- Be-Attitudes of Marriage
When Jesus sat down for his amazing Sermon on the Mount, he began by sharing nine simple truths: Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those that mourn, blessed are the meek, etc… We call them the “beatitudes”. In his new book, Mark Gungor shares his “NINE BE-ATTITUDES” for a successful marriage. Nine ways for you to “be” in order for you to experience the kind of marriage God intends for you to have. Click here to order.
- Feel Like Having Sex?
I just received yet another email from someone telling me the woes of living with a less-than-satisfying sex life. This time it was a woman explaining that her husband doesn’t want to have sex with her very often. She initiates. He turns her down.
This scenario is played out countless times everyday in marriages. It’s one of the great stand-offs in married life. Typically, one spouse wants to have sex more than the other. Sometimes, the husbands write to me that the woman isn’t so interested. After all, that is the stereotype. Men who want to have sex all the time and it’s the women who turn them down. (Truth be told, in my ministry, I hear much more from women who say that it’s the guys who aren’t interested—and the pervasiveness of pornography is a big reason for this.)
- Attention all Worship Leaders, Musicians and Singers!
Music in Worship by Mark Gungor
Allow me to begin by saying that I am a musician. I have played music since I was 13 years old. I have played around the world in Christian bands and worship services for over 30 years. I was part of one of the first Christian rock bands in the 70’s. I know what it means to play in church services, both traditional and contemporary. I have written and produced music for radio and television for almost 20 years. I was even the producer of a recording used in the sound track of the hit movie The Bucket List.
So let it be clear: I am not against music or musicians when it comes to the Christian experience. Quite the contrary; music can be a powerful part of the worship experience. But, I believe we have some big problems when it comes to music in many churches today.
- God Wants to Kill You
It is amazing how often Jesus spoke of our need to die to our selfish nature: “Pick up your cross . . . “ “Lay down your life . . . “ “If you lose your life for my sake, you’ll find it . . . “ He even gave us a simple parable about it: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Jesus taught that the one way we could guarantee we would be alone is to refuse to die to our selfish nature, but if we willingly set selfishness aside, we would experience new life.
- Commodity Marriages
In the last post, I spoke about living in a “throwaway” world and suggested that if we are not careful, we can end up thinking that way about our marriages too. We live in a culture that is very consumer based and the consumerist mind-set runs deep. Many people build their identities around the stuff they have…or it may be more apt to say, by what has them. If I run to the store to buy some simple dish soap, I can buy the inexpensive brand that sports the name “Dish Soap” on the front of the bottle. But just looking at the label Dish Soap makes me feel flat, empty, nondescript. So for some reason, I can’t settle for that. As a consumer, what I buy defines who I am, and I have no idea who I am if I buy something labeled “Dish Soap.” I need something more.
Then I see it! Right next to the unsophisticated Dish Soap is a product called “Dawn.” My heart lights up—now we’re talking. Who wants to wash their dishes with Dish Soap when you can wash them with morning-fresh, bright sunshine? Presumably with Dawn, a person can do the dishes and dispel the darkness in life at the same time.
- Cloth Diaper Marriages
When my kids were babies, we had cloth diapers. Disposable diapers were available at the time; we just couldn’t afford them. No, we did not indulge in those fancy throwaway diapers; we had the good ol’mess’em and clean’em later diapers. You put them in a diaper pail, a delightful little plastic container where a lovely, pungent brew of baby poopies would slowly stew until you got around to washing them so they could be reused. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I do not miss cloth diapers. God bless the person who invented the disposable diaper! (I know, I know, they are bad for the environment—landfills and all that—but cloth diapers were bad for the environment where I lived, so I welcomed the invention of throwaway diapers.) But I do have a problem with throwaway marriages—relationships that are tossed aside because they get some “poo” in them.
- Men Don’t Like to Work on Relationships
When a man falls in love with a woman, his thoughts go something like this: I love her, she’s great—in fact, she is perfect. I love her just the way she is and I hope she never changes. It was this thinking that inspired Billy Joel to write the song “I Love You Just the Way You Are.” On the other hand, when a woman falls in love with a man, her thoughts are generally something like this: I love him, he’s great, but he really needs some work. This is a disaster in the making. Divergent expectations always lead to conflict.
At the beginning of every relationship, there is a high level of hope and desire that causes it to run on autopilot. But over time hope and desire begin to erode when disappointment enters.
There are dozens of ways we can disappoint one another in a relationship as close and intimate as marriage. From I thought it would be different to actual differences in upbringing, values, habits about money, personality, motivation, work ethic, and sex drives, we have the makings of marriage wars. Sometimes people come across offensively because they are reacting to pain from the hurts that they have experienced in the past, and they are just trying to protect themselves from being injured again. Wounded animals do not act predictably when you approach them; neither do emotionally wounded humans.
- Idol of Happiness – Part 2
Last time we began looking at the Idol of Happiness in Part 1. I discussed how often people won’t do the right things in life simply because those things don’t make them happy. It’s common in our culture for believers to mistakenly believe the notion that “God doesn’t want me to be unhappy.” This is especially true in marriage. For many Christians, marriage has some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card attached to it. They seem to think the radical, difficult parts of Christianity (to love, to serve, to forgive, or to sacrifice, pertain only to those outside of one’s marriage. Loving, suffering, turning the other cheek, forgiving are all wonderful Christian concepts, but one shouldn’t have to do that in our own marriage. That would be way too much work.
“But stay in an unhappy marriage!?” you protest. I’ve had people try to reason and argue with me about why they were bailing on their wives or husbands and justify it one way or the other based on the presupposition that God would not want them to suffer. “Come on,” they’ve said to me incredulously. “Are you actually saying God would ask someone to stick in a marriage that makes them unhappy?’
- Idol of Happiness – Part 1
Many Christians have turned happiness into an idol. I’m not suggesting God is against us being happy. The Scriptures say, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.” So when does happiness become an idol? It happens when we exalt our concern to be happy above the very concerns of God himself. We live in a culture that says, “Above all else be happy; do what you want to do; satisfy yourself; look out for number one; do your own thing.” The Bible teaches that the husband should love his wife. We reason, No problem—as long as it doesn’t interfere with my golf game, my fishing time, or my hunting trip. Because I need that. After all, God wants me to be happy, right?
- The Divorce Myth Part 2
Last time I began talking about the great myth that far too many couples believe when it comes to divorce. Here is the link to Part 1, if you missed it.
Many people start out thinking that married life will be complete, total, unending bliss. That the person they married will forever make them happy…after all, isn’t that what the “happily ever after” is all about? It doesn’t take long to figure out that only in fairy tales…and chick flicks… does that concept exist.
Marriage was a God-idea in the beginning. The Genesis narrative reads, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” At first a glance, this appears to be a loss: two now equals one. Perhaps it is this view that causes many men to be hesitant toward marriage. After all, from a logical numbers perspective, if two becomes one, that usually means one dies; and that is not far from the truth. The two must die to their own selfishness in order to become a stronger one, and that can be a scary prospect. But the wonderful potential of marriage is that the one actually ends up being greater than the sum of its parts. Marriage was designed by God to make the human experience more.
- The Divorce Myth Part 1
There is a great joy to the early struggles of marriage. When people who “make it” talk about the early days of their marriage, they admit it was bittersweet but they say the sweet ended up outweighing the bitter. Researchers agree. In a recent study conducted by a team of leading family scholars headed by University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite, researchers found that “two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stayed married reported that their marriages were happy five years later. In addition, the most unhappy in their marriages reported the most dramatic turnarounds: Among those who rated their marriages as very unhappy, almost eight out of ten who avoided divorce were happily married five years later.
The study went on to say that there is a kind of “divorce assumption” in America. People assume that they will either stay in a bad marriage and continue to be miserable or get a divorce and become happier. But the social science data challenge that assumption. Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is no evidence that unhappily married people who divorced were any happier that unhappily married people who stayed married! In no way does divorce reduce symptoms of depression, raise self-esteem, increase one’s sense of mastery, or generally improve any of the twelve separate measures of psychological well-being. Even the unhappy spouses who divorced and remarried generally were no happier than the unhappy ones who stayed married. In fact, the evidence seems to suggest that unhappy people are unhappy, period—married or not.