Many people enter into marriage
Too spiritual or religious
Mainstream advice on dating and marriage (whether from the church or world) tells single people that they have to enter into marriage knowing their strengths and how to use their strengths to their advantage. By this they mean that single people need to know the strengths that they would bring into their marriage.
Single women via women’s health magazines, day time TV talk shows, cultural icons, life coaches, social media and Christian women leaders and speakers are told about characteristics that strong women should have in order to be successful in marriage, careers, parenting, spirituality, education, relationship networks, dating, health, etc. The advice usually goes like this – exercise to feel and look good. Go to school and get your MBA. Be strong emotionally. Learn how to manage your finances. Do yoga. Eat healthy. Dress the part. Discover your purpose and destiny. Fulfill your potential. Be a supermom. Know what you want. Be self-sufficient. Be independent. Be loving. Be strong.
On the flip side, men are told via men’s health magazines, church leaders, cultural icons, celebrities and social media that they need to be masculine. The advice usually goes like this – be a Type A guy – go for it guy. Don’t settle for less. Nice guys finish last. Be brutal. Succeed at all costs. Punch above your weight. Exercise to feel and look good. Go to school and get your MBA. Women are attracted to real masculinity (whatever that means). Be strong. Be decisive. Be a man. Discover your purpose and destiny. Fulfill your potential.
These qualities are opined as what you should have in order for you to have a strong and lasting marriage.
Loaded with all these information single people enter into relationships hoping that if they possess these qualities their relationships especially marriages will be strong.
So then, what happens when two strong people come together in marriage? Whether Christian or non-Christian? The result? Competition. Where there is competition there will be a fall out. One wins and the other loses. Or both lose.
Why do we compete? Because our human hearts are sinful. We seek for recognition and affirmation. The original sin in the Garden of Eden was actually the sin of trying to be without the need for God. In the words of Frank Sinatra, Adam and Eve did it their way. They wanted to be strong and powerful without the need for God.
Jenny and I
The many times that Jenny and I have been insensitive, harsh, demanding, critical, judgmental and mean to each other are times when we were strong and no one wanted to cede ground. We were both right. We were both strong. We both justified why we felt so strongly about an issue.
In my mind I had to be strong because I didn’t want to be considered passive. I have also heard countless times that women will press your buttons and push your boundaries to find out if you got mettle. In her mind, she thought if I am weak then this man will trample all over me. I have to be strong. So we both have had numerous standoffs for days. The results? Disillusionment with each other.
Just before we got married someone told us we looked like the proverbial “power couple”. We exhibited such strength and power because of our levels of giftedness, competence and spirituality. It felt good hearing that. But what they didn’t know is that our strength and power would come to bite us. Our perceived strength and power actually became our source of disillusionment.
What is grace? You want to know grace? Look at Jesus. Jesus is the epitome and expression of grace. (John 1:14)
Who is grace for?
Jesus hanged out with sinners, publicans, tax collectors, and prostitutes that wanted to have audience with him. (Matthew 11:19)
So we could deduce that grace is attracted to weakness, foolishness, despised and the least (1 Corinthians 1:27-28, Deuteronomy 7:7) On the flip side then, grace is dispelled by strength, power, wisdom, and experience. What we call strengths.
So if this is how grace works, then how come we tell people to be strong, powerful, wise and experienced before they enter marriage? Aren’t we then negating the work of grace in their lives?
What if we told people considering marriage that you need to come together cognizant of your weaknesses?
What if our pre-marital sessions explored how weak we are and how grace helps us with our weaknesses?
What if pre-marital sessions are to open our eyes to the weaknesses in our partners in order for us to see what grace can work with and to also help us make the choice in regards to weaknesses that we can live with?
So in view of grace, marriages fail because both parties in the marriage are too strong. Any marriage that is made of two strong people is bound to fail.
Worse case scenario is usually two people that share most of their strengths. Both are strong intellectually, spiritually, financially, etc. When these two bring their strengths into a marriage then there will be fireworks. As long as they see their strengths as assets and not as liabilities then they will struggle in their marriage.
Strength is another word for self-righteousness. Self-righteous people do not ask for help because they are able to produce within themselves what they need to succeed. Why would Jesus help two strong who can help themselves?
A marriage also between a strong and weak person won’t work. Why? The strong person usually dominates the weak person. This is very evident where there is abuse. Usually the abuser completely controls and dominates the life of the abused. In most cases it’s the husband that is domineering and controlling and the wife just passively lives with him. He controls every aspect of their lives.
Most traditions and religions advocate for this type of marriage because it keeps women in their place. Their place? Bedroom and the kitchen.
When two weak people (if they know they are weak) come together in marriage, the marriage has higher chances of success (whatever success means to you). Why? Weak people will depend on the one strong one – Jesus for their marriage to succeed. Only weak people ask for help.
Then it makes sense what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 – My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (NLT)
What if we entered our marriages with the view of being weak instead of being strong? Would our marriages fare much better? Would Jesus not be attracted to marriages that are weak so that He could offer those marriages His strength? I believe so.
What weakness produces is dependency. No one loves to be depended on like Jesus. He loves it.
While I was writing my thoughts on this blog, a friend of mine sent me an article that described what a strong woman looks like. If you want to check the article visit http://bit.ly/2i1VX3H. After reading the article I asked her a few questions – is the woman described in that article a real woman? Is she alive? Do you think you are that woman? Once I asked those questions, she went MIA on me. My point was this even my wife Jenny is not that woman described in that article. No woman on the face of the earth exhibits all those qualities at once.
The only person that has all those qualities described in the article to their fullest expression is Jesus. He is the only person in the whole universe who can express those qualities in their true glories. We cannot express them like He would. Why? We still have indwelling sin. Sin has tempered our characters as human beings. What is strength to one is usually being overbearing and dictatorial to another. Only Jesus shows true strength in its glory. Jesus is strong without being overbearing. Jesus is good without being passive. Jesus corrects without being harsh. Jesus loves without being condescending.
Marriage between TWO weak people WILL WORK. Weak people have nothing to give to Jesus apart from their weakness. And Jesus loves that. Jesus then gives them the help they need to make it. When weak people realize who they are (which we all are – sinful and broken) and ask for help from Jesus, Jesus gladly steps in to help. Jesus is at his best when helping people. In the law of magnetism, positive and positive repel. Negative and negative repel. But negative (you and I ) plus positive (Jesus) attract.
Marriage is for weak people (if they know they are weak). Jesus is the positive that makes marriage work.
That’s what grace looks like