The Marriage Perspective: Face2Face with a Woman Caught in Adultery
Face to Face with a Woman Caught in Adultery
Gary has asked us a question weekly throughout this series: “Does our way of life reflect Jesus’ way of life…do we welcome the stranger with compelling love and courageous hospitality?” Allow us to change the words slightly to bring a different perspective. Does our marriage reflect Jesus’ way of life…do we live with and relate to our spouse with compelling love and courageous hospitality?
That question has challenged us. Over our 37 years of marriage, we have noticed blind spots in our relationship that highlight a disconnect between what we say and how we actually live. In fact, we were often more likely to express that compelling love to a stranger instead of each other. Ouch!
In this story, Jesus calling out the hypocrisy in the Pharisees struck us; “If you are without sin then throw the first stone.” Oh how often we throw stones at our spouse without considering our part in the issue. We might say to ourselves, “I have every reason, but you have no excuse.” Here’s a question to ponder individually–how often do you think most everything is your spouse’s problem? Do you think, “If he/she would just change, then our marriage would be fine?” Jesus just might call that out as self-righteous.
When an issue rises, ask yourself, “What is my part in this conflict?” That simple self-examination will soften your response and help you stay within the issue.
We all have issues (even simple ones) that turn into conflicts. Problems occur when we jump from hashing out the facts of the issue to attacking the person. After we consistently attack the person, we will begin to question the relationship. The trick of every conflict is to stay within the issue. Even the Bible says that if we marry we will have trouble. The goal is to handle it in a God-honoring way.
Let’s use a very simplistic example: he didn’t empty the dishwasher like he said he would. Well the facts seem to be simple–he didn’t do it. It should be
over with just an apology and some kitchen work. But too often that minor offense escalates with statements like, “You never do what you say you will.” “You don’t listen to me.” “You will help everyone but me.” “You don’t care about me.” Ok–you get the idea. Now if all those things about him were really true, then why would you stay with a guy like that? You start to wonder if this relationship is worth it. After all, he just keeps doing the same thing. In a very short time over a very trivial matter, you have moved from addressing the issue to attacking the person then questioning the relationship. Can you see how this happens? Does this sound familiar?
When you find yourself attacking the person–throwing stones–instead of addressing the issue, you need to pull back and return to the issue. He’s not lazy or uncaring. Chances are he simply forgot in the midst of a busy day. And we’re not picking on the men–it’s just an example. The point is we are called to extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness instead of condemnation. Learn to “drop the stone”. Even pebbles over a lifetime can hurt and cause scarring.
Talk together and begin to practice how you can learn to stay within the issue of a conflict instead of reaching for a stone. When we do, we will display that acceptance and forgiveness that Jesus consistently extends toward us.
Jim and Carolyn