One of the most basic problems in relationships is that we typically focus on the symptoms instead of the core issue. And that makes some sense. The very nature of a core issue is that it’s underneath and, therefore, not easily seen. The symptoms stare us in the face. They sometimes even scream at us: poor communications, significant financial debt, unsatisfying sex, opposing practices in parenting, individual obsessions in leisure time that take time, attention, money, and energy away from family members, and much more.
Those are certainly problems, but they are pieces of rotten fruit that come from a rotten root. The question is, “What’s the root?” This is especially troublesome in marriage, where God created us to be the most intimate and committed. For neglecting key heart issues over time can gradually move a couple from soul mates to roommates to cell mates.
No one wants that.
Our lives are like mystery novels. If we could see the end, we’d know many reasons each person did what they did and maybe do things differently. Thankfully, we have a different book, and we don’t have to wait. The Bible is God’s owner’s manual for Life with the basic plot and problem: 1) He created us for amazing relationships with Him as our highest love (Genesis 1-2), but 2) each of us has a) chosen independence from Him and b) centered our lives on created things instead (Romans 1:22-25).
Even people who have turned to Jesus, been forgiven, and are being changed by Him still struggle against temptations to false worship. Specifically we have a two-fold idolatry: 1) we center our lives on a person(s) or thing(s) less than God, and 2) we practice false ways of “worship” for even greater connection with our god(s).
Consider a few examples and discussion prompts. Then view the 9-minute video on how the first Commandment addresses this basic problem in all relationships.
- An engaged couple gladly shifts their schedules to spend every available moment with each other. But the more they do, the more they struggle with being demanding, feeling jealous, neglecting other duties, etc. Name their possible god(s). How are they trying to please the false god(s)?
- Two newlyweds had pledged their undying love for God and each other, in that order. But one has not changed the (non-sexual) time they spend with their single friends. The other is investing more and more time and emotion in their job. Which competing love came first, or does it matter? Why?
- Two middle-aged spouses have busy, successful jobs and two busier kids. Sex is much less often with less passion. How could their rest in Christ improve their love-making?
- An elderly couple has peace with God and each other but each is anxious over declining health and growing bills. Both are also grieving family members who no longer call or visit. What are some their possible false gods and beliefs?
You can see other articles and the embedded videos in this series here.