In my previous post I discussed one common scenario of how and why married couples grow apart. My recommendations for both prevention of and counseling point to at least three realities the couple must reckon with:
- A man and woman / husband and wife must not seek to find their “completion” through their spouse. Two fallen human beings do not possess the substance to complete another person, let alone themselves.
- When parents allow their children to be the center of family life, the infrastructure of the family will not be sufficient to withstand the storms of life that will inevitably come. A child-centered home will only be as mature and healthy as the children at the center of it.
- The family itself cannot be the greatest purpose that family members live for. In an emotionally unhealthy family, each individual takes on dysfunctional “roles” that serve to sustain the shame-based family system. Conversely, in an emotionally healthy family, the family system exists to train up each individual to ultimately be released into the world to fulfill the purpose God uniquely prepared for them.
This Seems So Common, How Can It Not Be Right?
The three points I’ve made above seem so common in society today that it’s difficult to imagine they might not be healthy or right. Didn’t we get married to fulfill each other’s needs? Aren’t the kids the most important part of our life? Isn’t the family the most important thing of all?
Although the American Dream would say that all three of these points are what life in the greatest nation ever is to look like, three centuries of life in that culture have proven quite the opposite. The loss of the individual for the sake of the whole has been not only proven ineffective, but emotionally and spiritually toxic as well.
In my book, Addition By Subtraction – God Turns Broken Pieces Into Masterpieces – I present in great detail how American culture has in many ways served only to create an environment of pretentiousness, self-righteousness, and fear. I encourage you to take time to read and ponder on what I’ve presented.
So, What Do We Do About It?
In scripture, Jesus outlines clearly the purpose for which we exist, whether as individuals, married couples, families, or even larger social systems. This is found in Mark 12:28-31 NIV.
The Greatest Commandment
“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
The Bible Gives Us Structure to Live By
Jesus clearly provided us the outline for how to live our lives in society. When individuals, couples, and families become obedient to this pattern, what ensues are individuals who are emotionally and spiritually healthy, marriages that are built on Biblical foundations, and families that do life God’s way.
HEART (spiritually healthy) — Loving God with all of my heart is achieved through personal worship and growing intimacy with Him. This is the foundation of all human life. In this relationship, we find identity, meaning, purpose, conviction, instruction, and so much more.
SOUL (emotionally healthy) — Opening our heart to a fellow Christ follower allows us to be vulnerable without the risk of rejection. In this relationship, we are able to verbalized to another human being the nature of what God is revealing to us in our time alone with Him, which brings healing and transparency to our soul.
MIND (developmentally healthy) — God desires that we be life-long learners, growing and developing in all areas of life. When we allow ourselves to become stagnant and complacent, we are of little use for the kingdom, and we make ourselves susceptible to the enemy’s attacks.
STRENGTH (physically healthy) — Although God does desire for us to be physically healthy, treating our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit, this part of Jesus’ command goes much further than just that. In this way, we are called to use our physical abilities and resources to make a difference for Christ in the physical world, beginning with our own family.
NEIGHBOR (relationally healthy) — God’s great commission instructs us to let our lives go into all places, making Christ followers as we go. As we grown in our relationship with Jesus, presenting Jesus to others becomes merely an outflow of who we are, rather than a plan or presentation we use to try to compel someone toward Jesus.
I find that many Christians are fairly committed to the mind, strength, and neighbor portion of Jesus’ commandment. But I believe that if the heart and soul elements aren’t part of our spiritual disciplines, our service to others can become more of a Christian duty than a passion that flows out of our heart.
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