I yelled at my wife the other day because of disordered love.


Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Before you accuse me of not taking ownership of my sin, hear me out. Timothy Keller said, “the functional cause of our discontent is that our loves are ‘out of order.'” Keller is quoting Augustine who said that our issues are reduced to disordered loves. What does Augustine mean by disordered loves? Augustine advocates that we are influenced and shaped not by what we believe or what we do, but by what we love. To put it another way, what we give our heart or allegiance to is the thing that shapes us. Read the previous sentence again.

We are influenced and shaped by what we love; what we love compels us. Another way to describe our love is to speak about what we treasure. What I love, I treasure. What I treasure, I love. It’s unrealistic to say I love something or someone but to not treasure it, and vice versa.

So how does that statement have any bearing on the instance where I raised my voice at my wife? Without delving into all of the juicy details of my sinful interaction with my bride let me just simply say I was guilty of disordered love. What was disordered love? You could call it a love for respect, encouragement, or affirmation. It started as a harmless exchange with my bride over how to organize the laundry room so as to better use the space (I know it sounds profoundly important!). It ended with me getting angry and annoyed at her for her not seeing the logic behind why I did what I did. But it was deeper than that. It always is.

My anger and irritation stemmed from her not giving me the respect I thought I deserved, the encouragement that I clearly believed was mine or the affirmation for my “selfless” acts. In the moments leading up to the raising of my voice, my love for respect, encouragement, and affirmation became a ruling desire. So what did I do?

  1. I admitted that I was the problem. In the moments that followed I did not want to admit that the issue was with me. I tried valiantly to rationalize my sin and play the part of a victim. Thankfully, God’s grace led me to see my sinful perspective. And then…
  2. analyzed why I had become irritated and angry at her. As I analyzed my anger I realized I was acting the part of a fool who chose not to exercise control over his spirit. Solomon’s sage words came to mind: the wise person is slow to anger, while the fool is quick-tempered (Proverbs 16:32; 25:28). A slowness to anger allows an individual to think through a response that is loving. In addition, slowness to anger exemplifies our God, who is slow to anger (Psalm 103:8).
  3. Finally, I was moved to action. I asked the Lord to forgive me of my sin and I thanked Him for doing so. Next, I called my bride and explained how I acted the part of a fool. I explained what was going on in my heart and how my tone, posture, and words were foolish and I then asked for her forgiveness. As always, she gave me grace, which I was deeply thankful for.

The functional cause of our discontent is that our loves are “out of order” – Timothy Keller


*Quotes from Tim Keller are taken from, Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God.

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