Often when I hear what is going on in troubled marriages the question that pops into my mind is, “So, what’d you expect?” Building a strong marriage is difficult because it forces us to face our own worst enemy, our own selfishness. The thing that amazes me the most is how there seems to be this expectation that somehow our spouse is supposed to be less selfish than we are. Really? Where does one get that idea?

We live in a time where the watch words are rights and choice and I’m not just talking about abortion, feminism or any other issue. I’m talking about peoples attitudes. It’s all about my rights and my choices. There is little thought to the other guys rights and choices and how exercising “our right” and “our choices” might actually affect their rights and choices. A perfect example is marital sex. A low drive spouse that exercises their “right” to “choose” not to have sex is infringing on their spouse’s “right” to “choose” to have sex. It’s a selfish and sinful attitude.

The rights and choice attitude isn’t limited to marriage it’s rampant in churches as well. I have a “right” to my “choice” of music. I have a “right” to “choose” my Sunday School class. I have the “right” to “choose” not to give because something someone “chose” to do infringed on MY “rights.” Pure selfishness.

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan this exchange took place between Spock and Capt. Kirk when they both new Spock was dying after he saved the ship from destruction:

Spock: The ship… out of danger?
Kirk: Yes.
Spock: Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh…
Kirk: …the needs of the few…
Spock: …Or the one.

Little did the writers of Star Trek II know but they were paraphrasing scripture.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.~Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)

I have intellectually come to realize that the whole of my marriage and family is more important than my own selfish desires. It is one thing to understand that it is another thing entirely to live it out but then there’s scripture for that as well.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.~Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

Let’s take the time to examine ourselves and see where we’re expecting our spouse’s to be more mature and less selfish than we expect of ourselves and start to turn that around. Let’s look for ways to encourage each other to do and be better. Let’s look to the needs of others instead of our own desires and “choose” to give up our “rights” so that others may experience the freedom that we have.

If scripture teaches us anything it is that true freedom doesn’t come from demanding that our rights and choices be met but real freedom comes when we deny ourselves, consider others, and work for a greater good. Read the rest of Philippians 2 if you don’t believe me.

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