SAN ANTONIO (BP)–Pastors and their wives not only have a responsibility to minister, but also a duty to exemplify the way Christ commands marriages to be, Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages,” said June 11 in a breakout session at the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in San Antonio.
Couples must have strong foundations in order to produce positive, lasting marriage, Chapman said in his “Equipped for a Fulfilled Marriage” session.
Reading Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Chapman noted, “You’re not going to hear any greater challenge than that.
“It’s easy to preach that,” he said, “but the question is, Does your wife sense that?”
Chapman warned men against burying themselves in their work or preaching to their wives instead of speaking with them in love. A woman’s lack of support for her husband’s ministry, he said, often is a direct result of such inattention.
Sharing his concept of love languages, Chapman said everyone has a “love tank” which somehow must be filled. When a person’s tank is full, they are more likely to function and respond in a helpful and supportive manner toward others.
“Most of us are sincere. But the fact is, thousands of us are missing each other,” Chapman said. “It’s terribly hard to preach on an empty love tank, and it’s terribly hard to support on an empty love tank.”
Chapman gave three foundations for a fulfilled marriage: the husband and wife must feel loved by each other, each must learn how to deal with their failures and apologize for them, and each must learn how to listen.
“You can’t have a good marriage without apologizing,” Chapman said, noting that forgiveness has two different levels: intellectual and emotional.
“In a good marriage, we are to love each other in the right language and apologize to one another in the right language, so we don’t let any walls build between us. And, if there are already walls there, we tear those walls down,” he said.
Discussing the necessity of listening, Chapman exhorted, “Listen to what she’s feeling. Don’t preach her a sermon … [but] hear her out. What she wants is to be heard. She wants you to affirm her.”
Once Christian couples, beginning with couples in ministry, exemplify a biblical marriage, Chapman predicted that non-Christians will flock to the church for answers to their marital struggles.