“I can change my wife, but I can’t change my mother” seems to be part of Turkey’s lore, betraying both an alternative religious stance on marriage and the cultural dominance of motherhood in family life. Within this context, a wife is seen as a person who puts children in the nest and food on the table.

Many different situations

A man who had married his older brother’s widow expected her to provide a son for him, as well as cook for him, her own daughters and son: the man couldn’t respect his wife until she’d given him a son. It was irrelevant to him that she was older, bereaved, weary and unloved. Perhaps the man had married his older brother’s widow at his parents’ request to ensure that the 3 fatherless children didn’t get grafted into any other family.

Sharing the Gospel

How do you introduce the Gospel with a couple who are rarely without other family members nearby? What about inviting them to our place for dinner?  Ten hungry people arrived, (one hour earlier than invited). Fortunately, the daughters thought nothing of joining my wife, the oldest female present, to assist in food preparation. We didn’t go hungry, nor did anyone make a decision for Christ. Culture seemed to swamp our desire to present the gospel. However, what did our invitation say?

Celebrating small steps

We celebrate every single “baby step” victory of the Gospel in Turkey. This could be someone asking a Christian for a healing prayer, another taking a New Testament from a church’s roadside book table, regular attendance at baptism preparation classes. Or, in the context of marriage, a husband’s willingness to join his wife on a zoom call for online marriage coaching.

We celebrate the coming of the kingdom of God in young couples who grasp that marriage is the creation of a new household unit which will require respect for parents offered from INSIDE the boundaries of their new life-long marriage relationship. This is a transition into Christian adulthood where the couple give priority to spiritual, emotional and physical unity.  The unity which is achieved through courageously learning together within marriage new relational skills alongside a compassionate and merciful give-and-take.

A new perspective

Oh, that today there would be, in Turkey, a domestic “revolution of love”. One that transforms the nation, one household at a time. A new lore of marriage: “Inseparable, we can grow old together, at the same time respecting both sets of parents”.