So much has been written on marriage and forgiveness, but Lewis has some fresh ideas, and I’m looking forward to edifying discussions! When he gave his radio address on marriage he thought it might be his most unpopular address, but then he changed his mind when he spoke on forgiveness, saying, this would be the most unpopular subject. Remember, he was speaking to an audience who were experiencing terrible atrocities from the Nazis. Lewis said:
Forgiveness is hard, for it means letting someone off the hook who does not deserve to be let off the hook! As Lewis said:
I’d like to tell you a story Billy told at my church, The Orchard, recently. Billy was baptized in the lake outside my house two summers ago, after “everything in his head fell to his heart” while mowing the lawn. Billy and Roxy were newlyweds at the time.
Billy supports his wife and newborn son with an outdoor maintenance company. He recently, on faith, bought more equipment to hire a full-time employee. For several weeks he trained a young man, but when the training was over, he got an e-mail saying, “I quit and I’m never coming back.”
Billy said, “I was mad at him, and honestly, I was mad at God because I had prayed about this and stepped out on faith.” It is very hard to find help where we live, and now Billy not only had angry customers but also debt.
We were going through my book, Idol Lies, and Billy began to realize that a control idol was at the heart of his bitterness. Billy went to his former employee and not only confessed his lack of forgiveness toward him, but also his own sin, for he had seen he truly had done some things wrong in his way of dealing with him. Now that employee has come back to work for Billy and also mentioned that he was noticing that Billy lived his faith — and it intrigued him, for he is not a Christian.
Our own Lizzy has used the term “a play-dough” heart, which I see in Billy. A play-dough heart makes us able to respond to God’s high standard for marriage and for forgiveness.
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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday: Christian Marriage
2. Read or listen to Lewis’ chapter on Christian marriage and share something that stands out to you — and explain why.
Tuesday: Reflecting on Lewis and Marriage (Oneness and Divorce)
When Steve and I wrote our study guide on marriage, it became so clear that the prevailing theme was “the two shall become one,” beginning in Genesis and repeated five times in Scripture. It also foreshadows our becoming one with our ultimate Bridegroom. This is where Lewis lands for his basis for Christian marriage:
The inventor of the human machine is telling us that its two halves, male and female, were meant to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined.
3. With this as the foundation, Lewis discusses divorce. He says denominations may disagree on when divorce is permissible, but the way they view divorce is different than the way the world views divorce. How do Christians, according to Lewis, view divorce? Do you think this can be supported scripturally?
4. He believes that if two people don’t take the above view of divorce, but divorce whenever one of their needs are not being met, it is better to live together than to marry. Why, does he say? Do you agree or not and why?
Wednesday: More Reflections, Including Some Controversy, on Marriage
Christian marriage is a covenant relationship, whereas worldly marriage is more likely to be a consumer relationship. But in our hearts, Lewis shows, we each desire a covenant rather than a consumer relationship. Lewis refers to Chesterton who says “those who are in love have a desire to bind themselves by promises.”
5. Do you agree? Have you experienced this? How is this evidence of God putting His law in our hearts?
G. K. Chesterton was a Catholic who died shortly before World War II began, and wrote the Father Brown series which has now been adapted for Netflix. Like Lewis, he saw that love can make us generous and brave.
6. Lewis talks about what happens to people who persevere when the thrill is gone in marriage. What did he say? Do you agree or disagree? What has been your experience?
7. At the close, Lewis states he thinks there should be two kinds of marriage: one governed by the state with its rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the church with its rules enforced on its members. This is controversial, indeed. I am not sure I agree, going back to the truth that no man is an island. I do wonder if Lewis would say the same today, in view of the drastic changes that have taken place. Homosexual marriage does affect us all, as does polygamy and bigamy. It hurts human flourishing. Yes Lewis says, for example, if Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. What do you think about this and why?
8. At the close, Lewis also addresses the topic of headship.What does he say? Do you agree or disagree that it seems unnatural for a woman to take the role of headship? Thoughts?
9. Read or listen to Lewis chapter on forgiveness and share something that stood out to you and why.
Friday: Reflecting on Forgiveness
10. How does Lewis dispute the idea that loving your neighbor means feel fond of him or thinking of him as nice? Does this help you? Why or why not?
11. How did Lewis come to believe this was true: “hate the sin but not the man?”
12. Why does Lewis believe you can not hate someone but still punish him?
13. Lewis was not a pacifist. Why? Do you agree or not? (I do disagree with him here and will share.)
14. Is there anything in this chapter that will help you to better forgive? If so, what?
15. What is your take-a-way and why?