Does God speak differently to you?

I love when something comes up, God speaks into the scenario, and humans get all confused about it. Sounds like the perfect request for a blog to really open the discussion up! The situation started a few days ago when the producer of the television show, Wife Swap, contacted my wife Marla after hearing about our 52 Zoos in 52 Weeks tour in the media. For some reason she thought Marla was a good candidate for the show, and wanted her to apply.

If you’re not familiar with the show, they basically take wives from two families, swap them to the other family’s house for two weeks, and hopefully give them an inside look at a family that’s not like theirs. So the husband and children are stuck with another woman in their house. I’ve never seen the show, but after watching the videos on their site, it doesn’t look like much good comes out of it all. Reading stories like this one from a couple that was on the show (with good intentions), made that clear enough.

They do their best to find a family that is polar opposite of yours, in hopes that you go crazy. To help they edit any of the normal material out so that the viewing audience gets the best entertainment possible. Was an offer of $20,000 worth it for Marla to accept? That was up to God, and He made it pretty clear…..and did so fairly quickly.

A few individuals have jumped in, hinting to us that God might want us to accept the invite and give it a whirl. Hinting that we could be a light to the world through being on the show, or possibly gaining a large audience for our lives or our projects. There’s no guarantee that they’ll appreciate our faith (I’m guessing they’d put that to the test too), and you couldn’t pay us any amount of money to entertain or lure that kind of an audience.

We’re not looking for an audience, even online. We don’t blog for an audience, although two-way communication and community is nice. I think the price tag on marriage these days has been a discount compared to how God views it. Our marriage doesn’t need the test of swapping houses. It also doesn’t need $20,000 enough to put it to the test. A healthy marriage is priceless, and our culture should learn more from that than the stupid show.

Why would we want to take something that God has given us that is good, and hand it to the world, letting them turn up the heat? If we have Christ, and He has made our marriage what it is, imagine what some broken or hurting marriages would pay just to have what we have. The problem with many marriages (Christian or not) today is that they don’t look solely at what God is doing. They flip open the tabloids or the reality shows and pretend that having God is not enough. When they hit bottom, they realize He sure was! Satan can have his $20,000. Does God really speak so differently to us all at times, or are our ears full of enough wax that we can’t understand Him?

PRAYING that the staff and producers of this show might see Christ through those that reject the offer. PRAISING God for being the third side to our marriage triangle.

  1. Matt Harmon

    Kudos Gabe. Good stuff. It also made me think of something I read a while back, that you can’t fully hear what God is saying if you’re not open to an answer that’s less pleasant.

  2. I think it depends on your view of God, your marriage, and the world.

    If you think that God is capable of using trying situations to improve your marriage (even when we choose to put ourselves in those situations for money), then it would be OK to accept the offer. If you think it is an offense to God to in anyway test the substance of your marriage, then it wouldn’t be OK.

    If you think your marriage would be harmed by this kind of intense interaction with someone who doesn’t believe like you do, then it is wrong for you. If you think that it might actually be beneficial to your marriage, then it might be a good idea.

    Finally, if you think challenging and/or intense interaction with people who don’t know Jesus is spiritually detrimental, then it is not a good idea for you.
    If you think challenging and/or intense interaction with people who don’t know Jesus is why we are here on this planet, then go for it.

    To answer your final question, can God speak differently to us at times? Well, if by “speak to us” you mean “convict us regarding the morality of a situation” I would say yes, after all this is the precise issue addressed by 1 Corinthians 8 & 10, namely, how to live in Christian community when there are contradicting convictions.

    If you and Marla were convicted that this situation was wrong, then it would be wrong for you to take the offer. If there was a couple who thought that this opportunity was from God, it would be wrong for them NOT to accept.

    My $.02

  3. Thanks for the comment Scott. After reading that marriages have been split up as a result of just being on the show, I’d have to question the purpose of the show itself. I think that’s where just doing it for the money comes into question.

    I can have good discussion with people who don’t follow Jesus for free at family gatherings or with friends. When they put a price tag on your family being a part of the show, I’m guessing they’re going to get their money’s worth…..whether the family likes it or not – or approves of the material they use or not.

  4. God has used game shows in the past for His glory. But if he’s telling you not to do this one, don’t do it. BE LED.

  5. Gabe, I applaud your decision. I imagine many folks would justify the decision to go on the show when looking at what can be done with $20k.

  6. Great post Gabe. The devil so often tempts us with money. There are a lot of families that can use $20,000 and it discourages me to see what people will put themselves through by putting their hopes in that check.

  7. Scott, please do us a favor and stop acting like we’re “afraid to share the gospel” and “scared to put our marriage to the test.”

    Spending 10 days in another man’s home WITH him and his children and WITHOUT his wife present isn’t a marriage-strengthener, no matter how you look at it.

    (And it’s hardly the same as being on a game show for 30 minutes.)

    Do you want some hot (and sweet-talking) guy coming and living with your wife for 10 days?

    I don’t even do lunch meetings with someone from the opposite sex alone. And I don’t go into bars by myself looking for men to share Christ with.

    Say what you want, but God provides me with tons of witnessing opportunities without me having to be in intimate situations with the opposite sex.

    Why do you think so many pastors fall prey to sexual temptation?

  8. You Tavianos are tough stuff! I applaud you for holding true to your standards and protecting your marriage. Who needs such crazy outside influences to trip us up? Yes, sometimes God presents odd opportunities to share Christ with others, but His opportunities do not compromise our moral integrity.

    And while the “prize money” might be a temptation for some, I know that my husband and I would quickly burn through it. Because really, how much marriage counseling and anti-anxiety medication can $20K buy? Not enough for that, my friends. Not nearly enough.

  9. I think Scott just presented another viewpoint of the whole thing. He seemed to be looking at both sides of the coin instead of just disregarding it as purely a bad thing.

    Being on Wife Swap is hardly something I would think would cause much temptation for intimacy. You have cameras on you 24/7 and producers running around everywhere, not to mention your kids. The guy that they would pick to be with you is probably the last guy in the world you’d feel any kind of a connection with (and visa versa for the guy). Most woman end up very bitter and frustrated with the guy in the end. Plus, we’re only talking a week of time here. My initial guess would be that someone who thinks that show puts woman in morally questionable temptation situations with other guys hasn’t really watched much of the show before.

    The link you provided, Gabe, shows a family that was full of struggles going into the whole thing. They thought somehow the show would magically fix everything and in fact it didn’t. No surprise there. Anyone who lets something as crazy as a week long TV show experience ruin their marriage has a lot of deeper issues to begin with.

    It’s fine if Wife Swap isn’t right for you. But to generalize as purely a bad thing is something I wouldn’t be comfortable doing. A lot of these children and families are very sheltered, many with very strong beliefs about certain parenting styles and other things. In many situations, it’s healthy for them to see a different viewpoint. Plus, I’m sure I’m almost sure I’ve seen an episode where a strong Christian woman was able to share what she believes, on national TV and to a family who didn’t believe much of anything. That’s pretty cool. Perhaps just as you were led by God not to, she may have been led to appear on the show.

    That’s what I think Scott was trying to say.

  10. I think you guys are really wise. I also think we all have to “wise up” that reality shows are so edited, they are mis-named…and anything less than honest. Don’t you think that producers choose and/or keep people on those programs, esp. competition-type shows, much longer than necessary, because they want to ramp up conflict? (The first rule of drama is that there has to be conflict!) One Christian author I know went on a similar show (Trading Spouses, I think), believing it would be a good platform for witnessing and for her ministry. But the editing showed her as a total nut-case…leading to a publisher who later viewed footage to turn down her next book proposal. So all that has to be considered…and I agree about the temptation of money.

    I also agree that a family could decide differently, and they might be in line with God’s will. BUT anyone who is going to be involved in the current entertainment climate should be as “wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.”

    That’s MY .02!

  11. Good points, Joe. I’ve never seen the show, so I really have no idea.

    I have to agree with Dena though. A nice Christian testimony probably isn’t what they’re looking for and will just end up getting cut out of the footage.

    I disagree that Scott is just trying to look at both sides of the coin. I know him personally, and he doesn’t come around either of our blogs except to try to get us riled up.

    Apparently it’s working.

  12. Wow, Marla. Sorry to have come off that way. I like to ask questions, offer opposing points of view, think outside of the box. I am really sorry to have “riled up” you guys. I guess I am not a “yes man” by nature.

    I’ll stop posting. Again, please forgive the offense.

  13. PS I am not sure that I know Joe personally, but he understood what I was trying to say. I’ll leave it up to him to discuss that point of view without being as offensive as I apparently tend to be.

  14. Interesting comments from everyone. From what I’ve studied and seen in life, God is enough – all of the time. We don’t need to perform on a stage for the world to see Him. He doesn’t even need for us to open our mouths to change the hearts of others. Sometimes God isn’t enough, when He should be.

    Our performance (even if it is positive / worthwhile) will never exceed the Spirit. How well we handle the world will never make God look any better, but we sure can make Him look bad sometimes.

  15. Oh, Scott. Insincere apologies lazed with patronizing jabs technically don’t count, but I’m feeling generous. Apology accepted!

    Sure will miss having you around.

    p.s. The feigned innocence bit was a nice touch.

  16. I’m proud of you guys for turning down the money – you’re right, our marriages are much more precious than people view them today. Thank you for sharing this!

    I liked Dena’s comment, I think she hit the nail on the head about the editing & the point of the show being conflict and entertainment, not the growth and change of each family.

    I also LOVED Marla’s tweet earlier tonight about your ‘impressionable’ girls – they would ABSOLUTELY be affected by this, and at their ages, would possibly even remember it for the rest of their lives. I don’t think you can chance a bad experience like this with their tender hearts, and I’m glad you’re staying strong.

  17. Gabe and Marla, I admire your decision. Joe said: “Most woman end up very bitter and frustrated with the guy in the end.” This is another reason to refuse to do the show. Is there ever any reason for a Christian to do something so trivial as go onto a reality show if it might lead to “bitterness and frustration.”

    The problem with the show is that it is not authentic. Few Christians would find it acceptable to move in with their girlfriend before marriage to “test their relationship,” so in what distorted reality would moving in with a complete stranger be acceptable? Sure, there is no sexual contact in “Wife Swap,” but that is precisely what makes the show inauthentic.

    There is no way to rationalize going onto the show for the sake of being a witness. What about the scandal it will cause within the Church? You cannot do intrinsically evil actions, such as pretending someone else is your wife, and claim that it is for the sake of winning souls. That is almost as ridiculous as claiming that going out sleeping with prostitutes is OK as long as you are evangelizing them in the process. I understand that on the show “Wife Swap,” there is no sexual contact, but that really is not the point. Marriage is far to sacred of an institution to have two couples pretend to switch partners for a few weeks to garner a few laughs.

    People wonder why the divorce rate is so high these days. It is because the culture insists on making a mockery of marriage.

  18. Just in case anybody’s still coming back and checking comments, I need to apologize.

    A friend just told me that my response to Scott was harsh, and she was right. It was totally flesh-driven and not at all Spirit-inspired.

    If I can’t glorify God through my words while my buttons are being pushed, I need to keep my mouth closed (or keep my fingers off my keyboard).

    Going to apologize to Scott right now.

  19. I prayed you guys wouldn’t take it to be honest. I have never watched the show, but looked at the site when it first came out. No good can come from that. Marla, I will not go to lunch with male co-workers either. People at work think I’m nuts, but they’ll remember my testimony and their wives will NEVER need to worry about me!

  20. “Does God speak differently to you”
    Naw, Hes always tawked Southern. (Coming from a guy born & raised tawkin southern, from Gawga)
    In Mat 7:6
    Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
    I think yall did the right thing by turning it down. I think we should keep our family as safe as possible.
    Yes, they probably would pair you off with someone your not attracted to, but theres always that chance that repulsive person could meet a need your spouse doesn’t or you didn’t even know wasn’t being met. (Jessica Rabbit said she stayed with Roger because he made her laugh. I know its a cartoon and not very family friendly but the unmatched couple analogy fits.
    Money and fame are not the be all end all.
    I do remember the 1 show I watched was with a Christian mom being put with a Wiccan family (or maybe Druids not sure, its been a couple of years.) They made her look really bad because they edited all her Bible quoting, praying, over reacting and thats what they showed. they are going for biggest entertainment, not a real social experiment
    Another whos applauding you guys for putting family ahead of your 15 minutes of fame.

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