Saturday, November 20, 2010

Covenant Marriage

Preface: There are a lot of lists in this post. 

A covenant marriage has only been adopted by three states in the United States--Arizona, Louisiana, and Arkansas and 20 other states are considering it. This marriage really emphasizes that marriage is more than just a contract. There are three basic things about a covenant marriage that separates it from original marriage:
  1. Pre-marital counseling is required.
  2. Must meet grounds for divorce. 
    1. Abuse, adultery, addiction, federal imprisonment 
  3. Pre-set waiting period (in AZ it's 1 year to divorce)
    1. Usually both must agree to seek counseling if they are having issues. 
It's becoming a legal deal because the purpose of this type of marriage is to "promote and strengthen marriages, reduce the rate of divorce, lessen the number of children born out of wedlock, discourage cohabitation, and frame marriage as an honorable and desirable institution". 

You're probably looking at this and thinking one of two things:
  1. "That's a stupid idea."
  2. "Isn't that what marriage what--more than a contract, don't just get divorced...?"
If you're thinking that first thought, I'm going to go along with it for a little bit. Only I'm going to substitute the word "stupid" with another "s" word--scary. That's a SCARY idea.
  • Pre-marital counseling, maybe I could deal with. But that means we gotta share all of our junk. Openly. With someone. Together. AUGH! 
  • Meeting grounds for divorce basically equals trapped. ("IT'S A TRAP!" hahaha) Right? This means that I have to stay with my husband pretty much no matter what. Even if he doesn't take out the trash. Even if he didn't make that much money. Even if I stopped loving him. Even if he gets sick. Even if the marriage isn't the top priority for either of us. Even if poor communication occurs. Even if, even if, even if. Oh, crap.
  • Waiting. Well, I can't stand them. Why do I have to be TRAPPED with them for at least another year? Why even try? It's already doomed. The relationship cannot be helped. That year is going to suck. 
If you're thinking the second thought, I respond with this: Yes. 

Yes. Yes, yes,  yes,  yes, yes, YES. This is what marriage is! This is what kind of marriage we're called to be in. This is real marriage. None of this flaky crap that people do. Yeah, I called it crap. It's CRAP that people just divorce on a moment's notice. It's CRAP that people treat marriage like it's nothing, like it's just basically a long-term relationship and nothing more. 

This is kind of what I meant by I no longer see relationships as one long continuum, but rather as separate steps. That once you become engaged, THAT MEANS SOMETHING. That's HUGE. But, engagement is not unity. Engagement is not marriage. Engagement is not synonymous with marriage. Engagement is simply a commitment to unity. That's really it. It's saying,  "Hey. We're committed to the idea of getting married." But, just because you are engaged does not mean that you are married. Nor does it mean that you're just dating. It's a big step. But it's not THE step. It's not marriage. 

Marriage. It's once you've signed that contract. Once you have signed that marriage certificate. It's once you've said "I do". Marriage MEANS SOMETHING. It's even HUGER THAN HUGE. Marriage is a BIG DEAL. It's DIFFERENT than engagement. It's DIFFERENT than just being in a relationship. It's taking that leap, that jump, that step. 
And saying, "I'm in. I'm all in."

I'm not saying it's not scary. Because it is. Getting married says, "I love you. I love you regardless of the crap that happens. I trust you. I fully trust you. I am committed to you."

The Bible has some ideas about marriage--ideas that are scary, ideas that are so worthwhile though.
1 Corinthians 7 (highlights):
  • Have sex. (vs. 3-4)
  • Keep God's commandments. (vs. 19)
  • Be content. (vs. 17)
The Bible also has ideas about wives in Proverbs 31:10-31. A wife...
  • Can be trusted. (vs. 11)
  • Will greatly enrich her husband's life. (vs. 11)
  • Should bring good, not harm. (vs. 12)
  • Cares for her husband. (vs. 13-15)
  • Invests in her husband. (vs. 16)
  • Should be strong, hard worker, energetic (vs. 17)
  • Helps others (vs. 20-21)
  • Is clothed with strength and dignity (vs. 25)
  • Laughs (vs. 25)
  • Is wise (vs. 26)
  • Is kind (vs. 26)
  • Fears the Lord (vs. 30)
The Bible also describes characteristics in husbands in Ephesians 5:23-33. A husband...
  • Is the leader (vs. 23)
  • Loves his wife (vs. 25-29, 33)
  • Unites with his wife (vs. 31)
And my prayer...
  • I want a husband that is so in love with God.
  • A husband who God calls His son.
  • A husband who enjoys spending time with God.
  • I want us to display God's love, agape love, to the world.
  • I want a husband who will lead.
  • A husband who is strong.
  • A husband who is sturdy. 
  • A husband who supports and encourages people. 
  • A man that God is molding and desires for me.
  • I want to united as one with a man, to be naked and not feel shame (Genesis 2:24-25)
  • I want a man who will bring me happiness (Deut. 24:5)
  • I want a husband who will sexually please me (1 Corinthians 7:3-4).
  • Someone who I can sexually satisfy (1 Corin. 7:3-4).
  • A man who will so enjoy having sex with me. 
  • A husband who gets hyped to see me.
  • A man who wants to have sex and cherishes the idea of sex.
  • A husband committed to me. 
  • I want us to love one another in the way that God loves us.
  • I don't want him to throw my mistakes in my face (Ephesians 5:27)
  • A husband who will take my hand and lead me to do God's will.
  • A husband who I can trust with all of me--all of my desires, all of my setbacks and failures, all of my hopes and dreams.
  • A husband who won't ever give up on me.
  • A husband who is consistent.
  • A husband who thinks I'm truly gorgeous. 
  • A husband who thinks I'm the daughter of the King of kings.
  • A man who I see as beautiful.
  • A man who I see as the son of the King of kings.
  • A handsome man so overwhelmingly in love with God.
  • A man who desperately loves me. 
  • A man who is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. 

And with my time right now. I need to be content with where I am at. I need to be okay with where I may be. And that right now, my time is to be spent solely committed to Jesus, my Lord, my God, my King. To be devoted to Him in body and spirit (1 Corinthians 7:34). 

It may have seemed like I sort of strayed from the idea of covenant marriage. But I didn't. Not in the least bit. Love your husband. Love your wife. Love selflessly and unconditionally. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Purpose of Marriage

Have you ever asked an engaged couple why they are getting married? Or asked someone, "Why do you want to marry him/her?" Chances are some of the most common responses were:

  • "Because I love them."
  • "Because I couldn't live without them."
  • "They give me purpose, my life would have no meaning without this person."
  • "Because I couldn't imagine life without them."
I'm sure there are a dozen other responses, but those are generally the answers I get. Before I continue, let me make it clear that those (for the most part) aren't bad things. And that I definitely do love marriage and agree that your partner needs to be someone you're going to enjoy spending the rest of your life with and that you do need to love them. But let's really look at these. 
  • "Because I love them."
    • How do you love them? 
    • What if things get rocky?
    • What if that feeling of intense emotion diminishes? 
    • What if they get angry at you or you get angry at them?
  • "Because I couldn't live without them."
    • The idea of being needed and needing others is huge. 
    • Ties in with next two points. 
  • "They give me purpose, my life would have no meaning without this person."
    • People are great. Marriage is great. Husbands and wives are great. What marriage can do to and for a person is great. But I think there's more to life than just our spouse. Scary, I know.
  • "Because I couldn't imagine life without them."
    • It would probably suck. But are you finding your complete worth in this person?
In that book Redeeming Love, it made this point: "I won't be enough for you. I don't want to be the center of your life. I want to be part of it. I want to be your husband, not your god. People can't always be there for you, no matter how much they want to be" (p. 316).

I want to focus solely on Christian marriages. Because they are to represent Christ and this is the most applicable...

In this most simplistic way of saying this, I don't that marriage should have anything to do with yourself. I think entering into a relationship with the idea of "I need them. I have no drive without them" is a bad start. I so believe that the purpose of marriage is to further the Kingdom of Christ as a couple. Not for any other reason. Yes, I'll love my husband. Yes, I will want to spend my life with him. But he won't be my source of purpose. Rather, he should remind me of that source--Jesus. Marriage should be a representation of our marriage as a Church to Christ. I really think that we are here on earth for no other reason other than to be ambassadors of the Lord. And that marriage is a gift that you can use to impact the world in a different way. Paul said he was given the gift of singleness. You all who are single--that's okay. It's good! You can do so much. You all who are married--that's good too. You two, as a couple, can do so much as well. 

Let's check out that quote again and really digest it. Particularly the part about being the husband, not a god. I think oftentimes we become so centered on our significant other that they supersede anything and everything. That our significant other becomes the thing we literally worship. That we seek to only please them. That we make our entire lives about that person. That's not okay. And if you are about to get into a relationship or marriage where you're husband/wife disagrees with that quote, that idea, or they promise you that they will always be enough for you and vice versa. Be weary. Because we cannot find our worth in our husbands. Or wives. Or families. Or friends. Or any human being. Our worth needs to be found in God. And He can make you feel so much more worthy than any person. Even your husband. Wife. Family. Best friends. People let you down. You let people down. It sucks. It's not always that they want to. We just do. We fall short. But God doesn't. Read that again. God doesn't fall short. Ever. He is always there for you. Let Him be in every part of your life. 

And let your marriage glorify God. That's how it will thrive. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I have all kinds of thoughts about relationships. Relationships, dating, "going out", courting, "hanging out", whatever you want to call it. Relationships with someone who is your "boyfriend" or "girlfriend". Those kind of relationships. I need to be careful with what I say here for a bazillion reasons, many of which you will understand after reading, no matter how careful I am.

Let's talk about my life a little bit before anything. I'm learning more and more about how important it is to share aspects about oneself. I thought about just typing all of these posts without giving anything up about myself. But because I want you, as a reader, to give yourself up and be for real when reading every post on this blog, it's only fair that I also share about myself. The idea of relationships and how passionate I am about them really came about within the last two years or so I'd say. I've been told that I don't have a valuable opinion since I'm not dating anyone. That comment hurt a little bit, but I think I'm going to disagree with them. And explain here a little bit about me.

I have dated before. I made mistakes. I made good choices. I made bad choices. The relationships I've had have impacted me. That's all you'll really get from me. Someone asked me the other day if my relationships had been "God honoring". I wasn't really sure how to answer the question and I really don't remember how I answered the question at the moment. But I'll answer it here. Not as honorable as what I think relationships should be.

Moving on.

As I think about relationships, I want to say that I'm not so sure that I am going to write here is actually applicable to everyone. Though I do think that the marriage portion of it should be...we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. So if you disagree with this. Don't hate on me. And if you're involved in a long term relationship, don't hate on me or think that I think you're in a bad spot or something is wrong. That's not the case. Read the first sentence of this paragraph. This is one of the reasons why I think I'm treading on thin waters.

In the past, I've always thought that the best way of having a relationship is to date the person for years. And then be engaged for awhile. And then finally get married. Like each are just continuation of each other. And it's like a three or four year process. But now, I'm thinking about it in a completely opposite way almost. That the dating part of it should be fairly short. And the engagement just a few months. And then marriage. All within 1-2 years. And instead, each part is separate from the others, not just a continuation but something more. What. the. crap. I don't know about you, but the really freaks me out. That is quick--half the time of my original thoughts. Good grief.

Dating step: I have never been one to date just to date. I've always liked the idea of long term relationships. That whoever you are dating, there should be potential for marriage. If you aren't going to marry the person, why are you in this relationship? Just for kicks, just to pass time?

Engagement step: In all honesty, I have never understood the purpose of proposing to someone and then planning on getting married like seven years later. I have always looked at this as a time of preparing your hearts for marriage and really, just getting ready for the wedding. As a commitment to unity. And on the other side of the coin, I have never really understood being engaged for less than a month.

Marriage step: SEX! Well, actually true story, about 95% of all American couples have had sex before marriage. I'll talk about sex more later. But for those 5% who wait until marriage. SEX! And for those who have already sex with their "partner". SEX! Okay, so clearly I am excited=) But also, there is so much more to marriage. The actual unity occurs. Marriage is not something that should be taken lightly. You gotta love your spouse. And have sex with your spouse. And with love comes trust. Comes forgiveness. Comes grace. Comes truth.

Okay. It's past 3am. I need to go to bed. I didn't really finish this. There will be a continuation about relationships. Which was a continuation of the Entity of Marriage post. There will be a lot of continuations.

Entity of Marriage

It's been on my "to do" list for quite some time to have a post about marriage, however because there is so dang much to marriage, I have put it off. I have decided instead to do an introduction of sorts and then just write it in parts. We'll see how this "we" I guess I mean "me" because I'm pretty sure I am the only one who actually looks at this blog...but moving on!

So, marriage. In sociology, it's looked at as a social institution. (Mainly family is, but marriage is counted as well.) Currently, it's considered a social problem. Marriage. Not divorce. Marriage is a social problem. But marriage is a social problem because of divorce, but divorce occurs because of marriage (well, not directly from marriage, but you can't have divorce without marriage). It's confusing and fascinating and interesting all at the same time. Speaking of divorce, I do have "good news". As some of you may/may not have known, for the past while the United States divorce rate has been around 50%. 50%. About half of all marriages fail in the United States. But now, the most recent statistics show, from 2009 I think, that the divorce rate is closer to 40% rather than 50%.

There was a little bit about background and some nifty facts.

A fun fact about me is that I love marriage. I love the idea of it, I love the purpose of it, I love what occurs within marriage, I love the picture of marriage, I love marriage. The wedding, I don't really care about. The destination of the honeymoon, whatever. But the entity of marriage and all that it encompasses, I love.

The next few parts will include these about marriage:

  • Preceding steps to marriage
  • The purpose of marriage
  • Marriage vs. Divorce
  • Covenant marriages
  • Sex
  • Difficulties within marriage
Now, I understand that I have never been married. However, I don't necessarily that means that I don't know anything about it. I do agree with the statement that those who are married know and/or understand more about marriage than I do, but I also agree with the idea that those who are not married still have a lot to offer on the subject. Besides, aren't we, as the Church, called the Bride of Christ? So, aren't we in marriage so to speak? 

Anyways. I love marriage. I love relationships. And I am so excited to write and share my thoughts. 

I'm also slightly scared out of my mind. Here we go. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wrapped in Love

The other night, someone came to my door and with an immense amount of excitement told me they were going to go hang out with Jesus and asked if I wanted to come. Heck. Yes. Nothing else mattered, except that I got to hang out with this really cool person and Jesus. Not the previous events of October, not that weekend, not the upcoming week, not the homework load that night. As we sang, I felt relief. I felt protected, rejuvenated.

They gave me this book called "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers. Last night I read the prologue. At 3am, I was brought to my knees. I haven't even really started this book and I've already hit all kinds of emotions. Hurt, anger, upset, love, frustration, fear. The beginning introduced the way a girl entered into the sex trafficking industry. How a little girl was unknowingly sold. How she believed in "God's truth" that said that no one would love her. That she wasn't worth anything. That she was just in the way. That she has no purpose. That this beautiful girl is worthless. After I finished reading all I could do was cry out to God. Not out of anger. But out of joy. What? Joy? Yes.

I know who Jesus is. I know His Truth. My God is a God who provides and reigns. A God who loves me and cares for me. A God who always, always, always looks down on me with love, with compassion, ready to provide me with an abundant amount of joy. He is good. And this same God is reaching out to those who are caught in the industry.

I want those enslaved in the sex trafficking industry free. I want them to know how desperately Jesus loves them, that they are worthy. I want them to feel God's arms wrapped around them, His grace and goodness showering on them. All of the children, girls, boys, women, men who are trapped. Who feel like they have no way out. For He is the blessed Redeemer. I have joy because I know one day it will happen. One day those enslaved will feel free. Will be free. Will feel loved. Joy because I know God.

It may "just be a book". But the sex trafficking industry is real. I've been able to do many research papers, argumentative papers, all kinds of papers on the sex trafficking industry. If you want to read any of them, let me know. Currently, I am doing research in my research methods class about the impact pornography has and what knowledge NAU students have on the sex trafficking industry. [If you attend NAU, please take the survey! However, please do not take the survey if you are not a student (either undergraduate or graduate) at NAU, as that will skew my results.]

I was reminded that there are other people who need to feel this unconditional love. This abundant amount of joy. That need to feel cared for. Not just across the world. But here, in the United States. Here, in Arizona. Here, in Flagstaff. Here, at Northern Arizona University. Here, in my life, right now. Here, in your life, right now. Here. Wherever "here" is for you. Right here, right now.

A little while ago, I wrote about how I was going to try actively love people, not use time as an excuse. I have been seriously trying. And it's been working. Times keep opening up. And I've been able to learn a lot. When we take time to care about people, to be genuine, they respond. They respond openly and there is the beginnings of a transformation within them. People like to be cared for. Like to be encouraged. Like to know that someone is there. And the more they believe that you care, the more they trust. And the more they trust, the more they share. The more they share, the easier it is to openly and unconditionally love. It takes time. It takes genuineness. It really, simply, takes love. Care about people. Care, just as Jesus cares. Love as Jesus loves. Remind people that they have worth. They are valued. And treat them that way. No. Matter. What. Watch the transformation.