Recently I was talking with someone about Christianity. She had grown up in a legalistic church environment where one must perform certain actions, dress a certain way, fit a certain mold, speak using specific terms in order to be considered “saved”.
In Christianity, we have many things that at first glance may seem contradictory, even paradoxical, but upon further study, one begins to recognize that they are two sides of the same coin.
In this case, the two sides are grace and the law. Some may say that grace has done away with the law, but this is repudiated multiple times in Scripture.
Rather what we see is that grace saves us from a law that is still binding. Without grace, that law would sentence us to eternal death. Without the law, we would have no need of grace. No need of God.
So, we cannot do away with the law, as that wild mean doing away with God, and we cannot do away with grace, because that would mean doing away with us
Rather, we uphold the law, trusting in grace to catch us when we fall. In this way, we keep God and our salvation intact.
But, at the core of all of this, the coin itself, if you would, is the relationship. What God wants more than anything is a heart that seeks Him.
A heart that seeks Him will both uphold the law, and trust in God’s grace and mercy. However, merely upholding the law and trusting in grace and mercy do not necessarily mean you have a relationship with God. In other words, the actions are not a replacement for a healthy relationship, yet a healthy relationship will compel those actions.
I hope I’ve made that clear, but I fear I haven’t. Christianity is surprisingly simple at its core: love God. However the implications are infinitely complex.
Now, what occurred to me this morning, while I was getting ready for work at 4:30am (still getting used to that), is that the same holds true in our marriages.
Checklists and rules do not equal a healthy relationship. But all too often, we try to break down a loving relationship into rules and regulations.
For example, last week, I wrote a post about how gate keeping was dishonouring your spouse, and God. Soon afterward I received emails, comments and messages asking for specifics. They wanted rules. How often. What is the spouse initiates every day. What if its three times a day.
These questions are difficult to answr, because the rules are less important that the relationship. My wife could accept sex 3 or 30 times a day, with the wrong spirit, and it wouldn’t be enough.
I don’t just mean enthusiasm here, but something deeper. I talk about this in my course for Christian wives. What spouses want isn’t a checklist completed, or even enthusiasm. What they want is to be intimate. More than just physical intimacy, but to be known and accepted. Cherished and loved.
And upon reflecting on 1 Corinthians 7:5:
Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. – 1 Corinthians 7:5
I think this is talking about more than just sex, though sex is a part of it. After all, sex is not enough to keep you from temptation. In fact, sex, without that relationship, that true intimacy, I think, will just make it easier to be tempted. After all, sex boosts testosterone, which increases sexual drive. I find much of the time, I want sex more the day after we had sex than the day before. But, what keeps me faithful is intimacy, acceptance, a deep and passionate love .
And this is something I have been struggling to convey for years. Even now, I doubt I’m giving it as much weight as it needs. I am not explaining it clearly eniugh. Most won’t understand that this is the answer to all the questions. Some aren’t ready for it. Others in just not speaking the right language for them to pick it up. Some are hurting too much to be able to see beyond a checklist, but I hope some few will realize.
That is the simple answer to life, the universe and everything (for those Douglas Adams fans). But, like I said. The implications are infinitely complex, and so I will keep writing to explore these complexities. Because they are important, just as the law is important. When viewed in the right light, with the correct perspective.
Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. – Romans 3:31
P.S. This was typed in my phone while traveling in a bus, so please excuse the lack of image and any typos until I can properly edit it.