Monday, August 20, 2012

Perry Noble on Why He Believes Marriages Fail: A Christian Critique

In an article in the Christian Post, Perry Noble observes that marriage is in trouble. Apparently, Mr. Noble has conducted an analysis and come up with a solution to the issue of marriage failure. Mr. Noble says the reason marriages fail is because, “Couples are thinking that the momentum created by yesterday's romance will be enough to carry them into an amazing future.” (READ MORE)
In case you are wondering if I am joking, Mr. Noble goes on to say, “Seriously, that’s it.” Marriages are failing because they lack romance! All we have to do is get the romance back in the relationship and marriages will no longer fail! I am not a marriage counselor, nor am I credentialed in any field of human psychology. However, I do have the text of Scripture in front of me. According to the teachings of Scripture, marriages do fail for one reason and that reason is not as complicated as many pretend it to be. It is sin. Now, that being said, the reason marriages fail is that somewhere in the situation, sin is permitted to grow like a cancer. My view of my relationship with God is revealed in my view of marriage. In other words, the issue of failed marriages within the Christian community is indicative of the nature of our relationship with God.

The first question that we should ask is what about this “romance” question that Mr. Noble brings up? Should we examine this particular view of romance in light of Scripture to make sure that it is true? It does not that follow that because Americans are enamored with a particular type of romance, most of which is the product of Hollywood’s worldview, that this means it must have originated with God. In other words, we need to ask if our idea of Romance is on par with God. Mr. Noble, rather than demonstrating that it is, seems content to make that assumption. This is quite problematic because now we have a standard established against which relationships will be measured. If my relationship does not measure up to “this” standard, then my marriage is obviously deficient. What is worse is that many counselors and pastors will counsel couples that if they want to please God, they will aim for this standard of romance. The implication then is that if a husband is not as romantic as the wife thinks he should be (according to this standard), then she is tempted to become dissatisfied. I suggest that such thinking leaves out a huge piece of analysis and critical thinking from the start. I do not believe that Scripture knows anything about the sort of romance that American culture has established as the norm for healthy relationships. The American standard is so rigid and demanding and selfish that no one can live up to it in any consistent way whatever and this is very unhelpful for the Christian wife and husband. It focuses on the wrong thing. It focuses on my happiness, which is tied to a “norm” that is manufactured by a godless and hedonistic culture. If my happiness is misplaced, then my entire mood becomes the product of misplaced desires.

Secondly, it ignores the covenant and divine purpose in marriage in its entirety. When we read that wives are to love and submit to their husbands and that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, we often read the idea of Western American romance into those passages. The wife thinks that if he loves me, he will bring me cards, flowers, gifts, nights out on the town, etc. etc. The husband thinks the wife will always be there ready for intimacy at his beckoned call, with a rose in her teeth nonetheless. If you love me, you will do “X” is the prevailing idea. The church has bought into this thinking via the study of love languages. Insofar as I can tell, that study is little more than a veiled selfishness cleverly designed to manipulate your spouse into giving you your demands, but in a very nice way laced with Christian words.

The church has allowed a godless culture and a godless psychology to define what a good Christian spouse should be rather than allowing Scripture to inform these views. Mr. Noble does nothing to counter this really, really bad ideology. In fact, he adds to the confusion by linking healthy marriage to godless ideologies that are clearly the product of a radical individualistic hedonism. Moreover, this worldview is the obvious outcome of an American culture that has become increasingly hostile to anything resembling a righteous view of marriage.

One man and one woman joined together by God to honor and glorify Him in their respective roles of husband and wife is the product of the divine Mind. God joins men and women together for His glory and our good. Regardless of the state of the marriage, whether you think your spouse measures up or not is not for you to say. You are to love your husband or wife without reservation or hesitation. If they refuse to live up to your expectations, your love is to remain immoveable, steadfast, and steady. In other words, it is to mirror God’s love for you and I. How often do we sin against our Heavenly Father? Has He yet to cast us to the side? Has He forsaken us? His love is a steadfast love! Our conduct toward our spouse should be aimed, first and foremost, to please our Father who loves us. The marital relationship is an opportunity for us to demonstrate the love of God to the world, and especially to those closest to us.

Divorce does not happen in the Christian community, visible that is, because of failed romantic expectations. That has nothing to do with it. Divorce happens because God’s word really doesn’t matter to us. Placing God first and dying to self is not a priority to us. It isn’t even a lack of commitment to the marriage that causes the problem. It is a lack of commitment to God. Our relationship to God is not that important to us, and therefore, our relationship to our spouse isn’t that important to us. If the men of God in Scripture and throughout history can glorify God in prison, in unjust persecution, and in some of the most despicable of circumstances, surely we can endure a little trouble in the flesh. If you can’t, well then, you need to ask yourself just how important it is for you to please God. If pleasing God is not the most important thing in your life, in your mind, in your thinking, then you do not know God. That is the reason divorce is so prevalent in American culture and even in the visible Church. Genuine Christians do not run out and divorce one another without the biblical grounds of unrepentant adultery or abandonment. The reason is because God’s word is clear on this matter, and that matters to the believer.

This article should not be construed to communicate that husbands and wives should not work through their respective sinful tendencies together through healthy communication, prayer, and bible study along with the support of the Christian group. The article aims to address the real cause for divorce and dissatisfaction in the marriage in general. It is a matter of focus and priorities. God focused marriages that place God’s word at the top will thrive. Those that don’t are at risk.

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