Written By: Rebeccah Sinclair

It was dark out. I stood on the front porch of my house and watched the flames consume the house across the street. We saw our friends run out of their house–the husband running out the front door, carrying their daughter, and the wife coming from the side gate. Standing on opposite sides of the yard, they watched their home become engulfed in the fire. Neighbors came out of their houses, and we all stood, staring at the flames, frozen in shock. No one called 9-1-1. No one offered help. No one checked on the family. We all watched as the fire destroyed everything, yet we did nothing.

The idea sounds ridiculous. It’s hard to imagine anyone standing in front of a home, doing absolutely nothing while watching someone’s house go up in flames. Have you ever thought that we may be doing that when we watch our friends choose divorce, separation, or checking out of their marriages in some capacity?

In the last couple of months, I’ve seen several couples face struggle, with many choosing separation, divorce, or “living as roommates” until their children are grown. I’ve watched friends, church members, and people on social media struggle in the aftermath of covid and I asked my husband if this “second wave” of marriages being torn apart might be because those who were able to draw near to each other during the struggles of our virus crisis are now being pulled apart, back to separate jobs and even separate lives. The reality though is that marriages have always struggled, and what God designed to be a special union is often torn apart for a variety of reasons. 

Society is continually pushing people to “check in” on mental health and for the past 10 years, I have shared with others my own mental health struggles. Since society has decided mental health matters, there have been large movements to talk about suicide and mental health struggles. There have been a multitude of trainings created to train people how to talk to someone in crisis or needing mental health first aid assistance. However, the reality is that secular society does not place a high value on marriage. To many people, it is a “piece of paper.” To some, it’s “old-fashioned.”  This perception of marriage easily infiltrates Christian thinking and thus influences us, whether we realize it or not. However, it’s important to remember that to God, it’s neither merely a piece of paper nor old-fashioned, but so much more. As Christians, our value of marriage should not come from how the society around us perceives or understands it, but from the word of God. 

Christians know that marriage is important. Genesis 2 tells us God made Eve as a helper for Adam. Ephesians 5 compares marriage to the church’s relationship with Christ. Matthew 19 tells us “The two become one flesh.” Colossians 3:18 teaches husbands and wives how to treat one another. Hebrews 13:4 tells us to hold marriage in high honor. The list could continue as the Bible contains an array of verses and teachings on the subject. The question for Christians should not be “is marriage important and sacred?” The question should not be “how does God feel about divorce?” Those questions have already been answered. Instead, for many Christians, the question becomes, “what is our role in someone else’s marriage”? We may ask, “Is it my business if someone is tempted with pornography?” or “What do I do for someone who is tempted with lust?” or “Am I supposed to do or say anything to someone who has chosen to walk away from Christ’s teaching and act on those temptations, lusts and desires?” As Christians, we may find ourselves struggling with what to do, and asking ourselves what our responsibility is in all of this.

My husband and I sat down one evening to talk about it. We asked ourselves “what’s our role in all of this?” “What’s our responsibility to say or do when couples are struggling?” “Do I ask them about it?”  That’s when the image of the fire struck me and I asked, “if there was a fire across the street, wouldn’t we DO something? Wouldn’t we SAY something? If their house was on fire, we wouldn’t second guess our ‘role’ or stay in our ‘lane.’ We wouldn’t hide from it or avoid the situation. We wouldn’t hesitate. We would offer help in whatever way we could. We would take action and speak truth to them through this hard time.” 

In a set of guidelines set forth in Deuteronomy 22:4, Israelites are given instruction that if they see a countrymen’s donkey or oxen has fallen, they should help that individual. If God instructs man to help another who is struggling with their animal, how much more should we be helping the man struggling with his marriage? How much greater is a marriage than a donkey?!? Galatians 2 encourages us to “carry each other’s burdens,” and Philippians 2:4 instructs us to not look only to our own interests but also the interests of others. 

We hear the Bible verse where Cain asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and I would argue that as Christians, we want to have a perspective completely opposite of Cain’s. We need to embrace supporting one another, talking about the hard topics before there is a fire, and fighting for the relationships God put into place. 

Learning that as a church body we have a responsibility to one another is only the first part. What to do with that responsibility and what that looks like, is another question. 

  1. Pray- Proverbs 4:7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Seek wisdom. Dive into the Word. Ask the Lord to provide you with the words to say. Luke 11:13 tells us the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. Pray that the Holy Spirit will enter in your conversation and guide you. Pray for truth to be revealed. 
  1. Ask Ask your friends and family members how their relationships are doing! Galatians 6:2 says, “carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” We cannot carry burdens if we don’t know what they are, and we get the opportunity to know when we ask. Don’t assume someone has everything under control. Be specific! Ask those around you if they are struggling in their marriages. Are they feeling tempted to step out? Are they struggling with pornography or lust? Men, ask your men friends and women, ask your women friends. If they say, “no”, say “ok” and let them know if they do, you’re there to talk and not afraid of uncomfortable conversations. If they say “yes,” thank them for being truthful and sharing their struggles.
  1. Support– Galatians 6:1 instructs restoring those with a spirit of gentleness. Remind them of Biblical truths and let them know you’re praying with them, that you love them. Supporting does not mean enabling a person to continue living in sin. 1 Timothy 5:20, Matthew 18:15, Luke 17:3, and 2 Timothy 4:2 are all verses that instruct believers to rebuke the sin. Pray with them in that moment. Remind them that we all have our struggles and must decide whether to overcome or succumb. If they have already succumbed, it’s important to remember there may be a greater struggle, their relationship with Christ. This is where the conversation needs to focus. Pray they will lean into Christ and repent. 
  1. Connect– Point them to support. Proverbs 11:14 and 15:22 point out that victory comes with many counselors. We are more successful when we get counsel from others! Encourage them to seek assistance from a professional counselor or pastor. This can be incredibly beneficial, even when things are “good.”

Infidelity, adultery, pornography, etc. can be hard, uncomfortable conversations to have. However, they are necessary. If we do not start having these conversations with the people in our lives, we become complacent and miss the opportunity to speak truth to those around us. As a church, we can do something for those we love, and we can help those we care about. Don’t wait for the fire to show up. Talk openly before the flames rise in the relationships around you. 

Guest Writer: Rebeccah Sinclair

Legacy Family Ministries