Over time, we have seen the beauty of marriage torn apart little by little by modern culture and it’s left us with a false and distorted view of God’s good and original design. Listen in to hear how you can fight back against this modern narrative!
Ryan: Selena Frederick, when I say there is a global cold war on marriage and family, what comes to your mind? What do you think?
Selena: I think that there are a couple of different forces at work to dismantle and deconstruct the family unit for purposes that we may see or we may not see. But we gotta start with acknowledging that there’s actually a war going on.
Ryan: Yeah. You know, people tune into the Fierce Marriage Podcast to be challenged, encouraged in their marriage. And rest assured, you’ll be challenged, you’ll be encouraged. But we must first think about these things in strategic, categorical terms. And we’ll do that today on the other side.
Ryan: Dear Fierce Marriage listener, full disclosure, it is hot as Hades today. And the office within which I work and within which we record these podcast episodes is the hottest room in the house
Selena: As of right now, because the sun is glaring, blaring hot. [Sunny crying]
Ryan: See, Sunny feels it. And listener, you’ll have to decide for yourself because I may or may not be wearing pants right now. [both laughs] Just saying. You’ll never know. You’ll never know.
Selena: Ooh, so hot. So hot today.
Ryan: So, anyway, we’re here powering through, fighting through, waging war…
Selena: Raging war.
Ryan: …in the Potter sphere. Is that a thing?
Selena: The Potter sphere?
Ryan: Potter [casto?] sphere. And we’re here to help equip you, to help encourage you, fierce listener. We wouldn’t be able to do that if it wasn’t for our Fierce Families patrons.
Ryan: So we want to say hi to a few of those. Welcome to Molly, Peter, Alexa, Shelby, Michelle M. Judah, Jennifer, Hailey, Eric and Michele. There’s a lot of extra-
Selena: Two Michelles.
Ryan: We have two Michelles.
Selena: Two L and one L.
Ryan: So Michelle M and Michele with one L. Michelle. So, welcome. Thank you for being patrons. We really appreciate that. About half of our monthly income comes from that. So thank you so much for continuing to partner with us. We’re very thankful for you.
So why does this topic matter? So, this episode is a bit unusual. It’s very meta. We’re talking about marriage. We’re talking about the concept of marriage, the idea of marriage being under siege, if you will.
Ryan: Now I’m gonna spoil the end for you. All right, marriage is God’s idea, so no one’s gonna upend it. [Selena laughs] It will continue as the good thing that God created it to be because it’s not dependent on what man thinks of it, does with it. It depends on God who created it. Now, it’s up to us to be faithful with it, to be Christians about it. So that’s why we’re talking about it here so that we can hopefully lift your eyes to see it for what it is. And then we want to encourage you in light of that.
So, our hope for today is this: that we would give you a confidence and a purpose, and then the import or the gravitas of your marriage, okay? Your marriage. In other words, when you kiss your wife at night, husbands, when you kiss your wife to bed at night and you’ve reconciled, despite having a fight, despite having a disagreement, that kiss is another blow of the battering ram against the gates of hell. When you forgive each other in the name of Christ, you are flying in the face of your flesh and you’re saying-
Selena: Ryan, that sounds a little extreme. [Ryan laughs]
Ryan: It’s not because… how much easier is it to let your marriage degrade slowly? Instead, when you obey Christ, when you forgive, when you love in the name of Christ, when you do these things, you’re flying in the face of your flesh-
Selena: Amen. Amen.
Ryan: …you’re combating spiritual forces of darkness, and you are pushing back the tide of evil despite everything that’s going on around us.
Ryan: Finally, when you teach your children… again, you’re gonna be encouraged in this. When you teach your children the wonder and reality that marriage is, you’re committing a righteous rebellion of the highest degree against the cultural powers at play. Righteous rebellion. Having a good marriage is rebellion. We’re gonna tell you where that comes from.
So you might just be thinking, “Ryan and Selena, you’re kind of going off the rails. It used to be that you would just encourage us, you would just give us-
Selena: Make us laugh. [Laughs]
Ryan: You’d make us laugh, you’d talk about The Office, you would give us five ways to communicate better, or five steamy suggestions for the bedroom-
Selena: That’s a good one. Steamy suggestions. [laughs]
Ryan: All right. Put that in my good ideas folder up for later. And there’s The Office reference. And now, all of a sudden, recently, Ryan and Selena you’ve been talking about all this, you know, craziness. Well, look around, people. The world’s gotten pretty different since we started this podcast. It wasn’t until like five seconds ago that everything seemed okay. And now it’s like, wow, reality itself is being called into question.
Ryan: But I think this fight goes back even further. I would even say it like this. There’s a centuries-old cold war against marriage and family. And what I mean is… well, I’ll get into that. There’s three fronts to this battle. But kind of the most modern front, the most obvious one for us is that marriage kind of has a marketing problem. Now, to me, that feels diminutive in that we’re diminishing the importance here. But here’s what I mean by that. Marriage has been branded as kind of this stodgy, old kind of stuffy-
Ryan: …patriarchal, unnecessary drag of an idea. Meaning that if you want to live a really happy life, marriage is not the way because marriage just means, you know, responsibility-
Ryan: Chores, restrictions, you know, it’s probably gonna end a divorce. You know, you are limited to just one person for the rest of your life. Like, what a drag! Right? Isn’t that a ridiculous idea?
Ryan: Yes, she thinks it’s ridiculous. [both laughs]. She’s a big fan of marriage right here. But that’s a branding problem. But where does that even come from? That’s the question. That’s the narrative at large. Now, in Christian circles, that’s not the narrative. Thankfully in Christian circles, we still see marriage as beautiful, as good, as necessary for human flourishing. But we need to be aware that even in our Christian circles, we live in a culture that is not so.
The whole idea for this episode came about when I saw this video. The video was basically this. I would show it, but there’s no speaking in it. It’s just a video with music. And what it is, it’s a young lady, she’s sitting at a table, she’s obviously having dinner or a lunch with her significant other. You’re looking at her from the perspective of the boyfriend, and you’re offering her a wedding ring.
She puts her finger in the ring. And as she puts her finger in the ring, it flashes to like, I’m having to scrub dishes and I’m doing all this. She pulls her finger out. She’s “What was that?” And she puts her finger in the ring and it flashes again.
And now she’s, you know, cleaning the windows in the bathroom, and she’s scrubbing a toilet and she’s holding a baby that’s crying, and she’s clearly bedraggled. She’s wearing, you know, ugly clothes. So she pulls her finger out and she does that a number of times. And then finally she just grabs the ring and puts it down and says, “Nope, not for me,” and walks away.
Now, that struck me for a number of reasons. Well, obviously, this thing went viral. So it’s striking a cultural nerve that a lot of people are thinking, yeah, that’s justifying my either inability or lack of desire to get married. So I feel good about this. Yeah, marriage is a drag.
But what really got me thinking was, you pause it… Okay? This is gonna sound a little bit foil hatty. Because you pause this video on any of the scenes, and you Zoom in on products that are… You know, because like when she’s in the bathroom scrubbing the window there’s like a lotion thing on the counter. So you zoom, you pause it, take a screenshot, whatever, zoom in, on the bottle is Chinese writing. You go into the kitchen and she’s scrubbing dishes, and you pause it, zoom in on the soap, Chinese tea bag, tea container Chinese.
It’s clearly a psyop. This woman is not a Chinese woman. She’s blonde hair, blue-eyed, very white skin. She looks like a Westerner, like an American, or you know, any sort of Western country. She doesn’t look Chinese. Yet, this is clearly being shot in a Chinese context.
I don’t know for sure if that’s what it is. But here’s what caused me to question. If you’re trying to take over power in the world, and you’re trying to upend one of the large world powers, how would you do that? Would you put a bunch of soldiers on planes and ships and cross the ocean and just wage outright warfare? No, that’s not a good idea. Clearly, we’re in America. There’s more guns than people here. And we have this idea of freedom that is not copacetic to such war on our own soil. Right? That’s not gonna work.
So what would you do is you would attack culture. Now, here’s my question for you, Selena, is if you’re going to attack a culture, how would you go about it?
Selena: Hmm. You start with the kids.
Ryan: Start with the kids?
Selena: Start with the children, yeah. The indoctrination, the education, you start dismantling that. You start replacing values-
Ryan: How do you start with the kids though? Yeah, you replace values. Okay.
Selena: It’s all I got right now. I feel like you’re looking for something and I’m trying to like-
Ryan: No. I’m asking-
Selena: I don’t know. That’s what I would do.
Ryan: You’re not gonna get the kids on the phone and start talking to them and-
Selena: No. You start replacing… Yes.
Ryan: …telling them, “Hey, your parents raised you wrong. Let’s get you fixed up.” No, you would start undermining the values that are culturally in ingrained.
Ryan: So you would undermine everything that made us strong, Christian values, the idea that man is made in God’s image and has innate rights to freedom, everything that our nation was built on. And how do we maintain those rights? Well, things like the first, second Amendment, freedoms that are afforded by our constitution. You would try to undermine the idea that men are valuable for building things and are valuable for contributing to society. You would basically teach that men are toxic. You would undermine women who love and nurture their homes.
Selena: Their families, yea, and their children.
Ryan: Their families. So how do you go about doing this? Well, you would start to satirize or you would start to basically make beautiful things look ugly.
Selena: Right. Right.
Ryan: We have this phenomenon called TikTok that is giving China a direct line into the eyes and the hearts and the minds of American people and Western people.
Selena: Right. Oh, American youth too. I mean, we’ve done a whole podcast on that as well, of getting your kids off TikTok. So for whatever reason, now, again, I don’t know for sure, but there are powers that be, whether it’s governments, whether it’s, you know…. well, that’s a different category. But there’s human powers at play that don’t want to see the Western notion, namely the Christian notion of culture of society thrive. They want to see it undermined. So they’re gonna go after marriage, they’re gonna go after men, they’re gonna go after women, they’re gonna go after children, ideologically speaking.
Ryan: Okay. So you’re in a marriage. Like you need to know this. Be aware that this is happening and that it can even happen. That trickles down now into culture. And how does that trickle down? Well, since the 70s, the marriage rate is down 60%. Since the 1970. So that’s 53 years since 1970.
Selena: That’s quick for that drastic change.
Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. Well, marriage has been pretty stable throughout all society. The 70s hit… excuse me, throughout all human history. The 70s hit and all of a sudden it’s down 60%. More than half. Another statistic I read said one-third of adults will never marry. So 33% of all adults will never marry.
Ryan: Again, we’re going back to the first question of why does this matter? Well, marriage is designed by God for the flourishing of humankind, but we should not be surprised that when we fall in line with what marriage is, by and large, that we flourish. [laughs] God designed it for our flourishing. If we get married and we do things His way, we flourish. Well, the statistics show that on almost every metric marriage is better. And we’ll get into why it’s better-
Selena: What that looks like.
Ryan: …a little bit later, what that looks like. But this is why it matters. So the first front is cultural. And you call it geopolitically, you call it cultural, whatever. But it’s happening culturally.
The second front is spiritual. We don’t need to convince you, fierce listeners, because you probably already agree with this. But we battle not against flesh and blood. Paul said this in Ephesians 6:12. Why don’t you read that, Sel?
Selena: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Ryan: So we can read that and think, oh, Paul’s just speaking kind of ethereal-
Selena: Emphatically. Ethereally.
Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. There aren’t actually forces. Like, there’s evil. But no, there are cosmic powers over this present darkness and they’re working against us and they’re actively working. Acts 26, starting in verse 16, it says something similar. Now, this is when Paul is actually telling of his conversion. He’s talking about when Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus. These are Christ’s words that Paul is quoting.
He said this: “But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you…” Now, this is where I want you to perk up, listener. “…to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
So they’re turning from darkness. The power of Satan, turning to light the power of God. This is spiritual language. Spiritual language. It has to do with the heart condition of mankind and the spiritual realities that play and how God… He is enlisting Paul into the cause of turning people away from the spiritual darkness to the spiritual light, which of course is Christ the Son of God. So that’s the second battlefront. How’s that work itself out in us?
So here’s my crazy theory is that there’s a demon agenda. I don’t think we have an enemy who is stupid. I think there’s a demonic agenda and that’s coordinated. And I think it’s incepting ideas into pagans-
Ryan: Unbelievers. There’s a spiritual war happening and there’s a hatred growing for God. Unbelievers hate God. They have enmity with God, a hatred toward Him. They despise Him. It was R. C. Sproul who is talking about when Jesus says there’ll be weeping and wailing and a gnashing of teeth, that gnashing is anger toward God, not, Oh, I regret. But instead, like in the condemnation, they’re still shaking their fist at God saying, “I hate You and I hate everything You stand for.”
Ryan: Okay. So there’s a coordinated effort, I believe, on a spiritual level saying, we need to destroy what God calls good. We need to see death. And that death is gonna look like the death of manhood, the death of womanhood, the death of marriage as we know it, the death of children in the womb. Death all around. And we even see it in some of the conversations happening in Western nations around people who can’t cope with life, who now can get medical permission to kill themselves. It’s a culture of death. And I do believe it’s demonic. So again, very meta today. Sorry. We’ll give you five things to chew on next week. [Laughs]
Selena: I know. You don’t need to apologize.
Ryan: Okay. So the two fronts that I think are against marriage and why the global cold war on marriage is alive and well, and how you can fight it. Two first fronts are this. There’s the cultural front, the spiritual front, and then finally our own sin nature is the third front. In other words, we don’t want what’s good all the time. I still sometimes want to walk in my flesh more than I want to walk in the spirit.
Ryan: I want to obey my flesh more than I want to obey the spirit. And that’s most prevalent when pride and selfishness they get into our hearts and they work themselves out, and they become-
Selena: Anger and…
Ryan: Yeah. An anger.
Ryan: Yes. They embitter us toward each other. They sear our consciences. They close our hearts to forgiving and to being forgiven. There’s just a profound selfishness. I was watching a guy named Brad Wilcox. He’s a believer and he’s kind of on the front lines of fighting for marriage. He was being interviewed by Dr. Phil. And just before he was interviewed, Dr. Phil had someone on there who is a sologamist. I must call it sologamy or sologamy, however you want to say it. There’s monogamy, there’s polygamy, and then now there’s sologamy. [laughs] Sologamy. I don’t know how to say it.
But the thing is, this woman, she married herself. She is looking in the camera saying, yeah, this is the best thing I could do because I’m promising to myself that I’m gonna love you self like I would expect someone else to love me. I’m gonna care for you like I would hope someone cares for me.
Selena: Did she have a wedding for herself?
Ryan: She did. And there’s a picture of her kissing her own face in the mirror.
Selena: Oh. Okay. [Ryan laughs]
Ryan: Can you believe it? There’s something in humans-
Selena: We want to worship ourselves.
Ryan: …especially [inaudible 00:16:40] hearts. So we want to worship ourselves, especially in our culture that’s very… it’s humanistic. So the point is this is a battlefront that we need to be fighting on.
Selena: Well, not only do we want to worship ourselves, but from the ancient history, we’ve wanted to worship creation versus the Creator. We’ve wanted sacrificed, you know, children to fires and altars.
Selena: Demonic, you know, little g gods. There’s this complete lack of submission and acknowledgment of who God is and who we are. So this is not new, right? This is not… I just think it is a bit comical because it feels like she’s just trying to get some attention and it’s like, you’re not the first person who’s thought this or done this type of like exhibition basically.
Ryan: Well, people that are or against marriage will-
Selena: They’re basically… yeah.
Ryan: Typically, that’s one of the reasons, yeah, is because they just feel like they don’t need someone else, or they don’t think marriage is necessary for human flourishing. Now, these are the same people that will go and sleep around. They want all the benefits of marriage with none of the responsibility of it, which is where the selfishness comes in. Meaning I want to be loved, but I don’t want to do the hard work of loving someone else. And I want to have sex, but I don’t want to do the hard work of raising a child. So free battle fronts, cultural, spiritual, and our own sin nature.
So here’s the encouragement. If you made it this far, [laughs], thank you. You’re awesome. The encouragement for you is if you’re married, just stay married.
Selena: Stay married, tend to those home fires, right?
Ryan: Tend to the home fires. Put out the bad ones, keep the good ones in the hearth burning warm. It’s biblical, right? Why is it biblical? Is it just because God doesn’t want us to go out and have multiple lovers and experience the full breadth of the sexual smorgasbord. [both laughs]
Selena: Oh my gosh.
Ryan: I never thought I would say that.
Ryan: No. It’s not for those reasons. God knows what’s best. And here’s what He said is best: one man, one woman for life.
Selena: He knows and create a design and purpose. There is no other way.
Ryan: That’s the whole reason we stay married. Now, if you’re in an unhealthy marriage, if you’re in a difficult marriage, if you’re having a fight, if you feel like you’re holding on for dear life, then our heart goes out to you. It’s not always easy. It’s not always easy. But here’s the promise in that. We have a savior who can calm the storm. We have a God who heals. We have a God who multiplies the bread and the loaves and feeds the multitudes miraculously. Your spouse is not outside of God’s authority and is not outside of God’s ability to work a miracle.
So you hear us saying stay married, you’re thinking, “How can I possibly stay married? This is unsustainable.” We’re here to tell you, clinging to Christ, look to Him. We pray that He works a miracle, and we pray that if the miracle does not come or Christ tarries in the way you think that He should do something, He’s not doing it, then He would give you the strength to cling to Him all the more. And in that you would have the joy and the peace that is yours, your birthright in Christ. So stay married. It’s biblical.
It’s also just plain better. So women and men in lifelong marriages are empirically happier. There’s polls and things. Women who are married with kids are happier than every other type of woman in terms of vocation, in terms of whether or not, you know, what age, whatever.
Marriage is better because people that are married are generally wealthier. And I don’t mean wealthy like they’re going to all the fancy parties and they’re, you know, wearing Rolex watches. I meaning that their generational wealth is growing. And I mean that in a more of a traditional sense in that they own a property and they are able to… whatever the wealth metric is. It’s not just, oh, you’re wealthy.
They’re healthier. This is what blew my mind, is that there was a study done and Brad Wilcox mentioned it in that interview I just talked about. So you can go look up the interview. He said, basically, people who don’t get married have… how do I say this? People who are married are healthier to the tune of… it’s as if the people who didn’t get married smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, meaning that they live longer.
So if you, say, you know, I smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you’re gonna lower your lifespan by 10 years. Well, this is saying that by being married, you’re actually increasing your lifespan by 10 years over the people that are unmarried that have similar health habits and demographics and things like that. So they’re happier.
Selena: Look at that. Empirical information. What God already designed and purposed.
Ryan: They’re happier, they’re wealthier, they’re healthier, and their kids are better off. No one would argue that. That’s the first encouragement. Stay married. In other words, do what it takes to fight to stay married. We’ve written resources to that end. We have 31 Day Pursuit Challenge. That’s when you want to pursue. Those are the actions that are for you to do to love your spouse, and they’re to do to love you.
We have the 40-Day Prayer Journey, which is basically, you know, some things are in your court, other things are in God’s court. So we pray. So that’s to pray for each other. We have How A Couple Speaks prayer bundle. So how to actually communicate in a way and grow in communication, because a couple who communicates well can work through anything. So we have resources to help you. But the point is, stay married.
Number two encouragement is teach your children to get married and to stay married. You know, Paul did say, you know, if you can stay single, do so because that’s… But he did that, why? Because in comparison to the mission that is the cause of Christ, marriage is less. So Paul… it is better in this sense, that you can do more work for the cause of Christ if you are unmarried. But then he said, “If you decide to marry, do it. Better to get married than to burn with lust, to burn with passion.
So teach your kids to get married. Teach your kids to have lots of kids. Teach your kids to stay married. Teach them the beauty of marriage. One, stay married yourselves, model it to your kids in that. And two, teach it verbally, instruct them marriage is awesome in fighting this battle. And number three way that you can fight this battle is to actively reject the narrative.
Selena: The narrative, yeah.
Ryan: Actively reject the narrative. So what’s the narrative? That marriage is a drag.
Selena: Right. That marriage for women is just enslaving. That you’re just gonna be cleaning the house, raising kids, and that’s it.
Ryan: Has that been your marriage?
Selena: No. A lot of it, but no. [both laughs]. But to what end, right? It’s not to my own end. It’s to the glory of God. This is not about just me. This is about the next generation. This is about God’s kingdom going forth in the earth.
Ryan: Oh yeah.
Selena: It’s the eternal purpose that makes the work doable, joyful.
Ryan: But how would your life be without us having been married? Would it be better or worse?
Selena: Oh, worse.
Ryan: I would be in a ditch somewhere. [Selena laughs] I’d be strung out on some-
Selena: Reject the idea. I love that. Actively reject the narrative that marriage is a drag. Reject-
Ryan: I’d be in pizza pockets [laughs] in a culvert.
Selena: Rejected among your colleagues. Talk about how awesome your marriage is, in a realistic way. Not like, “Hey, my marriage is just always awesome. It’s awesome, awesome, Awesome.”
Ryan: That would be obnoxious.
Selena: Yeah. I mean, how are you encouraged by your marriage? What’s a trial you’ve gone through and how has your spouse grown and you guys have grown together? I mean, that’s something you can always share with people. You know, encourage young married couples to stay married when they go through some of those rough patches of learning to become one and being unified around their beliefs and around what they value. Yes, encourage young men, encourage young women. Get married. It’s not what you think it is.
Ryan: I’d say the precursor to that is recognizing the marvel that it is and the gift that your spouse is. So you do need to have a heart of gratitude, otherwise, you’re never gonna see the goodness. Right?
Ryan: If you’re always looking at the negatives, you’re always complaining, you’ll never gonna see the goodness. Look at your wife, look at your husband, and say, “Wow, I’m thankful for you because of these 10 reasons. And just rattle those off.
Selena: Just 10, huh?
Ryan: I’ll start with 10. [Selena Laughs].
Selena: I’ll start with a hundred.
Ryan: I meant 10 to the 10th power [both laughs]. So nailed it. Anyway, hopefully this has been helpful to you. Here’s the big picture. Marriage is God’s idea. It’s His design, His design for human flourishing. It’s His design to glorify Himself, for us to glorify Him. The enemy hates that. So people who hate God will hate marriage. And we see that playing out in three fronts. The cultural front. We see it in spiritual warfare. We see it in our own hearts, in our own rebellious. Overcome, but still latent at some times, our flesh that wants to fight God, fight His way.
So we must actively reject those things and instead embrace God’s vision for marriage and then propagate the idea in our own hearts, the hearts of our kids, and the hearts of those around us. That’s the big idea.
If you’re hearing us talk, and this is interesting to you, and you’re wondering, Wow, there’s a lot happening here that I haven’t realized, we’re here to tell you there’s even more to be found, more to be had in the person and work of Christ. I’m telling you, friend, you hearing our voices and us calling you to repentance in Christ, we’re hoping that He calls you unto Him. We’re hoping that you respond to it.
The way you can respond to it… give you three ways. Find a friend who’s a Christian, talk to them. Say, “I want to know more about Jesus.” Find a church that preaches outta the Bible. That’s easier said than done, but we believe God will lead you into a faithful church where a pastor will shepherd your heart. If those two things are hard to find, then we have a website for you. It’s thenewsisgood.com and it may help you.
Let’s pray. Father God, You’re so amazing. You’re awesome. You’re holy. You’re mighty in power. You’ve given us this gift of marriage, You’ve given us the gift to understand it, to communicate it. Lord, I pray that You’d help us fight back the darkness. Lord, by Your power, Holy Spirit, work in our hearts, in the hearts of our listeners, in the hearts of our leaders, in the various cultures around the world. Lord, we want to see humanity flourish for their good, but more so for Your glory. Help us Lord, to turn the tide so that culturally we could turn back to You valuing marriage, valuing families the way that You’ve designed. In Jesus’ name, amen
Ryan: All right, thank you so much for joining us for The Fierce Marriage Podcast. If you want to support us, you can do that. Go to fiercemarriage.com/partner. We would love that. It’s very important to keep the ministry sustainable and thriving. And by God’s grace, we will be back again. So this episode of Fierce Marriage is—
Selena: In the can.
Ryan: We’ll see you again in seven days. So until next time—
Selena: Stay fierce.