Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles identify 3 types of marriage problems: difficult, disappointing, and destructive. All marriages are difficult from time to time. This is described in terms of external factors that put pressure on individuals which makes life decisions and interactions difficult. A second type of common marriage problem is disappointment. Life isn’t what you thought it would be–grief and unmet expectations affect us all. In marriage, one person’s experience affects another.
Then there are destructive issues. Greg Wilson, a licensed professional counselor, says, “The distinguishing mark between abusive sin and non-abusive sin lies in the use of personal capacity to diminish the capacities of another person so that she can be more easily controlled. Abuse, therefore, has a greater degree of potential in relationships in which one person has greater capacity, privilege, authority, or power over another.”
When a person with authority or power experiences difficulties or disappointment and responds in the flesh, we can expect a destructive marriage. It’s important to note that a destructive marriage is not experienced by both individuals. It is perpetrated by one and experienced by the other.
This is how pastors, counselors, and church leaders often misunderstand and misidentify abuse. They hear the disappointment, suffering, and difficulty of the individual with power then seek to bring comfort or relief without investigating how others have been affected.
In a secular investigation there is evidence gathering, information analysis, theory development and validation, forming a reasonable ground to believe, and, finally, charging a suspect.
For whatever reason, it’s not uncommon for religious, or uninformed, men to hear stories of disrespect, pain, disappointment, or suffering and jump directly to charging others. Somehow the idea of conducting an unbiased investigation–gathering evidence, analyzing information, developing a theory, validating the theory, and forming reasonable grounds of belief–jumps immediate to an end result based on the individual doing damage.
As God’s people, we have access to God who sees and knows exactly what is happening. It behooves us to seek His help to expose truth, provide wisdom, goodness, and Christ-honoring responses–especially when it comes to using influence, power and authority to protect and provide for the needy and oppressed.
The book of Hosea exposes a sinful response to disappointment and difficulty when individuals pursue life on their own terms, looking for help from everyone except God, refusing to humble themselves and repent.
God, in love and mercy, does not give rebels what they want. He does not answer. Instead, he waits for them to seek, turn mourn, weep, and repent. God does not approve, justify, or excuse treachery in marriage (Malachi 2) or failure to consider one’s wife as a co-heir (1 Peter 3:7).
In the following passage, Ephraim refuses to bow the knee to God, but seek pleasure, comfort, and relief from others and pursue sinful pleasure apart from God’s provision.
Here is God’s description and response:
I know Ephraim,
and Israel is not hidden from me.
For now, Ephraim,
you have acted promiscuously;
Israel is defiled.
Their actions do not allow them
to return to their God,
for a spirit of promiscuity is among them,
and they do not know the Lord.
Israel’s arrogance testifies against them.
Both Israel and Ephraim stumble
because of their iniquity;
even Judah will stumble with them.
They go with their flocks and herds
to seek the Lord
but do not find him;
he has withdrawn from them. (Hosea 5:3-6)
Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment,
for he is determined to follow what is worthless.
So I am like rot to Ephraim
and like decay to the house of Judah.
When Ephraim saw his sickness
and Judah his wound,
Ephraim went to Assyria
and sent a delegation to the great king.
But he cannot cure you or heal your wound.
For I am like a lion to Ephraim
and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
Yes, I will tear them to pieces and depart.
I will carry them off,
and no one can rescue them.
I will depart and return to my place
until they recognize their guilt and seek my face;
they will search for me in their distress. (Hosea 5:11-15)
What am I going to do with you, Ephraim?
What am I going to do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist
and like the early dew that vanishes. (Hosea 6:4)
Ephraim has allowed himself to get mixed up with the nations.
Ephraim is unturned bread baked on a griddle.
Foreigners consume his strength,
but he does not notice.
Even his hair is streaked with gray,
but he does not notice.
Israel’s arrogance testifies against them,
yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
and for all this, they do not seek him.
So Ephraim has become like a silly, senseless dove;
they call to Egypt, and they go to Assyria. (Hosea 7:8-11)
They do not cry to me from their hearts;
rather, they wail on their beds.
They slash themselves for grain and new wine;
they turn away from me. (Hosea 8:14)
One thought on “When Disappointment Turns Destructive”
Pingback: Comfort | Seeking Sanctuary