour.  The purpose for the swap is so that we can browse each others history and hold one another accountable for anything inappropriate or damaging to our walk with God. 

It doesn't have to be explicit or pornographic to be inappropriate.  I see you were shopping for computer games again.  You're supposed to be saving your money for new tires, remember???  Many times it can seem like a perfectly acceptable use of internet time. However, if that particular person needs to spending more time on A and less time on B, in can be a problem. How much time did you spend this week looking up things to improve your marriage instead of your house? 

If you want my unsolicited advice (and let's face it, who doesn't?), find a trusted friend or two and do a computer swap twice a month or so.  Let them see exactly what you are doing online.  Don't try to hide it.  Just let them see it.  Then answer their questions and (here's the difficult but necessary part) change where necessary.

How will you know what to change?  Simple.  Every question that makes you squirm in your seat is an area that needs some attention.  If it were perfectly acceptable, you wouldn't squirm.  Right? 

By doing this, your future history will look a lot brighter.  I can practically guarantee it.

FYI:  Last week my browser history consisted mostly of marriage blogs, Twitter and FaceBook. Oh yeah, and I was shopping for a used flute.  A little too heavy on FaceBook, so I'm trying to cut back. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Is Your Flag?

In the game "Capture the Flag," each team has to cross the border, steal their opponents' flag, and race back to their base without getting caught. 

But that isn't all there is to the game.  Other lesser scenarios play out during the course of battle.  Teammates are captured and either placed in jail or converted to the opposing team, prisoners are freed by their teammates, and flag runners are caught and flags are returned to their hiding places.

While there can be many small victories along the way, they all become worthless unless you are successful in capturing the flag and bringing it home.

Marriage can be like a long game of Capture the Flag.  As a christian husband you have a vision for your marriage.  You are responsible for bringing home the flag.  Maybe that flag represents the way you raise your children; maybe 50+ years of unwavering faithfulness.  For me it represents true intimacy (being known and accepted completely) with my wife.

Along the way you will have small victories and defeats.  Your children may become troubled youth.  Then again, they may grow closer to Jesus every day.  Your wife might promise to work with you toward intimacy, but not take actual steps toward the goal.  You might stay faithful for 25 years until a moment of weakness causes you to stumble into sin.

Whatever your goal, it is important to stay focused on it even when others (sometimes family members or even a spouse) work against you.  Just like Capture the Flag, your teammates might be converted to the opposing side to work against you, or they might be held in "jail" (not being able to break free).  Don't lose sight of the flag and don't stop trying to capture it and take it home for your team.

 How???

1. Pray for God's guidance.  Let Him know that you want to listen and obey Him.  Make sure your heart is in the right place.
2. Be honest with your wife.  Let her know what your goal is and how she can help.  Be honest and do not hide the details, even if they aren't well received.
3. With God's help, develop a strategy for your marriage to meet the goal.  Capture that flag and bring it all the way home.
4. Don't give up even when the most key team member abandons you and joins the other team.

So, husband, what is your flag?