Sunday, October 31, 2010

What Did You Expect? Courtship, Part 1

As the wedding day drew nearer, my dad gave me two pieces of advice:
1. Marriage is the union of two selfish people who must learn to put one another ahead of themselves.
2. Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition; it's 100-100 proposition. Don't meet him halfway. Give him everything.

I love my dad. He's awesome. And his wise counsel has come back to me time and again as I have attempted to be a covenant keeper. He took his job seriously as protector and priest of his home. And I get to live the legacy of that. But one thing is for sure. Judging by the state of marriage among those who call themselves the Church, not every dad is having this conversation with his daughter or his son.

The requirements of marriage are fairly straightforward. They are propositional but not the way some claim them to be. Let's unpack those:
"Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church." Propositional? Yes and no.
Biblical Proposition: IF you are a follower of Christ, THEN you will love your wife as Christ loved the Church.
Unbiblical Proposition:IF your wife refrains from being a shrew, THEN you love her as Christ loved the Church.

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord." Propositional? Yes and no:
Biblical Proposition: IF you are a follower of Christ, THEN you will submit to your husband as to the Lord.
Unbiblical Proposition: IF your husband refrains from being a pinhead, THEN you will submit to your husband as to the Lord.

My dad was right. Marriage is the union of two selfish people. And it makes us think that we can barter before we behave. "I'll honor him IF he loves me. But there's no reason for me to submit to him if he's a rotten husband." Yes there is. You honor him because you covenanted with him, pinhead or not. "I'll love her when she becomes loveable." No. You love her because you told God you would, even (yea, especially) on those days when she's a shrew.

And he will be a pinhead.
And she will be a shrew.
More than you like.
And that's not a reason to be a covenant breaker.

In the words of Paul David Tripp in his book of the same name, what did you expect??? You are married to a sinner saved by grace whose default setting is "sinner."

Did you really think he'd always make wise decisions? always remember your birthday? always affirm your fears? never say unkind things to you? never hurt your feelings? never think of himself first?
Did you really think she'd always be your best cheerleader? always think you were brilliant? always affirm your ego? never laugh at you? never have a headache? never think of herself first?


This kind of self-absorbed thinking has got to stop in the Church. We have a trail of broken covenants scattered behind us. We have distorted, unbiblical expectations regarding this covenant called marriage. But we have a responsibility to the children in our stewardship to help set their expectations correctly.

It is a covenant, not a contract.
Your spouse will let you down.
You will let your spouse down.
When you say, "I do," you forfeit the right to say, "I quit."

And one of the first ways we can steer our children in the right direction is by encouraging and teaching courtship in our homes.

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