–“Pastor, I had an affair and am trying to restore my marriage but even after three years, things still are still really difficult. What can we do to make things right again?”
–“ I was so busy with raising children and I didn’t have much time for sex but now that we’re empty nesters my husband isn’t really interested in pursuing our sex life. How do we get back to the way it used to be?”
–“My wife was sexually active with other guys before we married and it has really impacted our life now. What can we do to overcome her past?”
–“I divorced and remarried a man who was also previously married and we are having issues dealing with the blending of our two families. How can we make this work and just be a normal family?”
These are all questions typical of requests for help that I hear. What they, and so many others, are really asking is, “How can we fix it and make it like it used to be?” People are looking for the solution that will erase the consequences of actions or events so that everything will go back to the way it was before.
One of the things that I do a lot is warn people rather than supplying solutions. “Don’t do this. Don’t go there. Stop it!” There are things you can do to help improve such situations or deal with these kinds of consequences in your marriage, but they are more patches than solutions. That’s why I spend more time warning people not to go to hell than I do helping them try to find an air conditioner once they get there!
Again, there are patches or solutions to some degree, but that’s not really what people want. What they want is for everything to be fixed and changed as if it never happened. Now in Christ we have that. The Bible tells us “though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow”(Isaiah 1:18). When you are redeemed it is as if it never happened in your standing before God. Period. But what many people don’t understand is that even though it is erased in God’s eyes, there are still consequences.
For instance, if someone commits murder, they can pray and ask God for forgiveness and ask the victim’s family to forgive him or her, but they are still going to jail. There are consequences. And that is what people don’t like. What so many of us are looking for is a version of Christianity where they can have a consequence free life and it doesn’t work that way.
Because we believe in healing and restoration, we live casually and don’t take life seriously. Young people think, “I shouldn’t steal, lie, drink or do drugs, and fornicate… but if I do, God will forgive me and it will be as if it never happened.” Somehow we think Jesus will fix everything and we live too carelessly.
If you really believe that it didn’t matter what we did, that God could always fix it all, wouldn’t you let your kids do whatever they wanted…like play on the roof? Can God heal him if he falls and breaks his bones? Yes. Are there scriptures that say God heals? Yes. But would you really let him play up there? No! We don’t let our kids touch the stove, drink Drano, or play in the street. If it were really true that you could live carelessly and it didn’t matter because God would just fix it all, then none of us would worry about what our kids did. No one thinks that way when it comes to parenting, yet in other areas, especially when it comes to marriage and family, many people do live very casually.
They think, “I’m not happy with this spouse so I’ll just divorce and get a new one that makes me happy.” Then they think Jesus will make all the previous stuff go away and it will be just like a brand new, first time marriage. I know that there are testimonies of people who have divorced and remarried and they say that it’s wonderful and everything is as good as or better than the first. But that is the exception, not the rule…and of course everyone wants to be the exception.
At some level the wonderful testimonies become damaging because they lead people to believe that it doesn’t matter what you do because God is just going to fix it all. If you heard a testimony from a parent whose child drank Drano and God totally and miraculously healed and saved their kid, would you just let your kid drink it? Of course not, because we know that it is probably the exception and not the rule. The rule is that there are consequences that we are stuck with as a result of our choices and actions.
And it’s a very good thing that there are. Consequences are the very thing that keeps us from living lives of total chaos. Every married couple experiences the days and moments that are trying and filled with problems. If people knew they could just trade in the old model for a new one and have no repercussions, lots of people would do it!
If I could dump my wife, not hurt my kids, if my ministry would stay the same, if I would still garner the same level of respect, and then marry the next woman with no consequences, I’d probably be on my fourth wife by now! If I could do whatever I wanted and just say a prayer and have God make it as if it never happened, I would live very casually and foolishly. It’s the consequences that keep us in line. Because the reality is, it wouldn’t be the same. I’d have no credibility, I’d lose everything, there would be huge consequences and a very heavy price to pay.
Yet people constantly live as though that price isn’t real and that there must be something that can do to make it like it never happened. Let me tell you, there isn’t a fix that can do that. (Despite the testimonies that say differently.) There is no conference you can go to, or book to buy or prayer to pray. No one can anoint you with special oil or say some super holy prayer that will erase the consequences of everything. And even if there was and if I had it, I wouldn’t tell you! Because all it would do is green light people to do whatever selfish thing they wanted to do.
It would do nothing but give wives the license to leave the husbands they are mad at, or for guys to find the next younger wife with the better body and start over again. Adultery, fornication, sexually starving your spouse, using pornography and masturbation would all be ok… because it would be totally fixable and wouldn’t matter.
But it matters and that’s why you hear the warnings from me and not how to fix it. You don’t fix it or undo it, you adapt. Is there forgiveness? Yes. Can I share with you how to cope and adapt? Yes. It’s not hopeless and you can find ways to work with and around the consequences, but we need to be careful how we live. I cannot give you the secret potion on how to make it like it never happened and remove the consequences.
I know one of the criticisms that I get it that I give more warnings than fixes, but I’m trying to keep those people who haven’t gone there from stepping off the cliff into the abyss…hence the reason for my warning! They need to hear, “Don’t go down this rat hole! There are consequences and it won’t be like it was before. You can’t always fix it! Don’t do it!” Again, I stress, there is forgiveness, you can adapt and make something out of the trials and live beyond or around the consequences, but better to do it right in the first place.