Have You Come a Long Way, Baby?

This article first appeared on Precious Adornment in August 2010.

“…encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Titus 2:4-5

For nearly two decades, Virginia Slims cigarettes were pitched as the liberated woman’s must-have accessory with the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Designed to highlight the improvements made by women’s lib, the ad campaign often placed images of bold and sassy-looking modern women before a backdrop of photos depicting their oppressed conditions prior to the feminist movement. In light of the monumental shifts experienced by our culture over the past fifty years, it would be hard to deny the message of the now familiar slogan. We women have indeed come a very long way. Whether or not we’ve traveled the right way, however, is an entirely different issue.

Over the course of several decades, the voices of feminism and greed have combined to convince women that they not only can, but should, have it all. In a quest to gain the life, liberty, and happiness they believe they’re entitled to, many women have found that no sacrifice is too great to offer on the altar of worldly success, including their marriages. Today in American society not only do women hold the majority of jobs and obtain the majority of college degrees, but they also file the vast majority of divorce petitions. Current statistics reveal that over 2/3 of all divorces in the U.S. are initiated by women. If this is what coming a long way looks like, I think we’d better make an immediate U-turn.

In my last article on this topic, I voiced my belief that many in the church were pushing to redefine marriage long before the homosexual community began forcefully advancing its own agenda. By adopting a lower view of the sanctity of marriage than is described in Scripture, professing Christians paved the way for others to more easily discard it altogether. With many churches now supporting and even condoning divorce and remarriage for any reason at all, should we wonder that what God designed as a sacred institution is now being made a sacrilege? We spend so much time pointing fingers at the world for not acting like the church, when it is the church’s imitation of the world that should command our fullest attention.

Considering both that professing Christians divorce at a rate basically identical to the world and that women are more likely to file for divorce than men, I’d say that we as Christian women bear a great responsibility to get busy reinforcing the tattered and threadbare institution of marriage in the church with grace-motivated obedience. Do you want a strong nation? Be a committed wife. Do you long for a thriving church? Honor your marriage vows. Would you like to see the lost believe the Gospel and follow Christ? Then love your husband faithfully, passionately, and unreservedly. If you desire to see marriage esteemed in our culture, then let it first be esteemed in your heart.

Strong marriages make strong families; strong families make strong churches, and strong churches change cultures through the power of Jesus Christ. We’ve got a long way to go, ladies, let’s get started today.

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together,
let not man separate.'”

Matthew 19:4-6

Photo: Tobacco.org

Stop Snipping. Start Sewing.

This post first appeared on Precious Adornment in August 2010.

“…What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate”

Matthew 19:6

Unless you’ve recently emerged from a hole in the ground, discussions regarding the all-out assault on marriage in our society have likely grown familiar to you. For many years, the voices of those opposing traditional marriage remained basically drowned out by the overwhelming volume of those voicing their support. Yet over time, what was once a quiet and occasional murmur of resistance has morphed into an almost constant and deafening roar for revolution.

The opponents of traditional marriage have driven their messages into every nook and cranny of society–the movies, media, bookstores, schoolrooms, and even many churches have the now popular mantras playing on a loop. Traditional marriage is a relic of a bygone age, they assert, a new era requires new openness. Claiming that no one has the right to restrict the happiness of another, they aim to demolish the definition of marriage upon which every stable society stands in order to erect another in its place.

If these revolutionaries succeed, the traditional definition of marriage as a sacred institution between one man and one woman for one lifetime will soon vanish, and another will take its place:

Marriage—A social institution between one man and one woman for as long as it’s convenient

…Perhaps this isn’t quite the revision you were expecting. I understand your confusion. We hear so much about the war against traditional marriage that when the subject is raised our thoughts automatically turn to the push for homosexual marriage. Although the drive to normalize homosexuality is indeed a major concern, it is not the concern of the article you’re currently reading. No, today I want to focus on a far more subtle, far more palatable, yet perhaps more dangerous threat to traditional marriage—the widespread occurrence and increasing acceptance of divorce within the church.

You see, long before the homosexual community ever dreamed of taking the idea seriously, professing Christians were busy redefining marriage. I suppose you wouldn’t be too far off if you theorized that the homosexual community may have been emboldened to advance its own cause after observing how the churchgoing crowd slowly but surely loosened up the restrictive definition of traditional marriage to accomodate its own desire for comfort. Surely, if you can make the switch from one man-one woman for one lifetime to one man-one woman for as long as it’s convenient, then the elimination of the gender distinction can’t be lagging too many years behind. It’s hard to ditch some of the sanctity of marriage without eventually losing it all.

Thousands upon thousands in the church today are joining in the defense of the traditional definition of marriage (which of course, they should), describing it as the fabric which holds our society together. Yet what so many seem perfectly happy to ignore is that we in the church have been clipping the threads of that fabric for decades now, and we did it one divorce at a time. Now, as we attempt to take a stand against the swell of opponents facing us on this new battlefront, we do so with our shredded banner flying overhead, wondering all the while why our opponents mock us as though we entered the fight without giving a single thought to our battle plan.

Of course, there was a day many years ago, when the church did have a leg to stand on in this debate. It was way back when the church took its definition of marriage from the Bible instead of from the culture, when marriage was not only defined as sacred, but also treated as such, and when one man-one woman-one lifetime wasn’t riddled with loopholes. Although the Word of God hasn’t changed in regard to marriage, if you observe the haphazard treatment of marriage among the people of God in modern times, you could very easily be led to believe that the Author had published a new edition of His marriage manual. Yet the Word of God still stands as a clear testimony of God’s eternal hatred of divorce (Mal. 2:16). If God’s Word hasn’t changed on the issue of divorce, it begs the question, “Why have we?”

In the next post, I want to look more at the vital issue of the sanctity of marriage. In this area, as in all other aspects of the Christian life, we must follow the infallible guidance God has provided for us in His Word. Although the world strives relentlessly to mold us into its ever-changing image, we must cling to the countercultural call of Scripture, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Photo: Nat Arnett

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice…

Make sure that you’re not putting yourself in a position where you could have a secret, intimate relationship that your mate doesn’t know about, or that the person you’re talking with, their mate doesn’t know about.

Some of you have heard me talk about how, if I have any kind of personal communication with the men I work with, I will copy someone else. If it’s appropriate, I’ll copy their wife or my assistant, or somebody—just to make sure that I’m not having private communication about personal matters with somebody who belongs to another woman.

It’s a hedge. If you don’t put the hedge in place on the front end, then you stand in danger of violating it, and by the time you’ve violated it, you will find yourself justifying a million things that really are not justifiable.

I look at so many young women today and see this totally inappropriate interaction with other men—very physical, flirtatious. And they think it’s okay. They think you can be married and still be best friends with another man. You can’t be. It’s not okay.

I’m not trying to lay down the law here. I’m trying to say, in grace, “Protect your marriage.” Protect the marriages of others around you.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “A Commitment to Permanence

Photo: OBMonkey

Hearts Divided by Divorce

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”

Psalm 147:3

Each time a marriage ends, husbands and wives are forced to tackle the complicated task of separating into two what God joined into one. Houses, cars, bank accounts, furniture–everything gained during the course of life together must somehow be divided between the two parties. The sad reality is that physical belongings aren’t the only objects divided during the divorce process; the hearts of children are also torn in two as mom and dad head off in separate directions. Although society’s distaste for divorce has steadily decreased over recent decades, the pain experienced by children of divorce has yet to lessen. In his song “Two Houses,” Matthew West articulates the heart-broken cry from the child of a broken home and points to the hope of a home that will never be divided.

Here’s the story behind the song…  

Ladies, as much as it is within our power, let’s commit to creating homes filled with love, strength, and stability for the glory of God and the good of our children.

The Story of Your Life is available on iTunes for $9.99.

Two Houses

Well, Mom found her a new place to live
And Dad found him a new girlfriend
Looks like everybody’s moving on
And it’s, “Hey, look on the bright side kid,
Now you’ve got two Christmases
And it’s every other weekend from now on”
Yeah, but all I want is the way it was

When love would always last forever
And families stayed together
Back to the day before two houses
When they held my hands when I was little
Before I got caught in the middle
Somewhere in between two houses
‘Cause these two houses sure don’t feel like home

Wide-eyed wonder grows up fast
Trust is shot and nothing lasts
And I’m thinking maybe it was all my fault
And will I ever get back to
The innocence that I once knew
Before that Summer turned into Fall
When I close my eyes, I go back in time

I heard about a love that never leaves
So I’m asking you to show me
I’m talking to You down here on my knees
Feels like You’ve always known me

When love would always last forever
And families stayed together
Back to the day before two houses
You were holding my hand when I was little
You were there when I was in the middle
Somewhere in between two houses
These two houses
These two houses

But tonight my heart has finally found a home

Written by Matthew West
Photo: Kiomi

Commitment without Compromise

“If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.”

Numbers 30:2

In a culture where “I do” means little more than “I’ll try,” we need to stand out as women whose commitments can be counted on. Mary Kassian offers some encouragement to help us become faithful in both the great and small matters of life:

The Wild Thing of Proverbs 7 cheated on her husband. She was unfaithful to the solemn covenant promise she made. But I think it’s fairly safe to assume that she broke faith with him, and others too, in many little ways every day. She was unreliable. She was the type who thought that going back on a promise or commitment, or failing to do what she said she would do, was “no big deal.” It didn’t matter if she said she would be there, and then wasn’t. Or if she said she’d do it, and then didn’t. Or if she said she wouldn’t and then did. Or if she said she was in, and then backed out.

How about you?…Do you take your covenants and commitments as seriously as God does? The Wild Thing of Proverbs 7 felt justified in breaking faith. But the Girl-Gone-Wise knows that God is witness to the commitments she makes. Keeping faith with Him means keeping faith with others. His trustworthiness obliges her to be trustworthy. In a world where people continually break faith, her yes is yes, and her no is no. She is totally and utterly dependable.

[Girls Gone Wise, p. 215]

Photo: Olly Bennett

Have You Come a Long Way, Baby?

 This article is the second in a series. You can read the first article, “Stop Snipping; Start Sewing” HERE.  

  
“…encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

 Titus 2:4-5   

For almost two decades, Virginia Slims cigarettes were pitched as the liberated woman’s must-have accessory with the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Designed to highlight the improved state of American females due to the impact of women’s lib, the ad campaign often placed images of bold and sassy-looking modern women before a backdrop of photos depicting their oppressed conditions prior to the feminist movement. In light of the monumental shifts experienced by our culture over the past fifty years, it would be hard to deny the message of the now familiar slogan. We women have indeed come a very long way. Whether or not we’ve traveled the right way, however, is an entirely different issue.

Over the course of several decades, the voices of feminism and greed have combined to convince women that they not only can, but should, have it all. In a quest to gain the life, liberty, and happiness they believe is entitled them, many women have found that no sacrifice is too great to offer on the altar, including their marriages. Today in American society, women hold the majority of jobs, obtain the majority of college degrees, and file the vast majority of divorce petitions. Current statistics reveal that over 2/3 of all divorces in the U.S. are initiated by women. If this is what it looks like to have come a long way, I think we’d better make an immediate U-turn.

As I began this series, I voiced my belief that many in the church instigated the push to redefine marriage long before the homosexual community. By adopting a lower view of the sanctity of marriage than is described in Scripture, we paved the way for others to more easily discard it altogether. With many churches now supporting and even condoning divorce and remarriage for any reason at all, should we wonder that what God designed as a sacred institution is now being made a sacrilege? We spend so much time pointing fingers at the world for not acting like the church, when it is the church’s imitation of the world that should command our fullest attention.

Considering both that professing Christians divorce at a rate basically identical to the world and that women are quicker to divorce than men, I’d say that we as Christian women bear a great responsibility to get busy reinforcing the tattered and threadbare institution of marriage in the church and in the culture with grace-motivated obedience. Do you want a strong nation? Be a committed wife. Do you want a thriving church? Honor your marriage vows. Would you like to see the lost believe the Gospel and follow Christ? Then love your husband faithfully, passionately, and unreservedly. If you’d like to see marriage esteemed in our culture, then let it first be esteemed in your heart. Strong marriages make strong families; strong families make strong churches, and strong churches change cultures through the power of Jesus Christ. We’ve got a long way to go, ladies, let’s get started today.

More to come…

Photo: Tobacco.org

“God is My God; Covenant is My Life!”

“So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.”

Malachi 2:15b

Sometimes when I sit down to write, the thoughts and ideas flow readily from my noggin. Today was not one of those occasions. After trying unsuccessfully to hammer out the sequel to yesterday’s post for one late night hour too many, I decided to call it quits until tomorrow. Although I don’t like being a quitter, I concluded ’twas better for me to take a break than to publish incoherent thoughts I’d regret in the light of day. The topic of the sanctity of marriage is far too important for me to mishandle, so I hope you’ll pardon the delay.

In lieu of posting a new article, I thought I’d pass on this powerful sermon excerpt from John Piper on the covenantal nature of marriage.  What a difference it would make if we as Christian women committed to uphold this truth, “Staying married is not about staying in love; it’s about covenant keeping.”  

Photo: kuger13

Stop Snipping; Start Sewing

“…What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate”

Matthew 19:6

Unless you’ve recently emerged from a hole in the ground, discussions regarding the all-out assault on marriage in our society have likely grown familiar to you. For many years, the voices of those opposing traditional marriage remained basically drowned out by the overwhelming volume of those voicing their support. Yet over time, what was once a quiet and occasional murmur of resistance has morphed into an almost constant and deafening roar for revolution. The opponents of traditional marriage have driven their messages into every nook and cranny of society–the movies, media, bookstores, schoolrooms, and even many churches have the now popular mantras playing on a loop. Traditional marriage is a relic of a bygone age, they assert, a new era requires new openness. Claiming that no one has the right to restrict the happiness of another, they aim to demolish the definition of marriage upon which every stable society stands in order to erect another in its place.

If these revolutionaries succeed, the traditional definition of marriage as a sacred institution between one man and one woman for one lifetime will soon vanish, and another will take its place:

Marriage–A social institution between one man and one woman for as long as it’s convenient

…Perhaps this isn’t quite the revision you were expecting. I understand your confusion. We hear so much about the war against traditional marriage that when the subject is raised our thoughts automatically turn to the push for homosexual marriage. Although the drive to normalize homosexuality is indeed a major concern, it is not the concern of the article you’re currently reading. No, today I want to focus on a far more subtle, far more palatable, yet perhaps more dangerous threat to traditional marriage—the widespread occurrence and increasing acceptance of divorce within the church.

You see, long before the homosexual community ever dreamed of taking the idea seriously, professing Christians were busy redefining marriage. I suppose you wouldn’t be too far off if you theorized that the homosexual community may have been emboldened to advance its own cause after observing how the churchgoing crowd slowly but surely loosened up the restrictive definition of traditional marriage to accomodate its own desire for comfort. Surely, if you can make the switch from one man-one woman for one lifetime to one man-one woman for as long as it’s convenient, then the elimination of the gender distinction can’t be lagging too many years behind. It’s hard to ditch some of the sanctity of marriage without eventually losing it all.

Thousands upon thousands in the church today are joining in the defense of the traditional definition of marriage (which of course, they should), describing it as the fabric which holds our society together. Yet what so many seem perfectly happy to ignore is that we in the church have been clipping the threads of that fabric for decades now, and we did it one divorce at a time. Now, as we attempt to take a stand against the swell of opponents facing us on this new battlefront, we do so with our shredded banner flying overhead, wondering all the while why our opponents mock us as though we entered the fight without giving a single thought to our battle plan.   

Of course, there was a day many years ago, when the church did have a leg to stand on in this debate. It was way back when the church took its definition of marriage from the Bible instead of from the culture, when marriage was not only defined as sacred, but also treated as such, and when one man-one woman-one lifetime wasn’t riddled with loopholes. Although the Word of God hasn’t changed in regard to marriage, if you observe the haphazard treatment of marriage among the people of God in modern times, you could very easily be led to believe that the Author had published a new edition of His marriage manual. Yet the Word of God still stands as a clear testimony of God’s eternal hatred of divorce (Mal. 2:16). If God’s Word hasn’t changed on the issue of divorce, it begs the question, “Why have we?”

Tomorrow, I want to look more at the vital issue of the sanctity of marriage. In this area, as in all other aspects of the Christian life, we must follow the infallible guidance God has provided for us in His Word. Although the world strives relentlessly to mold us into its ever-changing image, we must cling to the countercultural call of Scripture, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Photo: Nat Arnett

Watch What You Eat, Pray, and Love

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Matthew 19:6

Have you lost touch with who you are? The probing question flashes across the screen of the movie trailer promoting the soon-to-be-released summer blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love. Read by millions, lauded by Oprah, printed in over 30 languages, and listed as a New York Times Bestseller for over 180 weeks, Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of her yearlong journey of self-discovery is now ready to rock the box office. With Julia Roberts in the lead, Eat, Pray, Love promises drama, romance, and international adventure–all in all, the kind of chick flick that females love to chirp about. 

Yet as enchanting and entertaining as Gilbert’s quest to become an “autonomous woman” may appear to readers and moviegoers, her tale is founded upon the deadly presupposition that a woman’s chief pursuit in life is her personal happiness. In order to obtain the happiness that eluded her, Gilbert forsook her marriage vows, obtained a divorce, and became involved in a short-lived relationship with another man before finally connecting with Felipe, her “soulmate” of sorts in Bali. After reluctantly entering into marriage with Felipe (visa issues complicated their otherwise storybook love affair), Gilbert followed up Eat, Pray, Love with a sequel entitled Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage which chronicles her journey from aversion to acceptance of life as a married woman.

Wonder why I’m telling you all of this? Because as Christian women, we have a vital responsibility to exercise discernment and guard our hearts against deceptive philosophies. The beast of discontent is easily awakened in a woman’s soul, and we must constantly ensure that this insatiable creature is starved rather than fed. Every day in our culture, juicy tidbits are thrown across our paths which if swallowed, will nourish our flesh and weaken our spirit. Instead of allowing our sinful hearts to feast upon worldly thoughts like “You need to find yourself,” “Pursue happiness at all costs,” “You deserve better,” or “Your soulmate is still out there somewhere,” we must feed ourselves on the truths of God’s Word, recognizing that deadly lies are often disguised by expressions that sound oh, so right to our itching ears (Prov. 14:12). 

If we are to be women of virtue, ladies who honor and esteem marriage, and wives who model faithfulness and purity, we need to devote ourselves to thinking God’s thoughts after Him, understanding that in the wisdom of His plan, our happiness remains inseparably tied to our growth in holiness. Instead of being women who search for everything, let’s be women who pursue only one thing–the glory of God, for it is there that we will find everything worth having.

With its glamorization of starter wives, the hook-up culture, and disposable relationships, our society incessantly hammers us with a low view of marriage and commitment. But as women of God, we must continue to stand against the tide by highly esteeming and cherishing the sacred union of marriage just as He intended. For us, the danger is not in losing touch with who we are, but in losing sight of who God is. May we never confuse the two.

 

Thoughts to help us treasure marriage as God does…

John MacArthur reminds us of the crucial distinctives of Christian marriage:

The two key attitudes in a successful marriage are self-denial and self-giving, both of which are contrary to human nature but made possible to those who trust in God through Christ.

A related truth is the Golden Rule our Lord gave in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Treat people the same way you want them to treat you’ (Matthew 7:12). You’ll never have a better opportunity to do that than in marriage. There must be forgiving love and restoring grace in a marriage. That alone makes marriage a proper symbol of God’s forgiving love and restoring grace. That is the magnificence of marriage. Its permanence symbolizes God’s permanent relationship with His people. To pursue divorce is to miss the whole point of God’s dramatization in the story of Hosea and Gomer, the whole point of our Lord’s love for His church, and thus the whole point of marriage. God truly hates divorce.

(The Divorce Dilemma: God’s Last Word on Lasting Commitment, pp. 17-18)

“Dancing in the Minefields” by Andrew Peterson–a song celebrating the beauty and sanctity of marriage as designed by God

Photo: Mike Goodwin