This is a HUGE topic. There are MANY situations and issues that I cannot address in detail here. I cannot possibly fit all of what scripture says in one post like this. So this is a small taste on this topic, but it is not remotely exhaustive. Please be sure to seek godly counsel if you are having significant issues in your marriage. God’s Word is the authority he, not me! (Like always!)
We All Sin Sometimes
No matter whom you marry – you will be in a relationship with another sinful human. He will sin against you. He will hurt you very badly at times. You will also sin against him. And you will hurt him very badly at times.
Thankfully, there is grace, mercy and forgiveness in Christ! WE ALL NEED THAT DESPERATELY! Hopefully, you are married to a believer in Christ who understands this and how to deal with conflict and sin biblically. (But even if your husband is not a believer, God has wisdom for you.)
When we are in Jesus, our old sinful nature is dead and nailed to the cross, buried in the tomb. We are no longer slaves to sin. We can choose to let the Spirit of God control us instead of our sinful nature.
But we will not be completely perfect until heaven.
We are learning to allow God’s Spirit to have full control and to live in the victory Jesus has won for us on the cross. If your husband is not a believer in Christ, his greatest need is to have Jesus as his Savior and Lord.
Does Having a Quiet Spirit or Biblical Submission Mean I Have to Accept My Husband’s Sin and Mistreatment of Me and Say Nothing?
Does it mean, like the world thinks, that I am supposed to be a “second class citizen” or “slave”?
Thankfully, that is not what being a godly wife means!
A “quiet” spirit means a stilled or calm spirit – it means trusting in God instead of freaking out or trying to force things work out myself.
We seek to have a cooperative spirit, wanting to honor our husband’s leading whenever possible as we yield first to the Jesus.
Biblical submission does not mean a wife has to accept her husband’s sin and she can’t say anything about it. But if we do approach our husbands – it must be in a spirit of great humility, respect, prayer and the love of the Spirit of Christ.
There are times when I cannot cooperate with my husband’s leadership. But my heart is always to submit first to the Lordship of Christ and then to seek to treat my husband with honor. Not to honor sin. But to honor his position as my husband.
Is My Husband Really Sinning?
Let’s be sure that our husband is actually sinning by God’s standard and definition before we confront him. A lot of things are “disputable matters” or matters of personal conviction that could have more than one way of looking at them. If it is not clearly a sin – it may not be wise to confront our husbands – but rather to pray.
We can say what we want and need – but then we don’t control our husbands. We let them have free will. And they let us have free will.
What biblical references do you have to prove that this is actually a sin?
If the issue is something like – your husband believes God wants him to take a certain job, move to another town, discipline the children in a way you don’t like, handle the bills in a different way from yours or change churches… you may not want to do those things, but what he wants to do is not sinful.
It can be really easy for us as wives sometimes to think our husbands are being sinful—when in reality, they just have different perspectives than we do. If he determines how to tithe differently, or decides not to tithe, or if he doesn’t initiate prayer with you. or he doesn’t lead a nightly family devotion—be careful here.
These things are great things to do, but if he is not doing these things you want him to do—is he sinning? Not necessarily!
If your husband is asking you to sin or okay his sin like:
- go to a strip club with him
- approve of him having an affair
- participate in a threesome
- lie on the income tax
- steal from someone
- join a cult
- ok him spending money extremely irresponsibly
- have an abortion
- idolize him or something/someone else
- be ok with him having a porn addiction or watch porn with him
- accept a drug/alcohol/gambling addiction
- not share Jesus with anyone
- gossip or slander someone
- take God’s name in vain
- embrace a heresy
- he thinks its okay to abuse you or the kids
- cuss out your parents and treat them with dishonor
- be okay with him screaming and throwing things
Then you have a problem that I believe must be addressed with God’s power and truth. You may need to have some outside help.
When He Sins Against You
There are several passages of scripture that are very useful whenever ANYONE sins against us. (There are others, too – but I am trying not to let my posts be too long!)
1. Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Notice that Jesus doesn’t say NOT to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. But He does expect us to handle our own sin first before we address our brother’s sin.
If there is idolatry (putting yourself and being in control above Jesus in your heart – or anything above Jesus in your heart), selfishness, pride (thinking you know best), disrespect against God or your husband, gossip, slander, lust, rebellion against God’s Word, contentiousness, contempt, unforgiveness, bitterness, rage, addiction to something, etc…
We must repent humbly on our faces before our holy God for our own sin and repent to our husbands if we have sinned against them. It’s REALLY important to do this FIRST before we confront our husbands’ sin
2. Matthew 18:15-17
“If your brother sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Jesus instructs us to go directly to the person who has sinned against us privately first. If they won’t repent/apologize – then we are to take another godly person with us. If they still won’t repent or turn from their sin, we are supposed to take them before the church.
Unfortunately, most churches don’t do this anymore – but that is what Jesus instructs us to do. (I would emphasize that involving other people would probably only be necessary if this was a significant situation – infidelity, addiction, etc.)
3. Luke 17:3-4
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.
It’s important to note that forgiveness is NOT the same thing as trust!
If you must confront your husband’s sin prayerfully consider these ideas…
- speak softly and gently – maybe even whisper your words
- be very respectful and humble – but firm
- realize that we are all equally sinful before God – we are not “better than” our husbands. Our pride, control, disrespect, unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, gossip, etc… is just as offensive to God as our husbands’ sins.
- don’t push and pressure him
- pray for him
- realize he is not your enemy – sin is
- be fairly brief and to the point
- give him time to think things over
- be non-confrontational and unemotional
- be ready to listen
- if he changes the topic to your faults – don’t take the bait (plus, you have hopefully already addressed them with him earlier (Matt. 7:1-5)
When he addresses your sin – don’t be defensive, but listen and carefully consider and pray about what he says to see if God may be speaking to you about something important that He may want you to work on.
IF YOUR MAN IS AN UNBELIEVER
I Peter 3:1-6 applies if your man is far from God. The farther away a man is from Christ, the more he usually cannot hear his wife’s WORDS about spiritual things. Unfortunately, her words about God and spiritual things will likely push him farther away from her and from God. Her respect and living out her faith will impact him much more than her words. (Here is how to influence him for Christ without words.)
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Please note that it is our submission to our husbands’ authority that will speak most to our men and draw them to Christ – NOT our words about God/church/spiritual things. If your husband is not a believer or he is out of fellowship with Christ – your willing, joyful cooperation with his leadership (unless he asks you to sin or condone sin) is God’s method of choice to have you witness and be a missionary to him! It is your willingness to honor his God-given leadership and your respect and attitude of not complaining or arguing or freaking out that will speak to him. Your calm, gentle, peaceful trust in the sovereignty of Christ to work through your husband for your ultimate good and God’s glory is powerful!!!
** If there is major sin, mental illness, drug/alcohol addiction, infidelity or criminal activity going on in your marriage – please talk to a godly pastor you can trust or a Christian counselor or doctor (depending on the situation) and get godly help ASAP!
With Disputable Matters – Is It Possible Something Else Could Be Going On?
As women, if the issue is “a disputable matter” not a clear sin on our husband’s part, I think it is important for us to consider whether there may be other factors going on that make us feel upset with our husbands and could make us think we should confront our husbands – but maybe our husbands aren’t the problem if we are:
- exhausted and sleep deprived (not a good time to make spiritual judgements or have extremely significant talks or confrontations about anything
- hormonal (going through PMS, pregnancy or menopause) – we may feel very strongly that our husbands are wrong about something, but if we are in a very hormonal state, we may not be in the best frame of mind to talk about something highly emotional or very important.
- hungry – low blood sugar can make us irrational and can make everything seem so much worse than it is.
- in pain/sick – any time we are hurting or feeling awful is not an ideal time to have a deep spiritual discussion. This would require great sensitivity to God’s Spirit
When the flesh is weak, things often seem a lot worse, at least for me. Sometimes, if I can get some rest, eat, or wait a few days and take care of myself, things look a lot better.
- Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44
- Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:28
- Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
- God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6
- Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Luke 6
- Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Luke 6
- Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6
- Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6
- Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! James 2:12-13
- We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. I John 3:14-15
- If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. I John 4:20-21
- Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. Romans 12:17
- If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
- Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. Romans 12:19
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21