Disposable Marriage

Date nights… Date nights here at the Banks Ranch are very few and a million miles in between. But that’s the life of a “big” family. So when an opportunity presents itself, we go for it. A few weeks ago was one of those days. Thank God. Seriously, I LOVE date nights. I love being with my wife and spending time with her without interruptions. You parents know what I’m talking about. “Mom, hey mom, Dad, daddy, hey dad, DAAADDD!” You guys that don’t have kids and don’t date your wives; you’re idiots. And that’s my professional opinion.

Well, we ended up eating Hibachi with two of our closest friends and then off to the movies. I had no idea what to expect out of this movie because I hadn’t even seen the trailer, and had no clue who was even staring in it. Wow… Five minutes in and we were way out of our element!
It. Was. Raunchy.
I wish we would’ve left but we stuck it out.
I wanted to leave! (Don’t judge me. Get the plank out of your own eye and we can talk about the speck in mine!)
So there we were hunched down in our seats looking around hoping no one recognized us while looking at the floor for a good majority of the movie. Adding insult to injury the theater was absolutely packed. Ugh. I couldn’t help but look around and see what we’ve come to as a society. Don’t roll your eyes and think we’re killjoys or prudes.
We’re not.
And I’m not one of those Christians who believes playing heavy metal songs backwards reveals chants to Satan. But this movie unabashedly undermined the sanctity of marriage, celebrated infidelity, and made an absolute mockery of wedding vows AND parenting. This flick was putting out some seriously unbiblical messages concerning marriage and had a not-so-subtle anti-faith message.

The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17

If faith comes by hearing the word of God then the opposite must also be true. If we’re constantly bombarded with an anti-faith message it wears us down. Especially concerning marriage. It causes us to doubt God, to doubt our spouse, and it stirs up jealously. A line in the movie from the lead actress has stuck in my mind since. She was lamenting the fact she was married young and “missed all of her twenties.” She was justifying her desire for adultery because she’d missed the dating scene by being married at 20. So why’d this stick in my mind? Jill was 20 when we were married and so was Jill’s best friend. I’m looking around at the theater patrons while they’re cheering and rooting for the “other man” to prevail and win over this conflicted wife. And I’m thinking, “how many women in this theater wish they were sleeping with this young good looking Latino?” This is the attitude of marriage these days. When things are difficult it’s just easier to give up on your spouse and your marriage and move on to someone else.

I wish everyone would look at marriage, or any relationship for that matter, and ask where the problem is. Is the problem really the other person or is it with our self? I read a statistic saying fifty percent of first marriages and sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce. So maybe, just maybe, all the problems people think are their spouse’s fault are actually problems with themselves? Then they give up on their spouse and carry all those issues into their new marriages.

I’ll admit it… Jill and I missed a lot by being married young.
We missed opportunities for heartbreak.
We missed opportunities to compromise our purity.
We missed the heartache that comes when you’re being lead by your head and not Holy Spirit.
I think about all the wonderful things we would’ve missed had we not have gotten married young and it saddens me. We would’ve missed the opportunity to grow up together and know each other on a level of intimacy most people will never know because they just give up too soon. We were married five years before we had our first child and we learned a lot about life. Just like any relationship we’ve had our ups and downs and moments of despair but we’ve stuck it out because we choose to love each other and honor our vows. There were times the enemy came and yelled untrue things in our ear, but we chose to be different and beat the statistics.

Marriage wasn’t designed to be disposable. Marriage was designed by our creator God as a life long commitment to bring glory and honor to Him. Our job, as a married couple, is to point people to Christ and raise our children in a Godly home with two parents who deeply and very passionately love each other, extend and show grace, care for, and put each others needs ahead of their own.
I love my wife.
I’ll defend her and care for her until my last breath.
Husbands, set out to love your wife like Christ loves the church.
Wives, honor your husband.
When you truly love your spouse, your love doesn’t hinge on emotions.
It’s grounded in a fierce and exclusive devotion to the one you love.

Love and Marriage.

Jill and I have a wonderful love story together. The other day I went through a big bag of love notes she’d written me while we were dating. Yup, I kept ALL of them. Some were written while she was in class at Russell High School and some were written while she was away at Georgetown College. It was evident from the very beginning we have something special. As she so adorably put it in a note from September of 1995, we’re like peas and carrots!

I (barely!) graduated in ’95 and she graduated in the class of ’96. We knew each other through school but weren’t friends. I didn’t exactly sit at the cool kids table… I do remember crushing on her when she’d come in Ms. Thompson’s 6th period math class, my senior year, to pick up the attendance sheet but that’s as far as it went. Sometimes I’d say hi and she’d say hi back. It was the summer of ’95 that Steve Cremeans and I went to the Ashland Town Center to get the new Silver Chair CD when I ran in to Jill. She told me later how she debated whether or not to speak to us! Funny how one encounter can change the course of your history. I’ll admit I was instantly smitten with her. There was something about her that absolutely captivated me and we quickly became best friends. We fell in love fast and it’s evident from that priceless bag of notes.

Here a few things I’ve learned about love and marriage through the years.

For God’s Sake… Communicate!

Fast forward to December of ’98 when we were married. Seriously, I had no idea how to be a husband so I just faked it the best I could. Marriage is hard, ESPECIALLY at the beginning. We both had expectations that neither of us met and we struggled in a few areas, especially in communication. Really, it all came down to communication. She’d talk and somehow her words would go in my left ear and then magically escape through the right one. I had to learn the hard way that problems won’t just go away if you don’t think about them or just ignore them. Some of the problems we’ve struggled with throughout our marriage were even evident in a few of those love notes. I’ve had to learn how to listen and ponder words that are said. I’ve learned to not just formulate a comeback in my mind while she’s speaking. I’ve made it my purpose to actually listen while she’s talking. Then taking it to heart and responding- or not. Sometimes it’s better for me to just shut up!

Hold Yourselves Accountable.

Jill is my most loyal and valuable confidant. I tell her almost everything with complete confidence and without fear of condemnation. This isn’t something that just happens. You have to work on this and hash out all the details and perimeters before you ever begin spilling your guts. Although we’ve always had accountability to some extent in our relationship, it literally took us years to get to this place of trust and confidence. And we’re still working on it! We’ve learned to take practical steps. We have a written accountability contract that we very thoughtfully wrote out, prayed over, and then signed. We keep them in obvious places where we can be reminded of them often. Seem extreme? Maybe. But we battle a real enemy that comes to kill, steal, and destroy. And that’s exactly what he loves to do. Especially with marriages.

Your Wife Should Be Your Standard Of Beauty.

Never compare your spouse to anyone else. Period. End of story. You’re dishonoring them and God when you do. The grass is NEVER greener on the other side. Everyone poops. (Unless you’re an android!) Everyone farts. Everyone wakes up with bed hair, stinky breath, and crust in their eyes. You’ll never be content in your marriage if you’re comparing your spouse to someone else.  You’ll never be right with God while your imagining having sex with another person, staring at a jogger, watching porn, flirting, or giving place to someone else above your spouse in your heart. Your heart has room for only two. Jesus Christ and your spouse. In that order. Jesus said if you even lust for another woman you’ve committed adultery in your heart. Matthew 5:28 (NIV) says:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Wow! That’s not a boat I want to be on. When I think of beauty I think of my wife’s eyelashes and her gorgeous blue eyes. I think of her soft lips and how she unashamedly kisses me. I dream of her beautiful smile and thank God for her precious one of a kind personality. She’s beautiful inside and out. And God has given her to me.

Love and marriage isn’t for the weak. Love isn’t something you fall in and out of, and unfortunately real life isn’t like a romantic comedy. Love is a verb. Love is a decision. Love is practical. Love serves.

1 Corinthians 13 4-7 (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Don’t get me wrong, my heart still flutters when I see Jill, and I still get a little giddy when she kisses me and what not. (More what than not!) Because she’s my fantasy. No other woman fills my thoughts or my dreams. She has my whole heart. We’re leaving a legacy and we’re in it to win it! I look forward to our kids and grandkids reading those notes one day and seeing a legacy of true love and God’s grace in ole Maw and Pa.

American Church: Get Divorced… From The Government.

Marriage License

The rhetoric from both sides of the so-called “gay marriage” debate is nothing short of detestable. The “tolerant left” and the “Christian right” are spewing out hateful and hurtful hot air at a fever pitch. And… it is exhausting. How many bridges have you, as a Christian, burned? Is your opinion so important to you that you have to get it out there for the world to see, regardless of how much influence you lose? And to the non and liberal Christian; is your rainbow profile pic so important to you that you risk the chance of souring your relationships with those who do not agree with you? Your false sense of caring and your skewed sense of love is prideful at best. “Look at me! Look at how tolerant and excepting  I am!” “If you disagree you must be a close-minded country bumpkin.” Please… With that being said, lets get down to the brass tacks on the matter.

The church, whether it be intentional or non-intentional, has cared far more for the government’s definition of marriage than they have God’s definition of marriage. This is where we, as Christians, are wrong. Most Christians think of marriage as just a legal contract, almost exclusively in a civic sense. Which explains why the divorce rate among those claiming to be Christian are just as high or even higher as non-Christians. (Really the only thing a Christian needs to divorce is government.) Maybe Christians are afraid same sex “marriage” will threaten the sanctity of their fourth marriage? Marriage is not a legal institution justified and made legitimate by the state. Marriage is a spiritual institution given its legitimacy by God through an officiating Christian minister. It is a lifelong monogenist commitment between one man and one woman as defined in the Old and New Testaments. The government’s definition of marriage should not matter in the least to a believer. To belabor the need for a constitutional amendment for a definition of marriage to come from the highest echelons of government is a poor witness and only lends credence to government, implying its legitimacy is higher than God’s. It ultimately places government above God’s authority.

A minister friend of mine conducted a wedding for a very devout Christian couple and forgot to mail the proper paper work to the state. The couple received a letter in the mail requesting the paper work be mailed in. In a panic the couple contacted my friend fearing they were not really married because the paperwork for the state was not filed. They actually thought they were living in sin because of this. This is a Christian couple who stood before their congregation and made a marriage covenant before God to one another. This is what we have come to as a church. Where a marriage license, which is just a tax, is held in more esteem than the Word of God. This is a heart issue and idolatry problem. For more on that read my blog entry called American Jesus And The Religion Of The State. 

So the next time you find yourself calling for America to repent, maybe you should be a little retrospective. Perhaps God is calling for you to repent? The next time you feel the need to call for political action you should remember that this Supreme Court ruling has presented a grand opportunity for the church to divorce government once and for all. A chance to sing a sovereign anthem to the King of Kings and not a king. An opportunity to serve in the King’s court and not the jester’s. A chance to follow the wind of Holy Spirit and not the winds of political theatre. Christianity is not a political action committee. Remember this: We are strangers. We are aliens. We are not of this world. Our hope isn’t in a nation-state or its laws. Our God isn’t government. Our hope isn’t government. Our destiny isn’t government. Ours is a new covenant. Our citizenship is HIS kingdom. Our definitions of sacred institutions aren’t defined by any person, regardless of position or appointment. Start meditating on God and His Word and stop being a shill for government and its dictates.