Marital Conflicts – Session Four – August 22, 2022
Hi, this is Pastor Ken, and I want to welcome you to the Monday Marriage Message. In this edition, we are continuing to explore the series of marital conflicts found between worldly wisdom and the infallible God who created us, and who instituted the primary human relationship, marriage.
A few weeks ago, I spoke of the difference between the Bible’s understanding of marital oneness and the contrasting view of two individuals simply engaged in a mutual agreement. The latter is increasingly viewed by the world as an agreement that is less binding than many formal business contracts are. Most see marriage as something just as easily undone as it was entered into, if one or both of the individuals desire to do so. In this common sense view of marriage two individuals, any two individuals really, can be connected to one another ‘as long as desire to do so shall last’.
In the former…God’s plan, a man and a woman are joined together by Him, and they become “One Flesh”. (Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:5) The Bible teaches marriage is a miraculous recreation of the oneness shared by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:7-8 and Ephesians 5:31-32). As I have shared with you in the past, the original Greek word Jesus chose to use when describing the “Oneness” of the marital union translates well into our vernacular as homogenized, or mixed too thoroughly to be separated again into its original components.
With that in mind, let’s explore a widely accepted common sense approach to honesty and marriage. If marriage is simply an agreement between two people to cohabitate by a set of guidelines they alone agree upon, then they are able to choose the level of honesty that will be exercised in their marriage. When worldly wisdom is employed, it is understood that there are likely certain things that a person should not, or does not need to divulge. That list of exclusions usually begins with anything that may upset one’s spouse. This can include many things. For example, if someone at work had been flirting or making comments that were inappropriate, that would probably be reserved. If someone of the opposite gender had been a little too personal on social media, that kind of information would likely be omitted as well. What about a spouse who has been struggling with temptations to engage in activities that would be hurtful to the marriage? What if your spouse is doing something that is bothersome to you? How about the amount of money that is being independently spent , or the things it is spent on? How about important past events in the lives of spouses prior to meeting one another? When we believe we can operate successfully within marriage as two people who remain autonomous individuals, many things are rationalized as better left unsaid.
When it comes to honesty vs. dishonesty there is an interesting contrast. There are two kinds of dishonesty…but there is only one form of truth. Dishonesty can be served in the form of a lie of commission; these are when we tell someone something that is simply not true. Moreover, and likely much more often, dishonesty is offered as a lie of omission. These are far more prevalent because we rationalize that if we have not told someone something that is patently untrue, we are not guilty of lying. The truth is, withholding information is often intended to deceive. When we try to mislead someone with a lack of information, we are attempting to help them gain an understanding that does mesh with the reality of the situation, which is a lie. As I said a moment ago, there are two kinds of lies…but there is only one form of the truth. Our justice system understands this and as a result has long employed the following oath when swearing in a witness in a court of law…”Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth…the whole truth…and nothing but the truth?”
So, what does God’s word say about telling the truth in regards to marriage? What does the Bible have to say about being totally honest with your spouse? The Word of God indicates that a person we are “One” with should be able to expect that our dealings with them will be totally above board, fully honest and true. In Ephesians chapter four, Paul gave instruction to the Christians in Ephesus, and wrote that they should no longer live as they did before. He admonished them that the time for being dishonest had come to an end, and that they needed to treat those they were “One” with in Christ, fairly, completely honestly and in godly ways. In the Amplified Version Ephesians 4:25 says, Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths, spreading rumors, any such as these], speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one another [and we are all parts of the body of Christ]. When writing this Paul knew that the readers would understand the phrase “all parts of one another” because of the example of their own marriages. As we operate within our marriages the application of this scripture should be no less striking. God desires that we be truthful with everyone, but He also wants us to understand that as components of a “Oneness” relationship both you and your spouse ought to be able to have the highest expectation of truthfulness.
I often use the following illustration to show why this is so. I ask people if they can hold an item so tightly in their right hand that their left hand will be unaware of the contents hidden in the right? Of course, this I would be impossible due to the central nervous system which connects both hands. Those two hands are separate from one another, just as a husband and wife possess separate bodies. Though the right and left hand resemble one another they are also opposites, just as men and women are alike and yet opposites in many ways. One may have ability not possessed by the other. One may be stronger than the other. Regardless of these differences, there is no ability for secrecy between a person’s two hands because though they are separate and different, they are a part of the same body. According to the scripture I referenced a moment ago, there also should be no expectation that meaningful secrecy would ever exist between a husband and a wife.
In order for truth to have the pure outcome it should, it must never be misleading in any way as we read in the previous scripture, AND according to the following one, must be delivered with love as the sole motivation. Ephesians 4:15 says But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ (Amplified Version). Speaking the truth in love removes any opportunity for ulterior motives such as “Sugar-coating” or “Brutal honesty”. Those terms are used solely to justify further deceit or a harsh and unloving opinion, neither of which is truth or loving. My mother used to say “If you can’t find something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” A well-meant sentiment, but scripturally unsound especially when it comes to marriage. Love and speaking the truth in Love will enable you to find something loving and true to say. The dangerous misinterpretation of this verse is…“IF you tell the truth, do so in love” However, the scripture clearly says “But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing Christ’s truth]. Speaking and in fact, living the truth is not optional, nor is expressing that truth with any other motive but love. According to these verses, learning to do this is what matures us in Christ as we follow His example. Physical maturity doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it take place without growing pains. Spiritual maturity is no different. Learning to be thoroughly honest with our spouse with the sole motivation of love (meaning the truth is always told with an intent to bless) is not necessarily easy. However, it is imperative that we learn to do it if we are to walk in the fullness of God’s design for the “Oneness” relationship of marriage. Keep in mind, if the right hand could actually keep the left from knowing what it possessed, it would indicate a serious mental illness. If one spouse regularly operates as if the other has no need to know what is a part of their life, words, actions, or thoughts, it is equally indicative of a serious marital illness.
1 Corinthians 3:6 sums up this concept well, [Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.
Questions to Answer:
What kinds of things do you and your spouse struggle to be totally honest with one another about?
Are you both comfortable with the level of honesty (or dishonesty) that your marriage operates at?
How could the two of you learn to be more honest with one another than you currently are? ***Full Disclosure***Answering this question honestly may reveal some areas where dishonesty has been allowed to abide in your marriage.
Actions to Take:
Talk about the reasons why the two of you may have avoided a complete level of honesty with one another to this point in your marriage.
Discuss the benefits of learning to be more honest with one another going forward.
Talk about fears you may have of operating your marriage in a state of total honesty.
Discuss what “Sugar-coating” the truth or the use of “Brutal honesty” has done to the openness the two of you share, and how both of them have hindered the development of your “Oneness”.
So now, learning to do everything in your marriage in truth and love…Go Be Awesome!