Get Off the Island!

There is a very troubling phenomenon in churches today and it’s having a terrible and very destructive effect on marriages. Far too many couples are living on their own “islands” and are actually living a lie. Millions of Christians husbands and wives are experiencing struggles and trials in their marriages, yet they are going through life in isolation, refusing to tell anyone or to bring their pastor, their friends, or family into it. They come to church and go about their business acting like everything is just hunky-dory, when the reality is, they are miserable and going through hell. What on earth makes people think that they can just be dishonest and lie and pretend that nothing is wrong? They are deceiving others and they are lying—that is sin!  It sounds harsh, but it’s true!

Why are so many people lying when church community and family surround them? These are the people that we should go to, ask questions of, talk things out with, and get wisdom from so we can effectively handle the challenges of life. But instead, we end up being on an island. It’s just the two of us and all the stuff we’re dealing with.  We are playing Survivor and trying to see who gets voted off and who stays on the island—the problem is pretty soon we destroy our marriage in the process!

Are people too embarrassed to share their issues? Are they too prideful to get help? Everyone has issues and we all argue about stuff—sometimes over the stupidest things! (Even my wife and do it!)  It’s only in bringing it out into the open and letting someone else in on your “stuff” that we can get a perspective of the situation, bring attention to what’s going on, and get help where it is needed. Lots of problems and issues are easily solved with a third party helping, but most often people think they can just tough it out and go it alone. They don’t get help and things don’t get better.

The reality is, we aren’t supposed to do it alone. We need to be in community; yet, something in the mentality of so many people tells them that no one should know their business. No one should know that they argue and scream and fight.  So no one knows that he is hitting her or shoving her around. No one knows that there is sexual infidelity or sexual addiction issues. No one knows they haven’t had sex or slept in the same room for two or three years. They are struggling miserably, it’s a secret and nobody knows. This is absurd!  Letting these kinds of situations go on and on is ridiculous. You have to get counsel; you must seek out help and advice to get these issues out in the light where they can be dealt with. And do not be so foolish as to let years and years go by before you do something about these things!

You need to deal with this stuff right away, don’t wait! If you are having an issue that you just can’t seem to solve or deal with on your own, don’t let years go by in misery while your marriage goes down the tubes because of it. Let me give you an analogy that is easy to understand. My wife, Debbie, had skin cancer. Now, she went and had it taken care of immediately and even though they said it was terrible and the prognosis was doom and gloom, praise God it all came out perfectly fine. Now, what if she had waited on this? What if she saw a problem and just thought, “It’s nothing. If I ignore it, it will just go away. It will be fine”? But then it’s not fine and two years down the road she would end up at the doctor and there would be tumors all over! Now it’s a desperate situation and way worse than if she had just taken care of it in the first place. The doctors would wonder why on earth she didn’t come in sooner for help!  That is exactly what millions of people are doing in their marriages.

They wait and wait and wait, thinking that somehow by the sprinkling of fairy dust, or just the right prayer, that the issues are going to magically disappear. Or because so many couples don’t want to deal with the conflict, they think if they just ignore it, it’ll go away. They keep putting the problems on the shelf and won’t don’t deal with them until the shelf gets so heavy it collapses. This is not working and is destroying marriages.

God did not create us to be islands on our own. He put us in relationships, in community, in family for a reason. When you are having trouble, seek out the guidance and support of others. Find a stable couple that you know is happily married or has weathered the storms—maybe similar to the ones that you are facing—and get counsel.

This brings me back to the whole issue of being honest. If you and your spouse have struggled be it with infidelity, stepfamily issues, health issues, work issues, pornography—whatever it is—and have overcome the trouble, you can be a great asset to other couples! But you have to be honest and you say, “Look, we aren’t perfect! We’ve been to hell and back, but by the grace of God, have survived!”  If you and your spouse are currently struggling with any issues, you have to be honest and say, “Look, we aren’t perfect! We’re in hell! We need help!” Sadly, herein lies the rub.

Christianity is so often just a fake, plastic world that millions of people live in—not being real, not being honest—pretending that everything is “just fine!” They give everyone around them the impression that they are “just great!” It’s baloney!  The bible says we should confess our faults one to another. We need to shine the light on this stuff, but we’re not doing it. We hide and pretend that everything is wonderful and have to keep up this false front, where no one can know what is really going on. It’s just between you, the devil and the dark and it keeps getting worse and worse. It’s exactly what the enemy wants. If it all stays in the dark, it can grow and fester and consume and destroy you. Once you are honest, confess it and the light of truth shines on it, then and only then can it be fixed and healed.

Christians need to tear down this artificial standard, throw out this ridiculous and destructive game that we play showing off our Sunday best all the time. It’s time to get real with who we are, and with what’s going on. You need to find people who can work through the challenges and questions you have.

People ask me questions all the time about this or that particular situation. How do I solve such and such?  What do I do with this circumstance?  I can give them general guidance but usually tell them they need to be connecting with other mentor couples—whether that is relatives or their church family—to help figure this stuff out. When your spouse is doing something outrageous or even something that you find questionable or objectionable, you should go to your friends and family who know you guys! Sometimes you will need to go to your pastor, but why not run it past the others in your life? After all, the church is supposed to be the priesthood of believers where we are ministers to each other.

A wife should be able to go to her husband’s friends and ask them—“Hey, guys, let me ask you a question. My husband, Bob, is spending five hours a week in a chat room on the Internet with his former girlfriend. What do you think of that?” She needs to feel safe enough to go to a support structure and get help. Then these guys need to sit Bob down and have a come-to-Jesus-meeting with the dude. They need to tell him to knock it off!

But people won’t do that. Instead they sit there in misery, letting the secrecy destroy their marriage and family.  Here is another example: Say Suzy hasn’t had sex with her husband for five months. She just doesn’t feel like it and comes up with excuses. They’ve argued repeatedly, gotten nowhere, and the dude is climbing the walls. Many couples will wait and let this continue for years! Don’t do that! As difficult as this seems, they need to sit down with someone in their support structure and deal with this. Often times just having a third party there helps to diffuse the entire situation—especially when it is full of pain and so emotionally charged to the point that you end up screaming and yelling and fighting with each other. With another person or couple present, you generally behave better and have a much more calm and reasonable discussion, not to mention they will be a source of wisdom and insight for you!

Churches are meant to be a place where we can walk out our faith, encourage one another, give guidance and help. Church doesn’t exist to be the social club where you make yourself look good!  If you are yelling at your husband all the way from home to the church parking lot, ready to strangle him and then when you step through the front door of the building, put the phony smile on your face and masquerade like all is well, you are a fraud. You are living a lie. Do not kid yourself.  The Church needs to be a place where truth prevails…even when that truth is the good the bad or the ugly. It should be a place that is safe enough to talk about what the real issues are.

Stop with this nonsense already, because marriages, families, and children are being destroyed and it doesn’t have to be that way. Couples will fair so much better if they get other people involved.  Get off the island!

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38 Responses to “Get Off the Island!”

  1. James Harmeling says:

    You have correctly identified a very serious issue here and one that I have experienced myself. But what about those people, or couples, that do not have it in themselves to reach out? To share deep emotional or relational troubles with another is the exception and not the rule with most people. What is the role of the Church in reaching out to people, especially couples? What is the process that a Church should take in this endeavor?

  2. Nadine Cilliers from south africa says:

    Passionate about marriage…… love how God is using u to bring fun and refreshment and restoration to marriages

  3. Donna says:

    Thank you for your article. I am going through just exactly what you are talking about and have suggested to my husband that we involve another couple to help us walk through this. He said no. He is involved with AA and will not even open up to any of his AA buddies. I have talked to several friends and am very careful to include friends that have been through what I am going through and have come out victoriuos. I have hope, but it would be so much better if we could have a wise couple walking us through this and helping us to be accountable to them and each other. Thank you for the good word.

  4. Rhonda says:

    Thanks for saying this Mark. The preacher who married us said when we had problems-don’t bring in a 3rd party, esp. if it’s parents. The parent’s part sounds reasonable because of the emotions involved between parent & child. He said if need be, take it to your minister,but it didn’t sound like he was too keen on that.

  5. ada says:

    i just found your website! we’re planning to come to your seminar in lancaster next month and are looking forward to it.

  6. Casey says:

    This is good advice, but I would add one more point… bringing in a third party can actually make things worse, depending on who it is. I am not saying don’t get help (quite the opposite), but just be careful in selecting who you go to for help. At the beginning of our marriage my girlfriends and i would be open about problems/frustrations we were having, and it turned into a big husband bashing session where everybody walked away more angry, justified, and self-righteous than we started out. Then as the Lord placed me in a different community of more mature believers, I would bring up a problem and they would take my husband’s side! (this was not a case of abuse or adultry or anything, just stuff he did that frustrated me, etc) the first few times it really upset me that they “sided against me”, but it was exactly what i needed. they turned me inward and asked how I could love him better – not to manipulate him to get a different response, but to love, respect, and submit to him as the Bible calls me to and trust God to work on him (and in some cases, pray over how to approach the subject with him). Over time that became how I approach problems (I can change me, not him, so what change can make this situation better?) and it has helped us a lot.

    • Kerri Pritchard says:

      A suggestion: BOOK Mad About Us: Moving From Anger to Intimacy With Your Spouse / Oliver, Gary J (EXCELLENT Christian book)

    • Alexis says:

      I went through this as well. I would call it a change in perspective in what love and relationships should be like. Before I had a “worldly” view and consulted “worldly women” This ended with me always thinking that the problems were with my man or that if he would only change this or that. I was always unhappy.
      Now I feel I am looking at love and my relationship with a “Godly” view and going to His Word and other “Godly Women” for advice. I also used the “Love Dare” book to help me learn more about how to love someone in a “Godly” way. While reading this book (we started reading one page a day together), I entered it thinking “oh, my man will see what he needs to change as we read this”. The opposite happened. I began to see all of the things that I needed to change and I saw him in such a different way too. I was able to see all of the loving qualities that he was showing me that I wasn’t even paying attention to. Before I thought he was a good catch that I could spruce up, but after reading this, I realized that he was a GREAT catch and that I needed spruced up!
      This has made an incredible change in myself and my relationship and could have only been done through the Grace of God. I am so much happier and so is my man! Godly love is the only love that lasts and is fulfilling. :)

  7. Kerri Pritchard says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU… I copied your link and article and forwarded it to Pastors at our church Steve Holt (Mountain Springs, Colorado Springs, CO).

    I told them that I felt our church needed avenues of help in this regard and that your insight was MOST HELPFUL!

    THANK YOU AGAIN!
    Kerri Pritchard
    Colorado Springs, CO

  8. Phil says:

    Interesting thoughts. I think that your comments are true. There are a lot of things that play into this problem, and you have hit on one. Another reason that people aren’t real is because most of the time they will be judged and gossiped about if they confess a horrid sin like pornography addiction. This is the very reason that many I know won’t even go into a church. It isn’t that they mind accountability, but rather that they don’t see loving accountability. Many in the modern southern american church are cruel counselors. One example that I know is that there was a man once who converted to Christianity after living a life enslaved to homosexuality. He forsook that life and began to follow Christ. However, because of his past, the first church that he went to thought of him as strange. Some of the guys were afraid to associate with him because they thought that he might go back to the old ways and hit on them or that someone might see them associating with him and think that they were homosexuals. Ridiculous. Fortunately for him, he found a good church to encourage him and left the previous one. It is a mess!

  9. Nkem Ivara says:

    I’ve just come here from a link posted on Facebook. You took the words right out of my mouth.
    This is a serious problem in Christianity. Marriages are falling apart and couples are languishing in misery simple because they are afraid, ashamed, too proud or dishonest to ask for help.
    Thanks for sharing this and I pray that it helps to bring about a change in our way of thinking.
    God bless you

  10. Robin says:

    I totally agree with the need for transparency in the church. We hide our struggles and our sin and only ask for prayer for safe things (like grandma’s hip replacement). We no longer “confess our sins to one another” like they did in the early church. When we act like our lives are great we rob God of his glory – the glory of his grace in our lives, the glory of his outrageous forgiveness, and the hope that He gives. Instead we receive glory, people think we’re so great, so perfect, without struggles or pain or sin. Unfortunately, pastors and churches tend to foster the hiding. Pastors feel that if they are transparent people will no longer respect them, or they will judge them. This must be modeled by pastors. They must take the risk to be transparent so that others will feel comfortable being honest as well.

  11. Cathey says:

    The core of the difficulty is trust. In order to ask for help, one must make themselves open and vulnerable to getting hurt, and they are already hurting.

  12. bbieDe says:

    After having read “Get Off the Island”. I do step out and talk to Christian women that have long term marriages about my marriage problems. My husband is one that just wants his way, no matter what the costs to our marriae – and DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE! We recently had a problem w/a past girlfriend resurfacing that he has hidden correspondence with and promised to shut off his relationship with her (3 years ago). I refused to accept her back into our relationship after he made this promise to me. I requested that he honor his word, me and our marriage. He did remove her from his Facebook but is now VERY angry that I requested that he honor his word to me. He has shown me mean and nasty behavior, calling me names, lying to me, lying about me, he is cold towards me. I feel I am being frontally attacked by the devil himself. I only asked him to honor his word. I feel very hurt by all of this behavior! I keep praying for him to receive Gods’ grace into his heart. He is the most amazing man when he is in the WORD. I miss him!

  13. Kathy says:

    I have tears in my eyes as I read this. My husband and I are dealing with (or TRYING to deal with) infidelity on my part which happened over a year ago. I’ve been brutally honest with him, confessed to God, asked for forgiveness, and last night my husband asked me for a separation because he doesn’t think he has the truth from me. Our teenage children are wreaking havoc and finances are in the toilet. God comes first, my husband comes second. I feel absolutely lost, and it feels like my whole world is falling apart around me. But your forthright article gives me hope. I don’t want to lose my husband, and I believe if we seek guidance from the church or other couples, perhaps all will not be lost. Thank you Mark–for being you.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My husband and I have struggled our entire marriage. He has drug and alcohol issues. I’ve gone to everyone I could think of asking for help. My MIL and SILs, who all attend church regularly and participate in serving in their churches, told me it was my fault, we should get divorced, he’s sick and I need to take care of my son and leave him alone, I should go and do what any other single mother does, we just aren’t meant to be together, I’m unloveable, etc. The rest of his family, who are respected and very involved members of their church community, acted as though none of it was happening at all. I also asked one of his aunts to help and intervene NO one asked how I was doing, how my son is,etc. Throughout all this he went to an outpatient treatment program, a secular inpatient program via an intervention which they all said I forced them to do, a medical detox and a Christian treatment program. He also quit his job, moved in with his mother who paid all of his bills and required absolutely nothing of him, offered no help for me at all, did not encourage him to do what is right by his son or me. Throughout all of this I went to 4 pastors for help, we went to a secular marriage counselor, a christian counselor and a “christian” marriage counselor who recommended we divorce. I/we went to Celebrate Recovery for periods of time. We joined a church and began regular attendance. I talked to 2-3 trusted people in the church. Out of all of these people only 1 pastor really tried to support us in our struggles. None of the respected church members in his family or in our church were willing to really help. Everyone kept saying I don’t want to get involved. I wasn’t asking any of these people to fix anything. I simply was asking for someone to be his mentor and a support system for me. People-mostly those in his family- continued to say they didn’t really want to get involved despite the fact that he was driving under the influence, taking who knows how many pills with alcohol to the point he would sleep for 3 days, drinking when he watched our son (this only happened once because he was no longer left alone with him), and numerous other issues that put him and others in danger. I BEGGED people to get involved and help him and our marriage. The point is not my sob story, because God did not refuse to get involved. The point is that I asked NUMEROUS people including pastors for help and almost NO ONE was willing to get involved with a young couple with serious issues. I am a person who will ask for intervention and seek out appropriate sources of help. During this situation I continued to raise a small child, work full time and pay all of our bills and none of these people even offered to baby sit so I could have an hour to myself or cut my grass because my husband refused to. Its not that I feel anyone should do things for me so I don’t have to or that anyone should feel sorry for me …its the lack of community or support that I don’t understand. What is someone supposed to do when none of these sources want to really help and even makes you feel as though you are a bore or a bother to them? No one can solve the problem, but they can be a support system or mentor. My husband’s father is dead and he had no one to teach him how to be a man. At some point shouldn’t other men in our churches be reaching out to these men and shouldn’t other couples be reaching out to us. I’ve searched for a marriage mentors program but there aren’t many here or they don’t return my calls. Fortunately, I have a GREAT family who have helped me tremendously. I’m also educated on these issues, a dedicated researcher and really stubborn and determined so I was able to keep going, learn as much as possible and make sure my son was well cared for and loved. But most of all I turned to GOD in a way that I have never experienced before. Right now my marriage is SOOOO much better. God has intervened for us and it is nothing less than a miracle. I am tremendously grateful for that. However, I worry about others in similar situations. Who will they turn to? What does God feel about this lack of involvement by families and churches? I still worry about my husband who has no one to teach him how to be the man, husband and father that God wants him to be. Will he ever? Who should fill this role if not those who claim that God is the lord of their life? How am I supposed to learn to be the wife he wants me to be without anyone to teach me?

  15. Scott says:

    Both must be willing to submit and open themselves. Nothing will change if one does but the other does not.

    And, if the other refuses?

    This is not a cycle that can be broken as no church is willing to step in where not invited. I am afraid our divorce rate will continue to keep pace and smote the great witness opportunity we have.

    Despite her demands to not involve parents, I have shared with my wife’s father (non-believer) and he is reluctant to intervene. Our church is silent on marital and parenting matters in favor of a missions focus.

    Kudos to Mark for what he is doing. I just wish he would get some time at the next Senior Pastors conference for our GBC denom!

  16. Ernest says:

    This a very real and unfortunate problem…the flip side to this are the couples that do reach out, but do not get any support back. I can say that I’ve been in that position a few times. This is also a very real, and maybe even more serious issue. Sure tell ppl to reach out to their faith community for support, but if they don’t get any, (because ppl are in general leery of getting into others problems, or for whatever reason)
    ..then you’ve just tainted their perception and experience of “Faith”

  17. Nancy says:

    My husband and I are exactly the people you write about! We have had a very difficult time finding a church to call home, and also in finding a Christian counselor. We work opposite shifts and so have little time for appointments and of course money is really tight. The island we live on seems to be floating further and further out to sea!

  18. Lisa says:

    I love your blog about being honest about situations you are going through. My husband and I haven’t had intercourse for two years and it’s been a year since he has even touched me. I have patiently and lovingly explained how this makes me feel. I have spoken to mentors and Pastors about this and have people praying for us. He is 65, but has been fine in the past, but states he is no longer interested. I have even told him that intimacy is more than intercourse…holding my hand, putting his arm around me, holding me,etc…would be wonderful. He refuses to deal with this and I’m assuming it has to do with his pride… I know that I serve a miracle working God..So I am trusting Him!

  19. Tim says:

    I am going through issues with my wife RIGHT NOW…we have been married since 7/1/95…gone through quite a bit in that time…since March 2010 she has increasingly been denying the physical aspect of our relationship, increasingly she has argued more because times have gotten harder for me to maintain our lifestyle BY MYSELF…she has only needed to work when SHE wanted to…we have 4 kids all of them OURS but she always says they are HER’s when they are doing GOOD, when they are BAD I guess they become MINE…they are well mannered, respectable children aged 14,13,12,10,,,two of each… ( boys in the middle, girls on each end) I love my entire family and being dad and husband to my wife….I work a midnight shift so I can be available during the day with wife should a medical emergency arise with my 12 yr old who has sickle cell anemia…he hasn’t gone thru many problems with that lately so we are both available during the day….

    I began to notice a change in MARCH 2010, she would begin to be gone longer and longer during the day TO GIVE ME TIME to take care of business of finding a full time job….( this… all in the presnt economy, few and far between right)…arguements increased because I put in resumes all over the place…and NO RESULTS… this had lead to losing a couple of rental residences…and subsequently my wife also….

    I don’t know if she is just TIRED of ME or the situation or BOTH…I do know cutting off herself physically from me and our relationship hasn;t been GOOD for the relationship…she mentioned that we don’t pray together….(when I started doing that again, she would come home later and later so when at our last residence, I had to take the bus,then train, then bus again on a 2 hour trip to work, because she WOULDN’T or COULDN’T drive me to work ( 30 mins away) because of the kids schedule ( I get off at 7:30am,my youngest has to be at school by 7:45 and it is 40 mins away), or because she;d run out gas on the 50 mile round trip to drop everyone off…

    basically it wears her out….

    and with the lack of intimacy with my wife and the changes with life events and all … on one of her episodes of leaving back in OCT 2010…I downloaded PORN pics from the internet,but I put them in the trash file and deleted them from the removable harddrive and asked GOD for forgiveness… I knew and was convicted that it was not the right thing to do THAT just because she left me alone for weeks at a time and it occured in OCT after the weeks had started turning to MONTHS…. I fell to temptation during my first long-term extended period of not being around my wife…..I fell all the while she would be out and the times we did talk I was compared to and being told about the MEN she HANDLING THEIR BUISNESS

    sinc

  20. jody Lynch says:

    I have tried to share things…people don’t want to hear or they don’t care or they gossip and look down on you. The ones who do care are so busy because everyone is so full of problems…that they have no time. It is really hard to find caring people that you can trust!

  21. Thomas says:

    yes…I agree….but you need to get the right people involoved. right now my family is aware of my marital issues but there are some who plant seeds of more turmoil…instead of being loving and friend of the marriage. There are many enemies of the marriage too. like the man who zooms in on your wife the first sign of weakness…these are not friends..they are ones who encourage separation and divorce..it can go either way…so be careful.my situation has gone from bad..get people involved worse!!!I can only pray…and wait

  22. Tonya says:

    Unfortunately, one of the major reasons couples do not reveal the pain they’re in is because church has become a place where they’re judged. In the “behind the pulpit scene”, people are discussing who can be “used” for a particular event, and if you’ve been in counseling, they say things like ” you have no idea how many problems so and so have.” therefore, it teaches you to keep “your” things a secret. If no one knows, they can’t judge you. And, you actually are allowed to participate in helping others even though you desperately need help yourself. I’m saddened to say that my transparency at times has led to more pain for me in my community of faith rather than healing.
    As a couple, we agree with you 100%. Any advice on actually walking this out… We are very willing!

    Thanks for providing a way to give feedback :)

  23. Kim says:

    You can get advice and share information. It is important to ask yourself if you are looking for advice and solutions or just someone to tell you you’re right. It’s easy to hear “you’re right” but that doesn’t help you make things better. BTW, My husband has had the affair and when I tried to talk to his family, he told them all that I was lying. And that’s what they believe today. This is the most pained I have ever been in my life. He has never been willing to talk because he won’t deal with anything, even day-to-day, that is a problem. Think like a team, couples, and it will be hard to go this far astray.

  24. Cheryl says:

    The real problem as I see it is, gossip. I would love to believe this problem didn’t happen among church families, but I don’t feel that way. When people are feeling raw and vulnerable, the risk of being talked about later is enough to make anyone zip their lip and carry on. I’ve found, even among my very best friends, that some things come out well after the fact…when everything is over and cleaned up. It’s keeping up with the Jones, but on a “people” level rather than a “things” level. There’s so much shame over not having a great husband or marriage, less than perfect kids and family life. We are the moms and wives and we’re supposed to make it all work. We all know it’s baloney, but we keep on doing it. When there is a health problem like your wife’s, everyone knows it wasn’t her fault. Kid problem or marriage problem…guess what, it’s your fault and the whole world thinks you should have done this or that and weighs in on it, typically after you’ve left. Gossip.

  25. Felix Gil says:

    I am a Senior Pastor here in the middle of the Jungle of Peru and I had the chance to get a Video with a conference in Arizona I think, and Let me tell that is being a blessing to my marriage but It would be great if we could have this material in spanish I would love more Pastor could hear these. I know they would be blessed with these teachings. On the other hand, it is always difficult to minister and talk about those easues you just share specially if you are very young but i started believing God and began to do it. God is bringing health in some marrieges, Tahnk you for sharing these information, it inspire me to go forward and chek my ouwn marriage.

  26. Dr. David Stevens says:

    Hey Dr. Gungor this is a great article, when you talk about married folks having problems, hiding them so that others will not know. You stated that they could get help by letting others who have been through things share with them. You’ve stated that none of us is perfect and that we all have had to go through something which makes us more able to help. But let me point out another factor: You mention pastors being a source of help. In our experience in doing seminars around the country we have to thank God for those pastors who see the wisdom in seeking outside help to tackle pretty common problems within the family. But here is another problem for some married couples in the church. Many pastors are the stumbling block in their churches. They may be having problems in their own lives, or fail to see the importance of outside help. Counseling on the affairs of the heart may not be their particular bag, we all have different gifts, but for whatever reason the Angel of the church prevents help from coming in to help struggling people is a real sin.
    I talked with a friend once who told me that there were a lot of troubled marriages in their church but that the pastor, whom I knew very well, would not send for help because he felt that it would somehow reflect on his own problems. I thought that this was very sad that a host of people had to suffer because the guardian of the gate was selfish.
    So the fraud that you point out is not always just in the pew, but in the pulpit as well.
    We conducted an anonymous survey many years ago among clergy and spouses, asking how many of them prayed together and the frequency. The results were shocking. Many reported that they either never prayed or seldom prayed together. If the head “don’t get it”, the body will surely fail!
    Thanks for your important work,
    Dr. David R. L. Stevens
    Soundmarriages.com

  27. Octavia says:

    As always, I enjoyed your article. I have observed that church folks(especially leaders) like to walk around with a “mask of perfection”…so God forbid if someone says, “Oh no, I’m in trouble.” Thank God for your open and honest conversations. We, non-mask wearing folks, need them.

  28. Jennifer Lozada says:

    My comment is for the article “Get off the Island!” by Mark Gungor. I completely understand the reason why this written but I had a couple of issues with it. I believe that actions are usually reactions to other things that are happening. I truly believe that many couples don’t open their mouths because most churchs do not provide adaquate support systems. There are plenty of immature chrisitans that would not be able to support one another because they are quick to pass judgement. Whenever I have issues with my husband, yes I run to the pastor, but not to another memeber. People are prone to receiving more hurt in the church than in their personal circles. It is indeed a sad truth. I am currently in a Masters in mental health counseling program in a christian college and in one of our classes we spoke specifically about the ability of the church providing the avenues of healing but we all agreed we are far from it. AA does a better job of supporting others in their troubles than we do. I beleive that until we address how we affect others by judgement and check these emotions at the door will there ever be a place for this in the church beyond the pastor. And we all know they need a break and help in this area.

    I appreciate the article but I just wanted to let you know from a point of view that has tried this avenue.

    -Jennifer

    • Octavia says:

      I totally agree with your comment, but I have also found that Pastors/Leaders can’t be trusted either. I’ve had some use what I have discussed with them in private as a topic of their sermons or have intimate details talked about from the pulpit. It took me about a year to work through that. Now I go to christian counselors that are not in my immediate circle. Some I have to pay and some not, but to me, it’s worth my heart staying free of hurt.

  29. Anne says:

    Mark,

    It would be wonderful to believe that all church families can be trusted. However, this is not the case and in some situations it is best to keep intimate things to yourself. Sad…..

  30. Nancy says:

    As a long time believer and church member, I got off of my island when my son was struggling with 15 years of alcholism. When he hit one of his “bottoms”, unknown to him I went to my small prayer group (GAP) and to our elders for prayer and intervention. My only involvement was to write a statement of the condition he was in and it’s impact on our family. It was frightening beyond belief to take that step, but it worked beyond my wildest dreams. The support AND accountability AND knowledge that his struggle was “out there” caused immediate sobriety. That was nearly 3 years ago and his life is totally changed. Not a pollyanna life, but a sober life. Without going into more unnecessary detail, I just want to encourage others to take that step off of their island.

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