Got a request to say something about problems/differences where there’s a moral issue involved. The easy answer is “don’t do anything that’s sin”, but of course, it’s not always so easy.
Is It Really Sin?
The Bible is very clear certain things are sin, but others are less clear. Some Christians see any drinking of alcohol as sinful, while others don’t see a problem as long as you don’t become drunk. There are entire books dedicated to the issue. If you and your spouse are on opposite sides of this, it can be a big issue. Drinking is just one example, there are many others. Sexual issues often fall into this category, from birth control to masturbation to oral sex.
I’ve always felt if the Bible doesn’t spell it out clearly, the burden of proof is on the one who claims something is sin despite God not choosing to say it is. This is especially true if the issue in question was known when the Bible was written. Your belief, no matter how strongly held, is not the Word of God, and should not be presented to your spouse as such. This was the game the Pharisees played, and Jesus condemned them strongly for it.
The other part of this is we are commanded to grow strong in the faith; to grow up and know the truth. Of course, most who find sin where God has not called it sin don’t think they might be wrong. On the contrary, they usually think they’re more spiritual than those who fail to “read the Bible correctly”.
Bottom Line: If you and your spouse disagree on something being sin, neither of you is called to be the Holy Spirit for the other. You should both prayerfully study and seek to come to an agreement about God’s truth.
Is it Sin to you – or her?
Romans warns us, “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” [Ro 14:23b] If you think it’s sin, then for doing it’s wrong, even if God doesn’t classify it as sin. The same is true for your spouse, so trying to force them to do something they think is wrong is asking them to sin even if the act is not sin.
Paul says those who are limited in this way are weak in their faith. Some refer to them as the “weaker brother”. We’re commanded to accept a weaker brother and not despise them. On the other hand, the weaker brother is commanded to not past judgement on those who have faith to do what the weaker one do not. Still, the bigger requirement is on the one who is stronger in faith, as they are told to avoid placing a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of the weaker brother.
Bottom Line: Don’t ask your spouse to do what they think is sin, and if you doing it causes them problems try to avoid doing it in front of them.
Don’t claim sin to avoid things.
This is common with sexual issues. A wife claims oral sex is sin to avoid having to deal with it, even though she hasn’t done enough study to have any support for her claim. The one I get from men most often is “We don’t have sex during her period because the Bible says it’s sin to do that.” While this is true, it is only part of the story. The limits placed on menstruating women prohibited them from doing any cooking or cleaning, or sharing a bed with their husband. The rules of bodily emissions also applied to a man any time he had an ejaculation. You can’t pick and choose, you must either follow all of these laws, or none of them. Pulling “one rule” out of context as a trump card is dishonest, and it’s using God to get your way.
Bottom Line: Disliking something doesn’t make it sin.
Sin is a big deal to God
When we are talking about sin there’s no biblical wiggle room. Don’t sin because your spouse asks you to, no matter what they say or offer you. Beyond that, don’t be a party to their sin; walk away. Additionally, you have an obligation to protect your children from your spouse’s sin, starting by making it clear to them it is sin, with a clear biblical explanation. Finally, as with any Christian, you have a responsibility to try to help them see their sin and escape it. Enlisting a friend (ideally one of their friends) is the first step.
Bottom line: Just say no, and stand firm.
When the head asks you to sin
There are those who claim a wife should do whatever her husband tells her to do, even if he asks her to sin. I had someone tell me if a husband tells his wife to have sex with another man, she should comply, knowing God will protect her – the other man will pass out or find himself unable to get an erection. My answer to this is God killed Sapphira for lying as her husband had told her to (Acts 5:1-11).
Bottom Line: We are responsible for our actions, no matter what anyone else does or commands us to do.