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MaryEllen, Author at Imperfect Homemaker

All Posts by MaryEllen

A Wise Woman Builds Her House

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1)

Perhaps when you read that verse, you think something like, “If I want to be a wise woman, I need to build my house. Hmm…how do I build my house?”

I’ve asked for people's thoughts about this verse on social media before, and all of the answers I received were along the same line. Everyone was thinking something like, “A woman can build her house by doing a, b, and c” ; and the a, b, and c were things like:

  • Put others’ needs first
  • Keep my home clean and clutter free
  • Make my home inviting for the family
  • Do things together as a family
  • Have supper together every night
  • Schedule in rest time, family time, chore time, Bible time, and exercise time
  • Control my mouth – speak kindly to others and don’t complain
  • Be organized
  • Be frugal
  • Prepare nice meals for my family


Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with doing these things. Speaking kindly to your family, spending time together, and using your time wisely are all beneficial things to do for the ones you love.

But if we are not careful, we can fall into a great big trap of believing that our godliness as a homemaker is proven by how many boxes we can check off on a list.


I want you to understand that the “godly homemaker list” only brings bondage. The more things you manage to check off the list, the more things you will think of to add to it. – “I did a, b, and c, but my family would really benefit if I also did x, y, and z.” If you believe that you must figure out ways to build up your home in order to be a wise woman, you will forever find yourself unsatisfied (because you will always think of some good thing that you're not doing!)

When you measure your success or failure by a list, you are setting yourself up to fall into one of two ditches:

1. Perpetual guilt that you can't seem to do all the good things on your list.
2. Pride that you are doing good things better than someone else is.


When you measure your success or failure by how many “homemaker-y” things you do and how well you do them, you've got things backwards.

You see, when you try to figure out ways to build your house and work hard to do them, you are living life out of our own wisdom and strength.

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it…”

Psalm 127:1

We can never build our houses apart from the Lord, and we cannot be wise apart from him. 

For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6)

So, my friend, how do you build your house?

You walk in the wisdom of God.

Through wisdom is an house builded: and by understanding it is established. (Proverbs 24:3)

Listen to the words of Jesus:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:4)

And here’s what Jesus says will happen when you listen to his words:

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)


Do you see? When you try to build your house on any other foundation, it will not stand!

When you try to check the boxes of what you think a “godly homemaker” is supposed to look like, you’re building your house on the wrong foundation.

But when you build your life on the rest that Jesus Christ offers you; when you abide in him; when Jesus IS your life – everything else will flow from that!

The foolish woman focuses on DOING. Yet all her best efforts will fail.

The wise woman focuses on BEING. And because she is not living through her own efforts, but through the power of the resurrected Savior, she can never fail.

A plant doesn’t have to try hard to bear fruit. The only way a plant bears fruit is to simply be. The roots do the work of providing everything the plant needs to flourish and be fruitful. Likewise the fruit we bear can only and ever be a result of simply abiding in the vine.

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him…” (Colossians 2:6)



Does it feel impossible to do *everything* you're *supposed* to be doing? 
Maybe it’s time to ditch the checklist and simply abide in the vine.

*Doing* all the things to build your house is not what makes you a wise woman.  That's backwards.

But when your life is hidden in Christ – when you rest from your efforts to do, and you learn to simply be who you are (a new creation, filled with all the fullness of God!) – you will find freedom and rest like you’ve never experienced before!

Be a wise woman, my friend, and follow Jesus’ invitation to abide in Him.

When you do, your life will bear much fruit! You can cease from your efforts and stop living in either guilt or pride, and the people in your home will experience the power of Jesus' grace as it fills your own heart and spills over onto them.



If you want to read further on this subject, here a couple of great suggestions:

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman

The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley

How to Pray for Your Husband When He’s Not a Godly Father


In the past I’ve shared some characteristics of a Godly father that I've observed.


But what if your husband is not a Godly father? What if he:

-Disciplines the children too harshly
-Undermines your parenting
-Speaks disrespectfully to you and allows your children to do the same
-Does not show interest in teaching the kids spiritual things
-Does not spend time with the children
-Does not help you care for the children

No doubt it’s hard to watch your children not receive the loving care that they deserve from a father. No doubt it’s hard to do all the work to teach them and take care of them and not to receive any participation from your spouse.

I imagine that if your children’s father is this kind of a man that you have already spent time in prayer, asking God to change his heart and help him be the right kind of a father. (Read: 10 Ways to Pray for the Father of Your Children.)

But what if nothing is changing?

Where do you go from here?

What I am about to share is by no means a comprehensive answer. Without knowing you, I can’t possibly offer insight into your unique situation. I only want to give you some options to think about.

If you are unsure if there is something deeper at play, I encourage you to check out one of these books, which will give you much more information than I can provide here: (affiliate links)
Is it Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

In the meantime, here are some ways that you can pray for your husband when he is not a godly father.

How to pray for your husband when he's not a godly father

1. Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal areas of his life that are not submitted to God.

Sometimes an area where we ourselves have grown is not the same area where our spouse is growing at the moment. Maybe he is learning other things right now and the areas of needed growth that are so clear from your perspective are not something he has seen yet.

Important to note: God is faithful to answer our prayers; however, this is not a guarantee that your spouse will change. When God does the revealing, your husband must make the choice to act on what God reveals to him about his character.

Why doesn’t he change? God will never force anyone to change. Obedience to God is a voluntary choice, and it is up to your husband to make that choice.

What to look for: Is there evidence of spiritual growth in other areas of your husband’s life? I am not speaking of outward shows of religion. Anyone can read their Bible, pray, sing spiritual songs, and say spiritual words. These are outward behaviors. But is there evidence of an ongoing transformation of your husband’s inner life? When there is an area of his life that has not been a reflection of Christ, does he humbly repent and submit that area to the Lord? Although he may have areas that still need adjusting, is his overall demeanor characterized by the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance?

If there is not evidence of an ongoing inner transformation into the image of Christ, it is not likely that you will see him become more Christlike in his parenting either.

2. Pray that God will give you the words to speak to your husband.

“You are not your husband’s holy spirit.” Many wives have heard these words and believe that it is wrong for them to speak up when they see something in their husband’s life that is not Christlike.

But while it is true that it is not our place to dictate to another believer what he must and must not do, it is also true that as believers we are called to:

-exhort one another so that none will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13)
-provoke one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
-restore the one who sins, in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1)
-speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)

You can speak the truth to your husband in love, asking God to give you the wisdom to know what to say to him. (James 1:5) 

If you feel that speaking truth into your husband’s life and calling him to a more Christ-like way of life will only make him angry or cause negative consequences for you, that is a much bigger problem, which leads me to the next point.

3. Pray that you will have wisdom to know how to protect your children.

If speaking up to your husband is only going to create negative consequences for you and your children, I encourage you to do what is necessary for everyone’s safety and well-being.

I am not saying to keep your mouth closed and go on living as if there’s nothing wrong. 

I am saying that if your husband has already demonstrated in the past that his response would cause distress to you or your children, then there is no sense in trying an approach of talking to him. He has already shown what is in his heart. Your priority now is to protect your children.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

Being an agent of mercy and justice for your children – protecting the vulnerable from one who is misusing his power over them – is a godly thing to do.

Do they need emotional protection?
Do they need physical protection?
Do they need spiritual protection?

Your unique circumstances will require a unique response. This is why praying for wisdom is so important. God has promised to give wisdom to those who ask him, so prepare yourself for His answer. Look for the places that He might be providing information you can use to make wise decisions that will protect your children.

4. Pray that your children will understand the love of God in spite of having an imperfect earthly father.

Many children struggle to understand the love of God when their earthly father is harsh or indifferent toward them.

Yet God shows his love to people in many different ways. He can show his love to your children through you, their mother (II Timothy 1:5). He can show his love through his beautiful creation that he has given for them to enjoy (Psalm 19:1). He has given them his written word by which he reveals his love for all mankind (II Timothy 3:15). Love them, teach them who God is, and point out to them the beauty of God’s love as  shown in his creation of the world around them. Pray that they will understand who God is and that their tender hearts will not become hardened to the idea of having a relationship with him.

What if your husband is not a believer? You can pray the same prayers from this post either way. You can pray that God would draw your husband to himself, understanding that God will never force anyone to come to himself. You can pray that you would have wisdom to know what words you should or should not speak to your husband; you can pray that you will have wisdom to protect your children; and you can pray that your children will understand the love of God.


Dear Christian Mama,
I close this article with a prayer for you.
Father, I ask that you will give your wisdom to this reader. I ask that you will help her know that words she ought to say to invite her husband to a place of repentance. If her husband is willing to humbly grow in Christlikeness, I ask that you would give her a spirit of graciousness and not of criticism. If her husband is unwilling to submit to you, I ask that you would make that clear to her, and show her what she should do to protect her children's tender hearts as well as keep them physically safe. I ask that your presence would be unmistakeable in her life, that she would know your deep love for her and be able to pass it on to her children.
Amen.

Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

One of my all-time favorite hymns is Great is Thy Faithfulness. 
Every line of the lyrics contains such encouraging scriptural truth. One of my favorite lines, though, is “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”

 

God gives strength for today

  • The Lord is the strength of my life (Psalm 27:1)
  • God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)
  • I will go in the strength of the Lord God (Psalm 71:16)
  • When my own strength fails, God is the strength of my hearts (Psalm 73:26)
  • He gives strength to those who have no might (Isaiah 40:29)
  • God strengthens us with his might in our inner man (Ephesians 3:16)
  • I can be strong through the power of the Lord (Ephesians 6:10)
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

 

God gives bright hope for tomorrow

  • I do not need to worry about tomorrow. If God takes care of the birds and the flowers he will take care of me. (Matthew 6:25-34)
  • The scriptures provide evidence of God's faithfulness in the past and give us hope for the future (Romans 15:4)
  • Christ's resurrection provides a powerful reason to place my hope in him. (I Peter 1:20-21)
  • The God of hope fills me with joy and peace (Romans 15:13)
  • God’s love offers comfort, hope and strength for the tasks ahead. (II Thessalonians 2:16-17)

 

 


Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
 
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
 
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.
 
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
 

 

 
 
The phrase “Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow” contains so much encouragement that I made a downloadable print of it and added it to the private resource library (it's free for email subscribers!)
 
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow artwork
 
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Why is Marriage So Hard?

Although I don’t know the intimate details of everyone’s unique circumstances and would never pretend that I know all there is to know about marriage, I would like to address the question, “Why is marriage so hard?”

 

 

Why is it important to talk about marriage being hard?

There is a prevailing sentiment that circulates in conversations about marriage, especially in a Christian context, that marriage is hard. For most people it seems to be a given that marriage is hard. I polled my followers on both Facebook and Instagram, and the vast majority said they agreed with the statement that marriage is hard. I think one reason this thinking is particularly prevalent among Christians is that no one wants to be that person who “takes the easy way out.” Most Christians believe that divorce is never an option, so they remind themselves and others that “marriage is hard” (and often add “but so worth it.”)

But the reason we need to talk about this is that the definitions different people have of “hard” can vary widely.

For one person, they may be thinking that it’s hard to hold in critical words when their spouse puts the toilet paper roll on the wrong way. Maybe it bothers them a lot and they have a feisty personality, and they’ve had to work hard to respond to little irritations with grace. For another person, they may be thinking that marriage is hard because life keeps them so busy that it takes a lot of effort to regularly make time to connect with their spouse on a deep level.

These are totally legitimate reasons to feel that marriage is hard, and there definitely is a certain amount of effort required to build up and maintain habits that make for a healthy marriage.

However, there are a great deal of people who are not hearing anything like what I’ve just written when they hear that marriage is hard. Many people are being horribly mistreated and abused by their spouse, and they do not even realize it because they have always heard that marriage is hard.

Consider some of the following:

  • “I was constantly walking on eggshells. I bent over backwards and tolerated things that most people would not have to deal with because I thought marriage was supposed to be hard.”
  • “I was always told that marriage takes sacrifice. So when my husband was using pornography and verbally abusing me, I kept sacrificing and giving him more and more of myself. I was told that if he cheated on me he would come back to the haven that I’d created for him.”
  • “I should have seen the red flags of abuse, but because I had always heard how hard marriage is I thought it was normal. I thought it was all my fault because marriage was supposed to require a lot of sacrifice.”
  • “My husband treated me horribly and cheated on me. I spent the whole marriage working hard to sacrifice my own selfishness so we could have a good marriage.”

Do you see why this is so important to discuss? The number of women who tell me that all the books and sermons about marriage they’ve read/heard only made it more difficult to recognize the abuse is astronomical. I believe that most people who write and speak about marriage mean well, and from their perspective they’re not speaking to someone in an abusive situation. But when you’re in the midst of abuse, it’s very confusing (purposely so on the part of the abuser), and the victim does not realize that what she is experiencing is abuse. She only knows that…
“Marriage is hard.”
“You have to sacrifice.”
“Marriage requires lots of forgiveness.”
“You have to set aside how you feel and keep your commitment.”

I don’t want to be a part of contributing to an abuse victim’s further confusion and entrapment, do you?
So, when we make statements about marriage being hard, do you think we could all work together to define exactly what we mean?

In no way am I discounting the particular aspects of marriage that you have truly found hard. I’m not asking you to minimize your own experience or telling you not to say that marriage is hard when you really have found it hard. But, can we be sure to clarify that “life is hard, and navigating those hardships as a team takes work, but it should never be your spouse who is causing your life to be hard”?

Did you know that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime? And did you know that those statistics are the same among churchgoers as among those who do not attend church? Abusers love to infiltrate the church and put on a mask of goodness because church people are so quick to believe the best about others and readily forgive offenses. But this means that the women you associate with in your ladies Bible studies, the ones you chat with in the restroom, and the ones sitting near you in the service may be trapped in an abusive relationship. Rarely do people speak of abuse and teach others how to recognize it. It’s not usually on the radar as something that needs to be said in church; it’s more often perceived as something that occurs “out there” in a bad neighborhood somewhere. So when those godly women in our church who have been targeted by an abuser come to our Bible studies and listen to our conversations, they only know that “Marriage is hard.” They don’t know that “Marriage shouldn’t be hard because your spouse makes it hard.”

So why is marriage so hard? Let’s look at some examples of real, legitimate reasons a person might find marriage hard:

  • Some seasons of life are highly stressful for both spouses (loss of job, illness, grief, etc.). It takes extra work to remain gracious when we feel emotionally drained.
  • Misunderstandings take place, and it takes work to communicate and find out where things went sideways.
  • Life is busy. It takes work and planning to go on dates or spend dedicated time together.
  • Some people enter marriage expecting a fairytale life which doesn’t exist. When life isn’t endless romance, but instead includes bills, housework, and waking up to a bedhead spouse, they find themselves resentful of the life they now live, and have to work to process how they feel and come to terms with reality.
  • Past trauma can make it difficult to trust your spouse, even if they are a trustworthy person. It takes work for the injured spouse to overcome those emotions, and it takes patience and grace on the part of the other spouse.
  • Everyone makes mistakes, and it can be hard to swallow our pride and apologize when we’ve said something unkind or acted selfishly.
  • What you thought was a given due to your family background (e.g. the table will always be formally set for family dinner, and we will always use proper manners at the table) may be the opposite of what your spouse thought was a given (this is our safe place to relax; let’s use paper plates and not be so formal with our manners.) It takes work to compromise on situations that aren’t harmful to the other person, but can damage the relationship if we always insist on our own way.
  • Marriage can be hard when one spouse is chronically ill and the other has to carry a larger portion of the load.

All of these hard things can be overcome when both spouses are humbly submitted to the Holy Spirit’s working in their lives. They can face the misunderstandings, the stresses of life, and the little annoyances together. But it’s so important that we highlight the fact that the hard things in marriage have to be overcome together as a team. One person cannot single-handedly keep a relationship strong — a relationship takes two.

 

On the flip side, if any of the following examples are reasons why you feel like your marriage is hard, it is important for you to realize that these are NOT normal or legitimate reasons for your marriage to feel hard:

  • Your spouse expects you to keep everything perfect at home but doesn’t do their part to help
  • Your spouse tells you that you are being lazy when your work doesn’t meet their criteria
  • Your spouse treats you like a child, inspecting and criticizing everything you do
  • You are expected to take the blame for your spouse’s bad behavior (“I wouldn’t get so angry if you would just ____.”)
  • Your spouse twists every discussion around, confuses you, and makes you feel unsure of reality
  • You discover lies and deception on the part of your spouse and feel that you are supposed to just forgive and move on
  • Your spouse is addicted to pornography
  • Your spouse blames childhood trauma or an alcoholic father for their current bad behavior
  • Your spouse requires you to have permission to go places or spend time with friends
  • You don’t feel to safe to say what you really think or want
  • You have to ask permission for money to buy household necessities. You find it difficult to prepare meals with so little grocery money, yet your spouse always has enough money to buy the things they want.
  • You are distressed at the cruel way your spouse treats your children or pets
  • You feel pressured to have sex with your spouse any time he wants it or in ways that make you feel uncomfortable
  • Your spouse makes mountains out of molehills. For instance, if everything is not 100% spotless at home they will be enraged.
  • Your spouse repeatedly hurts your feelings, puts you down, belittles you in public or in private, expresses disapproval about everything you do.
  • Your spouse regularly makes decisions that impact you without regard to how you feel about them
  • Your spouse accuses you of being selfish or ungrateful when you try to address a problem or express a need
  • Your spouse does not want to spend time with you; never wants to hear about your day; is not interested in your life or your feelings
  • Your spouse does not protect you when you are vulnerable. You are still expected to keep up with housework even when sick or in pain.

This is destructive behavior on the part of your spouse. If your marriage feels hard because of your spouse’s destructive behavior, scroll to the bottom of this post for some resources that will give good advice for your situation.

For those who do not find marriage hard due to any of the reasons above, let’s talk about ways that we can discuss the reasons why marriage is hard while also being extra clear about what we mean.

Perhaps we could start by using the word “but…” in our conversations.

  • Marriage is hard because miscommunication happens sometimes, BUT we resolve it in a healthy way.
  • Marriage is hard because there are a lot of real-life responsibilities that have to be taken care of, BUT we work together as a team to get them done.
  • Marriage is hard because life throws hard things at you, BUT we support each other through life’s seasons of stress and grief.
  • Marriage is hard because it’s difficult to make time to connect with each other, BUT we enjoy being involved in other’s lives and it is worth the extra effort.
  • Marriage is hard because it requires me to give up some things I want for the good of my spouse, BUT my spouse does the same for me. We both look for ways to serve each other.
  • Marriage is hard because sometimes my spouse unknowingly hurts my feelings, BUT I feel safe to discuss it and know I will never be blamed for being “too sensitive.”
  • Marriage is hard because it requires work to develop tools for being an emotionally healthy person, BUT we both take responsibility for doing that for ourselves. I am not required to carry the emotional load of us both.
  • Marriage is hard because I have past trauma that makes it hard to trust people, BUT my spouse always tells me the truth and has shown by their actions to be a trustworthy person.
  • Marriage is hard because sometimes we do or say unkind things, BUT we apologize to each other and make it right.
  • Marriage is hard because sometimes we have strong opinions that are opposite of our spouse’s, BUT we both work at seeing things from the other’s perspective and don’t insist that the other person adopt our viewpoint.

If the main thought you have about marriage is how hard it is, something is wrong. Marriage is intended to be a picture of Christ’s relationship to the church, and should therefore be a safe place, full of joy and blessing.

 

 

In the words of some of my friends who are abuse survivors:

  • “Two are better than one. If being part of the two actually makes your life harder then what’s the point?”
  • “Life throws a lot at you, but marriage should be a team working through things together. If the team itself is hard, the team might not be working.”
  • “For better or for worse means no matter what life throws at us, not no matter what you do to me.”
  • “Life is hard. Marriage should not make it harder.”
  • “Hard is not the same thing as harmful.”
  • “Every marriage has circumstances that you will have to work through, but it should never be your spouse who is causing the hardships.”
  • “The hard work of marriage should be about becoming who God wants you to be, not about putting up with your spouse’s bad behavior.”

So the answer to the question “Why is marriage so hard?” is that we live in a world that is broken down by sin. We have unrealistic expectations about life, we are sometimes selfish, and we have to deal with many hardships that come along as the result of an imperfect world. But marriage should never be hard because of the destructive behavior of our spouse.

Can we work together to make sure we are very clear in the way we speak of marriage?

So many who heard the conversation about marriage being hard testify that instead of knowing the blessing of a God-honoring partnership, they experienced this:

“My love for God and desire to serve and sacrifice even when it was hard kept me in a destructive marriage for too long.”
“I didn’t recognize the abuse in my marriage because I thought it was normal for things to be that hard.”
“I went into marriage expecting to suffer as a direct result of my spouse. I thought I was supposed to suffer.”
“I was led to believe the abuse was my fault, and that I had the ability and responsibility to change him by loving him more, meeting his needs better, and working even harder around the house.”
“I couldn’t even imagine marriage being something good. I thought it was supposed to be terrible.”
“I was taught that it was wrong to say anything bad about my husband, so when things were hard because of him, I went along with the idea that it was because marriage is hard.”

 

How do you think we can change the way we speak about the realities of marriage? How do you think we can address the genuinely hard aspects of marriage while making it clear that marriage itself should be a blessing and a joy; not a hardship to endure?


Resources for those who wonder if their experience of hardship in marriage is beyond the range of normal:
(Disclosure: some of the following are affiliate links.)

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick
Is it Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage by Natalie Hoffman

While you wait for your books to arrive, you can spend some time taking this quiz and watching this webinar.

5 Things Christ’s Resurrection Gives to Believers

Yesterday we spent some time as a family reading and discussing the scriptures from The Power of the Resurrection collection.

My heart is always blessed to read and think about Christ's sacrifice for us on the cross. But this sacrifice would mean nothing if it weren't for the victory over sin and death that he proved through his resurrection.

As I thought about the sequence of the scriptures, I identified 5 major things that Christ's resurrection provides for the believer.

 

1. Deliverance from the penalty of sin

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15:19-22)

 

2. Hope of eternal life

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25-26)

3. Freedom from sin's power over us because Christ, who conquered sin, now lives in us

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:8-11)

 

4. Security that once made alive with Christ we can never be condemned

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:31-34)

 

5. Comfort that we will spend eternity with the Lord along with our believing loved ones who have died before us

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
(I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

 

There is so much to ponder and be grateful for when we consider Christ's resurrection! Easter time means so much more than a special service or new clothes. It's about the abundant, new life that is provided through The Power of the Resurrection! (Click here for the entire collection of resurrection verses.)

 

 

 

Love & Respect is Based on Illogical Assumptions about Gender

This post is part three in a series that describes some of the problems with the book Love & RespectAs you will find in the introductory post of this series, this is not intended to “bash” any author or to condemn anyone who read and enjoyed it. Instead I aim to answer questions I have received, and to help you understand how this book has harmed many people who read it. When you are aware that a book has the potential to harm someone, my hope is that you will either encourage your friends to skip it or to make them aware of the potential issues before they read it so that they do not come away with ideas that could be damaging to them or their spouse.

As I have already pointed out in part one and part two of this series, I believe Love & Respect’s biggest fault lies with the fact that the author presents his theory (what he calls the “Love and Respect Connection”) as Biblical truth. The natural understanding is that if one chooses not to follow the author’s advice, they are really rejecting what God says. 


Observe the following quote from Love & Respect: “Men’s deepest need is respect and women’s is love. When your husband makes you feel unloved or your wife makes you feel disrespected, that is because you have not met this deepest need of theirs. Therefore, husbands love your wives (so you can meet her deepest need,) and wives, respect your husbands (so you can meet his deepest need.”)  To say that this is what God said in Ephesians 5:33 is to add a whole lot to the word of God, and to make a whole lot of assumptions.

If one looks closely at the endnotes of the book, he will find the author’s admission that “The Love and Respect Connection is what the author infers from Ephesians 5:33 and is not its actual theology.  Although he paid lip service to acknowledging that this “Love and Respect Connection” is only his theory, two sentences later he goes right back to presenting his theory as scripture: “Ephesians 5:33 reveals that a wife needs love and a husband needs respect, and when those needs are unmet each spouse reacts at some level” (from chapter one end notes). In the front matter of the book he promises his readers that couples who “submit themselves wholeheartedly to this biblical design for marriage” will have “limitless” potential for improving their marriage,  I will not rehash the many other ways that he misled his readers into believing the material was God’s word, but if you read parts one and two of this series you will see that this message pervades the entire book. 

 

If the “Love & Respect Connection” is nothing more than a theory, and if the author knows that, why on earth does he make such bold promises that these rigid interpretations of each gender’s needs have “limitless” potential to improve their marriage? (I do not have an answer for that. Only he knows his heart, and I will not assign motives to him, but it is a tragedy that so many people have been hurt by placing their hope in what they were told was the Biblical “key to any marriage problem.”)

 

 

 

What about couples where the wife would much rather feel respected than anything else or the husband would rather feel loved?


Because the author has already presented his theories about each gender’s needs as if they are Biblical fact, there is no room for him to say that perhaps every individual is different in regard to their personal values, needs, and feelings. While there are no doubt generalities that will apply to most males or most females, there are no dogmatic rules regarding who would most like to feel loved and who would most like to feel respected. 


The author addresses “exceptions to the Love & Respect Pattern” in Appendix D, and his explanation basically says that women who prefer to feel respected are actually at their deepest core seeking love and men who prefer to feel love are at their deepest core seeking respect. In other words, the author uses circular reasoning to hold to a dogmatic position of each gender’s needs. He states his conclusion without any evidence (men need respect; women need love), but when men and women try to assert that they feel differently, he refutes that by saying that they don’t actually feel differently because respect and love are the primary needs of men and women.

 

Some additional problems with asserting rigid gender stereotypes:

The author’s assertion that a man’s primary need is respect and a woman's primary need is love is based on two things. First, as has already been expounded upon, it is based on his own theory. Second, it is also based on a survey question used by Shaunti Feldhahn in her book For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men.

In the survey, she asked 400 men which of the following, if forced to choose, would they prefer to endure: a) to be left alone and unloved in the world or b) to feel inadequate and disrespected by everyone.
Out of the 400 men who answered the survey, 74 percent of them said that if they were forced to choose, they would prefer to be alone and unloved in the world (Love & Respect, p. 49).

The problem with drawing rigid conclusions about each gender from this survey question is a multi-faceted one.
1. The survey only asked 400 men this question. This is not nearly large enough of a sample size to draw any conclusions about “all men.”
2. The survey respondents were given a choice between which two things they would choose to feel, if forced. However, being presented with only two options and forced to choose between them does not necessarily lead to any conclusion that the choice one makes is their deepest need.

3. Shaunti Feldhahn's survey expert warned her that the men who responded to her survey may have a hard time choosing between the two answers. A pilot study of 10 men revealed that the men “fussed over” the question because “they did not feel the choices were different” (For Women Only, p. 23). In other words, how can one conclude that a man's deepest need is respect when he feels that feeling unloved and feeling disrespected are the same thing?
4. Women were not asked the same question. It is logically incorrect to assert that women's primary need is love when women did not even answer the question.


Along with making unsupported assertions that men's and women's primary needs are respect and love, the author of Love & Respect spends many chapters elaborating on specific types of behavior spouses can display that will make the other gender feel either respected or loved.

Although people write to him claiming that they feel differently than what he is saying (appendix D), he seems to dismiss their individual experiences in favor of holding to rigid gender differences.

 

 

Conclusion

I want to be clear that I am not dismissing the importance of either love or respect in a marriage. Neither am I dismissing the fact that there do seem to be general ways in which many women or many men think and act differently.

What I am saying, though, is that there is no Biblical or logical evidence that all men and all women have specific, gender-determined needs or that all men or women will interpret certain behaviors from their spouse the same way.

For example:
Some women may be the first to start a conversation when there is conflict while the man goes silent. In other cases, it may be the opposite.
Some women may enjoy having their financial or intellectual abilities appreciated while the man may not be talented in those areas and doesn't want his wife to pretend like he is.
Some women may have a higher sex drive while the man may not be interested as often.

 

I have no problem with an author presenting practical ideas that spouses can use to aid them in communicating with and understanding their partner. But as I have already made clear, the big problem for me all comes back to the author's presentation of the material – leading the reader to believe that his points are all clearly Biblical, then backing up those points with (illogical) “science”, both of which make the reader feel they are obligated to engage in specific behaviors that will meet their spouse's “deepest need.”

Instead of learning to interact authentically as unique individuals, spouses learn to alter their behavior to conform to a formula that has no firm Biblical or scientific foundation.

The result is that men and women with a destructive spouse suffer even further damage, and those with good-willed spouses learn to engage with their partner based on assumptions about them rather than on healthy communication.

 

 

To find all the posts in this series, click here: Why I Don't Recommend Love & Respect

 

 

 

 

 

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