The Discipline of Marriage


Well, I have put off writing something on this chapter of Hughes’ book for long enough. I wrote a rather lengthy post on Chapter 10, “The Discipline of the Church” about two weeks ago. Chapter 11 is titled, “The Discipline of Singleness.” Being that my time of singleness consisted of about 4 months in college, I have no basis from which to speak about living as a single woman. That is why I’m skipping it in this blogging adventure. So, today I present my thoughts on Chapter 12.

I never considered marriage a discipline before reading this book. And I guess the point Hughes tries to make in each chapter is that we must submit every aspect of our lives to the gospel. We must discipline our lives around, under, and through the gospel, for the sake of the gospel, if we desire to live as godly women. In this chapter on marriage, she is telling me that I must discipline myself within marriage. I must fall under the discipline of obeying the gospel in my marriage. She says,

“But Christian women who accept the challenge of bringing every area of life under the discipline of the Gospel must be prepared to look to God’s Word for their standards for marital success. The discipline of marriage requires holiness, and God’s plans for a woman’s role in marriage must be unchanging.”

Hughes relates the story of her parents’ marriage as an illustration of marital success. You have to read the book to get the whole story, so let me just say it was waaaay less than perfect. Ask any woman today to endure what Barbara Hughes’ mother endured WITH JOY and you’ll hear a big, “NO WAY!” I think one reason you won’t find many women, even Christian ones, willing to stay married when the going gets tough is because a divorce is so easy to get these days. Second, the social mores surrounding divorce are more favorable than they were just twenty years ago. Third, the pervasive idea that we all have certain “rights” gives many the impetus they need to stand for those rights, throwing away their families.

I know a family who has been trying to divorce for the last two years. The wife of this marriage fell in with the wrong group of ladies at her place of work. She and these women made a pact. They promised one another that they would do a few things within a certain period of time. One of those things was get a divorce. I was shocked to hear that this divorce is largely the result of a silly pact. What about a covenant made before God?! One word of wisdom in this story: don’t encourage your friends to speak badly of their husbands and don’t say evil things about your husband to others!

My parents divorced twenty years ago. At the time, I knew one other woman who had divorced her husband. Not coincidentally, she was one of mom’s best friends. My parents’ divorce was mostly about being selfish. Neither one wanted to submit to the other. They still haven’t “gotten over” one another. Barely scratch Mom’s surface, and she’s still a spitting, volcanic rage! Dad still calls Mom “his wife.” He says, “We said ’til death do you part.'” Well, that doesn’t keep him from dating any available woman he can find. I was the only kid in my class whose parents were divorced. That was kind of weird. That is no longer the case today. Being the kid whose parents are still married is weird these days.

One aspect of Hughes’ mother’s story that intrigued me is that she never allowed the children to say anything negative about their father. She encouraged respect and honor for him no matter what. I thought as I read this, “why?” I thought, what respect does he deserve? I think the point Hughes is trying to make is that the husband and father are to be respected whether we think he deserves it or not, because the Bible says, “Children honor your father and your mother” and “the wife must respect her husband.”

This chapter has much to say about being the helper God designed women to be, the gentle and quiet spirit, and trusting God. But I had one question after reading. It seemed to me like Hughes advocates staying married no matter what. I started to wonder about that woman who is beaten and abused by her husband. Would Hughes advise abused wives to stay married, trust God, and suffer like a good soldier? I wonder.

This is one of the best chapters in the book. One I need to read a couple of more times. The last section of the chapter is called “A Goal for Life as a Wife.” Understanding the truth in this paragraph is crucial:

“When Eve was tempted, she wanted what God in His goodness had not given her. Things haven’t changed. Sometimes I desire an easier, quieter life. At times I long to be free from other people’s problems. And I despair at the constant bombardment of voices telling me I should pursue personal power and prestige. I know such thinking is foolish. A wise woman once told me that today’s woman in search of equality often overlooks the one thing she needs most–an equality of commitment to know God and to obey His voice. The fact is, if she shares this commitment with her husband, or even, as my mother did for many years, holds it alone, she has the crucial ingredient for a fulfilling and joyous life.”

I have many more thoughts to share regarding marriage, but this post is getting longer by the minute and the kids are getting up. I’ll post more this weekend or on Monday. I haven’t done this before, but I’m issuing a challenge: do something special to bless your husband today. It can be as simple as welcoming him home with a big ol‘ slobbery kiss or doing his laundry (that may not be special). You decide. Then, do it. And if you’re feeling like hating your husband today (believe me, I know how that feels), repent and ask for God’s help. One of His greatest joys is giving grace and strength to His children who desire to obey Him. As John Piper wrote in Future Grace, “I get the help, He gets the glory!” Then, bless your husband because that is God’s will for wives for the glory of Jesus.

*Update: I found an awesome challenge to help me work on this particular discipline. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has a 30-day Husband Encouragement Challenge that I am working through this month. It is extremely helpful. It is helping me be intentional about blessing my husband EVERY day.

8 Comments on “The Discipline of Marriage

  1. Thanks for the idea. I need to do this more often. I may skip ahead and read this chapter soon! I’ll let you know how it goes.

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  2. I’m working on something fun for the weekend with Mr. Linky. Check back this afternoon!

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  3. Did I read your post right? Sounds like you are really struggling in this area. Did Hughes’s book mention the scriptures which support never divorcing? I am adamantly against divorce in ALL situations. I can commisserate wiht the woman who’s life is in danger. Or whos’e children’s lives are in danger. My heart aches for them. But God’s Word is firm on this issue. Except for adultery, divorce is a sin.I wrote at least two articles regarding the Biblical stance on divorce. Recently I wrote a top ten list about the reasons people DO divorce.God promises to provide our every need, and He promises to work all things for the good of theose who love Him and for His good purpose. Who are we to say that this isn’t good enough? Perhaps God has a purpose that cannot be seen for the woman who is being beaten? He will equip her to will and to do. He will equip her for every good deed. It is the rare woman who can and does stand firmly on the promises of God, especially in the face of extreme trials. I don’t claim to be such a woman. However, God’s Word is very very clear. I cannot create exceptions due to my own lack of faith.God knows those women. He knows their strife. He is able to do exceedingly more than we can hope or imagine. He can save that husband through her chaste conversation. All this said, I do often think if a woman’s whole life is seriously indanger, she can separate herself bodily from the man. But to divorce would be sin. It is hard for me to accept that the Lord would want that woman to stay in the home with her abusive husband. But I trust the Lord, to know what is right. And He says it is right to remain married.Mrs. Meg Logan

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  4. I really liked this chapter too and loved the example of her parent’s marriage,how her mother never spoke a bad word about her father.My parents were divorced when I was young too and I can remember it being weird, everyone else had in tact families. Now it is pretty much the opposite for the most part.

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  5. I used to be a counselor in the Domestic Violence Division of the Nashville Police Department and have seen first hand the result of abuse. I have seen women with gunshot wounds to thier head, black eyes, swollen lips and injuries so horrible you could not recognize them. Usually, they had children in the home or some were even pregnant. THe physical abuse was usually tame when compared with the emotional and verbal abuse and isolation these women faced. Truly, for many, their lives and those of their children, were at stake. This is an easy issue to have an opinion about, but until you have seen it first hand, I would hold off on declaring an absolute on what God would desire for these women. I think of how Jesus treated the Samaritan women, the woman caught in adultery and his parable of the good Samaritan. He respected them when no one else did. He called them to a higher life with purpose. He grieves for those who are being abused. What if that man was beating you and your children? Would you stay? Would God want you to? I know I may seem defensive, but I hope that we as believers would not become flippant and passe on how Scripture applies to people who are being abused, neglected and harmed on a daily basis. I hope we would reach out and show the love of Jesus by treating them with respect.

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  6. “He can save that husband through her chaste conversation.” Yes, He can, but this is not always the case. I was a child in a home like Kelly described from 3-18. Is this really such a black and white issue? I’m not saying people should get divorced. I know this is not a good thing for anyone, but I’m wondering if a person’s life and/or their children’s lives are at stake would the Lord want us to stay and hope that our conversation eventually helped saved him? Or, should she leave, but just not get divorced?

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  7. My husband was a tremendous blessing to me today so I hope that was in turn a blessing to him! I’m not sure how I can bless him but I’m with Jenn…I think I’ll ask :)I would honestly say in regard to divorce that while I agree with meglogan in that God desires marriage to stay intact, isn’t there a provision for life? His plan or *will* includes marriages that last and do not dissolve for any reason, but while the argument could be made that divorce is a sin, so is murder- but there is still a need for defense. We would never chastise a woman for defending herself from a dangerous husband, yet if she divorces that same husband it is sin? Would divorce from a dangerous situation equate to murder in self-defense? If a wife was doing what was necessary in order to protect herself and her children and had exhausted all means biblical and otherwise, would she still be outside of God’s will? My parents divorced about the same time that yours did, Leslie and I recall some of the same feelings. They loved each other and hated each other and never knew Jesus so what hope did they have for a solid marriage?Praise God he has shown us where the commitment should be. Not so much with each other first but with the Lord first and foremost.

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  8. Kim, It sounds like the questions you are asking are thus: shall a woman who is being beaten, whose very life is threatened, have cause to make a defense for her own life (or that of her children)? And is divorce a defense?These are very difficult questions. I do not think that divorce can be called a defence. I think that separation may be a defense. I also struggle with understanding if we are to take a defense against our own flesh. For when two are married they are no longer one. Her flesh is no longer her own, it belongs to her husband.(You must all understand that I am in no way condoning the husbands behavior, neither am I excusing it as his right! It is not his right to abuse, it is his commandment to love her as he loves his own body.)I think that the woman could make appeal to the courts, and have her husband imprisioned. To testify against him would not be wrong. While he is in prison she should be praying for him dilligently. Placing all her trust in the Lord, and not in her own understanding. That the Word of God be not blasphemied, that it be proven right, and that her husband might be converted by her chaste conversation.I think we must all remember that God is able to do all manner of things in the lives of evil people, through the use of one godly person. To lay our lives down for the salvation of another is the highest for of love. Is it better for a godly woman to serve her violent husband will all love and compassion, in the hope that the Lord would save him, at the expense of her very life? Or for her to save her life, and he lose his eternal life?Who ever gives up their life for HIS sake shall find it. Take up your cross and follow Christ. It is entirely possible that the Lord would call a woman to serve a husband this vile, that through her he might be saved. One more soul in heaven is worth many less lives on earth. It is even worth the death of the CHRIST. How much more is it worth our own death? We can do no less than He did.Now all that said, I pray that this situation never happens to you. But if it did, God’s promises are true, and His commands are right. Eternal life is worth far more than this fleeting moment on earth. Put your trust in HIM and HIM ALONE.Mrs. Meg Logan

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