Common Sins in Marriage/The Covenant Home 2

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Introduction:

As we consider some common sins committed in marriage by both men and women, remember the context of federal headship. The responsibility for all these sins lies with the husband. A woman can and should recognize her individual sins before the Lord; her husband’s overarching responsibility should in no way lessen her sense of personal and individual responsibility. Properly understood, it should have precisely the opposite effect.

The Text:

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (Jas. 1:23).

On Seeing the Back of Your Own Head:

The Word of God is given to us in order to enable us to see ourselves. Apart from this, we cannot really see ourselves. When we examine our own hearts, there are many parts of it which we cannot see. In order to see ourselves properly, we always have to hold up the mirror of the Word. This is particularly true in marriage.

Common Sins of Husbands:

First is refusing responsibility. As we saw last week, the man is the head (1 Cor. 116). His only option therefore is whether he will accept or refuse to face that fact of headship. Many Christian men refuse, and it shows in their marriages.

A second problem is that of refusing to be masculine—In 1 Cor. 16:13, Paul charges the Corinthians to be courageous in their sanctification. The word he uses is literally act the man. Especially in the arena of marriage, men need to learn to be men.

Third, a common problem is infidelity in the heart. Jesus’ words are well-known. “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). This includes, but is not limited to, lust provoked by magazines, co-workers, daughters and wives of friends, Internet images, movies, songs, daydreams, or anything else you might be able to come up with.

Then there is the problem of harsh bitterness. Paul goes out of his way to tell husbands that love includes a refusal to be embittered by the behavior of their wives (Col. 3:19).

Fifth, we cannot leave out the common problem of being a blockhead. Women are complicated beings. Peter requires husbands to treat their wives according to knowledge (1 Pet. 3:7). The Word of God does not permit you to fail this course. Men must study their wives.

Sixth, there is the problem of poor provision. Paul says that poor financial provision for one’s family is tantamount to apostasy (1 Tim. 5:8). This is the case regardless of the reason how the provision failed. An essential element in provision is forethought. And when there is a genuine hard providence—a meteor landed on your business—remember the first principle above.

And last, laziness—one particular reason why many men do not provide adequately for their wives is laziness. “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Prov. 10:4). This is followed by the close second of excuse-making.

Common Sins of Wives:

A very common sin is that of disrespect. God commands that a wife respect her husband (Eph. 5:33). Many wives do not read all those marriage books because they are zealous for righteousness; they read them in order to get more ammo to use on their husbands. Further, they want their husbands to love them unconditionally, but they then return their owed respect conditionally.

Second, there is resentment. While men tend to harsh bitterness, women tend to hurt bitterness. In the emotional realm, women bruise easily (1 Pet. 3:7). Some have concluded from this, falsely, that women have a right to any offense. But in Eph. 4:31-32, Paul tells us what we must do with the sins committed against us. It is as much a sin to be offended as it is to offend.

Third, a common sin is to think as the foolish women do. Many men struggle under numerous temptations for a time, only to have the wife join the dogpile. For example, Job’s wife encouraged him to let go of his integrity, to curse God and die (Job 2:9).

A fourth problem is the “little helper syndrome.” The Bible says that woman was made for the man (1 Cor. 11:8), and she was given to him to be a helpmeet (Gen. 2:20). But nowhere does the Bible say that the Holy Spirit needed a helpmeet. “Let’s see. Where can I find someone to help convict this man of his sins. . . ?”

Another is poor sexual responsiveness. Paul teaches us that one of the purposes of marriage is to provide protection against the manifold temptations out there to immorality (1 Cor. 7:2). But not only are many Christian wives not a help here, they are a positive hindrance. Remember though, the model is to be the Shulamite, and not the latest survey results in some bizarre women’s magazine.

In conservative circles, there can be the problem of pseudo-submissiveness. Many wives want their husbands to take the initiative, seize the leadership… as long as they do what the wife would have wanted them to. But see Eph. 5:24.

And last, there is carping, whining and quarreling. Solomon tells us that the contentions of a wife are an ongoing pain-in-the neck (Prov. 19:13). “But I just wanted him to hear my concerns. Just one more time.”

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timothy
timothy
6 years ago

Ok, this is starting to come into focus. The Belgic confession (precursor to Dort, yes?) The http://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/belgic-confession#3465 under Article 15: The Doctrine of Original Sin We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race… While not named “federal headship” it is federal headship. IIRC this is standard Catholic doctrine too. Per Susan Andersen Bedwell’s comment here: https://dougwils.com/s8-expository/the-covenant-home-1.html#comment-2209570251 where a marriage (a form of covenant) has its covenant head, the “family of man” has its covenant head–Adam. In the covenant of Grace, Christ is our federal head (we are in Him) In… Read more »

Julie
Julie
6 years ago

Pastor Wilson, I am daily appreciating your work here on your blog and benefiting from it. I am grateful for the Biblical perspective on the culture and I learn a lot from the posts that you include on Saturdays. This particular post is helpful already today in many, many ways. Thank you for using your abilities to build up the body of Christ this way.

bethyada
6 years ago

The responsibility for all these sins lies with the husband. You have said as much in several of your books and I have found it helpful. Not pleasant in the slightest, but helpful. Then there is the problem of harsh bitterness. Paul goes out of his way to tell husbands that love includes a refusal to be embittered by the behavior of their wives (Col. 3:19). While this is probably an issue, I am less convinced that this passage says this. Perhaps others can help as to the Greek but I wonder if the meaning is that men are not… Read more »

bethyada
6 years ago

It is as much a sin to be offended as it is to offend.

I have been thinking about this recently, especially given the proverbs about ignoring an offence and the NT commands to cover offences. etc. Given our culture’s preoccupation with offence, trigger warnings, microaggression, etc., perhaps you have something witty to say about how sinful our behaviour is when we maximise minor offences and seek to be the most offended or biggest victim?

Darren
Darren
6 years ago

There are varieties of the 1st sin for husbands 1 is to “lord it over like the gentiles”, basically beat the wife into submission, rather than love her into it. These gives fuel to the feminists. So these “men” think they are leading but they just treat their wives like dirt. I’ve not met many, but they are there (the guy who has his wife lugging cases around while she’s pregnant, or blaming her for the kids playing up). 2 is to be repulsed by 1 – & say I sacrifice for my wife… but really means doing what she… Read more »

"A" dad
"A" dad
6 years ago

Doug, Lots of value in the above, though lots of potnetial for over interpretation. I am a husband in a tough marraige. One of the old marital counsel saws my liberal pastors offer me is the question “What can I do to make my marriage flourish?”, to which I always counter “What could Hosea do to make his marraige flourish?” or “What could Lot do to make his wife less salty?”. They of course have no answer to these questions, but then they had no Word grounded answers in the first place. By the example of The Word, Christ’s “Bride”… Read more »

bethyada
6 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

There is some truth to this. However the man should still take responsibility for his own actions. He should take responsibility for his family. And he should look at what he is doing that may enable his wife’s behaviour, or what he has not done that may make her less likely to behave in such a way. Of course a wife may still be disrespectful, disobedient, non-submissive. What I suspect Doug is saying is that when a man does what he should then these problems with wives are much less common. Nevertheless, they still may occur and the husband should… Read more »

"A" dad
"A" dad
6 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Bethyada, thanks for the comment. Yes, good leadership (leading as one should) is always better than bad leadership and it often shows! Yet lack of cooperation is not the absolute measure of leadership, as our relationship with God often demonstrates. To cap off your point and mine, we, and all spouses have to avail ourselves to The Word and The Word Made Flesh before anyone else, especially compared to “elders” in my particular case. My elders are pretty lost in our particular problem. However, I do avail myself to The Word and The Word Made Flesh, which I expect will… Read more »

Amanda Wells
Amanda Wells
6 years ago

I really like this list of practical ways for wives to show respect for their husbands. https://wwnh.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/2201-respect-the-mans-side

Jason Pearson
Jason Pearson
6 years ago

Do people really have these problems? Ugh, first-worlders. Try working seventy hours a week and see how much energy you have for bullshit “difficulties” like this. Like the guy said–get a real job already.

ArwenB
ArwenB
6 years ago
Reply to  Jason Pearson

We’re not allowed to work 70 hours a week (at one job) unless we’re on salary. If hourly workers work more the the federally mandated 40, they must be paid extra.

Andrew Hardy
Andrew Hardy
6 years ago

I feel like this is heaping great burdens on me and that I am a failure with no where to go not even to God. There seems very little here of the work of Christ and how we can stand in his righteousness despite all of the above applying to us.

Andrew Hardy
Andrew Hardy
6 years ago

I wonder if your interpretation of 1 Tim 5:8 is just a bit over the top, if not even just plain wrong, and that perhaps it is talking about the heart together with attempted actions and that you agree together as husband and wife rather than actual hard financial outcomes, no? Surely this is it? Also it’s generally anyone providing for any one in their family right? Not just husbands providing everything with no excuse.