“You mean you think a woman should stay with a man if he…?” “Are you saying if a man and woman divorce, and it is his fault, she should…?” “But, what about all the godly people who are divorced and…?” The night started innocently enough. Eric and I were watching one of our favorite political shows when the topic of divorce came up, which (not surprisingly) caused a disagreement among the show’s hosts. A couple of men stated emphatically that if their wives cheated on them, the marriage would be over, while a different co-host believed divorce should not be the first option after infidelity – and, he used his understanding of Scripture to argue his point.
As the conversation continued on TV, our own discussion broke out in our bedroom. Divorce is a topic with which I have struggled for years, mainly because I know so many divorced and remarried people who are living what appear to be deeply devoted, Christ-centered, godly lives. Because of this, I frequently wonder, “Have I missed something? Is there an area of Scripture I have misunderstood or a passage I have failed to read? Is there a gray area or is it all black and white?” In general, Eric is more of a black and white person while I live most of my live in the gray.
As our conversation continued, Eric made his beliefs clear while I went on to voice my struggles. (Side note: We tell our couples not to discuss anything important after 10:30, and the following argument is an example of why we recommend a conversation curfew. We did not mean to start this discussion so late. It sneaked up on us! ~smile~) Like many times before, I left my position as, “I am not going to say with supreme confidence which way is right, because I don’t know for sure.”
Long story short, Eric made it clear that he did not think much of my I don’t know so I am not going to pick a side argument style. He went on to challenge me, “When you do not know what you believe about something, you choose not research it. You avoid learning about subjects you find uncomfortable so you can go on saying ‘Well, I don’t know about that so I cannot voice an opinion.’ I have no respect for that.”
His comments did sting. No one likes being confronted by the one they love or having a spotlight pointed at their weaknesses. However, though poorly timed, our conversation did get me thinking. I do tend to hide from many controversial topics using the excuse, “If I do not know my position, I do not have to argue or defend it.” As much as it challenges my nature, I need to face the difficult topics which could potentially offend others. It is easier to say, “I cannot speak on that matter because I have not studied it,” but is that truly an excuse? Especially when it involves Biblical concepts?
As believers, and spouses/spouses-to-be, we need to know what we believe and why we believe it. We will not figure out everything in a day; but, we should be in pursuit of continual learning and growing. Hiding from the truth does not make the hard issues go away. It only makes the hard issues harder to handle later when we are unexpectedly faced with one of them.
So, before moving forward in your relationship or simply in life, we encourage you to construct your personal creed. Having a statement of your personal beliefs will help you in the long run! ~smile~
A Creed is Not a Mission Statement
Though some of the steps to creating a creed and mission statement may be similar, a personal or couple’s creed is a statement of belief where a personal mission or couple’s mission is a statement of behavioral intent. If you google the word ‘creed,’ one definition states that a creed is “a set of beliefs or aims which guide someone’s actions.” Declaring your creed is the first step. Once you know your beliefs and declare them, then you are ready to start working on a mission statement for yourself and your relationship.
Now that we have affirmed our beliefs, how will they drive our behaviors?
Step One: Research
Confession: I am not fond of research (read: very much not fond of it). I get easily frustrated when I cannot find what I am looking for quickly. Maybe you are the same way? Eric is the opposite. He enjoys research and is excellent at it! He can usually find what he is looking for, compare several articles, and have a decision made before I can find one decent source. This step is much easier for some than others, but since you will be researching topics which are personal to you, we hope it will be genuinely enjoyable.
Unlike scouring articles for a research paper or interviewing witnesses for a news story, this research involves personal introspection. Though it may involve (if you wish) talking to close relatives and friends who know you deeply, the majority of this research will involve you, the Lord (via prayer), the Bible (via study), and other sources which may bring you to a better understanding of your beliefs.
- What questions do you have about your faith?
- What do you firmly believe and are you able to verbalize it?
- What is your worldview and what created, sustains, or changes your worldview?
- What political leanings do you have as a result of your worldview?
- What ideas do you have about the world which you would like to further explore?
- Have you been following anyone or any organization blindly? If so, what must you study/explore to determine if you hold to their convictions?
- Who are you? (e.g., personality, interests, goals, core traits, etc.)
The above questions are not likely to be fully answered in the course of one afternoon. In fact, it could take weeks, months, or even a year depending on how much time you devote to the project. As you age and experience life, you will grow, and your beliefs will broaden; but it is wise to start exploring now so you have a deep foundation on which to build.
Step Two: Gather and Organize Findings
If you have been following along with us this year, you probably have already some or all of the above research completed and questions answered. We have covered topics such as health, religion, politics, home life, hygiene, and many more. If you have not already, peruse the posts in the Creed category and answer the corresponding questions. This will give you a good start on your research. If you have not already, storing the questions and answers in a notebook or single document will help you organize your answers and personal discoveries.
Along with questions and suggestions from this year’s blog posts, add other information meaningful to you – verses, quotes, articles, etc. – to your notebook. After you gather and sort, read through your notebook two or three times on different days. Really ponder the words.
Step Three: Turn Your Research into Specific Statements
One example of turning your research into a specific statement is as follows:
Question: “Can I be happily married to someone who does not believe similarly to me in matters of politics?”
Specific Statement: “I believe I must seek to align my life with someone who shares my political worldview.”
If you have gone through the questions in this year’s posts, comb through them again and pull out the ones which resonate with you most. Then, turn those answers into statements like seen above. From your other research, take verses, statements from friends, and additional findings, and turn them into specific statements.
Quote: “You always took up for the underdog on the playground. I remember you standing up to boys twice your size when they were bullying a child you did not even know.”
Specific Statement: “I believe God has given me the task to look out for those who do not have a voice and the passion to carry out this task.”
Corresponding Verse: “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Proverbs 31:8, ESV).
You can add verses into your creed or footnotes with verses at the bottom. This is your creation! Have fun with it. Keep length in mind, especially if you want to display it in your room, apartment, or home.
Step Four: Organize your Statements Topically into Paragraphs
Your finalized creed will likely look quite different than that of another person, even if you share many of the same ideas and philosophies. How you organize and prioritize your statements will be personal to you. The following is a brief example of the beginning of a creed:
“I believe in God and that He is the creator of the world. I believe sin entered the world by mankind, and that God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty of that sin. I believe if we repent and believe on Christ, we will be saved from God’s wrath as it says in I John 1:9 and Romans 5:9. Because of my belief in God, I trust His Word, the Holy Bible, as my ultimate source of truth.
I believe God expects His people to defend life; therefore, I believe abortion and euthanasia to be sins against God. Similarly, I believe God desires me to support the living through practical help (food, shelter, clothing, etc.) and spiritual help (sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and discipling new believers).”
Are You Ready to Start Writing?!
Whether you are just starting on this project, or continuing along your journey, we hope you have a great time constructing your creed. We pray you find times of refreshing with the Lord as you pray and seek Him (cf. Acts 3:19-22). Use the time to reach out to relatives and friends. If you have left the church, consider returning and reconnecting with a body of believers (cf. Hebrews 10:25). Allow yourself some time away from the cares of the world to get in touch with who you are and what you believe.
And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?” (Numbers 14:11, ESV)
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV)
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7, ESV)
If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. (John 10:37-38, ESV)
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27, ESV)
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (I Thessalonians 2:13, ESV)
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20, ESV)
Do you have all you need to begin constructing your personal creed?