Biblically consistent decision making

What trips a lot of husbands up is understanding the general decision making process surrounding marriage.

  1. Obey God. Biblical marital roles and responsibilities fall under this. Headship-submission, love-respect, mutual giving of sex, etc.
  2. Consider yourself and your spouse (e.g. Eph 5 love your wife as your own body) especially in terms of needs. This also falls under #1, but it provides more context for which to make decisions. Many Christians often get this wrong by saying put your wife and kids before yourself. That is not true.
  3. Happiness and other emotions of fleeting effect.

Whether we like it or not, both excellence and attraction do play some role in how both spouses understand all facets of this decision making process. A wife that watches what she eats and keeps herself in shape implicitly shows respect for you as a husband and vice versa for a husband to his wife. It also makes you both happier (and healthier).

As the nature of Christianity is an inside-out transformation that first changes you and then the change in you affects others, it must be said that if there are dysfunctional patterns in the relationship or marriage then the onus must first be on the Christian that notices these to be internally consistent with the faith. This is indeed what Jesus talks about in Matthew 7 on judging (eliminate hypocrisy), so that when you do come to your brother (or wife) and show them their fault with kindness they will be less inclined to point the finger at you and be more willing to obey God. In other words, for husbands this headship personified into leading by example. This doesn’t guarantee change, but it creates the right environment for it.

Therefore, our hierarchy might be expanded to:

  1. Focus on obeying God and doing your own Biblical roles and responsibilities. Bring them up to your spouse, but if they are resistant to change then don’t worry about it and keep doing yours and pray for them.
  2. Consider yourself and your spouse (e.g. Eph 5 love your wife as your own body) especially in terms of needs. Make sure you are meeting them as consistent with loving your wife as yourself which is also consistent with Jesus’ “love one another as I have loved you.”
  3. Consider their happiness and doing things to make them happy, but don’t compromise on #1 and #2 such as sin or behavior that enables.
  4. Once you have established a good pattern of consistent behavior (and hopefully your wife is softening up over time with her attitudes and actions), then start to bring up some faults kindly again in terms of obeying God and bettering the marriage. If they are still resistant to change, keep doing your own responsibility and pray for them.
  5. Search out as many blindspots as you can and work on building godly habits. It is possible that they will never change, but you also want to do as much as you can for God to create good soil that God can use to grow the seeds in their heart.

Part of breaking dysfunctional cycles of behavior is very consistent leading by example to show that God has truly changed you from the inside out. This can be hard when dysfunctional relationships or marriages last for several years or even decades as the wife (or other spouse) tends to think you’re just changing to manipulate them, especially if you were trying to do that before.

The way to combat this is to just not worry about it. It’s nothing you can change yourself so why worry? It’s more than enough to make sure you’re obeying God and focused on doing the right thing even when it’s hard. Trust God to help you do the right thing, and use that to start to plant and grow the seeds.

This is true “outcome independence” much like Jesus continually called the Pharisees to repent and continue to talk to them despite them wanting to kill him. If He didn’t want to minister to them He could have just ignored them or avoided them. And some Pharisees did come around like Nicodemus. Engaging for the sake of God and the gospel, even when you are treated harshly or poorly.

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6 Responses to Biblically consistent decision making

  1. Paul says:

    How to deal with persistent sin on the side of your wife? Do you advise to ignore that?

  2. @ Paul

    Depends on what it is.

    Some things need more serious action than others. For instance, excessive spending which is ruining the family finances could need measures like locked credit and revoke/cut up credit cards. Same thing with drugs or alcohol.

    Things that are less severe like disrespect may warrant smaller changes like ignoring it or withdrawing attention or things like that. There’s no reason to sit there and take any such abuse, but there’s no reason to argue over it either if they remain unrepentant when their sin is brought up.

  3. Paul says:

    If people are persistently unrepentant and keep on sinning we should ignore that?
    What about the dozens of bible verses suggesting otherwise?

    ‘What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”’

    “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 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.’ 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’

    etc.

  4. @ Paul

    That is indeed what is covered in #1. Make sure they know they are in sin and they should repent.

    What are you going to do if they are consistently unrepentant? Divorce them? You can’t.

    You can only focus on influencing them by leading by example.

  5. Paul says:

    I agree you can’t divorce them.

    But what should the church do with unrepentant sinners?

  6. @ Paul

    Jesus and Paul are pretty clear on this. I don’t think most churches have the stones to carry it out.

    I think it makes some sense that some unrepentant sins are graver than others though (e.g. gossip vs adultery) and require different action. Not sure if the Catholic Church is right in classifying them like they do, but there is at least some reasoning there.

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