I wasn’t eavesdropping, I promise you. I was just at a Bible study and my husband, why not call him “Gary,” and this old married guy were talking about priorities within marriage and family. They both agreed that the axiom that our spouses are to be number one all the times was no where to be found in the Bible. There are instructions, relatively few, about how to treat your spouse that are controversial, and I’m not here to stress anyone, so I recommend Ephesians 5 or Titus if you want to get your brain in knots trying to understand this. If you’re sick right now, I suggest that you get to it later.
My understanding was always that your spouse come before yourself and before anything else in the world. Grandparents, infants, sick relatives, everything came after your spouse. You, of course were last on your list, and that was that. If you were number one on your spouses list you may get some self-care in, but, be reasonable.
It was a philosophy that made me cringe a little bit the first time I heard it. What about when I’ll ill? What about if I have a small child that requires so much of me? What about if he needs me and I give give everything, leaving me with nothing else to give?
No to mention the other side to the equation. What if Gary feels like watching tv all day and won’t be there for me so I can get a break from the five children I had in 7 years? What if he hovers over me so much that I don’t get a break from anything, ever?
Relationships were very hard for me so I was always open to what my Christian community had to say. It was about 500% different than the way I had been doing things, so I was intrigued. To be honest, the whole thing, in action, was never seen in action. Not in my world any way. There were jobs that had to come before family because if they didn’t the family wouldn’t have luxuries like electricity and food. A newborn baby obviously needs more care than a grown man or woman, and it takes years to get her to a place she can take care of some of her own needs. But now, of course, the baby needs you. Or him. Someone. He NEEDS to be number one. It’s not going to give the baby a complex later if he cries and we sooth him. He can’t know or understand then he is being given attention that his father would like. He will get that his parents love each other and in many ways is learning that this is what love feels like, looks like and how people express love.
What kind of love is a small child learning about when left to cry alone, hearing their parents in the next room? I think his little brain is hearing, “F*** You boy”. You aren’t important enough to be listened to. But that’s a whole other entry.
I’ve yet to find a place in the Bible that suggests putting the spouse first. I didn’t think too much about it, actually, I wasn’t too concerned. It took a Bible Study with Gary to point all this out. Although it may not be a bad practice, it isn’t specifically something God requires, or definitely on God’s list for my family, it’s something to consider. But not too seriously.
I read in Gentle Christian Mothers, that their house wasn’t “children centered”, or even “husband/wife centered” but instead it was “family” centered. They made their decisions based on what was important and best for their family.
What does the Bible say about all of this?
1 Corinthians 7:32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
In this chapter it almost seems like all this pleasing your wife and family stuff is a hindrance to God’s word. Paul, the author, says that it is better not to marry at all. It’s married families with SUVs, as much as they would like to, are not as good a mindset to worship the Lord.
I can speak with my whole experience as a single person that my attention was undivided. Sure, I had to go to work and had crushes, but mostly they didn’t take away my love for Jesus, my relationship with the Holy Spirit and my devotion to God.
Now, I am absorbed in my little family. I have a small child and a big husband. They need me now. Sure, I lead a couple’s Bible study and go to church, but it’s not like the total absorption I had to youth ministry. I’d spend one night a week at the youth group, one night doing some other activity and usually another activity like going to see the kids wrestle or in a play. Oh, and I had a discipleship relationship with two of the girls which meant meeting at least once a week. It was fun!
Once I had a family I couldn’t do this any more, especially when I had a toddle,r it was just too hard for me. I couldn’t connect, I couldn’t play Ultimate Frisbee, the kids saw me more as a mom than a leader. As sad as it was for me to let it go, it was the right thing to do for me and for them.
So, even though some people with children and families stay in ministries such as to the High School students, I couldn’t do it. When I was single I never had to make that decision – I knew that God’s calling was upon me and I was fully consumed by it. Like 1 Corinthians says, I was able to serve Him whole heartedly. Now, a good part of my devotion goes to my little family. Paul states that as a fact. He’s not berating us for it, just tell us what’s going to happen. Paul was single (it is quite possible he was married before and was as widow) He could already see the benefits from both sides. He spoke as he saw.
And what he saw was this: Married people are not in good positions to be serving God with all their heart, soul and strength. They get too distracted by their spouses. While the American church (maybe churches around the world) emphasizes family relationships as being the highest of all callings, especially for the Stay at Home Mom (you’re got to be kidding me). The Bible does no such thing. He prefers the undivided devotion of a single person. Of course married people are to show love to others and be encouragers, but it’s simply more difficult to do this if you have a family to care for.
That’s all for now.