Here’s a quick (for me anyway) thought inspired by the latest Duggar debacle.
First, let me be totally honest and confess that I have never made it through an entire episode of 19 Kids and Counting. I just couldn’t do it. The show made me feel uncomfortable and, if I’m honest, a little creeped out. I’m not judging! If they want to produce enough children to form their own country, that’s their business.
As a former member of an evangelical, charismatic church, I am familiar with at least some of the Duggar’s beliefs on dating and marriage and, in most cases, I get where they’re coming from. Still, I avoided the show whenever I was channel surfing and did not feel the need to keep up with the latest pregnancy update (I mean, I think the element of surprise has long since worn off.). These days; however, it’s become increasingly difficult to avoid this family with the recent scandals surrounding their eldest son. And while he certainly has committed many inexcusable acts, when his young wife recently stated she feels guilty and partially to blame for his cheating, that really got my hackles up.
In my opinion, her statement illustrates one of the doctrinal flaws of charismatic/Pentecostal churches when it comes to marriage. In the past, I listened to countless sermons warning wives that if a husband isn’t satisfied at home, he will look elsewhere for that satisfaction. Believe me, years of listening to these kinds of messages can really do a number on your brain. It can distort what it means to be a wife and can warp your view of what God intended marriage to be which, unless I’m misunderstanding scripture, is a partnership that brings glory to Him. (I know, that was so churchy – oh well! Sometimes that’s going to happen when you’re writing about CHURCH!)
The idea that women must always be ready and willing to meet the needs of their husbands in order to ensure fidelity is warped and harmful. It inflicts upon the wife an enormous amount of pressure to perform. It can also make you overly suspicious of certain behaviors that may have perfectly innocent explanations yet quickly take on a sinister meaning once you’ve been subjected to this kind of preaching. Even all these years later, I often find myself hearing those tapes in my head and, though the message may have been well-intended, it has done nothing but cause unnecessary stress, unwarranted guilt, and useless paranoia.
In my mind, you can find no better picture of God’s will for marriage than in Ephesians. It clearly states in Ephesians 5:25 that a husband should love his wife as Christ loved the church. What did Christ do for the church? He laid down his life. When his creation turned away from him, gave him “the cold shoulder” so to speak, he didn’t throw his hands up in disgust and walk away to seek other ventures. He stayed put. He remained faithful.