Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Subversive Idolatry

I finally have some time to finish up some old thoughts and post them on here. This post is one I started back in April. I figured I might as well put it up instead of keeping it as a draft. Here it is:

In our community group we are going through a video series on marriage. The main point of the curriculum sees to be pointing out that wives have a deep need to feel loved, and husbands have a deep need to feel respected. The funny part is that, in regards to most of what the speaker says and asserts, Taneesha and I are backwards in our roles. Apparently, most often, according to the speaker, I see and hear the world through a pink filter, while my Taneesha sees and hears through a blue filter. Interesting . . . perhaps I should worry? I think not. I can speak to that another time.

The speaker's main message is that when a man speaks or acts in ways that are not perceived as loving by his wife, she will most often respond back to him in ways that seem disrespectful. But, when a man does not feel respect he acts without love, and a wife who does not feel love acts without respect, and . . . the cycle goes on forever, creating an ever increasing cycle of strife and craziness.

This description, in many ways, makes sense to me. Regardless of the reality of our own often backward roles and responses, the principle seems to be true. But I am beginning to see a deeper issue than the one that is lying on the surface. To me, there seems to be a better question that needs to be asked and addressed. Why do we respond so negatively to our spouse, or anyone else, when we feel either unloved or disrespected? Why does this bother us so much?

I believe at the root of the issue lies idolatry. I am becoming more convinced all the time that at the root of all sin, all social and relational divisions and pain is idolatry. When we take a something good in our lives -- a thing, a person, a relationship, or idea -- and make it an ultimate thing, it has become an idol. An idol is anything other than God that we place our hope in as our source of joy.

Let look at how this fleshes out. We will frame it in the light of the husband, but the same is true for the wife as well. When a husband thinks too highly of himself, when he considers and values himself as worthy of respect and praise, he is setting himself up as his own god -- his own source of joy. So when his wife "offends" his idol of self he responds harshly because this person is not serving him as he feels and believes he deserves. This, at its core, is sin.

If we had a right view of ourselves we would see that we deserve nothing. We would approach our spouses, our friends, our families, etc, from a position of humbleness and humility. We see this most clearly in the example of Jesus. He, above all others, deserved to be loved and respected and honored. This, though, is the opposite of how he was often treated. Yet, look at how he responded. . .in love, and in service. I am reminded of the picture of Jesus looking over Jerusalem and weeping over them (Luke 19:41). He did not demand respect and/or throw a pity party when he did not receive it. He loved and served people regardless.

I believe the same should be true in the marriage relationship. This should be our example. We need to respond to and to love, honor, and respect our spouses, not to get something from them, but simply because this is how Jesus has loved us.

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