Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hold up, what'd she say?

I love kids. And sometimes, I love their honesty. Sometimes. I once saw this thing on Pinterest that said, "if a woman says you're ugly, she's jealous. If a man says you're ugly, he's mean. If a kid says you're ugly, you're ugly." Kids are great like that, aren't they? We can always count on them to share embarrassing truths with a stranger.

My kids have said plenty of things to embarrass me over the years, and I'm sure they'll continue to embarrass me in years to come. But there have also been times when the truths that have spilled from their cute little mouths have made me proud and have at times surprised me with the depth of their understanding.

Not long ago my daughter came home after spending some time with a friend, and I could tell that something was bothering her. It didn't take much coaxing for her to share with me that a conversation she had with her friend "really got her fired up." I asked her what the conversation was about and she lowered her head as she told me that it was about me and my husband.

Me: "what was said?"
Cute daughter: "that you and Daddy aren't living right because he's not a Christian."

Whoa. That's not a light topic.

I asked her to tell me more about their conversation. 

Cute daughter: "she said that you can't be married to him because he doesn't go to church. And she said that the bible even says that. She said that something is wrong if Daddy isn't a Christian."

I listened intently as she continued to divulge details of their conversation and I painfully watched her eyes fill with tears. I asked her how she responded to her friend's comments:

Cute daughter: "I told her that I didn't want to talk about it anymore but she kept telling me stuff. I didn't want to argue with her."

Ugh. My initial reaction was to call up the mom and tell her to quit talking about my marriage at their dinner table, but of course, I didn't. Instead, I followed my daughter's example and kept my ugly thoughts to myself. I grabbed my bible, sat down with my daughter and we looked at the only words she needs to believe.

1) "Yoke"
I first showed my daughter the scripture that her friend was most likely referring to when she accused us of living "wrong." It reads:

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God." 2Corinthians 6:14-16

It's important to know that this book of the bible is a letter written by Paul to the church in Corinth and at this point in time, the church was weak and was struggling with division and spiritual immaturity. Paul was wanting to encourage the faithful believers to stay committed to God's truth as Paul's authority was being challenged and attacked. So who was Paul addressing? A group of spiritually weak believers. And who loves to prowl around weaklings? The enemy. So Paul was warning the believers about the idea of linking up with an unbeliever, especially in areas of partnership. He's not limiting it to emotional or physical relationships, but in business and work relationships as well. 
Do you know what "yoke" means? I didn't know what it meant when I read this for the first time. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that was placed over the neck of two animals and was attached to a cart or a plow, therefore the animals had to work closely together and where one went, the other had to follow. Knowing this, it's clear to see why Paul would state such a warning...when we are spiritually weak, it's easy for us to be lead astray. Maybe you're single and the temptation of that cute guy is crying out to you, 'oh I want to be yoked to him!' Maybe a business deal will promise you a small fortune, but you have to partner up with an unethical person. Maybe you reconnected with an old friend and they want you to go out, drink and party with them...ya know, revive the partners in crime status. Maybe an outsider is challenging your convictions and wants you to explore a different religion with them. Whatever it is, when we are spiritually weak, pairing up with an unbeliever is never a good idea.

2) "but, my husband..."
So here we are. Married to a non-believer. And Paul said not to get tied up in that! Well, yes. I agree with Paul...if you are already a believer and find yourself wanting to be with an unbeliever, are you willing to leave God to follow a man?
A long while ago, a dear friend of mine was dating one of my best friends. They were both believers and involved in a pure relationship. My best friend, we'll call her Sally, was feeling the temptation of doubt and eventually she walked away from God. My friend, we'll call him Larry, was devastated by her decision to leave God. But he loved her so much, he tried to hold on, hoping it could still work and that she would come back to God. But after some time, Larry realized that it would never work. He said to me, "I was gonna marry her. But, you can't build a house on two different foundations." And, that was the end of their love story. 

So true. It's impossible to build a home on two different foundations. Which is why heeding Paul's warning is important if you are a single woman of faith. Imagine starting off your marriage with such different views! The first year of marriage is difficult enough. 
But then there are cases like mine: married, found God while married, husband thought he wanted God, turns out he doesn't (for now), and now we have to build on two different foundations. And boy can it be a rocky foundation at times. When I married my husband, neither of us were believers. I wasn't exchanging one for the other. I wasn't choosing man over God. I didn't idolize my husband instead of worshipping God. What happened after we married, well, I believe is all part of God's master plan. 

3) "so, is my marriage wrong?"
No way, sister. In fact, Peter addresses the spiritually single woman...which tells us that women married to non-believers has been going on for quite some time, and he didn't condemn them. But rather, he encouraged them:

"Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husband so that if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." 1Peter 3:1-2

How incredible is that. Peter wasn't telling you that your marriage is wrong in God's eyes. He wasn't saying, "nice job picking that one, good luck with that whole unbelieving husband thing." He was doing quite the opposite. He was encouraging us to respect, honor and serve our husbands. He was giving us hope. He was filling our hearts with encouragement. He was not telling us that we are living wrong.
Spiritually single women have obviously had a presence in God's church for so long that He wanted to make sure that we were instructed how to love our husbands, even if they're non-believers. 


After talking with my daughter I could see the relief in her eyes. I explained to her my story of finding God after we had been married. I told her that Paul's warning is something to keep close to her heart if she chooses to make Jesus the Lord of her life (God willing she will)...it's always a better idea to start your life with one who shares with you the same love for God. But for those of us who found God after we were married, or even some of us whose husbands were Christians but they walked away from God, our marriages are not wrong. We are not living wrong. We are simply a vessel in God's plan for our lives, as well as the lives of our husbands.

Don't let the words of others try to drown your hope. Remember that God's words are the only words we need to believe. He is 100% supportive of your marriage. He needs you there. He's going to use you in many wonderful ways. Listen to Him...and only to Him. But if you need to hear it from the mouth of a child's pure heart, my daughter will happily tell you, "if God says it's good, then it's good." Ahhh, out of the mouths of babes.


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