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Posts tagged ‘submission’

Q & A: Is My Spouse’s Verbal Abuse My Fault?

SOURCE: Adapted from an article by  Leslie Vernick

My husband says his verbal abuse is all my fault!

This week’s question is:  I read your blogs and books. My question is I’ve been married for 21 years. I’ve read and re-read your book on The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. My husband fits the example of the “should” husband you talk about. He is a believer and has recently admitted to me that he has been verbally abusive after I told him the definition. For a long time he denied it, but he feels that I haven’t been submissive, respectful and obedient to him and that in order for our relationship to ever move forward I have to admit this to him and to our children, ages 17,15 and 11. We have been to counseling jointly and separately.

I have seen how my desire to please him has led to lots of problems. It has excused his behavior and allowed it for far too long. He is saying he has admitted his problems and I need to admit and change myself and the children’s attitude and behaviors toward him in order for him to stay. He has already seen an attorney as have I. Please help…I’m so tired.

Answer:  You seem exhausted trying to be heard and understood. It sounds like your husband is still saying that all your marital problems are your fault. Of course he now admits to being verbally abusive toward you but it’s because you haven’t been respectful, submissive or obedient. So if you change, in his mind, all will be well.

From your question, it sounds like you have tried to please him and that your desire to gain his approval has actually led to more abuse. He’s saying he’s admitted his problem but what exactly has he admitted to? Losing his temper when you won’t do what he says you “should” and then blaming you for his ugly words? That doesn’t sound like the kind of change you’ll need to turn this around. Does he not have any responsibility to learn to handle his disappointment and anger toward you in a godly way?

You might want to ask him, “Do you believe you’re entitled to verbally abuse me when I fail you, upset you, or disappoint you? How do you think other men respond when their wives upset them? Do all of them become verbally abusive or do some of them handle their anger or disappointment in a more constructive way?”

I also want you to consider whether or not it’s true that you have been disrespectful toward your husband and/or contributed to the children’s poor attitudes toward their father. Confession of wrong doing is important in relationships and is a very important first step toward healing and reconciliation. You’ll have to pray about that and examine your heart and past behaviors to see if there are specific ways or times you have been disrespectful, even if in the context of being provoked.

There are some husbands who believe that if their wife doesn’t give them carte blanche authority or if she questions his judgment in a situation, she is being disrespectful, disobedient and/or unsubmissive. I don’t believe God’s words teaches that submission means that we don’t have a right to question or challenge our spouse or that we are called to live with our eyes closed and mouth shut especially when we observe our spouse driving the entire family straight off the cliff.

On the other hand, there are many things that we as wives comment on that our husband’s may find disrespectful even if we don’t see them that way. For example, my husband hates when I question why he chooses to drive to the shopping mall a different way that I would have gone. He sees that as “You don’t know how to drive as good as I do.” I don’t mean it that way; I just don’t understand why he wouldn’t choose our normal route. But he’s different than I am, and he has every right to think and choose differently than I would.

People are not blank walls that do not have any of their own thoughts, feelings, and personality. Yet some men seem to want their wife’s entire life to revolve around loving him, serving him, and doing whatever will make him happy. If she balks, or wants to do something of her own, he finds that unloving or disrespectful. Trying harder to be that kind of woman will only result in more abuse and selfishness on the part of your husband.

Going back to your question, you’ve both been to counselors and both been to attorneys. If you and your husband both want to make your marriage work, it begins by identifying what the root problem is. You can’t apply the right medicine to something if you don’t have the right diagnosis. I don’t think you’ve reached any consensus on this. Perhaps the best course at this time is to see a counselor (who understands the dynamics of verbal abuse), not for treatment per se, but to create a working definition of the problem so you can both decide whether or not you want to do the necessary repairs and changing to reconcile your relationship.

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Misunderstandings About Biblical Headship and Submission

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

As a young wife, I attended a retreat that was geared around becoming a godly woman. Most of the wives in the room groaned when they heard the “S” word featured as our next topic. No wife looks forward to hearing that God says she must give her husband the final say in all decisions, regardless of how capable or stable he is, just because he’s the man.

Throughout the session, the speaker emphasized how God created the husband as the head of the home to be the leader. She said that even if our husband made poor decisions, God would protect us and our children if we simply trusted Him and obeyed our husband. Then she proceeded to tell a story where a woman’s husband wanted her to have an abortion. The wife didn’t want to, but she submitted. Just before she was to go to the clinic for the procedure, she had a spontaneous miscarriage. “See”, the speaker said, “God was faithful.”

I wanted to stand up and scream, “That’s crazy. Don’t’ listen to her!” but I was too much a coward at the time to risk such censure from the group. I’m braver today, and I’m telling you don’t fall for that kind of simplistic and naive teaching on this very important subject. If you want to get clear-headed and be a godly woman, in addition to listening to wise counsel, you must study the scriptures yourself and ask God to help you understand what the Bible says. Jesus tells us that as believers, He gives each one of us the Holy Spirit which He promises leads us into all truth (John 16:13).

The Bible never says that submission is only a wife’s or woman’s responsibility, nor does it say that the husband or man gets the final say in all decisions. These ideas have been misrepresented and misunderstood. Wrongly applied, they can cause harm to men, women and children, as well as thwart God’s plan for loving family relationships.

During a counseling session, Natalie asked, “I’ve always been taught that submission to my husband trumps everything, even my children. But when he’s raging out of control, screaming and threatening them and their scared little faces look to me to for help, what am I supposed to do? Does God want me to support my husband or ignore what’s happening because he’s the head of our home?”

The New Testament never describes godly headship or leadership by using an authoritarian, power/over model. Jesus demonstrated headship for his disciples so that they would be crystal clear what he meant. Instead of wielding his mighty power and rightful authority to show them what leadership looked like, he donned a towel and basin and personally washed each of their dirty feet. They were the future leaders of his Church, and Jesus wanted to show them that biblical headship meant sacrificial servant-hood. Jesus, or the scriptures, never describe biblical headship or leadership as entitlement to do what you want, demand that others do you want you want or to get your own way. The correct biblical terms for those characteristics are selfishness and misuse of one’s power and authority. There are numerous examples of these behaviors throughout scripture. However, they are never depicted as God’s example of leadership, but rather as sin. (Read through the seven chapters of the Old Testament book of Micah for numerous examples of leaders abusing their power and God’s response.)

After Jesus finished washing his disciples feet, he said to each of them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14,15). This concept of selfless servant-hood was so radically different from his disciple’s idea of leadership, that they didn’t truly grasp what Jesus meant. Later on, James and John were arguing about who would have the better seat in heaven and Jesus stopped them and taught them the essence of biblical headship. He said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” Jesus expressly warned his leaders not to abuse their power just to get their way or boss people around (Mark 10:41-46; Luke 22:25,26; Matthew 23:3,4 italics added).

What Jesus taught was unheard of in Jewish culture. Hierarchy was well established even in the most intimate relationships. Men dominated women; husbands their wives.  Paul picked up Jesus’ heart on the subject of headship in marriage when he writes, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). The essence of Biblical teaching on headship is that if you are the leader, your responsibility is to initiate and model servant-hood before anyone else in the family does. As the leader, you are to show the way. You are to go first. When a leader (whether of a home, a church or a nation) manipulates, threatens and scares people into doing what he says or to get what he wants, know that he is not behaving as a biblical head, but rather as a bully. As Paul writes, “Love does not demand its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

Jesus didn’t only model headship for us, he also modeled submission. In the Garden of Gethsemane while anticipating the crucifixion, Jesus’ prayed that this cup of suffering would be removed from him. He dreaded the cross; he wanted God to find an alternate way to save humankind. Yet, Jesus submitted himself when he prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Throughout his life, Jesus always wanted to do what God wanted. He said his will was synonymous with God’s will. (See John 4:34; John 6:37; John 5:3; John 17:17.) Now in his agonizing moment during his garden prayer, Jesus felt differently. This was the first time he didn’t want to do what God wanted, but he chose submission to God’s will and his Father’s perfect plan. God didn’t force Jesus to submit, Jesus chose to. Jesus said, “No one takes my life, I give it (John 10:18).

In the same way, biblical submission can never be forced. It can only be done by the one who chooses to submit her (or his) will to another. When we voluntarily give our will to another or to God, it’s called submission.  When someone forces our will to be given, it is not biblical submission. The correct terms are intimidation, coercion and bullying. Submission isn’t necessarily agreement; it’s yielding your will to another for a greater good. The good might be unity in the family (or body of Christ) or honoring and pleasing God.

The apostle Paul writes in Philippians that we must be intentional if we don’t want selfishness to rule in our relationships (Philippians 2:2-4). He then uses Christ’s example for us to see how that works. Paul writes, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

Jesus modeled both headship and submission in volunteering for the servant’s place and yielding his will to God. This describes the working together of headship and submission. The husband sacrificially leads his wife in servant-hood (through example), and the wife sacrificially yields her will in servant-hood (through example). Both are servants of the other and of God. When only one is the servant or the other is the master or god, the marriage isn’t working as God intended.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, human beings have been vying for power and control over one another (Genesis 3:16). This was not God’s original plan, but the result of sin. Biblical headship doesn’t mean you get your way all the time, and submission doesn’t mean you have no voice or choice in the matter. The scriptures validate the mutuality of marriage and the dignity and value of each individual no matter who they are. As Paul plainly wrote, “now there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, man or woman” (Galatians 3:28).

We may have different roles and responsibilities, but one is not over the other. Mutuality of servant-hood, submission and sacrifice are the biblical model for the trinity and for godly relationships, including marriage.

Q & A: Who Gets the Final Say?

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Today’s Question:  My husband and I are very different. I am much more conservative financially, he loves to spend money. We argue about parenting, where to go on vacation, even how to arrange the furniture in the living room. His trump card is always, “As head of our home, I get the final decision.” Is that true? Do I just need to always give in or submit to his way because he’s the man? What if his decision is absolutely wrong? Then what?

Answer:  I often hear this kind of thinking when working with couples in marriage counseling. I also was taught it myself in my premarital counseling. In a nutshell, the teaching goes something like this. Couples have conflict. That is inevitable. However, when there is an impasse and there is no resolution, as the head of the home or leader, the husband gets the final say. Let’s look to see if this thinking is truly what God designed marriage to be like.

If we look at the original couple, Adam and Eve, before the Fall, there was a mutuality to their relationship. In Genesis 1:26-27, God made human beings in his image (both male and female) and gave them both the responsibility to reign over the animals and take care of the earth. Eve was equal with Adam not beneath him.

After they both sinned, part of the curse was that their relationship would change. God told them, “And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you” Genesis 3:16. The desire for power and control over another person would now characterize marriages instead of the mutuality that God originally intended.

That’s been the story ever since. However, when Christ came, he broke the curse of the law. Paul says, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law” (Galatians 3:13).

We see, throughout Paul’s writing, a breaking of this “power over people” mentality. He writes, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:38). He also applies this to restoring the mutuality of marriage. He tells husband’s to love their wives as Christ loved the church and wives to submit to their husband’s out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18,19). It’s both/and, not either/or.

When Paul talks about the sexual relationship, he also describes this mutual giving and mutual giving-up of rights and power. He says, “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs and the wife should fulfill her husband’s sexual needs. The wife givesauthority over her body to her husband and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:3,4).

Notice the one spouse gives authority to the other; no one takes authority over the other. When mutuality in marriage is practiced, power struggles may be tempting, but never endorsed or validated as biblical. One does not take someone’s choice away from them. When mutuality is practiced and valued, a husband or wife often gives in, but they give in willingly, not under compulsion or fear.

I have been married over 35 years. There has never been a time in my marriage where my husband had to have a “final” say. When you practice mutual submission and mutual respect, you listen to each other’s perspective. You defer when someone is wiser than you are in a certain area, you compromise, and you work together to come up with a solution that you both can live with.

Finally, let’s look at this question from one other perspective and that is the angle of authority. Too often we have misunderstood the authority of a position, whether it be husband, pastor or elder, to be synonymous with getting one’s own way. In other words, if I am the head of my home (authority), then I get the final say, which means I get my way.

But the bible is very clear that authority does not imply entitlement to one’s own way. God’s Word gives specific instructions to those in authority on how to handle that responsibility. Throughout the Old Testament, God often rebuked the leaders of Israel for their self-centered, deceitful and abusive shepherding of God’s flock (See, for example, Deuteronomy 13; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2-4).

Biblically, God put husbands as the head over their wives (Ephesians 5:23), but that does not put wives at the feet of their husbands. Women and wives are depicted in the Gospel as equal partners and persons to love, not objects to use or property to own. Biblical headship is modeled by Christ’s gentle leadership and loving self-sacrifice. Husbands are cautioned not to be harsh with their wives and not to mistreat them, or their prayers will be hindered (Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). No leader is entitled to make selfish demands, order people around or hurt them when they fail.

Jesus cautions those in positions of authority–parents, husbands, pastors and elders–not to misuse those God-ordained positions for self-centered purposes. These roles are given to us by God to humbly serve the individuals or groups that have been entrusted to our care, not to have our egos stroked or to get our own way (Mark 10:42-45).

So what would these biblical principles look like in making family decisions? Let’s say you want to go to the ocean for vacation, your husband prefers the mountains. Traditionally the final say has meant that he gets to go to the mountains and you simply have to submit.

But authentic biblical headship defined by Christ is servanthood. Now we have an entirely different picture. How can your husband best serve your needs? If he is to love you as Christ loves the church and sacrifice himself for that, what would the “final decision” look like?

I think it would sound more like, “Honey, if you need sand and water for vacation this year, let’s do it.” Likewise, the wife might say, “If it’s that important to you that you get away from the crowds at the beach, I’m fine with that.”

When this kind of mutual submission, mutual love and mutual respect are practiced in a marital relationship, there is no need for a “final say”.

Q & A: Do I have to have sex with my husband?

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Leslie Vernik

Q. I’ve been married for 25 years to an emotionally and verbally abusive man. I feel angry and bitter toward him for the way he treats me, yet he still expects me to be loving and affectionate with him, especially in bed. I can’t do it. What does God expect me to do? Can I withhold sex as a consequence for his abusive behavior?

A. This is an extremely important question that many women face. In last weeks’ answer I spoke about being treated as an object instead of a human being. An emotionally destructive marriage is where the personhood, dignity and personal choice of the spouse is regularly diminished, degraded, disregarded or crushed.

No one likes feeling like an object, especially if you are in a committed relationship with the person who treats you as such. Husbands sometimes complain to me that they feel that their wives treat them like a paycheck. Wives complain that they don’t feel like a loved person but merely a sexual object or a slave. Marriage is the most sacred and intimate relationship we have apart from our relationship with God. When one person (or both people) continually disrespects, mistreats, or lies to the other, intimacy is broken. It can be rebuilt but not without genuine repentance and a lot of hard work.

From what you say, it sounds as if your husband believes he’s entitled to the benefits of married life, (sexual intimacy, your affection and love, not to mention normal care), without having to do his part. He doesn’t seem to understand that having a good and loving relationship requires two people who interact with one another with kindness and respect. His emotionally abusive behavior is driving you further away from him. Does he just want sex from you? Or true intimacy?

The Bible calls us to love, not hate. That command includes our enemies. But what does Biblical love look like towards your husband in this instance? Biblical love isn’t necessarily feelings of affection or warmth, but actions that are directed toward another person’s long term best interests.

So ask yourself the question, Is it in my husband’s long term best interests to be sexually available to him so that his sexual needs are met? If you answer “yes”, understand that meeting his sexual needs is not a solution to your relationship problem it is just a solution to his sexual frustration.

Another way to look at this situation is that it is in your husband’s best interests to let him experience the felt consequences of broken intimacy and tell him that when he treats you disrespectfully, you’re too angry to feel warmth and affection towards him. When he’s not sorry he treats you that way, it makes it impossible for you to feel affectionate toward him. You need to have a calm conversation with him regarding your feelings. Here’s a sample of something you might say.

I know you get very frustrated when I’m not responsive to your sexual needs. You want me to be sexual with you and enjoy our physical relationship, but the way you treat me much of the time makes me feel angry and hurt. When you call me names or degrade me in front of the children, the last thing I feel like doing is being warm and affectionate towards you. If you want genuine intimacy and affection, you will need to work on changing the way you treat me. Wouldn’t you rather have someone who wants to get close and affectionate with you rather than someone who is just doing her duty?

Most men I talk with want closeness with their wives. Try expressing your feeling about being just an object versus a person. This may help him see the impact of his behavior, not only on you, but on him. But if your husband won’t hear you and doesn’t care about what your feelings are, then what?

Hear me. I don’t believe in using sex as a weapon anymore than someone should use the silent treatment as a weapon. It isn’t good for the marriage. It is controlling and manipulative.

However, I do think sometimes we have to say, “I can’t talk right now because I’m too angry to do it constructively” or “I can’t talk with you because you won’t hear me or listen to me”. That’s not using talking as a weapon, but stating a problem either with you or in the relationship.

In the same way, if someone says, “I can’t have sexual closeness with you right now because I’m too angry to do it lovingly.” I think that is stating a truth. Or “having sex with you feels like I’m just being used as an object but you don’t really care for me when you treat me so disrespectfully other times” helps the one who is doing the hurting to know what needs to change in order to repair the relationship.

Emotionally Destructive Relationships: Close to home

My mom’s in an emotionally destructive relationship with my dad. What should I do?

SOURCE:  Leslike Vernick

Question: My parents are in their fourth year on the mission field, their “second” career after retiring from business and moving overseas to serve for an undetermined number of years. They’ve been married 40 years.

For decades, my mom has spent hours in the Word and in prayer daily, and has a track record of humble service to my father (and to her three kids as we were growing up). In fact, her reading habits have drawn repeated attacks and ridicule from my dad. He has a history of humiliating her (and us kids) publicly, explosive anger, and is restrictive of her freedom. But to anyone outside our family, this would come as a shock. He’s a successful businessman, gregarious, and active in every little church they’ve ever been part of.

Mom convinced him to seek pastoral counseling with her about 20 years ago and no real change resulted. He rejects psychology wholesale, yet admits to not finding anything profound or new whenever he reads the Bible. I found out when visiting them this summer that mom’s frequent trips to the bathroom were the result of frequent and prolonged sex (compounded by a long history of health issues which have rendered her “fragile”, to put it gently), which I’m guessing is precipitated by dad’s age and evening alcohol consumption.

I was incensed at the state of things mom was enduring, and told her she did not have to submit to dad’s physical advances any longer. She acted on that after I left and has not been intimate with him since. She and I both struggle with whether that is right, however I maintain that after years of humble service met with nothing but fits of rage, humiliation, zero emotional/relational intimacy, and rejection/denial anytime she attempted to talk about these issues, she no longer needed to put herself through it.

This all has caused mom to start examining her own life, tracing the roots of these problems back to her own father’s rejection of her (her mom told her that he just didn’t like her). She met my dad in college, who even then was controlling and manipulative. After a brief tryst (none of the “falling in love” typical foundation for a marriage relationship), she got pregnant and they were married a month later. She’s been working at it for forty years, and without having to explain much to my siblings, they immediately understood mom’s position when she told them she was ready to stand up to him.

Knowing what action to take has been the daily question. Your description of “crazy making” has been so helpful in understanding what she deals with. Dad does not initiate conversation with mom, denies any wrongdoing when specific instances are presented to him (by mom), and just this week has informed mom that she has been abusing him.

Mom has a plane ticket home in October to visit her 90 year old mother. My dad has removed any legitimate and substantive responsibility from my mom in their mission work. She is fully devoid of any in-country support (she refuses to take this to her co-workers for fear they wouldn’t believe her. While mom still cooks and cleans for my dad and tries to “help him”, he does nothing to reciprocate her attention or acknowledge it with any gratitude (that’s how it’s always been). My mom says she sees “improvement” in him, defined thus: he is trying really hard to control his temper, he doesn’t ask for sex anymore, he’s “earnestly seeking after spiritual things” and he has shifted from a “know-it-all” to “docile resignation.”

To me, that improvement is not reversing the pattern, it’s just neutral. He has no accountability where they are. So I’ve implored my mom to stay here in the US when she comes home. They are already making preparations to extract themselves from their position with their missions agency anyway, and since she doesn’t do anything work-related, it seems more important that she get help here.

Mom says she doesn’t know how she would be able to live apart from him, that she would always be worrying about him. This is understandable, but not healthy. How do I help my mom get healthy? Should she return even though he’d likely be home within the year? Is this “improvement” reason enough for her to resume physical intimacy?

Answer: Watching someone we love struggle in a destructive/abusive relationship is incredibly difficult. When it is our own parents, it is heartbreaking. I know you want to help your mom get healthy, but there are some things that she must do for herself and it sounds as if she is starting to do them.

You can help her, support her, and encourage her, but you must not push her to do something she is not ready or willing to do. If you do that, it will put you in the controlling role and she will once again stay in the passive role. Even though you mean well and only want her best, for someone to become emotionally healthy she must learn to figure out what she wants and to speak up for herself when necessary and not to be so passive, even when someone is upset with her for doing so.

What you can do is help her think through her choices and the consequences of those choices and then applaud and support her right to choose. For her entire marriage, she hasn’t believed she has the right to say “no”, or when she’s tried, she’s been manipulated, controlled, or pressured into giving in. You must not play that same role even if you fear she is making a poor choice.

You’ve asked a number of important questions but one in particular I want to spend a little time on. You asked how could your dad possibly accuse your mother of abusing him after all her years of patiently and passively enduring his humiliation, manipulations, verbal attacks, sexual abuse and controlling behaviors?

First, let me say that although your mother sounds like a saint, she is also still a sinner and there may be times when she does or is tempted to retaliate against your father, even if she does it more passively. The Bible tells us that people’s bad behavior rubs off on us and sometime, even if we’re not aware of it, we start to act like they do.

However, what I think is happening here is a common phenomenon I see once an abused woman stops going along with the abuser and begins to speak up for herself.

Let me give some background. When someone marries it’s understood that this person you married will have their own ideas, feelings, desires, goals, dreams and thoughts about things. If you’re healthy, you will not require the person you married to always think like you, feel like you, want what you want, or always do what you say. Instead you allow them to be different than you. The challenge of a healthy marriage is to lovingly blend two different people into a strong oneness that still contains each person’s uniqueness.

But this is not what happens in an abusive marriage. It sounds like right from the start, your father has not seen your mother as her own “person” to be cherished or loved but rather as an object to be possessed, owned, controlled and used. If this is the case, she isn’t allowed a separate voice, a personal feeling, a want apart from what he wants, or to disagree, or say “no”. As long as she stays true to the object role and shapes herself to meet every whim of your father, things stay relatively calm. Unfortunately this kind of wifely behavior has too often been applauded as biblical submission and a meek and gentle spirit which it is not.

It is not healthy to lose yourself in another person nor is it wise. Now as your mother is becoming healthier and realizing some important things she’s begun to assert herself. She is not just playing the “good Christian wife role” but is saying “I don’t like to be treated this way” and “That’s not acceptable”. However, as she begins to assert her needs, hurts, and feelings, he feels abandoned, rejected, unloved, and even abused.

The reason? In his mind, her sole purpose in being his wife is to please him, meet his every emotional need and always be available when he wants her. She has no needs of her own because she is not allowed to be a separate person. The more she speaks out about how she thinks, what she wants, how she feels and what she will or won’t do the more disappointed your father becomes.

This is not the helpmate he signed up for. And his “improvements” as your mother mentions are either an attempt to charm her to return to the object role, or as you suspect, “docile resignation” that things will never be the same again. This is still a far cry from a healthy marriage.

So do you encourage your mother to say in the States to receive support and help instead of returning to the mission field after her mother’s birthday? That is your mother’s decision to make, but you can help her think it through all of her choices and to know that if her marriage is to turn around, it is important not only that she continue to grow be the person God made her to be (not an object) but that her husband begin to value and cherish her as a person and not merely as someone who sole purpose is to take care of him, whether physically, emotionally or sexually.

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Leslie Vernick is a licensed counselor (DCSW, ACSW, LSW) with over 25 years of experience helping individuals, couples, and families enrich the relationships that matter most!

What Believers Ought To Do And Pray In Time Of Trouble


SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Ligon Duncan [First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS] 

Luke 22:39-46 [reveals] Jesus, on the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane.

J.C. Ryle’s words about two aspects of this passage are rich. He says: “The verses before us contain Luke’s account of our Lord’s agony in the garden. It is a passage of Scripture which we should always approach with peculiar reverence. The history which it records is one of the ‘deep things of God.’ While we read it, the words of Exodus should come across our minds, ‘Put off your shoes from off your feet; the place where on you stand is holy ground.’ (Exod. 3:5)

“We see, firstly, in this passage, an example of what believers ought to do in time of trouble. 

The great Head of the Church Himself supplies the pattern. We are told that when He came to the Mount of Olives, the night before He was crucified, ‘He knelt down and prayed.’

“It is a striking fact, that both the Old and New Testaments give one and the same receipt for bearing trouble.

What does the book of Psalms say? ‘Call upon me in the time of trouble-I will deliver you.’ (Psalm 50:15) What does the apostle James say? ‘Is any afflicted? let him pray.’ (James v. 13) Prayer is the remedy which Jacob used, when he feared his brother Esau. Prayer is the remedy which Job used when property and children were suddenly taken from him. Prayer is the remedy which Hezekiah used when Sennacherib’s threatening letter arrived. And prayer is the remedy which the Son of God Himself was not ashamed to use in the days of His flesh. In the hour of His mysterious agony He ‘prayed.’

“Let us take care that we use our Master’s remedy, if we want comfort in affliction. Whatever other means of relief we use, let us pray. The first Friend we should turn to ought to be God. The first message we should send ought to be to the throne of grace. No depression of spirits must prevent us. No crushing weight of sorrow must make us speechless. It is a prime device of Satan, to supply the afflicted man with false reasons for keeping silence before God. Let us beware of the temptation to brood sullenly over our wounds. If we can say nothing else, we can say, ‘I am oppressed-undertake for me.’ (Isaiah. 38:14)

“We see, secondly, in these verses, what kind of prayers a believer ought to make to God in time of trouble.

Once more the Lord Jesus Himself affords a model to His people. We are told that He said, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me-nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.’ He who spoke these words, we must remember, had two distinct natures in one Person. He had a human will as well as a divine. When He said, ‘Not my will be done,’ He meant that will which He had as a man, with a body, flesh and blood, like our own.

“The language used by our blessed Master in this place shows exactly what should be the spirit of a believer’s prayer in his distress. Like Jesus, he should tell his desires openly to his heavenly Father, and spread his wishes unreservedly before Him. But like Jesus, he should do it all with an entire submission of will to the will of God. He should never forget that there may be wise and good reasons for His affliction. He should carefully qualify every petition for the removal of crosses with the saving clause, ‘If you are willing.’ He should wind up all with the meek confession, ‘Not my will, but yours be done.’

“Submission of will like this is one of the brightest graces which can adorn the Christian character. It is one which a child of God ought to aim at in everything, if he desires to be like Christ. But at no time is such submission of will so needful as in the day of sorrow, and in nothing does it shine so brightly as in a believer’s prayers for relief. He who can say from his heart, when a bitter cup is before him, ‘Not my will, but yours be done,’ has reached a high position in the school of God.” (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke)

 

SUBMISSION – What of that undeserving spouse, parent, governor, boss, pastor?

The gospel of radical submission

SOURCE:  Joel J. Miller

The Scripture commands husbands to love their wives, wives to respect their husbands, children to honor their parents, citizens to obey the authorities, employees to follow their employers, and believers to subject themselves to the elders of the Church.

None of this has anything to do with how much or well the other party deserves it. There are plenty of unlovable wives, disreputable husbands, dishonorable parents, unworthy governments, ill-willed employers, and untrustworthy church leaders out there. I’m sure any one of us could run out of fingers just counting the ones we know if given the opportunity.

Deserts, just or otherwise, have little to do with it. God is trying to knit together a world of mutual submission, all of it in submission to him. That requires something from each of us in whatever station we find ourselves.

The word “submission” means to go where someone asks you to go, to follow their direction, to go their way and not your own. Words like “hard,” “dangerous,” and “risky” come next to mind when I think of that. What might I lose? What am I forfeiting? Possibly everything. And by losing — in the inscrutable asymmetry of the gospel — we gain.

“Among Christians such are the conditions of victory,” wrote Basil the Great, “and it is he who is content to take the second place who wins a crown.”

A world of radical, mutual submission looks like one united by grace and peace. Consider these words from the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

[F]ulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

It also looks like a world in which our sanctification is realized through humility.

Paul’s very next words to the Philippians are these: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” this mind of preferring others to ourselves, of lowliness in mind, of subjecting our personal ambitions. God desires that our hearts be shaped by humility, and we take on its contours as we learn submission. Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered, as Paul says in Hebrews. And so do we if we can say with Jesus, “Not my will, but yours.”

What of that undeserving spouse, parent, governor, boss, pastor? A few verses later in the same passage, Paul tells us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

We have no idea what that person needs for their salvation. But that’s not our concern anyway. We’re to work out our own, and in the context of the passage, it’s clear Paul wants us to start with radical submission and Christlike humility.

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