What’s the number one thing that stirs up a conflict in your home? Money? The Kids? Schedules? The remote control?

Disagreements are a natural part of marriage - no two people can see the world exactly the same 100% of the time. Disagreements can even be good when we go about them in a healthy way. But fighting? That is an entirely different matter.

Before my husband and I got married, he told me that married couples didn’t have to fight. I told him he was living in “lala land” and that all married people fight. I thought it worked like gravity - you get married, you fight. As if you are all the sudden transported from your wedding reception into some kind of metaphorical boxing ring. Thankfully, through some solid discipleship and growing in the Lord, I discovered that marriage could hold a deep sweetness that came without destructive fighting.

While fighting and marriage appear to go hand-in-hand, they weren’t designed to! The status of the conflicts in your home deeply matters to God. Let’s read what He has to say about it in the book of James.

1.   Own the cause of your quarrels!

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:1-3 NIV

The phrase wrong motives in the original Greek means brokenness and sickness.  All of us have brokenness in us; the spiritual fallen nature we are all born with, and also the individual sicknesses we personally carry. In your marriage, check carefully how your brokenness and desires (desires to be “right” or to have your own way or to feel in control) are affecting the conflicts your are experiencing. If you have a long standing habit or some damaging pattern (like anger or alcoholism) that was passed from generation to generation, get on your knees and beg for God’s grace and help! There is nothing in you that is “just that way” or can’t change if you allow God into it.

2.  Recognize the consequences of your fighting

It’s easy to consider fighting to be a “little” sin in a world where sexual immorality and violence run rampant. But perhaps God doesn’t see it that way.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us. James 4:4-5 NIV

Seems like James changed the subject from fighting to being worldly, but did he really? Or isn’t fighting an attitude that comes from worldly thinking? Earlier in the same letter, James tells us that the wisdom from God is peaceable and that wisdom from the world causes disorder (James 3:14-18).

It is the world that tells us we deserve respect and it is Jesus who says turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). It is the world that tells us revenge is good, while Jesus tells us to bless and pray for those who persecute us and speak evil against us (Luke 6:28).

Fighting includes aligning our hearts and minds with the ways of the world, and when we do that, we have positioned ourselves as spiritual “cheaters” or adulteresses to our Christianity. That is a pretty hefty consequence. Not only do we position ourselves as enemies of Christ, but we also grieve the Holy Spirit. James isn’t the only passage that mentions how we grieve God through our words; Ephesians 4:29-30 says that words which do not bless those listening grieve God.