3 Things You Need to Accept to Change Your Marriage

“I don’t know what I should say if he asks me what God thinks about him,” she shared. “And he’s waiting for his partner to ask him to marry him – and I don’t know if I should go to the wedding.

My friend is a Christian and works along side a man who is part of the LGBT community.

Discussion ensued among my friends that night about whether it was right to celebrate the union, bring the kids, or stay home, as our friend shared her concern.

I’ve talked about this topic before, and I seldom blog on it because it takes a ton of time to think through the responses to the many (often heated) comments on the subject.

I realize I may be seriously rattling some of your cages today.  Hear me out.

You might be interested that my contribution to our discussion that night was something like this: Christ Himself hung out with the sinful woman at the well, someone cast aside from her own culture for sexual sin. Jesus sought out those who sin to form relationship with them, and even He didn’t come to judge – so we should not either. How we love our friend, whom God also loves, what that looks like in the day to day while he or she is sinning, is really up to God – so God might tell us to go to the wedding, or He might say not to. God probably cares more about our relationship with him or her (and btw, this is not a fear-based response).

And after I mentioned that I’m still fairly disorganized (sin), I reminded the gals how we all sometimes gossip, eat too much, fail to encourage, think hateful thoughts, and do a ton of other things that are also sin, I told them I thought there was no right answer, no formula, but rather whatever the Father knew was best in that situation. 

In other words, God knew if she should go to the wedding, but we probably couldn’t know that.

The other thing I said was that when people ask me what I think about it all, I tell them about this organization. And then I say, “If these people, who are actually dealing with this can’t decide what’s true, who am I to condemn anyone? I do admire the fact that they have two different opinions and can be part of the same organization. It’s easy for me to say it is a sin, and yes, that’s what I believe the Bible says – but so is divorce, pre-marital sex, pornography, gluttony, and hatred, and I’ve a hard time seeing Christians be so condemning of this one particular sin, as it is not the only “abomination” listed.

And the point is, we need to know Him to know what to do in any given moment – because like Christ, who had dinner with all sorts of people regardless of what sin they were involved in, what He wants us to do might seem kind of radical to others.

And no, I’m not “selling out” and speaking only about the love aspect of Christ – I still talk about obedience, and hell. But we live in a time where people need Christ’s message of hope, not messages of condemnation. The example Christ gave is pretty clear – yes, He told the Truth about Hell, but most of His communication was about the Kingdom of God, about His love, about His Father, and He gave us instructions for how to live well.

If we know Him, we realize He loves – He IS love. And we have been told specifically not to judge. It’s so hard to talk about anything without doing that, isn’t it? :) I was surprised by the backlash surrounding even the topic of modesty on this post, and still am.

Stay with me a little longer – I’m getting around to marriage in a minute.

Yesterday, while I was running, I listened to the top two sermons below in the Parent Map series:

logo 04/13/14 “From Teenopolis to Collegetown” (Tim Downs)
04/06/14 “From Tween City to Teenopolis” (Chad Hovind)
03/30/14 “From Babyville to Tween City” (Doug Daily)
03/23/14 “From Coupleton to Babyville” (Chad Hovind)
03/16/14 “Parent Map” (Josh McDowell)

One of the things mentioned was literally word-for-word something Debbie says in our parenting course, Generations.  “Rules without Relationship result in Rebellion.”

Something that struck me as awesome and hit close to home was the two times that God Himself spoke aloud to Jesus. Both times He said the same thing: “This is my son, who I love. With him I am well pleased.”

The first time He said it was before Jesus had done anything – He was starting His ministry.

The second time He said it was when everything was going wrong for Christ.

The point the sermons sent home to me was that God, when He models parent/child communication with His own son, He showed us (and Him) the most important thing: He loved and accepted Him, not based on what He had done, but simply because He was His son.

And one of the things one of the speakers said, “If we said, ‘I’m proud of you,’ to one of our kids, the first question s/he would ask is ‘Why?’ or ‘What for?'”

Maybe you’d ask the same question.

Do we have a works-based acceptance and love relationship with those around us and with God?

My son graduated from high school this weekend, and I wonder if we could have done better communicating acceptance and love regardless of his behavior, and achievements.

We talked about all the great things he had done, and we talked about the things he was about to do.

I wish I could have a do over.

I want to tell him that none of that even matters to me, that I love him just because he is my son.

THIS … this is my son, our son, who I love, and with whom I am ridiculously pleased. :)

And while we cheer him on in the things he IS doing and will do, he could do none of them and we’d still think he’s the bomb. We’d still love him and accept him just because of who he is, which is our son.  We even ended up getting on his case a bit for somethings he still needed to finish. UGH. I need to tell him what’s true, that I love him regardless of what he does or doesn’t do.

I plan to do that today. 

And this morning, when I awakened, my devotional was all about the acceptance that the Father showed the prodigal son.

Given the discussion last night, the sermons yesterday, and the devotional, I was suddenly clearly alerted to how my Father was trying to tell me something. 

And I realized it had everything to do with acceptance and love.

To the degree with with we can accept ourselves, and accept and receive God’s love for us, we can accept and love others.

One of the biggest problems for many of us in parenting teens and in our marriages is the same – the people we live with don’t feel accepted and loved unconditionally by us. They feel like there’s nothing they can do to be “enough.”

Our husband’s easily get defensive, mis-perceiving much of our communication as attack – because they are wired to be on the lookout for threat.  More on that here.  At the core of that is a lack of feeling accepted and loved by their wives.

And sometimes, we actually just don’t accept them – we want everyone around us to be different so we’ll be happy. We think we know what they should do and push them toward it, instead of simply just being on the journey with them, accepting them for who they are and where they are.  I’m not saying not to parent, but being a friend to our husband and an adviser to our teen is where we should be instead.

And the three things we need to accept to change our marriage are simply these:

  • We need to accept that WE are sinners, but also saints, and really no better or worse than anyone else – in accepting ourselves, we stop feeling like we fail, stop embracing guilt, stop fostering shame towards ourselves.
  • We need to accept that God loves us – just the way He made us (which is sinful, btw) and no amount of striving for perfection is going to change that. When we accept and receive His great love for us, our obedience is a love response just to please Him, not the following of a set of rules, but rather being in healthy relationship with God.
  • We need to accept others and receive their attempts at loving us – if we are constantly dishing judgment, we just create more rifts in our relationships, and fail to communicate who He is to the world, the way He intended us to.

Bottom line: accept ourselves, accept and receive God’s love, and accept others. I’m not saying to lie, or to mis-represent what is true, but understand there is a world of difference between accepting someone and endorsing their behavior. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.

I know we’re blogging through The Respect Dare book experience, so I appreciate you putting up with what God’s revealing to me now, instead of talking more about this week’s dare. If you want to find out more, though, check my post on Dare 18 here. It’s one of my favorite dares because of two reasons – first, it’s where the book came from, and second, it’s a great example of how to NOT be a doormat in your marriage. I also spent some time on this for Peacefulwife here. And you should totally check out our other bloggers:

If you parent tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings, you should totally subscribe to 

Parenting little people? leahsigsmall is who you should follow.

Love to you,

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So what do you have to say about these things today? What do you think acceptance actually looks like with our husband or our kids? Would love to hear from you in the comment section below! :)

contexts through which we become like christ

Comments

  1. Debbie says

    Nina,
    We all know that Jesus was sent to seek and save the lost. His words of truth penetrated the hardest of hearts.
    At the same time, I cannot see Jesus supporting a defilement of any kind! He spoke the truth in love. When we go to a wedding, we are supporting a couple in their commitment and celebration of the union God ordained! Most clergy performing the ceremony remind us that our attendance holds responsibility-reminding us that the two are now one. Our job is to love, teach & support this beautiful dance of the two becoming one.
    In my thinking, if your friend was invited to a ceremony that mocks Christianity, wouldn’t that mean that they had no idea where she or Jesus stood on the issue at hand? So many issues that Jesus would not have been silent on, yet we are. Maybe that love thing is not foremost in our minds, maybe self-preservation is.
    I agree that experiencing the love of the Father has to come before that Love in us can permeate our lost and broken world.
    Let’s choose to make our journey one where His love shines in the darkness!.

    Abundant blessings,
    Debbie

  2. says

    Heather I like how you said this. We can be loving and supportive of person and still not support their choice to sin. I don’t think Jesus wouldve stood watch while a couple engaged in sexual sin, rather he loved(s) the person and is there with open arms to (as you put it) pick up the pieces.

  3. says

    Nina, I know GOd speaks to me through your posts many times. I love how each of us can ind that one part that makes it “just for me”. I have been struggling with parenting my youngest daughter lately. I feel impressed upon that she needs to hear and feel this message of LOVE. My husband is not a “church” person so I struggle to show the importance of it to my kids.. I have been praying that God reveal to me how I can help her and have her feel loved and accepted and for her to have a relationship with God. Your words today are really a blessing. Thanks again!

    • Nina says

      Tiffanie –
      I have no idea, :) I’m just trying to do what He’s leading me to do – and this was the message I felt He wanted me to write today. I do agree that God’s message is always about bringing His children back to Himself. Some of us come, some do not. I hope you’ll take time to listen to the links – they are filled with tons of helpful info for your parenting! :) I know I learned a lot! :)
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

  4. gottaletgo says

    I agree that we do need to build a relationship with them even though they are indulging in this type sin. Wouldn’t going to the wedding be joining them, celebrating their union? Jesus didn’t go and hang out with the woman at the well and her partners, he spoke directly to her and spoke to her about her sins. I’m not understanding how those two things would be the same. What about the other sins you mentioned, pornography, gossip,…… we wouldn’t be hanging out while someone is indulging in pornograhy (sounds a little ludicrous but trying to work through all this in my mind). if someone started gossiping, hopefully we would walk away instead of sticking around to be in the conversation. look at all the sins that we try to keep private, but homosexuality is one they’re trying to make “not wrong”. What are your thoughts?

    • Heather says

      My old neighbors were lesbians with 3 children (long story). We were invited to their wedding. We gave them a nice gift, but did not attend. I babysat for them for free so they could go to couples counseling and helped them both the best I could through their breakup. I did feel like attending the wedding was just crossing a line. If a close friend of mine had an abortion I would not attend with her. However, I would clean her house and make her food during recovery. I won’t stand along side someone during sin, but I’ll work my butt off to help them pick up the pieces later. Hope that makes sense.

      • Nina says

        Thanks for your comments, Heather. :) These are great examples for others to consider on how to love well. :)
        Glad you are here.
        Love to you,
        ~Nina

    • Nina says

      Gottaletgo –

      This is such a difficult thing, isn’t it? One of the common questions we get is about wives being asked to participate in pornography with their husbands – or wife swapping – (I know, right? It happens. :() and I encourage them to ask God. Our two Biblical examples are Sapphira and Sarah. Sapphira lied, and God struck her dead. Sarah went along with a lie, also, and yet God did not strike her or her husband dead. Sarah was dealing with unbelievers (one who came to know the Lord through that situation) and Sapphira was dealing with those who knew Him already. I really believe we like to say, “THIS is the one right thing to do,” some to the extreme, ie: Christians who will not attend a wedding if alcohol is served at the reception because some will become drunk.

      Here’s the thing – humans like to label some sins as worse than others. Proverbs 6:16-19

      16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:
      17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,
      18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,
      19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

      And gobs of others here in Leviticus.

      It could be that there is a difference in our behavior when dealing with those who claim to know Him and those who do not – but all I am 100% sure of is that God Himself loves all His children – and wants us all in heaven with Him, but that last bit is up to us choosing to receive, proclaim, believe and follow Christ as Lord. I don’t pretend to know what God would have me do. I keep thinking also, about a party I went to when I was much younger. A friend of mine had too much to drink – waaaaaaaay too much to drink. And I stuck around, not participating, but stuck around, and ended up helping my friend get home that night. They weren’t celebrating something sinful, but they were definitely participating in sin, and while I actively chose to stick around, I didn’t participate. Might be different, might not. It was a good thing I was there, though.

      Not sure if that helps, or clarifies anything, but those are my thoughts. :)

      Thanks for the dialogue – glad you are here.
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

        • Mary Lou says

          Great post and comments. These are issues I wrestle with so I’m glad you brought them up and I’m glad we can discuss them civilly. I’m trying to teach my high school students to do the same. I still don’t know where I stand on going to the wedding issue but I do know that we all are sinners and yet we still associate with each other. Christians might overeat together at a church picnic and nobody’s walking away or judging them.

          • Nina says

            Mary Lou – I know, right? This is why I think God has left so much in the grey space. I know pastor’s who facilitate weddings for unbelievers. I wonder about that in light of the above, too. I think if we are faced with the question, He’ll have an answer if we ask. Might be different for everyone, too.

            Love to you,
            ~Nina

Got thoughts?