Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Biblical Stand on Marriage I received the call from my personal Lord, Jesus, this morning (2nd April, 2014) while driving my twin children to school to write this article. I was never so convicted to write an article like this. I was convicted by the Spirit of Jesus to preach and teach it but I was never so convicted to write an article on it. I strongly believe that this article will serve Christ’s purpose for the readers. If you happen to read this article, it is Jesus who wants you to read it. I shall begin with a few scenarios of how Christian marriages are threatened by divorce and the causes of Christian divorce. It will be followed by my heart cry for a lot of Christians who ever divorced who are very ignorant of the consequences of it. Then, I shall share with you my strongest stand on Christian marriage. I pray that this convicts you and it empowers you to follow Jesus in His stand of marriage. I will also not hesitate to share with you my struggles and joy in my marriage. Finally, I pray that you will learn how to help yourself or others in case of any marital problem. The Scenario In my last 19 years of pastoral care ministry, I have heard and even personally counseled some Christian couples in their troubled marriages. My experience of involvement is very much dealing with both Chinese and indigenous people of Sarawak. As all these cases unveiled themselves, I just felt for many of them, they did not even know what Jesus taught about marriage. Of course, there were some who knew it and they still went ahead with the divorce. This explains why I am so convicted to preach and teach about it. These few causes of divorce are quite common and prevailing. I would even go to the extent of saying the devils capitalize them and they become the devils’ weapon to destroy the Christian marriages. Of course the couple concerned made their willful decision to divorce. The causes are: extra-marital affairs; irresponsible life partner; immaturity as a person; no sense of Christian marriage; violence; and parent-in-laws’ intervention. Consequences of Divorce as a Christian Christians out there who have opted for divorce have claimed that they had thought seriously about the consequences. As I come to know the cases and tried very hard (with prayers and counselling), they still chose to divorce based on personal grounds, not on biblical ground. They might have thought of the consequences for themselves (first and foremost), the children (if any), the family members/relatives/friends/neighbours and in most cases, that is all. Very few would take the biblical teaching (seriously) by Jesus, our Lord, whom we have to be responsible to, as His disciples. If we do not obey His teaching, how can we regard ourselves as His children, Christians, and disciples. If we say we have accepted Him as our Saviour and Lord (Master), we must allow Him to save our lives from sin (including the sin of divorce), and rule our lives. His words have the authority over our lives. Most of the times the option of divorce is very much driven by emotions of hatred, unforgiveness, jealousy, bitterness, disappointment, frustration, shame, helplessness and even depression. We let these emotions which are capitalized by the devil to rule us. Of course, at the stage of divorce, when a couple makes up their mind, they always claim, the relationship cannot be saved. I want to very much say that most of the times, they receive bad counsel from the people around them. Most of us who try to help may do it out of sympathy do not act according to the great sanctity of Christian marriage. This is where I very much want to explain that we most of the times do not see the deep consequences of divorce. 1. Jesus has taught that those whom God joined together, let no man separates it as man and woman whom God joins is one flesh (Mathew 19:6). Jesus further teaches that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery (Mathew 19:9). The only ground for Christian divorce is adultery. However, Jesus qualifies Himself by saying that even if a husband divorces his wife, if he remarries gain with another woman, he commits adultery. I believe what Jesus is advocating is this: there must not be divorce at all. Divorce is our human idea owing to our deepest sin. On the other hand, my article is also not served as a means to condemn those who are already divorced and remarried. I want to sincerely say to those of us who were divorced and remarried that Jesus loves all of you. He also comes for all the people who are divorced for the wrong reasons and forgives you all. Do ask Jesus for forgiveness and repent, never to repeat your mistakes again. 2. Christian marriage is the union of both the female and male as husband and wife, one flesh. By no means, any of the life partner discounts the one flesh that is expressed in sexual intimacy. I am afraid there is no greater intimacy than this sexual intimacy. The sharing of each others’ body is so sacred that it is done upon the approval of God in a Christian marriage. Without the holy matrimony, there should not be any sex with your boy friend or girl friend. Fornication is a sin. If this had happened, one should ask Jesus for forgiveness and repent. When two persons are united in Christian marriage, part of their soul is now attached to his or her life partner. There is no shame or guilt involved for the God ordained marriage. When a person commits adultery, he or she carries with him or her part of the life partner’s soul and be united with another soul. Part of the soul of the opposite sex now is again attached to him or her. For example, when a married person who commits adultery, when having sex with the adulterer, he or she could be thinking of his wife or her husband. Why? Because each body is attached with part of the soul of the life partner. He or she will never enjoy sex in the fullest as intended by God because of our sin. 3. The deep consequence of divorce is that the children will very much suffer the consequence. Children will grow up without a good model of how to be a good husband and a good wife; and also they would be short of a parenting model. That is children learn how to do parenting from their own parents. All young children who experience parental divorce would also feel insecure and not loved as much as children with both parents around, everything being equal. In fact, that insecurity can be avoided if we obey Jesus’ teaching on marriage. 4. Parents who are divorced would leave behind a bad legacy for their children. Can you imagine, your children, grand-children and great-grand-children would look back and they have to face the fact that their ancestors are divorced? The devil can use it to cause insecurity and bring about more divorces in the family. As if, a curse can run in the family. My Struggles and Joy in Marriage There are always tensions in my marriage. There is the tension of not spending enough time and spending enough with my wife and four children. I see that when my wife starts to complain I have not given her and children enough time, I need to adjust my time between ministry and family. There is the tension between setting good example and bad example in pastoral care. I always learn from my mistakes and ask Jesus for forgiveness so that I can be a better pastor, father and a husband. When I do well as a father or a husband, I will give testimony about it. There is tension between practicing what I preach and not practicing it. I pray for opportunities to practice what I preach and I also admit my own failures and empower my sheep to learn from my mistakes. I take all these tensions positively because I know that Jesus does not waste any of them. He uses tensions to teach me to be humble to obey Him. They teach me to do reflection and strike a balance in life. There are always disagreements in my marriage. I do not believe that there is any couple under the sun where they do not disagree. Most do not share because they feel so ashamed of it. I am not ashamed to share because I possess my Christian identity. I am much more concerned about how Jesus views me in the bible than how people view me and my marriage. Whatever sharing I put forward regarding my marriage in this article is meant to illustrate and how do I deal with my struggles. I pray that they will not be misunderstood as I have ‘issues’ in my marriage. In the process of sharing, I pray you get the feeling from me that we all have struggles in marriage and we need to work on each of them and emerge victoriously. The followings are a few disagreements which we have been trying to resolve. A few disagreements are: whether to allow our children to suffer the consequences of their bad decision; our children to go overseas to study or not; and to buy phone for our 3 young children or not. When there are deep disagreements like these, I always turn to Jesus for help and ask Him to intervene. I have no immediate solutions after I pray but at least, I myself keep calm and not be angry. I give myself more time for both sides to think more and be patient. In my experience, at the end of the day, there are times my wife realizes my stand and she agrees with my point, and vice-versa. We do not allow our disagreements to disturb our relationship and affect our ministry. When we have conflict of ideas and even convictions, we do not throw out cursing words, words of threats, words of condemnation and words that degrade. Though we may say things that express our unhappiness and sometimes, we may show our anger, we are able to control our anger. The older we grow, praise the Lord, the faster we are reconciled in any conflict. We do not allow the devil to capitalize on our anger and attacks us. As we grow older (I am 48 and my wife is 50), we are not perfect in our marriage relationship, but we become more understanding; forgiving; grateful; and loving towards one another. I can see that God use our tensions, disagreements and even conflicts to humble us and causes us to turn to Him and allow Him to protect us in our marriage. When we counsel troubled Christian couples, we always share how we go through our marriage problems and challenges. We send a strong message that says even a pastor and his wife face marriage problems and all of them can be overcome, if not, at least, we can put the problems under control. One of the things I always do when I have negative thoughts about my wife is I will always think of the good things she has done for me and my family. I realize that it helps me a lot. For example, I always think of how she untiringly cooks 3 meals for us almost every day without fail. This positive thought is so powerful that it always cancels my negative thought of her. I may even forget about my negative thought of her. In this way, I experience joy in my marriage. I also experience joy when in the midst of a serious disagreement and after we go to Jesus in prayer and much communication and clarification and waiting upon God’s timing, we come to an agreement. This agreement makes me feel that we are united in this issue and we know we can move on together and we are powerful for Jesus. For example, now, as we have come to an agreement about children to go overseas or not, we experience much peace. This peace yields great joy in our marriage. My Prayer In the event that you yourself is challenged by your own marital problem, do hold on to the foundation of marriage set by Jesus. Once you let go of that foundation, you start to entertain divorce. The worst question you ask in any marital problem is not how much you have suffered. No doubt you have suffered and we suffered in our marriages because we are sinful in our ways. We have not dealt with those sins and we allow them to accumulate to a point until we feel so hopeless and helpless to overcome our problems. In order to deal with those piles of problems, you need to work from that foundation of marriage. From there, deal with each root problem objectively. Admit the root cause of it and do not accuse the other side as far as possible. As far as possible admit your own problem and ask God for forgiveness and ask your partner for forgiveness. Pray hard for both sides to be willing to communicate and be honest about the root problems. I am of the strongest opinion that once you have the initial stage of conflict, you need to settle the conflict as early as possible. If you cannot settle it, get someone who is matured and committed to Jesus. Your pastor is a good choice. You may go for some marital counselling. The earlier you deal with your marriage problem the better chance of reconciliation. The marriage enrichment seminar of different kinds out there is good. The one conducted in Mandarin by SCAC Board of Wellness is excellent. When you have a marital problem, do not go the lawyers for solution as they are not really trained to help you to reconcile with your life partner. Christian lawyers out there, when people approach you for divorce proceeding, by all means encourage them to seek counselling or you try all ways and means to help them to see the hope in the marriage. You are pleasing Jesus by doing so. Remember going for divorce is going against Jesus. How dare you do that? Can you stand His wrath on you for your disobedience. Most of us who divorced did not think about this and we suffered the wrath of God. Do we need to face it or not? I pray that you have caught a certain principle of Christian marriage or you understand a little more about Christian marriage and you will not choose divorce as a solution if your marriage is under threat now. I pray that Jesus protects your marriage and grants you continuous joy to set a good example for the brothers and sisters around you and you glorify Him. By all means, allow your marriage to be a testimony to both the Christians and non-Christians out there. May your marriage become the gospel to other peoples’ marriage! It means others are attracted to come to Jesus and be saved and become His disciples because your marriage has taught them the powerful gospel. Leave a legacy of godly marriage for your children, grand-children and great grand-children. A Faithful Disciple of Jesus, Pastor Law Hui Seng (Easter, 20th April, 2014) Posted By Teresa Han