Loving Your Husband Before You Get Married (via) CBMW

by Carolyn McCulley (via) The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Reprinted from the magazine Joyful Woman. All emphasis below (bold type) is mine.

In my first year as a Christian, I attended or was part of 13 weddings-including the weddings of my two younger sisters and one ex-boyfriend. The Lord was working overtime on the sin of self-pity that year, but out of His sanctifying work came my informal „ministry” of a wedding coordinator. I started by helping one of my sisters, and as the word got around, I ended up serving countless friends.

At a recent rehearsal dinner, someone asked me if it was difficult as an unmarried woman to be so involved in these weddings. I was glad to genuinely say no. That wasn’t always my answer, however. I can clearly recall sitting at many wedding receptions with the wind knocked out of me due to the bitterness in my heart. I would evaluate each aspect of the weddings I attended, and plan for how „my” special day would surpass the event unfolding before me. Like any Cinderella devotee, the highlight of my life would be that special moment when the doors were opened and all eyes-most especially those of My Prince-would be on me. What happened in the „happily ever after” part was the fine print. It was going to be All About Me on that day.

And probably for every day after that, too.

Maybe this is why the apostle Paul thought it was of paramount importance that the older women teach the younger women how to love their husbands. As always, the Bible is radically counter-cultural to the self-centered worldview spoon-fed to young girls through fairy tales and force-fed to young women through movies, magazines, and music. We have to learn how to step out of the princess spotlight and learn how to love well in the way God defines love. A wedding isn’t the kick-off to Happily Ever After. It’s only a segue into a new season, with new and different opportunities to demonstrate Christ-like love that weren’t present when single.

Do him good all the days of your life

King Lemuel was taught well by his mother, and his wisdom was memorialized in the 31st Proverb. Writing of the virtuous woman, he said that her husband has full confidence in her, and she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

That’s all the days of her life – days before and days after marriage. If you’re single, there are things you can do now to sow good seeds for a godly marriage. What if you’re not sure if you’ll be married? Though marriage is the norm for most, not all of us will receive that gift-that’s true. But, we’re still called to prepare.

Problems in marriage are always the result of self-centeredness,” writes Douglas Wilson in Her Hand in Marriage. „So the time a person spends when he is single should be time spent in preparation for marriage. This is important even if he never gets married. This is because biblical preparation for marriage is nothing more than learning to follow Jesus Christ and love one’s neighbor. In other words, preparation for Christian marriage is basically the same as preparation for Christian living. Christians are to prepare for marriage by learning self-denial, subduing their pride, and putting their neighbor first. Once they learn to love God and love their neighbor, they are prepared to enter into the covenant of marriage with one of their neighbors.”

Growing in philandros love

In her outstanding teaching series on the Titus 2 virtues, Carolyn Mahaney notes that the phrase „love their husbands” is only one word in the Greek. It is the compound word philandros, derived from phileo (a warm affection) and andros (man). Loving your husband with a tender, warm, deeply affectionate love might seem like a no-brainer until you think about the caricatures of long-married women in our culture: dismissive, disrespectful, bored, shrewish. Cultivating and maintaining that tender affection can, at times, take some work.

Single women can prepare to grow in philandros love now by understanding the doctrines of sin and God’s sovereignty. If God has marriage for us (His sovereign plan), one thing we need to settle now in our hearts is that we won’t be marrying Prince Charming; we will be marrying a sinner (the doctrine of indwelling sin). As will our husbands! So now we can do the „heartwork” to cultivate philandros love by working on what undermines it: the bitterness, selfishness, fear, and sinful judgment resident in us. When and if God brings us into a new season of marriage, this preparation will help us cultivate tender thoughts and behavior toward our husbands. Though there’s not space for a comprehensive treatment of these topics, below are some questions to we can consider before the Lord while still single:

  • Bitterness: Is there any unforgiveness in your heart against the men you’ve dated, or the men who have never asked you out? Do you regard the single men in your life as brothers in the Lord, or potential husbands? Do you grumble and complain on a regular basis about being single? (Ephesians 4:31-32)
  • Selfishness: Are you willing to serve the „unlovely” or the „least” in your church or circle of friends-even when no one is watching? Do you defer to others, esteeming them as better than yourself, or do you insist on your way? Do you view your time and schedule now as a single as a season to indulge yourself, or to be more available to serve others? (Philippians 2:3-4)
  • Fear: Do you trust God for your future, or do you think He has forgotten you? Do you think others will betray you, and thus „mess up” God’s plan for your life? (Romans 8:28-39)
  • Sinful judgment: Do you speculate about the single men around you, for good or bad? Are you assigning motives for their actions without asking humbly for information? Are you constantly comparing yourself with other women? (James 3:13-4:3)

Whether or not the Lord attaches an andros to our phileo love, this kind of „heartwork” is crucial to growing in the likeness of Christ. By working to become more like our Lord and Savior, we will be worthy of the full trust of both our earthly husbands (should we get married) and, ultimately, our heavenly Bridegroom.

Carolyn McCulley’s blog

Reclame

Lust not for men only

by Carolyn McCulley (via) DesiringGod.org

We’re well into the heat of summer now, and that means many churches across the American landscape have, at some point, reiterated the modesty message for the good church ladies everywhere.

Wait. I can actually see that eyeroll of yours even from here. But, friends, don’t click away just yet. Because I am going to go where large swaths of American church culture need to go on this topic … but often don’t.

I’m talking about lust. And women.

For the past eight years, I’ve had the privilege of writing two books and hundreds of articles and blog posts for women, which then led to numerous speaking engagements. Right from the start, I noticed a trend at each event, whether in the U.S. or abroad. Invariably, one woman would wait to talk to me until the bitter end, because she wanted to confess something that made her feel doubly shameful. She wanted to talk about her lust and sexual sin, a struggle she was sure was hers alone among the women in church.

How did these women arrive at this conclusion? Because for years most churches herded the men off to talk about lust, while gathering the women to discuss modesty. While those are valid and much needed messages, they are incomplete for the culture in which we now live.

To understand the times, let’s look at the messages women have absorbed in recent years. There are stripper pole classes at the gym and women’s magazines with screaming headlines about sex and seduction techniques. The morning talk shows candidly discuss sex toy parties. „Sex and the City” becomes a major franchise while „Girls Gone Wild” captures drunken sexual escapades among college students. Abercrombie & Fitch markets push-up bikini tops to 8-year-old girls. Lady Gaga bursts onto the pop music scene wishing she could shut her Playboy mouth. Not one item is sold in the mall without an erotic image. And women are increasingly immersed in online porn.

This highly sexualized culture is the new normal for young women who grew up in the ethos of third-wave feminism’s pro-porn, pro-sex work stance. So normal that when I spoke at a Christian college earlier this year, one woman raised her hand to ask, „So are you saying that it’s bad that there’s too much pornographic influence in our culture? But shouldn’t women embrace their sexuality?”

Um, yes. And yes. That answer highlights the problem: the counterfeit has usurped the authentic. Sex is God’s idea and his good gift to be properly stewarded within his design. For that reason, the church should be the most pro-sex group there is. We have a message of hope and redemption in the morass of sexual confusion. But first we need to help the women who are confused and in our churches right now. Here are four points on how to do that:

1. Give the truth about sex and why it’s attacked.

Let’s start with that modesty message. If it’s framed as a simple „don’t tempt men” message, it is incomplete and easily dismissed. We need to back up and explain first what is good about God’s gift and how it is distorted in a myriad of ways. We should equip young women to be discerning about the spiritual battle raging around sexuality. The Adversary has no need to improve upon his first character assassination of God. Contradicting God’s boundaries and insinuating that he is holding out on his creatures is nearly foolproof.

2. Teach young women not to mistake broken for normal.

Then we need to teach young women how rapidly our culture became porn-saturated in only one generation. That’s often news to those who grew up in it and therefore they often don’t understand the brokenness that follows in the wake of the sexual imagery they accept as normal. As John Piper says, lust is the realm of thought, imagination, and desire that leads to sexual misconduct—and young women often overlook how their drive to be sexually desirable is smack in the middle of that realm.

When young women understand the cosmic consequences of sexual sin, the worldviews that shape our consumption of sexual messages today, and how God’s glory is under spiritual attack, they will not mistake any modesty message for a frumpy fashion campaign. Nor will they resent the men around them for being impediments to whatever is stylish. Instead, they will be sobered by how Satan still „prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)—and that men and women alike are fair game.

3. Stop thinking that only men have seeing problems.

Let’s not assume that immodesty only affects the eyes of men. Women are becoming increasingly visualized as well, and can be distracted in similar, though perhaps not identical, ways. We also need to remember and help those women who wrestle with same-sex attraction. After I mentioned this recently at a large conference, several women came up to say this is their temptation and how hard it is for them to be open about it in the church. They fear misunderstanding, judgment and gossip.

4. Create a culture of light.

We need to clearly teach that lust is a human condition, not just a masculine one. Knowing God’s glory is at stake, we need to create humble church cultures where secret sin is not kept in the dark, but rather brought into the light. If we rightly understand the doctrine of sin, we should never be surprised by our own temptations nor by the confessions of others. We should want to create „safe harbors” for God’s people to confess, repent, and welcome accountability for change. The roaring lion waits in the cover of darkness to attack what he finds there, but „whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:21).

Let us help the women in our churches experience the freedom of living in the light.

Carolyn McCulley is an author, speaker, and documentary filmmaker. She has written more about third-wave feminism in her book, Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World.

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