Thursday, May 26, 2011

Whispers of Lucifer: The lips of a PhD, part I

Having lots of letters behind your name and being held in high esteem by your colleagues and peers does not exempt you from saying silly things. That's one reason I appreciated non-science guy, Kirk Cameron, calling Dr. Stephen Hawking on the carpet for his assertion that there is no heaven, and I added my two cents on my other blog, Ripples Across the Pond. So when a PhD joins Cameron Diaz in saying marriage is dead, rubes like me need to stick up a paw, clear our throats, and disagree.

Dr. Keith Ablow's resume garners immediate attention. He co-authored a best-seller with Glenn Beck. Yeah, that Glenn Beck. He's a member of Fox News' medical A-Team. Name a talk show and he's been on it. So when he talks, people listen. That's why when he speaks contrary to God's word, we need to have a response as to why he's off his rocker.

In his article sounding the death knell for marriage, he brings up some very good points and draws some very bad conclusions. How do we respond to these things because husbands will be attacked on each of these points? Let's dive in. He starts like this.
Well, I’m not certain marriage ever did suit most people who tried it. 
Yikes. Where to begin? Let's try, "Marriage isn't a suit to try on but a commitment to make." It's a vow unbroken before God and man, an institution created by God for the good of his creatures. He makes marriage sound like brussel sprouts. I tried 'em. I hate 'em. Period. In no uncertain terms. I guess I'm not suited for brussel sprouts. That's not marriage! Marriage is a day by day promise that I make to my bride regardless of her conduct toward me. I love her.

He continues,
From what I hear in my psychiatry office, and from what I hear from other psychiatrists and psychologists, and from what my friends and relatives tell me and show me through their behavior, and from the fact that most marriages end either in divorce or acrimony, marriage is (as it has been for decades now) a source of real suffering for the vast majority of married people.
In case he'd missed it, labor causes suffering, too, but in the end, it yields a baby. My son gets his wisdom teeth out this afternoon. Guess who's going to be suffering, but guess whose teeth will thank him in the decades to come? We have this deluded notion that suffering is bad. An athlete must suffer great physical duress if he is going to attain the pinnacle of his sport. Watch the NHL or the NBA playoffs going on right now and in a matter of moments you'll understand that everyone of these gents have busted their heinies to get to this point. Ah, but the rewards of success! Anyone who thinks the fruits of a good marriage are to be attained without toil is delusional and likely pretty bummed about his marriage.

What else?

As a healer, I can’t help looking askance at anything that depletes energy, optimism, mood and passion to the extent that marriage does. It is, without a doubt, one of the leading causes of major depression in the nation.
Depleted energy? Dude, that's life! Optimism? Mood? Passion? Get your head out of the Hollywood sand! Optimism is a choice. Glass half empty? Glass half full? Your choice. Is what has befallen you a blessing or a curse? Your choice! What's your mood? Are you grumpy? Your choice. Frisky? Your choice. If I merely reacted to stimuli in the world around me, I would be a machine or little better, a plant. But I am a volitional human being created in the image of God and therefore I have choice.

Your marriage in the passion pit? Bubba, it's your fault. Make your marriage passionate. Lead your bride. Rekindle the embers of your first love. As the pages slide off of the marital calendar, that initial passion, what the Bible calls eros ("erotic"-- get it?), wanes and must be worked at. Nobody feels the same kinetic energy when they hold the hand of their bride of fifty years than the day they first touched. If and when they do, it is because they have worked at it. You want passion in your marriage? Then be passionate.

Here's the big problem with Ablow's ideas. He believes marriage to be passive. It all should just happen. God calls us to love our wives. There is no greater action word than that.

Like everything in life and like everything worthwhile, marriage is hard!  There will be "real suffering." Certainly it will deplete your energy, sometimes in a good way. From time to time, it will bring discouragement and depression. But the good it will bring to you and your spouse, the blessings it will lavish upon your children, and the strength it will give to our communities and our nation are without measure (Galatians 6:9).

A great marriage comes about because man and woman will have persevered through the storms and trenches in obedience to God and his word because they trusted that he knew what he was doing. The years of commitment bring about a deeper friendship, fellowship, friskiness and fealty than can ever be after a few weeks of smooth seas.

Stay the course despite the mad ravings of a renowned PhD. It takes a while for fruit to grow, but grow it will and sweet will be its taste.

More dismantling to follow...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Predator? Terminator? How 'bout both.

Nothing like a great romance. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married for a thousand years. Never heard anything from them other than they had a new salad dressing on the market. Jimmy Stewart got married in 1949 at the age of 41, and though he had a hard time completing a sentence, the Hollywood icon completed his race by remaining happily married until his death 45 years later.

That was old Hollywood. You have to dig long and hard to find a marriage that lasts in Hollywood today. One bright spot was Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. Married in 1986, they endured the enticements of celebrity and politics. It proved to be a lie.

Last week it came out that Maria was leaving. Today we learn why. The body builder turned actor turned governor took liberties with a household staffer (here). Not only did he betray his wife, but like David, a child was conceived from his sin.  Ten years ago.

Gents, Ah-nold is--um--old.  He'll be 64 this year, on the threshold of Social Security. That means in his middle 50's he went a'wandering. What's to stop you? David had a couple of wives and still his eye strayed. What's to stop you?

You. You will stop you. The only way to love your wife is to choose to love your wife. That's why Paul commands it. That's why Peter commands it. That's why God commands it. That's why Job made a covenant with his eyes. That's why Solomon warns against it. If you think you are immune, THOU ART A MORON!!

The best way to NOT stray is to love your wife. Be enraptured by your wife. Today. Tomorrow. Twenty years from now should the Lord tarry. Delight in her as the Proverbs and Song of Solomon encourage. Purpose in your heart to satisfy her as the apostle from Tarsus demands. Love her and minister to her as God commands.

These things cannot be done in our own strength, but as we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and seek to please him in all that we do, he empowers us with his Holy Spirit and guides us according to his word (which we have been studying, right?).

Seeing another one bite the dust breaks my heart no matter who they are. Commit yourself day-by-day and moment-by-moment to love your wife. She is a good thing given by God to you!


[Aside: I have heard from some of you that you have been encouraged in your relationship with your bride by what you have found here. If that's the case, let me encourage you to encourage the men that you know in their relationship with their woman. One way you can do that is by pointing them to this site as a way to spur them on on a weekly basis, another kick in the fanny to keep on keeping on.  Just copy the link from the address bar and send them an e-mail with the link if a post particularly blesses you.  Tell them that you hope it will encourage them in their marriage as it has encouraged you. 

Let us encourage one another daily as long as it is called today.]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Whispers of Lucifer: The death of marriage

Marriage is a dying institution. No, really. I heard it from Cameron Diaz two weeks ago.

Most children would know her voice as that of Princess Fiona in Shrek, but most recently she stars as the eponymous Bad Teacher, an pot-smoking, foul-mouthed, sex-crazed middle school educator.  It seems that she is of the mind that marriage is doomed.

What makes Ms. Diaz a matrimonial authority? Good question since her limelight hookups far exceed her age, she's never been married, and when last we saw Ms. Diaz, she was popping popcorn into the mouth of her boy-toy, A-Rod, at the Super Bowl. Oops. Did they catch that on camera? Seemed only fitting in Jerry Jones' personal Babylon.

Here are a few of her marital musings that Fox excerpted from an interview with another magazine.
“I think we have to make our own rules."
Oooo-kay. She must have missed some civics classes because most folks would call that anarchy and most civilizations that have tried to institute it have lasted about as long as Ms. Diaz' relationships.  Next please!
“I don't think we should live our lives in relationships based off old traditions that don't suit our world any longer."
They're cute when they're young, aren't they? This is precisely why children are not allowed to vote. Where to begin with that one? Do you get the idea that she's advocating an orgy from Orlando to Oregon? Old tradition. Yeah, that's true considering God Almighty put that one in place on the same day he created them male and female.  And unless God has left the building, methinks his institutions are still in place.  Next!
"Guys need women who challenge them and don't let them get away with their (stuff)."
"Yeah. YEAH! I am woman hear me roar." Sounds like Helen Reddy on a retro tour. We can assert anything that crosses our mind but fools we are when our conviction runs into the buzz saw of Scripture.  Solomon suggested that,
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
Paul, another one of those "old traditions" guys, said
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
If I'm faced with suggestions about how to live my life between Paul or Cameron, I'd flex to the former.

The little spiel on Fox concludes with
As for her romance with A-Rod? Diaz tells (the magazine), "It's really awesome."
Ooh, awesome.  What's that mean really?  Great restaurants?  Lots of great parties with other celebs du jour? Wild sex with no commitment? Or will it be coming to the end of your life, looking back and determining that it was all "vanity, meaningless, a chasing after the wind?" 'Zat awesome?

The gent who penned the post on Fox sums the trainwreck up nicely when he tosses in,
Just don’t ask her where the ring is.
OUCH!  I so wish I'd written that! 

Anyway, why am I bothering you with a misguided Ms. who makes more money in a minute than I make in a month?  Because this is what our entertainment industry is putting out.  These are not just the musings of some lass who thinks Gibraltar is where people used to get married. Hollywood has nearly dismantled what it believes to be a family. I challenge you to find a functioning dad, mom, and brood of chil'ns on any of the major networks. They're not there.

But it's not just Hollywood. Schools at all levels teach this. Such infection has seeped into public schools to a degree but by the time you get to the hallowed halls of the American universities, such ideology has ravaged the body.

When the same lie gets told often enough and in a myriad of ways, even clear-thinking folk begin to be duped by it. Take homosexuality. When I was a child, it was still considered sexual deviancy. Today it is a life-style choice. Largely because of the homosexual push in our country and the era of sexual liberation spawned in the '60's, folks are buying into the death of marriage. As goes the culture, so goes the church.  Just look at Europe. The bastion of biblical reformation is now stone-cold dead. Really, the only society that remains even remotely Christian in its conduct is the United States, and when folks like Ms. Diaz don't get laughed into seclusion for suggesting such tripe, it only shows that it won't be long before Christian America will become, like Europe, a thing of history only without the amazing Church architecture.

Despite such deceptions, the truth does not change. We must combat such inane notions with the Truth of God's word, the unchanging word that brings life and guides us in the intentions of God.  Unfortunately, a doctor (PhD-type) picked up on Ms. Diaz' blathering and dog-piled. It too surfaced on Fox. I'll be addressing that article absurd point by absurd point in the days ahead.

In the mean time, when you or your kids hear such drivel, hold it up to the light of God's word, and let it drive the darkness away.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How do I love thee?

If you missed Mother's Day this year, chalk that one up as a "lesson learned." No, I'm not talking about your mom (missing that one would be bad enough). I'm talking about not honoring your wife on Mother's Day.

"But she's not my mom!" you retort.

Spoken like a real man. She is, however and obviously, the mother of your children, oh ye of granite skull. Why not take any and every opportunity to honor your bride?

"Guess I never thought of it," as you scratch the polished marble of your forehead.

That idea may be as foreign to you as spending a day off shopping, but it's not to her. Which takes us to this:  How she hears love may not be how you naturally want to tell her that you love her.


Gary Chapman wrote an entire book on the topic. He referred to how people hear or receive love as "Love Languages," and he noted five of them (the following is taken from his web-site here):
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

Physical Touch
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
The thing of it is, if your woman loves flowers and cards but you're trying to tell her that you love her with hugs, neck rubs, and foot massages, she may not be hearing you. If your woman aches to hear "I love you" and "I appreciate all you do" but your the kind of guy who knows your wife loves you because she's still there when you get home, then you're probably not going to naturally express love to your wife through words.  She may be the kind of woman that wants to hear it.  A lot. Then, sir, you need to buy Rosetta Stone and learn to speak that language!

What's this all mean? Find out how your woman hears "I love you." It's part of what Peter's getting at when he tells us to "live with your wives in an understanding way" (1 Peter 3:7). Be a scholar of your woman. Know what makes her tick. Grease monkeys get real satisfaction out of hearing an engine hum that they have taken pain-staking care in rebuilding. Husbands should get real satisfaction over building up our brides by lavishing the love of God upon them.

Gents, we are God's vehicle for smearing love upon the woman he has given us. She is a gift. She is a treasure (Proverbs 31:10). Let's take great delight in loving our women. The rewards stagger the mind and last into eternity.

And let's try not to miss Mother's Day next year. Or the anniversary. Or her birthday.  Or...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Prime Directive

You can't refute Christ. When he says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength, that's what he means. That's why "law" is unnecessary in the life of the believer; his life should be driven and compelled by an overarching love for and desire to please Almighty God.  It's the greatest commandment because living it out leads all others to be superfluous.

Commandment number two flows right off of that. Love your neighbor as yourself. Both of these sound tap-in easy on the surface, but when we get closer to the green, we see the putt is really a 150-footer with undulations that would make Augusta National's greenskeeper proud.

As you've heard countless times, love is not a feeling; it's an act of the will. Loving God gets hard when the inky blackness of my selfish heart gets in the way. Loving others gets hard when, coupled with the inky blackness of my heart, I have to deal with the inky blackness of your heart, too.

Paul gives us another commandment, but this one doesn't go out to the general masses.  It goes to husbands specifically, and in many ways seems more daunting than the general command to love your neighbors as yourself.  It is this,
"Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..."

~ Ephesians 5:25
Yes, there's more to the quote and I'll get to it in time, but notice the comparator that Paul uses--as Christ loved the Church.  I might be able to shrug off not loving someone so well because I might not love myself so well (a cop-out, by the way), but it is most uncomfortable to suggest that how I should love my woman should be on par with the epitome of sacrifice, the love of Christ for the church.  So extraordinary and far-reaching is this command to husbands that it is easily dismissed and ignored, but because it is so difficult and yet so needful for a marriage to succeed, it is the eponym for this blog and should be one of the life verses for every man who is married.

Over the weeks, months, and years to come, I will come back to this verse for I must remind myself of these things over and over again.  You must be reminded, too.

Because the "as Christ loved the church" part is so overwhelming and mind-blowing, let's focus on the first four words and the title to this blog, "Husbands, love your wives." Notice, this is a command and not a suggestion. Being God's word to his creation, this comes to us from the throneroom of heaven. Paul is merely the courier. His order to husbands? Love your wives.

You are on the front line in combat and you get an order direct from the general. How do you respond? More and more men in America drop their weapon and quit. Were they in actual combat, they would fall on a grenade for their compadre. Why will men not do the same for their woman? The enemy is not our bride; it's Satan and his ilk who seek your destruction (1 Peter 5:8) and the destruction of your marriage (1 Corinthians 7:5).

From God to us, "Love your wife." It's not a feeling. It's a command that demands action on our part.

"But I don't feel like it," we snivel. I challenge you over your lifetime to find one passage in God's word that ties this kind of love to feeling.

Love your wife.

"But you don't know my wife," we charge. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). While we were still rebels.  While we stood opposed to him. While we flayed his back.  While we clubbed him with bats. While we drove spikes into his body. No, I don't know your wife and you don't know mine, but I do know the darkness of my own heart, a heart redeemed by God long before I longed for him.

Love your wife.

"But you don't know what I've had to endure," we litigate. When we bluster about the wrongs we've suffered and the abuse we've endured, let's turn to Hosea. He was a prophet, a holy man of Israel. God asks him to marry a whore, a woman who's been with men beyond count. Hosea takes her as his own, loves her, and begins to have children by her. Gomer returns to her whoring ways. Hosea, at God's command, goes and buys her back out of her harlotry. God uses Hosea as a picture of his love for Israel. It is the same love of Christ for the church. It is the same love commanded to us as husbands for our wives.

Love your wife.

No loopholes. No caveats. Just a simple, straight-forward command from the One who loves us more than any other that we love (action not feeling) the woman he has provided us to be our helpmate, our bride. This woman we vowed to love before God and man when we took our oaths at the altar at some time past. It's long past time for us to stop quibbling and get to the business of obeying our commander. Only then will we come to know the rich and miraculous blessings that come to the man who loves his wife.

Brothers, love your wives.