Hi this is Pastor Ken, Welcome to the Monday Marriage Message…thanks for joining me. Today I would like to talk with you about resolving marital conflict. One might think then that this podcast will be about how to address spousal arguments. Instead, I want to focus on a different kind of marital conflict. Make no mistake there will always problems to be solved in the marital arrangement. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:28 that if you get married you haven’t done anything wrong but you will have trouble in this world. This was not a tongue-in-cheek statement. Paul was being serious. That entire chapter is dedicated to marital advice from God. Marital conflict is going to happen, that is a forgone conclusion. There are many available strategies to resolve said conflicts, and we have looked at some of those in past episodes and I will undoubtedly do so again in the future. However, a good deal of those difficulties visit married couples because of a greater marital conflict. There are two conflicting schools of thought concerning the best ways to deal with problems that are part of every marriage. First and foremost, there is the counsel that comes from God, the creator of the institution, the proprietor of the oneness shared by a man married to a woman, and the second, derived from the human experience is worldly wisdom. These two disciplines often stand in direct opposition to one another. The greatest marital conundrum is this, who and what to trust to correct what goes awry in our marriages.

One might say that as Christians that should not be a problem for us. Right? One might think we are primed to simply believe, and act upon the instruction found in God’s word without question or reserve. As a pastoral marriage counselor, I wish that were so. As a husband, I wish I always made the correct choices in my own marriage. The difficulty we have enacting biblical counsel at every turn, may be understandable, however, it is thoroughly unprofitable for us and for our marriages.

Jesus said that Satan has three objectives at all times; to kill, steal, and destroy. Christ called Satan a thief, one who desires to take from us, and destroy what we have. Jesus went on to say that in contrast, He had come to give. To give us life and furthermore, a life abundant with His goodness. (John 10:10) Satan is crafty. I find He does not often try to snatch the abundant life of goodness away from us, far more often he cunningly seeks to get us to give him our peace, joy and contentment. Jesus also called Satan “The father of all lies”. (John 8:44) I like to say that our enemy is the perfector of the plausible lie. If his lies were not plausible we would likely not fall for them and hand over that which he desires us to allow him to steal, kill and destroy. Satan enjoys little more than to steal, kill, and destroy marriages. So how does he fool us into believing that his solutions for our marital problems are the best practice? He simply has to make the wrong conclusion seem right, long enough to convince us to act upon it. Throughout history, he has been using a variety of ways to accomplish this objective, and they continue to serve him well. To illustrate I will offer only a few examples here, but Satan has untold ways to make lies plausible in order that we might accept them as psudo-truth. He uses our experience and the experience of others to make us believe that the correct choice will only lead to our being used or abused. He uses the fondness of others toward us, to influence them to offer a “trusted source” of unintentional poor counsel. These people, who are our family and friends have no desire to give bad counsel, they simply don’t like seeing someone they care about hurting and so become unwitting participants in the enemies plans for our destruction. Sometimes Satan will even use the God-given traits instilled in us, such as our respective needs for love and respect, to encourage us respond in an ungodly way if we don’t get what we need. Suffice to say that your spiritual enemy has many ways to wage war on you and your marriage; therefore, we need to have an effective way to defend against his attacks.

The Apostle Paul wrote of such a defense system. In 2 Corinthians10:4-5 Paul wrote the following: We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places. We destroy people’s arguments and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ. (The New Century Version) Paul was saying this is a spiritual battle, but that we have access to the most powerful weapon and that power will always overcome the enemies advances against us. Paul was clearly saying that the power is not our own but rather comes directly from God. He went on to explain here that as we choose to take our strength from God, the contrasting arguments from others, all the quote-unquote “good advice” even from friends and family aka worldly wisdom will be seen for what they really are, and can be responded to correctly. Paul even tells us exactly what the correct response is; to capture every thought of worldly wisdom, subdue it, and instead respond as Christ would. Is it tempting to choose worldly wisdom instead of Godly guidance? Of course it is but the Bible tells us that No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV)

I love the following saying, “My response is my responsibility”. I like it because it gives me freedom. I do not have to fall for the temptation to injure my marriage further, I can choose to seek to heal rather than inflict more hurt…even when I am hurting. I don’t have to withhold love from my wife in response to my interpretation (which is often in error) that she is disrespecting me. I can choose to love in spite of how I feel in the moment. I don’t have to respond in kind in retaliation, I can respond with kindness in any situation, the choice is mine and cannot be taken away from me. “My response is my responsibility”.

Many of the battles can be won by understanding the tricks the enemy is employing to get us to react in a certain way. Some however, will be fought after we have been lured into the minefield. In my counseling practice, it never ceases to surprise me how many people admit to knowing they have made a misstep nearly immediately after doing so. They will tell me that they know their response was not godly. They need little to no prompting from me to concede that the way they reacted to their spouse was wrong, and yet they continued forward down a path they knew would produce even more pain for both of them. When I ask for an explanation for this, almost without variation they tell me they don’t know why they do it. So, why do human beings do this? Why do we continue in a direction that we know to be harmful instead of turning around? After all, we wouldn’t ever decisively continue to drive at highway speed in the wrong direction on an interstate just because we were making good time. So, what induces us determine to take additional missteps in the minefield after realizing we errantly stepped into it? PRIDE. None of us likes to admit we are wrong, especially if we are convinced someone else (our spouse in this case) is more wrong. Pride is never a good reason to get blown up in a minefield. The ONLY wise decision in a minefield is to thoughtfully and ever-so-carefully (so as not to cause further danger of destruction) back out of it! Trust me, your pride is not going to be a source of comfort when you lay broken and bruised from the battle, and you realize you also caused great injury to your spouse in the process.

When we are fighting against lies (no matter how plausible they may be) the only weapon that will prevail is truth. God is truth. God is wisdom. God knows what you should do…Always. The Bible tells us that if we know the truth, the truth will set us free. God created the heavens and the Earth. He knows how it operates best. God created people, He knows how they operate best. God created the highest form of human relationship…marriage, and He knows how it works best. His word tells us if we seek His kingdom (His ways) first, all these other needs we have, will be met. God’s ways concerning marriage fly in the face of worldly wisdom. His ways are in direct contrast to the worlds ways, because His are intended to give and to bless and the worlds ways, or the enemies ways are intended to kill, steal and destroy. So when it comes to marital conflict, I say “Choose this day who you will serve…As for me and my spouse, we will serve the Lord.”

Join me again next week as we look at some specific biblical truths intended to provide marital peace and joy and the counter falsehoods of worldly wisdom designed to kill, steal and destroy all that God desires for you.

Questions to answer:

  • Can you think of a recent time when you chose to respond to a marital difficulty utilizing worldly wisdom?
  • What was the result of that choice?
  • Can you think of a recent time when you chose to respond to a marital difficulty utilizing true wisdom from God’s own word?
  • What was the result of that decision?

Actions to take:

  • Talk about ways the two of you could increase the number of times you choose together to respond to one another in the ways God instructs in His word.
  • Pray and ask God to help you respond to one another, as He would have you to in every situation.

So now, recognizing that worldly wisdom is anything but, and that there is only One source of wisdom and truth that your marriage should act upon…Go Be Awesome!