J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

The Disease of Demand in Marriage

Marriage challenges abound. Since becoming a pastor, the single largest counseling issue before me has been dealing with issues surrounding married couples. Oh, issues like substance abuse, pornography, etc are always before the church, but marital conflicts appear to be the front runner.

For example, everyone goes into marriage with certain expectations. Couples have the expectation that once they get married, there are certain actions and support that they will receive from their spouse. There is anticipation of mutuality, kindnesses, and grace. There are expectations surrounding house work, income, sex, and children. Some of these expectations are communicated, and some are assumed.

Underlying most spouses’ expectations is the assumption that their spouse will return their love and affection with at least equal fervor. Basically, the thought is, “If I love and support you, you will love and support me.”

Problems arise, however, when an expectation of return becomes a demand of return. This attitude creeps into the relationship and become a requirement. Demands, though, are deadly in a marriage. One spouse demands that the other at least meet their efforts which is the basis of self-righteousness and not love.

When we read that, we are sure to wonder, “Is it wrong to expect our spouse to give as much we do?” While an expectation might be appropriate, a demand kills. The real challenge in marriage is not trying to get a spouse to match our efforts. The real battle is creating an agenda of change that focuses on self and not spouse.

When couples don’t do this (removing demands and insisting on personal change), the next thing that happens is that couples begin to walk through the motions. Devotion becomes duty, and as CS Lewis says, “Duty is no substitute for love.”

Hope in a marriage cannot be found in the guarantee that a marriage will flourish or that their spouse will change. Instead, hope is found in the person of Christ who loves, forgives, and enacts change. And as a couple, or even just one spouse, shifts their focus from their circumstances to the character of God, the basis of change and hope become clear. It is found in the person of Christ.


July 25, 2017 Posted by | church, church planting, family worship, men, mission, missional | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Advantage Does Your Church Have?

advantageI’m at the CCEF Counseling Conference in Philly for a few days, so that mean my brain is on overload both from the speakers and the opportunities to get real time feedback from other pastors/leaders.  Every thought and philosophy about counseling and establishing counseling ministries runs through a grid in my brain.  It goes something like this:


  • Is what I just heard biblical?
  • Does it jive with Sovereign King’s mission/vision?
  • Is it practical?
  • What are the challenges to implementing such strategies?
  • What are the built in advantages that SK has in implementing such strategies?
  • What is the cost?


I won’t say that I always walk through those points sequentially but those bullet points are pretty close to my thinking.


Here is the main takeaway I have so far though:  Sovereign King is immensely blessed with faithful servants who are also immensely talented.  They have the skill sets, desire, and even greater, the faith in Christ to do great things in the areas of applying the Gospel to people’s lives.  We are a blessed congregation, and God is gracious to use us despite the weaknesses that we do have.


I’m praying now for the greater ability to lead and train SK in those areas.


How could you pray for your church?  What strengths should you thank God for and what weakness should you pray about?

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment