After reading a post by Jenny of Life After Doubt called “Abandoning Christ in a Christ-Centered Marriage“, I felt a burden to write this post, as a way to understand what was really the underlying issue and to help anyone else that may be going through a crisis of faith in their marriage.
In her post, she talked about the youthful origins of her marriage, her initial passion for the Faith, and how that crumbled away to leave behind a stronger marriage without Christ. The central problem identified in her post was that God got in the way. However, is it really possible for Christ to sabotage unions that He is very much invested in?
To me, it seems obvious what got in the way. Religion. Religion always gets in the way!!! If spirituality is water to the soul, religion is soda! Religion is what the enemy offers us instead of water. It may look nicer, taste better, fill you up faster…but it doesn’t quench your thirst and is not at all good for you!
It is very easy to transition from being a Christ-follower to being only a Church-goer. Usually, when people convert to the Christian Faith, their zeal is sparked by their love for Christ and what He represents. Then they are schooled in on Christianity as a religion, and try to fit in to the new Christian mold.
Depending on your denomination or Church, this will require changes from your diet to your personality to your vocation. Quite often, these recommendations on improvement are based on sound Biblical doctrine…however, as with all things religious, the spirit and intent for which these practices are encouraged is often lost in translation. What remains are a series of dos and don’ts, with the burden on the followers to keep up the false image of righteousness.
Living by faith and depending daily on the Spirit of Christ is not the easiest thing to do in a dark and corrupted world (Heb 10:38). It requires sincerity and spiritual discernment (John 4:24). It is like manually distilling every cup of water you drink. Pre-packaged drinks, like soda, start to seem more attractive for the insincere. Religion has the pre-packaged appeal. All you have to do is sign and conform. No critical thinking. No personal relationship. No personal accountability. But the quality of what you get depends on who sold you the product.
It can be quite hard to distinguish the real from the fake, and you can go a long time putting your faith in religion, all the while you thought your faith was in Christ. The true test is in the trials. I do believe that if your faith is built on Christ, when the storms of life come, you will still be standing on the solid rock of Christ afterwards (Matt 7:24-27). However, if your faith was built upon a religion, it will crumble to the ground and be blown away with the wind, when it is tested. That is why Jesus said that no one can snatch those who are His from His hand (John 10:28), and that many will call Him “Lord, Lord”, but He will tell them that He never knew them (Matt 7:22). That’s quite a critical difference!
Reading Jenny’s account of her transition, I don’t see any real testing of faith. What she recounted was a drifting away from religion, an affiliation with worldliness leading to the final rejection of God. It seems like the case of the seed that was sown on the rocks that had no root, though it sprung up for a while (Matt 13:3-9). Of course the world would seem so much more attractive. Religion is always a burden because Christ is not the authour, man is. But Jesus didn’t come to add burdens to our lives and our marriages… He said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:29-30), not like the Pharisees who put unbearable burdens on people that they won’t even lift a finger to alleviate (Luke 11:46).
The Bible says for good reason that a three-fold cord is not easily broken (Eccl 4:12). Christ represents the third cord in marriage, not religion. These are just some of the benefits of a Christ-centered marriage:
- Sacrifice – With a relationship with Christ, you will learn the value of sacrificial love, and when you find yourself giving in to selfishness, you need only remember who your Hero and Mentor is. He will also be right there to remind you of opportunities to show sacrificial love to your spouse;
- Faithfulness – As humans, we are very fickle. Temptations come, life gets hard and busy, your spouse may lose their sexual appeal. Christ gives us the grace to be faithful. To love even the undesirable;
- Understanding – As we develop our relationship with Christ, He grants us insight into ourselves and our spouse. This insight helps us to be more patient and compassionate, and develop into mature and gracious life companions;
- Perseverance – When Christ is the centre of our lives, it doesn’t mean that everything will go perfectly smooth. Trials will still come. But a relationship with Christ gives us root and strength of character, so that when the storm is over, we are still hanging on to Him, if nothing else at all;
- Joy – We will not always feel happy. But we will always feel at peace with God. We will know the joy of His fellowship and will enjoy our marriage. When He is at the centre of our union, we have hope and reasons to rejoice daily.
Dear Jenny, I think it is a good thing that you have survived the death of religion in your marriage, and that you are still going strong. But marriage is not a human calling. It is not something we can survive in our own strength. The enemy attacks marriages vigorously, and without Christ, you’re like a ship without an anchour. Marriage is a divine vocation that needs God’s grace to succeed in this world.
I hope that your heart will not be closed to Christ, even as you have decided that religion is not for you. I know you know you don’t know everything, so there’s still a very real possibility that your faith in God can be revived. By all means, throw out the bath water that is religion, but keep the Baby, which is Christ! You may consider this post as God knocking on the door of your marriage (Rev 3:20). “You know God“, He doesn’t give up easy…
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