This topic has come up A LOT with the single ladies and the wives on my other blog.
We come up with very heart-felt convictions about what we believe is right for us to do as believers in Christ, as girlfriends, as wives… and then, we want our men to agree with our personal convictions and to abide by them, too. Why wouldn’t everyone agree with us? Right?
Here I am not talking about the foundational truths and principles of Scripture, but the smaller issues.
I can share my convictions, but I cannot expect that others adopt my convictions.
One of my convictions is that I try not to have private conversations with other men if at all possible. I try to avoid riding alone in a car with other men. I try to avoid private emails and messages and phone calls. I try to avoid being in a room/building by myself with another man if I can help it.
Of course, the most important thing is not my convictions, but listening to God’s Spirit in every situation.
Why do I have these convictions?
- I don’t want to give even the “appearance of evil.”
- I know how easily emotional affairs can start, and I want to keep myself accountable.
- I don’t believe it is appropriate for me to have close guy friends that I privately confide in because I am a married woman and I want to protect my marriage and guard my heart.
Some people think this is REALLY STRICT, over the top and unnecessary, maybe even legalistic.
The Bible doesn’t specifically say I cannot call a man on the phone or email him privately – obviously those technologies were not in existence in Bible times. But it does say I am to “flee sexual immorality.” And Proverbs talks about not even walking down the street or past the house of the “adulteress.” It talks about making no provision for the flesh. And since I know how deceitful and sinful my heart can be, I want to stay far from the edge of the cliff. I also know that the enemy would love to take me down. I have a target on my back. I don’t want to ever be careless and bring disgrace to my Lord! I would rather God take me home to live with Him than that I would bring shame to Jesus by being involved in some kind of scandal.
It is possible for convictions to become legalistic – absolutely. If I do this to brag or to try to ‘earn points” with God or to look down on others – it is sin.
The important thing is my motives – WHY am I doing what I am doing? A godly motive is “out of faith in Christ and a desire to honor Him.”
Convictions are private beliefs we each hold for ourselves – beliefs about how we can best live for Christ. They are between us and God. These ideas are not the gospel. This is not about the doctrine of salvation or the basic pillars of our faith as disciples of Christ. Many of these issues have more than one way to handle them in a God-honoring way. I make my decision for myself about what I believe on this issue in accordance with my current level of faith and understanding as I seek to honor God. Other people will have other convictions, that does not mean they are wrong.
Convictions are things like:
- how we dress (i.e.: modesty)
- whether we wear makeup or how much makeup we wear
- limits we put on ourselves or our own behavior
- our expectations of ourselves in relationships
- what we allow ourselves to eat/drink/ingest
- how we pray/when we pray/how long we pray
- how we worship
- if we fast
- how we study God’s Word
- what church we go to
- when we go to church/how often
- what kinds of media we “ingest”
- how we give to those in need
- how we share Christ with others
- how we apply our faith in Christ in practical ways
Paul talks about that there are some issues that are “disputable matters” – where there could be more than one approach that is “right” in God’s sight. He lists the issue of eating food sacrificed to idols and observing the Sabbath vs. counting every day the same. His point was that
- we are to act in faith according to our current level of maturity and understanding.
- we are not to judge or condemn others because they have different convictions about “disputable matters.”
IN MY RELATIONSHIP
Where I can get into trouble is when I try to impose my convictions on other people, especially my man. Every grown adult has a God-given free will. I get to decide on my beliefs, my faith, my convictions, my thoughts, my attitudes, my behavior, my priorities, my emotions, my sin and my obedience to Christ on my own. So does my husband. So do other people.
What if I look at my husband and think he’s not “as good of a Christian” as I am because he doesn’t hold the exact same convictions I do?
Now, I am judging him in a disputable matter many times.
BACK TO EXAMPLE #1:
- If I want to have convictions about not being alone with another man to protect my marriage. AWESOME.
- If I want to share my conviction with my husband about this matter – that is great! (If my husband is far from God, I would want to follow 1 Peter 3:1-6 and not talk about spiritual things to him.
But if my husband does not hold my same exact convictions, that does not automatically mean he is wrong, ungodly, sinful or untrustworthy.
My husband must travel with female coworkers. Sometimes it is just him and his coworker in the car on a day trip for business. That goes against my personal conviction for how I want to protect and guard my marriage. So I should be upset if he doesn’t follow my conviction, right?
There are women who will try to insist that their husband/boyfriend have the same standards that they have. I have never tried to force my husband to have my convictions. I give him space to decide between himself and God what his convictions are about things. I trust God to deal with my husband and give him wisdom about his decisions. And, sometimes, with work trips, people don’t have a lot of options – I would be in the same boat if I worked where he does – having to go on trips alone with other coworkers at times.
If I felt my husband was doing something that was dangerous – I would share my concern, respectfully. But I am not going to try to force my husband to do something. Bob Grant, a marriage counselor, says, “No one likes being told what to do. But men REALLY REALLY do not like being told what to do!” In fact, the more a wife/girlfriend tries to control her man, the more likely he will NOT do what she demands just to prove she does not control him.
Men respond best to respect. They resist disrespect and control!
My husband is a grown adult. He is free to have his own convictions. I trust him to be wise and to honor our marriage. I do not get jealous of him – of course, he has never ever given me reason to. He does not flirt with other women. He is friendly. But I don’t worry about him when he does have to go on a business trip. I don’t monitor his email. I don’t monitor his phone. I have my email and phone and FB all wide open for him to read and check any time. I have access to his accounts – but I don’t check up on him. I trust him.
I have the conviction that I want to pray to God and spend time in His Word every day for about 15-60 minutes, maybe more.
- As long as my motive is that I really want to know God more and that I love Him – it’s awesome.
- If my motive is to think that I am a “better Christian” than my husband, to be self-righteous, to look down on other people or to “earn points” with God – it is actually sin!
God judges our motives. We must do the right thing for the right reason for Him to be pleased.
- My husband may have a time of prayer as he drives to work that I don’t know about.
- My husband may have a time of reading his Bible app on his lunch break that I don’t know about.
- My husband may pray as he goes to sleep and I don’t know about it.
- God is able to draw my husband to Himself without my “help.”
- Just because I don’t see my husband pray and study his Bible, does not mean I am a stronger Christian than he is.
- God is able to lead me through my husband no matter how many minutes of prayer/Bible study my husband has each day.
- I am not the Holy Spirit. I cannot make my husband read his Bible or pray, and even if I could force him into it- that wouldn’t mean his motives were right.
- My husband can hear God’s voice much better when he does not hear my voice about spiritual things – especially when my husband is far from God.
- I am responsible for my spiritual growth, my obedience to God, my sin, my emotions, my convictions, my motives, my words and my actions.
- I am not responsible for my husband’s spiritual growth, his obedience to God, his emotions, his convictions, his motives, his words or his actions.