Thursday, July 7, 2011

Marriage From Heaven and Marriage From Hell

How do married people make choices? There are a few ways. One is what our Marriage Encounter called being a married single. That is basically assuming your wife thinks like you. So you do as you would do if you were single. When your wife questions it you explain what you were thinking. That should be enough. After all, you were not trying to hurt her.

A second approach is to try very hard to avoid offending your wife. You walk on egg shells because you never know exactly what will offend. You have some patterns of behavior that seem to work well but you are often surprised at the things that do cause problems.

A third way to do it is to get inside the mind of you wife as much as you can. You start to know how she thinks. Almost like you are becoming one flesh. Then you start to know when you have to be really careful and when you can do as you want because you know how she is going to react. Sure there are still times you get it all wrong but those times get fewer and fewer. When it does happen you talk and learn even more about each other.

The way we approach God can be similar. The married single is like the Christian atheist. Someone who become Christian but basically makes choices the way they would if they were not. They assume God thinks like they think. Since they are not trying to offend God they assume He will forgive any missteps they make.

People like this tend not to believe in hell but you wonder if they will notice when they are wrong.  They have such a small view of God it might just be compatible with hell. They certainly have shown no appetite for being close to the real God. The fountain of all holiness. The one who's ways are so much higher than ours.

The other extreme is the conservative Christian. They are so afraid of offending God they are afraid to have any fun. Long standing patterns of behavior are deemed safe but they prefer not to take risks. When things go bad they are often questioning how they offended God. They can only guess.

These people make me sad because the seem to sincerely want to please God. They are willing to sacrifice many personal pleasures to do it. They just don't know how. Their faith gives them guilt rather than power. They get no joy or life from their religion. They know that is not what should be but the only alternative they see is the functional atheism of liberal Christians. They are sure that isn't right either. So on they go. Many will persevere and be saved but it is a hard way to live.

Then there is the one flesh group. Do they have to be Catholic. It sure helps. Catholics are supposed to learn to think with the church. Some protestants might do that even though it is not really consistent with protestantism. But Catholics can grab the fullness of truth with great confidence. They can become one in flesh with Jesus because they become part of the body of Christ. That is the visible church. They are sacramentally joined to Him.

The one flesh method is more work but in the end if both parties are willing to put in the effort there is no comparing the results. Oddly enough, many Christians think it is God who has failed to communicate well in the relationship. They have questions on issues on which Christians differ. They get stuck. But God always holds up his end of the covenant. He does still speak clearly or infallibly. Learning to listen is not easy. Relationships are always harder than you think they should be. But just like with marriage, body language is important. If you look carefully at the body of Christ, that is the church, discerning the heart of Christ becomes way easier.

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