“Show me the Spiritual Instructions for marriage.” Chase Genre Torn
Now it is no secret to my readers and those that follow me, that I’m not married. In fact, there is a running joke within our ministry, of a world-wide search currently underway to correct this supposed imbalance in the “Force”, to take me wife-hunting and restore order to the cosmos.
One of my friends, who is the self-appointed leader of the search effort, asked me to compile a top 10 list of qualities I’m looking for in a partner. It was all in good fun, so I compiled the following humorous list for her.
- Female – You’d think this was obvious!
- Breathing – A necessary evil.
- Not older than 50 years old (I had to disqualify her grandmother), not younger than 20 years old.
- Never married or widowed – I’d rather not deal with crazy ex husbands.
- Prefer no kids, or not more than 1 or 2.
- No psychotic jealousy.
- Not shorter than 5 ft, otherwise, the sky’s the limit.
- No Gold Diggers that require the latest and greatest of everything, nor needs to be seen by everyone to feel appreciated.
- Not heavier than I am, weight-wise.
- Has a US Passport – I want my children to have access to as much visa-free travel as possible.
Now, while the list was part of the joke, I was immediately blasted from my friend: “Ok, here is the cold, hard truth. You are shallow!!! All of these requirements are worldly, physical, or soulish. There is nothing of spiritual significance here!”
This began our lengthy discussion into Christian relationships and Gnosticism.
The predominant view in Christianity when it comes to marriage and relationships is to emphasize the spiritual. We want a partner who loves God more than anything. That person must be dedicated to the daily scripture reading, given to much prayer and fasting, and you get double-brownie points if the person is involved in Ministry.
Of course, none of that is biblical, but when most of us hear these things, we cheer and applaud. Unfortunately, there is a something so much deeper being said in these things that actually lead to problems in a marriage. Marriage is, by design, mostly a physical and soulish sacrament. It is not that the spiritual is not important, but the fact is most of the attention, in day to day living together, is going to be on the physical and soulish things.
While the Church has created volumes of spiritual instructions for marriage, the Bible appears to address the physical and soulish needs more so than the spiritual. The instructions of Paul, regarding giving one’s self to the solo spiritual pursuits in marriage, is to be done with consent of one’s partner, for a short time.
1 Corinthians 7:5 (NLT) Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Most Christians do not divorce over doctrinal or spiritual issues, rather the biggest reason for divorce is said to be of neglect and feelings of separation. Where a God of union is used as an excuse for separation to do more important spiritual things, rather than waste time taking out the garbage. This is Gnosticism, where we value the spiritual things over the natural things.
To illustrate my point to my friend, I asked her, if her husband came to her and expressed that he felt they were growing apart, what would she do? Her first response was to say that she would try to get him to see things from God’s perspective. I then went on to explain, you’re assuming that firstly that what your husband said isn’t true, and secondly you’re denying the possibility that God is the one who actually sent him to tell you that you are drifting apart.
When I asked her the question again, she said she would listen and talk to him and do what was necessary to reconnect with her husband. That was the answer she should have started with. All too often, in Christian marriages, and even in Christian dating, we go headlong into the former, and the later is just an afterthought.
I didn’t include any spiritual things in my list, because I knew that was a very small part of what actually makes a marriage work. I was purposely drawing my attention to the most neglected areas of Christian marriage advice, the other person!