** (please note the disclaimer about severe issues at the bottom of the post)
IDOLIZING A PERSON
Our culture thrives on encouraging us to idolize our spouses and be enmeshed/codependent with them. Whether
- I expect my husband to meet all of my deepest spiritual and emotional needs (rather than Christ) or
- he expects me to meet all of his
- or both…
We will destroy our relationship if we continue on like that. If the goal is to ultimately to please a person at any cost – myself or my spouse – I am building my marriage on sinking sand instead of the Solid Rock of Christ.
An idol is something or someone I trust to bring me ultimate fulfillment, contentment, peace, joy, and happiness – that is not Jesus. It is something or someone that I place above God in my heart and give all power to in my life. I rest my faith in that particular thing. Some of us are willing to do ANYTHING to save our marriage, for example – even if it meant sinning, condoning sin, or allowing great harm to come to ourselves or our children.
I must seek to please God alone “no matter what the cost,” not to please another person to that degree.
Verses about idolatry:
- Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. Jonah 2:8
- Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
- Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. Galatians 4:8
Idols can’t save us. When we trust idols, we are ultimately trusting in ourselves – what our hands (or minds) have made (Isaiah 2:8, Psalm 135:15-18). Idolatry is slavery. We become hostages of our idols – the things in which we place our greatest faith and hope. When we trust idols, God often uses the things we trust to teach us that nothing is trustworthy except for Himself. We often bring upon ourselves the things we fear the most when we trust other things or people rather than God. Idolatry and fear go hand in hand because we are trusting in somethings that cannot save us. We are trusting in broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
WHAT GOD REQUIRES:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37
If we love someone or something else with all our hearts and we set our hearts on that thing or that person, we will destroy ourselves. But when we set our hearts fully on God, we are blessed spiritually and overflowing with His Spirit – and then when we are right with God, He can empower us to have right relationships with others – as far as it depends on us. We may even see Him bring about miracles as we trust Him with our difficult relationships and our trials.
FROM THE TRENCHES:
I’m recruiting some help from the trenches from two wives in whom God is doing such amazing things…
Wife 1 whose unbelieving husband left her in the last year or so:
I think a HUGE red flag is fear. If you fear your husband, his reactions, losing the relationship – anything – You need to pray about it. Ask God why you fear, because perfect love casts out fear, and if you have fear for your husband or marriage, that is not love. You are not loving God more than your husband if you let fear of your husband trump your fear and reverence for God.
Wife 2 whose unbelieving husband is rather controlling and difficult at times:
Fear was a huge factor in most of my marriage. Fear of his reactions when I tried to share my feelings. I kept tweaking and tweaking my delivery of that, thinking it must be me, I must be doing something wrong. And, yes, it is true that many times I would come at him in anger after he had hurt me (these weren’t petty things, either – they were things that would make any wife or husband angry because they threatened our marriage).
But, even as I learned more about respect and how to approach these things in a better way, I started realizing that I would never reach the perfection status that would allow my husband to finally listen to what I was saying. My husband was never physically abusive, but I still had a lot of fear because he would shut me out and ignore me for days if I upset him and there were subtle things he did and phrases he used that made me feel really bad for sharing my feelings about something hurtful that he had done to me.
I was full of fear of losing the marriage, fear of losing my family. God had to take me to a place that I had to surrender it all to Him and He delivered me from all of that fear!
Now I can walk in truth and am free in Christ in my marriage! I no longer fear what my husband thinks of my relationship with Christ, I no longer fear his reactions if I speak truth that needs to be said to him (not trying to save him or preach to him, but just truth about things in our relationship or with our kids, etc.). And, my anthem during that whole process became the song, “No Longer Slaves to Fear.” That became like a prophetic song in my life that God made real for me.
God wants His daughters (and sons) to live free in Christ. That’s a huge red flag there, I think – If you do not feel like you have the freedom to be yourself and are always trying to “soften” your Christian walk so that it isn’t offensive, something is probably off (from April – this requires great wisdom and godly discernment to be able to see clearly). I think we are to live boldly for Christ and I also believe that is why those verses are there in 1 Corinthians 7 about an unbelieving spouse leaving…. the Christian’s life will be so different that it will repel some unbelieving spouses and may cause a permanent separation in the marriage. That’s not a popular topic in Christian marital teaching, but it is absolutely biblical.
It is a painful process and doesn’t happen overnight, this being able to get to a place where you are willing to lose it all and you choose to follow Christ wherever He leads and start living from an authentic place instead of sweeping sin and issues under the rug or letting someone keep trying to convince you there’s nothing wrong (when you KNOW there is something wrong). God is the one who has to do it, really, but we have to cooperate and go through the painful places so that He can lead us on to this beautiful freedom!
My husband threatened divorce (not always that directly, but it was very much implied) many times over the last few years as I started getting stronger in Christ and was standing in truth about the things that were happening in our marriage. Of course, this brought a lot of fear in my life – but eventually, I just started to let him know that he was free to go. This took him back every time I told him that. He was so used to me adjusting my behavior to keep that from happening. But, I think what I said and did was rooted in God’s Word and from His Spirit.
As Christian wives of unbelieving husbands, we need to realize that these verses are in God’s Word for a reason. He may be saving some years of heartache and struggle. And, really, those verses are just as much of a command as any other directive/command in the Scriptures. If an unbeliever wants to go, let him go. I know it’s not a popular view in the Christian culture of “marriages are worth saving at all costs”… (April, I know you do not teach this and I so appreciate that). God is infinitely above marriages and our marriage or husband should never take His place.
If you are operating in fear, things will only get more and more destructive. But, when God sets you free from that fear and you are willing to follow Him at ALL costs, then yes, you can move and operate from the power of the Holy Spirit.
It doesn’t mean that things are all going to be rosy and pretty and pain-free, but you WILL have an underlying peace and assurance from the Lord that He will never let you go, *He* will never be unfaithful or leave you, and you can begin to see the reality of the spiritual warfare you are in, as well. May God continue to bring this freedom to many, many more brothers and sisters!
My husband actually said to me as I was getting stronger in Christ and he could sense something was changing, ”I want you to worship me.” Yikes!!!!
God got my attention big-time with that statement. I calmly but strongly said something to the effect that I would never be able to do that for him. I brought that up in counseling and my husband said he was joking, but still. Red flag.
As far as idolizing our husbands so much that we think we couldn’t go on in life, I know another big thing for me regarding this was that I was a very insecure person. My security was resting on my husband’s love for me and that is a very, very shaky and doomed-to-failure kind of foundation. I think equal with dealing with fear is that every Christian has to find their security and worth in Christ alone.
- God will absolutely do this in His children’s lives, one way or another, I think.
It might come through marital problems or probably whatever it is that you are finding your security in. If we have not come to a place, like Paul, where we can say “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” then this is something that has to be worked out. We have to be absolutely unshakeable and convinced that God is never leaving us and loves us with a love that cannot even be measured! We also need to be convinced of our righteous standing in Christ before God and in the finished work of Christ. Then our foundation is sure and strong.
**Note – if you are dealing with severe issues in your marriage (unrepentant adultery, active drug/alcohol addictions, major porn addictions, severe uncontrolled mental health issues where someone is not in his/her right mind, or other very toxic or abusive situations,) please seek trusted, godly, appropriate counsel in person. If you are not safe, please try to get yourself and your children somewhere safe if possible. Please reach out to your pastor, the police, www.thehotline.org, www.focusonthefamily.org has a free Christian counseling service, a trusted doctor – depending on the situation. If you are dealing with emotional toxicity, check out www.leslievernick.com. Please compare anything I or any human says to Scripture. Search for yourself. Seek Christ for yourself. Find the healing and hope that is available in Him!