all up in your face

last night on the news i heard that sc governor mark sanford had the “fidelity clause” removed from his marriages vows.


that brings questions to my mind…

the first, of course, is WHY? what’s the deal with that? did no one ever explain to this guy the whole concept of marriage? even if you never say aloud, “i will be faithful to you,” isn’t that what you’re saying when you get married in the first place?

second, i wonder, what was SHE thinking? here’s what she told barbara walters: “It bothered me to some extent, but … we were very young, we were in love. I questioned it, but I got past it … along with other doubts that I had.”

hello! jenny! sounds like YOU were in love. him – notsomuch!  i think you missed a cue…

but here’s the real question i’m asking this morning: who is the greater offender? the guy who insists on taking out of his wedding vows the promise to be faithful? or the one who speaks them aloud on his or her wedding day and then breaks them?

i have a feeling a lot of us are throwing stones – again – at mark sanford. but i think we all need to remember that Jesus was never a fan of that. listen, i’m not defending sanford, trust me. nowhere close. but i do think this story, and its timeliness (10 days before valentines day) gives us something to think about.

marriage, by default, is a lifetime commitment and a monogamous commitment. that’s absolutely what God intended and to think or do anything otherwise is sin.

read these passages. please. and slowly. the stuff in red is far meatier and important than the stuff i wrote.

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together… Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.” [matthew 19.4-6, 8]

For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” (malachi 2.16)

Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. (proverbs 5.18)

Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. (malachi 2.15)

“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eyecauses you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (matthew 5.27-29)

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman. (job31.1)

personally, i think it’s pretty dang clear. when we say “i do” – whether we include a “fidelity clause” or not, it’s a lifetime, monogamous commitment. period. which means not even looking at another.

so the key to honoring Jesus, to keeping these commands of scripture, to glorifying God in your marriage, is to stay in each other’s face. it’s about focus and intentionality. it’s about her face being the only one i see, and mine being the only one she sees. and the bigger her face is all up in my face, the harder it is for me to see anybody else’s. the way to be all up in each other’s face is to know who your spouse is, what his/her needs are, and to meet those needs with as much of your time as you can give. i know you have kids. i know you have jobs. i know you have different interests. but you had commitments when you met, too. and when you fell in love. and when you decided to get married. it didn’t stop you then. don’t let it stop you now.

i’m not a marriage therapist, so i’m gonna stop here, other than to say that i am a fan of lifelong, monogamous marriage. a BIG fan. you should be too, especially if you follow Jesus. if you’re doing well in this, you rock! keep on! if you’re struggling, get help.


books. therapists. retreats. seminars. the stuff is out there and readily available. it’s up to you to get serious.

if you need recommendations or advice, my door is always open:

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7 Responses to all up in your face

  1. lex rogers says:

    awesome writing jeff!

  2. Jeff Gardner says:

    thanks lex. i’m pretty passionate about this. but not nearly as much as God is!

  3. Becky says:

    Thanks Jeff!
    God has really put this issue in my heart lately, and it seems He want it to be a big focus for Joe and I during this phase of our life. Stregthening our marriage and loving on others anyway we can to help strengthen theirs. I am so passionate as well about strong loving marriages and everything good that flows out of them.

    • Jeff Gardner says:

      becky – you guys don’t have a ton of years in your resume yet, but everything i’ve seen about the two of you shows me a dynamic, caring and loving marriage, with a bunch of mutual respect for one another! you are already role models for some. eventually you will be for many!

  4. Andyboyd says:

    There are many forms of disrespect for one’s spouse. Some more subtle than others. I am guilty of withholding – my thoughts, feelings, and certainly my love and praise. When I am down, I keep my wife on a subsistence diet of love. Enough to get by, but not a spoonful more. She’s learned to live with it, but deserves SO much more. Anybody else out here relate?

  5. Jeff Gardner says:

    andy, i appreciate the honesty – i’m sure others do too. being aware of the potential pitfalls is a key first step for us all. NOTE to guys – we’ll be talking about this very topic at Cavemen Night at Outland Cigars on Feb 15. a free cigar to the guy who tells the best story about loving his wife for Valentine’s Day! hope you guys will join me there. 7:00 PM.

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