Some things are always sin. God gives us unchanging principles and commands in the Bible about these things:
- The Ten Commandments (Ex. 20. – Have no other gods before God, make no graven images to worship, do not misuse God’s Name, honor your father and mother, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not covet, do not kill, do not lie. The Sabbath day observance for New Testament believers is now included under “disputable matters” in Romans 14 and Colossians 2:16.)
- Love God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul. (Matt. 22:37)
- Love people and treat them as you would want to be treated. (Matt. 22:39, Luke 6:31)
- Keep your promises and your word. (James 5:12)
- Forgive wrong things people do to do whether they apologize or not (Matt. 6:14-15)
- Do not hold on to bitterness. (Eph. 4:31)
- Do not gossip or slander others. (2 Cor. 12:20)
- Be humble, get rid of all pride. (James 4:6)
- Honor your marriage vows. (He. 13:4)
- Dress in a modest way that honors Christ, yourself, and others. (1 Tim. 2:9)
- Do not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5:18)
- Make disciples of all nations. (Matt. 28:19)
- Take care of the widows, orphans, the poor, the oppressed, the sick, and needy. (James 1:27, Isaiah 10:2, Matt. 25:31-46)
- Do not argue or complain. (Phil. 2:14-16)
- Honor those in authority over you unless they ask you to clearly sin against God. (Eph. 5:22-33, Romans 13:1-7, Heb. 13:17)
These kinds of things (and many others) are unchanging biblical principles and commands. But some things are not so black and white – God gives us more liberty in certain areas that are a matter of personal conviction. These are things each believer must privately, prayerfully consider and attempt to do what he/she believes God desires him/her to do.
It is my understanding that there are two types of conviction:
1. The conviction of the Holy Spirit about sin in a believer’s life.
2. Personal convictions about areas that are not clear sin in Scripture.
Please read Romans 14 this week when you get a chance.
GRAY AREAS ARE FOR ME TO PRAYERFULLY DECIDE FOR MYSELF – these are matters of personal opinion and where we are in our personal faith walk and understanding. I do not mean that God “is confused” about what is right and wrong.
Romans 14 says that those with strong faith must bear with those who have weak faith in these issues, and not create a stumbling block for others. What we decide about our personal convictions are things that we don’t have the right to force on others – these are private matters. I need to be sure I am acting in love and not causing others to stumble.
Just because I have one personal conviction doesn’t mean my husband (or anyone else) is “wrong” if he has a different conviction in an area of personal preference that is not about biblical principle.
God commands us as wives to honor our husbands’ leadership, unless our husbands are asking us to clearly sin. It is important that we go by God’s definition of sin in His Word, not our own convictions in gray areas where believers should have freedom to make their own decisions.
Just because someone else, like my husband, has a conviction, doesn’t mean I have to have the same conviction. But – I do need to be willing to honor my husband’s leadership. Thankfully, I can honor him without having to agree with him on every issue.
A few examples of areas of personal conviction:
- Calvinism vs. Armenianism.
- Where to send children to school (homeschooling, private school, public school).
- Whether to abstain completely from alcohol or to drink a little alcohol occasionally (without getting drunk, of course).
- What church/denomination to attend.
- My exact boundaries with the opposite sex and how I decide to guard my heart and my marriage
- Exactly what clothing is modest and what I should wear.
- How often to go to church.
- How best to discipline and raise children.
- What it means to dress modestly, how we do our hair/makeup, what we wear.
- What music to listen to.
- How much money to give to the church and to those in need.
- Whether to celebrate certain holidays and how to celebrate them.
- How to have time with God.
- Whether to own a TV or not.
- How to eat in a way that honors God.
- Some personal priorities.
- How to pray, when to pray, and whether to pray out loud with others or primarily in private.
- What translation of the Bible to read.
- How exactly to be a godly steward of your time, resources, talents, and money.
We get ourselves in a lot of trouble when we insist that our husbands, or other people, must abide by all of our personal convictions. We also may get in a lot of trouble if we think we have to live by other people’s convictions. We are all bound by God’s Word and His commands to us as believers. So we would all need to be sure that we are not violating God’s principles in our motives, thoughts, words, decisions, and actions. But there is room for different believers to have different convictions and preferences about issues where God’s Word is silent.
- Sometimes, we might even think that if our husbands don’t live by our convictions, they are sinning. Then we may believe that we are free to go against them because we believe they are sinning. Let’s use great caution here, my dear sisters!
It is really important that we know for sure that our husbands are truly sinning before we decide to not honor their leadership!
Remember that God’s instructions for us to respect and submit to our husbands “as to the Lord,” are commands. That is an unchanging biblical principle for which God will call us into account. I need to be very cautious and sure I am hearing God’s voice clearly before I would go against my husband in a matter.
NONE OF US HAVE THE RIGHT TO VIOLATE GOD’S PRINCIPLES
If my husband wants me to have an abortion (murder), rob a bank, commit income tax fraud, lie for him to the police to cover up his crime, join a cult, put him above Christ in my heart, commit an unethical or immoral act with him, watch porn with him, steal something for him, have an affair, get drunk, have a threesome, work as a stripper, parade my body immodestly in front of other men, sell our children into slavery, beat our children (not just a spanking), or these kinds of things – I cannot cooperate with those requests. I must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
SECRET TO UNITY
Let’s focus on the things we do have in common with our husbands if they are also believers.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 5:1-6)
In Christ, unity is not about agreement in all the little gray areas, but about agreement in the most important areas. We can have unity without conformity.
Even if our husbands are not believers, we can act in unity with them as much as possible unless they want us to violate God’s unchanging principles or commands in Scripture. We can give grace in areas of preference.
AREAS OF PREFERENCE CAN VARY BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS
I believe it is good for me to respectfully, humbly, gently share my convictions with my husband, particularly if my husband is a believer. And I can share my desires with my husband, even if he is not a believer. But it is not fair for me to accuse my husband of sin if he does not share every one of my convictions or the passion with which I hold to any of my convictions.
We each have freedom in Christ to have our own convictions about the true gray areas. We don’t have freedom where the Bible specifically speaks and labels something as sin or as obedience. In those areas, we must all submit to Christ and to His Word. But in the areas where Christ gives freedom, we must also give freedom – not condemnation. It is not my right as a believer or as a wife to determine if something is sinful or not for my husband in an area of personal preference. God is the only one who has the authority to decide that something is sin.
A NOTE ABOUT MY FEELINGS/EMOTIONS:
My husband is not bound by my feelings. I can share my feelings. They are important. A godly husband will certainly take his wife’s feelings into account. But my husband is bound to honor God’s Word and His principles over my feelings. Thankfully, in Christ, I am not even bound by my feelings but can be filled and controlled by God’s Spirit. I don’t have to be in bondage to my feelings and emotions.
If reading about someone else’s convictions causes you angst (like the post about makeup last week, or posts about modesty or other gray areas) – I’d love to talk with you about that!
I don’t want us to do anything out of fear, worldly guilt, or shame. My desire is that we might all be motivated purely by God’s love – that we might do everything we do because God’s Spirit fills us, we love God, we love ourselves in a godly way, and we love others.
MORE SCRIPTURE ABOUT DISPUTABLE AREAS:
Here is another passage of Scripture that can be helpful as we seek to honor God in these areas where we have freedom (but others might get tripped up) that relates very much to the disputable areas of Romans 14 – the primary emphasis is not our individual freedom in Christ, but our love for others, what is best for others, and to do what we can in order to keep other people with weaker consciences from stumbling:
I Corinthians 10:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. I Corinthians 10:23-33
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. I Corinthians 6:12