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Transformed, growing relationships called ideal for Christian marriages

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Christians struggling in troubled marriages need more than advice to stay together.
“We don’t just want people to stay married. We want them to have a dynamic relationship,” Selma Wilson told state convention discipleship leaders Dec. 4.
“In Christ we have the potential to have dynamic, healthy, alive, growing marriages. We have the responsibility to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ,” Wilson, director of the discipleship and family magazine department at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, said. With her husband, Rodney, an employee of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, Wilson has been leading Southern Baptist marriage enrichment events for 15 years.
Noting that LifeWay has been conducting marriage enrichment retreats and conferences for 25 years, Wilson said, “We have awesome resources and training events. But what difference have we made in marriages?”
Wilson said her recent introduction to a paper on spiritual transformation developed by LifeWay church resources caused her to confront several questions related to Christian marriage:
— What does a transformed marriage look like?
— What does it mean for two Christians to be married, to be set apart for kingdom work?
— Is it the desire of Christian couples, more than anything else, to be in the center of God’s will?
— What does it mean to glorify Christ in a marriage relationship?
The paper, prepared after consultation with numerous Southern Baptist and evangelical leaders, will become the basis for development of materials and events in the church resources division.
She cited the need for positive models of a transformed Christian marriage. For example, teenagers challenged through the international emphasis, True Love Waits, to remain sexually pure until marriage also need guidance in developing relationships that lead to a spiritually transformed marriage.
“We’ve got to show them something worth waiting for,” Wilson said.
Also, she said, when Christians become serious about applying the concepts of spiritual transformation to their marriages, they will impact their churches and the world.
“When we begin to reflect the very character of Jesus Christ in our marriages, we will impact our culture,” Wilson said. “He is the transformer.”
Roy Edgemon, director of LifeWay’s discipleship and family division, said the paper was developed out of a concern that transformed lives impacting today’s culture were not resulting from the thousands of persons studying discipleship resources.
“We asked ourselves, ‘Are we helping people grow and be what God wants them to be?'” Edgemon said.
“We have not taught people they have a new identity in Christ,” he said. “When you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you’re in the family of God. You are a different person. You have been brought into a kingdom that is far different from the worldly kingdom from which you’ve come.”
Edgemon said the spiritual transformation paper has been presented to seminary students and church leaders as part of the fine-tuning process.
“Everywhere I’ve presented this, people get convicted that Jesus isn’t the focus of their lives. Jesus has to be the model of our lives. We must become like Jesus,” he said.
He noted an interactive study book, “Jesus By Heart,” is under development to support the concept of spiritual transformation and is scheduled for release in June 1999. Also, resources to help churches integrate spiritual transformation into their ministries will be produced.
He asked state leaders to study the paper, pray about its implications for their ministries and provide input to his division.

    About the Author

  • Linda Lawson