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How to Make Your Husband an Idol

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Idolatry is not something we think much about in our modern day, Western culture.  I grew up in church, reading the Bible, knowing how offensive idolatry was to God – feeling super smug and secure because I didn’t commit sins like THAT!  What could possibly be tempting about bowing down to a statue and serving it and praying to it as if it could hear or help me one iota?

Yep.

I was SO thankful I wasn’t a big sinner like THOSE people.

Then, 4 years ago or so, God opened my eyes to the idolatry, pride, rebellion, unforgiveness and sin in my life.

WOW.

Turns out, I was committing idolatry every waking moment of every single day since I was little.  I just didn’t know it.

WHAT IS AN IDOL?

  • anything that we cherish more than Christ in our hearts.
  • anything that we believe we MUST HAVE to be happy – that isn’t Christ.
  • something other than God that I use to get my identity from – or the thing/person/concept from which I try to find my fulfillment.
  • something I spend a great deal of time investing in, focusing on, relying on and putting all my trust in – that is not Christ.
  • something I am willing to give up my family or relationships for, maybe I am willing to spend almost any amount of money to serve that person/thing/idea.  I will serve my idol no matter what it costs me.
  • I will try to find my contentment in my idol.  But it will never satisfy – I am always left empty, broken and wanting more.
  • it is often the opposite of what I fear most.

IDOLATRY IS HUGE SIN!

God will never allow me to find contentment in an idol.

He will only allow me to find contentment in Christ Jesus.

Idolatry is breaking the first commandment in Exodus 20 “You shall have no other gods before me” as well as the greatest command Jesus talks about “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

To Him, it is me breaking my covenant with Him – like I am committing adultery against Him by serving/worshipping/putting my faith in these other things.  God alone deserves my worship, praise, adoration, giving, devotion and sacrifice.  He will not share His glory with another.

As Wes Church, one of our ministers, says, “The human heart is an idol factory.”  We have to CONSTANTLY guard our hearts against putting things above God.  I must always check my true motives throughout every day!   And I will have to continue to do that for the rest of my life! We can make almost anything – even good things, even things that are gifts from God  – into idols.

HOW CAN I POSSIBLY MAKE MY HUSBAND INTO AN IDOL?  THAT SOUNDS LUDICROUS, RIGHT?!

There are so many ways!  And sadly, we almost NEVER realize what we are doing.  If I miss a way, please let me know!  Some of these things are difficult to separate out.  It is very possible to have more than one idol at a time.  I would say I had myself, being in control, feeling loved and my husband as idols – among many other things at various times.

1.  I EXPECT HIM TO BE CHRIST TO ME – 

In this case, I don’t just expect my husband to represent Christ and portray a picture of Christ in our marriage to me (as described in Ephesians 5:22-33) but to actually BE Christ.  I put all my trust and hope in my husband instead of Jesus Christ.  I am continually disappointed, depressed and upset with my husband because “he is not meeting all my needs properly” – meaning – he is not being who and what I want him to be so that I have what I want in my life.   I am insatiable.  I am a pit of neediness.  No matter what my husband does, it is not enough.  I want more. I am angry at him all the time.  He can never measure up to my standards.  He never feels like he can be “good enough” for me.  And he truly can’t.  I want perfection at a minimum, and my sinful husband definitely can’t deliver.

2. I EXPECT TO FEEL LOVED BY HIM ALL THE TIME –  This idolatry involves my husband because I expect him to be the one making me feel loved.  But I could argue that it is my feeling of being loved that might be the actual idol here.  I don’t take responsibility for my own emotions and my own spiritual development and growth.  I make my husband 100% responsible for my feelings.  This is dysfunctional.  Healthy boundaries say I am responsible for my feelings, my husband is responsible for his feelings.  Mature love says, “I will obey God about how to treat my husband even though I don’t ‘feel loved’ right now.”  Obedience to God’s Word comes first, feelings may come later.  But whether I feel loved or not at the moment, I am still responsible to obey God’s Word for me as a wife in how I treat my husband, God and others.

3. I EXPECT HIM TO NEVER SIN AGAINST ME –  If  my husband ever stumbles or hurts me or falls into temptation – that is unacceptable when I idolize my husband in this way.  I have zero grace or mercy for him.  He must be perfect.  Many wives actually expect husbands to be completely perfect and sinless even in their thoughts 24/7.

It’s ok for me to sin and he better forgive me.  I think my sins aren’t as bad as his are.  If he sins, I look down on him because  I believe I am morally superior to him. I think, “I would NEVER sin the way he does.” Then I indulge in self-righteousness – thinking I am so much better than my husband.  I don’t see my own sin clearly.  I am too busy pointing at my husband’s sins or trying to control him to prevent him from sinning to notice that I have a mountain of my own sin God wants me to look at and repent of.

The truth is – we are ALL wretched sinners.  Marriage exposes our sin – and gives us the chance to see how much we need the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Christ.  It also gives us plenty of opportunities to learn to forgive and show mercy and grace to our spouse!

4. I EXPECT HIM TO BE COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE FOR MY HAPPINESS –  If I am not happy, it is his fault.  He better fix it.  This is similar to #2.  Spiritually and emotionally whole people recognize that we are each responsible for our own happiness, our own relationship with Christ, our own feelings, our own needs, our own desires, our own sin and our own obedience to Christ.  If I stick my husband with “making me happy” – we are both doomed to misery!  He can’t make me happy.  I am the only one who can find joy for myself – and it is only found in Christ!  I must put Christ first, then I will have joy no matter what my husband does or does not do.

5. I DECIDE I MUST HAVE HIM TO BE HAPPY – If my husband leaves me – I think my life will be over.  I am not content in Christ alone.  I HAVE to have my husband with me.  If he sins against me, or wants a divorce, I will do anything to keep him, even if I have to sin to try to make him stay.  

I tell God that my husband cannot die before me.  I freak out if he is late a few minutes, worrying to death that he is dead.  I decide that if my husband dies, I will not trust God anymore.   My love for God is conditional upon my husband loving me, being with me and being alive.

6. HE MAY TRY TO MAKE ME PUT HIM AS AN IDOL IN MY HEART  

Sometimes, it is not the wife who is controlling, but the husband.  It is entirely possible that some husbands may expect their wives to go way beyond respect and biblical submission to literally idolize them.

God DOES give our husbands to us as God-given authorities to provide for us, protect us, lead us, guide us, love us with humility and grace, to demonstrate the selfless and sacrificial love of Christ to us and to represent Christ to us.

There is a VERY big difference between a husband seeking to represent Christ to his wife and a husband trying to replace Christ or BE Christ in his wife’s life.

Godly leadership is described in detail in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 – this is how men are to lead in a Christlike way in the church and also in their families.  The way Christ loves us is described in I Corinthians 13:4-8 and Galatians 5:22-26.

Christ is the only mediator between us and God.   We as women have total access to Jesus and to God through the blood of Jesus, just as men do.  Galatians 3:28  We are all of equal value as image bearers of God at the foot of the cross.

 

85 thoughts on “How to Make Your Husband an Idol

  1. I found it really interesting that your first 4 ways start with “Expect”. Expectations are a huge issue in marriage. It is always good to have trust, to hope, but to expect is a dangerous things.

    Never expect anything in marriage, then if your spouse does something that pleases you, you’ll be grateful. The alternative is that they don’t do what you expect, and you’re aggravated.

    1. Jay Dee,

      Yes. I have several posts about the expectations we bring to marriage and how they are “premeditated resentment.” When our expectations do not match reality, we will be very disappointed, upset, angry, hurt and discontent.

      Thanks!

  2. Ah yes, it hits the nail right on the head for how I spent the first 9-10 years of marriage. This was the biggest realization for me of my disrespect because in my marriage, it stemmed entirely from this point. I hope others find themselves in this post today and find the kind of healing I’m finding too!

    1. This was exactly my primary issue – too, Kayla. Putting myself before God, and putting my husband before God in my heart. I love what God is doing in you! 🙂

  3. I understand what you are saying. It is a widely held view. In my understanding an idol was a made thing. It was worshiped by those who wished to deny God or replace him. I respectfully disagree that this can be a spouse. Many of the points you make are valid and good. I only disagree with calling it idolatry. Idolatry was an intentional act of worship and service to a false God. In 1st Corinthians 7, Paul discusses what you are talking about. He does not command that one ( man or woman) remain unmarried but suggests for those strong enough to stay pure, it offers the benefit of worshiping God without distraction or divided thoughts. He too makes valid points yet does not call it idolatry. I love your posts and I am so grateful whenever I get an email with a new entry from Peaceful Wife. I just wanted to offer my opinion. I take comfort in knowing that God knows the motives of my heart. In trying to please my husband,submit to him and respect him as the authority God placed over me I have often wondered about where the line is to idolatry. It never felt right in my heart. The Lord knows I love him and want to honor His system for my marriage. I honor and acknowledge him as the Creator and understand that my husband, children and everything else are created by God. We have two varying views on what idolatry is but what I am suggesting is that instead of carrying guilt that may stem from insufficient understanding, perhaps we should look deeper into the scriptures. Thank you again for what you do. You have been an enormous blessing to me.~Shauna

    1. Shauna,

      Thank you for your comments!

      You may not have ever put abstract things like your husband, yourself, being in control, getting married, wealth, career, health, beauty, thinness, material things, children, etc… Before Christ in your heart. If so, that is awesome!

      Usually, when people do this, they are not consciously doing it. But any time we desire something more than we desire God, that does offend God greatly, and He counts it as idolatry. There are many forms of idolatry. I the Old Testament, God reprimands Israel for “committing adultery” with other nations and making treaties with them. Why? They were trusting their alliances instead of trusting God.

      The rich young ruler had his wealth as an idol, it was more important to him than eternal life. That is why Jesus asked him to give it up.

      Marriage is a good thing and is created by God. But it is possible to distort and twist marriage and to put our husbands before God in our hearts. That is not God’s design. When we seek Christ first, and seek to obey and honor Him alone, then we will be able to love, respect, cherish, nurture, honor and cooperate with our husbands properly.

      I am not at all saying that marriage is bad or that having a husband is bad. It is our motives we must watch. That doesn’t just apply to marriage, but to everything we do.

      I hope that might clarify things a bit.

      May God richly bless your walk with Him and your marriage!

      1. Shauna,

        Maybe you would rather call it a “false god” to put a person ahead of Christ?

        There were kings and emperors who demanded that people worship them as god. Perhaps it is just the terminology that is an issue?

    2. As someone who has done each and every thing April listed in her post, I can tell you without a doubt I was guilty of idolatry. In every case God was not given His rightful place in my heart.

      Idolatry is first and foremost a heart issue: the heart being something that is not tangible or man-made. Worship has to do with the VALUE you place on something in your heart–giving something the pre-eminence in your life, and then acting on that in various ways.

      Prayer or the physical act of bowing down may be part of worship, but those are external actions. The heart behind ALL of these is exactly what you described as something that is idolized: “It was worshiped by those who wished to deny God or replace him.” That’s sadly exactly what I was doing, I denied who God really is–His power, His glory, His Lordship over my heart and life and I replaced Him with someone else–my husband–and expected that a fallen, sinful man could fill the shoes of the Almighty. I was foolish!

      Yes, I would have easily and sincerely acknowledged Him as Creator. But, I was reversing God’s perfect spiritual order of authority: God being at the top, then my husband, and then me. Instead, I put my husband at the top…but if I’m honest, I have to say that more often it was actually me, with all my pride, at the top trying miserably to control it all.

      But, I NEVER would have admitted this was idolatry at the time, because I had always pictured idolatry as someone in a country far away bowing to a statue, once again not seeing that it is the HEART motive behind that bowing that makes the hands that carved that image, and then the heart bowing in submission to it, the sin. The guilt and misery I felt, but did not understand where it was coming from, was completely reasonable. In my heart I had knocked God off His throne. It is only natural He has made our hearts to be discontent when He alone is not the Lord of them!

      April may be right about it being a terminology issue. You sound like a terrific wife who has her priorities in the right place, and who has a firm grasp of Biblical marriage. I only wish I had that years ago too! But, He is bringing healing and a healthy balance to my relationship with Him and my relationship to my husband. THAT is the kind of relationship God can bless and call beautiful as He intended marriage to be!

  4. I suppose it is also possible to make an idol out of submitting to one’s husband (like being proud of one’s humility). I’m certainly NOT suggesting that is the case with you, however. It all depends on the motives of the heart which only God knows for sure. As a Catholic, I’ve grown accustomed to false accusations of idolatry from others, so I know how that feels. When I was not Catholic, I falsely accused Catholics of idol worship, so I’ve been on that side, too. We look on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

    1. Thomas,
      ABSOLUTELY!
      It is possible to make an idol out of respecting our husbands, obeying God’s Word, almost ANYTHING! Sometimes it can be subtle – from our perspective – not from God’s, I am sure.

      But it is when I have my heart set on something for my salvation or to make me right or to have my purposes accomplished in life.

      Yes – our motives matter greatly to God. I talk with my children often about this.

      Doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason = sin. (Stealing because of greed)
      Doing the wrong thing for the right reason = sin. (Robin Hood stealing from the rich to give to the poor)
      Doing the right thing for the wrong reason = sin. (Going to church to impress others or make myself “look good”)

      Only doing the right thing for the right reason is pleasing to God. (Going to church to worship God because I love Him with all my heart)

      I think we can often find the evidence if our motives are not right – in the fruit of our life. I NEVER can have the fruit of God’s Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self control – when I am seeking something else before God.

      When I am discontent – that is a big flag to me to check my motives and see if I am placing something else above Christ in my life.

      1. That’s right, sister. It’s like St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You, oh Lord.”

        Another way to say what you said about motives is, “The end does not justify the means.”

        It is interesting how the word “idolatry” so often gets associated with the word “statues.” God’s command does not prohibit the fashioning of statues, only the worship of them as actual gods. Many Christians ignore the fact that after giving Moses the Ten Commandments God actually commanded the fashioning of statues (like what He told them to place on the Ark of the Covenant, for example, as well as the snake on the pole that people looked at and were healed). God didn’t want His people making a golden calf and worshiping it, but He did want them making golden angels for the Ark and treating it with reverence.

        Again, it’s the heart that makes the difference. Hence, Catholics are often accused of idolatry simply because we have statues. But we do not worship those statues. We use them the same way anyone would use a family photo in their wallet, or a monument to a past president. They remind us of loved ones that have gone to Heaven before us. We know they are just plaster or stone. Any Catholic that actually DOES worship a statue is violating what the Catholic Church teaches. If it is a sin to simply make statues, then the art world is in really big trouble indeed!

        1. Thomas,

          I always look forward to your insights and comments. Thank you so much for sharing! That is a beautiful explanation!

          I think that associating idolatry with statues is exactly why many of us don’t recognize our sin of setting our hearts on things other than Christ.

          It’s so easy to just try to set up rules to follow and then judge ourselves and others by externals.

          When you realize that God judges every thought and motive – that is where I began to see the depth of my depravity and my truly desperate need for the blood of Christ and His grace.

  5. This is actually a question I’ve been wanting answered for a long time and I figured this would be a good time and place to ask it. What does it mean EXACTLY to put God first? How much of my day should I devote to him? I know that the obvious answer would be all day every day, but just how far are we supposed to take that? I can be mindful of him throughout the day, say a quick prayer here and there when I have a moment. I also know that we should take time out of our day to study God’s word and meditate on the Scriptures. Just HOW much of our day should we devote to God in that way? I feel like I’ve always either been extreme one way or another. To me, putting God first and spending time with God is spending ALL of my free time studying the Bible, praying, reading Scripture based books. So either I’m doing that and get burned out or I go extreme the other way and not spend hardly any time with him at all. The days where I do nothing but study and pray I never actually get anything accomplished. My relationship with God is great though. lol. I know it sounds like I’m trying to “fit” God into MY life. But I don’t want to spend all day in Scripture. Not only do I have responsibilities but sometimes I’d like to do something else in my free time. Watch a movie or read something that’s not scriptural, play a game. So, I’ve pretty much struggled all of my life spiritually not knowing how to balance my life and still have God be my top priority. I think because of how I was raised is why I have this struggle. I always had Bible as a subject all through school. I went to a private school and then I was home schooled with a Christian curriculum. I was only child, and I think it was when I was being home schooled that I developed a true passion for God so I would literally spend ALL DAY studying Scripture, praying, writing in my journal. So please, help me lol.

    1. Rebecca,

      What a great question! I’m so glad you asked it. Maybe we can start a discussion about this.

      I don’t believe there is a set answer to “how much time” or “what schedule” to use to put God first.

      That would be kind of like saying, “how many minutes/hours per day should I spend with my husband to show him that he is my first human priority?”

      There are obviously millions of different marriages and each one has its own unique circumstances and phases of life. The amount of time a husband and wife spend together may vary depending on work schedules, or having newborns in the house, or if there is illness, etc.

      I don’t believe that you must spend “all day in scripture.” But I think your heart is always set on Christ and thinking of Him, singing praises to Him, meditating on scripture, etc, as you go about handling your responsibilities.

      I believe that putting Christ first means setting aside significant time to pray alone and study God’s Word alone and to look forward to that time with joy.

      I do think we must carefully judge our motives about how we use our free time and what movies/books/tv programs we watch and whether we believe God would want us to watch anything on TV at all. That is something to pray about and seek God’s wisdom about. But I don’t think there is support for saying that doing something to relax is sinful – as long as your motives are pure and the content of what you are doing doesn’t violate God’s Word.

      I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to spend all day just studying scripture and praying!!!!!! 🙂

      But God does give us many commands to obey that involve loving and serving others. We love and serve Him, but part of that is loving and serving people – so we obviously can’t be only spending all our time with God to the neglect of His commands for us.

      I personally love to spend about 30 minutes to an hour studying God’s Word and praying. I spend longer whenever I can. Then I listen to praise music throughout the day or listen to sermons on podcasts if I am doing chores. Or sometimes I pray or sing in my heart.

      Does that help at all?

      Your heart is set on wanting Him more than anything else and wanting to know HIm more and wanting to listen and hear from Him. You desire to obey Him and love Him and reverence God in all that you do. His Word is constantly in your heart. Your motives are that you love God and want to honor and please Him in everything.

      Let me know if it is still unclear – others are welcome to answer as well!

      1. Oh sorry about my last comment. I didn’t see your first answer. So sorry about that. But YES that is really clear, and actually helped me a lot. It was really helpful giving me an example of what you do. It gives me something to build on. Thank you!

  6. Another thing is when I’m constantly praying or being mindful of God I tend to be easily distracted and walk around in a haze daydreaming. It’s hard for me to focus unless I put everything else out of my mind. I’m not a typical woman. I don’t multitask very well…

      1. I think we often make it too complicated. It’s a relationship. “Be still and know that I am God.” “Being,” not necessarily “doing.” How do I put my wife first above all other women? By not allowing myself to be drawn away from her and towards another. It is fidelity.

        How do you put God first? By not turning away from Him and towards another god. Even keeping score of Bible reading can become another god, as if we are trying to impress Him. We can fall into legalism or scrupulosity. It is fidelity. It is the opposite of sin. When we sin, we can confess.

        Placing Christ first means being true to what we are created to be. Be who you are and avoid sin. Then you are placing God first, even if you are not intentionally thinking about Him.

    1. Me too, Rebecca! 🙂 My children come up to me while my head is in the clouds thinking on things while doing my work, and it takes them several attempts to get my attention!

  7. Been married 14 years. How to work with husband that doesn’t pay bills, continues to have poor credit score, works very hard. I’ve tried paying bills, he still uses ATM card, etc without checking balance???

    1. Suzanne,

      I am so sorry to hear what a difficult time you are having. Does he have any mental health issues or ADD or anything? How do you communicate with him when he disappoints you? What do you say and do?

      What does he say he needs from you or wants to see changed?

      I’m glad to hash through this with you – and I will do my best to point you to CHrist and His Word. 🙂

  8. Have you ever read “Equipped to Love” by Norm Wakefield? I wrote about that book and this idea in my article, “Learning to Love God’s Way.” This topic is pretty much what Wakefield’s book is about – how we “carve” people into idols when we look to them for what only God can provide – happiness, contentment, security, love, acceptance, etc. When we make a person an idol, it gives them the power to make us miserable because they will NEVER be able to meet our needs and expectations. We do it with our kids, our spouse, even friends. And unless we have made Christ our Lord and King, we will always be looking for something or someone to fill that hole and can never truly have a healthy relationship with anyone.

    By the way, the quote,”Our hearts are idol factories,” originated with John Calvin. 🙂

    1. That book sounds awesome, I’m all booked!

      And AMEN about how easily we turn people and other things into idols. They will never satisfy!!

      Thank you for the origin of that quote. I have been wondering!!

      I appreciate your comment!

  9. There’s a book called Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman that addresses some of Rebecca’s questions perfectly. A really helpful, practical and Gospel-centered book :-).

  10. Thanks for putting this into words. I know the Lord nailed me on this issue particularly #1 and #2 on my way to work yesterday. I then googled to see if anyone had written anything about it, and was happy to find your blog. I have shared it with my friends. Thank you.

    1. Missy,
      Almost all wives are guilty of this. We don’t even realize we are doing it – but it is a HUGE issue between us and God and keeps us from experiencing His power in our lives. It also keeps us stuck in misery, and our husbands, too.
      I am so excited that you are learning about this now and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you! 🙂

      1. I don’t this form of idolatry as much as I see the idolatry of one’s parents which leads the spouse to no longer honor their marriage of honor the care of themselves often in the name of honoring their mother or father.

        Their enmeshed relationship with their parents leads them into this idolatry because such narcissistic parents want to be their children’s god who controls their life even as adults.

        1. John
          There are many kinds of idolatry. We are good at putting things before Christ in our hearts, unfortunately. I have also seen the idolatry of parents. That is so destructive! But I actually see a wife expecting her husband to meet the deepest needs of her heart and soul and to be responsible for her happiness and emotions all day every day. It is extremely common.

          But I do completely agree that the enmeshed parent/child relationship is very destructive to a marriage, as well.

          Thanks for sharing your insights, my brother!

  11. I know this blog mainly directed to wives but it has helped me, this post made me realize how much of an idol a romantic relationship is in my life and how much I already idolize my future husband and God hasn’t even brought him into my life yet. Please pray that I’ll be willing to do with me that I’d be willing to do whatever I need to do to place Christ first in my life, thanks!

    1. Verysinglegirl,

      You are most welcome here! I’m so thankful that this post helped you – we are actually talking about idolizing husbands today, too, on this new post. Idolizing our husbands, romance, and marriage has become normal in our culture, even in the church, unfortunately. 🙁 But we don’t realize what we are doing! How important it is for God to show us our sin so we can repent and put Him alone on the throne of our hearts!

      I also have a site for single women, if you are interested http://www.peacefulsinglegirl.com.

      You can search “idol” on that site, as well, for many posts related to this topic.

      Much love to you!

  12. Great post. Have you ever read A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken? It’s a wonderful true story about a couple who placed their love above all else, until they became Christians, but even after converting the husband had difficulty realizing that his wife now placed Christ above her love for him.

    I see that I have done this and hold my husband to unreasonable expectations. But it’s so ingrained in me that I don’t know how to stop. I am praying for help, but what is a good first step? To be vigilant of my thoughts and attitude? To do a Bible study of idolatry? I’m so overwhelmed with my own sin and shortcomings that I just don’t know where to start.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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