An Open Letter To The Man Who Left The Wife of His Youth

edmund_garrettDear John,

How are you? I hope you’re doing well. It has been seven years since our divorce. How time flies! It’s still so weird for me. Maybe you’re having the time of your life. Hopefully, you are happy. Because you told me you were not happy with me.

Are you happy now?

For me, happiness is fleeting. I prefer joy. I can be happy one minute, miserable the next. That’s emotion. (And you know how emotional I am.) Joy remains, no matter what. No matter what circumstance, I am always joyful. Why?

Because I am possessed!

Wait, it’s not what you think. I am possessed by Jesus Christ. He owns me. He’s the lover of my soul. He belongs to me. He is the only faithful One, my Divine Husband. And He will never let me go.

So I’m doing very well, John, if you care to know.

Do you have joy in your life now?

Are you truly a Christian? Did you pray to God while you contemplated leaving me? Did he say it was okay? Did he say he felt your pain? Did he agree with you on all your complaints against me? Were those things grounds for divorce, in God’s opinion?

Maybe he didn’t even hear you.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psalm 66:18).

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2). Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

So that’s why I ask. Also, I don’t know how you could possibly have confronted my Lord with your desire to divorce me. Because my Lord hates divorce.

Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the Lord has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
15 But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

16 For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.”   — Malachi 2:14-16

That describes the treachery of infidelity, according to God.

What is it with you men over 40, 50, over 60? Mid-life crises, end-of-life crises, need a new thrill? What elusive thing are you searching for?

What is it?

I’m just asking.

You need Jesus Christ.

If you had a problem with me or my behavior it was your duty to help me change. Even if I resisted belligerently. You’re the man. The godly man is the spiritual leader of his wife. He admonishes her. He protects and provides. Well, he’s supposed to, according to God. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, He shows you the way. He helps you love and lead. But I’m not sure we serve the same God.

Because I don’t understand how a man could leave a wife who shares a history with him, and children.  I can’t fathom how a man who raised a family, went to church for years, listened to preaching, read a Bible, can decide at 40, 50 or 60, that the grass is greener somewhere else. It is baffling.

Yet men like you think it’s okay, John.

A recent post here on DRR talked about the indescribable love of God. To love someone is much like the process of discovering God — knowing God. The more we know about Him, the more we are able to love Him. Knowing is directly related to loving. You can’t love someone without knowing enough about them. John, did you truly know me? Did you truly love me?

Wait. I know the answer. You will say, yes, I did love you. But I say you never did. Because I don’t believe you know the author of love, the essence of love which is God. 1 John 4:8 says:

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Jesus also said, If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15). And He said he hates divorce.

He hates it because it misrepresents Him. God is  FAITHFUL. God is LOVE. God is TRUTH. God is JUST. God is RIGHTEOUS.

As a witness for Christ, the husband should also be faithful, loving, true and righteous in Christ.

God created marriage to be a display of His love toward us. Real love doesn’t die. Not if it’s the kind of love we acquire from God above. Supernatural love. He gives us this kind of love so that we can love our spouses unconditionally.

What’s with this middle age divorce madness?

I often think about you (not in that way) and other men who have left their wives in middle age. I’ve heard so many heartbreaking accounts. The women I’ve talked to are Christian women. Their husbands did not have any Biblical reason for leaving their wives. In fact, it was the other way around.

Yet, what is so encouraging to me are stories of enduring faithfulness in marriages where insicknessand healthone partner becomes severely ill, incapacitated, or doesn’t even recognize his/her spouse. Imagine. Imagine a husband saying, she doesn’t even remember my name. She can’t talk to me. She can’t even move. Still, I love her so. I will care for her until the day I die.

Til death do they part. Really.

That is sacrificial, selfless love. Like Christ on the cross, who freely gave himself, for his sheep. Are you one of His sheep? Ponder that this Easter season.

I see you have remarried. That’s why I wanted to bring these things to your attention.

Be happy. Better yet, be joyful.

Love,

The Wife of Your Youth

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More Dead Men Speak on Marriage Part 4: J.R. Miller – The Christian Wife

Antique booksChristian wives: what would you say is the true ideal of a godly wife? We would all refer to Proverbs 31, no doubt…one of my favorite portions of scripture.  In his exposition called The Christian Wife, J.R. Miller describes such a wife. Though he doesn’t reference these scriptures, he seems to be expounding on these very verses in order. Christian wives, what would you say to this?:

“The good wife is a good housekeeper…The mere mention of such things as cooking, baking, sweeping, dusting, mending, ironing—jars upon the poetic rhythm of the lofty themes of conversation. It never enters the brains of these happy lovers—that it will make every difference in the world in their home life—whether the bread is sweet or sour; whether the oatmeal is well cooked or scorched; whether the meals are punctual or tardy. The mere thought that such common matters could affect the tone of their wedded life, seems a desecration.”  –J.R. Miller

Is that a dated statement? Is a neat and comfortable nest not a priority today? How about cooking? Is the career woman who habitually comes home with fast food for her family a good model of a godly woman? You tell me. I want feedback. Miller and other dead men we’ve studied stress the importance of the woman’s work at home. There are warnings for those who neglect their own household for other ventures. Even church activities can overburden us and cause us to neglect our families. Miller expounds on this issue beautifully.

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Virtuous granny?

As for me, I think housekeeping is a lost art, one that should be found again. I see a resurgence among young Christian wives, through their blogs on homemaking, and it is highly refreshing and encouraging to me. I pray that we blast away all remnants of American feminism that crept into the church. But let’s get back to J.R. Miller’s The Christian Wife.

According to Miller, the wife of a godly man is a crowned queen:

“…to be the wife of a godly and true man. She is lifted up to be a crowned queen. Her husband’s manly love laid at her feet, exalts her to the throne of his life. Great power is placed in her hands. Sacred destinies are reposed in her keeping. Will she wear her crown beneficently? Will she fill her realm with beauty and with blessing? Or will she fail in her holy trust? Only her married life can be the answer.”

Ah, don’t we all love to be queen? Doesn’t that infer some kind of royalty demanding worship? Certainly not the kind of worship that usurps worship of our Lord! But husbands should adore their godly wives and praise them.

“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” — Proverbs 31:28

Now I don’t think God means to brag about wives or overdo praise publicly. I think the praise should be directed at her in private, to encourage her and make her feel appreciated. Remember T.S. Arthur’s short story Loved Too Late (did you read this? if not, do so!) That husband failed to verbally affirm his wife and show affection toward her.

I love manly love laid at her feet. Is this the stuff of fairy tales or what? It sounds wonderful. I’m sure we’ll have to dig into Miller’s writings on husbands to find out exactly what manly love is. I think I have a few clues. Whatever it is, I want it.

What makes for a godly wife…the kind that earns, yes earns, praise of a godly husband?

“The true wife needs to be no mere poet’s dream, no artist’s picture, no ethereal lady too fine for use—but a woman healthful, strong, practical, industrious, with a hand for life’s common duties, yet crowned with that beauty which a high and noble purpose gives to a soul.”

So much is crammed into one fabulous sentence! To summarize briefly the rest of Miller’s attributes of a Christian wife, he mentions the following:

  1. Faithfulness – here Miller paraphrases Proverbs 31:11 – The heart of her husband safely trusts in her.
  2. A good housekeeper – It is amazing how much Miller writes on this subject, almost equating good housekeeping with love! I can relate to this as an Italian-American woman. In my Italian culture, food is love and feasting is celebration. A clean home and delicious meal says ‘love’.  Yet we should not get caught up with that as Martha did. But that’s another blog post…
  3. Generous and warm-hearted. A good wife is not selfish. Miller speaks about the wife’s compassion in her own household, and though she economizes, she does not limit her ministries of mercy to the confines of her four walls.
  4. Keeps up her personal appearance as well as her inner life. I don’t think Miller means that we should look to our culture for that personal appearance. Let’s not aspire to be Kim Kardashian (heaven forbid!). I see too many young Christian wives enamored with current trends in provocative dress. The key is modesty, but that doesn’t have to mean ugly or frumpy. We should do the best we can to make ourselves attractive to our husbands no matter what life and the force of gravity has done to us. However, Miller quickly delves into inner beauty. Keeping up with our spiritual nourishment is more important than nourishing skin with wrinkle cream. Which leaves Miller’s last point:
  5. Character. Miller says…”she can be a good woman in the true sense only by being a Christian woman. Nowhere but in Christ—can she find the wisdom and strength she needs, to meet the solemn responsibilities of wifehood. Only in Christ can she find that rich beauty of soul, that gemming of the character, which shall make her lovely in her husband’s sight, when the bloom of youth is gone, when the brilliance has faded out of her eyes, and the roses have fled from her cheeks. Only Christ can teach her how to live so as to be blessed, and be a blessing in her married life!

    cartoon-girl-holding-a-diamond_MyVROJOd
    “…that gemming of the character”

Amen to that! Wives, cling to Christ. We are covering the subject of marriage, but I focused on Christian wives in my last two posts. I’m sure the Lord led me in this way for my own benefit. As an older newlywed with a failed marriage in my history, this has been a sobering study. I have been much less than a kind and tender wife during this Christmas season. While I set out to focus on the glorious Incarnation, I got sidetracked with needless details. Christian wives, sit at His feet and learn. I need Jesus Christ every minute, every second of my married life so I can love my husband better.

The Christian Wife is a sample of J.R. Miller’s writings on marriage, but he wrote extensively on all aspects of Christian family life. Solid Ground Books planned a reprint of J.R. Miller’s The Home Beautiful, originally published in 1912. Sadly, there was not enough interest and it has not yet been reprinted. I pray that this blog will spark some interest, enough to get Miller’s priceless wisdom back on bookshelves or Kindles and into our living rooms. Pastor Bill Shishko of Franklin Square, NY OPC said:

“If any 19th century American Christian writer warrants reprinting, it is J. R. Miller! His writing style is delightfully smooth, his insights are spiritual diamonds on every page, and his pastoral applications are delivered with the skill of a well-seasoned physician of souls.”

Thankfully, much of Miller’s writings are available on Grace Gems and the complete original book The Home Beautiful is available for free download here if you click on the link.

The volume begins with The Wedded Life (use link to read on Grace Gems). A sampling of following chapters are entitled with The Husband’s Part, The Wife’s Part, The Parent’s Part, The Home Life, and on. I do hope to have the reprinted volume The Home Beautiful in my hands some day. Just wanted to plug this information and perhaps create a high demand.

Recapping our series so far: We have met the instructive William Gouge, the metaphorical William Secker, the romantic T.S. Arthur and the practical and prolific J.R. Miller. Next, we will meet three interesting characters: another dead man who was a filmmaker, a man who wanted to be dead, and another exemplary wife. I hope you’re curious.

Next post will be merry and light, I promise. I shall temporarily disregard my Christmas frivolities, clear my cluttered mind and write a special Christmas post, hopefully, before December 25.

How I met my husband and a critique of online “Christian” dating in mid-life

Fall in love for all the right reasons. Find God’s match for you. Dating sites beckoned me with hope-filled slogans like these from eHarmony and Christian Mingle. As clouds of doubt about remarriage after divorce rolled away, I pondered a new question: As a Christian, is the internet an appropriate venue for seeking a mate? Would it be forcing things, a sort of manipulation or control by my own will and desires? After all, if it’s God’s will for me to have a new husband, He could easily plop one on my doorstep, right? Where could I possibly meet this man, or, how could this elusive godly man find me?

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord. Proverbs 18:22

I thought it would be nothing short of a miracle to remarry. Dating (hate that concept- perhaps another blog post) and falling in love (I hate that phrase, too) is for the young. Mid-life dating is hard. God intended mating for youth. He designed it that way. Young people are at their physical peak with sharp minds, boundless energy and hormones flowing. Cruising profiles when you’re over forty and beyond is quite a gamble. You are bidding on a used, worn, scarred wretch. There’s a paunch you didn’t participate in. Gray hair that happened without your assistance. A history you did not share. What can possibly spark a relationship?

Never mind physical attributes. I wanted a man after God’s own heart – a tall order. I dabbled in various sites for several years while hope waned.

This is just a sampling of “Christian” dating sites I tried.

  • eHarmony– The ultimate psychobabble dating site! There were tests to take and personality analyses. How could this go wrong? I just loved the Must Haves and Must Have Nots. Yet my matches on here proved to be So Wrong and Do Not Want.
  • Christian Cafe – Pour me a latte! This site sounded so inviting. I had dozens of conversations here while having a cuppa joe or maybe some vino. Unfortunately, this is mainly an Arminian Cafe. I’ll take it further and say it’s a Charismatic Cafe. I wanted a date, not a debate.
  • Christian Mingle –  Here, I was mingling under a very large Christian umbrella. Okay, there were a few nice men. But beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. After a phone conversation, I knew one man was definitely not for me. He gave subtle hints of being unsaved. When he wanted to meet in person, I wrote him a nice email explaining that I didn’t feel we were a good match. He wrote me back and said he didn’t bleep need me because he went out with a bleep bleep younger woman last night and had great bleep so much that he bleep bleep couldn’t care less about me and then he insulted my physical attributes. Honestly, I was terrorized. So much for mingling with Christians in name only.

    Wolves came knocking!
    Wolves came knocking!

The witless discussion about soul mates common to these dating sites was pure silliness.  Marriage between two believers makes them soul mates. William Gouge, in A Holy Vision for a Happy Marriage (part of the Building a Godly Home series) states that husbands and wives have a mutual duty: to seek the good of one another’s soul and help “forward the growth of grace in each other”. God creates soul mates when we enter into a covenant marriage with Him.

Furthermore, egalitarianism was blatantly evident in these dating sites. Both male and female are equal in God’s sight, but they have very different roles. Bible believing Christians should remember God created woman for man. She is designed to be his helpmeet. As I studied marriage the way God intended, I prayed in a different way. My prayers gradually morphed from selfish whining to asking if there was a godly man who needed me. Then I discovered a Reformed Christian dating site. It wasn’t long after, my prayer was answered. Continue reading