Pride: The Only Enemy of Marriage
“We may not claim to be a god, but we act like one at the house.”
Marriages flourish in humility. In the absence of self-righteousness, self-sufficiency and self-reliance, marriages have the ability to thrive. In the presence of all the “selfs” nothing but selfishness can grow.
The answer to pride is what the Apostle Paul calls “sober judgment.” It’s a call to thinking of ourselves without delusion or deception. Sober judgment is serious judgment. It’s a truthful understanding of who we are. The call to sober judgment implies that humanity often lacks that kind of thinking. It reveals to us that we are drunk on ourselves. We are intoxicated with ourselves.
Surely not us. We can quickly think of people who are intoxicated with themselves—the superstar athlete, the prima donna musician, the Hollywood elite. We see people who have lost all sense of reality, but we don’t see ourselves that way. Nero proclaimed himself to be god, but we don’t think we are that arrogant. Yet while our arrogance may not be as blatant, we are every bit as intoxicated with ourselves as anyone else. (See: 5 Keys to Save Your Marriage)
- We may not claim to be a god, but we act like one at the house.
- We may not see ourselves as better than everyone, but we do see ourselves as better than some.
- We may not consider ourselves above all tasks, but there are many jobs beneath us.
Many of us are high-functioning drunks. No one would guess our inebriation. To everyone else we look humble and others-focused. We serve, but what others can’t see is that we are serving to earn their approval. We give, but we give in order to appear giving. We are doing all the right things but for all the wrong reasons. We are drunk on ourselves and no one knows it.
Some are happy drunks. Our intoxication with ourselves causes us to believe that we can do no wrong. We enjoy ourselves and assume everyone else enjoys us as well. We are happy as long as everyone else recognizes our superiority.
Some are angry drunks. Our intoxication with ourselves causes us to believe no one else can do anything right. We are uptight and upset most of the time. No one meets our expectations, especially not our spouse or children. Everyone sees our intoxication but us. It causes them to walk softly around us. It prevents our family from telling us the truth. It causes our co-workers to avoid certain topics which could cause us to explode. (See: What Anger Often Reveals)
Some are weepy drunks. Our intoxication with ourselves causes us to believe that we can’t do anything right. Very few people identify our problem as pride. It expresses itself as insecurity. It’s a false humility. We say things like, “Oh, I can’t do anything right.” “I’m no good.” People run from us because of our sad stories and our need to play the role of the victim. It seems the exact opposite of the arrogant superstar, but it’s just a different symptom of the same syndrome. We are intoxicated with ourselves.
When a police officer wants to test the intoxication of a driver, they ask them to do a simple task—walk a straight line, touch your nose, recite the alphabet. Intoxication has a simple effect—it makes simple tasks difficult. It impairs our ability. It makes the most routine situations difficult.
Is marriage hard, or are we so intoxicated with ourselves that it has taken the easy task—to love—and made it difficult?
It’s not hard to give mercy to others if we have a sober judgment about ourselves, but when we are impaired, it can be difficult.
Forgiveness is easier when we realize our mistakes, but when we live in denial of our imperfections we are tempted to hold grudges. (See: Three Reasons You Can’t Forgive)
Service is second-nature when we understand our need for help, but when we think we are self-sufficient, we believe others shouldn’t need our assistance.
A sign that we are drunk is our difficulty doing things that seem easy in God’s kingdom. Love, mercy, grace, peace, forgiveness are not difficult until pride impairs our ability.
Marriage only has one enemy—pride. It’s our intoxication with ourselves that hinders our ability to give and receive love. The antidote to pride is sober judgment. When we think rightly about ourselves, we understand our own need for grace.
What aspect of marriage should be easy, but because of pride has become difficult?
Kevin A. Thompson is Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church, a multi-site church in Fort Smith, AR. He currently writes a daily blog focusing on leadership, marriage, and parenting (specifically parenting a child with special needs). Along with his wife, Kevin is co-owner of JThompsonMMC, a full service media and marketing company based in Fort Smith. He is a graduate of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and Oklahoma Baptist University. More from Kevin A. Thompson or visit Kevin A. at http://www.kevinathompson.com/