When it comes to chilling out at the beach, nothing beats listening to Bob Marley. He is the epitome of beach life. I’ll even listen to him in the dead of winter as a way to think warm thoughts. Despite my admiration for Marley’s talent, I have to ask myself if he speaks truth. I was recently listening to his song “No Woman, No Cry.” I used to love this song. I thought, “How true is this song?!” Most of the memories in my life that involved pain involved women. I thought Bob Marley was a genius. For many years, this was my anthem, No woman, no cry. Don’t let them get close enough and you can’t get hurt. Well a funny thing happened to me. I met a really awesome young lady and now we’re getting married. I couldn’t be happier. God has truly blessed me. I’ve begun to prepare for marriage by reading all the books I can on marriage. Everyone tells me marriage is one of the toughest things you’ll ever do. I want to be as prepared as possible.
I stumbled across this book that I have learned immensely from. It’s called When Sinners Say “I Do”. One of the more provocative insights I found was this: Marriage is a revealer of sin, not creator of sin. Even though I’m not married, I’m still finding that having another person around who is intimately involved in your life really reveals another side of you. For most people, including myself, it is shocking to learn that there is this dark other side of you that you’ve never struggled with before. For example, I’ve come to realize that I can get really angry over very insignificant things. I’ve just come to this realization. Mostly, because my fiance asked me one time after a little tantrum why I get upset over small things. I had no idea. The temptation is to blame her for my anger. I could use the powers of deduction and come to a conclusion that is wholly wrong. I could say, “I never got angry over little things before I met her. I get angry over little things now. Therefore, she is the reason I get angry. It’s all her fault.” From my reading and from my limited experience, I am finding this to be the case in a lot of relationships. I see a lot of blame going on and not a lot of responsibility being accepted. The truth of the matter is, that sin was always there. My anger has always been there. My mini fits of rage have always been there. I’ve just never had anyone close enough to notice and call me out on it. Dave Harvey, who authored the book I mentioned above, likened marriage to a big oven and we are like unrefined gold. The fire of marriage brings to the surface our impurities…impurities that have long existed within us. Harvey’s point is this, one of marriage’s purposes, as designed by God, is to reveal to us our sinfulness. It is a tool for sanctification. We should expect that sin will exist within our relationship. It is not meant to be tolerated, but dealt with. That is God’s purpose. He wants to bring the sin to the surface so that he can properly deal with it. We must not ever blame the problems we face in our marriages on our marriage or our spouse. You are the biggest problem in your relationship. I wonder what your conflicts might like look if you and your spouse both approached it thinking that the other was the innocent party. What if we took to heart Jesus’ parable of the log and the speck. If both parties think the log is in their own eye, there will be a lot more grace, mercy and forgiveness offered and offered quickly. I hope so much to approach my marriage conflicts that way!
So, if that’s the right way, why are we so prone to want to think the other way about sin within the marriage. Why do we find the need to blame? Why do we blame our marriage or our spouse? I believe it comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of man’s condition, his moral state. The Bible is very clear about man’s moral state. Man is corrupt. His nature is sinful. His bent is rebellion (while this is all true, we must not lose sight of the truth that man is also created in God’s image). Our world preaches the opposite. Man is basically good, perfectible (and not created…in anyone’s image). If we believe as the world does, we will easily fall into the trap of blaming our marriages and spouses for the sin in our lives and relationships. If we hold to the truth of Scripture, we will understand that although I am created in God’s image and a Saint because of what Jesus has accomplished for me, sin still dwells within my flesh. My sin becomes mine and the fault of no one else. I begin to own my sin, which is the first step to freedom from it. Once I own it, I can take it to Jesus and exchange it for liberty. We need the Gospel every day! Our marriages should be gospel-saturated marriages. Ones that turn to Jesus every day, laying those new impurities we’ve discovered at His feet and trading them for a life of freedom from the bondage of shame, dishonor and disillusionment.
I pray you begin to approach the sin revealed in your marriage as opportunities for greater growth, not reasons to blame your relationship or spouse. May God give you a heart to see and know the truth about yourself and that your greatest need is Him.