Save Your Marriage!

Save Your Marriage!

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A beautiful truth that the divorce industry cannot teach you.
From the May 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Divorce is hardly new; celebrating it like a wedding is. A small but burgeoning new industry is giving us divorce greeting cards and cakes—even fairs, where new divorcees can connect with life coaches, financial planners and dating service agencies. This is a full-out assault on the stigma of severing a marriage.

“Open a divorce registry, throw a divorce party (why not?), take a vacation or change your look!” says one website for divorcees. Divorce registry? That’s right: Department stores—including one of Britain’s largest retail chains—are encouraging the newly unhitched to register for and solicit gifts just like couples preparing to wed.

All this frippery is an effort to put lipstick on the ugly truth: that divorce is failure. Everyone marries with the hope of “till death do us part.” But often, as the realities of life impinge, selfishness intrudes. One or both partners become unwilling to invest the effort required to surmount obstacles and make the relationship stronger. They lose trust; they begin to cordon off territory in their hearts. Usually, each spouse figures the problem is mostly with the other. Often, they begin to believe that marital happiness would be theirs if they could only find someone more compatible.

Little wonder, then, that a growing number of people who split up have open ears to vendors, eager for their business, cheering them on: Throw a party—you deserve it! Don’t worry—yourrealsoul mate is waiting.

In reality, most marriages fail not because of a lack of compatibility—but largely because of ignorance about what marriage really is and how it must function.

What that means is, these marriages need not fail. Ignorance can be remedied through right education and the application of right knowledge.

What Are You Getting From Your Marriage?

The basic truth that virtually all of us are ignorant of to at least some degree is just how deeply selfish we are. And selfishness is toxic to a marriage.

Human nature tends to focus on what we can get from the other person. The romantic attraction that draws most couples together is essentially a self-oriented emotion. A “love-struck” individual can easily convince himself that he suddenly has a deep, pure, completely selfless desire for nothing but the other person’s happiness. In reality, however, real love is not even possible without a degree of maturity. Mature love begins slowly and grows. Lust often masquerades as love, but it’s lousy at maintaining the ruse for long.

A relationship based on get is bound to suffer, if not fracture. Once one partner feels his needs aren’t being adequately fulfilled, he will generally show his discontent by giving a bit less of himself in return. A negative cycle begins.

“[T]here exist, overall, only two basic ways of life—two divergent philosophies,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his book The Missing Dimension in Sex. “They travel in opposite directions. I state them very simply: One is the way of give—the other of get.”

Marriage is fundamentally a giving relationship. It is successful—even to the point of being spectacular—to the degree that both husband and wife understand their spouse’s needs and then prioritize fulfilling those needs above their own.

Of these two opposing ways of life, Mr. Armstrong continued, “More specifically, the one is the way of love, humility and of outgoing concern for others equal to self-concern. It is the way of cooperation, serving, helping, sharing; of consideration, patience and kindness. More importantly, it is also the way of obedience to, reliance on, and worship solely toward God. It is the God-centered way, of love toward God and love toward neighbor.

“The opposite is the self-centered way of vanity, lust and greed; of competition and strife; of envy, jealousy and unconcern for the welfare of others.” The more that self-centeredness occupies a marriage, the more friction, hurt and broken trust will result.

There is a reason for that! As Mr. Armstrong explained, “Few realize this vital fact: The ‘give’ way is actually an invisible, yet inexorable, spiritual law in active motion. It is summarized, in principle, by the Ten Commandments.

“It is a law as real, as inflexibly relentless, as the law of gravity! It governs and regulates all human relationships!”

Yes—the very God who created the universe and all the physical laws governing matter with precision also set in motion a spiritual law governing human relations. Every hint of conflict in a marriage, every particle of discouragement or frustration, every speck of sadness or pain in that relationship, is caused by breaking that spiritual law.

How to Make a Marriage Great

True love is “never selfish” (1 Corinthians 13:5, Moffatt translation). This is a crucial point that distinguishes true love from love that is fundamentally selfish. Selfish “love” makes you hold back when you feel your spouse doesn’t “deserve” it. It means you’re unwilling to overcome irritating habits that you know bother your mate, but that you just don’t feel like changing. It means you allow petty personal interests to consume your time that your spouse would be thrilled to see you devote to the family. There are perhaps hundreds of little and big ways that our self-love can manifest itself in our marriage.

Society today tends to exalt self-love as the highest virtue. It tries to convince us we all have a natural-born right to put ourselves first. Scripture reveals that this is the get way. It is contrary to the spiritual law of God, which is true love. Though we probably don’t want to admit it, self-love does not make us happy—it actually creates tension, offense, hurt and grief within our marriage and within ourselves.

God’s love is always,always outflowing. It does not wait for the other guy to begin acting unselfishly before reciprocating with unselfishness. Jesus Christ died for us while we were yet sinners.

The principle of striving always to put your spouse’s needs above your own is fundamental to making a marriage great. If each of you is looking out for the otherover and above yourself, then there is plenty of overlap to ensure both your and your spouse’s needs are amply met. That is true love! It’s not, “I’ll give you this if you give me that.” It is never selfish. It is unconditional.

This is a difficult lesson to learn. That is why the marriage relationship is uniquely suited to teach it. Because it begins with each spouse making a lifelong commitment, a couple must find a way to stick together through whatever trials life may present, and come out stronger on the other side.

A Simple—and Difficult—Command

One of the first biblical commands regarding marriage is found in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” What does God mean when He commands a husband and wife to cleave to one another? The Hebrew word is dabaq, which means to cling or adhere, or to catch by pursuit. Elsewhere in the Bible, it is translated abide fast, follow close, be joined, pursue hard and stick.

What practical instruction on how to love! In the midst of life’s hubbub, actively cleaving to your spouse in love doesn’t happen accidentally. Children, work, friends, chores, errands, bills, diversions, spiritual obligations—so many concerns compete for your attention. The command to cleave requires that you structure your priorities so as to regularly, actively pursue one another!

God commands that you become “one flesh”—not just sexually, but in every way. He insists that you build oneness by sharing your thoughts, attitudes, emotions, bodies and the physical things in life. Why? Because that is how you practice and grow in true godly love.

The command to cleave is simple enough—but it takes real effort to obey in spirit. You must spend real time at it. Share your life! Read together, listen to music together, take walks together, talk together, study the Bible together, do things together. Rekindle the flames of romance that drew you together. Court each other! Get a babysitter for your children and go out for a date, and not too infrequently. Take short trips alone—perhaps two to three days long, two to three times a year.

How is your communication? You should have more to talk about together the longer your marriage lasts. If you are making a vigorous effort to love and to cleave, then your common interests and your ability to relate will grow with time. You will feel close emotionally, and your shared understanding and affection will make your marriage a joy.

For some marriages, a mountain of mutual effort is required to restore the relationship to where it should be. If the idea of loving each other in this way seems overwhelming, that is a good indication you and your mate would benefit from getting some spiritual counsel.

Till Death Do Us Part

God created the marriage institution as the nucleus of family. He had a transcendent reason for that, but in very practical terms the fact is it provides a day-to-day training ground for learning how to apply the spiritual law of give—which is real love.

A marriage will be great inasmuch as both husband and wife pursue this goal. It will be harmonious and happy, rewarding and rich, to the extent that each mate drives out self-love and replaces it with true love. And real, mature love grows stronger through trial—and sweeter with age.

That is a lesson that needs the security of a “till death do us part” commitment in order to become manifest. It is instruction that divorce robs us of. Those breaking that commitment and celebrating it truly don’t know what they’re missing.

If you want more sound biblical instruction on what marriage is—including the knowledge of God’s transcendent purpose for creating it—as well as how to make it work according to the divinely ordained pattern, request Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete? as well as his masterful book The Missing Dimension in Sex. Both are free.

How Germany Solves Problems

From the April 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

History demonstrates that it has been crises, often of the nation’s own making, that have spurred the German people into action to impose very Germanic solutions to those crises.

Our friends at German-Foreign-Policy.com highlighted a recent classic case of this approach to crisis. It involved a couple of high-profile industrial agreements between France and Germany, the two nations that many have touted as underpinning true European unity.

For some time, France had limited Germany’s effort in producing warships by stifling plans for a joint Franco-German effort to create a common European shipbuilding enterprise. The typical (and no doubt strategically motivated) French defiance over this deal led to a crisis. This spurred one of the German companies involved, ThyssenKrupp, to “renounce civilian ship production to concentrate its dockyards solely on arms production. It is entering a ‘strategic partnership’ with the Abu Dhabi Mar Co. from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Their deal seals the military alliance between Germany and the Emirates, possibly creating the opportunity for circumventing German arms exports regulations and ending efforts aimed at forging a German/French ship production …” (Oct. 26, 2009; emphasis mine throughout). As German-Foreign-Policy.com observed, this just goes to show that “If a German-dominated ‘European solution’ cannot be accomplished, Berlin will do without ‘Europe’ and go it alone.”

There you are! That’s solving the crisis not the “European” way, but the German way! “According to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, this means that the project of a common European maritime shipbuilding industry is ‘as dead as a doornail.’ As a matter of fact, the arms cooperation with the Gulf state was already cleared with the representatives of the Berlin government: ‘We have sounded out all of the ministries and received a very positive prevailing sentiment,’ ThyssenKrupp declared. Cooperation with the Emirates is ‘far more sustainable than a European maritime company,’ according to the German press, which usually never tires of praising ‘Europe’ and ‘European solutions’—of course, only when German predominance in the ‘European’ project can be assured” (ibid.).

Yet another similar instance of Berlin’s “my way or the highway” approach was its support of another German corporation caught in yet another Franco-German crisis. “Siemens recently terminated its nuclear cooperation with France, because Paris refused to give in to German demands for more influence in the nuclear sector, and began cooperation with Russia” (ibid.). Shades of the 1920s?

Both these reactions to similar crises depict Berlin’s reversion to a well-tried strategy. The trend we are seeing in Berlin’s reaction to any crisis facing the EU project is simply to impose the “German solution.”

This reaction has historic overtones. It’s a strategy enacted in cooperation with Berlin’s traditional supporters, the German industrialists. A closer look at the ThyssenKrupp example bears this out.

Back in the War Business

ThyssenKrupp found itself suffering seriously because of the global economic crisis. Its response (having resulted in a €2 billion loss) was to consolidate its shipbuilding enterprises into one centralized operation, converting its whole operation to a war footing.

Berlin has been directly involved in supporting the ThyssenKrupp/Emirates deal. “The political ties between Berlin and the Arab feudal states are also being consolidated by the Gulf states’ investments in the German economy” (ibid.). Financial Times Deutschland reported that, “Most recently, with a large financial transfusion, the Emirate of Qatar bought into Volkswagen, while the Aabar Investment Society of Abu Dhabi bought into the Daimler car producer. Just last June, ThyssenKrupp’s partner, the Abu Dhabi Mar Consortium, bought majority shares in the Nobiskrug Shipyard, which specializes in luxury ships, in Rendsburg, Germany” (ibid.).

This is Germany’s more traditional approach to crisis: imposing the German solution. In each case, the solution has brought Germany closer, much closer, to militarizing its economy—something Germany’s Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has called for.

Berlin’s cooperation with the uae began not long after the Berlin Wall fell and Germany reunited. Five years ago, that cooperation was formalized by the signing of an Agreement of Cooperation in the Military Field. Since then, the Gulf states have increasingly invested in the German economy and strengthened political ties with Berlin. To students of Bible prophecy, such an agreement has powerful overtones of a prophesied alliance (Psalm 83) between Germany and the oil-rich southern Arab states.

“Abu Dhabi’s joining the German maritime shipbuilding industry signals Berlin’s fundamental change of strategy in its long-term efforts to help bring the German arms industry to a position of predominance in Europe” (ibid.).

Germany is reverting to its historical militarized role in global politics. As Baron Guttenberg has declared, the time has come for Germany once again to merge economic policy with military policy. The result of this increasing pace in the militarization of the German economy will pale into stark insignificance the previous two occasions when Berlin adopted such a strategy.

Is the Vatican a Bastion of Family Values?

Not nearly as much as millions believe.
From the May 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

In an age where marriage and family are under vicious and unrelenting assault, the Roman Catholic Church’s zealous crusade in defense of these institutions appears impressive and praiseworthy.

On February 1, for example, Pope Benedict xvi tore into liberal politicians in Britain for trying to pass legislation that supposedly would protect homosexuals from discrimination. During a speech before 35 Catholic bishops from England and Wales, Benedict lambasted the immoral legislation and urged the bishops to work together to oppose it with “missionary zeal.”

One week later, the pope lectured the Pontifical Council for the Family on the importance of marriage to the wellbeing of children. “The family founded on marriage between a man and a woman is the greatest help that can be given to children,” he said. “Supporting the family and promoting its true good, its rights, its unity and stability is the best way to protect the rights and the real needs of children.” Four days later, Benedict reiterated this theme during a meeting with bishops visiting from Romania and Moldova. “The blossoming of priestly and religious vocations depends in good part on the moral and religious health of the Christian family,” Benedict stated (emphasis mine throughout).

To the conservative observer living amid an onslaught of moral relativism and liberalism, the Vatican’s willingness to tackle issues such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage and abortion is refreshing and reassuring. But there is a problem with this perception. It’s misleading.

As the pedophile scandal that has recently engulfed the Catholic Church reveals, this institution simply is not the bastion of traditional family values that millions believe it to be.

Leaking Hypocrisy

Pope Benedict xvi conducted two days of meetings with 24 bishops from Ireland in February. The topic of discussion was the sex scandal plaguing the Catholic Church in Ireland, details of which emerged last November with the release of the now infamous Murphy Report. Published by the Irish government, the three-volume report revealed an abominable tale of decades of physical and sexual abuse against children by Catholic clergy—and the plot to conceal the heinous offenses by a multitude of high-ranking Catholic officials.

Of course, this was merely another chapter in a sordid saga. The previous exposure of this problem that has long dogged the church occurred in 2002. At that time, Pope John Paul ii was forced to meet with church leaders in the United States after dozens of stories surfaced showing that pedophile priests had been at work for decades in congregations across the country.

As it turned out, the decision to discuss the Irish scandal publicly opened the floodgates for a gush of victims across Europe, and the world, to “open up” about their abuse at the hands of perverted Catholic priests. By April, the scandal had turned into a full-blown crisis that began to engulf the entire church, including Pope Benedict and the Vatican.

In Germany, reports surfaced of hundreds of children being sexually abused by more than 100 priests and Catholic lay members. “After years of suppression,” Spiegel wrote, “the wall of silence appears to be crumbling” (February 8). Even the pope himself became embroiled in the crisis in Germany when it emerged that a priest known to be abusive had worked in a Munich diocese in the 1980s while Benedict was archbishop there. In April, when the Catholic Church initiated a phone hotline in Germany—via which victims could report crimes and seek counseling—it reportedly melted down after being overwhelmed with calls.

As victims emerged from the woodwork in Germany, hundreds of others began coming forward elsewhere in Europe—in Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway. Soon the church’s reputation became a question of fierce international debate as media outlets, religious pundits and ordinary citizens weighed in on the rapidly unraveling scandal. “The child sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic priesthood—and the worldwide cover-up that seems, at least indirectly, to have involved Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he was elevated to the papacy—has embarrassed the Catholic Church and angered parishioners,” noted Newsweek (March 30).

As the crisis exploded and reports continued to surface of abuses being habitually covered up by Catholic authorities, criticism against the church and the Vatican intensified. Some even began to demand Benedict’s resignation. In America, the National Catholic Reporter demanded the “Holy father … directly answer questions, in a credible forum, about his role” in the cover-up of reports of the sexual abuse of children when he was archbishop of the Munich diocese (1977-82) and as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1982-2005).

Pope Benedict xvi has reached a crossroads, veteran Vatican journalist Marco Politi told the New York Times. “What’s extraordinary is that the scandal has reached the heart of the center of the church. Up to now it was far away—in the States, in Canada, in Brazil, in Australia. Then it came to Europe, to Ireland. Then it came to [Germany]. Then it came to his diocese, and now it’s coming to the heart of the government of thechurchand he has to give an answer,” he said (March 25).

The Vatican’s Answer

Though Catholic leaders delivered the requisite public apologies and statements to the abuse victims, their general reaction has been calculated and stolid.

When Benedict learned of the findings of the Murphy Report in Ireland, he reacted with surprise and disgust. In a press statement last December, he said he shared the “outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland.” In March, he issued a letter in which he stated to victims in Ireland, “You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry.”

As the pool of victims got deeper, Benedict and the Vatican continued to issue statements and deliver public prayers empathizing with the pain and suffering of the victims. But many observers remained unconvinced of the Vatican’s repentance. Regarding the talks between Benedict and his Irish cardinals in February, Mike Ion observed in the Guardian that they were at best missed opportunity and at worst a mere public relations exercise” (February 17).

The truth in this assessment is evident if you read the Vatican’s official statement released after the meeting. Though the document possessed enough of a tone of grief to speak to the widespread demand that the Vatican voice a stronger opinion on this issue, it was nothing more than platitudes. The Vatican was careful not to admit an iota of complicity. The self-serving statement was actually written to distance the Vatican from the despicable conduct of its representatives in Dublin.

Take this little bromide: “Together they [Benedict and the Irish bishops] examined the failure of Irish church authorities for many years to act effectively in dealing with cases involving the sexual abuse of young people ….” Of course “Irish church authorities” failed to deal with these heinous crimes—but what about the Vatican’sfailure to investigate the disgusting stories that dripped for years out of Ireland?

As the scandal widened to include victims in Germany and beyond, Benedict and the Vatican reacted in much the same way. While it issued sweet-sounding words of empathy and comfort to the victims of abuse, and even some strong condemnation of the abusing priests, the Vatican never explicitly recognized and apologized for its own culpability.

Put simply, the Vatican has yet to show itself truly repentant!

Slow to Act

As the crisis continues, objective viewers are realizing that few if any sincere and tangible acts of repentance are coming from the Vatican. Pope Benedict possesses many of the tools required to purge the sexual deviates from the church’s midst. The Vatican has the intelligence infrastructure to lead robust, efficient and transparent investigations into allegations of sex abuse when they arise. Instead of merely condemning perverted priests, or retiring them, or transferring them to another parish, Benedict could severely punish them. More importantly, as the ultimate authority in the Catholic Church, Benedict can enact policies that would protect his flock from such ravenous wolves.

Yet the Vatican has been slow in each and every one of these actions!

Supporters of the Vatican argue that Benedict’s reach into Catholic congregations in countries like Ireland, America and Germany is limited. We are told that most dioceses are largely independent of the Vatican and operate with little direction and assistance from headquarters. Don’t buy it. Since he became pope in 2005, Benedict has proven remarkably adept at tackling national politicians and policies that don’t gel with Catholic doctrine or Vatican ambition. Throughout its history, the Vatican has proven itself willing and capable of bringing down governments, shaping national policies, destroying careers, and confronting and undermining competing religions and ideologies.

Moreover, if the Vatican really wanted to protect and nurture children, it would be acting on this issue energetically and forcefully to ensure such crimes never happen again!

The Catholic Church might promote itself as the bastion of family values and morality. But that message has been radically undermined by the nearly constant surfacing of sordid sex crimes by Catholic leaders. Moreover, the Vatican’s halfhearted approach to these scandals is a sign that despite marketing itself as a defender of marriage and family, this institution is merely another broken religion incapable of curing the evil human heart.

Request a free copy of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire to learn more of the truth about the Vatican’s past—and future.

Ford: Pawning Off the Spare Parts

Ford: Pawning Off the Spare Parts

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Look who is in the driver’s seat now.

Another engine of U.S. manufacturing just ran out of gas. Volvo cars is no longer American owned. But is the downfall of American automobile manufacturing an ominous preview of a far greater economic crash heading America’s way?

On Sunday, Ford Motor Co. announced it had sold its Volvo car unit for $1.8 billion to up-and-coming Chinese rival Geely Holding Group. The landmark deal will vault the Chinese company onto the global automotive stage. For Ford, it is a painful reminder of better years gone by.

Ford purchased Volvo in 1999. At that time it paid $6 billion to acquire the company. But the high hopes quickly faded. After accounting for inflation, Ford is left with more than a $5.46 billion loss. As part of the deal, Ford will remain on the hook for some existing Volvo pension plans and Volvo debt.

The Volvo sale is the latest in a string of sales by the struggling U.S. auto giant. Ford is attempting to pay down $23.5 billion in debt the company took on in 2006. Last year, Ford sold off Jaguar and Land Rover to India’s Tata Group for $2.3 billion.

In 2009, China overtook the United States as the world’s largest vehicle market—a title that America had held for over 100 years, since the first Model T rolled off the production lines. Vehicle sales in the U.S. slumped 21 percent last year, while sales surged by 46 percent in China.

But it is a telling sign that America’s second-largest automotive group is forced to sell off its assets to China’s 12th-largest car maker.

Manufacturing just isn’t as profitable in America as it once was. Taxes, labor costs, greedy unions, vulture banks, onerous environmental laws, consumer debt overload and a decaying subprime economy are all taking their toll.

As consumers continue to retrench, pay off debt and save their homes, America’s borrow-to-spend economy will face tough headwinds. Not good news for all those reliant on selling new vehicles. America’s manufacturing capacity will most likely continue motoring down Contraction Road.

But that is what happens when you have too much debt. Eventually you can’t borrow anymore and the bills have to be paid. The looming question though is: With consumers running on empty, how much longer can the U.S. government continue putting gas on the national credit card before it is maxed out?

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

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What the divorce industry can’t teach you.

Divorce is hardly new; celebrating it like a wedding is. A small but burgeoning new industry is giving us divorce greeting cards and cakes—even fairs, where new divorcees can connect with life coaches, financial planners and dating service agencies. This is a full-out assault on the stigma of severing a marriage.

“Open a divorce registry, throw a divorce party (why not?), take a vacation or change your look!” says one website for divorcees. Divorce registry? That’s right: Department stores—including one of Britain’s largest retail chains—are encouraging the newly unhitched to register for and solicit gifts just like couples preparing to wed.

All this frippery is an effort to put lipstick on the ugly truth: that divorce is failure. Everyone marries with the hope of “till death do us part.” But often, as the realities of life impinge, selfishness intrudes. One or both partners become unwilling to invest the effort required to surmount obstacles and make the relationship stronger. They lose trust; they begin to cordon off territory in their hearts. Usually, each spouse figures the problem is mostly with the other. Often, they begin to believe that marital happiness would be theirs if they could only find someone more compatible with themselves.

Little wonder, then, that a growing number of people who split up have open ears to vendors, eager for their business, cheering them on: Throw a party—you deserve it! Don’t worry—your real soul mate is waiting.

In reality, most marriages fail not because of a lack of compatibility—but largely because of ignorance about what marriage really is and how it must function.

What that means is, these marriages need not fail. Ignorance can be remedied through right education and the application of right knowledge.

The basic truth that virtually all of us are ignorant of to at least some degree is just how deeply selfish we are. And selfishness is toxic to a marriage.

Human nature tends to focus on what we can get from the other person. The romantic attraction that draws most couples together is essentially a self-oriented emotion. A “love-struck” individual can easily convince himself that he suddenly has a deep, pure, completely selfless desire for nothing but the other person’s happiness. In reality, however, real love is not even possible without a degree of maturity. Mature love begins slowly and grows. Lust often masquerades as love, but it’s lousy at maintaining the ruse for long.

A relationship based on get is bound to suffer, if not fracture. Once one partner feels his needs aren’t being adequately fulfilled, he will generally show his discontent by giving a bit less of himself in return. A negative cycle begins.

“[T]here exist, overall, only two basic ways of life—two divergent philosophies,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his book The Missing Dimension in Sex. “They travel in opposite directions. I state them very simply: One is the way of give—the other of get.”

Marriage is fundamentally a giving relationship. It is successful—even to the point of being spectacular—to the degree that both husband and wife understand their spouse’s needs and then prioritize fulfilling those needs above their own.

Of these two opposing ways of life, Mr. Armstrong continued, “More specifically, the one is the way of love, humility and of outgoing concern for others equal to self-concern. It is the way of cooperation, serving, helping, sharing; of consideration, patience and kindness. More important, it is also the way of obedience to, reliance on, and worship solely toward God. It is the God-centered way, of love toward God and love toward neighbor.

“The opposite is the self-centered way of vanity, lust and greed; of competition and strife; of envy, jealousy and unconcern for the welfare of others.” The more that self-centeredness occupies a marriage, the more friction, hurt and broken trust will result.

There is a reason for that! As Mr. Armstrong explained, “Few realize this vital fact: The ‘give’ way is actually an invisible, yet inexorable, spiritual law in active motion. It is summarized, in principle, by the Ten Commandments.

“It is a law as real, as inflexibly relentless as the law of gravity! It governs and regulates all human relationships!”

Yes—the very God who created the universe and all the physical laws governing matter with precision also set in motion a spiritual law governing human relations. Every hint of conflict in a marriage, every particle of discouragement or frustration, every speck of sadness or pain in that relationship, is caused by breaking that spiritual law.

True love is “never selfish” (1 Corinthians 13:5, Moffatt translation). This is a crucial point that distinguishes true love from love that is fundamentally selfish. Selfish “love” makes you hold back when you feel your spouse doesn’t “deserve” it. It means you’re unwilling to overcome irritating habits that you know bother your mate, but that you just don’t feel like changing. It means you allow petty personal interests to consume your time that your spouse would be thrilled to see you devote to the family. There are perhaps hundreds of little and big ways that our self-love can manifest itself in our marriage.

Society today tends to exalt self-love as the highest virtue. It tries to convince us we all have a natural-born right to put ourselves first. Scripture reveals that that is the get way. It is contrary to the spiritual law of God, which is true love. Though we probably don’t want to admit it, self-love does not make us happy—it actually creates tension, offense, hurt and grief within our marriage and within ourselves.

God’s love is always,always outflowing. It does not wait for the other guy to begin acting unselfishly before reciprocating with unselfishness. Jesus Christ died for us while we were yet sinners.

The principle of striving always to put your spouse’s needs above your own is fundamental to making a marriage great. If each of you is looking out for the otherover and above yourself, then there is plenty of overlap to ensure both of your needs are amply met. That is true love! It’s not, “I’ll give you this if you give me that.” It is never selfish. It is unconditional.

God created the marriage institution, as the nucleus of family. He had a transcendent reason for that, but in very practical terms the fact is it provides a day-to-day training ground for learning how to apply the spiritual law of give—which is real love.

A marriage will be great inasmuch as both husband and wife pursue this goal. It will be harmonious and happy, rewarding and rich, to the extent that each mate drives out self-love and replaces it with true love. And real, mature love grows stronger through trial—and sweeter with age.

That is a lesson that needs the security of a “till death do us part” commitment in order to become manifest. Those breaking that commitment and celebrating it truly don’t know what they’re missing.

Political Battle in Iraq as P.M. Fights to Hold Onto Power

Political Battle in Iraq as P.M. Fights to Hold Onto Power

SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images

The razor–thin win by secular Shiite Iyad Allawi could be lost as election results are contested.

The Iraqi commission created to purge the electoral process of candidates loyal to Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath Party announced Monday that it will contest the results of Iraq’s March 7 election. Even if this challenge is not successful, however, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Iran-friendly Shiite State of Law (SoL) coalition could still come out on top.

The Accountability and Justice Commission says that six of the winning candidates had been banned from running in the elections the day before the vote and that their votes should be thrown out. At least four of the candidates being targeted are from secular Shiite Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, which means that if the commission is successful, Allawi could lose his lead in the elections. According to results released last Friday, Allawi’s party won 91 seats in the 325-seat Council of Representatives as opposed to the 89 won by Maliki’s SoL party. If Allawi, who gained the votes of many Sunnis, is sidelined, it also raises the specter of renewed violence in Iraq.

The Accountability and Justice Commission is the organization that disqualified about 400 candidates from participating in the election, in what was seen as a sidelining of the Sunnis. It is led by two Shiites, one of whom has ties to Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group sponsored by Iran. Associated Press points out that while Maliki does not directly control the committee, he has benefited from its actions and has done little to deter it.

Even if the commission’s challenge to election results is not successful, however, there is a good chance that Allawi’s party will not form part of the new government. The Iranian-supported Shiites in Iraq have covered their bases well. Without the majority needed to rule alone, Iraqiya would be dependent upon gaining coalition partners—and Maliki has just managed to get the rules changed.

On Saturday, the Iraqi Supreme Federal Court issued a reinterpretation of how parties can form a government. Previously, the law was understood to mean that whichever party won the most votes would have the right to form the government. Now, however, the coalition of parties that has the most seats when parliament opens can form the government and select the prime minister.

This means that if Maliki teamed up with the party that came in third, with 70 votes—the pro-Iranian Iraqi National Alliance (ina)—he could easily have the numbers to remain prime minister and form the government. The ina includes the movement of anti-American radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, “who is studying in Iran and is shaping up to be the new kingmaker of Iraqi politics,” according to Reuters. “In a sign of Sadr’s newfound muscle in Iraqi politics, representatives of State of Law and the Sadrists traveled to Iran on Friday to meet with Sadr, according to ina sources” (March 27).

Stratfor reported Monday that “Reports have already emerged that negotiations are under way between the SoL and the ina to secure an alliance, so even if the move to bar elected members of the Iraqiya list from assuming office does not succeed, the SoL still has a decent chance of making it into a ruling coalition with the ina.”

“The implications of such a coalition forming are two-fold,” writes Stratfor: “Iran will have an easier time exercising its influence in Iraq through a Shiite-dominated SoL-ina alliance at the expense of Iraq’s Sunni faction. Second, … the sidelining of the secular and Sunni-supported Iraqiya list could easily impede a political resolution to Iraq’s sectarian issues and spark a rise in Sunni insurgent activity.”

Even the seemingly secular Allawi, however, is not exactly hostile toward Iran. Allawi, who served as prime minister of Iraq in 2004-05, while at one time highly critical of Iran for supporting Shiite militias in Iraq, has reportedly tried to build bridges with Tehran. Reuters reports: “Allawi said on Saturday that the new government should work on strengthening political and economic ties with its neighbors and end long-running disputes over borders with countries such as Iran and Kuwait.”

Iranian website Mianeh last week said Tehran is confident the “results will pave way for U.S. military exit and empowerment of Iran’s allies. Reaction to the results of the recent Iraqi election suggests that Tehran has been reassured that the future of Iraqi politics is effectively out of the control of the United States.”

Continue to watch the Iraqi political situation as Iran maneuvers to tighten its grip on its western neighbor as the U.S. pulls out. For prophetic perspective on these developments, read “Prophecy Comes Alive in Iraq!” and “When America Leaves Iraq ….”