Friday, January 30, 2009

Humbling Things

Just when I think I have my act together...

I have my daughter tell me that my hair looks really pretty with the gray on that side and the darker on the other side. I gave her a sweet, motherly which she replied, "No it is because you are really getting old mom."

OR I run across an article like from Douglas Wilson at Credenda Agenda:

Life Between the Sexes

As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two.
- Thomas Adams
First, he must choose his love, and then he must love his choice.
- Henry Smith
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
- Hebrews 13:4
A gracious wife satisfieth a good husband, and silenceth a bad one.
- George Swinnock
If thou art a man of holiness, thou must look more for a portion of grace in thy wife, than a portion of gold with a wife; thou must look more after righteousness than riches; more after piety than money; more after the inheritance she hath in heaven, than the inheritance she hath on earth; more at her being new born, than at her being high born.
- Thomas Brooks
When Adam was away, Eve was made a prey.
- Henry Smith
People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on "being in love" for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change - not realising that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one...Let the thrill go - let it die away - go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow - and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life...It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.
- C.S. Lewis
I look back with delight on every step, every circumstance, in that whole design of providential love. I rejoice with grateful joy at our blessed union, and feel my obligations to every person instrumental therein. Above all, I desire to thank my great Benefactor for giving you to my bosom, and to fulfil his gracious end by leading you to the marriage of the Lamb.
- Charles Wesley (in a letter to his wife in 1755)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also the loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water through the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
- Ephesians 5:25-27
In reality, however, Eros, having made his gigantic promise and shown you in glimpses what its performance would be like, has "done his stuff." He, like a godparent, makes the vows; it is we who must keep them. It is we who must labor to bring our daily life into even closer accordance with what the glimpses have revealed. We must do the works of Eros when Eros is not present. This all good lovers know, though those who are not reflective or articulate will be able to express it only in a few conventional phrases about "taking the rough along with the smooth," not "expecting too much," having a little common sense," and the like. And all good Christian lovers know that this programme, modest as it sounds, will not be carried out except by humility, charity and divine grace; that it is indeed the whole Christian life seen from one particular angle.
- C.S. Lewis


Life Between the Sexes
By Douglas Wilson

My wife and I had finally decided to call our pastor for help. Our marriage was not going well despite our desire to make it work. Martin and Susan responded by inviting us to their home.

"Why don't we begin by discussing the difficulty you had which made you seek help." Martin and his wife Susan were sitting in their living room. The small talk was over, we all had our coffee, and the kids were in bed.
I looked at my wife, who looked back at me helplessly.
"You tell them," she said.
I cleared my throat. "Part of the problem is that we have trouble agreeing on what the problem is. Kris thinks there is something wrong with everything, and I think there are a few problems with some things."
"How long have you been married?"
"Five years."
"And how serious are the problems? If one were marital bliss, and ten meant that one of you were going to file for divorce tomorrow, where would your marriage be?"
"Oh," I said, "about a six."
"Nine," Kris said.
Martin didn't exactly smile, but there was still a smile somewhere inside him.
"And is one of your problems communication?"
I shook my head, while Kris nodded.
"How often do you fight?"
"We used to fight about once a week. Now everything has just gone cold. We don't fight at all anymore. We don't do anything anymore."
"When you used to fight, how did you resolve the fights?"
Kris and I looked at each other. "We didn't," I said. "They just blew over."
Martin smiled. "I don't think they really did, but we will talk about that in a minute. Just one more question. How long have you been Christians?"
"We were both seniors in high school. About ten years ago."
Martin sat back in his chair and was silent for a moment. I shifted anxiously in my seat. Kris did the same.
"Do you know what I think the problem is? It is not really mysterious. Your marriage has a bad case of unconfessed sin."
Well, that brought me up short. Kris and I
had been to a number of counselors before this, and none of them had said anything about sin. Everything they said sounded good, but it was a little blurry around the edges, and it didn't help us out at home.
"It is not a disease, or a syndrome, or anything else like that. It is simply old-fashioned self-centeredness."
"What do you do about it?" Kris asked.
Susan spoke for the first time. "You acknowledge the sin to God as sin, and thank Him for His forgiveness. If your sin has harmed anyone else, like your husband or wife, you make restitution through specific apology."
"Can you give us an example?" Kris was looking at Susan, so she continued.
"Have you ever yelled at your husband?"
Kris looked at the floor. "Many times."
"Have you ever asked his forgiveness?"
"No." She looked up. "But what about all the things he does which provoke me?"
I was thinking that it was usually the things I didn't do which provoked her, but I thought I'd better keep quiet. Martin was looking at her, somewhat sternly.
"What we are saying here, we are saying to both of you. Each of you can confess the other person's sins all day and your joy will not be restored. You must confess your own, and you both must do it."
We both sat quietly for a moment.
"What sins must we confess?" I said.
"Well I wasn't there, so I can only give you some likely candidates."
"Speaking to her harshly, lusting after other women, spending money irresponsibly, not exercising spiritual leadship, and spending too much time in front of the TV."
Kris was staring at him as though he were psychic. I knew I was guilty of all these. Susan then turned to Kris.
"And you need to confess a critical and nagging spirit, the disrespect you have shown to him in public, the absence of respect and obedience in the home, and your attempts to be the spiritual leader in the home."
I asked, "How do you confess sin like this?"
"Simple. You sit down with a purpose to be specific. Every instance you remember, lift it before God and call it by the proper name. Lust is lust, malice is malice, and so forth. Where it has affected the other person, you aplogize for your sin only."
"I think I understand," I said. "I'll do this as soon as we get home."
Kris looked up. "But this doesn't change anything. What is to keep us from doing the same thing again?"
Martin smiled. "Confession of sin simply brings your account current. You will avoid this problem in the future when you learn to keep short accounts."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Picture two women, each with four children. One has a home which is immaculate, while the other home is bombed. What is the difference between the two homes?"
"I don't follow you."
"The difference is not in how many things are spilled, dropped, knocked over, and so forth. The difference between the two homes lies in how many things are picked up, and when they are picked up."
"So by `keeping short accounts' you mean confessing and making the appropriate restitution right away?"
"You've got it."
Kris interjected, "But it can't be as simple as all that!"
Martin's wife looked at him knowingly. "Maybe we should go over our rules."
He nodded. "Early in our marriage, Susan and I implemented certain basic rules which are designed to help us keep short accounts."
Kris and I spoke at the same time. "What were they?"
"If we had what we called a `bump,' we had already agreed that there were certain things we would and would not do. The first was - Never split up until things are resolved."
"How do you mean?"
"You stay together. You don't go to work, you don't go shopping, you fix it now."
"I'd be late for work every day," I muttered.
"Not really. You can get in fellowship as quickly as you get out of it. All it requires is an admittance you were wrong, not an insincere `sorry.' Now if the `bump' was over the checkbook, you don't have to balance it before you go anywhere, but you do have to confess the sin."
"What was the second rule?" I asked.
"If you are in mid-bump, and someone comes to the door, don't answer the door until you are back in fellowship."
"What if it is raining?" Kris smiled.
"Then get back in fellowship fast. So the second rule is - Never let anyone into your home when there is no harmony there.
"And the third rule?"
"Never go anywhere else when you are out of fellowship. If you have a bump on the way to church, fix it in the car before you go in. If you have a bump on the way to a friend's house, don't go in, until things are right."
"I'm beginning to get the idea," Kris said. "What is the next rule?"
"Have you ever been with friends, and one of you says something which upsets the other?"
We both nodded.
"Now if the sin was obvious to all, then the restitution should be made in the presence of all. But many times, married couples can get out of fellowship with one another without the other people there knowing about it. The explosion happens in the car on the way home."
"So what's the rule?" I asked.
"When a problem happens around others, Susan and I have a hand signal which means `I apologize.' Never wait until later to fix things, even when you are surrounded by others."
"Is there anything else?" I said.
"One more. Never have sexual relations when you are out of step with one another. Don't turn what God intended as a unifying and wonderful thing into a hypocrisy."
Kris and I looked at each other. I looked back at Martin and Susan. "We'll do all this," I said, and Kris nodded. "But can we see you in the next week or so? We'll certainly have questions."
"Of course. But before you go, I want you to understand the impact this will have on your relationship with your friends and family."
"What do you mean?"
"Right now you have problems, and all your friends and family know it. Correct?"
We both nodded.
"If you put this into practice, no one will ever see you, together or individually, when there is not harmony. God wants the two of you to function as one in the world, and this will enable you to do so. It is not hypocrisy, because you really are in fellowship. You still do your laundry, but not in the front yard. And these rules help to keep it from accumulating."
"Well, thank you," I said. I was amazed at how straightforward and simple it all seemed.
Kris nodded. "Thank you very much."
Martin and Susan both smiled. "You are very welcome. It is a real pleasure to see these biblical principles put into practice. See you next week?"
"Right. Next week."


Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
- Proverbs 31:10-11
Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with legitimate issue, and of the church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.
- Westminster Confession
Since marriage should be God-centered, not me-centered, our main care must be to honor God's holy Name and to fulfill his holy purpose. A lax attitude toward divorce comes from putting the feelings of sinners before the feelings of God. God created marriage not first and foremost to meet our wishes, but to advance His kingdom.
- Mary Pride
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
- Colossians 2:20
It is a mercy to have a faithful friend that loveth you whom you may open your mind and communicate your affairs...And it is a mercy to have so near a friend to be a helper to your soul stir up in you the grace of God.
- Richard Baxter
There is no society more near, more entire, more needful, more kindly, more delightful, more comfortable, more constant, more continual, than the society of man and wife, the main root, source, and original of all other societies.
- Thomas Gataker
Wisest Solomon among his gravest Proverbs countenances a kind of the entertainment of wedded leisures; and in the Song of Songs...sings of a thousand raptures between those two lovely ones far on the hither side of carnal enjoyment. By these instances, and more which might be brought, we may imagine how indulgently God provided against man's loneliness.
- John Milton
Your lips, O my spouse, drip as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under your tongue; and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
- Song of Solomon 4:11
Hail wedded love, mysterious law,
true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise of all things common else.
By thee adulterous lust was driven from men
Among the bestial herds to range, by thee
Founded in reason, loyal, just and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother first were known.
Far be it, that I should write thee sin
or blame,
Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,
Whose bed is undefiled and chaste
- John Milton
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Not to mention my devotional this morning about not being selfish and waiting on the Lord.

I am off now to go be a less selfish and self-righteous daughter, wife, mother and friend. At least I am going to try.

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