Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye - Pt 4

Chapter 5 – Do Him Good All the Days of Your Life

One of the outcomes of being single for longer is that you spend longer on the “playing field”, potentially collecting all sorts of wounds and bad experiences or forming patterns of behaviour less than helpful. So I appreciated this discussion of what it means to guard our hearts and the reminder to be careful and thoughtful, not to mention prayerful, about our actions now and to consider their implications for the future.

I particularly concurred with the comment that most of what makes us anxious in relationships is our speculations of the future, and that we need to endeavour not to get ahead of God or the man that we find ourselves attracted too, and I then found the section on dating in our minds, and that checklist of questions on page 78-79, very helpful. Difficult as it can be for women, I do think it’s so true that we would benefit spiritually if we avoided laying claims and forming attachments before we have reason to do so.

I thought the quote from Paul Tripp on page 79 was just excellent, particularly when it points out that God’s will becomes a threat to us when it potentially stands in the way of desires that have morphed into demands, either for a spouse more generally or for one person in particular:

The objects of most of our desires are not evil. The problem is the way they tend to grow and the control they come to exercise over our hearts. Desires are part of human existence, but they must be held with an open hand ... The problem with desire is that in sinners it very quickly morphs into demands (‘I must’). Demand is the closing of my fists over a desire. Even though I may be unaware that I have done it, I have left my proper position of submission to God. I have decided that I must have what I have set my heart on and nothing can stand in my way. I am no longer comforted by God’s desire for me; I am threatened by it, because God’s will potentially stands in the way of my demand ...
You may have noticed that I have deliberately skipped over the section on the rules of dating (because that is not an area I have any confidence in commenting on!) but I appreciated that Carolyn clarified that one rule, to be honoured diligently, of not marrying unbelievers. This is something which can become more tempting as time goes by. You can read more of Carolyn’s thoughts on this here: Same Lord Relationships. I have also written a little series of posts from my own experience of the temptation of unbelievers, if that is something you are finding it hard to resist:

The Nonny Enticement Pt 1 – A Story
The Nonny Enticement Pt 2 – Why Not
The resolution of Jane

Finally, I liked that Carolyn concluded this chapter by reminding us at the end that the real motivation for guarding our hearts is not so we can present our future husbands with one containing minimal dings in it, helpful as that is, but so that we preserve our trusting dependence on God with a peaceful spirit, whether we get married or not.

Here are Carolyn’s discussion questions for this chapter:

  • Historically, how have you done in guarding your heart? What are some of your typical relational patterns? In what ways do you think you need to change?
  • If you identified with "dating in your mind," could you also identify how youve made this a pattern or practice in your life?
  • If someone videotaped your life, in what ways could they see you trying to manipulate mens affections or trying to pursue them?
  • How do you see a good desire becoming a demand in your heart? When you are disappointed, how do you react?

  • Further reading:

    Loving your husband before you get married by Carolyn McCulley, from the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website.

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