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June 25, 2020 2:00 am
In a discussion based on his book Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas describes how God uses marriage to make us holy, not just happy. (Part 1 of 2)
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Amanda's marriage was a train wreck trying to raise for young kids facing bankruptcy. Constant arguments and then her husband had an affair that everything and like I don't know what I can't stand to look at. I like to be around him when he wanted to deal thankfully God intervened in Amanda's life began to change as she listened to our podcast bill really loved her family gave me hope and gave me a change in perspective now know not every married again and there is hope on Jim Daly. Working together we can rescue more marriages like commanders, especially during this coronavirus pandemic and when you donate today. Your gift will be double.
Learn firstname.lastname@example.org/strengthen families or call 880 family. Someone said that one best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse and have their been a card attached. It would've said. Here's to helping you discover what you're really like some of us may want to send a gift back but there is wisdom in the quote and take a look in the mirror so to speak on today's Focus on the Family with Jim Daly Jon I think one of the reasons marriages are failing so quickly today is that we often don't like what we see in the mirror, but then we blame the mayor don't win and that's really blaming God or blaming our spouse for what the reflection is our inadequacies. Maybe you've mistakenly embraced marriage for your personal happiness, and I'm telling you the longer I live the more I see God and his purposes in marriage and I'm very excited to talk to our special guest today about the nature of marriage and our guest is Gary Thomas who's been here before. He is a best-selling author and one of his books is called sacred marriage that's were to dive into today. Gary and his wife Lisa have three grown children and they live in Houston, Texas hey Gary, welcome back to Focus on the Family. Thank you, Jim. Let me let me start there.
The broader question which is, as I said the longer I live the more that statement by Paul rings true that you could see God in the nature God created and it's very simple. When you look at marriage. Maybe it's not about us. Maybe it's about becoming more like him. And how does he do that in marriage I believe in every aspect of marriage. There's the invitation to become more like Christ.
The problem is that we have to accept that is one of the purposes of marriage, I got married for an entirely opposite reasons I want somebody to love me. I wanted some to appreciate me and wanted some to occasionally serve me. I'm embarrassed to say that and it wasn't until I really begin to understand that marriage is about becoming that I really began to get a feel for why God created marriage and and what it could do.
We don't have the sense that were becoming someone we have the sense that we want someone to be there for us. We don't even have the sense that we need to become something were not that we kinda define love is supposed accept me as I am in appreciate me as I am and respect me as I am in and so we'll lose that whole emphasis that marriage can call us to become someone else.
More importantly calls become more like Jesus Christ. When that's the point. Can you give me a practical example because I understand kinda sort out what you're talking about to become something else than your day. So in my marriage. How would that apply. For me, what would I be becoming in a healthy sense.
Let me give an example. Right after 9/11, they shut down the airports we all know for several days and I started traveling again, but when they reopened the airports. It was an entirely different experience when you were flying. It could be in the early days before TSA words up and running. It was, you know, hour and 1/2, sometimes two hours and security practically strip-searched, trying to get through this one thing. If you do that occasionally when you're traveling just about every weekend and they're going through it and they were completely trained yet and I don't mean to be uncharitable, but it felt like you were dealing with the Keystone cops.
Sometimes just ridiculous questions and whatnot and I I really started to get cynical. I started to get negative and I've done this for several months and then my wife finally went on a trip with me. Her kids were much younger. At the time and so she can travel with me as much and after we went through it.
She's kinda looked at me and said what is happened when he meets you as well. Your cynical your naked and you kinda rude just that this is not the person of ever known you to be. And I realize that an ugly situation was turning into an ugly person. I was letting that situation stand me and who I was and here I was, hopefully going to church is wanting to bring the light of Christ and acting like a son of Satan. On my way to get there and I realize you know that's not who I want to be. That's not what God would want of me and so that was an example for my wife could be that God mirror to me saying you know what this is who I know you to be. This is how your acting here with what's going on and I think it would've been a time in my marriage when I would've resented I might've even said defensively.
Love you dad to go to the last few months. Like I have and whatnot but instead just accepting it as a call. There are some issues in your life that need to be addressed welcome it. This is your wife. Your sister in Christ saying I think you can do better in this area. Now if you resent the thought that you could do better in an area you'll resist that. But if you believe that. I think Scripture calls to become more more like Christ. We can welcome those moments I'm I'm back there with you considering acting like the son of Satan, but it's true.
It's you lose your your Christlike character.
In some situations that and that's probably exactly the spot where God wants to deal with you and try to get a handle on the Disney yeah yeah and I think one of the funnier ones and in sacred marriage that people have talked about is how I got married thinking I'm just as very easy going guy like back in junior high I was voted most polite. I'm 34 kids. I'm not a type A personality. Jim, you have all the skills that I like. I wouldn't want to run an organization. I don't want to be in charge and will be responsible for budgets or personnel or higher fire evaluate all of that.
I just thought them out of my wheelhouse and I really admire those administrators that that can do that and so I thought you just as laid-back and not easily irritable and so I was even voted out by my peers in and they got it, but then when you get married and you realize the silly things that really bug you give us an example for Lisa night was ice cube trays in the days before leaving or not automatic icemakers in your freezer family. I grew up in. If you got out an ice cube you're supposed to refill the tray and put it back in the freezer so next person. Have a nice full tray of ice cubes, and I'm convinced that's the biblical way to handle yourself in the kitchen. I'm all with my wife unfortunately grew up in a family where they bring those things down to a nice chip I if there's something you could scrape off with a knife that could conceivably be called eyes you are morally obligated refill the track so ask you the last man feels good and I had a really bad habit.
Back then my wife is since cured me of it, but I had to have my daily Pepsi and I gotta tell you if you got one tiny little ice cube. The Pepsi wins every time, and I hated drink Pepsi and so I've had to deal with this frustration.
How do I explain to my new bride. How much of my happiness depends on having this nice full tray of ice cubes, and I just couldn't get my point across and so one night she speaking romantically to me. I thought, here's my chance said I know I will. She said Gary I'm going to love you forever.
I said honey I don't need you love me forever. I need you love me for seven seconds she looked what are you talking about set a time telling takes to fill the ice cube tray put them in the freezer and that is really both kind of laughed at his gear were at that again seriously at this moment you realize was going on and it really help me to understand that there are these issues in my life that you not. I've never dealt with with some issues that some guy I've never been drunk. I don't use the language I don't really blow off a temper and embarrass Lisa that way but you know what I have my routines and you step on my routines at your peril and had to realize is like Jesus.
He said he came to not to be served but to serve and and it's not about everybody saying Gary what makes you comfortable. What doesn't put you out and so it really shined a spotlight on an area that I was blind to. I'm more irritable than I thought. In certain areas they might not seem like morally significant areas, but those are the root issues that really can make people around us miserable and that don't shine the light of Christ. The ice cube tray man. I like the new nickname for Gary in your book sacred marriage which is a classic and you've updated it and as John, you said a 20 year wheelhouse books is recommend this book a lot yeah you make a comment. In fact, it's the subtitle of the book were you ask what I think is the core question. It is what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy and Gary again in my own relationship with Jean in the culture in the Christian community. I'm not sure that we have a good handle on this one. It's not about holiness.
It is about my happiness and I don't care what the book was first published in the year 2000 so is written in the 90s and what I discovered is that time is that most Christian books were focused on how can you be happier in your marriage. How can you be more fulfilled in your marriage. How can you make your marriage more pleasant and while I understand those concerns. I understand those desires because I share all of them. I wanted to present this picture where God presents that holiness is the doorway to happiness is that by pursuing holiness that we arrive at happiness and I'm finding with younger couples today. Jim one of the challenges is that they just are shocked at how much work is involved in being a spouse. In particular, being a parent well limitation shocked as one word. Are they overwhelmed and incapable of giving of themselves is that the core problem absolutely. I feel like what happens if we don't prepare people with this mindset. It's like taking soldiers straight from Wall Street or MainStreet and put them in the middle of a war zone without training that that what's going on. I didn't expect it, and when we get married thinking because I want to be fulfilled because I want to be happy and all the sudden we have a spouse that has demands on us and we have to learn to give way to them and then we have kids that seem like nothing but demands early on in the years and were just tired and all of a sudden it's like how did I get lured into this, not realizing that it's one of the most glorious things. It helps us become men.
It helps us become women. It helps us become who I think we want to be, you know, when we look at it today, we do shy away from pain in our culture almost in every way. We over parent our kids to keep them safe. We don't want them to even scratch their knee and we laugh about that a lot.
We talk about a lot here John, but it's true true in this marriage category.
We focus on ourselves and what our needs are as were doing premarital counseling, even going into the relationship. It's not so much about the art of giving and learning to be patient, the fruit of the spirit. If we could be bought, love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, meekness and patience. Those are the fruits that we develop why what are we missing why we so self focused today in the culture in particular in the Christian culture I've grown up on the Christian Classics Christian books that were written hundreds or sometimes thousands of years ago, and that's what informed my early books. I believe it's what informed sacred marriage just trying to explore how Christians have understood the faith throughout the centuries, and the one thing that I think is crystal clear is that the ancients valued holiness. What we value our salvation and Gary appreciate that you earlier.
You alluded to this, but I think it's important for us to hear holiness is not exclusive from happiness because if I'm in a marriage. Right now the hearing you, I'm thinking, oh great I'm going to be I would choose to be unhappy, but holy is that what you're saying is, no, I really believe that holiness is the doorway to happiness. Holiness is what protects our happiness when you have two people that are fighting over selfish things and James talks about this.
Nobody can win.
But when you really trying to pursue who you are in Christ, it can really help you. I believe understand how to resolve some of the unresolvable conflicts of marriage and in so that includes ice cubes so fighting over ice cubes.
There's a holy way to do that.
What it's not just wanting my wife to start filling the ice cube trays. For me it's me seeing how I'm so driven by certain silly routines and like I want you to live for my comfort. Well if I coddle my selfishness.
It's like any other loss, it can't be satisfied if somebody's materialists don't never have enough money is somebody is selfish, though never have enough stuff is somebody just lust for appreciation, don't never be appreciated enough sin can't be satisfied. It needs to be crucified and my marriage changed when I realized that marriage was a place where my sin could be crucified.
It really comes under this we can choose to let sin tear apart our marriages. We can use our marriages to tear apart arson will and Gary, I think a lot of guys hearing this, you just put up spirit through their heart because were we do live in that place were we can bifurcate those two worlds. We have a home world and we have a work world and it's hard sometimes for us to come home and immediately engage your spouse and and have a meaningful conversation about spilt milk because you were just not dialed in that way, did you have a way to remind yourself that this is about eternity more so than the code I'm writing. How did you dial into Lisa's essay while I'm here and you but when I was a younger husband and I would face those issues. I we thought the problem was Lisa. And so that's our natural reaction.
Jim is my natural reaction when I have those episodes.
My wife and I'm disappointed in my marriage. I think what's the matter with them and the sacred marriage approach was learning to ask first. Okay, what's the matter with me that I care so little about my kids that I'm not willing to engage with my wife in this why do I blame her rather than myself but Gary sometimes you're not even self-aware of that I did, I would assume this person that you're describing the code writer over the father in him may not have even seen the deficiency he might've thought he was an excellent father that his kids will learn valuable work skills from him him him him you see the point. What I'm trying to say is we can begin to justify whether were mom or dad we can justify our behavior in so many ways and in itself. That's the nonrecognition of that sin in your life right absolutely and that's the whole point of the subtitle. What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy when we keep that in mind then were led to asked that question. Otherwise, if I'm not happy why am I not happy.
It must be my spouse's fault. It's an entirely different question.
To say I'm not wholly why am I not holy one that you might try to blame your spouse, but a lot of it is joint.
I'm responding and appropriate way.
The older I get, the more I see this new look at Colossians 312 and 13, and some other passages. What astonishes me about the New Testament is that maturity in the Christian faith is largely defined by how we treat the immaturity of others that my holiness is demonstrated how wet by how well I put up with the unholiness or the lack of holiness that I see in others is not just what I do or don't do or what I avoid or don't avoid. It's how patient I am, how gentle I am.
How understanding I am when others don't display holiness and you see that in the Christian Classics as well, in sickness, I got the holy double standard that the holier we get, according to the Christian Classics, the harder we are on ourselves and the more general we are on others.
The problem is, in most marriages. We excuse ourselves and were harder on her spouse that is so good and so true. I don't know why we do that as human beings. You actually made a statement that I want to repeat right here because I think it fits so well you said that behind every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepentant sin. I'm that's a big charge and a real mind bender circuit is that true. If I think about Gina and myself.
Those areas rhyme dissatisfied is there unrepentant sin in my heart and the answer is yes and I would say that's true. Do you have examples of that for you and Lisa so here is a classic case in point. Again it goes back to my routines. Or whatnot, but when we lived back in Seattle Washington actually live north of that in Seattle has place called Green Lake. It's a very popular place for people to run and I loved running around Green Lake, just different place and so often when I flew into Seattle and then drove up to Bellingham. I would stop at Green Lake and go for my run, but I'm still about 75 miles away.
So you have to sit in wet, sweaty, running close to I got home and I could shower well just so happens my son became employed in Seattle with his new wife had an apartment a block and 1/2 away from Green Lake thinking I can run around Green Lake and I get to take a shower before I go home and I was so stupid to some people is in your get alike. But you are who you are and so the first time, where there is apartment we talk about what you said yeah but when Mike and a run. Lisa's trying to set up afternoon plans that we habit that how many are you ready for you and Lisa just very gently, patiently, kindly, said Gary may be getting a run is the most important thing this afternoon. Maybe you can run longer tomorrow little bit shorter today, and everything will be okay and she did in a way where I could say Gary your obsessing again.
Again Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and I was saying I want my family scheduled to revolve around the fact I can finally run around Green Lake and get a shower immediately afterwards, because I know somebody who has a place right next to hear and is just letting that instead of same, but I want to take a shower. It's just saying I see this marriage is a chance to go unholiness. This isn't the kind of person I want to be. So Gary just receive it and accept it. And you know what I did get my run in and in the glorious part of it.
As she got to run with my son and listeners a Focus on the Family be happy ask even ran into (at a great time so it was a banner day. Of course he lives just by their self. You can use it. Shelley won't let you know that well of them. I bet I could now but back then I I don't know that it would Gary let me give you a couple of examples over couple of subject topics that will be a little more difficult to hear Focus on the Family when there's marital strife and people writing us and calling us or calling our counseling department will be around the area of intimacy in their marriage or finances in their marriage. How would this apply in that regard.
Let's say you have a couple that you know he spending money out of control. She's the saver and it it's it's a more serious issue. They've now accumulated 20,000 worth of debt.
She can't seem to get his attention on this. How does this apply in that context, that's a classic case where it's our sin that makes us miserable if you don't have your spending under control, you just inject stress and fear and uncertainty and worry into the rest of your family. You put your family's future at risk.
You put your family's financial stability at risk and so being a holy there doesn't just mean putting up with it and pretending it's not happening. It might mean praying for courage to confront and to persist and to help your spouse realize this can't go on. It's not just about you. Their real issues here that we have to address and so holiness appeals to who Christ is Christ confronted people Christ comforted people. Christ would convict people. Christ would heal people.
So holiness doesn't just mean putting up with our spouses holiness.
Some of us and I think I kind of fall into this. I'm more of a people pleaser if I want to be holier sometimes I have to confront more I have to speak up more and that would be a classic case in point where you need to do that for the sake of your family say this can't go on Gary, that sounds again, theoretically the right thing to do the correct thing to do but how vulnerable are we to say to our spouses. Hey let me know when I'm living in sin, we don't normally sit down and talk to each other. That way we should. As this is our help make this our number one relationship in our life but to say to our spouse. They point out were all my errors are that could be really dangerous, but it's what were called to be, because were not just husband and wife were brother and sister in Christ. Paul tells husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, and died to make her holy and so part of love is helping somebody become more like Christ. And I think what we all need to do is look at James 32 when James said we all stumble in many ways. We all stumble anyways.
James had a unique perspective. Growing up as the brother of Jesus Christ with a completely perfect person.
You can imagine what that would do the sitting rivalry, but you see he compared himself to Jesus. We compare ourselves to the worst husbands we can find wise compare themselves the worst wives a confined site look I'm doing far better than our so now it's your time to step up. But if we had the attitude of James that look when I compare myself to Jesus, the best of us on our best day stumble in many ways, then will deal with our stuff to some not saying don't deal with your spouse's stuff. What I am saying is don't stop dealing with your stuff to will and in your really emphasizing that great Scripture in Matthew that we typically apply door neighbor or the external world which says get the log out of your own eye before you get the speck out of your spouse's is put in that context and that's really what you're saying. Work on your things that you need to improve. And really when you do that Gary. Your marriage will improve because you have the right attitude. Don't underestimate the power of positive example. And when you have to spouses that are seeking to grow in holiness.
It really does become geometric you inspire each other. You lift each other up now. Often, some will say, but again my spouse is never going to be there. I'm not even sure their Christian I believe the presence of Christ in the example of Christ is so strong that even if only one person is doing this there injecting the gentleness of Christ, the hope of Christ, the courage of Christ. The kindness of Christ.
The unselfishness of Christ the service of Christ. It's still good to make the marriage better not to St. it's the same as if two people are doing it but it still gonna be much better than it would've been if one is pursuing that Ernest will so true. And you know what we talk about marriage and marriage is a policy issue we want to change the culture. Christian marriages need to be stronger to be a good witness to everyone. Gary, I got so many more questions. Can you come back next time and lets the delving a little deeper on some of these great topics I want talk about the difference from the contract and the covenant, and how that applies. Marriage.the honest I was hoping you know it's always so good to have Gary Thomas with us here at Focus on the Family. He has such a unique way of helping us see how God wants to use marriage to make us holy and a stretch as interfaith right's message is convicting, and I realize just how human I am when it comes to marriage even after so many years of being with Jean. It's a choice I have to make every day to focus on holiness over happiness in my own marriage and that you know what happiness does show up as a result of choosing holiness here Focus on the Family we want your marriage to thrive and we know it's not always easy because we live it to you likely been tested like never before. In recent months because of the pandemic.
If your family has been hurt by unemployment, illness, isolation or separation. As a result of the pandemic. We are here for you will continue to pray for you and your family and hopefully provide you resources to help you in any way that we can and we have for caring Christian counselors who will be happy to talk with you and pray with you and John a path toward healing and for marriages that are really needing help, but we have our hope restored marriage intensive's we have three locations around the US and they are doing such great work there to help husbands and wives like you and like me, find hope for their marriages. This kind of ministry is not possible without your prayers and financial support. And we know the financial implications of the pandemic have reached a many of you probably about 36 to 40 million of you and at the same time, the growing need and decrease giving her focus is caused a bit of a shortfall in our own budget and I just want to make you aware that if you're able and we need your help that God is provided a way to overcome the shortfall.
Thanks to some generous friends would've put up a matching opportunity which means whatever you give their going there in a match of the doublet and we are grateful to them and I see this is just a fun way of urging and in spurring each other on to meet the mission that we have her focus, and please donate today if you can will say thank you by sending a copy of Gary's book sacred marriage and you'll have the satisfaction of being able to go through the book or pass along somebody else in knowing that that your gift is been doubled. Call today 800 K in the word family or check the episode notes for further details and just let me add this a great situation where gift of any amount you get Gary's wonderful book and then your gifts going to be double by some friends I mean is that when when when I hope you take us up on this wonderful offer to contact us today once more that number 800 the letter a word family on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we continue the conversation with Gary Thomas and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ and I knew my marriage was falling apart.
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