I'd like to open this article with a biblical passage that amplifies an area that I have been focused on this year, namely the spiritual disciplines.
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. (Hebrews 6:1, NLT)
Please read that first sentence again! Biblical scholars posit that the book of Hebrews was written in the latter half of the 1st century to a Jewish community whose faith was faltering because of strong Jewish influences. We must ask ourselves a sobering and rhetorical question. Has anything changed in the twenty centuries since this verse was penned?
We as Christian couples are stuck going over the 'basic teachings about Christ again and again' especially when it comes to our marriages. Whether debating about the meaning of the words 'submission' for wives or 'head of the household' for husbands or when we can re-marry if we divorce, we have heard it all before, ad nauseam. Sadly, these and dozens more circular debates set the glass ceiling of our marriages.
Hebrews 6:1 admonishes us to stop relishing in this immaturity.
Marriage was designed for us to operate as an elite tactical force courageously brandishing spiritual weapons for godliness against the forces of evil. Instead, we are a ragtag bunch of modern-day Pharisees who are more interested in our appearance, our rules, our self-righteousness, and our hedonistic pleasure. We struggle to read Hebrews 6:1 with a spiritual lens that permits the Holy Spirit to convict us about the way we do marriage. Our flesh pushes it away as important for others who are less spiritual than us, just like the Pharisee who prayed with thanks that he wasn't like the sinful tax collector (Luke 18:11-12).
At the root of our immaturity is our miseducation of marriage.
I'd like to lean on the seminal work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933) to introduce the premise of our own miseducation of marriage. Dr. Woodson's treatise supposes that social systems ostensibly designed to elevate the Black community have instead culturally indoctrinated Blacks for subservience. This destructive conditioning of the Black mind fosters a sense of inferiority and dependence on its oppressors.
I can think of no more poetic a parallel to the 'Mis-Education of Marriage' than Dr. Woodson's classic thesis.
Most of us have been lying to ourselves ever since 'I do' rolled far too easily off the tongue at the altar.
While God designed marriage for our spiritual advancement to produce Kingdom-sanctioned fruit, the sinful culture in which we exist has castrated us and left us unfit for God's work. We have been indoctrinated to believe Christian marriage is primarily about achieving pleasure through companionship, child-bearing, and consumerism/economics--which we label as 'Christian' as long as we credit any gains to the blessings of God and maybe put something in the offering plate.
We are socialized from our earliest recollection to believe marriage is about control (aggressive or passive) and how to wield it to ensure our happiness. For most of our Christian marriages, the honeymoon bills haven't even been fully paid before the winds of manipulation blow. Disagreements become the norm. Tension is palpable. Arguments intensify. Intimacy wanes. Blaming and distrust leave little room for humility, repentance, or forgiveness.
Yet, a facade of happiness (at least a thin one) must be maintained for our Christian circles.
If this toxic sequence describes your marriage in full or in part or you know in your spirit there is a lack of zeal to actively advance your calling as a couple, please know that these circumstances do not truly reflect who you are as a marriage under Christ's umbrella.
Nearly all of us have been radically miseducated about everything that is Christian marriage leaving us handicapped to access the power that lies dormant within our union--like precious oil trapped beneath the ocean floor without any means of accessing it.
There is only one way of access and it is by necessity a spiritual one. Only spiritual solutions can rectify spiritual problems. This is why we must embrace the spiritual disciplines as couples. Whether inspired by brilliant theologians like Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and Howard Thurman or anointed spiritual directors like Barbara Peacock, the Holy Spirit is demanding that we grow in our relationship to Christ and as a couple by daily committing ourselves to one or more spiritual disciplines like meditation, fasting, prayer, solitude, worship, study, and simplicity, to name a few.
When you joined together with your spouse under the banner of Christ, the Lord placed within your marriage a priceless treasure--a unique, interwoven spiritual DNA strand only accessible through the spiritual disciplines. Your journey of marriage and its promise is to heed the Apostle Paul's admonition to spend your entire marriage training yourselves and fully exploiting your DNA's abilities as co-workers of the gospel until you die (1 Timothy 4:7). This and only this is the true purpose of Christian marriage. In this service alone will you find the fullness of personal joy you seek.
The world badly needs your tandem DNA .