Is it possible to take some of the advice I give and turn it into legalism?
I believe that as sinful humans, we are always prone to want lists and rules. I think we can be tempted to think, if I do all of the things on this list or follow all of these rules, I can be close to God, impress God, “earn” favor with God. This is really idolatry – it is a way of us thinking that we can earn grace or be godly enough on our own without Jesus – it is putting my efforts and “works” above Jesus as the means for me to come to God.
We can do this with almost anything:
- If I go to church every Sunday, God will be impressed.
- If I pray for 15 minutes every day, I will earn points with God.
- If I give 10% of my income as a tithe, God will bless me more materially.
- If I make my man pray with me every night, it means we have a godly relationship and God will be pleased.
It is entirely possible to even turn respect, submission, modesty, chastity, virginity, godly femininity – anything – into legalism or an idol:
- If I respect my husband/boyfriend, God will be impressed and give me what I want.
- If I honor my husband’s/boyfriend’s leadership, my man will have to love me the way I want him to.
- If I dress with long skirts every day, I am “more holy” than other women.
- If I don’t wear makeup – I am “better” than other people.
- If I do wear makeup – I am “better” than those legalistic people who don’t wear makeup.
- If I avoid close friendships with married men, then I am spiritually superior to those who do have lots of male friends who are married.
It is not my intention at all to give “lists of rules” that “must be followed.”
I do give a lot of practical suggestions and ideas. I talk about my own convictions and why I have them. But ultimately, each Christian woman must decide for herself what she believes God wants her to do in each situation.
The main two commandments God gives us are:
- To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
- To love your neighbor (other people) as yourself.
THE ONLY MOTIVE THAT COUNTS
God is constantly aware of my motives – whether they are pure or ungodly. God wants me to do the right thing for the right reason. So whether the issue is praying, going to church, reading my Bible or obeying God’s Word to me as a woman – God is pleased when I want to do these things because I love and reverence Him and have all my faith in Him.
WHY DO I GIVE SUGGESTIONS?
When I was learning about respect and biblical submission 4 years ago, I had very few godly examples. I was frustrated because the books I read talked about treating our husbands with “respect” but I really didn’t understand all the depths of the meaning of that word to men. I didn’t know what was disrespectful – I couldn’t tell if I was doing things “right” for my husband or not. I also didn’t know how to give up control in my marriage and allow my husband how to lead.
I give practical examples to try to provide a starting point for women who desire to live out God’s design for marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33, I Cor 11:3, Titus 2:2-5, I Peter 3:1-6). Are there other respectful ways to handle things in marriage besides the things I write about? Absolutely! I pray that the ideas in my blog might at least get women in the general ballpark and then they can hash out the details with their own men and with God.
My prayer is that women (and men!) will repent of their sins and then be filled with God’s Spirit and be sensitive to His voice.
I am not infallible. I am not always right. There are different situations, personalities and issues in each marriage that I cannot begin to address or have the wisdom to address. I am a wretched sinner without any good in my life apart from what Christ does in me and through me!
God has the wisdom each woman needs in her own life. My ultimate desire is for us to hear and obey God – not check off that you are doing everything I write about on my blog. Abiding in Jesus and living in obedience to Him brings His peace, joy, strength, power and abundant life! That is what I desire women to experience!