DISPELLING THE DISTORTIONS OF MARRIAGE
by John Clark
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One's mindsets about marriage have, no doubt, been formed through observation of your parents. There are a lot of teachings about marriage by pastors and seminar leaders that have influenced your thinking. Furthermore, the particular denomination of which you are a part has adhered to a specific position. On top of all of this, since about 40% of all marriages are ending in divorce, half of all children have not been exposed to a positive marriage. Probably a mixture of all of the above has become engrained in your subconscious. Some of the teachings and observations are biblical. Some are not. Let's examine the various mindsets that a person can have about marriage and how they rate from a biblical and practical point of view.
1. Do not marry an unbeliever. If you marry a Christian you are likely to have fewer problems.
2. Love heals all wounds.
3. The husband is the head of the wife; the woman is to submit to the man.
4. Love is a feeling.
5. There should be a father and a mother.
6. God has only one "right" person for you to marry.
IF YOU MARRY A CHRISTIAN YOU ARE LIKELY TO HAVE FEWER PROBLEMS. Is this an accurate statement? There are a lot of people who have this idea, but it is loaded with problems.
First of all, Christians have the same problems as non-believers: money, communication, child rearing, meeting one another's sexual and emotional needs, etc.
Second, sometimes these problems are greater because of the theological upbringing of each partner.
Third, beginning a marriage with a belief that you will have fewer problems because you are both Christians can result in a tendency to reduce the responsibility of working at the marriage. Just because both partners are believers does not mean that there will automatically be unity and harmony.
LOVE HEALS ALL WOUNDS
Two people meet each other, and even though they know they have hurts and struggles, they believe that their love for each other will outweigh any problems. Not necessarily so! Unresolved issues do not just go away.
THE HUSBAND IS THE HEAD OF THE WIFE
This statement is right out of Ephesians 5:22-23. The problem lies in how one interprets and applies "headship and submission." "Headship" does not mean that the husband makes all of the decisions. "Submission" does not mean that the wife submits to the husband no matter what. These two biblical mandates are taken to extreme by some well-meaning Christians, and they can lead to physical or emotional abuse on the one hand or passivity on the other. Make sure both people have a proper and balanced perspective on this.
LOVE IS A FEELING
Love can be a feeling, but don't base love on a feeling, because in doing so it does away with two crucial elements: commitment and will. It is easy to love someone when things are going smoothly. It is easy to love when someone loves you back, but marriage consists of two imperfect people. Love is an act of will, even in the worst of times.
A MARIAGE CONSISTS OF A MAN AND A WOMAN
Scripture has much to say about marriage in the context of two people of the opposite sex. There is not one verse in all of Scripture that could even be construed to support same-sex marriages.
GOD HAS ONLY ONE "RIGHT" PERSON FOR YOU
This teaching is in the context of a traditional view of God's will. This teaching makes finding a mate extremely frustrating. In addition it can lead to all sorts of problems if your marriage to "Mr. or Mrs. Right" turns out to be full of past emotional baggage and other issues. The real issue here is, no matter who you marry, you need to make sure you are right with yourself and you treat your partner right.
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Very concise and very true. I wish more people would consider your point about love being a volitional act of the will rather than simply an emotion. Our culture teaches that love is having your needs satisfied by someone who worships the ground you walk on. Such a detrimental distortion.