Married men, this Family Forte is specifically for you. Do you remember the 1995s hit movie, “Braveheart,” starring Mel Gibson? This box-office success was a quintessential “man movie” focused on war between the Scots and the Brits, with Gibson playing the flamboyant Scottish leader, William Wallace. Men everywhere identified with this movie and its many quotable lines, such as the following:
“Every man dies, but not every man really lives.”
“I know you can fight, but it’s our wits that make us men.”
“We all end up dead, it’s just a question of how and why.”
“They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM!”
These old quotes still give me a chuckle as I hear them quoted by men today. Yet the army that utters these words today is different from the men of the 1200s who fought in the First Scottish War of Independence for love of country and family. Today, I most often hear these freedom mantras from single men who fight against the “old ball and chain” of marriage. That’s right, in our culture, it seems as though many men see marriage as the invasion of the Brits into their sacred territory of singleness. They seem to forget that it was the love of his wife that drove William Wallace to fight for the independence of Scotland.
There are more humorous phrases that men use to describe marriage as stifling, such as: getting hitched, taking the plunge, being tied down, tying the knot, dropping the anchor, and buying the cow. However, even though some men feel like their efforts to remain single are embodied by William Wallace’s quest for freedom, there are many of us who have found a profound sense of satisfaction and, dare I say, freedom in marriage.
How did we find freedom in marriage? I think it begins with a concept the great missionary, Paul, shared in his second letter to the church at Corinth. There, he says, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). Those words sound like they could be straight out of a “man” movie, don’t they? Destroy arguments by taking every thought captive. How do we men do that in reference to this cultural push to consider marriage as a ball and chain?
First, realize that we will either be prisoner to our thoughts or master of them. If we believe we are going to have a bad day, we likely will have a bad day. Conversely, if we believe like William Wallace that we can succeed against the odds, then we likely will find success. Think positively to escape the slavery of negative thoughts. Solomon said it this way, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
Second, note that you don’t take captives in a war by sitting passively on the sidelines. Taking every thought captive is an active process; we cross the battlefield to intercept intruding thoughts and bind them up so that they do no more harm in our lives. Make an active decision that you won’t revel in and repeat those harmful phrases that cast marriage into a stifling light. Don’t speak any more of marriage as being tied down, but as freedom to open up! Believe that God truly does mean what he says in “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).
Finally, choose to honor your spouse and your marriage. Focus on the positive aspects that they bring to your life. Speak highly of those qualities among your friends and water-cooler acquaintances. Recognize the benefitting freedoms those traits bring to your life and praise them in front of everyone. As the anonymous author of the Hebrew letter said, “Let marriage be held in honor among all.” (Heb. 13:4a)
Men, stay with me while I share an example by fast forwarding a few decades. When I picture myself as an older man, wrinkled and weathered by time, I picture myself free. I picture myself fishing at 60, hang gliding at 70, and playing tennis with my wife at 80. I also imagine that I’m still conquering my own little worlds and slaying the dragons of unrighteousness around me. Now that you’ve seen my imagined future, let’s rewind the tape 15 years to my past. I had some spending problems when I met Ashley. I lacked the discipline needed to keep myself out of needless debt.
When I married Ashley, we began addressing those issues, which, honestly, felt stifling, like an anchor, ball and chain, a tying down. Yet with the proper perspective, just by changing my mindset, I became convinced that joining with a frugal spender like Ashley brings more freedom in my life. Today, we’re saving for a retirement of fishing, hang-gliding, and tennis. We’re free of the credit debt that plagues many of my peers. I don’t have to hide from phone calls and the mailbox because I am free from stress and worry of bill collectors. While joining with Ashley in marriage felt a little stifling at first, I was able to escape the slavery of negative thoughts, actively take captive those thoughts that bind me, and honor my wife and marriage for the freedom it brings.
Yes, some men evoke William Wallace as they dodge meaningful marriage, saying, “You may take my life, but you will never take my freedom.” However, we who desire to truly live can invest our lives in our marriage and truly find freedom in God’s plans and designs.
It is true what William Wallace says, “Every man dies, but not every man truly lives.” May you truly live as you seek God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.