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From This Day forward

 

Song of Songs 2:15
Bible Studies for Life, May 30

 

My wife’s family descends from the original three hundred settlers to the state of Texas; fortunately, they still possess a very small and active family ranch. A natural byproduct of marrying into her family (because you do not just marry your spouse, you marry the family) is an understanding and at time implementation of “ranch life.” A difficult task at best for one raised a “city-boy.”

Over the past two decades I have discovered that one of the most important functions on a ranch is the “spotlighting” of predators – coyotes, foxes, etc. Spotlighting, by definition, is the form of hunting (and you must notify the game warden in advance) where one travels in the middle of the night, driving a truck without the lights on, with a spotlight.

What does one look for when searching for a predator? One thing: red eyes. Those red eyes are not cute little bunnies and jackrabbits that are bouncing around – those are coyotes, wolves, and foxes. Predators.

What I have discovered about predators is this: They do not reveal themselves in the middle of the day. They do not walk on the front doorstep and say, “Just thought I’d let you know, I’m going to get the cows tonight.”

Predators, of which Satan is called in 1 Peter 5:8, inflict harm by attacking their victims at a point of vulnerability or weakness. Likewise, biblically-based marriage is constantly being attacked by a plethora of predators. This lesson looks at the various means that our enemy, Satan, attempts to attack marriage much like a predator.

 

Catch the little foxes

Within the context of the Song of Songs we are given a vivid description of the marriage of Solomon and his bride. This description includes items of physical and emotional intimacy. However, in 2:15 it contains a subtle yet profound warning regarding the safeguarding of the marital intimacy – “catch the little foxes.”

I have discovered something throughout my ministry life: The overwhelming majority of marriages that are struggling are doing so based on scenarios and problems created or formed within the early years of their marriage.

In other words, when a couple comes to my office they typically do so concerning “one major issue”; however, over time we discover that the “major issue” is often a series of “little foxes” that have been festering for years. If a couple can “catch the little foxes,” then the major issue rarely occurs.

What are the little foxes in marriage? The following list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but an overview of the “foxes” I see everyday. I call them the two “C’s”– consumer debt and casual friendships.

Consumer debt. We have all heard that 90 percent of marriages fail due to some form of monetary strain; personally, I believe it to be more. Just as Prov. 22:7 states, “the debtor is slave to the lender.” When a marriage is consumed with consumer debt then the couple becomes the slave to the economic engines and systems in place and not each other (Eph. 5:21). The “little fox” of debt must be caught.

Casual friendships of the opposite sex. Every incident of marital infidelity that I have had to deal with as a pastor is communicated with the same statement: “It just started out as a friendship.” Unfortunately, those “innocent friendships” can be little foxes that ultimately lead to a failed marriage.

The following is an adaptation from the personnel manual where I serve as pastor. It is not, in my opinion, a guide for ministers only but a guide for any Christian couple who wants to fend off the foxes in their marriage.

Warning: The following information is not politically correct, seeker friendly, or in any way going to make you “cool, hip, or culturally relevant,” but they will help keep your marriage from divorce.

1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.

2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.

3. Thou shalt not kiss anyone of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.

4. Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.

5. Thou shalt not be with the opposite sex alone at the office or at play.

6. Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex.

7. Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with a person of the opposite sex.

8. Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, texts, chat rooms, cards, letters, etc. from the opposite sex.

9. Thou shalt make co-workers your protective ally.

10. Thou shalt pray for the integrity of your spouse.

There are many who would claim that this lesson is a bit “overkill.” My response: Can there be too much attention paid to the integrity of one’s marital intimacy? I think not. Therefore, one final “ranch illustration” to express the “why” of implementing the above in your marriage.

The last time we visited Texas, there was a cow giving birth in the middle of the night on my father-in-law’s property. The calf was not coming out properly; therefore, the cow giving birth gave a verbal signal to the rest of the herd to come help and assist.

When that young cow gave that signal guess who was waiting? A coyote. A coyote got to her and her calf before the other cows or any human being could. It was lying before us in the field decomposing.

This is what happens if the predators – little foxes – do not get caught.

How many more decomposing marriages are we going to experience or observe before we take the “little foxes” seriously?