When Your House Is Not a Home
By Bishop Rick Wallace
I want to be very lucid in presenting the fact that I do not write, teach, or preach from a platform of perfection. As a man I have made mistakes, and those mistakes have at times come at the expense of others. I have tasted the bitter waters of divorce and staggered through the storm of relational dysfunctionality. I know what it feels like to have children who are trapped between their love for their parents and the fact that mom and dad are no longer seeing things eye to eye. No, I don’t write to you this day from the lonely island of perfection, but from the transformed heart of a man of God. This being the most preeminent of truths: That only through complete surrender to God’s “will” for your life can you find true joy, contentment, and stability in marriage.
As we move forward, we will explore God’s will for marriage, marriage’s function as an institution, God’s role in the home, and lastly, what happens when your house is not a home. A great deal of what will be addressed will be directed toward men because it is my belief that too many men have fallen away from their God ordained duties, creating a void and an imbalance in the function of the home and many other areas of society. It is now that the clarion is sounding. God is calling men to resume their positions as leaders, providers, protectors, and enablers.
This does not, by any means, excuse our Christian women from walking into their callings and ambling into their destinies. I know that you have been hurt; I know that you have been disappointed; I know that you have been left with the burden of being a single parent. Your trust and faithfulness has been repaid with disloyalty, malevolence, and abandonment; however, there is still reason to press on. God is still in control, I know its been strenuous and arduous, yet, on behalf of every man that deemed it acceptable to procreate and then abandon his progeny, for every man that assumed it satisfactory behavior to be physically or emotionally abusive, for every man that thought it to be the proper course of action to tread upon your dreams, I personally apologize. Yes, you have been hurt, but now its time to let go and move forward. It is time to rise up and be all that you were created to be.
Men of Power I have not forgotten you. Yes, there are some of you out there that stand strong in your filial responsibilities. There are some of you that refuse to leave your family behind. There are some of you that walk in their God ordained destinies. For those of you that fall into this category, we need your example to shine vividly in this world of diminishing Christian influence.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col 1:17)
“Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (Joh 17:5)
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Heb 1:3)
These scriptural passages reveal the fact that Christ has existed eternally and that all things consist in Him. This means that all things are sustained and held together by Christ; this includes the institutions of marriage and family, as well as the home in general. Knowledge of this truth is of massive importance. First, it establishes the foundation on which marriages and families are built and sustained; Without Christ in the forefront it is impossible to initiate, cultivate, and sustain any relationship. Secondly, in time of distance, indifference separation, and even abandonment, the knowledge of Christ’s sustaining power carries you through. So, again I stress that the points made here must be examined in the light of Christianity (as outlined in the Bible) and the acknowledgement of a sovereign God. Outside of this prospective, one tends to lean toward human viewpoint and logical resolutions to spiritual issues. No matter how a problem manifests itself in the physical realm of reality, its source is always of a spiritual nature.
For as Paul injects this truth, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).” In 2 Cor. 10:3, he iterates, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.” The enemy has wreaked immeasurable havoc on the Christian name simply because we did not sense his presence.
God’s Way or Yours
Contrary to secular paradigms, there are only two ways of approaching life; God’s way or mans way. There are no middle grounds, no place of compromise, or situational exceptions. When I say this, I am not speaking of religious of legalistic rigidity, but a yield to the will of God through love, honor, and reverence.
God establishes through the prophet Isaiah that his ways and thoughts are above ours.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa 55:8,9)
This does not mean that we are to continue to live in the darkness of our finite perspicacity, but we are to draw closer to God and His way as each day passes. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded (James 4:8).” I have been and I will continue to emphasize the profound gravity your thinking has on the success of your Christian journey. The first dictum here is to draw near to God. This calls for a form of self-abnegation of one’s personal views and values in exchange for the perfect and sovereign will of God. We are also exhorted to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts. We do this by forsaking sin, confession of those sins we do commit, and a purification of our thoughts. In addition, for the second time in his letter, James addresses the state of being double-minded. Being double-minded is attempting to think and live in two separate ways. Double-minded is literally translated “two souls”. If one part of your being is set on the way of God and the other is set on the way of the world, there will be a constant conflict from within with an outward manifestation of perpetual disarray. This is what Paul says, “16But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).
17For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.” (Galatians 5:16-17)
When a person is perpetually functioning between the two states I call this state of mind spiritual schizophrenia (a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements). A spiritual schizophrenic is capricious in his thoughts and vacillating in his actions and beliefs, in fact, the Word tells us that he is unstable in all his ways.
Every relationship, including marriage, must be entered with the understanding of God’s will. One of the greatest destructive forces known to marriage or any other relationship, for that matter, is self-determination. So many of us have entered into relationships that God has not ordained, but we are determined to have nonetheless. All the signs are there, but we choose to ignore the obvious. If he or she is married, it is probably a good sign that he or she is not the one God has for you. If he or she is involved in illicit behavior, there’s probably a good chance that they are not the one. The list of tells is extensive, but the result is the same — Operating outside of the will of God means operating outside the blessings of God. Allow me to make myself painfully clear, you cannot operate outside God’s will and have the audacity to expect God to bless and prosper your willful disobedience. You can’t take something that does not belong to you and ask God to bless it. If fact, you can expect to incur a curse for your disobedience (This is addressed in my treatise Covered by Covenant).
With that being said, I must for the sake of doctrinal accuracy, point to the fact that there is no sin that Christ’s magnanimous work on Calvary did not expiate. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. What this means is that when we repent of our sins and confess them before God, He will forgive and cleanse us of the guilt and stain of that sin. There are those that will ask why mention this provision. They will postulate that it promotes sin. I would answer, “Doctrine must be taught in accuracy and balance. We weight our teachings in correspondence to our personal views on certain issues, leaving those we teach with distorted views and inadequately equipped to live the Christian life. This is a disservice to those we teach and a dereliction of duty on our part. Every provision of God’s plan of grace has a purpose and should not be overlooked or denied. So even when one enters into a relationship that has not been ordained by God, God himself, when sincerely approached through repentance and confession, will sanctify that relationship.
The Proper Connection
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14)
Though this exhortation extends beyond the institution of marriage, it most definitely applies. We are not to enter into binding or covenant relationships with those who perpetuate ungodly behavior. We are the dwelling place of our most holy God and must live a life that honors and glorifies Him. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he advises that a saved spouse can sanctify an unsaved spouse; “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through [h]her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are (L)holy (1 Cor. 7:14 NASB).
However, here he is speaking of a spouse who became saved during the marriage, not before. Contrary to popular belief, marriage is not the place for a fixer up mentality. What I mean by this is we have a proclivity to think that we can reach out and bring someone into our lives and fix their fallibilities in a manner that suits our desires and needs. Listen very closely to what I am about to tell you. We can only enhance the potential of someone else; we can never create it. Transformation is a human prerogative; it takes the exercise of one’s volition to exact change. Too often we enter into relationships thinking that we can impose our will on our mates and recreate who they are. We see those attributes we are looking for in a mate and totally ignore those characteristics that autonomously express doom.
The point I am making here is that it is of immense importance the manner in which one enters marriage and with whom. This is not to limit God’s ability to sanctify, but to bring to light the fact that God will not abandon His will to appease yours. So in this instance, if your house is not a home, it was not meant to be. Remember, God’s will is sovereign.
The Laws of Divine Establishment
To truly comprehend the institution of marriage as well as other divine institutions ordained by God, one must first grasp the necessity for each. We must first understand that God’s plan is eternal. Because God is omniscient, He is never taken by surprise as it pertains to our actions; He is never surprised by our transgressions. God, in eternity past, designed a plan by which he would reconcile fallen man to Himself.
Matthew 25:34 says, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
“(C)AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,”
although His works were finished(D)from the foundation of the world. (Heb. 4:3 NASB)
We are told that certain things were kept secret from the foundation of the world. The notion is that because of His omniscience, coupled with His omnipotence, God does not have to wait for us to slip into the pit of despair in order to plan our escape. He has always known that we would fall and has already prepared a way of escape. This, of course should provide a sense of solace, it should establish a foundation of hope. It should also alert your senses to the truth that there is nothing inconsequential when it comes to a purpose in mind, as we will see. God is neither frivolous nor capricious in his actions; there is always a purpose —no wasted motions.
Understanding the purpose will assist you in functioning optimally within this system designed by God.
The laws of Divine Establishment are ensconced within the comprehensive expression of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law is found specifically in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Law is divided into three major division called codices:
Codex 1 is the moral code known as the commandments. This set of rules consists of more than 120 commandments including the Decalogue (also known as the Ten Commandments Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21). Codex 1 establishes and clarifies the moral codes that ultimately proved man is a sinner in need of salvation.
18 For (AD)if the inheritance is[aa]based on law, it is no longer[ab]based on a promise; but (AE)God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.
19 (AF)Why the Law then? It was added [ac]because of transgressions, having been(AG)ordained through angels (AH)by the [ad]agency of a mediator, until(AI)the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20Now (AJ)a mediator is not [ae]for oneparty only; whereas God is onlyone. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? (AK)May it never be! For (AL)if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness [af]would indeed have been [ag]based on law. 22 But the Scripture has (AM)shut up[ah]everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law,(AN)being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24Therefore the Law has become our(AO)tutor to lead us to Christ, so that (AP)we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a[ai](AQ)tutor. (Galatians 3:18-25 NASB)
Codex 1 Also provides the foundation for the laws of divine establishment.
Codex 2 establishes the spiritual ordinances which are shadows and types of Christ as the savior of the world. The ordinances produce the shadows of Christology and soteriology.
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. (Heb. 10:1 NASB)
Codex 2 is inclusive of the Levitical Offerings, Holy Days, Tabernacle and its functions, dress and modus operandi of the Levitical Priesthood, and liturgy of worship of Israel.
Codex 3 establishes the social code and reveals and presents the laws of divine establishment which are designed to protect freedom and privacy for the entire whole of mankind, believers and non-believers alike. This section of the law delineates the perfect standard for the function of the national entity as well as dietary laws, laws of sanitation, quarantine, soil conservation, taxation, military service, marriage, divorce and more. We find that to insure the proper execution of the laws of divine establishment, God designed four institutions through which the laws of divine establishment would be perpetuated: the individual, the marriage, the family, and the nation.
How do the laws of divine establishment affect and apply to the divine institutions? “God, in His omniscience has always known that man would choose to sin and consequently acquire a sin nature, giving him the unlimited potential to destroy himself and negatively impact those around him. In order to conserve, protect, and perpetuate the existence of the human race throughout the history of this spiritual warfare some have dubbed the angelic conflict, God instituted the laws of divine establishment. The laws of divine establishment are principles and precepts that apply to both believers and nonbelievers alike. The laws of this nation are based upon the laws of divine establishment. The laws of divine establishment protect life, stability, freedom, possessions, and provide blessings. The laws give greater weight to certain human possessions, such as, life and freedom. An adherence to these laws ensures prosperity in so many aspects of our lives.” (R.B. Thieme Jr. Freedom Through Military Victory)
This system of control functions under the umbrella of legitimate authority. Legitimate authority is authority ordained and delegated by God in which certain people have responsibility and a particular scope or range of jurisdiction over other members of society. Authority exists both, in the temporal and spiritual realms, but the laws of divine establishment only apply to the temporal realm. The Laws of divine establishment can be reviewed in the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy.
The Divine Institutions
In His infinite wisdom God ordained four divine institutions through which the laws of divine establishment function: the individual, the marriage, the family, and the national entity. The ordination, existence, and perpetuation of these institutions are lucidly delineated and symmetrically confirmed by scripture. God has delegated a primary authority to function within each institution to insure its optimal function: volition for the individual, the husband for marriage, parents for the family, and government for the national entity. Each of these institutions were a part of God’s plan before the beginning of time, but were revealed at different points in History. The individual was ordained with the creation of Adam in Geneses 1:26; marriage with the creation of the woman in Genesis 2:23; family with the birth of the first child in Genesis 4:1; the national entity with the formations of nations in Genesis 10:5. These four institutions encompass the entire human race irrespective to race, religion, gender, social statutes, and all other considerable factors.
Though we, at some point, will discuss each of the divine institutions, our primary focus here, is marriage. However, before we can apprehensively navigate through the many corridors of marriage, we must first gain an understanding of the function and responsibility of the institution of the individual; the reason being that a functional marriage is the production of two whole individuals uniting and becoming one. One of the multitudinous quandaries of marriage is the individual who attempts to enter marriage as a means of becoming whole, as a solution to their brokenness, and as a substitute for the emptiness within. Before entering into the institution of marriage, one must be confident in their identity in Christ. They must be functional, efficient, and effective in their responsibility as an individual before stepping into the massive responsibility and commitment of marriage. Marriage is not a cure all for those problematic issues in your life, it is not the place to flee to in search of healing for past hurts, it is a graduation of sorts for the person who has come to a knowledge of self and can enter the bond of matrimony as an asset, not a liability. Remember, we enter into marriage as a contributor.
So, let us take a look at the function and responsibility of the individual. The individual is the initiator, the foundation on which the other institutions are built. So, it can be said that the strength of any institution can only be as strong as the individual functioning parts. You can’t take a dysfunctional individual and plug him into a marriage and presume that he will become functional even if the other partner is highly functional. The marriage, for all it’s worth, may seem to be highly productive; the problem is one person is shouldering the burden. At some point, the lack of balance and symmetry will cause a breakdown or collapse in some area. This is not to say that in marriage, one partner at some point or another will not carry a disproportionate share of the burden, however, this should not be characteristic of the relationship.
The first individual, Adam, was created by God, perfect, a trichotomous being, existing of body, soul, and spirit. When he chose, through his own volition, to disobey God and sin, he became dichotomous —existing of only body and soul, having become spiritually dead. Adam became spiritually dead, his spirit being replaced with a sin nature, the genetic predisposition to sin. As we are his progeny, seminally present at the fall, the sin nature has been genetically passed on to each of us through male procreation, meaning we are all born spiritually dead.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (through Adam). (Rom. 5:12 emphasis added)
Only through regeneration, which comes through faith in Christ, can man be rendered trichotomous, spiritually alive. Notice, regeneration comes through a volitional act of faith. The primary authority for the individual is volition. Volition provides the capacity for man to choose, and is a function of the human will, which is controlled by the human soul. When the human volition is functioning optimally, it functions under the rationale of the soul, not instinct or emotion.
Understanding the Power of Volition
God’s Biblical mandates are always directed toward volition, making volition a significant and influential force in this spiritual warfare. The power of choice can never be over estimated or overvalued. The proper regulation of volition is paramount in the perpetuation of the Christian lifestyle. We are commanded over and over to choose. Choose to believe in Christ, choose life or death, and choose to walk in the Spirit. Make no mistake, the choices you make carry consequence.
So, what, ultimately is the function and responsibility of the individual? The individual is to display self-discipline, in consistently choosing to do what is required of him by God. He is to live his life in the awesome power of the Holy Spirit. He is to walk in the confidence of his identity in Christ. The individual carries the greatest impact on society, for he is not only the foundation for the other institutions, he is also the only institution that directly impacts all others.
Confederate General, John Brown Gordon once said, “I am reminded of the commonplace but important truth that the aggregate character of a people of any country depends upon the personal character of its individual citizens; and the individual, personal character of it’s people, than it does upon any constitution that could be adopted or statutes that could be enacted. What would safe guards be worth if the character of the people did not sustain and enforce them?”
So, it’s safe to say that what any individual takes into the bond of matrimony in the form of character, integrity, fortitude, and potential has a monumental and enduring impression upon that marriage. Being somewhat nebulous, a marriage is only capable of producing to the limits and boundaries of its potential; that potential is determined by the individual potential of those that enter this bond of marriage.
As stated earlier, marriage is not a hiding place for a troubled soul. It is not an arrangement of convenience through which economic struggles may be confronted. It is not an expedient arrangement by which the human race is propagated. No, marriage is a divine institution ordained by God. It is meant to represent Christ’s love for the church. When people look into the Christian marriage they should see the reflection of God’s love —no relationship bears more importance to social culture and the church than marriage.
Listen to what Biblical scholar R.B. Thieme Jr. has to say about the institution of marriage: “Marriage provides the structure for stability in society, the foundation of civilization. God’s plan for husband and wife prohibits fornication, adultery, promiscuity, homosexuality, communal living, polygamy, and frivolous divorce. When the divine design for marriage is spurned by enough people, degeneracy permeates society and the nation declines.” (Freedom Through Military Victory, R.B. Thieme Jr. 2003)
Lucidly speaking, as the respect for the sanctity of God ordained marriage wanes, the moral fiber of our social culture begins to unravel. This explains why things considered unacceptable by the masses a mere twenty years ago are now commonplace.
As volition is the delegated authority in the individual, the husband is the authority delegated by God in the marriage. Now, this fact has become quite controversial in today’s social environment. This Biblical truth has been misconstrued to indicate or express the superiority of the man over the women. Some have taken it as an attempt by man to oppress and dominate women. There are those that will insist that the principle of male authority in the home is archaic and no longer functions in contemporary culture; however, scripture does not support this point of view. The truth is that all of these misconceptions do not align with Biblical mandate.
God, in His infinite wisdom, understands the vast importance of maintaining order, and subsequently designed a system through which order may be sustained, as long as man is obedient to the mandates of the plan.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church, and He is the Savior of the body.”(Eph 5:22)
“IN LIKE manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives,” (1 Peter 3:1 AMP)
These are two very expressive and revealing scriptural passages. One has to have at least a minimal understanding of categorical bible study. Ephesians 5.22 is Paul’s command to wives to submit and in itself bears clarity to a much misunderstood piece of scripture. In Genesis 3:16, God addresses Eve after the fall. He tells her that her pain in childbirth will be multiplied, but he does not stop there. He concludes with the following statement:
“…Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And (R)he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16 NASB)
There are several popular interpretations for the part of the passage, but the proper one is establish and supported by Paul’s exhortation to wives in Ephesians 5:22.
This is what Dr. Thomas Constable has to say about this passage of scripture:
“The ‘curse’ here describes the beginning of the battle of the sexes. After the Fall, the husband no longer rules easily; he must fight for his headship. The woman’s desire is to control her husband (to usurp his divinely appointed headship), and he must master her, if he can. Sin had corrupted both the willing submission of the wife and the loving headship of the husband. And so the rule of love founded in paradise is replaced by struggle, tyranny, domination, and manipulation.” (Thomas Constable, Commentary of the Bible)
If you want to obtain a more detailed explanation of this passage I would suggest you read the article “What is the Women’s Desire” by Susan T. Foh. She gives a very disciplined description in this article. If you would wish, you may email me at email@example.com and I will provide an in-depth anatomization of this scriptural text.
Basically, this conflict in the home is what prompted Paul to address both, husband and wife in Ephesians Chapter five.
Marriage is a relationship that involves mutual submission, and though all Christians are called and exhorted to live in submission to one another, submission is applied in a unique manner to the marriage relationship. The wife is commanded not simply to submit, but to submit to her husband as to the Lord. The Greek word used here is (“Hypotasso”) — to put in subjection, subject, subordinate; in the passive, to submit, be subject to. According to the terminology in scripture, she is to hold him in the highest esteem and regard.
Every well-ordered society rests upon the pillars of authority and submission. Where there is no submission to authority, anarchy and chaos run rampant. Submission never implies inferiority; authority doesn’t establish superiority. Christ was submissive to God the Father, but at no time was he ever inferior, they are both equally God. Neither is the woman inferior to man or the wife inferior to the husband. In fact, there are many areas in which the wife may transcend her husband.
I am perfectly cognizant of the fact that the Biblical view is not a popular one, nevertheless, we are not to be conformed to the world but we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We should not allow the world to influence the stances we take and the way we live our lives. We are to be the light, the focal point, and the influence that induces a sort of transculturation.
Now if the wife is to submit to the husband, what is the husband required to do? Luke 12:48 tells us that he who has been entrusted with much, of him much will be required. Before we progress, allow me to bring elucidation to the principle of partial submission. When a wife submits to her husband, she is not submitting to the man; she is submitting to the God ordained authority given to the man by the creator. This delegated authority is revocable and is only active when the husband is operating under the will of God. Whenever a husband chooses to move opposite the will of God, his wife is not obligated to follow his lead, she is to remain in line with the Word. This insures the authority of headship delegated by God is not abused or used to Lord over the wife. The wife is not a slave, but a partner. I digress. Shall we continue?
The husband, in a manner of reciprocation or even excessiveness, is called to love his wife, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her. He is to put aside his own interest in order to enhance hers. Beyond God, she is to be placed first; her life above his; her needs before his. His role is to nourish (Greek ekotrphō —to support her growth toward her personal maturity), and to cherish (Greek thalpō —to warmly care for and attend to). When in the perfect harmony God intended, each partner in marriage proactively and interactively brings the other to his or her full potential in life.
When a marriage is lived out in a mutually loving, supportive, and loyal environment, it mirrors the love of Christ for the church and the love the church is called to have toward Him.
Again, at the risk of being redundant, I reiterate, the submissive woman of the Bible is far from weak. She is the epitome of strength and spiritual fortitude. She is the heart line of the home. She is the source of favor and blessing for her husband. Proverbs 18:22 says, “he that finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” A Godly wife is the greatest gift a man may obtain from the Lord beyond salvation.
Thus far, we have ingested quite a bit of information, let’s take a moment to allow our souls to digest it. What can we ascertain from what has been taken in thus far? First and foremost, marriage is a vehicle through which God reveals his love to a world in desperate need of a Savior. It is not a place for one to fulfill their selfish desires. It is a place of giving, caring, loving and so much more. It is the opportunity to wake up each day and glance over into the eyes of God’s most vivid portrait of His love for you. It is the opportunity to experience God’s divine favor as it is showered upon your home via deitious promise and divine providence.
The question then arises: If God has established such a lofty status for marriage, why are there so many houses and so few homes? Why is the divorce rate in excess of 50% of all marriage in the U.S.? The answer in its simplest form is we are not living our lives in the power of the spirit. We have not allowed the power of the blood to permeate through every fissure and orifice of our marriage. We have chosen to position ourselves in the philosophical pool of popularity. We have engaged ourselves with cosmic philosophies that promote and entice narcissistic behavior.
Please believe me when I tell you that there is no greater, no more of a powerful magnet of God’s blessings and favor than the union of marriage, yet if you are in a marriage functioning outside of the will of God, it can be the most miserable of places.
Though women are not beyond reproach, it is my position that a vast majority of the social and spiritual issues we are confronted with today are due to a falling away of the Christian man. Don’t get me wrong, I could probably write volumes as to the state of the Christian woman in today’s society, but honestly if it were not for a nucleus of Christian women who have stood firm in the faith despite the antinomianistic environments in which they reside, I’m afraid to think of where we would be in this country.
I want to take time to say that when I speak of Christian living, it is not of lethargic, luke warm Christianity. I speak of spirit filled men and women who desire nothing more than to please the Father, to walk into their purpose, and fulfill their destinies, I do not speak of fence straddlers, those who live their lives as they please and yet arrogantly expect God to service their needs and desires, with no consequence to their mutinous behavior. No, I speak of the believer who understands that he/she is the salt of the earth and that low living is not their calling.
Are You The Man You Think You Are?
We, as a nation, as a Christian people, have found ourselves in a very precarious position. Single parent households are at an all time high. To exacerbate matters, the men that have fled these homes have defaulted on their promissory oaths and paternal obligations. Men have, in some way, found it both, easy and acceptable to procreate and then abandon their progeny. The very foundation of our moral integrity and manly honor has been shaken to the very core. It would be a foolish assessment to attribute every social issue and all of the enigmatic predicaments that confront us to men, yet, as men; we must face the fact that our leadership is in many ways, faulty. We have fallen short in the function of our God ordained duties as the head. We adamantly declare our kingship, but fail to sustain its requisites. We have too easily become transculturated by the precepts, philosophies and principles of the world around us. The standard by which we are to be measured and appraised should always be the Word of God.
“But if anyone does not provide for his own and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”(1 Tim 5:8)
These are strong words by the Apostle Paul. He says failure to take care of your paternal or filial obligations equates to a denial of the faith. He goes one step further by declaring failure in this area places the believer in a position worse than that of an unbeliever. This is for the simple reason that there are unbelievers that grasp and embrace the concept of relational responsibilities. It is easy to see that the Christian man who fails in his responsibilities to his family, not only places his family in a position of suffering; it brings reproach to the faith.
When Things Go Wrong
Please understand that though I cannot condone frivolous divorce, there are times when divorce is the best and maybe even the only option. I’m sure that there are those that will be critical of the aforementioned statement, however, the fact remains that there are times when we place ourselves in situations that are outside the scope of God’s will for our lives. But Bishop, Christ emphatically, unequivocally, and explicitly says that divorce is not allowed except for infidelity. Well, first of all, He did not say infidelity; He said sexual immorality, which extends far beyond infidelity. Yet, this is not the issue. If we desire to use the Word to set up loop holes in which we can operate within our own will, we are out of line, but just as dangerous is the one who attempts to use the letter of the law to establish, contrive, or even rebut the righteousness of himself or others. To do so is to discount God’s grace. The issue here is the depth of God’s Word and the ability through the Holy Spirit to grasp or apprehend its meaning.
Make no mistake about it; divorce was in no way God’s intention for marriage. It is and has always been God’s ideal that one man and one woman remain married until the matrimonial bond is broken by death (Rom. 7:2,3).
We find in Malachi 2:16 that God hates divorce.
So then, why did God allow for divorce? Christ tells us that God, through Moses, gave an allowance for divorce because of the hardness of man’s heart. Moses‘ law of divorce is in essence, a concession to man’s weaknesses, and was not given to make the act of divorce easier, on the contrary, it was given to constrain the ease in which a divorce is obtained, in actuality, giving the wife a protection she had not enjoyed to that point. Before the law was constituted, the wife had very few rights of protection; the husband could simply decide he no longer wanted his wife, with little or no provocation and then force her out of the home.
Earlier, I made the statement that there are times divorce becomes necessary. We know by literal translation that sexual immorality may be used as scriptural grounds for divorce, yet, scripture does not “mandate” divorce in the instance of sexual immortality. Even in the area of infidelity, if it is possible to save the marriage, it is your responsibility to do so. The question then arises: are there any other legitimate reasons for divorcing a life partner? Depending on what Bible scholar you confer with, the answer may vary. Even when it comes to the stated exception for divorce (sexual immorality), scholars are not in absolute agreement. Some believe this exception applies to premarital sexual immorality, some postnuptial transgressions. Most scholars, based on 1 Cor. 7:12-16, believe that divorce is acceptable when a believing spouse is deserted by an unbelieving spouse. This writer concurs; in fact, I would like to take this particular passage of scripture to make an important and extremely essential point as it pertains to the study of scripture.
In several passages of scripture, however, Paul explicitly says that a believer can be released from the bond of marriage if their unbelieving spouse chooses to leave.
Does this mean that either passage (Christ’s or Paul’s directive’s for divorce. Christ said only sexual immorality and Paul said dessertion) is fallacious or that scripture is contradicting scripture? Certainly not. It simply points to the truth that the Bible is not comprehensive in scenerio; it does not address every possible scenario on every possible issue, it addresses life in principle. The Bible points us toward the heart of God, it reveals God and His plan for our lives and addresses issues in principle (e.g. Matt 18:21-22). In this example, Peter approaches Christ concerning the act of forgiveness; should a man forgive his brother as many as seven times for personal transgressions? Jesus‘ answer was succinct, yet immensely profound: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”(v.22) Was Christ setting the bar at 490? Of course not, He was establishing the perpetual necessity of forgiveness. Jesus is not applying a mathematical formula; he is implying limitless forgiveness.
It becomes obvious through scriptural comparison that divorce is allowed in other situations other than sexual immorality. So then, why does Jesus only mention one? Since God is not the author of confusion, we may safely postulate that Christ is not attempting to use omission in an attempt to leave you in a comatic state of ambivalence. Christ is, in essence, uses sexual immorality, due to its devastating force on all of those it touches, and its significance in biblical times to establish a level of inclemency, volatility, and ephemerality at which the institution of marriage becomes soluble or irreconcilable.
So, what are the other instances in which divorce may be acceptable to God? There is no way to present an exhaustive list in this matter, but some of the obvious cases would be situations in which there is physical or emotional abuse, where the long term effect could be spiritual deficiency, emotional instability, physical injury or even death. Any situation in which one partner is being manipulated, dominated or oppressed in a manner that impedes their growth, spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually. Abandonment, in the sense of emotional or physical separation may be another situation in which divorce is warranted. A situation in which it is determined that a spouse may be dangerous toward the children in the home is an instance that requisites divorce. Because of God’s matchless and enduring love for His chosen, it is never His will that we languish in any situation that is destructive toward our spiritual growth and continuous progression toward Him and eternity.
Because we once walked in complete carnality and even now stumble into its arena, it is possible to enter into unions that are not conducive to Christian growth nor do they meet God’s approval. Are we to remain in these non-efficacious alliances? That is the question. Keep in mind that when Jesus addresses the Pharisees concerning divorce, He is as in other instances, such as adherence to the Sabbath, addressing the rigidity in which they interpret the law.
Please do not take away from this that I uphold spontaneous or capricious actions that lead to avoidable and unnecessary divorce. Nevertheless, it is my stand that there are times in which divorce is the proper course of action. At the end of the day, one must search within and be able to reconcile their actions with God’s will for their life.
This intermittent treatise on divorce and Christianity is not and was not meant to be discursive, but is meant to bring illumination to some very real situations that many are facing today. What I can say as we prepare to press on is, “God’s grace is sufficient.” God’s grace is powerful enough to lift the burden of guilt brought on by stumbling or falling in His will so that you may continue in this ethereal journey called Christianity. Grace is not to be perceived as a crutch that supports unbridled sin, but the force that rescues us from the grave of inevitable failure. It is grace that reveals the affinity or propinquity of God‘s love for his chosen.
Turning Your House Into A Home
“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.”(Taken from: Beautiful Christian Sister By Maya Angelou)
The preceding statement points to what I believe to be the most influential force in determining the outcome of any marriage, the nature of its conception. I believe the principle injected in this quote applies to men as well as women. Let’s think about it for a moment: A person’s heart should be so enamored and occupied with Christ that any potential mate must first seek Him to find them. Abiding in Christ, or as Maya so powerfully stated, being hidden in Him, protects us not only from others, but also from ourselves. When we walk outside of Christ our judgment, cogitative instincts, and overall rationale becomes nebulous. We simply function below par. When it comes to making the most important decision of your life outside of where you will spend eternity; whom you will spend the rest of your life with here on earth, you must be in a state of lucidity. You must be in a place of clarity that can only be found in Christ. Furthermore, your options should be reduced to those as occupied with Christ as you.
What is a home and how is one built? A home is that place in which you find solace from the struggles of the day. A home is that place where you are able to be you and yet remain secure in your identity. A home is a place that covers and protects you from the many forces that tend to drain you of your energy and strength. It is the one place that should always be a safe refuge. So, how do we build this place of refuge? Let’s start by inviting Christ to perpetually reside in this place of dwelling. His presence is paramount.
The Word of God clearly declares that we are to edify one another.
“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thes. 5:11)
It is interestingly ironic that the word translated “edify” is made up of two Greek words: “oikos” translated “a home” and “dimeo”, which means, “to build”. Literally speaking, edify means to “build a home”. So, one of the most potent forces in building and maintaining a home is mutual edification, the positive development of your mate’s self-esteem.
Whether its self-esteem, self-image, or self-concept, either term is used to describe how a person sees himself, how he feels about himself and the worth or value he places on himself. To comprehensively address the issue of self-image or self-esteem would require volumes, but I would like to introduce you to its importance in turning a house into a home.
Earlier on, I made the point that marriage is not a cure all for the emotional deficiencies and painful voids one has incurred. It is still my belief that one should be as complete as possible before entering into marriage. The responsibilities that accompany marriage are so massive that one must be at full strength to engage them. With that being said, no matter how well someone seems to be put together, there are kinks in the armor, areas in which they struggle.
Where does a person’s self-image come from? It comes from a combination of a cluster of numerous memories, the perception or interpretation of those memories, and the weight and value given to those memories. How was this person treated by their parents and primary label givers, especially during those impressionable years from self-awareness to adolescence? A label giver is any person in a position to have a powerful enough impact to influence how you perceive yourself. In the light of this definition, parents are the most powerful label givers. Maybe your father was absent, planting a seed that you were not worthy enough in some way, to require his presence. There are many other ways parents influence the self-image of their children, both, positively and negatively.
How well did this person navigate through the middle school and high school years? This is a time when one’s peers possess an immensely powerful influence on their lives. Were you liked or ostracized by your peers? How are you perceived in the work place and how do you perceive the way you are perceived? All these situations and more influence a person’s self-esteem.
From a very early age we begin to develop portraits, concepts, and attitudes about ourselves as well as others. These attitudes form the lens through which we see ourselves. This is the process in which we are either positively or negatively influenced. Thus, we are able to see the need for spousal edification.
Founder of “Focus on The Family, Dr. James Dobson emphasizes the importance of building the self esteem of your spouse. Listen to what he says:
“The most successful marriages are those where both husband and wife seek to build the self-esteem of the other. Ego needs can be met within the bonds of marriage, and nothing contributes more to closeness and stability than to convey for the personhood of the spouse.” (Focus On The Family, 1985)
Why is it so important to build your mates self-esteem? One very important reason is the home is the place that the majority of us are most vulnerable. The things like work, sports, and other activities we use to mask our deficiencies are not present in the home. In the home, one’s ability to perform in the work place, or on the field or court does not come into play. It is in the home that we are forced to face our feelings of inadequacy and areas of self-doubt.
One of the most powerful gifts we have is our ability to encourage and empower others. Every person needs at least one person to stand alongside them to build them up. You are that person for your spouse.
We have all heard the saying: Behind every great man is a great woman.” It may be his mother, or a schoolteacher, but most likely, his wife. Why is he great? He is great because she is great. Why is she great? She is great because she knows his weaknesses, but instead of exploiting them, she strives to help him strengthen them. She lifts him up with encouraging words and emphasizes his strengths and capabilities. She assures him that he is necessary and that he has a place. He functions with confidence because he no longer feels threatened. She assures him that she loves him for who he is and accepts him along with his imperfections. He, in turn, can function in the productive arena of confidence. I can personally attest to the negative impact of having had a mate that did not believe in me.
Just as a woman plays a major role in the over all success of her husband, the same applies in the reverse. A woman reaches her full potential in whatever capacity she functions when her husband fulfills his responsibility to support, protect, and empower her. He provides the secure environment she yearns in the deepest recesses of her being. He provides the covering of protection, enhancement, and empowerment necessary for her to function optimally. He provides her with the confidence she needs to fulfill her full potential and reach her destiny.
The awesome rewards of building your mates self-esteem extend beyond the confines of the marriage. A couple with positive self-images is better equipped to rear children and contribute to society in general.
So, I invite you to endeavor to edify your spouse. As you, each day build layer upon layer of your mate’s confidence, you are also building the foundation to transform your house into a home, and as you march forward, always remember that it begins and ends with Jesus Christ.
May you be richly blessed?
Bishop Rick Wallace
Founder and President
Rick Wallace Ministries
100 Men of Purpose
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