The Straight Life
Family requires sacrifice. Just ask God—He’s given everything for family.

Family requires sacrifice. Just ask God—He’s given everything for family.

But some say it’s not worth it. Marriage is not a word; it is a sentence. Marriages are made in heaven—but then again, so are thunder, lightning, tornadoes and hail. The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, and the second half by our children. Ideas like these come from people who don’t understand­ God’s purpose for family. When we remember why family, we inoculate ourselves against negativity and embrace the sacrifices it requires.

Consider this paragraph from Dr. James Dobson’s book Straight Talk to Men, where he discusses something called “the straight life.”

What is the straight life, for a man in a family? he asks. “It is pulling your tired frame out of bed, five days a week, 50 weeks out of the year. It is earning a two-week vacation in August, and choosing a trip that will please the kids. The straight life is spending your money wisely when you’d rather indulge in a new whatever; it is taking your son bike riding … when you want so badly to watch the baseball game; it is cleaning out the garage on your day off after working 60 hours the prior week. The straight life is coping with head colds and engine tune-ups and crab grass and income-tax forms … it is giving a portion of your income to God’s work when you already wonder how ends will meet. The straight life for the ordinary, garden-variety husband and father is everything I have listed and more … much more.”

Yes, family involves sacrifice. Any man who is married with kids and is doing his job can identify with Dr. Dobson’s paragraph to some degree. And the “straight life” for a wife is often even less glamorous. If you look at it from a purely selfish perspective, it seem like a string of hassles.

Not understanding why family, people seek ways to achieve the benefits without making the sacrifice.

Get a load of these excerpts from “Personal Marriage Contract,” written by Dr. John F. Whitaker in 1976. “I understand that nothing is forever; that there are no absolute guarantees, and that now is the only real forever. … I will love, honor, respect (but not obey or subjugate myself to you) until either of us changes his mind and maintains a change of attitude for a period of one year or until the termination date of the contract. … Don’t expect me to accept you as you are when you fail to maintain physical attractiveness and fail to take care of your body. … I will put myself first. By keeping myself full, satisfied and not hungry, I will have an abundance of joy, love and caring to give you.”

Not exactly the kind of talk that makes you swoon with feelings of romance.

Marriage without sacrifice. That thinking sounds very foreign to our ears. But if we’re honest—especially those who are married—how often do we act in that kind of way? We’d never say those things in words. But what about our deeds? As long as you’re taking care of my needs, I’ll take care of yours. If you uphold your end, then I’ll uphold my end. We all tend to think that way, naturally.

But will that kind of marriage work? Would even that kind of friendship work?

Imagine if God’s love for you was so conditional! Instead of Him saying, I’ll never leave you, never forsake you (Hebrews 13:5); imagine Him saying, Don’t expect me to hang around if I don’t like what I see. If you’re not fulfilling my needs, this really isn’t going to work.

That’s not God’s love! God’s love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things—it never ends! (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).

Human love centers around the self. God’s love centers around the other person. And yes—living for the other person isn’t always comfortable or glamorous.

Think about Christ. He really lived the straight life. His whole life was about serving, being faithful, being obedient. Never once did He say, Well, I’m just going to do this for me. I’ve earned this. I deserve some indulgence here. No—He said, I do always those things that please My Father (John 8:29). He really sacrificed for His Family! He died in order to have a family. But He did it willingly, because He had God’s love. That’s the kind of Husband He is.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). What is a sacrifice? It’s giving something up. Not just giving in measure to what others give you.

Herbert Armstrong ridiculed the couple that wanted a “50-50 marriage.” If marriage is going to work, he said, it must be 100-100! Each mate has a role within that marriage, and each must give it all he or she can. That’s the way God’s love works.

And that’s irrespective of the other person. After all, Christ, our role model, died for us while we were yet sinners.

Think again about that description of the straight life. What are you really giving up by living that way? Selfishness. Sure, you may have to give up some personal desires that aren’t bad of themselves. But we’re not here for ourselves. God is teaching us to be living sacrifices for our family.

And, on the other hand, what are you gaining by living the straight life? Love. Family. Security. Stability. A peace that someone who’s out chasing after their own desires simply cannot understand. And, meanwhile, you’re learning about and living the God Family vision. And you’re gaining the character of Jesus Christ.

Quite a trade-off!

Evaluate the quality and depth of your love. Measure your patience, your loyalty, your constancy, against that of our Husband. Live for your family. Be a living sacrifice for them. Ask God to help you think like Christ. Thank God for showing you that straight and narrow way that leads to life!

And embrace the straight life.