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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Christian Married Love: Continuing Harmony

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

The Many Facets of Christian Married Love - Part VI
Continuing Harmony

To have continuing harmony within the married relationship, it is first imperative to understand the differences between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16–26). The works or deeds of the flesh are: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these “ (Galations 5:19–21 NASU). Many of these expressions of the flesh, (i.e., human natural life expressing the self centered sinful nature) obviously need to be avoided as much as possible, if not entirely. These need to be treated as rattle snakes in the jungle of our culture. They are destructive to spiritual life and especially to marriage.

The expressions of the flesh that are inadequately understood and often destroy Christian marriages, compatibility, and spiritual life are impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying. These are all signs of exalting one’s self life at the expense of other persons, and ultimately of God. Both the husband and his wife must address with these issues first before God, and then in the arena of their relationship.

In order to do this, one of the essential agreements between husband and wife is to continually apply the scriptural principle found in James 1:30: “…be swift to hear , slow to speak, slow to wrath,” (James 1:20) Each must be more oriented to listening than to speaking. What the other person has to say often is a frustration or anxiety which can only be relieved if fully talked out. Further, if the listener is “slow to speak” that one can understand what is truly being communicated. Is it an emotional reaction or is it problem that needs to be addressed? Thereby the listener and the speaker may together recognize the problems, needs and solutions. Each needs to remember and apply the scriptural principle “… the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). To resist the temptation of a fleshly reaction, use the nearly magic reply to an argumentative assault: “Okay, let me think about it!” This enables a time of cooling down of escalated emotions giving a period of distance for all to assess and pray through the situation.

Anger can be viewed and defined as a reaction to protect personal rights, or retaking rights that were once yielded to God. When one is tempted to make an angry outburst, that one should stop and think: “What perceived personal right is making me this way, is it a need or a preference, am I being self willed in this, and can I afford the consequences?” My father used to frequently remind me that: before I speak, I govern my words, but after I speak they governs me! In these circumstances, each partner needs to reaffirm that God will supply their essential needs, so each must again yield this to God. Words can wound or bless, so pray to “…be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

The second way to guard the harmony of a marriage is with intelligent and frequent expressions of love and affection. God’s love is intelligent in that it meets real needs and is timely, but must also be received with discernment and patience. This applies to all areas of married love, but especially to sexual expression. Marital sexual love is more that what is done in bed. Fond touches, fondling, kisses and even smiles of appreciation are acts of marital sexual love. These should never be interpreted simply as foreplay. Couples must remember that demands for intercourse can destroy love and the marriage. Neither is there an advantage to give it as a means of manipulation. The physical expression and experience of married love only finds enhancement when frequent small expressions are given and accepted in mutual appreciation. (Meditate on 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 for further consideration.)

A third facet of married love is agreement on God’s overall purposes, his specific calling (work and/or mission), and the temporal projects to which those lead. This adds richness and avoids feelings of boredom, because marriages that are simply living together can become routine and what is routine becomes empty of meaning. God’s ongoing purpose for Christian marriage is to model the relationship of Christ and those who trust in Him as their Lord and Savior---the body of believers known as the Church. This leads to a question that each couple must ask themselves regularly: How does that play out in practical day to day living together?

Related reading:  Part I: Christian Marriage; Part II: Married Love; Part III: The Many Facets Of Christian Married Love; Part IV: Living in Harmony; Part V: Loving for a Lifetime

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