The Friday Five
Becoming a Snake-Handler: The Friday Five with Brian Goins
You write this book specifically to men. Are most marriage books written with a more feminine slant?
Most book buyers carry a purse—and publishers are savvy. If they don't cater in some way to the feminine demographic, they won't be publishing for long. So I tried to write Playing Hurt with two assumptions: men love sports and if men read, they read short books. With the rise of tablets and e-readers, I think we will see more men pick up books. Most guys could read Playing Hurt in a 3-hour plane ride.
You encourage guys to "play hurt" in their marriages. Can you explain what you mean by this?
Many husbands struggle to answer questions from their wives, "Did you know today was our anniversary?" "Why don't you understand me?" or "What's on your mind?"
But almost every man I know can answer the question, "Who is your favorite athlete who played hurt?" They may re-tell the story of Kirk Gibson in the World Series, Michael Jordan fighting through the stomach flu in game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, or—though he'd never admit to watching women's gymnastics—Kerri Strug landing that vault in the 1996 Olympics.
Whether it's on the ball field, or on the battlefield, or in the boardroom, we men will dig deep and play through pain to get the win, save our buddies, or secure the sale. But in the arena of marriage, when our egos get bruised, our expectations broken, or our libidos starved, men seek the bench. We pout. We pounce in retaliation. But we rarely play through our pain for the chance at victory in marriage. In those moments I believe God looks down the bench and says, "Goins, I need you in the game!"
You tour the country with Family Life Today speaking on marriage. What positive trends are you seeing in the church and culture when it comes to marriage and family?
As bleak as the statistics about men are, I'm noticing a new hunger. Men don't want to be average. They don't want an ordinary marriage. They want to step up to the plate and get in the game. We just need to fill that hunger with a gospel-centered message for husbands rather than a guilt-driven message for husbands. God wants to turn ordinary marriages into a picture of his glory here on earth.
How did your role as a pastor prepare you to write this book?
I heard a pastor friend of mine say the most damning preposition in all of Scripture is found in Genesis 3. The snake seduced Eve with a fruit plate. Then she offered a bite to Adam, who was "with her." In other words, when the snake slithered up to his wife, Adam didn't grab a hoe and cut off its head, he just stood there. When it twisted God's words, Adam didn't argue, he just nodded his head. When Eve grabbed the fruit, Adam didn't slap it out of her hands. He just watched.
God made us in his image. God's image in Genesis 1:1-2 portrays one who hovers over a chaotic world "without form and void." Instead of ignoring or being irritated or being intimidated by the chaos, God moves into it and creates order. He turned on the sun and moon. He corralled raging waves. He made a starry map in the ink-black night. He created a food chain. Then he laid out a schedule for when you punch in for work and when you take a day off. But in Genesis 3, when Adam sat back in his Barca lounger to watch his favorite episode of "When Snakes Attack," he let chaos disrupt the order. We don't know if he was intimidated or irritated by the snake, but we do know he ignored it. As a husband, I've discovered that most of my problems happen because I'm "just standing there." I don't move into the chaos of conflict. I don't answer the call to spiritual leadership. I don't diffuse awkward moments. Though God made me as a man to move into chaos and create order, I repeat the sins of Adam every time I "just stand there."
Even in a perfect world, God allowed something to threaten the unity of Adam and Eve. Even in the happiest marriage, conflict and issues are unavoidable. The question is, "What will a husband do when issues slither into marriage?" Move into the chaos and bring order and clarity? Or slink into the background? As a pastor, conference speaker, and a husband, I've discovered that marriages so often get stuck because we men abandon our role as "image-bearer."
Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and the author of Crash Course and iFaith. His columns appear at Crosswalk.com. Follow him through Facebook, Twitter, or his personal website.