Several years ago, a generous ministry that supports and encourages pastors sent my wife and me on an all- expense paid cruise. Up to this point, my only point of reference regarding cruising came from the 70s-era dramedy The Love Boat. If you don’t have any idea of what I am talking about, consider yourself blessed and move on. No offense to any The Love Boat aficionados, but I think I would prefer to be waterboarded than to have to watch an episode of that again. Here is the plot of every show, in case you are among the fortunate. A couple on the verge of splitsville makes one last-ditch effort to salvage their relationship by going on The Love Boat cruise. After many tense moments along with some comedic relief provided by “Gopher” (who surprised us all by becoming a United States Congressman…no kidding) comes to realize that their relationship is worth fighting for and…roll the credits. Seriously, that was the plot of every episode, with only slight variations.
Back to my cruise, which wasn’t on The Love Boat. This was evidenced by the fact we had a couple in the next cabin that fought the entire time, with no happy wrap-up at the end. How do I know? Because the walls were thin, and we heard every harsh word. It definitely dampened the vibe. But it does raise the question, especially this month as we celebrate romantic love, how do we keep our “Love Boats” afloat? I know, cheesier than a Hallmark card, but just go with it! One thought comes directly from the Scripture, which offers among many things the master class on maintaining healthy relationships. The author of Hebrews in general and in 10:24-25 specifically writes about the importance of community. Community is vital in all our relationships, including our romantic/ marital ones. What I mean here is that too often when we are going through a difficult season in our marriage, we tend to keep it to ourselves. Or worse, we share our frustrations and disappointments with someone who takes our side only. But we keep mum with those that can offer us objective wise counsel that actually might help mend the relationship.
But we might think, “Well, it is not any of their business!” The truth? If we are Christians, it actually is. It is kind of like this: imagine we are all on a cruise. We are all doing our own thing. I am the top deck shooting skeet and you are on one of the promenade decks eating your 8th meal of the day. Now even though we might be apart, our actions impact the other, especially if I decide to start shooting holes in the bottom of our boat or you polish off all the chocolate cake. My actions impact your life and vice versa. Likewise, as we “cruise through life” together, if I end my marriage, it won’t only affect me, but all those around me, especially my church family, in significant ways. So, we don’t need each other only to help stay afloat, we need each other to stay afloat for the good of all.
Back to The Love Boat dramedy. There was always someone sticking their nose into the feuding couple’s business, unintended or not. Sometimes it was the captain, other times, the bartender, ship doctor or the cruise director (evidently, we were not on the same cruise line, because none of the employees on our boat had any time to “busybody”). Regardless, they always offered objective critical advice when it was needed the most…leading to a saved marriage. As hokey as the series was, I believe they got this part right. When going through a “stormy” (sorry, couldn’t resist) season in our marriage, we need outside help. If you are a Christian, go talk to your pastor, a Christian counselor/therapist, or even a mature Jesus-following couple. Will it be embarrassing, awkward, even humbling to share your “dirty laundry” with someone else? Maybe, but first, believe me, they will have have heard it all before. Second, isn’t a little embarrassment worth keeping your love boat afloat? Not only for your own good, but the good of the whole “ship” (family, church, community)?