People are moronic. Not all people, mind you; some are pretty level-headed. But once you understand the context of the writing of this column, my opening assertion should be a bit more understandable: I am currently traveling down I-85 South.
The car that just disappeared off into the distance, weaving in and out of traffic, was roughly a foot or two off of our bumper when we moved over to let him by, and we were doing 80 miles per hour. So, again, people are (I will say it more kindly this time) not exactly paragons of sensibility.
Now, lest you should think that I myself am typing a column while driving and thus guilty of industrial-grade dipstickery myself, let me assure you that is not the case. It is, in fact, my bride and secretary who is driving. I am in what we refer to fondly as the work seat of any vehicle. We are on the way to lovely Milton, Florida, where I will start my evangelistic meetings for the year at the Victory Baptist Church in their Emerald Coast Jubilee. Dana is accompanying me, which means we will be together 24/7 for the next few days.
Just like 99% of my other days.
I referenced my wife and secretary a few words ago. For many, those are two different people. For me, they are the same. When we started Cornerstone Baptist Church in 1997, I explained to the church that I wanted Dana to be my secretary. And that request, while quickly granted, also caused some consternation and even occasionally a bit of savagery from some. It was just such an odd thing, I suppose, since the normal model in the church world was/is for a pastor to work at the church, his wife to stay home and some other lady to be his secretary. But to me, the idea of having my wife at home while some other lady spends the day with me seemed about as bright as weaving through traffic at high rates of speed and just about as prone to end in disaster.
So we went another way. And, since Dana just so happens to also be my very best friend, an engaging conversationalist, an exceptional secretary/officer manager/tech guru/editor and a great indulger of my quirky sense of humor, it has worked amazingly well and been a blast.
And I have gotten to enjoy the eye-rolls and shaking heads of our members each time I make a quip about running off with the secretary.
Not just in the ministry but in marriages everywhere, there seems to be a decided lack of caution and discretion. Marriage has largely become a disposable item in our society, and to society's detriment. Children being raised in fatherless homes is an epidemic that I have often written of, and it is a common harbinger of poverty and crime. And even apart from children, even a childless marriage that fails due to carelessness is a tragedy. It is also vandalism of God's greatest earthly masterpiece. Ephesians 5:31-32 says, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Marriage is the fleshly picture of Christ's never-dying love for his bride, the church.
So please allow me to give you a few quick words of guidance, both for those who are married and those who one day will be.
Marriages should observe the "no provision clause" of Romans 13:14. This is to say that spouses should never even give themselves the opportunity to do wrong. For us, this was one of the guiding principles that led to my wife also being my secretary. But don't just dwell on the self-imposed restrictions; use them to build a life of fun and adventure and romance with your spouse. I know what it is like to have a clandestine hotel rendezvous with a mysterious woman; Dana's note to me that she had been kidnapped and needed to be found turned into a fun day I will never forget.
Husband and wife should also truly worship and study the Word together. I have had the misfortune to be around a few dolts from time to time who viewed worship and theology as a "man's thing" to be enjoyed solely around other men in wood-lined rooms with pipe smoke wafting through the air. They have missed the joy of privately worshiping and learning with a truly intelligent woman who brings a lady's unique perspective into the discussion.
Talk finances together as well. After 27 years of marriage counseling, I can assure you that money is the leading cause of marital strife and that it could largely be avoided simply by discussing and budgeting together. And be sure that budget includes things like vacations and getaways together. All work and no play make for worse than a dull boy. It usually makes for a ruined home.
Here is another big one: Don't make gods out of your children. Children are wonderful; our three are one of our chief joys in life. But children make terrible gods and should neither be worshiped nor obeyed. And yet, on a practical level, they do often become deities in diapers, gods in galoshes and sovereigns in sophomore year. And not one marriage has ever been made stronger or sweeter by that infant idolatry. Be worshipers of the true God first and lovers of spouse second, be parents to your children first and friends to them second and worshipers of them never, and both your marriage and your relationship with your children will be sweet.
Gotta go; my allotted time in the work seat is almost up.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.