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Marriage Day 23: Your Bible Study Hurts Your Marriage

Marriage Day 23: Your Bible Study Hurts Your Marriage

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31-Day Marriage Devotion Resources

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband 
(Ephesians 5:33).

Mable knocked on my counseling door. She was in tears. She had just finished her weekly women’s Bible study. The deep dive into God’s Word was exhilarating, and the fellowship with her friends was refreshing, but Mable was in tears. Quizzically, I could not connect her tears with her time with God and friends. It did not make sense to me. Then she asked, “Would you talk to my husband?” Seven syllables. It spoke volumes. Mable spent a few hours each Tuesday at their church building watching a video from a famous woman speaker on random Bible topics. At some point during these Bible studies, Mable started thinking that something was missing in her life. What she perceived as good—her Bible study—was becoming an unpleasant reminder of something unsatisfying about her marriage.

In a moment of clarity, she realized her Bible study and friends had subtly become her surrogate husband, mentor, friend, and confidant. Mable was not saying her Bible study was unbiblical—no, not at all. However, it was becoming clear to her that this fantastic weekly event had morphed into a sub-biblical context that caused her to forget about her husband’s leadership role and the complementarian responsibilities that he has to help them pursue God together. Biff was not leading Mable spiritually, particularly in the most important way a man should serve his wife: in her pursuit of God. Though Mable had no plans or biblical mandate to stop her Bible study, the Lord was gently pressing her consciousness to change the spiritual dearth in their marriage.

Studying the Bible with friends is not wrong. Mable’s problem was that the study of the Bible and its context, which was spurring her toward holiness, was happening within the context of her secondary relationships rather than her primary human relationship. She was benefiting from participating in the Bible study, but her good times with close friends highlighted her marital loneliness. Her spiritual maturation in secondary relationships exacerbated the dysfunction of her primary relationship. Thus, Mable stood in my office crying. The Bible clearly teaches that a husband should love his wife the way he loves himself and that the wife should respect her husband. These are not either/or callings but both/and.

  • What better way can a man love his wife than by spiritually leading her?
  • Why motivate her to pursue secondary relationships for primary care or make it difficult for her to respect her husband?

Seeking supplemental discipleship contexts is smart and wise, but nothing should replace matrimonial koinonia. Bible studies can complement a person’s spiritual growth, just like a book, a blog, or a good secondary friend. Still, the issue for Mable was not her supplemental contexts and relationships. Mable’s problem was her husband’s disconnect from what the Lord was doing in her life. Her struggle is similar to that of parents who delegate their children’s spiritual guidance to the local church. Mable’s friends were more intimate with and knowledgeable of her than Biff was. Mable had a clearly torn one-flesh union. Half of her one-flesh was spiritually alive, while the other part was spiritually disconnected and dying. If this were her physical body, she would be on her deathbed.

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Time to Reflect

Perhaps your go-to secondary relationship that refreshes your soul is not a Bible study with friends like it was for Mable. Your closest camaraderie might be with your buddies from work or your favorite social media platform. Maybe it’s your children, a passionate hobby, or sports. Secondary relationships that make you feel better do not have to be wrong. They can be a mistake if they keep the husband from leading his wife and his wife from respecting her husband.

Practical Suggestion

Is your spouse your best spiritual friend? If not, will you start asking God to change you and your spouse? Do not let anything tear away at your one-flesh union.

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