Understanding the Core of Conflict in Marriage (part 3)
August 12, 2022
Third part in a three part series where we look at the core of conflict in marriage. In this episode, you'll learn of a powerful model that can break the cycle of control and shame that runs counter to the "Christian-lite" approach and the culture itself.
Please make sure you go through those to get the foundation to this. However, here’s the recap:
- Although the culture or our own sin desires to erase all differences between men and women, Scripture indicates that there are differences in the nature of our core sins. However, many people -- including many who are churched -- can’t understand God’s wisdom because it runs so contrary to their “natural” state.
- If we believe we all descend from Adam and Eve, then understanding the original sin and its nature for men and women should help us get at the foundation to sins in our modern lives. There is great benefit to understanding this.
- Eve’s sin was a desire to be like God, to be able to judge intentions and morality, to be easily deceived by things that appeal to pragmatism and aesthetics, and to control her husband.
Today, we’re going to turn a little bit to the men for them to own their part in the original sin and the resulting curse.
What is man’s sin and curse?
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
- Listening to Eve was a Sin because she wanted him to stray from obeying God.
- This is unfortunately both more common and a far greater sin than being deceived by Satan
- Men are in a difficult bind, for the culture and their own instinct is to listen to their wives, to try to please them, the entire lie of “happy wife happy life” has a grip.
- It’s especially hard in that, in general, this should be true; but when the wife, who is gullible to Satan, wants to control her husband to do something contrary to God’s will, she will get her way one way or the other.
- The husband who pushes back will be seen and treated as controlling.
- In God’s proper order, this isn’t a problem. He should first seek God and has the responsibility as we’ll see later in Ephesians of literally washing his wife in God’s word. So he owns the responsibility (God asked Adam what’s going on, not Eve).
- At the same time, the entire world of work will weigh as toil, on his soul, as his source of identity....and will struggle to do so.
- This is in contrast to what it could have been, which was not to toil upon a cursed ground, but to “work it and keep it.”
What is an antidote to this set of core problems?
- There is plenty of sin to go around for both genders
- Part of being a Christian is being honest with the full truth, the full gospel, the full counsel of God and doing so in our context. Our enemy is the culture.
- Which means, if we don’t actually address what could be slipping into our thought lives, even in the churches themselves, from the culture, we’re allowing the prowling lion into our home.
- The “easy Christianese” answer is to say, “just love more; just listen more; communicate more.”
- But if I were Satan and wanted to slowly disrupt the church from within, those are the lies I would propagate; and I would steer people away from deeply understanding God’s word, the ravages of sin, and our legacy which should show us how deep and flawed we are without a savior who is perfect and willing to take it all with his own death.
- So there’s much more to go into it, and unfortunately, some of it will feel tilted towards the woman...but that’s because the culture has found a way to work things through the woman. And we need to spend our time on this soon.
- But I’m proposing the counter-balance to help us, and that’s to show an illustration of what a wife could be.
- Remember the key phrase of why did God create woman in the first place?
- Did he make a mistake? Did he think loneliness itself was the problem?
- No, he created a “helpmeet”: ezer which is used as a rescuer, referring to God, in a saving sense, a military sense; and once as k’enegdo -- which is of equal stature or value.
- A great illustration of this is Abigail, wife of David
How does Abigail illustrate one way to be a helpmeet?
- Abigail is married to Nabal
- David’s men carry David’s message of greetings and conveying how well they treated Nabal’s men and to ask for supplies
- Nabal insults the men
- David learns of the insults and wants to attack.
- Abigail steps in and averts the disaster by deescalating David
- She tells Nabal and his heart stops and he turns to stone
- God then takes Nabal’s life
- Abigail marries David
Why do I put stock into this story?
- The story is not primarily an anecdote of a good wife
- It is telling the Gospel
- Nabal represents a sinning world, in this case, his offense is affronting David
- This would normally seem petty, but David represents God -- and God is justified in his wrath for all of our petty offenses against him
- Abigail rides upon a donkey....and propitiates....just like Jesus
- David’s wrath is held at bay
- But when told the truth, Nabal can’t understand it, his heart is dead and he’s of stone, and he dies...just like the many who do not have eyes to see and ears to hear -- who never repent of their sin and put their trust in God will also die
- Paul writes in Ephesians about marriage, but then kind of twists and says he’s really referring to Christ and the church; and so marriage is intended, at its best, to illustrate the Gospel.
- Not all do; so when one does, it warrants attention
- What does Abigail do?
- Let’s reverse it. Husbands and wives can play this thought experiment.
- Imagine you are a husband, and you have been offended and, in the way men are, want to attack, take action, do something potentially rash.
- What would most modern Christian women do?
- Shame: “If you attack, you’ll look like an idiot and make us look bad.”
- Criticism: “You’re always so violent and reactive! Why can’t you just let it go!”
- Disregard: “Go ahead, whatever. Just get it done and then get back to the stuff I want you to do.”
- Bring up the past: “Last time you did this, you were late for dinner!”
- Disrespect: “You’re always so barbaric.”
- Wives and husbands: when’s the last time a wife gave good, calm, wise counsel to change a direction but resorted to shame and control?
- Women don’t understand that they aren’t supposed to mother their husbands...they are supposed to be an ezer...a helpmeet....like Abigail
- Respect: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say.”
- Agree with the problem without accusation: “He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him.”
- She’s with her husband: “may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal”
- Not controlling or demanding: “Please forgive your servant’s presumption.” (heart posture than words)
- Sees and proclaims a good essence: “The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles,”
- Cares wisely about the outcome for the husband: “my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself.”
- Trust’s God and paints a positive outcome: “when the Lord your God has brought my lord success”
- This answer is not about a script.
- It’s far deeper and often the root.
- Abigail’s approach is not to be critical, controlling, or shaming. But she still got what she wanted....she stopped bloodshed that, in the end, she didn’t need to care about since she didn’t seem to care much for Nabal.
- This was an impractical act on her part.
- It was no pragmatic, it was not fueled by aesthetics, it wasn’t fueled by efficiency and busyness.
- She cared wisely and saw and desired God’s hand in the person’s life and did so with vulnerability (calls herself a servant and David lord)...and sought and saw the best in David, despite his planning a heinous act.
- This is not taught by the culture. By churches. By most mothers to daughters.
- Most men can’t articulate this and would likely be shot down if they did.
- Wives, your husband is not your enemy. But you may be making him into one.
- Husbands, your wife may see you as the enemy. But don’t take the bait.
- The culture is the enemy. Jesus has warned us, to not be of it, and to not conform to it.
- Seek the truth, the core, through God and his design and his Word. Much may rub against you wrong. That’s a good start. Worry if you don’t understand it or you reject it out of hand. But if you are willing to wrestle with it, let it convict you.
- In the same way the God’s wisest illustrations in the Old Testament point to Jesus, in your own struggle and conflict, find Jesus -- he is the core antidote to marital conflict.