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"God Comes Before My Wife" . . . And Other Stupid Statements

Here is a question I recieved from someone as a follow-up to my last blog.

Question:

I have a deep love for the lady who I’ve been dating and I’m getting set to pop the question to her. 

I love apologetics. You know that. I love teaching it as well. However, apologetics is not God. It is not the gospel. No one’s ministry is God. I have told my Princess repeatedly that God will always be #1. She must be second place. I must put her before that without putting her before God. How can I teach and defend the gospel if I am not living it? Part of living it means giving my wife the proper place in my world.

So while I’m on that, let me ask you how you make a division. How do you keep up a life of study properly with a life of marriage? I know if I give all of my attention to study, well she’s deprived and that’s not right. On the other hand, if all I do is give her attention, well we don’t eat. I have to do both. I’d like your insight.

Answer:

Let me start by saying that Kristie and I love each other deeply and we are totally committed to each other. However, we have not had a “good” marriage by any stretch. I am not sure I should be saying this. Not because Kristie would not approve, but because it exposes something that causes me a great deal of shame to reveal. I wish that I could say that I had even a typically decent marriage, but I don’t think this is the case.

Kristie and I are worlds apart. Not only in personality, but spiritually as well. Well, let me qualify this some. I am not saying that one of us is super spiritual while the other is a dud, but that we are different. Kristie has never resented my ministry and has, at times, served as an encouragement. But she is not that interested in what I do. Theology is not her thing. The same is true for me with regard to her priorities. Sometimes it feels as if we are like magnets turned the wrong way. Our relationship is, for lack of a better word, clumsy. We have good chemistry in a very real way (which I am so thankful for), but, from a human standpoint, we are not a “match made in heaven.”

There is a lot more that can be said.

I don’t, at this point in my life, have a nice red bow that is coming in the form of a “but…” I am just giving you some of the background so you can understand my answer. If Kristie and I were to allow our relationship to go in a direction that “seems” natural, I think we would drift completely apart, she in her world, and I in mine. I could very easily say to myself that my work and ministry are far more productive than the treadmill of problems that come by way of my marriage. My ministry could easily get separated from my marriage and become the de facto priority of my day (and it sometimes does when I am in one of “those” moods).

However, I would say from experience that if your marriage is not going well, nothing is going well. Your ministry, insights, and everything else will suffer when your wife is not your priority. And if it does not, then that may be an even bigger problem: apathy. Apathy toward your marital relationship. Solution: Redirect all passion to ministry. What a terrible place to be. Understandable, but terrible.

“But, but, I am doing so much good in ministry. I suck at marriage.” I know how it feels, but don’t separate the two. Your marriage is and should always be your first and foremost ministry. Even if it is not as “successful” as your other pursuits, don’t compare them. Before God, you are called to love her and give yourself up for her as Christ did the church, even if you are worlds apart. Christ and the church were worlds apart, too.

(Sheesh…what self-therapy here.)

“But what if my wife keeps me from ministry? What if she only serves as massive speed bumps to my ‘calling’?”

I try to keep this in mind: God does not really need me. As much as I like to think I am significant (i.e., if I don’t get this blog done, this class taught, this person’s theology corrected, who will?), my family must come first. It is so easy to forget this or to become bitter towards your wife. There is a reason why we are told to treat them tenderly.

Your passions should not be divided, but they often will be. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. That is something, I believe, you will not regret on your death bed. God has numerous ways to get done that which we felt like we were supposed to. If you are married, your primary area of service is your wife.

“But who comes first, God or my wife?”

Not a good way to put it. Not good at all. It is like saying, what comes first, God’s commandments or God himself. Most certainly, there are times when you will have to follow God rather than your wife, but this is not saying that God will ever call on you to neglect your responsibility to love her in order to serve him. While it is true that you put God first, I don’t know how to separate that from putting your wife first. In other words, you put your wife first precisely because you put God first.

For those of you who have a passion for ministry, do not separate this from your passion for your family. Don’t become bitter, apathetic, or dismissive towards the wife that God has given to you. She is your first ministry. If you do well with her, you have done better than one who writes, speaks, blogs, and preaches for God to the neglect of his wife.

As hard as it is for me to say, if your ministry is not providing for your family, find something that will.

65 Responses to “"God Comes Before My Wife" . . . And Other Stupid Statements”

  1. Sob. Well said.

  2. Just a fantastic post Michael. Thanks for your transparency and humility. What you’ve said is the heart of how I try to see things: serving my wife IS serving God. If my marriage fails my ministry fails with it whether it is growing and flourishing or not. My marriage can survive the failure of my ministry but the reverse is simply not true.

  3. God comes first, ALWAYS. When our marriage is failing, it is because something is missing, and that something missing is having our eyes on GOD. God is first, and EVERYTHING else is last. How can you be loving toward your husband/wife if you’re not spending time with the One who created that person for you? Placing anything else up and the same pedestal as God is idolatry, and nothing less.

  4. It feels like sometimes we imagine God to be asking us to make some kind of spiritual ‘Sophie’s Choice’. God isn’t asking us to choose between Him and our spouses, any more than He is asking us to sacrifice our children on a stone altar. Really, why do we make God out to be an abusive husband? He is not this obsessive, controlling, vain, insecure, self-absorbed boyfriend that we too often make Him out to be.

  5. Tamera, exacly.

    It is sad to say, but I don’t know how many situations I have seen or heard about where the husband believed that as the leader of the family he had to choose God over his wife. Many times these decisions were increadibly trivial, but even when they are not, to prioritze God’s will over serving your family is a false dichotomy. As of there is a higher calling…

  6. CMP,

    What do you advise someone, be it husband or wife, that is married to someone that doesn’t want them to be involved in any type of organized Christian ministry, period? Or that doesn’t want them going to church or a Bible study at all? I know several people in this situation. One is a wife married to someone who claims to be a Christian, and the other is married to a man that doesn’t claim to be one at all. Do you believe the same standard applies for them? Do they serve the husband by staying away from church, etc. and by not being involved in anything?

    And there are also the cases where a husband expects or even demands that a wife do things that are totally agains God’s stated laws in Scripture. What is that one to do?

    I guess I am asking if there are not times when God literally has to come first and not what the spouse desires? Or do you believe that is never the case?

  7. I think I see where my confusion on your last post came in. You’re not saying God vs. wife so much as you are saying ministry vs. wife. Totally different things. Ministry definitely shouldn’t come before family.
    Too bad most people don’t want to follow an example like Jim and Elizabeth Elliot or Eric and Leslie Ludy. In fact Eric and Leslie Ludy both just came out with short blogs telling about their “extraordinary” marriage and love story before marriage! (Their words not mine!) Perfect example of putting God first and not the spouse. Check out their short blogs for what they have to say.
    Anybody who’s had a good, lasting, godly relationship with ANYbody will tell you, “Jesus first!”
    http://ellerslie.com/Eric_Ludy/Entries/2009/12/11_Fifteen_Years_of_Wedded_Bliss.html

    http://setapartgirl.com/blog/Entries/2009/12/16_December_10,_2009.html

  8. Oh forgot to add that my biggest criteria for a future husband is that he loves Jesus more than me. There is no way I’m marrying a man who doesn’t love Jesus more than me. And there is no way I’m loving him more than Jesus. (Although it’s bound to happen occasionally because I’m human.)

  9. P.S.

    CMP, you said, ” Most certainly, there are times when you will have to follow God rather than your wife,”

    As I reread your article, I think I answered the question I just asked you. Sorry about that.

  10. Who comes first God or my wife? Interesting question, but really perhaps in God’s eyes, and invalid question.

    Maybe we should ask: What are God’s concerns for my wife? Maybe I should look for ways to serve God by serving my mate as a Christian man.

  11. God comes first, ALWAYS. When our marriage is failing, it is because something is missing, and that something missing is having our eyes on GOD.

    There’s truth in this… But in the context of this post, it’s a little misleading. God comes first, YES. But God commands my to have sacrificial love for my wife, and God commands my wife to submit to me. If I’m willing to give up my life for my wife’s sake, won’t I be willing to give up my way of making a living? Even if that living was a vocation from God?

    Paul says this right out: the main reason to stay single is to serve God with full focus. Once you’re married, you MUST remove some focus from God; God Himself has arranged that.

    -Wm

  12. All well stated and well said, however….

    Some people like to use family as an excuse to avoid Christian service. Instead of becoming involved in the body of Christ they put forth the argument that they cannot and will not neglect their family. Then they open up another bag of chips and sit down to another day of watching every sporting event known to man.

    Other people commit to involvement in ministry, but then drop their commitments the minute someone in their family invites them to a birthday party that conflicts with their commitment.

    As people discuss the fine points of not neglecting their family and making their family the first priority of ministry we need to remember the deceptive nature of the human heart.

  13. I think one important warning to remember is to never conflate ministry and God. They’re deeply related to be sure, but to think of them as the same is an idolatrous trap. If you can keep that straight, you’re a lot less likely to ever see ever choosing your wife over your ministry as putting God second.

  14. Some years back a pundit said something like the following about William Bennett:

    “First William Bennett was the Education Czar but the educational system didn’t improve. Then he was in charge of the War on Drugs but the drug situation grew worse. Now he has written books about both. In America, this is what we call expertise.”

    It is remarkable that you would confess to not knowing how to make your own marriage work for you and your wife but still feel qualified to tell others what they need to do. Following this reasoning, shouldn’t I study theology under someone who has it all wrong, confused, and fails to live it out?

    It is good, Michael, that you know what you might be doing wrong. But that is far from knowing what to do right. You’re not an expert in these matters, neither in practice nor theory.

  15. Mike, your comment seems to simply be a critique of me, not of the post, with way too many assumptions about your supposed assessment of my “failure” in marriage. It is hard to know how to respond, but thanks for taking the time to log your complaint!

  16. We just had our 11th anniversary last week, and marriage is hard, and it doesn’t get easier. But I figure if it’s not hard you’re not doing it right. Wait, that sounded dirty.

  17. Dr Mike writes:

    You’re not an expert in these matters, neither in practice nor theory.

    You know, Dr. Mike, sometimes I just can’t figure you out. You can write such great stuff, like the recent catfish series. Then you come up with something like the above. Not the first time I’ve seen you be so condescending.

    So I strolled on over to your website to try to gain a better understanding. Read your testimony. Good stuff. Our backgrounds have much in common.

    Then I read this:

    More than anyone else, Dr. Demarest broke my fundamentalism. He ripped my theological and exegetical papers apart, shredded my dogmatism like tissue paper, and slaughtered sacred cows with ease. He taught me to hold my convictions firmly but gently, and to respect the theologies of others since, as he demonstrated, theirs could be understood biblically, too. More than anything, he showed me what humility was.

    Perhaps a refresher is in order?

  18. Michael,

    What about Luke 14:26 and onward down to verse 33?

    I think I agree with the overall message of this post just curious about how you intergrade the above passage into your thoughts about God, wife and ministry. You must have known this passage would be brought up :)

  19. Thanks, Michael. I need to hear this every semester.

  20. CMP:

    I sent my remarks to you privately because I didn’t want to air it publicly. I told you in the email that people would rally to your defense and bash me. But you wanted me to post it, so I did.

    And then you’re the first one to call me on it? You set me up. What a joke.

    You know that I’ve tried to help you with things privately – and not just this blog. As recently as last weekend I was considering coming up to Credo sometime to talk about some concerns I have for you and your family, mistakes that I made in my 30s that I hoped you could learn from. That’s because – foolishly, I guess – I tend to care about people.

    And then this. I try to make a serious point about people following popular people instead of qualified people, and you flag me for being out of bounds – after telling me to go out of bounds. Nice.

    I continue to be amazed at how wrong I am about some people. You’re not the first, just the latest. And I’m sure you won’t be the last.

  21. Ed:

    I’m not upset, just concerned. You are right, though: it’s the same issue. Professionally, it creates business for me when shepherds give the sheep rotten food or lead them down the wrong path. They wind up in my office wondering what’s wrong with them.

    But I’d rather keep people healthy than try to repair the damage done by people who ought to have enough sense not to hurt them. I don’t give medical advice because I’m not trained in it; I don’t build bridges because I’m not an engineer; I don’t opine about foreign policy because I’m too ignorant. We all need to know our gifts and our limits. There’s no shame in it.

    Dave:

    Thanks for the rebuke. I suppose, after having read my testimony(ies), that you know my motivation for saying what I did.

    I guess I don’t understand how saying what I said makes me arrogant. I’m sure you could enlighten me but it would be more appropriate to do so at Theologica since it has been declared out of bounds here.

  22. Call me plebian, but I rather think that anyone who uses “Dr.” in anything other than their offical business letterhead has at least a few humility issues.

    cheers,
    #John, B.A., B.A.ad., LLB, M.E.S.

  23. “…my family must come first…When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family. When it comes to the big decisions, always choose your family.”

    Andy Stanley did a great sermon on the limits of time and what/who gets “cheated”.

    He pointed out that you either cheat your job, or you cheat your family. Therefore, he encourages his church staff to limit their work hours per week in order to spend more time with the family. His personal goal is 45 hrs per/wk.

  24. Mike,

    If you comment had been moderated, I would not have approved it. I don’t like when threads turn into something like this. But since it has already made it through the feed, I have to respond to this charge.

    You sent me the above response saying you were going to post it but then changed your mind because you did not want to “humiliate” me. On that basis, I looked at it and thought that it does not humiliate me (as one responder can’t really do that or I would not leave comments open!)

    Therefore, I encourage you to post it (as that is what you seemed to want to do).

    It was not a “set up” (set up for what?—is someone out to get you? I don’t have time for any childish endeavor such as that.)

    Anyway, I don’t want this to go in that direction any further than this here. If you want to respond to the blog post, please feel free to do so.

    Thanks so much.

  25. Oh, there are people like Dr. Mike! Recently, my maternal uncle “attacked” me for my not-so-good marriage, arrogantly asking me what good is my study of theology, while I am not able to have a “good” marriage. Guys like these are not REALLY helpful, though they act as if they are of help!

  26. To Michael:

    Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:34-38 ESV).

    Also:

    And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18:28-30 ESV).

    It would seem that, according to Jesus, there are circumstances where we are to literally abandon our families, if He calls us to and (especially if) they are opposed to doing God’s work (but noting in the case of marriage, that said abandonment doesn’t necessarily result in divorce, according to the strictures laid out in Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7). Note how the apostles were called to abandon their homes to preach the Gospel and how He promised to reward not just them, but anyone who does likewise.

    I do think it is important, though, to lovingly sacrifice for a wife who may not be as committed to God as you are. But in the case of the original person who asked this question, theology isn’t really spirituality — it has its place, but it isn’t all that important when compared to loving God and loving one’s neighbor. So (in all honesty and with the deepest respect), I think a man who neglects his wife for the purposes of studying theology is acting selfishly.

  27. Michael:

    I’m sorry for how I came across: I do not do well expressing concerns of the heart. It was a mistake for me to try.

    Thanks for allowing me to be of some small help in the past here. I do not disagree with your decision to remove me from administrator status.

    I wish you well in your marriage and will continue to pray for you, your wife, and your children as often as God brings you all to mind.

  28. CMP – I appreciate your willingness to talk honestly about life as it is. Many Christian leaders settle for talking about what life and marriage should be like and keeping quiet where it doesn’t quite measure up in their actual lives. That leaves a lot of people sitting in church wondering how everyone else can seem to get it all together when it is such a struggle for them. I don’t get how an evangelicalism that centers on the gospel can be so afraid to admit not every marriage is bliss. Keep writing and offering hope to those of us who don’t quite have it all together yet!

  29. I’m not the first to say so, CMP, but your refreshing honestness and openness, even to the point of endangering your open heart to a knife thrust, is one of the attractions of your writing and blog.

    kind regards,
    #John

  30. CMP,

    Thanks so much for opening up like this. It’s actually encouraging to me since I find myself in a similar situation with respect to the fact that my wife and I differ so much in some of the same things. I have a passion to pursue theology and apologetics and Christian philosophy and such and she couldn’t care less about those things. That, among other things, causes some friction and I, too, feel like a bit of a failure in marriage.

    I say it’s encouraging because I’m guilty of typically assuming that many Christian marriages are so much better than mine (I know I shouldn’t compare like that, but it’s hard not to sometimes) and I hear how guys talk about their wives and wonder why I can’t seem to do the same and feel like I’m being honest. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who has to work hard at marriage and it helps me to know that there is still more that I need to do on my end to continue to make it better.

    Again, thanks and God bless!

  31. Thanks CMP for these last two posts. I am in need of some balance right now and somehow you’ve provided it with these last two writings. It’s prompting me to some more contemplation and muzings (and lots of prayer ;-) )

    If nothing else, may it serve as an encouragement of what you’re doing

    Mick

  32. Going back to the question that was the basis for the original post, it sounds like the young man might simply be asking how to strike a balance between professional priorities and family priorities. While I could understand someone in ministry viewing their work as “more than just a job”, if you treat it as a job, at least for the purposes of the present discussion, the recipe for finding a good balance need only contain a few ingredients: boundaries, and communication. Conversations with your spouse will help you to establish what value to place on your time, and conversations with your employer will determine what hours and compensation will enable you to meet your financial goals and family goals. Then, you simply establish boundaries so that work commitments can’t expand into the space that you have cordoned off for family. I think it’s possible to find a happy medium just by communicating with your prospective spouse about your respective desires and expectations, and making sure that they are compatible given the professions that you have chosen to pursue.

    I don’t think these conversations necessarily need to precede a marriage proposal, but they should probably reach a resolution prior to marriage. For example, if your spouse expects a pampered, lavish lifestyle, and wants you to work 80 hrs per week at a high-powered job to provide it, but you don’t want a career like that, it might ultimately not be a very good fit. Conversely, if your spouse would prefer to have less money but have more time together, but you are set on pursuing a high-powered, 80 hr/week job, then that too might not be a good fit.

    I think that the key to a happy marriage isn’t really compatibility of interests, or compatible personalities, or even compatible emotions. Those are all beneficial, but what’s most important is common *expectations*; we need to be in agreement about what we want out of our marriage, and to be rowing in the same direction at all times. This kind of compatibility will create a bond that can overcome mismatches in the other areas — when my spouse and I are united, I am naturally drawn to them at an emotional level, I can begin to overlook and even appreciate their personality quirks, and I can take interest in their hobbies and pursuits even when they are of no interest to me, or at the least give them the space to explore those.

    I certainly commend Michael for his transparency, but I think that even more important than the need to prioritize your family is the need to communicate with your spouse.

  33. “I certainly commend Michael for his transparency, but I think that even more important than the need to prioritize your family is the need to communicate with your spouse.”

    Exactly. I would say that communicating with your spouse is prioritizing your family.

  34. Dr Mike, no need for such dramatics! :)

    I don’t expect that you are going to disappear. I wish you would not have made public that I removed you from your admin of this blog, but you and I know that it goes into many more things than just your response here. I will leave it at that, but you, again, left me no choice than to respond in public. We will leave it at that.

  35. Thanks for the responses from everyone. I really think that this series has served to help Kristie and I.

  36. The part where you pretty well say “you serve God by serving your wife” is a good answer. I am married….very happily. One thing is true, you dont find a compatible mate, but you make a compatible marriage.

  37. Wowsers! Getting personal here, eh? Well, it’s immensely helpful to know that others have a similar marriage as I. Thanks, Michael, for your transparency. Without question, on the differences between spouses, Prov 14:10 has been very significant, so much so that I wrote an essay on it some time ago, entitled, I Know How You Feel…Really?.

  38. Cadis,

    Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

    This is troublesome at first sight, but is no more so than Christ’s other hyperbolic and extreme rhetoric to demonstrate the radical nature of what it means to follow him. For example, Christ tell people to cut out their eye and cut off their hand if it is causing one to stumble.

    In this context, I believe that Christ is explaining that following his is much more than a casual committment to a casual relationship, it demands everything. You put him above all else, even friends, neighbors, and family.

    However, like with the Ten Commandments, the loving and following God serves as a foundation for loving one’s neighbor and espeically a husbands love for a wife. This is made clear throughout the rest of Scripture and from Christ himself. It is precisily because we have turned everything over to him that our focus is on others.

    I don’t ever forsee a situation where we would be asked to choose between loving our wife or loving God. We may obey God and not obey our wife as a wife may do with her husband, but this is different.

  39. “We may obey God and not obey our wife as a wife may do with her husband, but this is different.”

    And this was my point in the last post. Loving one’s wife is different than doing what she wants. Her desire is not always God’s will any more than the man’s desire is. The point is that one needs to lead. The husband is given the job to challenge his wife into a further relationship with God in service to Him. Therefore, loving one’s wife often may mean NOT doing what she wants. This is all in the context, of course, of long discussions and prayer in non-biblical matters. No sub-authority has the authority to lead someone away from God in any way.

  40. I think this blog and many of the responses have been very therapeutic to many who’ve read them. Pursuing one’s passion or calling should never be at the expense of one’s spouse. A disciple of Christ is not who you are but what you are.

    Cadis asked about the Luke 14:26-33 passages which may have some therapeutic (application?) value here as well.

    These are a few quotes from scripture; “No man can serve two masters, he will love the one and hate the other”, “If a man has two wives, he will love the one and hate the other”; “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated”, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple”

    The above statements do not necessarily mean a love hate relationship. They are simply Hebraic expressions of preference (loving one more and loving one less). In Matt. 10:37 Jesus says basically the same thing, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

    Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ means an abandonment of past priorities. People, pleasure, and things are secondary to being a disciple of Christ. It’s a way of saying everything is subordinated to the Lordship of Christ. My relationships, my possessions, even my own life are subordinate to Christ. But I don’t believe this would lead one to push aside their spouse to pursue their calling or to treat their spouse as a second rate person. As one truly submits to the Lordship of Christ their love for Christ grows which is reflected upon the love for their spouse.

    I think it’s good for this person to question what he is about to do for I see it in Luke 14:28-33. He is considering the cost of his ministry. It would be wise not to lay the foundation and not be able to finish it. How much more harm would your ministry suffer if you lose your witness by way of divorce?

    Consider the cost first; don’t enter in to it half way. Communicate your desires to your spouse. Ensure they know and understand the requirements and difficulties and be prepared for setbacks. Your first ministry will always be your spouse and family, for they always see you in ways the body doesn’t.

    Thank you for being transparent Michael. Many of us dare not open our skeletal closet for fear of retributions.

  41. Dr. Mike,

    I wish I had a counselor like you! Someone who is opposed to honesty and tranparency…who also has a passion for the dramatic. This type of attitude is the reason so many are terrified to be Chrisians. WE ARE ALL SINNERS, saved by Jesus’ grace and trying our best to battle ourselves. Whatever your qualifications, that doesn’t mean you are always right.

    Michael,

    Your honesty is the reason I am proud to be a Christian.

    Thank you!!!

  42. There is an old saying, “the law is a jealous spouse”, which reflects the facts that practicing law is like being married to it and that it not only swallows up all your time but it demands more and more. Consequently lawyers are forever taking time management courses, and life balance courses, etc.

    One of the most useful things I have learned is that priority setting and setting of boundaries is an unhelpful approach.

    When I have to prepare for court, it’s the client that comes first. At other times I have had to choose my job over family in terms of usage of time, because of the need to put bread on the table. When I’m on date night at the movies, I’m not lugging my KJV and Back to the Bible Broadcast devotional. When I’m spending time in prayer, I’m not answering my kids knocks to look at their latest creation.

    I also make firm boundaries like “every Friday is family night”, or that I’ll spend at least one evening a week at home for supper, or a minimum number of hours at home or with various family members. It all depends on the current circumstances. It changes and varies from week to week. This past October I had a big trial where I was regularly working 16 hour days, sometimes 24 hour days, sometimes 40 or 50 hours in a row. Then, the next month I took off some time in the middle of the day to attend my kids singing concerts, or so that my wife could go shopping on Black Friday.

    And as for spousal interest in my job, occasionally there is a courtroom highlight story to tell, or the hijinks of some illicit behaviour, but I’m sure you all can well imagine that my wife is none to keen on getting a play by play on my review of the environmental reports I read during the day.

    There really is no is easy answer. Balance can only be perceived over the long term (or lack thereof when one gets the divorce papers), and the tension and pulls are always there.

    regards,
    #John

  43. But Hodge, here again in comment #43 you are saying the same thing in a different way by making the role of the husband into a dictatorship rather than a leadership role. Only this time under the guise of love. Leaders, in a Godly sense at least, lead by example, unless they make the mistake of using the submission scriptures as a excuse to gain complete control over the human being who volunteered to become their helpmate, not their slave. That isn’t sacrificial love on the husband’s part at all, as several here have already pointed out.

    Where two are operating as one, at least as God has defined the marital relationship, it would be necessary for both to agree at some point on the same goal in any important decision. This whether it be how to raise children, or going on a mission. And, I certainly can’t think of any man who would just go out and buy a home without having his wife approve of it first. The same should hold true for missions. Without the agreement of the wife to willingly join in, and instead have to be dragged along unwillingly into something she already knows isn’t right, the ‘mission’ gets out of the realm of doing God’s work and becomes more of a selfish career move on the part of one person instead.

    I admire CMP for being willing to look at it in the way that he has.

  44. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my mere 6 years of marriage with 2 kids, and seeing how both my parents and my wife’s parents divorced after long marriages and WHY they ended up there, it’s the fact that every single marriage is different because it involves two different human beings. Assuming certain general biblical principles, what works for one marriage might not work for another, and the beautiful (and lifelong!) challenge and reward is figuring out how best to make it work with your spouse.

    Michael, we’ve always appreciated your transparency with your marriage. I think if more couples were more transparent with their couple friends about their problems (to a certain extent obviously!), it would only add accountability and edification to the marriages… kind of like having another couple alongside you to help out, and vise versa…

  45. There was a comment made just a few back from my editor Lindsey. She did not know she was signed in as me since she was editing. That comment did NOT come from me. Sorry for the confusion.

  46. mbaker,

    That’s an egalitarian interpretation of Scripture to which I do not subscribe. Jesus leads by example and so should husbands. No argument there. The problem is the false dichotomy that either husbands lead from example and are loving or they lead by making the determining decision rather than the wife (one is always determining what the other will do BTW) and they are ruthless dictators dragging their wives by their hair into the caves of their selfish wills. Please, this is getting ridiculous.
    The problem is when one so interprets the Bible in a lopsided manner that a doctrine or practice ends up being distorted beyond all recognition. That’s why I made the statement before about neo-complementarianism and its virtual similarity to egalitarianism. If the husband treats his wife like a slave because of the submission passages, I view him as just as disobedient to the Scripture as the husband who does not lead his wife away from her disobedience to Christ.
    BTW, talking about leading in love isn’t a disguise. That’s a bit jaded, don’t you think? Does Christ lead by authority in your mind (i.e., by teaching and command) or by example? I say both. Do you think He is therefore being unloving to us because He commands us to do something? If He isn’t, and I am not even saying that we should command our wives or lead with such authority anywhere near what the Lord does to us, then why paint leadership that takes both authority and example in such a negative light?

    On a further note, any Christian should be an example, so Peter and Paul have no business telling wives to obey their husbands and be an example if in fact leading is being an example. In other words, if the concepts were interchangeable then the command should be to everyone: “Obey (i.e., be an example to) one another”; but it isn’t. Adam should have taken authority over his wife and led the conversation in the right direction. Instead, he led by your concept of an example by not dictating anything to his wife…and the world fell.

  47. This thread is missing a lot of comments it seems. So I will just take up where it left off, after #50.

    Hodge,

    I don’t see it as anything but an issue of a balanced marital relationship in ways that are pleasing to Christ, and in keeping with scriptural guidelines that God tells us are most acceptable to Him. There are extreme ways of looking at both sides of a marital conflict from our human points of view, that’s what I’m saying, and I don’t believe either extreme reflects the example Paul or Peter gave of how Christ loves the church, and gave up His life for her.

    I don’t see marital disagreements as an authoritarian/rebellion issue so much as I do a common human difference of opinion about what to do in a certain situation when one spouse wants one thing and the other spouse wants another. Then it becomes more about deciding which choice is best, not about who’s going to make the final decision in the long run.

    Do you see the difference I am speaking of?

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