For women who are married to men who say they are Christians, and yet don’t quite act like it (and we all do from time to time, but that’s not what I’m talking about here…). What I mean is husbands who honestly bear no discernible fruit of salvation, or who continue in their sin, or who you know just are not saved because they will tell you that straightup….three questions to and answers from Martha Peace, writer of The Excellent Wife, Attitudes of a Transformed Heart, among others. I hope this will help clear up any confusion that wives can have when words don’t match living. And I cannot recommend TEW strongly enough…it is probably the most scripturally grounded and well thought out book for women who really want to live as the Lord says within marriage that I have ever read. It has become a second source of wisdom (God’s Word is first) for me, and the amount of writer’s cramp I have gotten from taking notes…well, let’s just say…um…I may have the makings of a claw in the doing of it. Now, if I could just be more consistent in LIVING it…well, probably a long story that would make a whole new blog….but still I press on. And I’m not gonna stop till I drop or Jesus comes for us! But I digress…..here ya go! ~AGM ΑΩ†
Q: My husband says he is a Christian and goes to church. However, there is no fruit in his life that I can see. What should I think?
A: My Daddy used to have an expression, “I wish I had a nickel for every time I …”. Well, I wish I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me this question. Ultimately, only God can know the answer. However, there are some clear guidelines in Scripture. For example, if your husband says he is a Christian and that he’s trying to be good enough to earn his way into heaven, then he is clearly not a Christian. Salvation is by grace and not works. (Titus 3:4-7). Also, if he believes there are many ways to God and it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere, then he is not a Christian. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to God. (Acts 4:12). Most of the time, though, it is not that easy to discern when a husband is not a Christian.
One of the hallmarks of being a Christian is the new heart that God gives you — a heart with a desire for God, to please Him, serve Him, trust Him, and love Him. In other words, there will be fruit in their life and that fruit is often the obedience of the Christian. There are many clear verses in 1 John concerning this fruit such as “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). Another clear section that warns us if there is no fruit is 2 Peter 1:3-11. Read over those verses, and pray for wisdom. I would also recommend that you share your concerns with your husband. Speak to him in love and respectfully, and have as a heart’s motive for him to be right with the Lord. If after all is said and done, he still believes himself to be a Christian, then accept that and from time to time without nagging or being contentious, encourage him in the Lord. It is only the church through the elders that can officially declare him to be “as an unbeliever” through the church discipline process in Matthew 18:15-18. Otherwise, treat him as a Christian until he either says he is not or the church goes through the church discipline process over some issue and he will not repent.
Q: What is the correct way to raise godly children with an unbelieving husband so that they will respect their father?
A: The Scriptures are clear that children are to honor their father and mother whether they are Christians or not. Showing “honor” or “respect” is something that a child can do whether their father is acting as he should or not. Respect is shown in tone of voice, how they look at their father, the attitude with which they obey him, and how they speak of him to others. The child can be taught to do what is right and honor the Lord whether their father does or not. Certainly I do not think mothers should be “bad-mouthing” the child’s father to the children (or anyone else for that matter!), but neither should she pretend that the father is a Christian and that his worldly views are alright. The mother has a responsibility to teach her children and bring them up “in the Lord”. Part of that teaching is teaching them to be discerning about good and evil and about biblical beliefs and unbiblical beliefs. They need to learn that unbelievers do not think like believers and that only God can change that. So, the child should be praying for their Father’s salvation, obeying their father graciously unless he is asking them to sin, and giving their father blessings and “overcoming evil with good”. Children can be taught to think objectively about others’ sin and to respond biblically to it all-the-while showing respect to their father because of his God-given position in the family. For more information on raising kids, I recommend my tape set “Raising Kids without Raising Cain” along with the workbook that accompanies the tapes. Also I recommend Ted Tripp’s book, “Shepherding Your Child’s Heart.”
Q: Where do you start to help your husband understand that reading “Playboy” magazine, etc. is bad and not God’s way?
A: If your husband says he is a Christian, I would lovingly but in a clear, straightforward manner, tell him “Honey, pornography is a sin. It is this kind of thing that the Lord Jesus was talking about when He said, ‘…but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart’ (Matt.5:28). Your thoughts cannot be pure when looking at this, and you must repent. I love you. Is there anything I can do to make it easier for you to give this up?” Then, if he does not repent, proceed with the Matthew 18:15-18 process. For much greater detail, read chapter fourteen in “The Excellent Wife” book.
If your husband is not a Christian, appeal to his conscience to “do what is right.” For example, “Honey, it’s not right for you to be looking at pornography. It will cause you to be discontent with being married, it costs money, and you run the risk of the children finding it. Is there anything I can do to help you with this?” If an unbelieving husband won’t repent, then pray for wisdom as to what to do. If the problem is bad enough that you think you should do something, consult with the elders in your church. Otherwise, keep praying and occasionally appeal to do to “do what is right.” Also some pornography (such as child pornography) is illegal as well as extremely dangerous. If he will not give up that kind of pornography, I would contact the police (Romans 13:1-3). Your motive in all of this must be one of love and desiring to help your husband.
Here is a link to Martha’s website: http://www.marthapeace.com/books/books.html
Although I have found her books on Amazon, used for a song….it is always good to check out the author for yourself before buying any book, except the Bible (well, some newer translations…these being the last days and all and I guess even the translations after 1984 need close inspection). Anyway, happy noodling! She has some very good books there. And again, women (and men too) let’s be praying for one another and for marriages that truly reflect God’s intention in both creating it and in His example of it to the world. Regardless of what one spouse does or doesn’t do, the other one is not left off the hook for what they do and don’t do….so focus on your own obedience to the word, your own relationship with the LORD, and leave the heart changing stuff to God to work out with the spouse, as you simply go to the prayer closet in prayer for them. Only the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit….you and I are not Him. Still working on that one….BUT, I do have down the fact that you and I will only have to answer for ourselves, just as our spouses will have to answer for themselves…no passing the buck when facing the One we all will have to give an account to. What a blessing for BOTH spouses, when you think about it. Just sayin….<3