According to Google Health: Gangrene is the death of tissue in part of the body. The cause of gangrene is when a body part loses its blood supply. This may happen from injury, an infection, or other causes.
And what does gangrene have to do with marriage problems? According to the Bible the marriage is considered the “one flesh” union of two people. When a man and a woman marry, they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24 (ESV)
…husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. – Ephesians 5:28-31 (ESV)
I doubt there is a Christian alive who does not believe in the mysterious weaving of two people into one flesh by the union of marriage. The Bible could not be clearer about this. Therefore, rather than making a case for the one flesh union, which we all agree on, what I want to address here are some of the consequences of what happens when the two people in a one flesh union are not living in harmony with each other. This brings us back to the title of this article: Gangrene: the result of marriage problems?
Paul pushes the mystery of the one flesh union by saying the husband is responsible for “nourishing and cherishing” his wife. (Ephesians 5:28) This literally means he should be “growing and warming” her. He has a practical responsibility to help her growwhich, in turn, causes him to grow because they are one flesh. According to Paul, whatever happens to the man’s wife, happens to him also. This is why he says, “He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh.”
It is not completely clear as to what kind of growth Paul is talking about. I think we can agree that Paul was not talking about physical growth (though we all tend to become larger during marriage). The best understanding of the text appears to have more to do with the non-physical dynamics of growth which would encompass the psychological, emotional, and spiritual aspects.
If the positive is true, then it stands to reason the opposite is true as well. Of course, we know this to be true because we believe in the doctrine of sin. Sin was the “infection” that brought death to the human race.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. – Romans 5:12 (ESV)
Let me push the analogy a bit. When sin enters into the marriage union, regardless of how it enters, an infection will set-in and certain disease will come. If the infection is not taken care of, eventual death (divorce) will be the end result.
Gangrene is the death of tissue in part of the body. The cause of gangrene is when a body part loses its blood supply. This may happen from injury, an infection, or other causes. – Google Health
Do Not Be Naive
Ladies and Gentlemen! Resist sin in your marriage at every turn. Do not think that you are the exception and are somehow above sin or cannot be destroyed by sin. When you see it, kill it. If it is more than you can handle, call for the caregivers (local church) and let them help you kill it. The most ungracious thing you can do is let it persist.
Wife, if your husband will not respond to your appeals to get help, you are no longer under his authority on this one matter. Go to your pastor. Appeal to him (or your leadership authorities) to help you rid the specific infection from your marriage. Sin put Christ on the cross. I cannot tell you in a more serious way how profound, heinous, and deadly sin is to your marriage.
Husband, if your wife will not heed to your appeals, then I appeal to you to go to your leadership authorities and seek their help. Do not let sin fester and grow in your marriage. It is not loving to let sin remain. Get the help you need in order to implement a plan to heal the infection in your “flesh.”
My Top Ten Ways People Ignore the Gangrene in Their Marriage
Through the years I have seen many husbands and/or wives not respond biblically to the sin in their marriage, whether it is the husband’s sin, the wife’s sin, or both. Instead of implementing a biblical plan to restore the brokenness in their marriage, they began to “nourish and cherish” other things which became replacements for their infected marriage. Here is my Top Ten Marriage Replacements:
- Ministry: Though ministry is work (see #2), I give it a special category because I have counseled many ministry leaders through the years who use ministry, in part, as a marriage replacement. Whether they were pastors or served in some other ministry capacity, their “ministry” became their “marriage partner.” This is a bigger problem than you might imagine. There is a lot of praise that can come through the door of ministry, which can be very satisfying for a person in a dissatisfying marriage.
- Work: A person’s vocation is similar to the ministry “antibiotic.” It serves as a place for the man, particularly, to get his fix. His marriage is unfulfilling and, therefore, he puts all his energy, skill, and time into his job. Many times he will use the “job card” as his answer to why he does not devote more time to the family. “I work all day” is his excuse, which can be a smoke screen to justify his very unsatisfying marriage.
- Children: For the woman in a poor marriage, many times her outlet and satisfaction comes through her children. Rather than enjoying, honoring, respecting, and serving her husband, she looks toward her children. It is not unusual for the child-centered mom and workaholic dad to get a divorce after 35-years of marriage. When he retires and the kids are gone, they are relegated to each other.
- Flirting: Both husband and wife can resort to flirting in the workplace or the church as a way of satisfying the longing in their souls for companionship.
- Porn: Many men enjoy the private fantasy world of porn, which acts as a wife replacement. Through the Internet they construct their own fantastical drama, where they are in total control. These cyber women adore and fawn over the husband as he enjoys a temporary fill before he returns to a very dissatisfying marriage.
- Friends: Women are particularly susceptible to this trap, especially her friends in the ladies Bible study. The Bible study can become, in part, a surrogate husband to a wife who is longing for any kind of emotional bonding. The subtlety of the Bible study venue is that on the surface it can seem so right.
- Shopping: Sadly our culture calls this “therapy.” All good things can be twisted and distorted by sin. Shopping can be a godless way of satisfying discontentedness in a marriage.
- Approval: I mention this because at the root of all of the brokenness in marriages lurks the desire to be appreciated, loved, respected, or approved by someone. If the wife is demanding or a nag or the husband is inattentive or harsh, the hurt spouse is tempted to look for any means to feel better, accepted, or approved.
- Strengths: Most of the time the longing spouse will find satisfaction in his/her strengths, the things they do well. They receive applause for the things they do well and it brings a measure of satisfaction to their lives, which serves as a modicum of reward for a disappointing marriage.
- Distort the Truth: Part of all of these ways to ignore marriage problems is that the spouse has to distort the truth of God’s Word. At some level they know they are living a lie. Many times they will blame the other partner, while justifying their own actions. They twist their consciences into believing they are right and what they are doing is okay. Sadly, the longer this twisting process goes on, the further they get from God’s Word and the harder it is to restore the marriage.
I made a strong appeal to a member of my small group recently that if he ever sees, senses, or discerns that Lucia and I are having problems that I want him to intervene, even if he is wrong. I’d much rather for him to think there is a problem and be wrong about it than to think there is a problem and not do anything. I make a similar appeal to you. If your marriage is not right, speak up now. Let your pastor know. If you have a friend in a difficult marriage, ask God how you are to intervene. Do not let it go on.
Gangrene is the death of tissue in part of the body. The cause of gangrene is when a body part loses its blood supply. This may happen from injury, an infection, or other causes.