Being a pastor has given me the opportunity to spend time with couples at important times in their relationships…
Many times, post wedding, the time I spend with them is during a difficulty or tragedy, but there are occasions when I get to spend time with a couple that is engaged to be married, doing their counseling, and sometimes, having the honor of marrying them
As with anything we do in repetition, patterns emerge, and in counseling I have noticed three: one discouraging and convicting, the other two very encouraging and hopeful
1. Christian couples are the most difficult to counsel.
For more reasons than the length of this post permits, Christians tend to be defensive. Sometimes it is guilt and shame. Sometimes it is an expectation they think you hold. Sometimes it is an expectation they hold.
Christians tend to struggle admitting areas they struggle, and will at times lie to hide things they feel like shed a negative light on them or their relationship. It is frustrating for them and me, and feels like playing chess. There are times when at a stale mate you have to allow them their path, knowing it contradicts God’s plan and will result is pain.
This is not to say I haven’t spent time with amazing couples. I am counseling a young couple right now…they are great, and are going to be a fabulous married couple that God uses. In my experience, the tendency exists with any Christian couple…some just fight is better, or have less they cover, have less expectation, or haven’t been in the church long enough to know better.
2. Couples who are not Christ followers are easier, more honest, and less defensive.
Because they either reject or do not know the standard of the Bible (or the church) those apart from Christ are remarkably honest. They tell you their wounds, experiences, failures, thoughts. Because you are a pastor they feel safe with you, and shoot incredibly straight. They are generally open to new ideas or even conflicting worldviews. Not knowing that they “should” feel bad, they don’t, even if they voice displeasure with their actions or belief.
I know there is debate about pastors marrying people apart from Christ…I simply do not understand what the question is. People are willing to spend time with you, be honest about times of influence in their lives, and invite you to speak into their lives while being a part of one of the most significant days of their lives.
Truth is, I would rather spend the time with this kind of couple
Truth is, I am troubled that there are so few of these type of couples in the church
Truth is, I am not sure I am this type of couple
3. Couples who are not Christ followers believe the Bible without knowing it.
I have been able to spend time with “mature couples” and young couples that are a apart from Christ, and I have found two things
-The Bible makes sense to them, and betters their marriage when they follow it. Often times, not even knowing the what the Bible says, its truths resonate with them when its principles are presented to them
-Couples who have had time and experience (good or bad) sound very Biblical when they talk about how marriage should be. I was able to spend time with a woman who had been married a few times, and was entering into another marriage. As she talked about what she would like her next marriage to be I could not believe how much her thoughts were right out of God’s word.
The whole experience makes me love God’s word…
God, in creating marriage, knows the very best way to be married, to be a husband, and to be a wife. God knows how to make our marriages healthy, happy, and expressions of His goodness and grace. The Bible talks in great detail about how this can occur. Anyone who hears His thoughts knows this, and anyone who has followed His ways has experienced this.