In my first post in this series, I wrote about how it was suggested to me to address what refused husbands should be doing in their “Interim” period; you know, that period where they wake up and realize that something needs to be done to change their marriages, but they need to get to the place where they can do it. Or maybe they are in that place where they realize that, while they would like to do something, they are in no condition, mentally or spiritually to carry it out.
My first recommendation was to work on themselves, spiritually. From all I’ve read, and all I’m continuing to read, refusal is (to put it bluntly) emasculating, both in a spiritual sense and in a physical sense. My thinking is that a guy in a refusing marriage needs to learn what it means to become a man again.
In saying this, I’m not going all Ah-nold Schwarzenegger on you; after all, I’m a librarian. How butch is that, huh? No, by “being a man again,” I mean learning (re-learning?) what the Bible says about manhood, proper service to God, family and church, and what the Bible has to say about how he should relate to his wife, in every aspect of his marriage.
Why Bible Reading?
“That’s your first recommendation, CSL? Bible reading? I’m a Christian, I already read the Bible (well, a bit.)”
I make a big deal about refused husbands spending time in daily Bible reading; let me tell you why. There is a pseudo-Christian cult we’ve all heard of, called the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have a monthly magazine, called The Watchtower that is crucial to the faith of every JW. A monthly magazine, every issue of The Watchtower includes a doctrinal teaching for each week of the month.
JW leaders admonish their followers, their converts, to be sure to stay daily in the Watchtower magazine. The reason is that their own studies show that if a JW convert reads the Bible alone, without the commentary and teaching of the Watchtower, s/he will “backslide” and will leave the JWs within 2-3 years. But if they can keep their converts reading The Watchtower, they will stay with the group.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active, …” The Bible is the Word of God and as such, when read, it will be active in the mind of the reader. The famous LYWACLTC passage of Eph. 5 also includes a passage which tells us that Christ cleanses His Church “by the washing of water with the word….” The word of God can help us to cleanse our hearts and minds, like water washes away dirt. I have a story that helps to illustrate what I’m trying to say.
A farmer had his rebellious grandson come to stay with him for a while; his parents hoped that the old man could help the kid straighten out. The first morning, the farmer took his grandson down to the barn, picked up an old dusty basket; he handed it to his grandson and said, “The horses need water, so bring them back a basket of water from the stream.”
Of course the kid, who knew better, immediately said it was impossible, but the old man said, “If you want to earn your pay for working on my farm, you’ll do the chores you’re given. Now get those horses a basket of water.” So the boy takes the basket to the stream and dips the basket into the water; sure enough, as he turns to go back to the barn, the water starts running out. He dips the basket again, and starts to run, but before he can get halfway back to the barn, the water has all runout.
He does this for three or four more times, but, of course, the water runs out of the basket. He finally gets frustrated and takes the basket back to his grandfather and gives it back to him, saying, “It’s impossible; water just runs out of the basket.” The farmer takes the basket and looks it over, and says, “It sure cleans out a basket good, though, don’t it?”
You and Your Reading
I’ve made the point in previous posts that husbands who are in marriages marked with long-term refusal/gatekeeping are “in a fog” and need to re-learn what marriage is supposed to be.
Just as water running through the reeds of that basket cleansed it from the dirt and grime that had accumulated on it, so allowing the Word of God to run through our minds cleanses us of the dirt and grime that we have picked up, the bad teachings and ideas we’ve come to believe. With that goal in mind, let me recommend a couple of ideas to help you as you start to spend time alone with God and His Word.
One possible Bible reading plan you might want to consider is one I call the “Heart and MInd of God” Plan. Adding this plan as part of your regular readiing will have you reading the entirety of the books of Psalms and Proverbs each month. Proverbs is the book that shows us wisdom for living, and Psalms reveals the heart of God and his saints. Reading these two books every month will give you great insight into both God’s wisdom and God’s heart.
The structure of this plan is simplicity itself. In this plan, the day of the month tells you where you begin to read. Let’s say you decide to begin this plan on the 15th. For your first day, you will read five psalms, starting with Psalm 15. Then you will add 30, and read Psalm 45. Another 30, Psalm 75. Then Psalms 105 and 135. The next day, the 16th, you will read Psalms 16, 46, 76, 106 and 136. And so forth. Every day, you will read five chapters from the book of Psalms.
The only deviation from this is the humongous Psalm 119. On the 29th, you will only read 4 psalms: 29, 59, 89 and 149. Psalm 119 is reserved for those months that end with a 31st.
And reading Proverbs is even simpler. There are 31 days in the month and 31 chapters in Proverbs, so whatever the day is, that is the day’s reading in Proverbs. In this way, using this plan, you will spend time learning the mind and heart of God .
A second possibility is the Professor Horner Reading Plan, which you can explore at this website. This is a much more immersive plan, having you read 10 chapters of the Bible each day. Dividing the Bible into individual reading lists, you will daily read Biblical history, wisdom, law, prophecy, theology, and poetry.
This plan will call for daily commitment, as it will require you to commit significant part of your free time to getting alone with God’s Word. Remember, however, like that dirty basket, the goal of this practice is to help you cleanse your heart and mind of the sinful patterns and ideas that created the life that you want to leave.
“CSL, why are you writing about Bible reading plans; what does this have to do with dealing with refusal in a marriage?” For the purpose of working on you, that’s why. I’ve written several articles about the bad teaching that has accumulated about marriage and marriage relationships, like the dirt and grime on the basket in my story. Spending time, lots of time, reading God’s word unfiltered by these bad teachings, will help you wash them away and give you clearer insight into God’s ways. Hopefully, much clearer insight than you’ve had in some time.
You and Your Resources
Since this is being read online, I believe that I am safe in assuming that whoever accesses my blog is not completely clueless in the area of technology. Self-disclosure time: I am a Mac bigot, never having used a Windoze machine in my entire life. I have a MacBook, an iPod Touch and an iPad (the latter is my pride and joy). I will confess, however, that this year I have sullied my fingers with a Chromebook. In fact, it has become my go-to device for typing articles for this blog. With that in mind, I will mention a few resources for you guys in helping you getting started with serious Bible reading.
From what I can tell, the 500 lb. gorilla of Bible apps is the YouVersion Bible, found at Bible.com. With over 1000 versions of the Bible, with reading plans galore, and a downloadable Bible for Mac, Windows, Android, Blackberry, and just about every conceivable electronic device. This has great possibilities. As well, it allows you to connect with other YouVersion users to share insights, study notes, etc.
There are a couple of free (did you get that, FREE?) study Bibles available for Macintosh/Apple that I have downloaded and use, and personally have found helpful. On my MacBook, I have an application called The Glo Bible that I find very useful. It is a media-centric app, with a dazzlingly beautiful interface. The basic download has some charts, maps, video clips, etc., but there are a number of in-app purchases that you can make to add features to the Bible. (They are probably worth it, but I haven’t felt the need to do so.)
I teach Sunday School and one thing I have found helpful in my preparation is that the Glo Bible syncs with notes and studies that YouVersion bible users have shared. This past summer, I taught a study of the book of Ruth, and every verse of Ruth had links to different studies that these brothers and sisters in Christ, from around the world, had shared.
In the Apple App Store, I discovered the Lexham Study Bible app from Logos Software, and have been using for a year. A proper “study” bible, it comes with commentary and a Bible dictionary in the base package. I have found the notes to be very even-handed, not favoring one flavor of theology over another. Those of you with an iPad should be able to download it for free from the App Store. (PC and Android users, I would recommend exploring the Lexham website to see if there is something that you can use.
You and Your Online Tools
I don’t know what resources you have at your disposal, but I do want to mention a couple of online websites with excellent resources that are open to you. The first is Crosswalk’s Bible Study Tools, with dozens of translations, lexicons, commentaries, dictionaries, etc. While not as numerous as the plans that YouVersion provides, you will find several reading plans available to you here, including the Professor Horner plan I mentioned, above.
A second online bible site, with a limited number of reading plans, is Bible Hub. Like Crosswalk’s bible site, it has a number of translations and study tools. The interface has a steeper learning curve, I think, but it is a useful website.
One Last Recommendation
I know that with this recommendation, I will probably upset some people, but tough shibbutski. Guys, unless you are fluent in Elizabethan English, ditch the King James translation. I’m sorry, but as things stand, if you are in a marriage defined by refusing, you’ve got problems enough. You don’t need the added handicap of trying to learn God’s thoughts by having to translate them before you can understand them. Do I have any translation recommendations? Only to stay away from the King James** and the New World translation (JW’s); everything else can only help.
There you go, guys. I realize that those of you looking for magic bullets for turning your marriage around are disappointed, but if you are just beginning to try to change your marriage, you’re starting at the wrong end of the stick. You need to change you.
Spend time in the Word of God, and be renewed and transformed by HIs Word. Paul was brazen and arrogant enough to claim, “But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16) Spend time in the Bible, and you will be able to say the same thing.
Next post, prayer and other activities.
** Wife said to tell those of you who like the cadence of the King James that there is a New King James translation, done about 30 years ago, that she deems acceptable. The NKJ updates the KJ, getting rid of the archaic language, and relying on modern scholarship (well, to some extent.)