This week has been one of marital contrast. On one hand Paige and Dorothy Patterson (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary. Their biblical marriage remains vibrant and an exemplar. On the other hand Tullian Tchividjian (Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church) resigned as senior pastor after both he and his wife, married 21 years, admitted to moral failures. Two marriages in ministry – one flourishing, one withering. What lesson can we learn? What lesson can I learn to protect my marriage of 9 years?
One lesson is to recall that Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:2 exhort us to be “above reproach.” In pastoral ministry class I was taught to always remember that familiarity leads to intimacy. There is great wisdom in this statement. I teach The Christian Home class at Southwestern Seminary and I make a point of instructing students that if they lose their marriage they lose their ministry. Why? It is because they tarnish one of the three underpinnings of their ministry – their ethos (the other two components being logos and pathos). Here are a few practices I follow to actively protect my marriage and ministry:
- I follow the Rule of Three: there must always be at least three people of mixed gender together. For example, if I get in a car to go to business meeting I can only get in the car with another man, a man and a woman, or two women. Accountability is paramount. Billy Graham once stated that he would never meet, eat, or travel with a woman alone. That’s a great rule!
- I do not communicate with a woman alone. I always inform the female students in my class they are free to email me, but they should know that my response to them is always cc’d or bcc’d to my wife.
- I rarely follow a woman on Twitter, and if I do my wife knows about it and has access to my Twitter account. I intentionally do not have a Facebook account. If I did have one, at the very least I would have a joint account with my wife rather than a separate one.
- I never meet with a female staff member in a closed office. There is intentionally a window in my office door, the door remains unlocked, and another staff member sits close by.
- I am never at home alone with another woman, no matter if they are family friends. My wife occasionally has one of her friends watch our four children. If I get home early and my wife is not yet home, I either drive around the block several times or sit in my car in the driveway until she returns. I do not enter the house. All my children are eight years old and younger, too young to provide accountability.
- I listen to my wife when her “wife radar” goes off. There are times I am a typical male and am completely oblivious to apparent “extra friendly” comments or interactions from another woman. However, my wife is discerning and I listen to her warnings.
- My wife assists me in helping my eyes flee from pornography that is rampant in our culture. For example, when Victoria Secret commercials come on TV she quickly changes channels or has me close my eyes. She helps my mind to remain “above reproach.”
These are a few ways I protect my marriage. My marriage needs protecting. Satan has been attempting to destroy marriages since the Garden of Eden. Why? It is because marriage is an intentional picture of the relationship between God, His Son, and the Church.
Will your marriage flourish or wither? If you are intentional in protecting the marriage covenant between God, you, and your spouse you are well on your way to achieving a lifelong marriage that provides a biblical testimony to the world.