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Love Must Confront

Some things are not acceptable in a Christian marriage. When physical abuse, sexual unfaithfulness, sexual abuse of children, alcoholism, or drug addiction persist in a marriage, it is time to take loving action. In fact, one is not loving when he or she accepts such behavior as a way of life. This behavior is destroying the individual and the marriage. Love must confront. In the Bible, confronting is always seen as redemptive. Jesus said that if someone sins against us, then we are to confront them. If they listen and repent, we are to forgive, and the relationship is healed. If they do not repent we are to take additional steps of tough love. The purpose is not revenge, but redemption. That’s tough love and that’s real love.

Love is Firm and Tough

Love is not always meek and mild. Sometimes love is firm and tough, but it is no less love. Consider Jesus’ response to the money changers in the temple. They had turned from prayer to profit and Jesus did not sit idly by. When certain men turned religion into racketeering, He insisted that they leave the premises. Harsh actions? Yes. Loving? Yes. Jesus loved too much to do nothing in the face of corruption. Did these men later return and become men of prayer? We don’t know. That certainly would have been the desire of Jesus. His action revealed his love for them and His love for His Father. Sometimes, we too must show tough love.

The Missing Ingredient – Love

You cannot have an intimate marriage without communication, for one simple reason: only you know you. The word intimacy comes from the Latin word intimus meaning ‘inner’. Therefore, intimacy comes from sharing the ‘inner person’ – your thoughts, feelings, and desires. You are the only one who knows what is going on inside of you. If you choose to share your ‘inner self’ and your spouse chooses to listen, there can be understanding and empathy. If your spouse does the same and you listen, the two of you will have an intimate relationship. Talking and listening – it sounds so simple. Often the missing ingredient is love – the desire to help each other rather than get our own way.

‘Tough Love’ and Genuine Repentance

A lady once asked me, “Is there ever a time to stop loving your spouse?” I responded with a question, “Why do you ask?” “My husband physically and verbally abused me for eight years. He refused to work. I supported the family for 7 years. Then I got sick. Even then, he refused to get a job. I just got tired of it, so I left him. Was I wrong to stop loving him?” “I’m not sure you stopped loving him,” I said. “This may be the best loving you have ever done. He may even get a job.” “Oh, he’s already promised me that he will get a job and be kind to me if I come back.” “Then let’s see if he follows through,” I said. “If he does, and is willing to get counseling, you can rebuild your marriage.” Sometimes it is ‘tough love’ that brings a spouse to genuine repentance.