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Sunday, January 31, 2010
In re-reading yesterday’s post, I realized that it could have sounded judgmental and holier-than-thou, which was not at all my intention. What I was trying to do was to get you to consider where your frame of reference for marriage comes from and to get you to think through the implications of those influences.

We’ve all seen plenty of unhappy, wrecked and dysfunctional marriages. Truth is, because there are people involved there will never be such a thing as a perfect marriage. But just as we don’t hesitate to hold Jesus up as the standard of perfection against whom we compare our lives, we shouldn’t be intimidated by the biblical concept of the bridal paradigm, though we at times will fall far short of the ideal. My own marriage is far from a perfect implementation of the bridal paradigm, but my desire is to grow in understanding and to apply it more consistently to my marriage as we continue on our journey to surrender.

There was recently an interesting exchange across two marriage blogs around the popular suggestion that “good is the enemy of great.” The authors, both for and against this notion, have some good points, but having just spent the past few days listening to Rob Rufus talk profoundly about grace, it strikes me that grace was the missing component in this exchange.

This message of the grace of God is full of implications for marriage, but one thing in particular struck me as appropriate to this conversation on good vs. great. “The Gospel is a message of right believing not of right doing.” To me, this is why this concept of your marriage paradigm is so critically important. What you believe about your role in your marriage and what you believe about your spouse’s role, having the right framework of understanding if you will, is more important than simply striving in your own strength to make your marriage better. This is a truly freeing concept.

If you don’t begin by seeing your marriage in the right light, which in my opinion means viewing it from the perspective of the bridal paradigm, your efforts to make things better, no matter how pure your motives, can be misdirected and ineffective. While I do believe we should all desire to have great marriages, because I think that is God’s desire as well, and I believe that having a strong marriage takes effort, it’s as much a matter of believing rightly as anything else.

As with the Gospel, in marriage, it is right believing first that leads to joyful, stress-free and fruitful right doing.  It is the message of grace that permits you to delight in your marriage, even if for now it is only "pretty OK,"  yet still grow toward one that is some day "great."
Friday, January 29, 2010
In a recent effort to gather a useful list of online marriage resources, I’ve been perusing a number of marriage websites and blogs. (Watch the sidebar for a coming link list.) In the process I came across this post on the marriage section of families.com. It talks about the different influences on our views of marriage. That prompted me to consider how important it is to understand just what it is that drives our own marriage paradigm.

Take a minute and answer the question for yourself. What do you think most influences your views on marriage?
  • Movies and Television
  • Pop icons (in music, sports, movies)
  • Print Media (news, magazines)
  • Parents’ marriage
  • Other family members
  • Other Christian couples
  • Other secular marriages
  • The Bible and biblical teaching

Sadly, many of these sources, the media in particular, present an altogether negative, cynical and distinctly unbiblical view of marriage. But we as believers don’t have to buy into the prevailing cultural norms. As with so much of what Jesus teaches us about the Kingdom of God, the pursuit of a biblical marriage will find you swimming against the strong tide of lies and misconceptions streaming at you from society at large.

Indeed, what I propose as the ideal paradigm for Christian marriage, the bridal paradigm, can actually be hard to find in practice. You won’t see it portrayed in movies, books or television, in the mostly-shattered marriages of pop stars, or even in many of the marriages around you, secular and Christian alike.

Because it can be hard to get your head around something you’ve rarely or never actually seen or experienced, I encourage you to consider what it is that informs your own views and expectations of your marriage. Then ask yourself this important question: How much of what I believe about marriage actually lines up with what God says in his Word?

Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.        (Ephesians 5:22-25)

Without doubt, the question of authority in marriage is a contentious one. If someone dares to make a case for the biblical view that a husband is to be the leader of his home and the wife is to submit to him, the shouts of unfairness, sexism and outdated misogynistic oppression come streaming forth. Typically, the biblical view is summarily rejected.

Why is it so hard for us to believe that God designed marriage to operate within the context of a certain authority structure? I am convinced it is because we have the wrong paradigm; our mind-set about authority and submission is completely corrupted. Our typical picture of authority is that of the evil corporate boss: narcissistic, domineering, self-promoting and manipulative. And the common understanding of submission is equally erroneous, equated with weakness, loss, repression and injustice. Also wrong is the idea that what the Bible describes is some kind of throwback to the mid-20th century, a la Ward and June Clever.

We don’t have the right paradigm, and it's probably because what the Bible describes is something we’ve never really seen, at least not on a wide scale.

Clearly the Ephesians 5 chapter indicates that our example of authority and submission should come from the relationship between Jesus and the church. Jesus’ authority is not wielded as domination and control, but as loving leadership, servant-heartedness, and tender compassion, yet with a sense of genuine authority and unwavering strength. Our submission and surrender to him does not result in our subjugation and defeat, but in freedom, peace, blessing and ultimate fulfillment.

Our relationship with Jesus is not about our mindless conformance to a set of rules and edicts. Rather, it is about completely giving him our hearts in response to his unconditional love for us. It’s about being joined to him in deepest intimacy and living with passion for him and for his Kingdom.

This is the right paradigm. This is the bridal paradigm.  What's your paradigm?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I'm in the process of starting up two other blogs here.  I guess you could say I've caught the blogging bug.


The first one I'm working on is my other passion: worship.  I'll be blogging about worship, worship leading, new songs I discover and some favorite oldies, as well as a bit about songwriting.  If you've an interest in such things pay a visit and leave a comment.



The next one will be a photo blog. I'm not a "real" photographer, but I do love taking pictures.  My theory is that if I take enough pictures, eventually some of them will turn out.  The emphasis of this blog will be seeing the glory of God through creation.  I may throw in some other pics as well.

You'll find the links over there --->
Monday, January 25, 2010
I spoke in my previous post about the importance of “The Bridal Paradigm” to my understanding of how marriage is supposed to work. This may seem like an odd phrase if you are not familiar with the IHOP (International House of Prayer not the pancake place).

In Scripture there are many metaphors used to describe the relationship between God and his people. We, the church, are described as adopted sons in the household of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ, citizens of the Kingdom, the priesthood of all believers, the army of God, and the sheep of his flock, among others. All of these define and inform various facets of our relationship with God the Father, with his son Jesus, or with the Holy Spirit.

But it is our understanding that we are the bride of Christ that gives us unique insight into God’s design for marriage. Paul makes this clear near the end of the famous chapter on marriage.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:31-32
The implications for this are vast, and I will begin to unpack it some in coming posts. For now just appreciate how this statement hugely impacts my understanding of everything that the rest of the chapter says about marriage.

Go read the rest of Ephesians 5 with this vital connection in mind.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
So here we go.

Today I begin writing publicly on the topic of marriage for the first time, and I have to admit that I am starting this endeavor with some trepidation.

You see, I’m well aware of the heated contention in the church around the topic of authority and submission in marriage. I fully expect even some friends and family to take exception to some of what I will write in this blog.  I’m even more sure of the general disdain many unchurched people who stumble upon this blog will hold for what the Bible says on this controversial topic.

Yes, I know full well the violently negative reaction some will have to what I intend to write here.  Yet, I feel compelled to write anyway. So why?

You can start by reading the general information about me and this blog by clicking the "about" button at the top of this page, but the real story of what started me on my own Journey to Surrender requires a bit more explanation. So bear with me as I backtrack to where this all started.

My journey began several years ago, during a season of intensive personal Bible study on the topic of marriage, which for the most part was an effort to fully understand my own role as a husband from a biblical perspective. I’d always had a good, solid marriage and always believed that marriage was a sacred and holy institution, ordained by God, as traditional wedding vows state. Yet I felt God calling me to a deeper understanding.

At around the same time came a great awakening in my soul as to how God actually feels about me personally. Through a number of amazing personal encounters with God and some relevant teachings I began to realize that His love for me is so much more than the somewhat cerebral understanding I’d always had about the love of God. I discovered that God is full of intense emotion, fiery passion, and unstoppable zeal toward me. I began to see how much He delights in me, just as I am, weak and fallible though I am. I realized that God is not some mostly mad, mostly sad remote dictator, angrily and precariously dangling me by my feet over the pit of hell, waiting for me to screw up one more time before he lets go. Rather, I found out that the Bible really means it when it says, “God is love.” It’s who he is. He can’t help it. Love is his very nature. What an amazing and life-changing discovery that was for me.

Part of my understanding about the love of God came from a concept some call “the bridal paradigm,” which is nothing more than an understanding of the biblical declaration that we, as the church, are the bride of Christ. In light of this revelation, I saw the extent to which the Bible is really a love story – a love story that ends in a wedding. Jesus is the groom that God sent to the world to make a way for us to be with him forever, and you and I are the bride in this eternal love story. So we know that marriage has been on the heart of God since before there was time. And certainly when he thought up marriage, he had something specific in mind. What kind of God would he be if he didn’t?

Suddenly, as these seemingly unrelated truths all started to fit together, a startling realization began to overtake me: God, the one who created marriage in the first place, designed it to operate in a very specific way, and he gave us an incredible template of that design through the marriage of his Son, Jesus, to the church, His bride.

So there you have it: the essence of the genesis of this blog. The following quote appears in the sidebar, but bears repeating here as the summation of its theme:

  • Having our hearts awakened to the love relationship that Jesus has with us as His bride, I believe, is the key to a vibrant, passionate and intimate relationship between husband and wife.

Still not sure about all this? Well, I challenge you to keep an open mind and to stick with me as we start this journey, the one I call The Journey to Surrender.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Like it says in the header, this blog is aimed at Christian marriages. Specifically my goal is to strengthen and enrich the marriages of those who call themselves followers of Jesus.  This begs the question, "Why do I choose to focus primarily on Christian marriages?"

It's not because I wish to discriminate against or separate myself from those who do not share my faith.  It's not that I'm unwilling to engage those who disagree with me or my principles.  It's not that I think Christian marriage are somehow better than those of non-believers.  It's not that I'm against attempts to harmonize on a common societal definition of marriage.  It's just that in the context of what I believe, I just don’t think it’s possible.

If you read very far here, you’ll see that most of what I believe about marriage is based on spiritual principles that hold no relevancy to a non-believer. It would be like me, a meat lover, trying to write a cookbook that would also be useful for vegetarians. Such a tiny fraction of it would cross over that it makes little sense to even try.

That’s not to say that some of the marriage principles I espouse wouldn’t be useful to those without a common spiritual grid. Surely a few of my recipes in the cookbook scenario would be compatible with a vegetarian’s diet. But consider that the core of my understanding of marriage is this:
  • God is the designer of marriage.
  • He designed it with a certain idea in mind of how it should work.
  • He showed us that idea in the marriage of his Son, Jesus, to his bride, the church.
How to you translate that core understanding into secular terms? This concept, this bridal paradigm makes no sense to someone who sees Jesus as nothing more than an interesting historical figure. 

So I will continue to risk being exclusive, because if I take the spiritual core out of what I believe about marriage, it completely loses its power and meaning. Will I limit, as a result, the number of people who read and follow this blog? Yes. Will I occasionally offend non-Christians by appearing to exclude them or by stating beliefs that they see as narrow-minded? Yes. Is it possible that by exploring here the love relationship between Jesus and his bride that some may be drawn to know this love in a personal way? Maybe so. That would be great.

But my genuine hope is that in the process I will somehow be more effective in bringing across what I see as an urgent and important message for the bride of Christ in this hour.

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