What’d You Expect?
July 19, 2011 Marriage

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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"4" Comments
  1. Colonel, Sir, this is what we have all needed to hear, on both sides of the Pond for so long. We all have a tendency to forget that our rights have commensurate resonsibilities, and going roughshod ober our boundaries means that we encroach on the territory of others. I just seem to be hearing this from so many different angles right now, I guess that someone, somewhere is telling me something.

    Keep it up. It’s what we need tohear and not what we want to hear that does us good.

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  3. The whole of your marriage and family is more important to you than your selfish desires. And is that the way it is for many. Most will say that is their priority until they must face a real world conflict of their highest priorities – their important things. Then just as Covey pointed out in 7 Habits, the urgent takes over from the important and we end up not living our priorities.

    In this case (and in this time), URGENT is the operative word. We live in a society that has little concept of margin. Our perceptions are often built upon soundbytes. We run from morning till night. When do we fast from “doing” and make that URGENT less of an idol than the important?

    It is the practice and “knowing” that there is a right thing and it is possible – even if there is a cost, instead of believing the best you can do is choose the lesser of the wrongs that leads a person to attempt that greater challenge. As long as the world is a world of choices between the lesser of the wrongs, then our selfish acts are exceptions that we can tolerate because it is the best possible.

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