Avoiding Legalism


Is it possible to take some of the advice I give and turn it into legalism?


I believe that as sinful humans, we are always prone to want lists and rules.  I think we can be tempted to think, “if I do all of the things on this list or follow all of these rules, I can be close to God” or “God will love me more.”  When we think that we can “earn” God’s love, favor or heaven with our “good behavior” or “works” that is legalism.  It is actually a form of idolatry.  It is me trusting in my goodness to get me into heaven instead of trusting Jesus. It is me putting my imagined “goodness” above Christ in my life and trusting myself instead of Jesus.  This is what the Pharisees did and Jesus spent a great deal of time fiercely opposing this concept.

We can do this with almost anything:

  • If I go to church every Sunday, God will be impressed
  • If I pray for 15 minutes every day, I will earn points with God
  • If I give 10% of my income as a tithe, God will bless me more materially and think that I am a “good” Christian
  • If I make my husband pray with me every night, it means we have a godly marriage and God will be pleased

It is entirely possible to even turn respect, submission, modesty, godly femininity – anything – into legalism or an idol:

  • If I respect my husband, God will be impressed and He will have to give me what I want.  God will “owe” me.
  • If I honor my husband’s leadership, my husband will have to love me the way I want him to.  I can control him.
  • If I dress with long skirts every day, I am “more holy” than other women.
  • If I don’t wear makeup – I am “better” than other people.
  • If I do wear makeup – I am “better” than those legalistic people who don’t.
  • If I avoid close friendships with other men, then I am spiritually superior to those who do have lots of male friends outside of their marriage.
  • If I dress modestly, I can look down on other women.
  • If I do everything in this book or on this blog, I will earn more “points” with God
  • If I respect my husband, I will always feel loved.

It is not my intention at all to give “lists of rules” that “must be followed.”

I do give a lot of practical suggestions and ideas.  I talk about my own convictions and why I have them.  But ultimately, each Christian wife must decide for herself what she believes God wants her to do in each situation – in cooperation with her husband’s God-given leadership.  The biggest and most important aspect of the Christian walk is for us to abide in Christ and be full of His Spirit, sensitive to His leading.

The main two commandments God gives us are:

  1. To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
  2. To love your neighbor (other people) as yourself.


God is constantly aware of my motives – whether they are pure or ungodly.  God wants me to do the right thing for the right reason – all the time.  So whether the issue is praying, going to church, reading my Bible, deciding what to wear, controlling my thought life, deciding what to say in a situation or obeying God’s Word to me as a wife –  God is pleased when I want to do these things because I love Him, reverence Him and have all my faith in Him.

Nothing we can do affects the level of God’s love for us.  And nothing we do can impress God or be good enough to make us exempt from needing Jesus’ blood to cover our mountains of sin.

We desire to obey God and do “good” things BECAUSE He loved us first and gave us grace.  Then we surrender our lives to Him fully and submit to Him as Lord.  Then He will empower us to do the good works He has planned for us to do.  The good things we do come from His power working inside of us as a result of the grace we have received.  Good behavior does not give us our intimacy with God.  Only Christ can give us intimacy and peace with God by His death on the cross for the payment of our indescribably huge amount of sin.


When I was learning about respect and biblical submission, I had very few godly examples.  I was frustrated because the  books I read talked about treating our husbands with “respect” but I really didn’t understand all the depths of the meaning of that word to men.  I didn’t know what was disrespectful.  I didn’t know how to change my thought patterns and priorities and how to give up control.  I needed SERIOUS HELP!

I give practical examples to try to provide a starting point for women who desire to live out God’s design for marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33, I Cor 11:3, Titus 2:2-5, I Peter 3:1-6).

Are there other respectful ways to handle things in marriage besides the things I write about?  Absolutely!  I pray that the ideas in my blog might at least get women in the general ballpark and then they can hash out the details with God and their own husbands.

Each marriage will look a bit different.  Each husband will have his own ideas of what is disrespectful/respectful.  Each wife will find her own path.  We will not be cookie cutters.  Everyone will not look, act and speak exactly like I do.  That is fine!

God doesn’t ask you to be me!  He wants you to be you.  He wants to put your sinful nature to death on the cross and let you put on your new identity and self in Christ – full of His power for His greatest glory.

My prayer is that women (and men!) will repent of their sins and then be filled with God’s Spirit and be sensitive to His voice.

I am not infallible.  I am not always right. I am a very sinful human in whom there is nothing good apart from Jesus Christ.  There are different situations, personalities and issues in each marriage that I cannot begin to address or have the wisdom to address.

God has the wisdom each wife needs in her own marriage.  My ultimate desire is for us to hear and obey God – not check off that you are doing everything I write about on my blog.  Abiding in Jesus and living in obedience to Him brings His peace, joy, strength, power and abundant life!  That is what I desire women to experience!