This morning, I was immersed in all the weirdness of the election in the United States, until I had conversation with an old friend who was trying to help avert a Christian friend’s marital disaster. She was asking for advice.

There had been counselling from counsellors.

And a second round with another counsellor.

And a third round.

Verbal abuse. Power plays. Perfectionism. Legalism. Pride.

Details, details, details.

And no solutions, just ways to deal with all of the above issues; unfortunately, without drilling down to the core issues.

Perhaps better said, the core issue.

Which, for Christians, of course, is Jesus.

He’d been lost in all the distracting smoke. I understand that. I’ve done some marriage counselling myself.

However, to say that the “God in the room” had been ignored, needs to be amplified, because Christians are taught from Sunday School on up that Jesus is always the right answer. This is true, but what does that really mean, because this Christian wife knew that answer. She also knew that she should submit to her husband. In fact, she left her first counsellor because that is all the counsellor advised her to do.

However, it was true. Nevertheless, submission is deeper than just keeping a biblical command. It must originate in one’s heart. And that place of origination is the most simple and the most difficult place there is: Love.

No, not some warm, fuzzy, PG-13 kind of love but gritty, down-on-your-knees, humbling, dying-to-one’s-self love.

Love for people and love for God.

Very, very difficult.

And very, very uncomplicated, without any smoke, except that which we create with our own self-love and unwillingness to die.

The Apostle John laid down this straightforward truth: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). 1

I assume I am not off base if I say that not loving one’s brother would include one’s spouse.

John also offered this nugget just a few verses later:

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (1 John 5:2). simple

Don’t you just love John? So black and white. So uncomplicated.

So stubbornly demanding.

What was our advice to our old friend who was trying to do what is right and good in helping this Christian wife with her marriage?

This woman must work her way to the love of God, before God, asking desperately—because her soul had been shredded by years of marital injury—for His help. And, let’s be honest, sinfulness. In truth, her shredded soul is in danger because she has lost her love for God and her “brother.”

No self-righteousness in that last sentence. After over forty years of marriage, I understand the sinfulness of a man, including the last little bout with my wife, the effects of which are even now slowly fading.

Before the Lord, she must work her way to loving and respecting her husband, which she is commanded to do (Titus 2:3-5; Ephesians 5:23).

That’s just the way it is. No escaping it, no whistling past it. It’s there. Staring us uncomfortably in the face.

So. Trump and Clinton. Hillary and Donald.

And lives damaged, injured, and disintegrating, not just in this case, but all over this nation, which neither of the candidates will or can repair.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.