It has been really fascinating to us over the past several months as my husband and I have heard from so many wives and a number of husbands – how differently husbands and wives seem to see things in marriage.
Without exception, every husband that has written to us has almost immediately called himself, “the chief of sinners.” Husbands that have written about their marriage problems seem to have a very balanced view and can describe their own sin and their wives’ sin – and they almost always extend grace and understanding to their wives for the wives’ sin. They are often frustrated, depressed and deeply wounded about their wives’ lack of respect and for the wives’ attempts to control in the marriage, but they have humbly asked for ways to be better husbands. Sometimes they ask for ways to help their wives see their disrespect or control.
This probably sounds so bizarre. But in some ways – I think our husbands’ visual temptations and daily struggles keep them HUMBLE. And that is a really important quality for a leader. Maybe their visual weakness is a blessing in disquise??
I have to say – I cannot remember one wife calling herself “the chief of sinners.” Most wives are like I was. They see their husbands’ sin very clearly. And they see that they are not feeling loved or connected emotionally/spiritually with their husbands. But it is hard to get them to admit to sin on their side of the relationship. Most wives do not see their own disrespect – or if they do actually see it – they believe they are justified to treat their husband with disrespect and contempt because “that is what he deserves.”
Most wives want to know, “How can I make my husband change?” “My husband isn’t being a good spiritual leader.” ”My husband is addicted to pornography.” ”My husband is unplugged.” ”My husband is too harsh with our children.” ”My husband is irresponsible with finances.” ”My husband doesn’t help me around the house.” ”My husband is mean to me.” ”My husband won’t do what I want him to do.” ”We fight a lot.” ”My husband says I’m disrespectful towards him – but he doesn’t love me like he should.” – These wives are right. They do see their husbands’ sin. But they say, “I can’t respect my husband. I can’t trust my husband. I won’t give myself sexually to my husband.” And here are all the reasons why it’s ok for me to disrespect him and try to control things myself and do what I want to do.
And the wives are right about this, too! On our own, we CAN’T do any of these things! We need God’s Spirit. But by the power of God, He can enable us to obey His Word – and that is when miracles happen! But we ARE commanded by God to obey His Word. No excuse will suffice when we stand before God to give an account for how we treated our husbands. We will be responsible for our own sin regardless of what our husbands did or did not do. I don’t know that many of us really get this.
I prayed for 15 years for God to change my husband. God did NOT answer my prayers until I asked Him to change ME first. There is no power when I focus on my husband’s sin. There is power when I repent of my own sin and seek God’s will above my own.
Most wives LOVE the concept of unconditional LOVE – and we expect that from our husbands 24/7. But most wives do NOT buy into the concept of unconditional RESPECT. Our culture has taught us that respect must be earned. And in the work place – yes, it does need to be earned. But in marriage, wives need love and husbands just as legitimately need respect. Most of us don’t get that. We think they need love like we do, and we pile on more and more love, and we are baffled that our husbands aren’t more loving to us. We don’t even know that we are contributing greatly to the problem!
HIS SIN IS WORSE THAN MINE.
Wives also have an interesting way of “scoring” sin. To most wives, pornography and lust on the husband’s part count as HUGE sin – sometimes unforgivable sin. We feel so violated when our husbands sin in these ways – it feels very similar to actual adultery to us. IT HURTS. And it hurts deeply. And we know we’ve never done anything THAT awful to our husbands.
But most wives don’t even see their own idolatry, disrespect, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, pride, withholding sex, preaching/nagging/lecturing about spiritual things or their taking control of the relationship as sin. And yet – all of those things are sin according to the Bible. And those things DEEPLY wound our husbands – we are sinning against God and our husbands when we do these things!
My sins remind me of the Pharisees in a lot of ways. Sadly. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead mean’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23:27-28 I thought I knew so much more about God and the Bible than my husband. I thought I had much to teach him. I thought he should listen to me. I thought he was so sinful and I was so righteous. I was like the Pharisees – “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.” Matthew 23:24
What Jesus said sure applied to me. But I had to SEE the plank (or maybe it was a whole forest) in my own eye first. How could I not even see it?? “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5
I have to believe that women are more easily deceived spiritually than men. I was! And I have to believe that is why we need the protection and leadership of our husbands. God gave us our husbands to keep us safe in every way. That is the beautiful design of God. If only we will have ears to hear and eyes to see!
WHY DON’T WE SEE?
I know that Eve was deceived and Adam wasn’t and that somehow plays into the spiritual makeup of men and women even today. I know that I was extremely deceived and blind to my sin until 4 years ago. I really didn’t think I had that much sin in my life before that day in December of 2008 when the “scales of disrespect” fell from my eyes (Dr. Eggerichs “Love and Respect”). Maybe some impatience, that was about it. So I was SHOCKED and APPALLED when I actually saw my sin – the enormity of it. I had all kinds of sin – it was awful!
- Idolatry (putting having control over the marriage ahead of God, putting my husband in front of God, putting my anger and resentment up as a very important thing that I cherished more than God’s Word and His commands to forgive)
- pride (thinking I knew better than my husband about almost everything and that I knew better than God what my marriage needed)
- disrespect for my husband (which is blatant rebellion against God’s Word)
- taking control of the marriage (also blatant rebellion against God’s Word.)
- preaching at my husband and lecturing him with words about how unspiritual he was (MAJOR violation of I Peter 3:1-6)
- making myself a judge over my husband with evil thoughts
- usurping God-given authority from my husband that is not rightfully mine to take
- repaying evil with evil
- unrepentance from my own sin
- cherishing sin in my heart
Turns out – I am the chief of sinners! But I never saw it before.
What are some of the reasons that women are so easily deceived and blind to our sin? Here are some of my thoughts. You are welcome to add your opinions. This is not scientific or biblical – it is based on my own observations:
- Respect for men, husbands, fathers and all God-given authority has been almost removed from our culture. Disrespect for husbands is normal now – so respect is really a pretty foreign concept to most women. In fact, many women under 50 have never even seen a wife treat her husband respectfully.
- Women rate visual temptation/lust/pornography as a HUGE sin – and that is one that most of us don’t really struggle with very much. So we are quick to condemn our husbands if they struggle with that because we can’t imagine having such a temptation. We don’t acknowledge that ALL sin is repulsive and horrible in God’s sight. We like to think our sin is better than our husbands’ sin. That is a lie!
- We are often very prideful and literally think we are better than our husbands. We truly believe we are morally superior. Wow! That is a BIG problem! It’s a lie! We are all sinners. None of us deserve anything good from God.
- The church doesn’t teach women much about God’s commands for us or confront us about our particular sins: gossip, pride, division, slander, rebellion against God-given authority, usurping authority, disrespect, withholding sex as punishment, judging, having a critical spirit, telling our husbands what to do spiritually, thinking about the negative all the time about our husbands, worrying and trying to control things ourselves instead of trusting the sovereignty of God, idolatry, insisting we are “right” all the time. Our sins don’t get addressed much. And we really think that our sins aren’t “as bad” as our husbands’ sins. But we are so wrong! God hates ALL sin.
- Many of us had dominating mothers or came from abusive situations and learned that God isn’t very big or powerful and that He’s not sovereign, WE are. We learned to try to control things because our parents, and God, didn’t seem to have things under control. We were never corrected in our view of God and our prideful elevation of ourselves above God. We’ve lived like this since we were young children. It seems “normal.” So we don’t even see our pride and idolatry.
- We think that we are disrespectful because our husbands don’t deserve respect. We believe the lie that our respect is a function of how respectable our husband is. We think that if we had a “better” husband, we’d be respectful wives. That is not true! If I am full of disrespect, that is because I have disrespect for God-given authority in my heart – and I would have disrespect for ANY man I was married to.
My respect for my husband is a function of how close I am to God – not a function of how well my husband treats me.
Open our spiritual eyes as women. Help us to see the enormity of our sin. Help us to see that we are wretched sinners – equally as wretched as men– equally as wretched as murderers, thieves, adulterers and criminals. Help us to see the mountains of sin in our souls. Convict us by Your power. Let us humbly repent to You and to our husbands. Cleanse us by the powerful blood of Jesus that washes away our every stain of sin. Help us to see what a debt we truly owe to Christ. Then let us be filled with Your Spirit and empowered to extend the grace, forgiveness and mercy of Jesus to others, including the men in our lives.
In the Name and power of Christ,