My wife shared an article with me written by Lysa Terkeurst, the founder of Proverbs 31 Ministry.
We’re both big fans and followers of her site and social media platforms which reach about 40 million people. It’s primarily targeted toward empowering women and family and is a wonderful resource for all.
I’d say that prior to Lysa’s June 13th article, Rejection, Heartache, and a Faithful God, she, her life and marriage were the standards by which millions of people measured their own. She was a light on the hill for what a true, bible-based marriage, Christian wife, and ministry could look like.
On June 13th she bravely shared she was divorcing her husband of almost 25 years.
She remains that shining light on the hill, and even more so in her brokeness and faithful humanity.
The Female Response
My wife was crushed, as were millions of other wonderful women around the globe. I’ve been reading comments in posts and articles all week about their responses to the news. I’d estimate about 99% of all respondents were very supportive offering prayer and support.
If I were to paint a collective portrait of the sentiments, it would reflect most women expressing fear of losing their own spouses and telling how they hurried to their husbands and hugged them or assured them of their love and adoration for their marriage.
These women cherish their marriages, and instead of spreading hurtful gossip about Lysa’s divorce, they flipped the positive opportunity to assess their own relationships in physical and visceral responses.
The Male Response
While heavily under-represented in comments on her’s or any other social media forum, I’d intuitively say not many men rushed to their wives to embrace them over fear of ending up like Lysa and Art. It’s not that men wouldn’t feel empathy for the Terkeurst divorce, or that men don’t cherish their spouses, but the male condition has become conditioned to the reality of marital failure.
Men aren’t as surprised when the other proverbial shoe does fall. Maybe it’s the hardened shell we build around our hearts as a distorted sort of protective barrier, or we’re culturally encoded to suppress emotions while wrapping our minds around rational next steps in a never-ending session of “what-if” bad things happen.
The reality is that we as men have failed in the business of marriage. A January 2017 study claimed between 50 and 60% of all husbands have engaged in extramarital affairs at some point in their marriage. While difficult to determine data related to infidelity being the actual cause of divorce, studies show 37% (either spouse) occur as a result of cheating.
I’d add that while the legal justification for divorce is usually listed as no-fault or irreconcilable differences as a means to get the marriage dissolved as quick as possible, data suggests infidelity is involved at a substantially higher rate than reported. In most states, infidelity is difficult to prove. Many factors prevent either spouse from launching that allegation for reasons ranging from embarrassment to legal settlement.
Despite the data, collectively, men have not equally carried marriage’s yoke. The principle of pursuing marital purity isn’t openly accepted or discussed in masculine circles. Men look at a guy like Art and hope they either don’t get busted in whatever they’re engaged in, or wonder how they’d carry on if their marriages ever fell apart.
Unfortunately, men aren’t mentored on how to be husbands. We say “I do,” and then do. But do what? That’s where we drop the ball. Unless we’ve had a strong God-centered teaching on the reality of Adam’s Genesis 2:24 merging of two into one, then chances are, men mistake the verse as combining two resources such as bank accounts or furniture into one.
Without mentors, we do as we see. What men have seen over the last decades are their parents divorcing, fathers abandoning the family by either choice or heavily-burdened custodial requirements, temporary live-in love interests helping raise the kids, and Herculean single-parent efforts to maintain a sense of balance.
These dynamics also create injury for the kids, and where the male child is physically, emotionally or spiritually wounded by their dad, the pain often manifest itself into efforts to medicate it as an adult through alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography or suicide.
Lysa shared that Art’s continued substance abuse and infidelity were the major factors leading her to divorce him. While saddened at Lysa’s news, I wasn’t shocked. Cheating runs rampant, and despite the “easy way out alibi” that men just want more sex, there are actual reasons why men act out sexually.
It’s the failure to identify and address the cause that chains men to the bowels of hell through sexual bondage. Sneaky secrets or salacious lies are the devil’s tactics for trapping men and destroying families.
I’ve written on male infidelity in Why Men Cheat, and Men, Stop Cheating. Both may be worth your time to explore, and reference if you find yourself in similar scenarios. There’s also a confidential survey assessment in Why Men Cheat you can take to determine your risk of sex addiction.
What shocked most were that they appeared to have centered their marriage on Christ first. So how could this happen to people who love God and serve Him? How could God allow that to happen? Lysa’s such a shining example of a strong Christian woman, why would God do this to her, doesn’t He love her anymore.
The above were a few collected comments from articles about the news. The reality is, bad things happen to good people. Another truth is that good people do bad things. While I don’t know either Lysa or her husband Art personally, these truths are universal. God allows His children free will. Otherwise we’d roam the earth like the rest of the beasts of the field chewing cud and mindlessly responding to exterior stimuli.
God did not punish Lysa, and He certainly still loves her very much. We are free to choose our own paths, and it’s God’s desire that we come to Him to enjoy a deep, loving relationship. Unfortunately in Art’s case, as that of many spouses, their desire leads somewhere between a high and an illicit sexual encounter.
Just because Lysa became yet another victim to the ravages of satan’s war waged against marriage doesn’t make her any less of an example. In time and through God’s grace, this will allow her an even greater compassion for people, faith and now recovery from divorce.
In The Beginning
This began long before Lysa and Art.
God loves marriage. He created it to mirror the relationship He wants to have with us. The creation of man and then the gift of man’s helper, woman, was in fact the first marriage in the history of the world. It’s why Adams said:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife;
and they shall become one flesh.”
Neither Adam nor Eve had ever sinned. They lacked the capacity to understand the concept or question the consequences of going against the will of God. Yet, because of the gift of free will, they chose to reject God’s one command. Eat all you want, but leave that tree for Me (to paraphrase.)
They coveted what God solely possessed, and they sinned in their selfish desire to have what God had. They in turn placed God’s will behind their own desires and feasted on the forbidden fruit. Sin separated them from intimacy with God, and with each other.
Men continue to relive this act of defiance, oath breaking and covetousness each time they flirt, text, bait-click pornography, steal a simple kiss at the after work happy hour, or commit to long-term or repeated sexual affairs.
Satan hates marriage because it is the direct reflection of God’s loving relationship with us. It’s why the serpent immediately attacked the first couple with the temptation of something bigger and better than what God had given them. Isn’t it telling that although history tries to blame Eve for bringing down Adam, he was right there as the deception occurred.
Remember, he was the one who spoke of two becoming one flesh. Where there was Eve, there was Adam. He failed her as the spiritual head of their household. Adam allowed his desire for the fruit God forbade to fail in shielding his wife from the consequences of evil. Worse, when confronted by God, Adam blamed the one person who he previously claimed was his cherished own.
Do you see the similarities? Art’s willful desire for sex and substances places them above his passion for God, and therefore his wife. The substance abuse and sexual sin become his god (lower case g) while he failed to protect Lysa from the consequences of his sin. Also, the secretive nature is not unlike Adam’s attempt to hide from God before he was confronted.
In the end, we’ve really not progressed very far from the creation story.
God created marriage. There is no coincidence that He places emphasis on the act of marriage. The bible begins with a marriage, Jesus’s first recorded miracle occurred at a wedding, and the bible ends in Revelations with a wedding supper.
God also created sex to be enjoyed within the blessings of that marriage. God has never been shy about husband and wife enjoying each other’s bodies, nor has He minced words about the consequences of sex outside of marriage. Here’s a few bible verses to hammer these points home:
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled,
for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
1 Corinthians 7:3-4
“Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”
1 Corinthians 7:1-2
Men can reclaim their place as the spiritual head of their households, but it will never happen as long as we conduct ourselves outside of the boundaries of marital purity. Wives deserve better than to follow the lead of a corrupted spirit. Consider that your wife is God’s very own cherished daughter. That makes Him your father-in-law. Do you really think God will allow her to be deceived without detection?
Men, if Lysa’s reality doesn’t cause you to rush into your wife’s arms and reclaim the bonds of holy matrimony, then focus on your own. If you have been unfaithful, you should begin with confession and prayer. Concealing your affair isn’t the answer.
Studies show that 60-75% of couples who’ve experienced betrayal stay together. Confession, counseling and accountability in many cases lead to a deeper, more loving marriage. The process through programs like the Conqueror Series is also vital for helping men understand the core causes of their destructive behavior.
Men, there is never judgement in my message. I only share what God places on my heart. God meant for us to be kings and conquerors, but instead we behave like cowards and saboteurs. Your family will only ever be as strong as you are. Are you ready to be strong in Christ for your family?
Keep the Terkeurst family in your prayers.
Lead from the front,