Monday, October 23, 2017

Maggie, Aretha and Kyla-Marriages in conflict over God

Let's imagine an ordinary Monday...

You wake up with a beautiful idea, a plan, a conviction from God. And you are ready to get started.  But then you remember that the last time you had one of these brilliant ideas your husband squashed you like a bug.  He hasn't even woken up and you can feel your resentment building.  You start flipping bacon and by the time he stumbles towards his morning cup of joe, your mood has turned bitter.  You've  already had the argument with him in your head, so why say anything at all!

Is that your story? 

When I wrote last week's post about what to do when you feel your husband isn't on board with your desire to serve God, I had lots of great conversation on Facebook, on the blog and in person. These talks taught me that this is even more difficult and controversial a topic than I imagined.  

It's enough to make me want to avoid applying these principles in too personal a fashion.  But I decided to not be a coward, so here are three very specific scenarios. (If you haven't read the first post in this series, you'll want to go back to check out the details and references for each principle.)

Maggie's Story

Maggie has been married 10 years.  She and her husband are both Christians.  She is outgoing, social and friendly.  Her husband on the other hand can be down-right withdrawn.  He has a job where he has to interact with the public everyday and when he comes home he just wants to relax and barely even talks to Maggie and the kids for the first hour.  Maggie finds herself rather lonely sometimes.  Recently Maggie heard a lesson about hospitality.  She felt convicted and tells her husband that she is going to start hosting a family from church for dinner every Sunday after church.  He tells her “No.”  

What does God have to say to Maggie?  

  1. All Christians are called to be submissive to each other and to those in authority over them. Is Maggie being submissive?  Maybe not.  She has a need for friendship and conversation and she knows her husband has a need for quiet.  She is suggesting (in part) that they meet her need and ignore his.  This is not a helpmeet’s way. Furthermore she could have respectfully asked how their family could be more hospitable rather than announcing a plan.
  2. Christians are called to obey God before and above every human authority. Does Maggie need to obey God instead of her husband?  She does need to be hospitable.  But there are still lots of ways she can fulfill both the command to be hospitable and the commands to be submissive and unselfish.
  3. We are to be obedient in the situation where we are a called. Maggie may have to accept that her first plan won’t work.
  4. We are called to creativity and flexibility in our work and ministry. Could Maggie be more flexible in her plan to obey?  Yes!  She could plan opportunities to be hospitable that her husband will gladly get behind.  She could meet another mom from church at the park for a play date.  She could plan and host a tea at church.  She could ask her husband, who does have a heart to obey, how their family could be more hospitable!

Aretha's Story

Aretha has been married 40 years.  Her husband is a brute of a man.  He has alientated both of their adult children and their home is full of his angry cursing voice.  They have both attended church faithfully since they were children.  He has a habit of lying especially at church, making it out that things are perfect at home and becomes very angry if she suggests otherwise.  After reading and studying in her ladies Bible class about truth, Aretha feels she has been lying too.  She is repentant and needs to change. 

What does God have to say to Aretha?  
  1. All Christians are called to be submissive to each other and to those in authority over them. Aretha seems to have been trying earnestly to submit to her husband.
  2. Christians are called to obey God before and above every human authority. This is where the rubber meets the road for Aretha.  Her husband will not be happy if she starts being more honest about their situation.  And there is the opportunity here also for sin.  She could take this recent conviction as a chance to gossip and delight in running him down.  Yet having repented of her on-going deceit, she must find the right way to be more honest about her home, husband and relationship.
  3. We are to be obedient in the situation where we are a called. Aretha must be faithful in the situation she is in.  Our culture’s first instinct is to bail in a bad situation.  Yet God is our redeemer and He can, even in this messy husband’s life, bring about redemption.  
  4. We are called to creativity and flexibility in our work and ministry. How can Aretha thread this needle to obedience?  Given that her husband is non-violent, she can sit down and first speak truth to him.  “I love you.  Things aren’t right in our marriage.  It is wrong for you to shout and curse at me all the time. I hear you at church.  Your speech and actions do not match. I have sinned by going along with you in this lie.”  Depending on his reaction (both then and in the past) she may need to have this conversation with a trusted and godly witness.  This of course lines up with Jesus’ plan for dealing with conflict as well as making sense of women like Abigail who stood up for God and her household in the face of a angry, foolish husband (1 Samuel 25). Eventually her truth-telling may bring her in front of the elders.

Kyla's Story

Kyla has been married 6 months.  She and her husband are very happy.  Last month she met a new friend who is a Christian.  She has been studying with her and soon realizes that her bare understanding of the Bible has not automatically made her a Christian.  Her husband is disturbed when she comes home babbling about how she’s going to start going to church, she’s going to be baptized, she wants to start giving money to a missionary her friend knows, and she isn’t going to be going out on the weekends with him to drink anymore either.  He is convinced she’s joined a cult.

What does God have to say to Kyla?  
  1. All Christians are called to be submissive to each other and to those in authority over them. Is Kyla being submissive? How is she supposed to know about submission in the first place?  It is crucial that Kyla’s friend who is introducing her to Christ do her best to help her be the best influence she can on her husband.  Two souls are at stake here.  Kyla's friend must teach and model a healthy view of respect and submission.
  2. Christians are called to obey God before and above every human authority. Is Kyla in conflict between God and man?  Not yet.  But depending on her husband's reaction to her continued obedience, she may find herself in that very situation.  She will need to be prepared to respectfully disobey, if he forbids her to attend church or be baptized, or insists that she engage in clearly sinful behavior like watching pornography or drinking to excess,
  3. We are to be obedient in the situation where we are a called. Paul wrote a section of 1 Corinthians 7 to address Kyla’s exact situation.  If her unbelieving husband will stay, she needs to live with him in peace. And as Peter says do her best in quietness and submission to shine Christ's light on Him.  If her unbelieving husband can’t bear this change, then she has to let him leave in peace.  When as a married lady she becomes a Christian, she is called to be faithful to her marriage
  4. We are called to creativity and flexibility in our work and ministry. Kyla has many opportunities to creatively obey. Her husband may not accept giving to the church or a missionary from their family’s finances, but she may be able to give from her own paycheck or give of her time or supplies.  He may be unhappy about her church attendance but perhaps she can negotiate something else in her schedule to do something with him he’ll enjoy.  

Did you find yourself here in one of these women's lives?  I'd love to talk more about it!  Leave a comment below, email me at, or connect with me on Facebook. Would you like to see more posts like this?  Be sure and subscribe!

*I have three sources for these two posts.  One I talked over with my husband what Biblical principles can be brought to bear on the situation.  And second I talked with a group of minister’s wives I know, wise women of God who have as a group seen decades even centuries of ministry.  And of course I went back to the Word to find and apply these principles. This post owes much to all these sources!  

1 comment:

  1. Stopping by as your neighbor on the #RechargeWednesday linkup. I hope you have a beautiful day. :-)