Interview with Paul Tripp, Part 2

You might want to sit down for today’s session of Paul Tripp’s interview.  Or put on some really tight socks.  Because today’s portion just might blow your socks off or rock your world.  I think he makes some very profound statements about marriage.  This session is just so good.  Please take the time to listen to it for yourself.  I’m only capturing bits of the interview that I think will edify and bless you.  The rest of it certainly will, but I don’t have time to include all of it!

This section of the interview begins with the host asking Mr. Tripp why he wrote his new book, “What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.” He responds with a moment of hesitation and then says that he someone who actually hates marriage books!  He hates them because:

“Often marriage books cover the terms of roles and communication and sex and parenting and finances, inlaws.  They are important topics, but he has observed that those are not the cause of the marriage difficulty but the location hwere marriage difficuly demonstrates itself. The war of Marriage is at a deeper level.  It’s an everyday war between  the kingdom of self and the Kingdom of God.   2 Cor 5:15.  The DNA of sin is selfishness.  Sin causes me to want to live in the center of my world, sin casues me to wantto shrink my life down to my wants, my needs, my feelings.  Wow, this is important.  That means that sin is fundamentally anti-social. Because I was meant to live in these two communities: community of loving worship of God, a community of interdependt love of neightbor.  Sin turns me in on myself.  I don’t actually love you, I like you in my life if you are loving me as much I love me. If you are helping me get what I want, if you are serving the purposes of my kingdom.  So that means a third thing, that sin It Causes me to dehumanize the people in my life.  They quit being objects of my affection.  They become either vehicles or obstacles.  If they help me get what I want, cards and flowers.  If they get in the way of what I want, I am I am get spontaneously angry. Now, when you get two people who are willing to say, “We are about to get radical and I’m about to hurt pepuipld feelings.  When they say, I am my greatest marriage problem.  My biggest marriage difficulty isn’t what I’m going to suffer at the hands of that other person, my biggest marriage problem is me.  I have something lurking inside of me that is fundamentally destructive to relationships.  First.  And for this, I have Jesus.  Then, all of a sudden, we are denying the kingdom of self and we are finding our hope in the larger kingdom of God. We are now both seeking the help of the same king.  So, what happens is this marriage of unity, understanding and love isn’t actually rooted in romance, it’s rooted in worship.  Because the devastation of our confidence in self drives us to seek God, to worship Him for His grace, that propels the unity of the marriage.  It’s very, very honest.”

He goes on to say that there is nobody in any marriage that hasn’t been disappointed in somebody.  And it is into that brokenness this diagnostic gospel says, “It’s you, it’s your desire to have your own kingdom, your desire to be a little self-sovereign, to have it your own way, to coop that person into your kingdom.”

When asked what some of the unrealistic expectations people have going into marriage, he dives right in by explaining that  “in the power of attraction and romance, it’s very easy to think that these scintillating feelings that we are experiencing are sturdy enough to keep you from these dangers that other people are experiencing.”

He gives the example of a couple in counseling loking at each other with googoo eyes and the future bride says, “I don’t think I could every be angry at him.”  He’s says angry just to hear it!

“It’s saying, “ We have something special because of the power of  these feelings we have that will keep us from experiencing the kinds of things that other people experience.” Well,  It’s not true.  Here’s a biblical view of marriage.  A flawed person married to a flaw person in a fallen world but with a faithful God.  I never get to marry a non-sinner.  We never get to live in a perfect world.  All of that messiness that is described all the propensities of sin, all the propensities of a fallen world, we have to conclude in the kinds of realistic thoughts we will have on what we will encounter in marriage.”

He touches on what he calls “the principle of prepared spontaneity.”  We don’t know when the troubles’ going to come but we know who we are in Christ, what we need, and already have the habits needed have to do things the right way when trouble does arise.

He talks about selfishness of sin creates a dynamic of faux love.  He gave a scenario: a young woman having a dream of what she would like her life to be.  She’s thought of a man who would fit into the puzzle that’s her dream.  She finds this guy, the puzzle piece, and she doesn’t have to change anything.  She’s powerfully attracted to him, but not because she loves him.  Because she loves her.  She loves what he will do for her.  She doesn’t love him warts, messiness and all.  At the same time, the guy is experiencing the same thing.  He’s around someone that thinks he’s” the best thing since spreadable peanut butter”.  It’s not love, willing self-sacrifice for the good of another.  It’s fulfillment of their kingdom dream.  He repeatedly says that attraction is not sturdy enough to carry us through the difficulties of marriage. Oh, how I have seen this time and again and it can be devastating.

He went on to make it a point to say that when people say, “I don’t love you anymore,” it may be more accurate than we thought.   Many people have mistaken their attraction for what the Bible calls love.

Next, he talks about weeds in the garden of marriage.  The metaphor is from Jeremiah when God called him to “uproot and to plant.”

“If you’re going to have a beautiful garden, you have to recognize the difference between flowers and weeds and you have to get rid of the weeds.  No good gardener ever weeds once.  Weeding is an ongoing process.  Selfishness, power and control, condemning spirit, unforgiveness, bitterness, actions that break down trust, unfaithfulness…The character of a marriage is not formed in three big dynamic moments.  We don’t live in big moments.  We live in the mundane. If God doesn’t rule your mundane, he doesn’t rule you.  It’s formed in 10,000 little moments.  This is where we get into trouble.  A nasty moment of needless criticism and we walk away, saying “but she knows I love her.”  We back away from the fact that our weeds start little.   The gardener that says, “I don’t need to weed this week” and then next week can’t find his flowers.  We have to have a grace- filled, Christ centered, redemptive, hopeful work ethic.  Having an economy in your marriage where you can talk about this stuff.  Where I’ve welcomed you to come to me and say, “That was a pretty nasty comment.”  I welcome that, am thankful for that.  I want to have that kind of relationship with you.  Seeds.  Confession and forgiveness.  Committed to a growth and change agenda.  Doing things to build trust, committing to practical love, working to protect our relationship.  These are seeds we plant to build relationship.  It’s asking, “Who is this woman that I’m married to, what are her pressures, her burdens, where could I serve her, how could I encourage her?  Get specific and concrete.  Look for particular, daily ways to love her.  Have a base of knowledge, it’s intentional, ongoing, perseverant.”

Next, he is asked to talk about what he means by the phrase “marriage is rooted in worship.”

“Worship in our culture has become a tricky word.  We think of service, gathering, Sunday morning…we need to understand that worship is first our identityYou are a worshipper. You don’t worship at some point in your life, you worship your way through life.  You are always getting your identity, meaning and purpose, inner sense and well-being.  Either looking to the Creator for your deepest sense of security, satisfaction, meaning and purpose is gotten vertically or you are shopping horizontally.  If I’m a woman and I’m seeking to get my meaning and purpose and my inner sense of peace and will being from the orderliness and cleanliness from my house. Unwittingly I’ve turned it into a museum of my domestic dexterity.  It causes me to be uptight, hyper-vigilant, irritable in the face of anyone in that house actually making it lived in  It becomes a personal front, and that house has risen to a level of importance far beyond any importance it actually has, because it is the thing that gives me meaning and importance… This side of eternity it is hard to keep what’s really important, important.  Men get identities from their job.  Feel alive, powerful, get meaning.  As he’s driving home, he’s leaving the place where he feels alive and gets identity.  No wonder he wants to be left alone when he gets home.

You have a broken man who doesn’t always get it right, a broken woman who doesn’t always get it right.  But who are looking to the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Savior, Lamb to get their deepest identity, their deepest meaning and purpose, deepest sense of well-being.  As they move toward Him, they are moving toward one another.  So I’m freed from leaning on you for that.

“All I ever wanted was a husband who could make me happy.”  Well, that man’s cooked.”  He should nourish and cherish you, but he can’t be the source of your inner happiness.  Those are burdens too big for a marriage to bear.  Often in ways we don’t understand, we are asking our marriage to be our own personal messiah and it won’t ever work.  The house won’t do it, the kids won’t do it, this experience we have together, my mate won’t do it.  Only Jesus can give me what I’m seeking.  That’s why we start with “this is who I am in Jesus and now this is what I do as I believe it.”

He was asked about the dynamic of needing to be authentic, transparent, an honest in our marriages.  To what extent do we let that seep out or do we keep it in our marriage?  Can we be too authentic?  Or does the Gospel free us to broadcast it to whomever we want?

I should always speak in a wholesome way, with words that give grace, and edify the hearer.  Honesty can be very selfish—vengeance, self-atonement, laziness (tired of carrying the burden, so I’ll dump it on you).  Ungodly, not considering you, or giving grace to those who hear.  Because sin blinds, that having relationships of honesty where I can talk about myself an you can help me see myself with greater clarity is a good thing, but always need to consider listener. Always want to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit to everyone listening in the room.  Honesty can be titillating.  Masks the sin and we can get it out there.  Honesty is not just, “Let’s just be open no matter what.  On the other hand, we are called to confess faults to one another and there is the ministry of the body of Christ.  Often personal insight is the result of community.”

Why does he put marriage and why does God put flawed with flawed in a broken world?  Talk about the slowness of sanc

“The slowness of sanctification.  It makes sense to think that why does God put the world’s most demanding and comprehensive relationship  -marriage- in the middle of the world’s most important, incomplete process, sanctification.  Wouldn’t it have been better to get us fully sanctified first?  Wouldn’t He do that first?  The reason we think that is we are oriented to comfort, ease, predictability.  Temporal personal happiness.  That’s not a bad thing, God’s wired us for glory.  But it can be distorted.  Could it be that He is working on something more satisfying and more beautiful than that?  This thing called holiness.  When I live in created design of that orderliness with God, that submission to God, worship to God, I experience the deepest of joys and fulfillments…that’s what He’s driving me toward.  So, why the messiness of marriage?  Marriage is meant to drive us beyond ourselves.  And it does it!  To drive you beyond your strength, wisdom, righteousness.  True righteousness only ever begins when we come to the end of ourselves.  It’s self-reliance, self-strength…that’s in the way of the very thing that God is offering us.  I don’t need it because I think I’m fine.  What God does is proves in marriage how un-fine we actually are.  I realize I just don’t love my enemies, I don’t love the people I say I love, that I willingly chose to live my life with that I was attracted to that at some level I adored…so we find hope and confidence in Him…God brings me to the end of myself so that I will find my hope and confidence in Him. ..Maybe broken marriages exist is so we can set our hope in God.”

He says some funny stories/comments/commentary that you’ll just have to listen to the interview for.  :)

There is about 20 more minutes left in the interview in which he touches on pornography and other addictions.  I’m not going to include it here simply due to time, but I highly recommend listening to it, particularly if you are not yet married. I truly believe that if young men and women are prepared with Biblical thinking before marriage, they will experience a totally different kind of married relationship than most people.  Unfortunately, often times, we don’t look to Scripture first for understanding, we are not teaching it in our homes, and young people are not seeking out older people to teach them.  AND, we  get lost in infatuation and often times, it’s too late at that point.

I praise God and give Him the glory for giving my husband, long before we were married, the insight, understanding, and maturity to understand the importance of marriage, of the difference between infatuation and love, etc…  Not only that,  but He put in him a radical understanding of the importance of his role as a leader and Christ-like servant to his future wife.   The man learned and practiced how to communicate with a woman with his mom for awhile soon after he came to know Christ in order to prepare for marriage! That’s just one manifestation of God’s grace in Blane’s life and therefore, in mine.  God gave me an amazing man!  It has served us well and as we get ready to celebrate six years of marriage in a few weeks, I can honestly say that it has been a wonderful six years of marriage.  But not because of what we have done.  God, in His mercy, turned us to Scripture, provided people, resources, etc…to prepare us with a realistic, Biblical understanding of marriage.  Please don’t hear me tooting my own horn! I praise GOD for it, because it has been a gift from HIM.  We have not had a perfect marriage untouched by sin and therefore without conflict, but it has been such a sweet, wonderful gift.   I am so thankful!

I hope you have been encouraged by these interviews and have inspiration to continue pursuing holiness!  I know I have.

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