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Scary Marriages
by Norman Bales

    Recently, I received a query from a reader who wrote, “In our church the married people appear so scary, imbalanced and dysfunctional most of the time.” She asks me to comment. Having been around church going folk all my life, I would have to agree that some of the married people are indeed “scary, imbalanced and dysfunctional.” I might disagree with her about the percentages, but I also will admit that I am so anxious to believe good things about the folks I assemble with on a regular basis that I might be guilty of looking past their shortcomings.

    If you read the previous paragraph carefully, you will notice that I did not use the word “Christian.” I spoke of “church going folk” and “the folks I assemble with.” The people I described may be Christians, but it is also possible that they are not. Only God knows for sure. A friend of mine used to say, “Sitting in a church house doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a hen house makes you a chicken.”

    It’s possible that those “scary married people” aren’t Christians at all. The Bible does have some things to say about the fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit if the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control” (Galatians 5:22-23). You would expect to find some degree of those qualities in a husband and wife if they are genuine Christians. Occasionally, I hear someone say, “I know a certain married couple. Both of them are deeply devoted to God, but they can’t stand each other.” I’m afraid I don’t buy that rationale. According to 1 John 4:20-21, “If anyone says ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” John was talking about church relationships but surely the principle applies to husbands and wives.

“If anyone says ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.”
        I don’t know any of those people about whom the questioner writes, but I recognize the possibility that some may genuinely qualify as Christians who haven’t grown in grace and knowledge the way they should have. Christians differ from each other in terms of maturity and spiritual development. Patience needs to be expressed toward those who are still on the upward climb.

    Some people fail to recognize the fact that religious activity doesn’t cancel out the need for relationship improvement. Reading the Bible, saying prayers, attending church and being involved in church ministry are all admirable activities, but you can do all those things and have a horrible marriage if you don’t make relationships a priority. If you are truly submitted to Christ, you will be submitted to each other and that includes both husband and wife. No one is bypassed in Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” Christ-like people don’t go to war over who has to submit.

    Whether we are defining roles, resolving conflict or struggling with our sense of identity, God calls on us to recognize one fundamental truth. We show our love for him in the way we treat each other.

From Norman Bales' "All About Families" web site. See http://www.allaboutfamilies.org for more great articles.

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