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The honor of marriage, the Conways and Trump

The honor of marriage, the Conways and Trump

Donald Trump and his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway greet supporters during his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, November 8, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar)

The institution of marriage as an essential building block of civil society is under cultural assault. No, I’m not talking about adultery, divorce rates nor same sex marriage. I’m talking about the marriage of George and Kellyanne Conway.  

Assaulting marriage, any marriage, is expressly contrary to God’s will as described in Hebrews 13:4, which declares that marriage is to be upheld in honor among us all. So how do we rightly respond when a particular marriage is under public assault?

In brief, the president of the United States assaulted the husband of one his top aides on Twitter. President Trump has accused George Conway of being “VERY jealous of his wife’s success,” “a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell.”

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before departing for Lima, Ohio on Wednesday, President Trump claimed he didn’t really know Mr. Conway then added, “He’s a wack job, there’s no question about it, but I really don’t know him. I think he’s doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife. Kellyanne is a wonderful woman, and I call him Mr. Kellyanne,” then reiterating, “The fact is that he’s doing a tremendous disservice to a wife and family. She’s a wonderful woman.”

Kellyanne Conway is the wife of George Conway. They have four children. She is also an aide to President Donald Trump. He is her boss and he is publicly denigrating her husband and attacking their marriage. Why? Because Mr. Conway is publicly calling the President’s mental fitness into question.

In interviews with The New York Times and The Washington Post on Tuesday, George Conway said he uses Twitter as an outlet for his frustrations so he doesn’t scream at his wife about all of it at home.

Grievances in marriage are real and sometimes we all take the frustrations of work home with us. No one involved in all this has clean hands. But who does the denigration of their marriage serve and how is the destruction of this one small society, the Conway family, serve the greater good?

Marriage is not something we the people created and it is not something we are in a position to rend asunder. Marriage is a holy mystery and an eternal reality. When a man and a woman come together in marriage, God makes of them one new reality. And that new reality is the building block of our social order and the smallest example of civilization itself. When one man attacks another man’s marriage he is attacking the foundations of the culture itself.

Jews and Christians believe God ordained the lifelong marriage of a man and a woman in the very order of creation and that Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, blessed and sanctified this relationship. For centuries, the Church universally has affirmed this most precious relationship, believing from Scripture that it is a gift of the Creator God.

Jesus quotes Genesis 2:19-25 in His teaching on the subject of marriage in Matthew 19 and Mark 10. It is God who made humanity in His image, male and female He created them and blessed them (Genesis 1:27). Why not just make man or just woman? Why is one biological sex not enough? Because to fully express the image of God, both man and woman are required (Genesis 5:1-3). It is a mystery, indeed!

When we read I Peter 2:10-4:11, Ephesians 5:21-33, Romans 12-13 and Colossians 3 in conversation with one another we begin to see the distinctive nature of Christian relationships. A distinctively Christian life puts the Gospel on display in the midst of a fallen and broken world. Likewise, a distinctively Christian marriage puts the Gospel on display in the midst of a culture of relational confusion.

All relationships are set in the context of Christian faith and God-given grace. These teachings will not make sense to non-believers. These concepts will be utterly foreign to people who are not operating from a Biblical worldview. But these ideals are more than aspirational for Christian households; living in accordance with God’s Word is a living demonstration of the faith and it is our mutual calling in Christ.

These texts talk about “submission.” When we consider submission to God, our minds return to the Garden of Gethsemane, to Christ on His face before the Father, pleading in prayer that the cup of God’s wrath might pass, yet in submission yielding, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Submission is not demanded, it is freely offered in genuine humility. Submission in marriage is mutual: Both husband and wife submit to God, and yes, in respect for the order of things, wives also submit to their husbands. Check your spirit as you consider that truth. How do you feel? Why? Re-read Philippians 2. Is your attitude the same as that of Christ Jesus? What was Jesus willing to yield that you are not?

As marriage comes under challenge, U.S. Christians face three options:

  • yield to the cultural trends devaluing marriage and devouring marriages,
  • give up on marriage as a foundational cultural institution and focus exclusively on marriages inside the church as sacred, holy and God honoring,
  • insist that both those within the Church and the culture writ large uphold the honor of marriage and strengthen it for the common good.  

In Matthew 19:3-6, the Pharisees pose a question about a particular situation, pushing Jesus to see how far a husband might go in extricating himself from a marriage in which he has lost interest. But Jesus quickly turns the conversation from human desires to God’s intentions. Jesus affirms that the author of marriage is God, not civil society or the decision of a particular person. Jesus affirms it is God who “joins together” every husband and wife – not merely the wills of the two individuals. Jesus also affirms that God established marriage all the way back in “the beginning.” God gave us marriage as part of His providential design in creation. Marriage, by God’s design and declaration are intrinsically “good.”

Jesus, by explaining marriage in terms of God’s order of creation (male and female) makes clear that marriage was instituted for all time and all humankind. The Pharisees are asking a post-fall question about the law of Moses which God had given specifically to the Jews as part of the Law. But Jesus looks beyond all that. Jesus points to the original pattern, the good design, that which God has deigned for all time, in all places and all people.

So, to whatever extent we build up marriage and defend the honor of every marriage, we glorify God. And conversely, whenever we fail in this task, we and our neighbors and the witness of the Gospel suffer loss.

Today, the Washington Post is reporting that Mr. Conway wants Mrs. Conway to resign from her job at the White House. She says she has no intention of doing so. The stress in their marriage is not only great behind closed doors, it has spilled out into the public arena.

In her comments on Fox News she continued to praise the President, “He’s protective of me, and that’s what people should really take from this …

“I’m not being asked to choose between my marriage and my job. . . . The president has never made me feel that way.”

She also said she thinks the media is giving her husband too much attention. “I don’t know when the feminists are going to write the story about the unusual situation of a man getting power through his wife, but that’s what we have here,” she said.

I fear we are watching the public disintegration of a marriage and I for one, do not celebrate that. Marriage matters. That means every marriage matters. So what happens in this one particular marriage currently under assault matters to us as a culture. Uphold this particular marriage in prayer today and ask that it not be further rent asunder. 

Carmen LaBerge is host of the "Connecting Faith with Carmen LaBerge" radio program, author of Speak the Truth: How to Bring God Back Into Every Conversation and Executive Director of the Common Ground Christian Network

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