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Are You Choosing Church Over Your Marriage?

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Every now and then when we have a hot topic on our main blog we'll bring it here to ESSENCE.com. This piece, written by BMWK contributor Harriet Hairston received a lot of comments on our site. Check it out. Please allow me to caveat this article with the following disclaimer: this is not an attack on churches. It is a real discussion about how some individuals view church, and thus cause what God created as beautiful to turn into a monstrosity. I love the Lord and His people. This article is not designed to discourage anyone from attending and serving in church. That said: Sometimes I wonder if church is all it's cracked up to be.  Don't get me wrong:  I was raised in the church.  Both my husband and I are in love with Jesus Christ, and our marriage is centered around Him.  Yet there was a skewed balance for a time that almost tore our marriage apart.  The "church" was the other woman that disrupted my time with my husband.  It was the sugar daddy that fed into my need for attention and affection.  We were both heavily involved in ministry, from music to teaching; small groups to street ministry...we did it all. But home was a mess!  We could barely stand one another's company because of the twisted mindset we had towards ministry:
  • We felt like above our tithe, most of our money was supposed to go to the needs of the church.
  • If we had a date or family time planned out, and a last minute, poorly planned church project came up, we would drop everything to attend so as to be thought of as "faithful."
  • We were more devoted to our relationships with our pastors and leaders than we were to growth in our relationship with one another.
And like sands through the hourglass, these were the days of our lives. It all sounds so sick and twisted. How could such a pure and holy thing be so misconstrued and maligned? I can tell you firsthand that it has nothing to do with the four walls of a building, or the teaching and preaching of pastors across the nation. It has everything to do with the mindsets within each person choosing to attend church. We were associate leaders in the church, but this kind of skewed thinking goes from the pulpit to the back pew. It's all over the news these days: traveling MARRIED musicians getting their choir members pregnant, money laundering, abusive husbands and wives, pimping and pedophilia...you name it, it has been done by leaders who are supposed to be reflecting the love of Christ! There is a real heaviness that comes over me when I hear about marriages in the church falling apart at such an alarming rate. Whether they are prominent couples in the spotlight or normal couples in the pew, there is an epidemic of divorce within the church--especially the Black church. Addiction to the praises of other men, fame, money, prestige, position can truly wreak havoc on a marital relationship. I can't begin to pinpoint the root of the problem, but I'm sure that disorder about priorities plays a large role in Christian marital failure. Before God created Adam, He created a purpose for Adam. Then He created Eve to share in that purpose. Otherwise, there would have been no need for a woman to ever enter the picture. To keep this from turning into a Bible study, let me translate that statement. For those married couples that attend church, the order God created was to love: 1. GOD; 2. SPOUSE; 3. FAMILY, then 4. CHURCH. In fact, marriage was the first institution created by God, long before churches and building projects ever existed! Yet it remains that there are churches and denominations out there who will say it is OK for a minister to leave his or her spouse for the work of the Lord. How backwards is that? What sense does it make to love the work of God more than the God of the work? This is for those of you who serve in church, who are leaders of ministry, who go to church every Sunday, or even C.M.E. (Christmas, Mother's Day and Easter) members. Please let the record show that marriage comes before ministry. Even deeper than that, marriage is ministry! There is no joy to be had in being a public success but private failure. There is a way to balance it all in God's will, but like anything else, it takes work and commitment. So, Black and Married With Kids wants to know, how many of you actually go to church and noticed such a vicious pattern? For those of you who do not, have these patterns prevented you from going? What can we do to line our priorities back up in God's original will? God bless! For more Black and Married With Kids, click here.
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