Distractions in Marriage – Part 4: Choosing What Is Best

As we’ve previously discussed in this Couple’s Bible Study series, distractions can be disastrous to our lives and marriages…and to our relationship with God. We’ve specifically mentioned technology, because it is so much a part of our everyday lives. And we noted that the real problem is not the technology itself, but our unwillingness to control our use of it.

I recently heard actor Aziz Ansari removed the internet from his phone and decided not to use email or any form of social media. He observed that in his life social media became a distraction…almost an addiction. He explained to GQ magazine: “You’re not going to be able to control yourself. So the only way to fight that is to take yourself out of the equation and remove all these things.”

While Ansari is not a Christian, his words remind me of what Jesus taught us over 2,000 years ago. We quoted it in our last post: “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

The bottom line is we must learn self-control in all things, including our use of technology. Since self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23), we can be sure God wants it in our lives. And we can be certain He will help us achieve it.

What does the Bible tell us about how to be self-controlled?

Ephesians 4:20-24 says: “That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

There are three steps in this passage. But the second two go hand-in-hand. Following these steps will help us take control of every part of our life—including distractions.

First we are to “put off your old self.” This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:29-30. Those things that get in the way of what is right and good—those things that harm our relationship with each other and with God—we need to cut them out of our lives as much as possible.

Some distractions are unavoidable. But many of the distractions that cause the biggest problems in marriage are due to those things we choose to do. And these can be eliminated or, at the very least, limited.

Once we’ve set limits and removed as many distractions as possible, we need to replace them with activities that will enhance our relations with God and one another.

The most important is to spend time with God, both together and alone. We need uninterrupted time to hear from Him through His Word and prayer.

Jesus taught this. He said in Matthew 6:6: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Jesus did this. We read in Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it is still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” God’s Word tells us in Luke 5:16: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Notice that we are told in this verse that He often did this.

Mark tells us about a time when Jesus preached to over 5,000 people and miraculously fed them all with five loaves of bread and two fish. We then find these words in Mark 6:45-46: “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.”

If Jesus, the Son of God, who was here to save the world, needed to take time to get alone with His Father, then surely we need to do the same.

But Jesus didn’t just pray alone. He also made time to pray with those He was closest to here on earth.

We see the disciples with Him as He prayed is in Luke 11:1: “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” Jesus used this time to pray with and teach His disciples.

We need to do the same with each other as a couple. We must study God’s Word and pray to Him together.

Prayer is conversation with God. It is talking to Him. It is also listening to Him. And the main way we hear God’s voice is through reading His Word.

We read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Here we are assured that all of the Bible is God’s Word. He teaches us what we need for life just as a loving parent does his or her children.

He confirms this for us in 2 Peter 1:3-4: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

God promises us that He gives us “everything we need for a godly life.” That includes a godly marriage. He provides what we need in His very great and precious promises. We find those in His Word.

A good place to begin looking for God’s truth is the life and teachings of Jesus. Jesus and God are one. Jesus says in John 10:30: I and the Father are one.’” So when we read about Jesus and read His words, we are reading about God and His words. They are one and the same.

God tells us this in Hebrews 1:1-2: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”

We will not find how to have a blessed life and marriage in man’s wisdom. We must seek it only in God’s Word. We mustn’t look for it anywhere else, including through social media. We won’t find it on the internet, unless the site we  look at is based on what the Bible teaches.

God warns us about this in Isaiah 8:19-20: “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.”

Obviously, it isn’t necessary to completely unhook from all technology. (However, If you believe God is leading you to do so, then listen to Him.) But it is necessary that technology not control us. We must not let it harm our relationship with God and each other.

We do need to spend time together as a couple with God if we want our relationships to grow and to be used for His glory. We can use this time to talk, pray and to listen to God and each other. And we should make every effort for this time to be uninterrupted and without distractions.

This means we turn off the phone, the TV, the computer, and whatever else we need to, so that we can focus entirely on God and each other. We must remove as many distractions as possible, and let Jesus be the center of our attention.

God tells us in Hebrews 12:2 that we should be “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” He instructs us in Colossians 3:1-2: “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

We choose where we focus our attention. So let’s keep our attention on what’s most important. When our focus is on Jesus, distractions will not get in the way of our marriage or our relationship with God. Both will be stronger and better for it.

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♦   What things do you need to set limits on or remove in order to take control and keep them being distractions in your marriage or your relationship with God?

♦   What are some ways you can best manage the various forms of social media in your individual lives, your marriage, and your family. How can you use them to help you grow in your relationships and not bring harm to them?

♦   Discuss with each other how you will spend uninterrupted time with God. Talk about when you might do this, places you might do it, and how you will help each other with this. Discuss doing it individually and together as a couple.

♦   Close your time by praying together. Ask God to help you with the commitments you have made that will help you grow in your walk with Him and each other.

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Next week we will discuss a different type of distraction that Sabra and I found in our unscientific study that can harm our marriages. And as always, we will see what God teaches us about it.

Until then, may God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,

Other posts in the DISTRACTIONS IN MARRIAGE series:
Part 1: Distractions Can Be Dangerous
Part 2: Three Steps to Avoid Their Harmful Effects
Part 3: Controlling Technology
Part 5: Setting Priorities
Part 6: Caring for Loved Ones
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash (CC0), cropped/text added.

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.