The Gospel for Real Life

Gospel-Centered Love in Marriage

Russell Moore has written a piece talking about the recent statement that Pat Robertson said regarding a spouse with alheizmers.  I do not want to focus so much on what Robertson said as much as what Moore writes regarding marriage.  What Moore presents is an encouraging and challenging focus on the gospel and how it shapes our view of true love in marriage.

It’s easy to teach couples to put the “spark” back in their marriages, to put the “sizzle” back in their sex lives. You can still worship the self and want all that. But that’s not what love is. Love is fidelity with a cross on your back. Love is drowning in your own blood. Love is screaming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

You can read the entire article at Christianity Today’s website.


12 responses

  1. enenennx

    I have a question for the pastor. What do you make of the overarching metaphor the Christian Scriptures use to depict Jesus as bridegroom and the church as bride? This metaphor often has not been that appealing to me.

    Yahweh/Jesus of the Old Testament makes a covenant promise to the Hebrews that they will be his people, and He will be their god. It is a covenant promise that the ancient Hebrew’s believed secured Yahweh’s favor upon the Hebrew people. Consensus of biblical scholars is that the Hebrews believed Yahweh was one of many god’s and the covenant implied (i.e. the Hebrews believed) fidelity on both parties.

    Now, humans will be humans, and the Hebrews were unfaithful to this covenant (at least this is the reason given for the misfortune that so often befalls the ancient Hebrews in their scriptures).

    What does Yahweh do in return? He, in turn, becomes unfaithful to the Hebrews. He figuratively goes whoring after non-Hebrews (at least according to the christian version of this tale, the latchers-on in this story). In fact, he desires to embrace all peoples in his wedding chamber (to take the New Testament metaphor to it’s implied conclusion.) It does not matter to the covenant if this was always the eternal plan; to the Hebrews, Yahweh’s decision to no longer have the Hebrews be the sole chosen people demonstrates a betrayal by a tit-for-tat God.

    God returns unfaithfulness with unfaithfulness, a surprising act for a divinity. This is likely one of the points of the Woman at the Well pericope. Jesus/Yahweh says to the whoring women, look, you think your “sin” is something, you have had three husbands, watch what I’m about to do, I’m about to whore myself out to every group of people (thereby betraying the Hebrews/Jews) in such a grand manner that your sin will be made to seem insignificant by comparison, and will be washed away not by the water of this well, but by my magnificent largeness of my whoring (for it is glory and worship that I want).

    For Yahweh/Jesus, being eternally faithful to non-Hebrews, is Him being faithful to his mistress(es). The Jews, always upholding the sacredness of the Hebrew scriptures (to their understanding, and do you tit-for-tat display infidelity because of someone’s lack of understanding?), but often unaccepting of new revelation (who can blame them?) have experienced Yahweh/Jesus’s faithfulness in the form of being allowed to suffer the horrors of too many pogroms to count, full scale genocides, a Holocaust, and centuries of anti-Semitism, often at the hands of those who believe Yahweh’s new covenant justifies such persecution [e.g. Matthew 27:25 where all Jews in unison (really!?) say about Jesus “Let his blood be upon us and our children”, a verse not surprisingly absent form the earlier, less anti-Semitic gospel of Mark]..

    Now, most christians I’ve bumped into don’t like this reading of scripture. They don’t seem content to be a mistress in this story. So when Pat Robertson (who I generally see as not relevant, and perhaps one not best suited to comment cogently on Alzheimer’s disease) says that it is okay to divorce someone who is in the grips of a devastating disease such as Alzheimer’s as long as that ill individual’s needs are being fully and lovingly tended to. It appears as if the behavior he is suggesting is more merciful than how Yahweh/Jesus divorced the Jews who hold fast to the original vow (or their understanding of it, which was known to be their understanding of it by an omniscient deity.) I imagine you believe Jews burn eternally in hell for their (perceived by you) lack of understanding of a new expanding covenant.

    Russel Moore says Love is fidelity with a cross on your back. Is the cross of unfaithfulness to weighty even for Yahweh/Jesus to bear? Cheers.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    • Quick answer – Romans 11. God has not rejected His people. He made a covenant with them with certain intentions. He didn’t save every Hebrew – that wasn’t part of the covenant with Abraham. The covenant with Moses was a conditional covenant based upon people’s adherence to Yahweh. Therefore, we find some Hebrews who were saved while others were punished.

      Also, I don’t believe Jews suffer punishment because they’re not aware of the expanding covenant. I believe that every human being deserves to be punished because they are sinners. As a result of being sinners, they continue to reject any truth that God has given them to lead them closer to him. Apart from the Spirit’s work, everyone would reject Him. There must be new birth (John 3).

      September 19, 2011 at 5:38 pm

  2. enenennx

    “a covenant with them with certain intentions.” Sounds conditional, yes? “based upon people’s adherence to Yahweh” Sounds very conditional. Yahweh/Jesus’s faith and love are conditional, thanks for agreeing with me. Cheers.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    • What I’m saying is that if it is conditional, then God didn’t break his covenant. It’s not like marriage – which is unconditional. There are other covenants that are unconditional – like the covenant with Abraham.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm

  3. enenennx

    Your response, and the entirety of Romans 11 sounds like a mistress justifying her place in the marital bed (again, to continue the gospel chosen metaphor), yes? Rom 11:11.

    September 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    • Sorry you feel that way.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm

  4. Marriage is unconditional?

    September 19, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    • I suspect you’re referring to Jesus’ statement: “except on the grounds of fornication.” Even that is a tricky statement given the context because that exception clause isn’t found in the other two gospels. in addition, “fornication” can refer to sexual relations before marriage (although that’s not always the case). So, Jesus could be referencing the engagement period (in which even Joseph and Mary were considered husband and wife, even though they weren’t technically married). I’m not saying this is the case. However, when I also seek to weave in Ephesians 5 when husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loves the church, I see a higher level of commitment in the covenant between husband and wife. James makes it clear that even believers are adulterers against God yet God hasn’t divorced them; so, how should I emulate Christ’s love to Tracy? If she commits sexual sin, should I leave her? And, should I just be concerned about a potential “allowance” in Scripture? I can answer for me that I made a commitment to Tracy “’til death do us part.” By God’s grace, I intend to keep that even if she commits adultery.

      (I know there are many other situations and scenarios that we question and say, “Well, what about this situation?” I would have to pray and seek God’s grace in helping point people to Christ and seek His wisdom with how to deal with each individual scenario. But, I would say that I would never think divorce as a first option – or maybe even a potential. My sister was told she could divorce – and many encouraged her that way. Now, her husband has turned and they find great joy together. I’m not saying that’s always the case, but I’m saying that marriage needs to be raised to a much higher level than many tend to want to give it.)

      I know that I made an unconditional commitment to Tracy. And, I believe Christ made an unconditional commitment to me. My marriage ought to mirror that.

      September 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm

  5. I wasn’t necessarily referring just to “the exception clause,” though that may have been somewhere in the back of my mind; it’s merely a small part of my broader question, which was seeking clarification about your assertion that marriage is “unconditional.” Maybe those terms don’t seem clearly defined in this discussion.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:16 pm

  6. enenennx

    You say ” I believe Christ made an unconditional commitment to me.”

    If you choose to deny christ at this point, and, say, become a full believing Muslim, does that change his commitment of salvation to you? It seems to be that the granting of grace and salvation is by definition conditional: you get it if you believe. How is this not conditional?

    I feel I don’t understand the term “unconditional” the way you seem to be using it. Getting to the bottom of how certain christians toss about the word unconditional will be helpful here.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm

  7. enenennx

    I often wonder to what extent physical abuse is allowed to continue based on many christian counselor’s and pastor’s second-hand statements about marriage and divorce which serve to guilt many abused spouses into remaining in abusive relationships. From personal exposure to individuals in these situations I know this to be true. Put simply, such comments lead to broken bones, fractured skulls, internal bleeding, and sometimes death.

    Divorce is not a first option, I don’t think any reasonable person suggests that. But to say it is not even “maybe a potential option” in the many cases of continued spousal abuse is irresponsible advice, in my opinion.

    Of note, the level Jesus has committed in marriage to the church is pretty low, it seems to me. If you (as a member of the church) decide to not believe (or simply do not find the evidence sufficient to believe) then you are divorced from Jesus (defined as not receiving that best love and mercy he has to offer and receiving instead eternal torment in hell). Am I seeing this unreasonably?

    Is not the proper analogy the following: Can I not divorce my spouse if she stops simply believing that I am the most super awesome crackerjack of a spouse. Sure, I forgive her her flirtatious and adulterous ways; I forgive her for killing my dog; I forgive her for stealing my pudding pops; I forgive her for slothing and lying. [Granted, I allow her to suffer the effects of disease and cancer, and the loss and grief of her family dying in a tsunami, and allow her to suffer depression and metaphysical anxieties.] But hey, I forgive her for all her missteps, that’s something right? Except there is one thing I don’t forgive: her believing I’m not tops, her believing I’m not off-the-charts awesome, her believing I’m not the root cause of her being, and worthy of being glorified by her every breath and worshiped by her every move. And the default for not believing this about me is not just indifference, or her being the victim of stalking, or even the victim of a temporary physical beating. The default alternative that I have devised is eternal horrific suffering.


    September 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm

  8. Upon this comment, any other comments on this topic will be closed (since it is straying from the original post too much – see Guidelines).

    I am confident that you are correct, enenennx, with regards to a lot of bad pastoral counseling that tells women (or even men) to stay in a battered situation. My great grandfather stayed in a battered situation where his wife would throw knives at him. I would never agree to that. A close family member of mine was in a situation where “they” were at least verbally abused. There are other situations that I’m aware of that (because of the nature of the internet) I don’t feel I can type out here. That said, I do not live in a bubble when I make these comments. And, I do not believe marriage requires people to stay together in the same living quarters. Commitment is much more than simply living with an individual. The marriage commitment involves seeking what’s best for the other individual. If someone is beating their spouse, the abused spouse needs to get out of the house. People must help that person get out of the house, and get the help she needs. And, the abuser needs to be addressed appropriately as well (whether that’s jail or some other type of necessary action).

    Also, with regards to Christ’s commitment to me, Philippians 1:6 says that He’s going to be faithful to complete His work in my life. You say that my salvation is conditional on whether or not I believe. I would agree that I am not secure if my salvation is dependent on my belief, but I don’t believe that. Are you familiar with a passage like Matthew 11:25-30?

    At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    I don’t believe apart from God first taking the step towards me. So, my salvation is not conditional on my belief. I need to believe, yes. But, that is a result of the Son granting me the ability to see the Father. He does not love me because I love Him. He doesn’t say, “prove to me that you’re worth it.” No, instead He first loved me, and hence I love Him (1 Jn. 4:19).

    “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

    September 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s