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Topic: MARRIAGE & THE NATURAL FAMILY

Part V - Where is the Church in the Midst of Our Marital Crisis?

October 5, 2009
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In my last commentary, I argued that the prevailing lack of distinction between Christian and non-Christian marriage serves as a barometer indicating a serious lack of spiritual depth and theological understanding within the American church. 

Reaction to this article overwhelmingly confirmed this suspicion. That is not a condemnation of those so afflicted, but rather an indictment of those who have been called to teach and lead them. Clearly we have failed to make disciples who know their God, his Word, and themselves to such a degree that they are able to navigate the challenges of life from a consciously biblical worldview. 

To all of you who responded with your particular situations and generously shared your very personal and painful struggles, I do not, in any way, mean to minimize the depth of your suffering and sorrow as you endure what are clearly difficult marital situations. I have been struck with grief by the accounts of so many families suffering through severe pain and heartbreak. Sadly, so much of this suffering is attributable to unbiblical decisions, including thosemade prior to marriage, such as being unequally yoked. There are misguided expectations in which one spouse seeks from another that which only Christ can provide, not realizing that this is a form of idolatry. And, of course, there are the false expectations that being Christian will somehow insulate you from trial and tribulation. 

I received hundreds of responses to my “Jerk" article that began with every form of qualifying statement imaginable. In an effort to justify their desire for or choice to divorce, many wrote things like, “What if my husband…”; “But my wife doesn’t…”; or “I can’t believe my God wouldn’t want me to be happy…”; and on and on. This personal, almost Gnostic god drawn from their own wants and desires rather than Scripture was particularly troubling; this attitude serves to justify just about anything we feel or want to do. 

There were also many who were desperately seeking answers to questions related to complex relational issues such as spiritual, emotional and financial abandonment; adultery; sexual addictions; abuse; and many more. I corresponded with many of these dear brothers and sisters and in so many cases the local church was completely uninvolved. This seemed more common than I would have ever imagined. Too many churches and leaders, it seems, are disengaged from the spiritual warfare raging through families in the church. In many instances, it was clear that church leaders were simply out of their depth, lacking the biblical knowledge and skill necessary to intervene and counsel these families through their crises. Marriages within the church are under attack and yet too many of us seem to stand by, concerned no doubt, but basically doing nothing! 

I only heard from one person out of these hundreds who indicated that any kind of biblical church discipline was undertaken in her situation. In most cases, the offending spouses (professing Christians, mind you!) were never even confronted. The church simply wasn’t involved. I was also shocked to hear from wives of pastors, men who simply abandoned their marriages. In essence, sin is being allowed to reign unchecked in the church—and we wonder why Christianity has become marginalized in America! 

Granted, there are good pastors and leaders that still take sin seriously; they understand the nature of spiritual warfare that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6 and that such warfare occurs within the home. Thus they take their stand in defense of these families working tirelessly toward reconciliation through the mess that sin creates. These pastors are able to recognize the schemes of the devil who comes to destroy that which God has created, including the family. May there be more of these and less of the former!

As I wrote previously, so much of this mess unfolding in the church is, I believe, attributable to a privatized understanding of the gospel. Ultimately this translates into the “Jesus came to make me happy” proposition. I believe this misunderstanding is often at the root of what enables Christians to so easily tear apart what God has joined together. In essence, we are committing vandalism on God’s creation—and we appear to do this without any fear of God. 

Practically speaking, under the privatized or reductionist gospel paradigm, Christianity tends to become what researcher Christian Smith terms, moralistic, therapeutic deism (MTD). Under this notion, the focus of the Christian life remains fixed largely upon the self. Christianity tends to be seen primarily as means to becoming moral, an activity one seeks mostly on one’s own effort through what could be described as “sin management” and for which the reward is heaven, i.e., do more good than bad and you’ll be okay. Second, according to MTD, the Christian may view Jesus’ primary purpose in this world as being to extricate him from trouble when life goes bad. Here again, the emphasis remains on our wants and our needs (which have little to do with becoming holy) and treats suffering as a condition to be avoided, rather than a means God uses to develop our character. Finally, the deistic element treats God and Jesus as distant realities, not really involved in our daily affairs, which ultimately strips the Christian of any real authority or purpose in this world. This is Christ-less Christianity that has no power!

As for suffering, we know from Scripture that suffering will be present in the life and maturation of the Christian. However, what is becoming apparent is that so many of our marital sufferings are due to our own bad choices, made worse by our lack of trust in Christ to heal the situation. 

There are two issues before us. First, the church is not doing enough to prepare couples for covenant marriage. In other words, we are not “making disciples” as we have been commanded. This is simply one more symptom of the reductionist gospel in which we are focused only on achieving “conversions” rather than fulfilling the Great Commission. 

Second, the church—everyone one of us—must be prepared to intervene and work to rescue those marriages that come under assault. This means that those of you struggling in your marriages need to engage your church family and your leaders. There is no biblical mandate to suffer in silence. You have been joined to the body of Christ and this body is called to “bear one another’s burdens,” working together to resist the effects of the fall and to restore sinners.  

Finally, once engaged, the church must resolve to wage war against the sin that threatens its families, using the weapons of spiritual warfare outlined in Ephesians 6:10–17. There can be no equivocation in this battle; either we will take up arms in service to our King or we will find ourselves vanquished—not by the culture but by our own sin!

© 2009 by S. Michael Craven

 

Read Part VI

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Responses
Response from : Mark  

October 3, 2009 10:10 AM
 

Thank you for the artical. I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying. The other thing that tends to happen in broken marriages is the church passes the couple off to a counselor and forgets about them. I believe there needs to be a coming together of the couple, the counselor and the church (preferably pastor) to work through the issues with the total emphasis on the restoration of the marriage as the goal. This is happening in my marriage right now and I am confident with hard work and the Lord we will be reunited. The issue right now is that my wife is happily seperated from me and feels good that she is away from me. I struggle understanding that but then again i am not experiencing her hurt either.


 
Response from : Matthew Dernier  

October 5, 2009 8:56 AM
 

Amen Brother! Following Christ's example can, at times, be very uncomfortable. This is tough to take, and tough to live by.


 
Response from : eddie louis harris  

October 5, 2009 9:18 AM
 

I concur with this article categorically and emphatically.

http://www.battlefortruth.org/ArticlesDetail.asp?id=357

 
Response from : Dawn Chrisostom  

October 5, 2009 9:20 AM
 

Michael, thank you for this series of words on marriage. I see that so many people do not have a clue as to what God says about marriage and it saddens me. My father is working on a "before marrriage" series for his church. I have sent him nearly every article of this group you have written because, there are so many good things to glean from what you have said. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles.


 
Response from : Doug Fletcher  

October 5, 2009 9:33 AM
 

Bless you for your courage in speaking God's truth. We as Christians are so afraid that we might offend our fellow believers, that we would rather see them follow the paths of destruction than risk offense. Similar problems arise in any of the areas of holy living; homosexuality, abortion, etc. Living in God's grace doesn't mean forgetting his correction and guidance and our responding repentance. Our generation of Christians have not been trained to hear and obey God's word with the resulting holy lives. Of course, prophets have never been popular. On a related topic., do you ever come to churches and present seminars??


 
Response from : Paul Blankenship  

October 5, 2009 9:42 AM
 

good stuff Michael, you are spot on. The hardships couples must navigate are extreme. There are no easy solutions, just biblical ones; that if applied and practiced - work. I have always started any couple/marriage counseling with Matthew 7:24-27.

http://www.christfamilychurch.org

 
Response from : Marcella Snyder  

October 5, 2009 9:45 AM
 

I have observed that when a person is having trouble whether marriage or illness. Many times the "Christians" distants themselves from the problems rather than move toward the person to help. Have you the experience of a bad marriage?


 
Response from : Greg Williams  

October 5, 2009 9:58 AM
 

Mr. Craven

Wow! I would love to comment on this more and will do so, Lord willing over the next couple of days. I have a major spiritual warfare debate tonight at the Univ. of KY with a nationally renowned "sexologist" from Hartford Univ., Dr. Jannell Carroll. We have a great number of prayer warriors interceding for the Lord to use this in a powerful way (Eph. 6: 12 - 18; 2 Cor. 10: 4, 5) both locally and nationally as we are videotaping it.

I would appreciate your prayers as well as this is much of what is at the core of your article and the Church's part and parcel in it as they are very lacking in every part of this issue in most cases.

Finally, as we prepare in the next month or so to 'launch' our initial ministry DVD series I would love to send you a copy and as you have the time, review it and give me your feedback. We are so much on the same page and are seeing the same things in and out of the Church and the calling to our ministry was based on these things as you will see in the series/study guide.

I would also love, as the Lord may lead us, to partner, at least electronically with links to each other's websites as we get our new site completed hopefully by the end of Oct., Lord willing as well.

Thanks again for the article and your consideration of these requests.

God bless in Christ!

In His service

Greg


 
Response from : Angie  

October 5, 2009 11:03 AM
 

I was married 10 years ago at a very young and immature age of 19. My husband is a good hearted, hard working man but not a Christian. If asked point blank, he will say he is but actions and life say otherwise. I struggled silently for almost all 10 of these years, I wish back then I had someone sit me down and counsel me on what marriage means, more than "oh but I like him" or as a "next step". In my chaotic situation, my parent's marriage of 25 years was unraveling due to years of infeldilty and abuse. With coming of age and losing my security of a "family" home, I didn't know what to do and so I thought foolishly if I were to get married, it would take me away from this chaos and I would start my own cushioned fairy tale. Obviously it was very superficial, I was not prepared to learn to live with someone and for years I fought with "is he cheating". Because that is all I knew growing up - men cheat sooner or later. I was my own stumbling block for years. We threw three kids in the mix, thinking THAT would make us a family - as much as we adore our children, it only stood to complicate things further. What is missing, and has been all along is God. I throught for years about divorcing because of the reasons you cited, "God wants me to be Happy, right?" - I made the choice to be unequally yoked and it makes life harder, I have learned that I can pray for but cannot expect him to be the Christian head of our home. But leaving is not the answer. I think the hardest part is trying to attend church without him. So many churches treat you like an outcast if you come in alone rather than opening their arms and welcoming you. People find cliques' and fall into a routine of staying within their own little group so you sit there feeling like a giant spotlight is on you as you are alone. I wish more than anything your article would help encourage the church to be more open to accepting and helping without judging those that need it.


 
Response from : Jane Garrett  

October 5, 2009 11:30 AM
 

Well said. However, I think more work needs to be done with the church family first before we engage the church family to help with marital trouble. Too many are more engaged in idle gossip which can elevate the marital damage and cause more hurt than help. We need to fix the church family first before we can engage them.


 
Response from : Rhonda Calvert  

October 5, 2009 11:55 AM
 

Michael, Once again you are the voice of one sold out to Christ and speaking the truth in love. Emphasis on truth - because I think so many of our pastors and leaders today swing too far the other way. My husband is the pastor of our small country church but before we came here we were active members of a church with a membership of over 20,000. We were heavily involved in lay marriage counseling there, and I must say the pastors and leaders of that church were not soft on biblical principles for which I was so thankful. At this church there aren't many married couples, most are widowed, but these people who have been attending church all their lives are still babes! Your prinicples regarding marriage is as relevant for the Christian life as it is for marriage. Thank you so much for encouraging me in my walk. Rhonda Calvert Jeffersonville, IN


 
Response from : James  

October 5, 2009 12:10 PM
 

Thanks for the insight of moralistic, therapeutic, deism MTD. It was scary to see how much of that I do myself. I would love to hear more of how to achieve the alternative - reaching out to the true God.

You also mention the lack of discipleship. I am aware of this need and see that often the church put it's people, at most, under 'sermonship', but not discipleship. What does that look like? How would Jesus do this in our day and age? I am hungry for transformation into his likeness... holiness.


 
Response from : Beverly  

October 5, 2009 12:14 PM
 

Wow, it never occurred to me that marrying someone who had admitted that he was a non-believer would be considered "idolatry". I have known since I was 2 years into the marriage that there was a severe spiritual problem with him, after having had his two children, which, as it turns out were special needs I noticed that whatever inroads I was making toward him leading a spiritual life together got somehow smashed by his exposure to so many cynical non-Christians in his workplace, and since those persons were "successful" at least in the material sense of the word, he ultimately trusted their judgement over whatever influence I could sway over him. I did not have the fundamental understanding of why I was attracted to the man that I married, who so cruelly dumped me and left me and the two children I had with him in the housefire that is post divorce life. He has since remarried a woman who professes a Catholic faith but seems to share his more materialistic values, and yes, she earns a LOT of money$$$$$. Guess that is what it was all about for him. I am still heartbroken after three years of divorce and can't seem to get out of that mode. I go back and forth about my spiritual life. Sometimes I wonder if I have ever really been a Christian in the first place and that that is why I chose so stupidly. I only know that no one is jumping up and down to join my situation and that it is extremely hard to adjust to post married life when I had put so many hopes and dreams into the person that I had married.
Beverly Stenberg

http://att.net

 
Response from : Dr. Michael Wright  

October 5, 2009 3:11 PM
 

As a Family Pastor I appreciate your comments regarding the lack of Christian distinctives in the area of marriage. I gave a strong charge last night to our congregation that we are to be a rigorous teaching church and making clear the expectations God has concerning marriage. We must make disciples beginning with the those who live under our roof and attend our churches. Dr. Michael Wright, Family Pastor, FBC Keller, Texas.

http://www.fbckeller.org

 
Response from : Sylvia Huffnagle  

October 5, 2009 4:44 PM
 

EXCELLENT!

http://www.straightpaths.truepath.com

 
Response from : Bob Derval  

October 5, 2009 5:07 PM
 

I have been appreciating and enjoying your articles. However, I wish to raise one issue. I am a retired Probation Officer (19 years) and have run across something that is upsetting. I had several women come to see me due to a legal issue who claimed to having once been saved and served the Lord. They married a man who claimed to be a believer, and a respected member of the church board, etc. These women had been beaten up by their "Christian" husbands, and had then been shunned by the church because "Your to live in the situation no matter what." The women then began drinking or using drugs to hide the pain, shame and rejection. Are they to live in the abusive situation or continue to be physically disfigured and phsychologically damaged? When they turned to the church for help it was not there, all they got was a male dominant response. I supported them as much as I could and tried to give them Biblical and Christian support. Many reformed and went back to church and are doing well as far as I know. But where are the pastor's, church denominations, and so called church leaders?

Bob


 
Response from : Dr. Sam Tiner  

October 5, 2009 10:46 PM
 

Thank you Michael Craven for the voice of truth that needs more rooted within the home. Thank you for all you have put into your articles for marriage. Many of your readers say that the church needs to be fixed first before the church can help in the home. Well, there may be some truth to that but in an essence truth in the marriage begins in the home. Both man & woman staying focused in the Word together, living worthy of the Word to each other in holy matrimony. Most couples don't even understand the focal point in their marriage which is (kingdom-dominion living). Which is when God brought Adam the animals to name he did just that. But wait a minute, at the end of that calling the animals forth what they were, he (Adam was to call forth Eve from God). Don't you remember scripture Adam said after calling the animals there is no help mate. Because he didn't call her from God, God had to put him to sleep and bring Eve forth from Adam's rib. Saying all that to say this. If husband and wife would understand their role as husband and wife things in their life would not be out of control. If we are to understand why Husband and wife are to come together in love and stay in love, then we must understand that husband & wife must first come to realize that true holyness to God as a couple is first in priority then true love will be there and looking for love in all the wrong places will NOT even be an issuse. Thanks again Michael


 
Response from : Leonie Cooksley  

October 5, 2009 11:53 PM
 

Jesus prayed keep them in the world not of it - but it's now keep them in the church but not of it!! Where can we go! Love your articles of truth.


 
Response from : john vining  

October 6, 2009 11:50 AM
 

Michael--
Your article asking Where is the Church on Marital Crisis? is so on target that it is scary. Having served a denomination for 16 years as the one with responsibility for family ministries, I can attest that faith group leaders as well as pastors simply do not seem to be able to connect the dots between what gets lost in the translation between the pew and home.
A few months ago my faith group decided that among the cutbacks that we were making would be the department of family ministry. I was curious so I personally called the listed groups that make up the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America. There are 23 listed; I talked to 20 of them. With the closing of my office, we are now 100%!! None of us have a formal ministry to marriage and family!
Several years ago in trying to assist pastors with this very issue Dr. David Ferguson and I developed what we called Servant Church training. One of the emphatic points of that training is that when evangelism is divorced from discipleship, we may have lots of converts but many less disciples.
Pastors feel that marriage and family is their territory. So when a para-church organization or community agency steps in to help, many pastors feel threatened and refuse to cooperate. It has given rise to such outreaches as the Marriage CoMission which is seeing a grassroots movement arise that is being effective in lowering divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births. Why can't we as pastors cast a vision for a divorce-proof congregation?
Marriage and family life is a matter of discipleship!
Thanks so much for your article.

Dr. John Vining


 
Response from : John D. Trujilloo  

October 6, 2009 8:47 PM
 

Dear Brother Micael, To read and understand the truthes you teach according to Scripture, the Spirit, and grace, James 4:4-6 is a will only be of any real value to those who according to John 7:17a, "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teachings, whether it is of God or I speak form Myself. In other words, "If anyone is willing to OBEY God" he will know the truth and the truth will set him free. But as you so sineraly and humbly point out, and this is my own take on this series, MOST are not willing to do the will of God because HE is not 'Safe'. And simpily put, "My people perish for lack of wisdom." Again in my own words, "A great effort for knowledge, and very little or no effort to UNDERSTAND the God of Scriptures. In Hebrews 12:2 it states, "Fix your eyes on Jesus." and in v.3 it says further, "Consider Him." How many will as you do take the time to understand the real meaning according to the Greek meaning of 'CONSIDER'?? And if mure of us "Christians" were to diligently study to show ourselves approved and we would understand what the writter means by "Consider" and more so we would learn the meaning of the Greek Ant.: Paraphronéo, to think mistakenly,


 
Response from : Martin Van Dyk  

October 6, 2009 9:02 PM
 

Thanks Michael for your article. I appreciate your desire to be Biblically normed as you express Scripturally-based Christian truths.

Current "churches" perenially continue to venture to be (psychologically-fired) Edu-tainment Centres. Therefore theological subjectivism daily gains ground.

Aproximately only 11% (or less)of children in all classrooms have positive parenting models in front of them in their homes. The concept of a marital covenant has been removed from many a learning child.

Edu-tainment Centres create new diasporas.

Thanks for the articles of focus.


 
Response from : Susan  

October 7, 2009 10:47 PM
 

Wow, did I ever need to hear this. How refreshing to hear truth spoken unapola geticlly and with such pin pointed light. We are being dulled and confused by satan. We need more of this, desperately.


 
Response from : John Wilson  

October 8, 2009 9:22 AM
 

Thank you for your articles regarding marriage. I have, within the past year, come very close to losing my marriage through my own unfaithfulness. Thankfully, my wife is a wonderfully loving, patient and forgiving Christian and has helped to bring me back to the faithful life our marriage requires and to a faithfulness to God that I have not had for years. Interestingly, when we found a Christian counselor one of the requests he made was that we join a church that is teaching "biblical truths". The church we were invited to join is run by a friend of mine but at no point was church discipline ever initiated. Praise God, my wife's faithfulness to me despite my unfaithfulness to her has helped us through this terrible time that I brought upon our marriage.


 
Response from : Joyce Akakpo  

October 8, 2009 11:41 AM
 

Am so blessed by this powerful massage how i wish many people will have assess to this. what an insight remain bless i think is about time we all raise up to make marraige what God intended it to be. indeed if those whose marriages are working will raise up an make disciple many others will be save. Am so so so bless. May the wisdom of God increase more in you to bring great revelation to the body of christ about marriage.


 
Response from : Dan  

October 11, 2009 7:56 AM
 

I agree. Married for 33 years, my wife and I, have practiced (praxis) fidelity and love. I thank God every day for the blessing of a wife with whom I share values and morals that are biblically based. In today's moral climate where could I find another should I lose her, not to divorce but to the inevitable separation death affords. This thought terrifies me!


 
Response from : Debbie Sadler  

October 12, 2009 7:22 AM
 

What refreshing boldness! I have been divorced for nearly 15 years. I lead single again adults in SS and have for about 12 years. All that being said, I am NOT pro-divorce.

One of the deepest misconceptions as you so wisely pointed out, is that "God wants me happy"...which is not biblical...God wants me obediant...which IS biblical. Somewhere in the modern culture we have decided that our "happiness" is due us at any cost. As Followers of Christ, we must learn to endure whatever challenges we will face. We cannot turn and run. We must get to a place where there is no white flag, no back door, and not escape clause.

I sadly have seen my children struggle with their own relationships. My deepest concern is that my grandchildren will as well.

If divorce only impacted the two involved, it might be different. But it impacts generations to come, this is why "God hates divorce."

We can not justify being "unequally yoked" with he/she will get saved. I had to learn first hand that marriage is NOT a mission field. Someone sees you at your worse, they see everything, how you fight, how you handle things in the home...Jesus Christ MUST be in the forefront. If we do not BOTH take Him with us to the altar, we can more likely than not expect some misery.

This impacts us all. YOU ARE RIGHT! We must get back to the place where we call sin sin and God's expections must be taught and preached.


 
Response from : Sonja Anderson  

October 12, 2009 12:56 PM
 

Bravo!


 
Response from : cherry  

October 12, 2009 2:46 PM
 

You hit the nail right on the head. This is why there is so much church shopping and some just get frustrated and quit going. We MUST get back to the bible and making THE LORD the center of every decision we make. The church needs to remember how when the children of isreal were in the wilderness they were not to go where the presance of God was not and stay where HE stayed. Where is His presance in our churches today!!!!


 
Response from : Penny  

October 12, 2009 7:00 PM
 

Christians seem to have a problem with dealing with the scripture that talks about being "Unequally yoked". My husband and I had bible studies in our home back in the 70's, Most of those folks that came were from the Homestead AFB in Homestead Fl. One young men said he felt he should date non Christians so he could win them to the Lord. Of course we canceled him not to think this way. He choose to marry an atheist and stayed with her for 15 years. So sad. He knew the scripture but choose to followe his own thinking.
Penny


 
Response from : Nisee Lane  

October 13, 2009 5:53 AM
 

My husband and I just married 7 months ago.We are in our 50's, so this is not our first marriage. My previous husband was a Christian but also an abuser.This is one reason I waited 23 years to remarry. Back then, our pastor recommended divorce after the help sought did not succeed. My now husband and I are attending a church that we found after attending the movie they were showing called "Fireproof". As a follow up, the pastor has set up small groups that meet in homes. In these meetings we are watching Gary Smalley's series called "I promise". Not only does these groups encourage and strengthen our marriage, it also affords us the opprotunity to establish lasting relationships with others in various stages of their marriage. I am going to forward your article to my pastor and thank him for being faithful to take a spiritual stand against the enemy that would destroy marriages. Thank you.


 
Response from : Shani Hollon  

October 13, 2009 9:49 AM
 

Wonderful article. I am divorced and now remarried. I daily face feelings of doubt, guilt, and sadness of my decisions. I have felt a strong urge to minister to those couples who are facing troubles. I do not think the church is up to par in this area either. More needs to be done. There are too many children out there suffering and too many divorcees down the road suffering as well. Heavenly Father, please help the Church reach out and start saving marriages and families in crisis and stop this horrible divorce rate from going up, we need it to go down. Please show us and lead us as to what to do to help keep your families together. In your son, Jesus' name. God Bless us all!

http://SJ

 
Response from : Michele Warnecke  

October 13, 2009 2:09 PM
 

What do you say to the christian couple who is in this situation: both are christians active in church, the husband walks out (2nd time in 3yrs of marriage) 11yr old child in the household, and the husband says He knows what he is doing is wrong and against gods will but in the end all parties will be happier than when they were together. What do you say to the wife?


 
Response from : Yvonne McDonald  

October 14, 2009 7:50 PM
 

I find it very daunting as a minister in the church to help those who persistenly refuse help. Many christian marriages are failing because christians are yeilding to the device and the schemes of the enemy. Many know the truth, they are fully aware of covenant relationship, but still refuse to comply. I find many couples today are unforgiving, and that is the detriment of the marriage. Eventhough they know they should forgive, the enemy has blinded their eyes, and they refuse to see.


 
Response from : Janice Finn  

October 20, 2009 4:46 AM
 

Thank you for such a challenging article that purports the truth of the Scriptures! My husband and I have been church leaders in the UK for many years and we also work extensively in the area of marital teaching and counselling. In the latter area of ministry, we deal mostly with Christian couples whose understanding of Biblical truth has been influenced by the god of this secular age and their overwhelming 'need to be happy'. We aim to bring God's wisdom into their relationships and teach that marriage is a God-designed covenant of the heart and will into which they have both entered. When couples understand that they are responsible for their own choices, whether good or bad, it facilitates the process of helping them to bring their marriages back into line with God's Word. When the focus is less on 'me' and more on 'we', as the one-flesh concept, then their marriages can begin to be rebuilt and experience the rich blessing of God. Please keep writing such Biblical and thought provoking articles that the Church needs to hear! Thank you,
Janice Finn


 
Response from : nicole  

November 18, 2009 6:35 PM
 

Mr. Craven,
This article was very accurate, well in my situation anyway. My husband was unfaithful and so that is us creating the problem and now I feel so betrayed and angry that I am about to give up and separate and this is us not allowing God to heal. So you are correct.


 
Response from : Nicholas Beck  

December 3, 2009 10:44 PM
 

The individualistic approach to Christianity of which you spoke is so true, yet an inevitable conclusion. When individual interpretation of Scripture becomes the centerpiece of faith, the faith becomes whatever we want it to be, rather than what it is. We become deluded to Truth. This is seen both in the "tyranny of relativism" and the issues Islam faces with radical interpretations of its writings. When each man becomes his own interpreter, there is no basis to tell him he is wrong and Christianity becomes a private affair, rather than a personal affair.

The loss of the understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage has contributed to its decline. When marriage is no longer seen as a mutual total self-giving, while totally receiving of the other, selfishness takes root. When couples fail to understand how marriage mirrors the relationship of the Holy Trinity, marriages crumble and "till death do us part" gives way to a mere social contract that can be broken on a whim.

I also believe that contraception is a huge factor in the collapse of family life and marriage. Fertility is seen as a burden to be repressed, rather than the most precious gift a husband and wife can share together. This not only disrupts the total self-giving and total receiving of the other mentioned above, but also becomes a catalyst for non-marital sexual relations, further weakening the institution of marriage. Paul VI made several predictions in his encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968 concerning what worldly trends would occur with widespread use of contraceptives. Time has proven his predictions accurate. All of Christendom, Protestant and Catholic, were unified in a rejection of contraception until the 1930 Lambeth Conference, when the Anglican Communion broke ranks. It is time for us to speak with one voice on this issue again and see fertility and children as the highest of blessings rather than the most severe of curses.

Nicholas Beck
Savage, MD


 
Response from : Lynn  

December 3, 2009 11:36 PM
 

Greetings! The article was right on! What next? How to prepare for the battle within our own churches? My 23 yr. marriage was filled with every form of abuse. The last straw came when he used the car almost run me over (not the first time either) while holding our youngest child. I went to the pastors and like I expected, they , found it hard to "believe" abuse since I "only" had bruises on my legs. After all, he was an upstanding Christian man, right!? NO!! Not one man confronted him, nor was he asked to step down from the worship team. All this left myself and 5 children devastated. It has been 9 yrs. since the divorce and he continues his abuse (not physical thank God) by poisoning the children and robbing them of "self". All I can provide for the children now is "maintenance" and pray that God will open their hearts to see their Heavenly Father and STOP listening to their bi-polar,hostile earthly father.
How can this trend be turned around to the Glory of God?
In His Grip,
Lynn =)


 
Response from : Mo Ingalls  

December 4, 2009 8:12 AM
 

Great article! May I ask you to elaborate on those issues that you believe the church should willingly address with the offending spouse; and the manner of and possible results from the confrontation of the offending spouse? I, too, see an unwillingness for the church leadership to get involved and it's sad that many spouses and families fall to the disastrous effects of divorce. Bless you and yours.


 
Response from : Tom  

December 4, 2009 10:02 AM
 

You and only a few other Christian leaders are finally confronting the church on this situation of watered-down Christianity.

A friend of mine was excited about a church he attended because, he said, it was “so laid back”. So I too attended some services and it was a very large church with a lot of people, a big stage with concert lighting and stage-smoke, good singing and good sound, and the people seemed happy and entertained. But the messages from the pastor were basically good motivational speeches with sprinklings of bible verses. You came away wanting to be a better person. But it felt like it was a message that nothing should go wrong in your life; and if it does, this Christianity just doesn’t work.

My wife and I go around in discussions about this sometimes. She says “You don’t know the hearts of the people there, but God does.” To which I say, “If somebody doesn’t teach you what the bible says or to read your bible, how will you ever know what to do or not do.”

You’re right that the modern gospel has deteriorated into a message of life enhancement: “accept Jesus and you’ll have joy, happiness, and smooth sailing”. But non-believers can have joy, happiness, and smooth sailing; so what’s the difference. The difference is the gospel is the only way to escape the judgment to come. Being born again can produce positive fruits of salvation. But the Christian must do two things; 1) repent (stop sinning and turn from sin – no more “games” or playing with sin), and 2) trust in Jesus as the only one that can be your savior (like a parachute you don’t just believe in the parachute, you put it on and trust in it). The bible says put on the Lord Jesus. The moment you do that, the bible says God will forgive your sins and grant you the gift of everlasting life. And you’ll know why you trust in Jesus.


 
Response from : Mark  

December 5, 2009 11:24 AM
 

Michael what an excellent article! Thank you. I believe as others have said that this is a symptom of a larger problem in the church. That is a lack of spiritual maturity and understanding of as you said "Clearly we have failed to make disciples who know their God, his Word...". I am still married but having struggles in my marriage. The church that I left sent us to a "Christian" counselor. None of this counselors advice was scriptural but more based in psycho analysis. Col 2:8 says "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." This I think is the crux of the problem in the church. We have embraced "human tradition" materialism, positive thinking, self actualization rather than Christ, his word , and his charactor.


 
Response from : Lori Rehor  

December 5, 2009 11:45 AM
 

This article has opened my eyes to my selfishness in my relationship.Not only am I short changing God and His desire for my life, but also my guy and those in full view of it. Thanks for not holding back on the life saving impact of His Word.


 
Response from : lamar  

December 8, 2009 12:31 AM
 

This is so true we need to go back to the old land mark and do what the said the Lord commanded and ask us as Christians to do.
We need to get real, right and obey God in the fillness of his holiness and stop playing church.
God meant what he said and said what he meant. We need more peoples like you in our Homes, Streets, Jobs ,Schools,and Churchs
May God keep on using you, you are God send.
Keep on living for Jesus.


 
Response from : terry n smith  

December 17, 2009 12:40 AM
 

im pastor terry n smith and from what i se this man knows what hes talking about.


 

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