Tuesday, 30 July 2013

There is no prescription except Jesus

I read an article today that helped me to gather together a number of disparate thoughts that have been roaming around my head of late.  Let me just explain with a preamble, I have been increasingly perturbed by prescriptive advice for Christians...particularly Christian women.  The general theme is if you follow XYZ then you will have the perfect marriage/obedient children/an ordered home.

Today the following article popped up in my Feedly (yes I'm rather liking Feedly after Google Reader left me bereft and without a decent way of sorting my favourite blog feeds), Destroying your marriage 101: How do do Everything Right and Still Get it Wrong by Elizabeth Duffy.

In this article, she speaks about observing a couple at Mass:

"When they went up for communion, the woman received the host and said, “Thank you!” and then she went to the cup. “OOooh! Another one!” she said, like a child chasing samples in a grocery store. After receiving the wine, she stood there looking lost until her husband had received, and then he took her arm, patting it and smiling apologetically to people around them as they walked back to their seats. I realized then–she has Alzheimer’s. He’s taking care of her.
She wasn’t following all the rules for not destroying her marriage. She wasn’t trying to be attractive or cooking good meals or building her husband up in public. And she was definitely having more fun than he was, even if she didn’t realize it."

And yet, her husband was standing by her.

That's it, 'LIGHT-BULB'.  That's what has been niggling me.  We as women can be Proverbs 31 woman, we can follow all the advice in books that go on about helpmeet this, and Titus 2 that, and yet, in this fallen world, marriage can still not be perfect.  Our husband might appreciate our fine cooking, our softly spoken words, our knack for arranging the furniture, our ability to produce a whole quiver of healthy children, and our feminine attire, but it doesn't mean he is going to be a perfect husband.  Our husband might be 'king' of the household and be a strong godly man, but will that make us a perfect wife? No.  Only God can perfect.

We can follow all the advice in Proverbs about training up a child, we can follow all the advice in the Christian parenting books...but at the end of the day our children may just go astray.  I mean God is the best Father in the world...but His children will insist on mucking things up.  It doesn't mean He is a hopeless parent, it simply means His children are weak human beings who need Jesus.

The trouble is we want to control our circumstances.  We want to make things perfect.  A bit like those Christians that think if they tithe and give lots of money to church God will bless them with oodles of cash, a flash car, and a huge house in the country.  We expect that if we do things right and perfectly life will turn out just how we like. But we can't make life perfect. That's why we need Jesus.  That's why we need grace.  That's why we need to pray and be prayed for.  Because try as we might, things don't always turn out how we expect.

Maybe we Christians need to look at things differently.  We don't do things like be a good wife or parent or daughter in order to control our circumstances, but simply because they are the right things to do, because love can be hard sometimes, because we love God.  As Elizabeth Duffy writes:

"But good behavior does not guarantee you rewards and happiness in marriage, except for the satisfaction of being a decent and mature human being."
We might not get a reward in this life, but be sure, plenty of reward awaits us at the end.  I like to think that that lovely man who cared for his wife in the above story will receive such an award, for he loved his wife and cared for her knowing that he wouldn't receive much back from her except to know that he did all he could to make her life as comfortable and as blessed as he could.

Originally posted on my old blog on 30/7/13.  Republished here 27/3/14.


  1. What a beautifully written post, Sarah. There are so often little examples of God's love shown through people round us.

  2. It's often how we find out about the many facets of God's love, through each other.

  3. This echos so much that we discussed last night during Truth Project but I still needed to hear it again today. I had a morning that has left me angry and fuming and I need to sort it out and this really hits home.

  4. Truth Project? Is that a discussion group?

  5. I like how you can be real. :) I won't get on my soapbox too much about some Christian books I've read that basically said that it'd be my fault as a woman if my marriage failed. No fault to the man at all. My marriage is very good. :) I was convinced a long time ago to read this certain book because a friend was having difficulty. The book put me on edge. Big time. Anywho...since then I haven't had any desire to read books about marriage.

    I ranted too much. In my own weird way I very much appreciate your post. :) I like how your are down to earth and real about life in general.

  6. I think this is the most *beautiful* post I've EVER read.

  7. Emerrube - thanks! :) Those sort of 'advice' books get me all on edge too. It's hard enough being responsible for my own morality/behaviour never mind being responsible for my husband's too! ;)

    Michele - Hugs :) x

  8. The Truth Project is a video based world-view training seminar that I am leading for a tiny group of women from my church.