Trust is earned and an expression of the character of godliness

Good discussion in the comments on the issue of trusting women on Sigma’s. My comment:

I still think this topic is more nuanced than that which I covered here.

The fallacy of teaching men to be emotionally honest part 2 (2021-06-24)

Namely, simply emoting or venting or complaining with no purpose is always going to negative. Emoting and expressing feelings in the context of problem solving or being victorious over a situation tend to be more helpful and can build trust. Also, attractive men have more leeway.

The other fallacy is obviously that all that one experiences and all that is true does not always have to be said or expressed. This is a big discernment thing that both men and women need to understand not just within the context of male-female relationships.

In general, trusting women — and men for that matter as well — needs to be done on case my case basis and typically a higher degree of trust will result from continued expression of godliness character.

One of my favorite passages is the one in 2 Peter 1 which shows how the progressive qualities of the Christian walk can be developed sequentially in an escalating manner:

2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Godliness is a result of:

  • After you come to faith, you now know what is good according to Jesus.
  • To know what is good you must study the Bible on what Jesus and the Father are like (knowledge) as well as through prayer, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines.
  • Now that you have the knowledge of what is good you must apply it with self control.
  • Self control, especially in difficult times, results in perseverance. This is the Greek word hupomone which is also translated as “longsuffering” in some translations
  • This perseverance leads to the character of godliness — being like God through good and the bad times.

Obviously, a wife who is respectful and submissive even when it is difficult is much easier to trust than one who is disrespectful and rebellious. But there are many different steps that it takes to get there. For instance,

  1. A wife who is disrespectful and rebellious according to her own whims
  2. A wife who knows what is right but can be disrespectful and rebellious when things get tough for her
  3. A wife who knows what is right but has developed greater self control and perseverance but sometimes slips up when things are tough
  4. A wife who knows what is right and it’s rare that she’s disrespectful and rebellious

There can be many in between with these circumstances like how she responds to teaching, correction, or rebuke for good or for evil. You could probably make another whole list or expand this one to 8-9 bullet points with these.

However, the point is that if you and your wife are a Christian and actively wanting to obey God and His Biblical roles and responsibilities, the sanctification process will be gradual over time in most cases and it is a process. This process is cultivated step by step and large jumps though they can happen tend to be unlikely since unlearning ingrained sinfulness is difficult.

I can trust my wife more than most because I built the foundation very early in dating and have continued it for a long time. I recently had an conversation over on reddit with someone who asked the question: “What do you do when wife doesn’t obey your commands.” This was my response.

This is something that is highly contextual.

My wife rarely disobeys and when she does I just talk with her about it and nearly 100% of the time she apologizes and tries to make it right.

However, to get to that point that was already a several year plus focus on the Scriptures and going over the roles and responsibilities of a husband and wife in marriage when dating and married, correction and teaching if/when she fell into sin, and things like these. I’ve also made it a point to act as a strong and effective leader with everything I put my hand to so that I am modeling what it means to be Jesus:Church::husbands:wives. Obviously, this makes it easier for her to submit.

It was not some abrupt thing where I just suddenly started telling her to obey me or anything like that.

Doing this will not work for the majority of husbands because they haven’t built up the foundation that I did in the past. That’s why the advice on /r/RPChristians and /r/askRPC usually looks like:

  • Focus on being excellent in all you do: lift, dress well, confident, masculine leadership, etc as becoming more attractive is going to help make it easier for her to want to submit and obey.
  • Pray, read the Bible with her, etc and start to get into teaching and discipling her as in the long run it will pay dividends if she’s serious about her faith (but for now her feelings are making her want to ignore the part about husbands and wives).
  • Focus on your own role and responsibility and what you can change which is yourself
  • Lead, lead, lead but don’t worry about if she disobeys or not for now. Outcome independence/don’t get butt hurt, etc. You’re on your mission for God and invite her along.

Once you start to build the foundation and trust in the marriage, it’s much easier and more effective to call her out in any sin which also includes rebellion and disobedience.

The goal if you’re new to a relationship is to build the godly foundation and maintain it. This tends to be easier than trying to change an established relationship which is why we often do not recommend to try to escape the friend zone or go back to exes even if you are willing.

If you are in a long relationship, engagement, or marriage, the foundation can be rebuilt but it takes a lot of effort and influence over time. You need to focus on the things you can do:

  • You have control over yourself
  • You have control over how you influence others
  • Others have control over themselves (you can substitute in wife with others)
  • Others have control over how they influence others/you (you can substitute in wife with others)

The bolded you have control over, so those are the things you want to focus on changing in order to please God and not man (or wife). The influence you have on others can be godly or not which makes it easier for them to obey God, while the influence they have on you is either for godly or evil. It is very difficult when you are trying to act godly while they are influencing you negatively, but that is part of growing in maturity in Christ and being perfect like God (e.g. Matthew 5- love your enemies).

The more the foundation of trust is emphasized and built, the greater influence over time the more likely God can use that to grow the seeds planted in them to come to fruition toward sanctification. There are instances where godliness does drive the hard hearted away though and that should not be discounted, but it is still a witness God can use later even if they run or even divorce.

We don’t walk this path because it is easy. It is hard. It’s always hard to deny yourself and follow Jesus. Some aspects get easier over time as habits are built, but new weaknesses are exposed as we are further sanctified.

 

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8 Responses to Trust is earned and an expression of the character of godliness

  1. Jack says:

    “Obviously, a wife who is respectful and submissive even when it is difficult is much easier to trust than one who is disrespectful and rebellious. But there are many different steps that it takes to get there…”
    […]
    “Doing this will not work for the majority of husbands because they haven’t built up the foundation that I did in the past.”

    I’m glad to see that you’re making a distinction between the levels of spiritual maturity that could be present in the wife and how this affects what “works” and what doesn’t. Being able to address this on a case-by-case basis makes all the difference to some men, especially those with wayward wives.

  2. Red Pill Apostle says:

    “However, the point is that if you and your wife are a Christian and actively wanting to obey God and His Biblical roles and responsibilities, the sanctification process will be gradual over time in most cases and it is a process. This process is cultivated step by step and large jumps though they can happen tend to be unlikely since unlearning ingrained sinfulness is difficult.”

    DS – This is my experience both for me and my wife. For me, the sanctification process involved thinking through was was right and then acting without worry over the outcome. I see worrying as a lack of faith on my part, because it was. For my wife, the process started nearly 2 years ago when I directly confronted her over how she was sinning against God and me by her actions as my wife. It wasn’t a well received message at the time, but that was what got the ball rolling. Since then, she’s moved from controlling, argumentative, demanding, disrespectful and sexually frigid to somewhere right around #3 in the 1 to 4 scale in your post and we’re not done yet.

    Since I undertook fixing my wife’s behavior after 17 years of marriage my path looks different that yours, which is vastly superior by the way. Most of my biggest gains in moving the marriage towards the biblical model have come from confrontations where she was stubbornly argumentative and contentious. It has taken firm resolve, immense emotional control and a clear vision of how marriage should be.

  3. @RPA

    This is my experience both for me and my wife. For me, the sanctification process involved thinking through was was right and then acting without worry over the outcome. I see worrying as a lack of faith on my part, because it was. For my wife, the process started nearly 2 years ago when I directly confronted her over how she was sinning against God and me by her actions as my wife. It wasn’t a well received message at the time, but that was what got the ball rolling. Since then, she’s moved from controlling, argumentative, demanding, disrespectful and sexually frigid to somewhere right around #3 in the 1 to 4 scale in your post and we’re not done yet.

    Good progress. It truly is more difficult to change things during marriage than to start from the beginning.

    It’s great we have the example of Jesus and the disciples because Jesus was pretty much one track minded for the kingdom and the disciples brought lots of distractions. But He always found a way to get them back on track through their successes and failures. Then they became good examples to spread the gospel after His death and resurrection

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