Three Things Loved or Learned

man and woman pointing in opposite directions

Trigger warning. Men and women are different. And that difference is a wonderful thing, a blessing from God. But the difference also presents a challenge, and an opportunity to learn to love your spouse. This is particularly true in the area of sex. That’s why I love this article from Desiring God, entitled “My Spouse Doesn’t Enjoy Sex.” 

I think every follower of Christ should read Romans 14 about every, I don’t know, 2 or 3 days or so? Maybe that’s too much, but the importance of that chapter for Christians learning to live together with people in the church with whom they disagree on nonessentials cannot be over-estimated. This is the “do not pass judgment on your brother” chapter in the Bible. There certainly is a place for taking a speck out of your brother’s eye, after you have removed the 12-foot two-by-four from your own, as Jesus teaches us in Matthew 7. But here, in Romans 14, Paul teaches us how to respect the fact that each of us is different, and will have different standards for our lives. And that is OK, as long as those standards do not violate the clear teaching of Scripture. There is nothing in Scripture that forbids vegetarianism, for example. So if I were to invite my brother in Christ to my house for a meal, and I served up a rack of ribs as the main course, I would be putting a stumbling block in my brother’s way. For him, eating meat is a sin, and I am inviting him to violate his conscience, or maybe even goading him into a discussion about why I think he should be free to eat meat. Paul wrote, “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?” My brother’s master, and mine, is the Lord. My job is to love him, not seek to change him. Only the Lord can do that.

Let me make another plug for the book, “The Insanity of God,” by Nik Ripken. He interviewed hundreds of persecuted Christians around the world, and the book is their story, and his. One of my favorites came out of the former Soviet Union, where thousands of pastors were forced to either deny Christ, or go to prison camps and subjected to hard labor. Many of them died in prison because of the living conditions. Those pastors who did deny the faith were left alone, or moved to another church where the government had imprisoned the pastor. When the new communist-appointed pastor arrived for the first Sunday morning worship service, church members (often the older women) would show their disdain by linking arms and blocking his way to the pulpit. Then, when he got through them and he stood up to preach his government-approved sermon, these same women would silently stand and turn their backs on him, until he finished the sermon.I thought when I read this that if that happened in every church in America where the pastor refused to preach the Word, things would change quickly in the pulpit, in the pews, and in the streets!