10 things I know so far about marriage

September 9, 2014

Recently I've reflected long on my marriage, thinking both of the joys and challenges that have led us to this point in our lives and about where we are now. Anniversaries will do that, won't they? Especially when your better half is on a different continent and you miss him terribly.

As I do each year, I pulled out our wedding pictures. Thirteen years, as I said before, is the anniversary where I no longer can remember not being married. But 13 years is also enough time where wedding pictures and styles seem suddenly so outdated. We're getting older. The pictures, with our thin frames and young skin and we've-got-the-world-on-a-string smiles, declare it. But so does what's in my heart, because when I look at myself in those pictures I know now what I didn't know then. I knew I was making a covenant with the man beside me, but I didn't know what fulfilling that covenant would entail. I knew I wanted desperately to be married to him, but I didn't know how to be married.

Thirteen years later, I hope we're still babes of marriage. I hope we get to grow old together and that when we think back to where we are now, we'll appear so young and with still so much to learn about each other and about marriage. But in the thirteen years since we walked out of the doors of my hometown church as husband and wife, I've learned a thing or two.

Here's what I know so far:

  1. In conflict, System Shutdown doesn't work. That's what Kyle calls the silent treatment, my go-to way of handling frustration in our newlywed days. You know the one:What's wrong? Nothing. What's wrong? Nothing. I learned that, shockingly, Kyle can't read my mind. It works much better to think about what's truly bothering me and then say that out loud in a calm, unemotional way. 
  2. The best encouragement is specific encouragement. It's great to say, “I love you”, but it's even better to give specific reasons why. In addition, when I think about how thankful I am for Kyle or am proud of him for something he's done, I should always say it out loud. How will he know unless I tell him?
  3. When it comes to sex, practice makes perfect. The pastor who married us gave us this great piece of advice. I remember that he looked at me when he said it, as if for some reason it was meant more for me than for Kyle. Now I know that he was right and that it was meant more for me than for Kyle. A mutually satisfying sex life takes work, practice, and lots of communication. 
  4. You have to do marriage on purpose. We have to be intentional about connecting, making time for each other, communicating, and planning where we want our marriage to be in the future. A good marriage isn't just going to happen. In fact, life will work against marriage, naturally pulling us apart from each other.
  5. Don't stop playing together. We must go away together, even though it is a hassle to get childcare and it costs money. We must go on dates, even though it is a hassle to get a babysitter and it costs money. See number four.
  6. Know why you're married. In the beginning, I was very focused on romance and feeling loved. You can imagine my disappointment when this didn't happen every moment of every day. I learned quickly that Kyle isn't there to make me happy. My marriage is not just about me and what I want. My marriage is, first and foremost, an example of the love and grace between Christ and his church. This means it's about sacrifice, service, intimacy and constantly being reconciled to one another. It's about our sanctification, our holiness. 
  7. Men and women are different. Shocker, I know. I want to be loved and cherished and reassured of this daily. He wants to be respected, so much so that he equates respect with love. When facing difficulty, I want him to empathize with the emotion I'm feeling and he immediately filters out all emotion to get to a solution. My idea of a good conversation involves emotional sharing and his idea of a good conversation involves factual information and getting to the point. I grieve verbally and he grieves privately.
  8. The first year of marriage lays foundations that remain. How we started was important, whether it was personal habits, how we steward money and possessions, how we relate to extended family and in-laws, how we fight, how we connect, everything. 
  9. My thought life is extremely important. Going into marriage, I knew that I should always speak with respect about and to my husband. But in marriage, I have learned that how I think about him is just as important. If I'm grumbling in my heart, noticing everything about him that frustrates me or that he does wrong, or if I'm comparing him negatively to other men, I have a difficult time relating to him with respect. But if I look for and appreciate the many qualities about him that are positive, I respond so differently to him.
  10. I can hinder his leadership in our home. Easy. Just correct him when he tries to help me but does it differently than me, demand control in every little decision, and criticize him when he fails. If I don't give him space and grace to lead, he won't. 

What do you know so far about marriage?

This article was orignally published here.

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24