Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Love or Religion?

The marriage union is a type and shadow of our covenant relationship with Christ. Because of this predefined parallel, problems that arise in your marriage must be answered by spiritual truths. Deep disappointments that you experience in your marriage are not designed to be dead-ends, but rather road signs that point you back to theological truths.
If you are a Christian, you know that any love that you have for your spouse ultimately originates from Christ. I John 4:19 says, "We love Him because He first loved us." Love is a free gift. James 1:17 says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."

If you impart love to your spouse only when he/she meets your expectations, your marriage is based on religion. Either you have consciously or subconsciously constructed a set of rules or conditions that your spouse must fulfill in order to merit your love. It is no wonder that many divorces spring from unrealistic expectations. When expectations are erected in a marriage, anything short of perfection will end in disappointment. To further complicate this impossible situation, spousal expectations are often internalized rather than communicated. Imagine not only having to hit a bull's eye, but to have to do it blindfolded!

If you are wondering if your marriage is tainted by a spirit of religion, examine if you or your spouse are experiencing these warning signs:
  • apathy
  • chronic guilt
  • a sense of inadequacy
  • feelings of condemnation
  • control/rebellion
  • bitterness/resentment
When these symptoms exist, you can be sure that the flow of love and forgiveness has been stopped by the tourniquet of religion. Each of these emotions are designed to inhibit intimacy and create the illusion of hopelessness. Your marriage could be suffering from religious spirits that emanated from childhood wounds or seeped over from past unhealthy relationships.

Do not despair if you recognize these religious hallmarks. Instead, make these steps to restore your relationship:
  • Set an appointment with a Christian counselor
  • Ask the Lord to reveal any judgments that you have made against your spouse, so that you may receive His forgiveness.
  • Resolve to love your spouse not from your own capacity, but through Christ's love in you. 
  • Surprise your spouse by showing love when it is "undeserved." 
  • Pray for your spouse daily
Even if your spouse does not respond to your unconditional love, you can have peace in knowing that God is building Christ's character in you.


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