There are a million things I love about being a pastor. However, one of the worst parts about being a pastor is that occasionally you have a front row seat when a family falls apart. Often the husband or wife will come to me for help. Unfortunately, many times they come too late. By the time most struggling couples reach out for help it’s simply too late in the process to turn things around. Too much sin has passed under the bridge, and the consequences are too devastating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an optimist when it comes to struggling marriages. I think any marriage is both “fixable” and “worth fixing.” Nevertheless, I’m also a realist. Sometimes there’s just no going back.
The problems couples face today are nothing new. In fact, the book of Proverbs warns us about all the common problems I see in the couples I counsel. These problems include:
- Adultery. Proverbs 5 and 7 are radically confrontational chapters. These chapters rightly paint the sin of adultery in all its horrific colors. It leads to death and regret (Proverbs 5:5, 12). It reduces you to the level of a beast (Proverbs 7:22). It can cost you your life (Proverbs 7:23).
- Money and Work. Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” American couples need to hear this warning. So many are chasing the American dream of success and plenty, and often times the cost is a house full of strife.
- Worthless Pursuits. Proverbs warns about the danger of “worthless pursuits” (Proverbs 12:11, 28:19). I have seen people ruin their marriage through video games, golf, and social media. These things aren’t inherently sinful, but in the grand scheme of things they are worthless.
- Substance Abuse. The book of Proverbs does not condemn all consumption of alcohol. However, Proverbs 20:1 warns, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Abusing alcohol in a troubled marriage is like pouring gasoline on a fire.
- No Fear of God. Proverbs 1:20-33 is scary. It is a warning to those who reject wisdom. The warning is simple. When the consequences of your folly crash down, don’t come to God for a bail out if you don’t fear God (Proverbs 1:29). Many couples do this. They destroy their marriage through foolish decisions, then they want God to make it better. They aren’t sorry for their sin, nor do they fear God. They just want things to go back to “normal,” and they try to use God to that end. Proverbs 1 says life doesn’t work that way. In fact, Proverbs 1 says that God “laughs” when he hears the bail-me-out-prayers of a fool who doesn’t fear Him (Proverbs 1:26).
When I meet with couples who have made these mistakes, I’m often asked the question, “Why would my husband do this … Why would my wife do this?” Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to that question. That’s why Proverbs calls it “folly.” My prayer for my church is that we would be wise in the context of marriage, and run from the foolish mistakes that destroy our families.
Originally published January 19, 2016 on landoncoleman.com.