Recently a prominent church leader once again has had to resign due to infidelity. On June 21, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Pastor Tullian Tchividjian admitted to moral failure, acknowledging his actions disqualify him from continuing to serve as senior pastor or preach from the pulpit, and he resigned. People like to call it a moral failure. And then the commentators within the Body of Christ begin to write things for and against this leader and his choice. Now don’t get me wrong; I am not agreeing with nor endorsing sinful behavior such as adultery or any sinful behavior for that matter. I have found it disconcerting that some seek to shoot the wounded and others seek to use such as a way to berate the church and its lack of morality. I shall do neither. However, being a leader in the pro-marriage and anti-divorce movement at the local, state and national level, I feel this is an opportunity for all married Christians to look in the mirror. We can use this as an opportunity to not judge or condemn but more importantly, to hold up a mirror and ask, “How are we doing in our own marriages?”
I hold strongly to the verse in Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged” (NLT). While I may not agree with the choices that led to adultery, I can empathize with his pain and the pain of his wife and family. One thing I am so pleased about our Abba Father is that He seeks to understand the “why” behind our choices, and this understanding leads to compassion and patience. Or as my friend Sy Rogers said so many years ago, understanding “why” does not condone the behavior, but helps to make understandable why desperate people do desperate things.
Looking in the mirror
So, I would like to shine the mirror towards me, and if you will allow, towards you: the reader. With your permission, I would like to ask some questions for all of us to consider. How is your marriage? Do you have a strong sense of connection and love, or a marriage more committed because of constraints than devotion? Does love and tenderness flow? Are you more roommates now, and have you “lost that lovin’ feeling?” Do you act like a healthy marriage in church, but in reality you live in two separate worlds? Do you confide in each other regularly and have intimate conversations, or are they more about facts and daily life? Is your marriage more child-centered than US-centered? Your children really know where you are in your marriage. You can fool others, but not them. At least that is what I have learned.
How is your US?
There is a way of living to protect your marriage and keep it loving and vibrant on a regular basis. I submit that US is more important than YOU. What is Us? Us is the relationship itself; it is the idea of a one-flesh marriage. You always know when US is in the marriage because you can feel its presence. When US is in the house, you can feel the love, the connection, the warmth, the bond. You also know when US is NOT in the house: you feel the distance, the tension and the coldness. I tell couples at the end of each day you want three people in your bedroom: husband, wife and US. I love it when US is in my bedroom at night. Hate it when it is not. I sleep better when US is in the room! When US wins, you both win. When US loses, you both lose.
Obstacles to US
For US to be present it takes both of you to make it and only one to kill it. Thus humility is essential for US. Sadly, couples today allow other things to get in the way of US. Some of these things are even considered good things. Some things that get in the way of US can be church, children, work, hobbies, pride, selfishness…you get the idea. Christian couples must protect US from that which would rob you of it. Never let anything come between your USness. You didn’t when you were dating. Sadly, I have worked with too many ministers and Christians who have sacrificed their US because of their desire to serve the church, children, etc. Our Heavenly Husband (Jesus) never neglects the US in His marriage with His bride, the Church. It is the divine model for marriage.
It takes intentionality
Having served on a mega church staff, worked with governors and taught at a graduate school, I understand the challenges of a busy schedule. I’ve spent the last 12 years traveling and speaking as well as working with highly distressed marriages where the US died and all that was left was hurt, brokenness, distance and a desire to divorce. Yet in all these years, I have, to the best of my ability, sought to keep US strong. This takes intentionality. It means I have to care more about US than myself. You see, I don’t just love US, I value it. And when I value US, my wife not only knows she is loved, she feels the love too. That is the US.
Guard your heart
So I ask again, How is your US? Have you lost US? When couples lose their sense of USness, they move into aloneness and distance. And the pain of this disconnection leads to the pursuit of something, anything, to make one feel loved.
This is when temptation arises. So guard your heart when you feel alone and disconnected. We are all open to Satanic attack and temptation when we are hurting, feeling unloved and disconnected. Mankind was designed by God to feel loved and connected. We were designed for it not just spiritually but emotionally and physically. Seek the Lord for the meeting of your unmet relational needs and trust Him. Doing it yourself could lead to unhealthy and sinful decisions.
If your mirror reveals a disconnected and troubled marriage, let us know. Live the Life hosts weekend intensives designed to recapture the US and provide the skills you need for a loving, successful and Christ imaged marriage. For more information, visit LivetheLife.org.
Dr. Richard Marks is a licensed counselor and pastoral minister specializing in marriage and family with Live the Life Ministries. He and Louella have been lovingly married 31 years and have 3 adult children. Live The Life provides skills-based healthy relationship programs beginning with middle school thru senior adults. Please contact Lisa May, VP of South Florida, at [email protected] for more information.