Is it hard to say ‘no’ when your spouse is crossing the line? In this bonus episode on marriage, Pastor Lutzer counsels you how to establish godly, loving boundaries. When you value the sacredness of your covenant, use wise confrontation, and communicate clear consequences, even bad marriages can experience hope and reconciliation.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again today. Now, if you were with us last time, you know that we are in a longer series, entitled, “Making the Best of a Bad Decision.” And the last several episodes were on the topic of a bad marriage. How do you negotiate that when you look back with regrets and have “buying remorse”? It was my intention to move on to other topics but I’m going to spend one more time speaking about marriage.
Recently, we received a phone call from a woman, who at the age of 50-some she married a man who had been previously divorced and brought some children into the relationship. She had never been married before. She married out of a sense of fear, wanting some security I guess, and perhaps even financial security. And now she discovers that she married a man who swears and when he left to go with his friends, he told her you have no business knowing what we do when we’re together. So, how does she weather this? I’m not going to give her any specific advice because it’s quite obvious that I haven’t heard the husband’s side of the story and they desperately, of course, need marriage counseling. But what I’d like to do (and this serves as a wrap-up to the whole theme of marriage) is to give three principles and last night as I was working on this, I realized that each of the principles begins with the letter C. So, let’s begin.
First of all, the sacredness of the covenant. When you stand before God and in the presence of others and swear allegiance—to God of, course—but also to your partner “Until death do you part,” God takes that very, very seriously. So, just because you think you’ve made a mistake, that does not give you some kind of permission to begin again, to break up the relationship, and move on. As a matter of fact, and I quoted this earlier in a previous session, the Bible says, “Blessed is he who swears to his own hurt and does not change.”
So, the first principle has to do with the covenant but the second principle has to do with wise confrontation. But the way to confront that is not as he’s going out the door to be with his friends and to shout at him and to vent your anger, but she needs to be able to sit down with him, explain to him why it is that this lack of trust—and it is a lack of trust and by the way, a good marriage is based on trust—why is it creating such a disruption of their relationship, how it diminishes her, and that there has to be a change. She needs to sit down calmly and explain it to him so that he realizes things can’t go on this way if you expect to be able to have a happy marriage. Now, what she might discover is that he is a hard-hearted person and won’t hear her. At that point, she has to have some very important consequences for this man. It may be withdrawing from him. It may be going for help to her pastor, to a trusted leader. He cannot think that he can continue on with his secrets and pretend that everything is okay when, in point of fact, it isn’t. I find it very interesting that in the book of Hosea, God actually withdrew from Israel. It says in chapter 5 and I think it’s verse 6 of Hosea, God says, “They shall come with their flocks and their herds and they shall seek me but they shall not find me because I have withdrawn myself from them.” Why does God do that? Well, at the end of the chapter it says that eventually—”they will come back and they will acknowledge their guilt and in desperation, they will seek my face.” The goal of putting any distance between a couple is always with the hope of reconciliation but, of course, this dear lady needs to go for help in terms of counsel to help her understand what the consequences of her husband should turn out to be.
There’s a final principle and that has to do, of course, with the confrontation, and the consequences, I’ve already covered that, and that is prayer. You know, in the book of Luke, actually, chapter 18, Jesus tells a very interesting parable. He says that there was a widow who went to a really hard-hearted judge, asking for justice and he kept saying, “No” until he became so weary of hearing her. He said, “You know, I’m so tired. I’ll give you justice.” Now, Jesus didn’t tell that to say that that’s the way our Father in heaven is. He’s not an indifferent judge. But Jesus says, if this ungodly man is willing to give this woman justice, what about God? He will certainly bring justice to his elect which cry onto him night and day. This woman should not give up hope. Down the line, there might be other consequences, of course, that we will not get into. But as for now, she needs to know that day by day, she has to ask God, “What do I do next so that I can have a happy marriage?” And along the way, what she will discover is that often, God takes a mess and he takes impossible situations and he makes them better.
God bless all of you and I hope that you will join us next time because we’re going to talk about moral failure and even there, how God takes all of the contingencies and the messes of life and does something beautiful with them. See you next time but as for today, you just go with God.