Guard your marriage against popular culture – should that even be a thing?
Why should a wife concern herself with guarding her marriage against commonly accepted behavior and practices?
Recently my husband was changing radio stations in the car when he came across a station that was talking about marriage.
As he whirled away to the next station, I caught a bit of word from the show host; and it left me cringing.
Not because of the particular words used but because of the general direction and attitude of the conversation.
It got me thinking about why we should have firm filters and boundaries against negative influences on Radio, TV and the Internet.
Why such guards should be the norm, not the exception for the Christian man and woman.
But before we talk about why and how you, as a wife, can guard your marriage, let’s talk about perception.
When we think about the reasons why Christian believers should keep high standards, like preferring not to watch or listen to unsavory shows, we immediately believe it’s because they just want to look super spiritual.
The reason believers guard (or should guard) themselves and draw boundaries is because they are naturally carnal. The flesh, our base human self craves the unholy unsavory thing. Romans 7:15, 21 – 23
So the person who wants to maintain holiness and purity and a constant God-perspective? They have to go against their fleshly pull (by “flesh” I mean the natural human inclination without God).
We all, Christian believers and people who aren’t believers alike have itchy ears and hearts and mouths. For the Christian believer, I mean that in the sense of ruler-ship.
Beyond accepting Jesus as your personal Savior, you also have to allow Him to be Lord of your life; in other words, agree to be led of the Spirit, not of the flesh.
Here’s the thing, our flesh is a crazy person.
Even when we think we have it tamed.
Think about the last time someone started a conversation with “hey did you know…?” and began a detailed rundown of someone else’s life or circumstance. Didn’t something in you just perk up? Wasn’t your curiosity piqued?
Even if you were spiritual enough to screech that conversation to a halt, there’s likely a part of you that deflated!
“Oh bummer,” it whined.
Paul the Apostle wrote about his wrestling with his sinful nature in his letter to the church in Rome.
15For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.12
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Romans 7:15, 21 – 23
Guard your marriage by guarding your heart
As believers in Jesus Christ, unless we train our flesh to do the right thing, it defaults to doing the wrong thing. It doesn’t know any better!
If we expose ourselves to wrong ideas, listen to trashy radio, watch shows that bash marriage or make light of lifelong commitment we are pulled into similar thinking patterns and behavior.
We start to believe lies about marriage. We readily question our vows instead of activating faith. We begin to talk back instead of holding our tongues.
We worry instead of praying. We give up instead of persevering. We belittle and look down on values that should be important to us.
So back to our question..why should we protect our hearts and minds (and consequently marriages) by cutting off unsavory cultural influences?
1. We become who we keep company with
Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Cor 15:33
You are not strong enough to stand against adverse influences.
When Joseph was faced with an evil influences in the name of Potiphar’s wife he ran away. We should all be like Joseph, running from those things that pull at our moral and spiritual convictions.
But sometimes we want to sit down and make justifications. “Oh it’s harmless.” “I just want to know how the world thinks.”
We argue and postulate and reason away our godly conscience. And then wonder what happened to the life, holiness, and commitment to each other.
We wonder why we act more like the world around us than like Jesus within us.
2. We are not to give the enemy of marriage a foothold
For the last many days I have camped in Ephesians 6 in my morning devotions.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11
Verse 11 “put on the full armor” isn’t a proposal or suggestion. It’s a direction. To put on not just the armor but the full armor. So what is the the entire armor? Verse 14-17 gives us a list.
Belt of truth
The breastplate of righteousness
The gospel of peace
The shield of faith
The helmet of salvation
The word of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
You can’t have one piece of the armor without the other because if you do, then you will be giving the enemy a foothold. You must have all tools of the warfare. All of them work together.
It’s hard to bring up your shield of faith if you haven’t donned your godly conviction and courage which is represented by the belt of truth.
It’s difficult to use the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God if you are not convinced of your right standing with God (breastplate of righteousness.)
The schemes of the enemy
A lot of times we expect the enemy of marriage to show up with horns and a pitchfork. Big downfalls and struggles like adultery, abuse, addictions. We hope to see him coming and call him out.
But the Bible talks about the enemy as a schemer, strategist, and deceiver. He hides behind “normal” everybody-does-it type of things. He lies and cheats and manipulates and tantalizes and persuades.
The show you love so much which is filled with cheating and salaciousness and gossip and not an ounce of morals.
The daily thrill to “check on what my sign says today”
The tendency to want to listen and spread little bits and pieces of information about others in the office.
The deadly pull to continually compare your husband’s looks, abilities, paycheck, education, dressing, mannerism to every man you meet.
The drawing to care about cultural correctness than godliness.
Now please hear me; I am not throwing tomatoes at anyone today.
I am in the same boat as you are, trying to work out my salvation on a daily basis. So this is just advice from one boatmate to another: don’t wait for the devil with horns and a pitchfork.
Chances are he won’t show up in the way we think he will. Instead, let us watch out for the small foxes, his little schemes, appeals, pulls and desires that afflict our flesh.
Let us take care of those, submit (or at least work towards it) ourselves entirely to the Lord in all areas of our lives and we will be well on our way to overcoming the biggest hindrance to personal and marital success. Ourselves.
3. We have a legacy
Whether we like it or not, the world is watching how we do this Christian life thing. Our families, friends, colleagues, schoolmates: everyone who knows you are a believer is looking to see how you live.
People need to look at your life and think “she’s different.” Not because you are going out of your way to look it but because your ordinary everyday convictions are different.
You are walking with Jesus, and it leaks everywhere.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9
There should be a difference between what you enjoy and what everyone else enjoys.
If we all listen to the same things, watch the same shows, laugh at the crass jokes, engage in the same talk, do life and marriage exactly the same way, then how will people who don’t know the Lord feel convicted to live differently?
I am not suggesting that Christians insulate themselves. After all, Jesus prayed “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” John 17:15
You can laugh together, enjoy meals and hang out with friends who are not Christians. But you don’t check your convictions at the door to do so.
Don’t whack them over the head with your opinions either, but you don’t renounce them just to be accepted. You can be a lover of people without being a lover of the world they live in.
So how can you be in the world and not of the world, how might that look like?
You ask about the movies you’ll watch during the midweek couples hangout in advance instead of showing up blind. You offer suggestions and other ideas if the movie is unwatchable.
When others share crass jokes and instead of laughing along you might ask “and why do you think that way?”
If you are watching a big game e.g. the superbowl and are aware of the type of artists performing during halftime, instead of assaulting your senses, you can hang out in a different room, gather around the food table and chat.
You don’t have to be weird, but you can be intentional about how you live your life. Don’t just go with the flow..make some effort.
That’s how people see the difference between how you live and how they do.
But the point isn’t to drive a wedge or to look holier than thou. You do it out of your love and devotion to Christ.
And if He uses your life to speak to others? Wonderful! If they think you are “one of those fanatical Christians” cheer up!
Much worse was done to our Lord and we are all striving to be like Him.
Guard your marriage against popular culture: the bottom line
What you feed only gets stronger. Feed your spirit and you get stronger. Feed your flesh and it gets stronger.
Cut out those things that take you further away from God and His Spirit and His perspective, and you will get strong and your marriage will thank you. Not to mention the joy of a drama free life.
Living with boundaries should be the norm for the Christian woman and man. Indeed we are called to freedom, but that freedom has limits.
We, like Christ, must continuously tell ourselves “not my will but Yours be done.”
As a newlywed wife, you must be intentional about creating the right foundation. Refuse to build on cultural junk. Instead, feed on the Word of God. Seek godly friendships. Don’t overestimate your abilities. Don’t be fooled by pride.
How do boundaries show up in life?
Go deeper into practical boundaries in marriage by reading the following posts.
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Are you struggling with boundaries for your marriage? Then pick up my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years. I have a whole chapter dedicated to learning how to create a hedge around your love. We talk about boundaries for work, family, exes, opposite sex etc. Start your journey here Paperback I Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF I UK/Europe PDF. Or Click here to go to the book page.