Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: During a rebellious time in his life, Lorne Matthews was looking for an excuse to divorce his wife.

Lorne Matthews: I finally found a so-called Christian counselor. He said, “You're under your wife's control, and you need to get out of this.”

Leslie: Around the same time, his wife was getting some advice of her own. 

Jimmie Ruth Matthews: Christian people were calling me and knocking on my door, and it was almost like, “Yippee, your husband's committing adultery. Now you can get a divorce.” 

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, February 5, 2015. 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God is a faithful, covenant-keeping God. He keeps His promises. Even if we are faithless, He remains faithful. Human marriage is supposed to picture the faithfulness of God, the love of God. Marriage presents a picture of the plan of redemption—Christ's love for His bride. Because God is a covenant-keeping God, that's why it's right to reflect that heart of God by keeping our covenant in the marriage relationship.

Over the next several days, we'll hear the story about a wife who believes in the covenant of marriage and made some really tough choices to live out that belief.

I know a story like this can be painful to women who are struggling in a difficult marriage. So as you listen, I hope you'll do a few things.

  • First, be inspired by the picture of commitment and forgiveness we'll see in this story over the next four days.
  • Second, realize the specifics in your situation might be quite different from the couple in this story. If you'd like help in your circumstance, I want to encourage you to go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, and we'll link to some additional programs on this topic, and give you a chance to evaluate the Scripture for yourself.
  • Third, if you're in a struggling marriage, don't struggle alone. Get help from your pastor or from a mature, Christian sister, or from an older couple in your church.

Well, the story begins in 1962 at a camp ministry in Baltimore, Maryland. The head counselor for girls that year was a young Bible college student named Jimmie Ruth.

Jimmie Ruth: I was in my senior year at Moody. 

Leslie: She signed up for a three-month commitment. 

Jimmie Ruth: They have a very Western camp for young people. They bring kids out of the inner city. 

Leslie: Music that summer was provided by a trio of singers. Jimmie Ruth paid a lot of attention to the group's piano player, Lorne Matthews. 

Jimmie Ruth: They had hired this tall, skinny guy from Toronto to play for them that summer, and it was Lorne. 

Lorne: She saw me, and she couldn't resist me. (laughter) 

Jimmie Ruth: No, that's my line, Lorne. (laughter) 

Nancy: Is it true?

Jimmie Ruth: Yes, it's true. 

Nancy: You saw him, and you said, “This is the one”? 

Jimmie Ruth: I knew that was my husband.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss helps us get to know this piano player better. 

Nancy: Now, I have to say, I'm looking at selected highlights of your resume here, Lorne. For those who may not be into Southern Gospel music, you may not be familiar with Lorne Matthews, but if you are, you certainly have heard his name. 

He studied at the Toronto Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada. In 2003, he was inducted into the Southern Gospel Piano Role of Honor, Hall of Fame—that's quite an honor—and is a living legend in the Southern Gospel industry. If you've seen the Gaither Homecoming videos (or DVDs now)—I know that many of our listeners have—then Lorne, you've been on a number of those.

Lorne: Yes, I've been honored. Bill and I go back a long way, back in the sixties. 

Nancy: So you're a pianist. 

Lorne: Yes. 

Nancy: And it was in that function/role that you were at the dude ranch when you met Jimmie Ruth.

Lorne: Right. I saw Jimmie Ruth, and I flipped out.

Nancy: So you both did.

Lorne: Yes.

Nancy: Love at first sight.

Lorne: Well, we left to go on a tour. We went to Berwick, Pennsylvania.

Nancy: The trio

Lorne: The trio did, and the next week, here comes Jimmie Ruth with all the kitchen staff. They came up there to hear us sing.

Jimmie Ruth: Now, now, now let me explain it.

We all—the staff—we had a day off, and so I really think there was a bunch of them that were trying to play cupid. They said, “Let's go visit with The Kingsmen on our day off,” so we drove up to Berwick, Pennsylvania.

We're all congregated there together in kind of a circle, and everybody else starts going their way. Here I am standing all alone with Lorne, so we went to eat at a restaurant. Then he took me for a walk in the rain, and you go from there.

Lorne: Well, we went on this bridge across the Susquehanna River. We went walking across, and I just felt led to share her my heart. I said, “I really feel like God's calling me to be a Gospel musician, and my dream is to marry a woman that wants to travel, sing Gospel music, raise a family, and have a family that travels in Gospel music.”

Jimmie Ruth: And drives and carries equipment. (laughter)

Lorne: Yes, so I looked at her. I didn't know what she'd say, but I said, “If you think you'd like to do that, too, I'd like you to be my wife.”

Jimmie Ruth: This was our first date.

Nancy: Wow! What did you say?

Jimmie Ruth: I said, “I'll go home and pray and pack.” (laughter)

Nancy: Oh my goodness! It wasn't long after that that you were married, right? Just a matter of months?

Jimmie Ruth: Well, that was in July, and he came back at the end of the summer when my parents came to pick me up and visited with my family in Tennessee. Then I went and visited his family in October in Toronto, and we were married in December. We hadn't really been together that much.

Lorne: It's an amazing story.

Nancy: You knew what you were looking for.

Lorne: Well, I really—I told my buddy, I said, “I'm going to ask her.” I said, “All she can say is 'no' or 'yes.'”

He said, “You're crazy! You don't even know her!”

I said, “I see what I want in her,” and I remember going out under the stars and praying and saying, “Lord, if this is Your will, I just yield to You, but I feel so drawn to her.”

Leslie: That feeling of being drawn to someone led Lorne Matthews to make a lifelong commitment before God, and he and Jimmie Ruth were married. But that same feeling of being drawn to someone could also be dangerous. This couple would later discover why.

As newlyweds, Lorne and Jimmie Ruth did some traveling together, but when they started having children, they were apart for long stretches when Lorne headed out on the road. His music career seemed to be doing very well.

Lorne: I began to get puffed up in pride because of my piano gift. I thought that that was my identity, and so it was a performance orientation, and it was pride.

Nancy: As we know, pride sets us up for a fall.

Lorne: Yes, “After pride is destruction and after a haughty spirit, a fall,” the Word says (Prov. 16:18, paraphrase).

Leslie: That pride was just one of the many stresses this relationship faced.

Jimmie Ruth: We're so much alike but yet so, so different. Lorne is—what is the personality that is always, they want to party? Everything they do, they party? They have fun with everything they do. I'm a choleric—a very structured, boring, predictable person. 

Nancy: He's the artist.

Jimmie Ruth: Yes, he's the artist, and I thought, When is he going to settle down and grow up?

Nancy: Isn't it amazing though—this is love at first sight, back to the origin here. You both saw each other, said, “That's the one for me,” and you were probably drawn to the differences.

Lorne: Absolutely!

Jimmie Ruth: Right! I needed him.

Nancy: Then the time came when those differences became a huge barrier.

Jimmie Ruth: It had reached the dull, boring state, and we were just kind of coasting.

Lorne: We were separated a lot by the Gospel music world. I was traveling out on the road. I'd come home, and we didn't have any intimacy because she was a slave at home and did all the work raising the kids. I was this prima donna getting on a bus and traveling around the country getting standing ovations. So I'd come home and give her the laundry to do and go out and play golf with my friends, just a picture of real stupidity and pride on my part.

Jimmie Ruth: I started resenting his coming home because the kids and I would develop our lifestyle, and when he came home, he became an interruption to what was normal for us.

I was loving Lorne. My love language is acts of service, so I was doing everything for him. That was construed as controlling, and it probably was out of balance.

Lorne: You think it was a little bit out of balance? (laughter)

Jimmie Ruth: He was loving me with verbal words and touch. Well, I hadn't grown up with that, and if we've not had that poured into us, you don't just suddenly speak your wedding vows and start gushing it out. So Lorne was loving me, and I was loving him, but we were a million miles apart. Neither of us were feeling emotion because I wasn't feeling him doing things to help me around the home.

Nancy: You said he was a weak and wimpy man. Did you see him that way when you married him, when you were first drawn to him?

Jimmie Ruth: I think in some ways I did, and I think there was a mothering attitude in me that found this was somebody that I could help and be a blessing to.

Nancy: As you look back—now I don't mean to pry here, but I hear a lot of women say this about men today in general and their own husbands in particular. I find myself wondering, are there ways that we as women are contributing to men becoming that?

Jimmie Ruth: Definitely, definitely.

Nancy: As you look back, do you think there are ways that you contributed to him becoming more of that?

Jimmie Ruth: Definitely, yes. When I was a young child, my dad was an alcoholic. He left us many times, and I thought, Well, when I get married, I'm going to marry a man that will never do this to me. I think there was probably a clutchiness in me. I had to keep everything perfect.

Nancy: So you were controlling?

Jimmie Ruth: Yes, I was. I had this basic fear of being abandoned. I think there's a fine line in our personalities that we both have to keep very aware of. I'm still strong. I'm a leader. I'm a strong worker, and it's easy for Lorne to lay back and let me.

Lorne: I remember the first few days we were married. Here she's a Moody graduate. She also studied medical technology, a lab technician. She also went to business college. So here she is. She's this strong, business personality, and well, I had hardly been away from my mother. I went to one year of Bible college.

I took my wallet, and I said, “Listen, you take the headship of the checkbook and writing the bills and taking care of everything. I don't know anything about this.”

Well, she grabbed that checkbook and said, “Oh, wonderful!”

Jimmie Ruth: See, my love language is serving, so that was a way for me to love him.

Nancy: You thought.

Jimmie Ruth: Yes.

Nancy: Of course, this all comes from Genesis chapter 3, the result of the fall when God said to Eve, “Your drive is going to be to rule over your husband,” (v. 16, paraphrase). And the man's natural, fallen tendency is to let her, to stand back, and to default to her leadership. This is where, when God redeems a couple, He allows them to come back into that God-created place of the man providing the leadership and the headship and the woman being the responder.

Jimmie Ruth: But coming to the place where we can acknowledge that is the first step to victory, because most people want to deny it and not deal with it.

Leslie: As we've been hearing, Lorne's pride and passivity were major threats to his marriage. So was Jimmie Ruth's fear and her desire to control. While this couple was dealing with the results of these threats, another temptation appeared. This couple had met a hair stylist at church. She operated a salon in her basement.

Lorne: I remember one time she was cutting my hair, and we were alone. She reached out, and she touched me very gently on my shoulders. I felt something that I had never felt ever in my life up to that point. It was a flow that I just can't describe. I just—I looked at her, and I said, “What is that?”

She said, “Haven't you figured it out by now? I'm in love with you,” and so I believe at that point, I just went over the edge.

I just said, “I want to see you tomorrow.” The next thing you know, we were talking about we'd divorce our mates, and we'd get married. We were in—quotes—"love." So I came to my wife after eighteen years of marriage, and I got the big head. I said, “I don't feel any emotions for you anymore, and I want a divorce.”

Jimmie Ruth: I can't even describe what I felt at that point because I was so unprepared for it.

Nancy: You had two children.

Jimmie Ruth: Mark and Melody.

Nancy: How old were they at the time?

Jimmie Ruth: They were, let's see, Melody, I believe, was fifteen, and Mark was seventeen.

Nancy: Did you tell them right away?

Jimmie Ruth: Yes, because this woman's children were friends of our kids, and in fact, the woman's son came and talked with Lorne and tried to beg him not to become involved with his mom.

Lorne: That was a very important moment in my life as I look back. This young man had been a drug addict, and he got saved. He was a street minister, prison minister. He was a fine, young man on fire for God.

Jimmie Ruth: Nineteen.

Lorne: He sat down with me, and he said, “Lorne, you're making the biggest mistake of your life.”

We were sitting together, and I said, “No. Your mother—I just—I will marry her. I’ll adopt you as my son some day, and we'll minister together.”

He began to weep, and he said, “I see you're totally and completely deceived.” He said, “I see you're sincere, but you're wrong,” and then he told me something that I'll never forget. He said, “Lorne, my mother—she's a Jezebel. I've seen her seduce many men through the years, and you're just one.”

I got really mad at him, and I said, “Son, don't ever talk about your mother like that. She tells me she hears the voice of God, and we're going to have a ministry together.”

Nancy: So you were spiritualizing this.

Lorne: Yes, definitely.

Jimmie Ruth: Oh, he was a spiritual giant.

Lorne: Oh my, I was over the edge, and I thought my wife was controlling. Well, this lady controlled me totally by her so-called spiritual insights and gifts and things.

Nancy: And you're still doing music ministry throughout this time.

Lorne: Oh yes, I always continued to do music and to travel and to play the Gospel songs.

I began to look for counseling at that point. I found some counselors that told me I needed to stay in the marriage and all the things that I needed to hear, but I didn't want to hear. So I finally found a so-called Christian counselor. He, incidentally, had his own TV ministry in another country, had a Ph.D. in psychology, and was very gifted in his persona and his ministry.

He said to me, “You're wife . . . I've studied you guys, watched you come in and out of this area, and I can read Jimmie Ruth pretty well. She's very damaged, and she's very controlling. Her father probably was an alcoholic.”

I said, “How in the world does this guy know that?”

He said, “Her mother was very, very, very religious, but you never, ever, ever felt her arms around you. There was no touch and flow in that family. That's the family your wife was raised in.” He said, “Is that correct?”

I said, “Yes, it's true.”

He said, “Now, when you're with this other woman, and she touches you, that's the kind of love you need.” He said, “I'd recommend that you divorce your wife and move in with her if you have to. When you do that, every religious person in the world is going to condemn you to hell, but when it's over, God will forgive you, and you can have a brand-new wife and a brand-new life.”

As I was walking out of the counseling room, he looked at me, and he quoted the Bible. He said, “It says in the Word that if you leave father, mother, houses, land, wife, children for my sake and the gospel” (Mark 10:29, paraphrase) so he kind of made me sense and I felt, in a lying way, that I was doing that for the sake of the gospel.

Nancy: Did you believe him?

Lorne: I did. I wanted to. See, I had itching ears. I had heaped to myself a teacher, but his explanation was that every human being needs nurture, touch, love. He said, “You will never get it from Jimmie Ruth. She doesn't have it to give. But investigate this other relationship, and you'll learn a lot. You'll grow up,” but he said, “you're under your wife's control, and you need to get out of this.”

His diagnosis was perfect. His solution was demonic. But the diagnosis was: You've created a relationship where your wife is on top, and you are the wimp underneath. He said, “I'm empowering you to throw that off.”

Leslie: We've been hearing the story of a marriage in a downward spiral. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Jimmie Ruth and Lorne Matthews. We left that story in a very bleak place, but I hope you'll keep listening over the next few days because ultimately, it's a story of healing and hope. Nancy, I know a lot of listeners will relate to today's story.

Nancy: That’s right, I know women are listening while facing bleak situations of their own. At Revive Our Hearts, we’re committed to teaching you God’s Word. And we also want you to see how the Scripture gets lived out by real people in real situations. Our goal is that women will experience greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.  

We’re able to bring you these kinds of messages and interviews day after day on because listeners like you believe in what God is doing through Revive Our Hearts in the lives of women. They want to be part of this ministry. So they pray for us and they support the ministry financially. 

When you support the ministry this week with a gift of any size, we’d like to send you a book that moved me deeply the first time I read it. It’s called The Incomparable Christ by Oswald Sanders. This book helped me to appreciate Jesus in some wonderful, new ways. Such as the pre-existence of Christ. The humanity of Christ. The serenity of Christ, and others. 

I’ve taken the basic outline of this book and added new material on the life of Jesus that I’ll be teaching right here on Revive Our Hearts starting February 18. 

We’d like to send you a special Revive Our Hearts edition of this book, The Incomparable Christ, so you can read along during the series. And we’ll also send you a journal our team has developed with some “Making it Personal” questions. You can use these to follow up each day’s teaching and live out what you’re hearing. 

Ask for The Incomparable Christ book—I know that's a long title; you can just ask for the book on Jesus—and the journal when you call with your gift of any amount. The number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. 

Leslie Basham: Thanks Nancy. Well, today's story ended in a dark place. Lorne Matthews had told his wife he wanted a divorce, but she wanted their marriage to end a different way.

Jimmie Ruth: God designed marriage to last until death parts you, so I just prayed for God to kill him. So you have a murderer and an adulterer here expounding on your program today.

I had to come to the place of repenting of what was in my heart. I said, "Lord, I even have a plan. Get him on a slick highway and push him over a steep embankment. Then I can look good, and You can look good, too."

I just had to deal with me. I couldn't settle Lorne's problems. I had to deal with my problems. When I saw how desperately wicked my own heart was . . .

Nancy: In the terms of how you responded to him?

Jimmie Ruth: To pray for God to kill him.

Nancy: So God began to change your heart while he was still gone?

Jimmie Ruth: Oh yes, yes. I was trying to get him to change. And one day the Lord showed me in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit is listed. The last fruit is temperance, which means self-control, not husband control.

I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, I really don't like the woman. I started asking God to show me to things that were in my heart that He wanted to change. And then I started to focus on them.

I encourage most women when I talk to them, "You're likely not going to change your husband, so just get off his case and start asking God what He wants to change in You."

Leslie: More from the Matthews tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.