Control and manipulation…

There are no lessons to be learned when a husband dominates his wife. There are no inspiring examples to emulate when a wife manipulates a husband. Marriage shows us that we are not all there is; it calls us to give way to another, but also to find joy, happiness, and even ecstasy in another.
~~Gary Thomas

 

Sex and Marriage

“The best kind of sex in marriage is when a husband is cherishing his wife and the wife is cherishing her husband. Sex affirms each other’s beauty, worth and desirability. Neurologically, the more you have sex with each other, the more you desire each other and the less attractive other women become. This is basic brain chemistry”

~~Gary Thomas
#MarriageGoals

LOVE AND SICKLE CELL

Ever gotten to that point where you start to wish misfortune upon the very child you lovingly carried in your womb and looked with so much love and fulfillment upon on delivery and in raising him/her up? That point where you do not have the strength to personally carry out your wishes upon your child and thus can only nurture a burning hope and desire that some natural death could perhaps visit your child and take you out of your misery?

Well, that’s close to a real situation in the life of one beautiful bubbly woman I was shown whose life was going perfectly well until that decision to knowingly or unknowingly marry an AS genotype man, being herself an AS genotype woman. Now she’s lost everything including that “adorable” prince charming that all hell was to break loose for years ago had anyone tried to quench their love. That sweet man could just not bear it anymore and so left her to her fate to as it is figure it all out by herself what to do with a sickle cell anaemia child. Perhaps because he thinks or knows that a woman can handle more pain than a man? Well, I think we should never assume to know very well or inside out beyond all reasonable doubt our partners or spouses because the true test of a person’s character is not when he/she is in love but when he/she is tested beyond his limit by a life situation. So as it were, her husband was just not who she thought he was in the entirety of his character.

sickling organogram

The troubles of having a child with sickle cell disease she could not imagine and she wouldn’t have believed it if it had not happened to her. Almost everyone has run out of pity for her and the burden she carries and she has run out of pity for her own baby. If even her own husband could give up on her, why not her employer considering all the million times she had to be excused from her very good and secure job in order to make all those countless trips to the hospital for one thing or the other. What a cross to carry, seeing how the disease strikes suddenly without warning and making it almost impossible to make plans for any given day! And she’s now concluded that prayer is also not an alternative because how much has she not prayed. Of course she finds strength through it sometimes to carry the burden but if only she can find the strength to “kill” her own child, she can begin to pick up the broken pieces of her life. But can she ever live with that conscience? The murder of her own child? But with that child still stuck with her, life’s suddenly lost all the hopes and beautiful times she foresaw with her then “crazily in love with” boyfriend and husband.

“Love conquers all things” but it didn’t for her on this one important thing. She can only continue to wonder if her story and life would have been any different if she hadn’t focused all her attention only on the fact that love alone was enough.

Of course YES! Her life would have been way different. Though only God is the absolute decider of the health status of the children He chooses to bless us with having done all our best, we must never be ignorant of the parts we have to play.

sick

For many others too their story is somewhat like this: they were so consumed by love and unable to control their passions for each other and allowed it to blaze on until unfortunately she gets pregnant and to avoid the “Christian shame” decided to get married quickly before any of the “over-religious Christian critics” see signs of it. And then, it is only after the baby comes…perhaps with troubling symptoms that they begin to hang their passions on the wall and do the all important background health and family history checks that they should have done way back.

Situations of this nature in love relationships are what a good friend of mine describes as “jumping the steps”. Of course it’s a simple principle in relationships/marriage that when you jump the steps you risk a great fall that either leaves perpetual damage or a big scar for the entire life of that relationship/marriage union. The exception to the rule is only by Grace.

Now back to the fulcrum of writing this article.

It is sad the number of people I observe who are in relationships leading to marriage and yet are clueless about their partner’s status or some very critical things that must be known ahead of time. To them love alone is enough and so invest blindly all their resources into the relationship for as long as it lasts only to discover way too late the inevitable. Sometimes it takes the strict recommendation of some churches during pre-marriage counseling that some tests be conducted that some would-be couples even get to find out their partner’s sickling status after all the years that they might have dated. Most counselors report being surprised when they ask would-be partners during pre-marriage counseling sessions whether or not they know their partner’s sickling status and they get a “no” answer and they begin to imagine what the two have been concentrating on all the length of their relationship. Though a “yes” answer does not stop them requesting further test to be conducted, many admit that they often appreciate partner’s who make the effort to know each other’s status before reaching that point in their relationship.

I have always advised those in or starting relationships to as a matter of urgency know for a fact (not just asking about) the sickling status of their partners way early into the relationship before things get too serious and they start getting blinded by love or “over-spirituality” to think that it is not important or God can turn things around through prayer in case the two are not medically or genetically “compatible”. If not for anything we must be proactive in this aspect of our relationships with the right kind of thinking that marital love must not be limited only to the spouse but goes way beyond to the offsprings from the union and their impact on society. If you limit it to only you (the partners) and you take certain things for granted you will only have yourselves to blame in the end.

choice

Many of us were only lucky enough to not have been born carriers of the sickling trait because I do not in my wildest imagination think my parents took their time to know their status before getting married and making babies. It’s one of the blessings I thank God for and I do not entirely blame them (whatever way they got to know each other) because that was a long time ago in a country where information is not widespread on this important issue. With no compulsory newborn screening in a country like ours, I was left to only know my status way later in life because my parents couldn’t tell me. And though not a carrier by God’s grace and could have relaxed and taken for granted the status of the woman I marry because working out the “maths” I wouldn’t end up with a sickle cell anemia child even if my wife is a sickle cell patient, I had to be proactive with knowing her status.

It is always a very difficult decision to make breaking things off with one’s lover of God knows how many years into the relationship before being hit with the inevitable ugly situation of not being “medically compatible” in your sickle cell genotypes. And I recall the recent bitter experience of two dear friends (who have gone years into their relationship) who I had to counsel to break it off or face the risk. I sincerely wished these ones didn’t have to face this fate and wished they had known earlier on in the relationship. I don’t know if they found the strength to break it off but I hope they do.

Don’t get me wrong yet. I know of many cases where two carrier (AS) couples have had many children without a single sicklier among them. So you can risk it if you want but what if you’re not so lucky and end up with a sickle cell child? Can you forgive yourself knowing you are putting that child through a hell of agony which you could have easily avoided? Don’t take it lightly what sickle cell disease can do!

child

So here’s the thing. As much as depends on you, strive to know his/her sickling status before setting out on the love journey or before you get way too deep to risk being blinded by it. It is one of the foundations you must lay early enough and save yourself a lot of midway heartbreaks. Love alone is not enough; faith and spirituality is not an antidote either. The only solution is to know and act; bearing in mind God’s word that “for lack of knowledge my people perish”.

I can only leave you with the question “Is your genotype, blood group and Rhesus factor compatible with the person you’re considering marrying? Well, I’m sure you will soon realize this is a much more important consideration than just love. Just hope you don’t realize too late.

aware

Perhaps you should do me a favour; take a moment and google real life testimonies of sickle cell parents and children and then…whatever you decide to do with your life is up to you!

Shalom!

SUBMISSION IN MARRIAGE

“Submission does not mean your husband has the final say” was the very statement that provoked the mind of a friend recently and generated a lengthy debate on the submission in marriage theme. Of course I added my voice to the heated discussion which was very revealing as I saw, appreciated and struggled to come to terms with some of the entrenched positions or perceptions held by some on the subject. On the one hand, I felt a little sad for women when I observed some of the “biblical” interpretations and stances of fellow men on the forum. And judging from the contributions of some of the females on the forum, I realized their struggle to come to terms with some of the male contributions. On the other hand, it was not surprising that a single Christian virtue submission and scriptural verses on the theme could merit very varied interpretations, viewpoints and beliefs. Yes I was not surprised because I had for a long time researched and found many different interpretations being accorded scripture.

It is a well known fact that the issue of submission is one of the sources of conflict in many marriages and must be given importance. I’m not a feminist, but I’m afraid many men are abusing the meaning and purpose of submission in marriage. My viewpoint may be wrong and I’m ready to admit that, but that’s just how I presently feel. On the other hand too, I do not entirely blame the men but will admonish all women to as much as is necessary get to know a man’s stance on submission in marriage before finally agreeing to settle down with him. This is because as it stands, submission is very important to men, however, their interpretation of it and demand in marriage thereof may surprisingly be totally different from a woman’s.

Somebody will say, there must be a single common definition or understanding of submission that all Christian homes must work with? Well, many things including scriptural verses mean differently to different Christians, isn’t it?

Ok, before anything else, I think it will be appropriate to share the few thoughts I put forward on that forum on whether or not submission means a man must have the final say that I have put together:

“First of all, I do not subscribe to allowing a man to have final say as the definition or demonstration of submission in marriage. The Bible never mentioned anything like final say…neither can that be ascribed to the Bible. To me, many men who have ego, insecurity and low self esteem problems will forever have problems with subscribing to a woman having final word in a decision making no matter how brilliant and helpful her ideas are. And I can imagine how many women feel belittled in these male-dominance mentality marriages.

To what end is this age-old perception that makes men feel superhuman over their wives?? Isn’t what my Bible preaches is that men and women are equal in a marriage partnership but each playing different roles for the success of the home??

equal
There are moments when even the man would have to submit to the wife and vice versa. And if that’s scriptural, then where is the place for who actually has final say or trying to equate or otherwise limit submission in marriage to having of final say? I was asked during pre-marriage counselling what I understand submission to mean to me and I said one word: RESPECT!

You see, I have come to learn something: submission to me is simply a character trait and a MAN/WOMAN who has not learnt it can never give it!
And mind you, submission will always mean differently to different people.
Women are to submit…men are to love…what’s all that hiding behind words?? So submitting isn’t loving? And loving is not submitting?

Saying things like “it’s a command for the woman to submit”, “the woman is made for the man”, ”the man is the head and will be responsible or accountable before God for the woman”, etc is not good enough reason for men to boss over their women to no matter what submit to them. Come to think of it, is the submission “command” to only women? Who says a woman who has final say or in other words if a man does not have final say then his AUTHORITY or HEADSHIP is not being recognized or he is not being submitted to?

The Bible has and can say a whole lot but how even you the man applies it is what will determine the outcome you get and I put it to every man that we will achieve very little wiring our minds to commanding our wives to submit at all cost because it is whatever “command” from God. Take it from me again, it’s a character thing! If it’s not in your woman it’s just not in her; bible command or not, u will get nothing!

Again u will find that in many cases when a submission problem arises in a marriage and both parties are questioned, you realize from the woman that she is submitting in a way the man does not see or interpret as submission. It’s just like the love language thing, it means differently to different people and BACKGROUND has a big role to play. Let me tell you, there are men who will always have the final say, their wives are as cool and quiet as anything and never arguing with them as if to question his authority BUT they will still talk of submission problem! So forgive me if I sound as if I am not a scriptural or Bible word for word person. I’m always like that. Haha!

Every woman is different and so is how submission is applied in every home. Even every scripture in the Bible is applied differently by every man based on how they understand it or the Spirit interprets it to them. The problem is not the Scripture, the problem is the application. Do we see the same marriages in our churches?
Would we agree that everybody’s marriage is different yet fashioned after God or the principles of the Bible?

Far from it that I’m preaching a different doctrine or allowing modernity to corrupt my thinking. Of course not! Though we cannot pretend that we are living in different times from the ‘Bible days”, the Bible has not lost its relevance. I believe prescribing that we run marriages today exactly as in Bible days is totally out of place. Ok, maybe we can try living like Bible day husbands and wives and I bet what a party that will be!

If you ask me, I think it all comes down pretty much to knowing your woman/man very well and early too. Learn very well what submission means to each other, and then dwell with each other with understanding. Not just your own understanding as the Boss man of the house, but her understanding as well”.

Right, so those were my thoughts on the forum and I still stand by them…at least for now because I believe Christian marriages are built on principles of equal partnership and not extreme male-dominance concepts.

Now some may wonder how possible that I would say submission means respect to me. But here’s the clue: check the synonyms of respect and you will find obedience and check the meanings/synonyms of obedience and you are sure to find submission. They are very connected.

And I must say that I appreciated the essence of our Counsellor posing that interesting question of what submission means to me as a man and what submission means to my wife as a woman after going through scriptural verses on the subject. I believe he realized that our biological difference as men and women as God created us, as well as our different family backgrounds, come to bear on even our understanding of simple things and it is important that both partners are either on the same wavelength regarding certain things or at least know the mind of the other regarding it and make room for what to expect. And it is important that things as simple yet complex like submission come to the fore early enough for partners to evaluate before going into the marriage. Imagine one partner doesn’t see him or her ever coming to terms with the other’s position and demand on submission and yet doesn’t know until marriage. A marriage time bomb?

Let’s get it right; a woman deciding to submit wholly to her husband is not to give the husband the authority to rule over her like how a slave is ruled and controlled. The Faithlife Study Bible expounds on Colossians 3:18 that “a wife should not respond to her husband’s leadership with mindless obedience but her submission should be voluntary and conscious. Submission is not demeaning; it is informed by God’s relationship to the Church”.

Now let’s ask ourselves, God requires submission of us but does He deal with it the way many men are dealing with the subject with regards to their wives?

If men continue to limit their understanding of the word submission to only the superficial meaning that connotes being Bosses over their wives and relate with their wives as such, they will always have problems in this area of their marriage and their wives I bet will continue to have as many reasons as there are to feel resentment towards them. In many cases such resentments are harboured within and not communicated. And that’s like your marriage sitting on a time bomb. Get it right dear man, wifely submission is based on freedom and will, not authority, coercion or command like the military kind.

Boss

The problem I sometimes find with some men who base their demand for total submission from their wives on scriptures such as Ephesians 5:22–23 which purports to make them the only authority in the house and the only ones that need being submitted to is that they often forget that even before that counsel (I do not see it as a command as some do) was “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (vs 21). The writer in his divine wisdom first said submission is a two-way affair, before concentrating on the woman.

submit_

The Faithlife Study Bible on verse 22 says “a wife voluntarily following the leadership of a Godly husband exemplifies the submission Paul was suggesting” and not some “command” that must be obeyed at all times. Or does following a man’s leadership mean never questioning or raising different opinions? If so, where is the partnership then? And can we please stop making everything in the Bible a command or law cos many are not? Many (and to a large extent marital submission) are just counsels and principles that if you apply works for you and if you don’t then you don’t see any result. Even so the results will differ based on the application.

Sometimes too I wonder why some men often fume about this issue of their wives submitting at all cost because it is a “command” to when they (men) even have a bigger task so to say “to love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church (Eph 5:25-29)”. Even the Bible in the verses 31 of same scripture says the above is the sole reason why you married your wife anyways. So let men focus well on doing that and doing it well and they will be surprised how the submission will just flow without coercion. Like TD Jakes puts it “no woman wants to be in submission to a man who isn’t in submission to God”.

Far too many men are commanding submission when they are not even being men…as in being real men. Real men do not waste their time commanding submission cos the women just see it and let it flow without he even asking. How pathetic that many Christian men want their wives to feel they married a MASTER instead of an EQUAL PARTNER. Jody Collins said maybe the word that best describes submission is not ‘under’ but ‘with’. Some men often forget that in headship we submit. Yes in headship is submission because just like submission, headship is a servant role as well. At least that’s how God designed it and that’s how I see it so let’s not misrepresent it to only imply we are the Boss.

submit-

Every man’s duty in marriage is to love his wife unconditionally with no control over her submission to him!

Shalom!

submit1

Intimacy

“At the heart of humankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and to be loved by another. Marriage is designed to meet that need for intimacy and love. That is why the ancient biblical writings spoke of the husband and wife becoming “one flesh.” That did not mean that individuals would lose their identity; it meant that they would enter into each other’s lives in a deep and intimate way”.

~~Dr. Gary Chapman