Do marriages need someone to be in charge?
And what does it mean if you assume that they do?
Last week Alistair Begg, a big speaker and theologian, posted this on social media:
I could say so much about what’s theologically wrong with this statement, but I’d encourage people to check out instead:
I just want to look today at what this statement says about the person who is stating it.
When someone says that every marriage needs a captain, I feel tremendous pity for them, because it’s clear they have no experience of true intimacy.
They don’t even know that it’s possible to be in relationship with someone you love more than anyone else, seek after Jesus together, pray together, and decide together. They think that marriage is an endless series of disagreements that will always require a tie-breaker.
In truth, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think the husband is the tie breaker, then when there’s a disagreement, you figure he needs to decide. But when a couple decides they’re going to keep Christ as the center and seek out God’s will, then you just pray more, talk more, seek counsel, and work it out.
We’ve been married 30 years. We’re very, very happy. And we’ve never needed a tie-breaker.
But even more–Alistair Begg doesn’t realize he’s actually in a very small minority.
As we shared from our findings of our survey for The Great Sex Rescue, 79.8% of Christian couples DO NOT USE A TIE-BREAKER. They do not have a “captain.” They make decisions together.
But when couples do have a “captain”, when the husband does make the decisions (even with his wife’s input), divorce rates increase 7.4 times. Marital and sexual satisfaction plummet.
Most couples who believe what Begg is teaching don’t practice it, because instinctively they know it’s not healthy. They want real intimacy, and they pursue it and find it. I wrote more about this asking pastors to start preaching what they practice!
But Begg doesn’t even know it’s possible. He assumes everyone is like him. He thinks this is common sense to say “every team needs a captain.”
What if you’re NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the messages that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these toxic teachings?
It’s time for a Great Sex Rescue.
This reminds me of a friend I know who grew up saying his favourite colour was red.
His parents would buy him red shirts. He had red in his bedding. He loved red.
Then, in high school science class, they were studying the concept of colour blindness. And for the first time he took a test and learned that he has the kind of colour blindness where you can’t see the colour red.
What he was seeing as red, what he thought was red, was not what everyone else saw as red.
He didn’t even know that he wasn’t experiencing the real red.
I wonder how many pastors and theologians who preach the “captain” doctrine have no experience of real intimacy–without realizing it.
No one who could declare so cavalierly and proudly that every marriage needs a captain could actually understand that a couple can operate really well without a tie-breaker. And that means that he doesn’t understand real intimacy. Anyone who has tasted it could never say what he said.
And not only has he not experienced it–he doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know. He doesn’t even realize that he is in the 20% minority, and that 80% of people actually do quite well operating as equals. And, in fact, those 80% are happier.
When people say things like this, they give us insight into what their lives are like.
Like, if someone said, “we all know women hate sex,” you would assume that his wife doesn’t like sex very much, because anyone with a wife who really likes sex wouldn’t say that. If someone says, “we all know that all men lust and can’t help looking at a woman in yoga pants,” we would assume that he lusts, because if he didn’t, he could never say that sentence.
So when a man says that we all know that every marriage needs a captain, he tells us what his life is like.
And that’s why I think these people are to be pitied. They have no idea what they’re missing.
They can’t see intimacy, because, as the analogy goes, they don’t even know they can’t see the colour red.
Do you find that a lot of pastors who preach about this are telling on themselves? What have you noticed? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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