Can we cause our spouse to sin?

Slipping on a banana © Gabriele Niepenberg |

I am big on taking responsibility for our own actions, and for not blaming others for what we do. That said, I do believe that we can and do cause others to sin (see Scriptures below). This does not mean sin is ever justified, or not counted, but I think we should understand that we will be held accountable for places where our actions pushed another in the wrong direction.

Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” [Mt 18:7 ESV]

But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction.”  [Ma 2:8a ESV]

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” [Ro 14:3 ESV]

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. … Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” [1 Co 8:9,12-13 ESV]

Jesus is very clear that people can tempt others to sin, and that those who do this will pay a price for doing so. As I read it, the price is not paid only if the other sins, but just because the temptation was put before them. In Malachi the priests are told that their wrong instruction has caused others to sin. In Romans we are told to work to avoid causing others to be tempted, and in Corinthians Paul clearly says that we sin if we cause other others to stumble. Given all of this, I have no doubt that couples tempt their spouses to sin, and that God will not ignore this wrong. This does not excuse the sin of the spouse, but it does mean that God is looking at and dealing with both the one who sins and the spouse who causes a temptation to sin.

I’m sure some of you are thinking your bride needs to hear this so she will understand that she is partly to blame for your sexual sins, or that if she does not change she will cause you to cheat or turn to porn. This may or may not be true (you might sin even if she did all the “right” things) but it’s not where I was going with this, and I don’t suggest you take this to your bride over sex – or anything else for that matter.

Where I want to go with this is for each of us to look at ourselves. Has something you’ve done caused her to be tempted? Has something you did not do caused her to be tempted? Did you lead her into sin by doing something you had the faith to know was not sin when she did not have the same faith? Have your words or actions ever pushed her towards thinking or doing something that is wrong?

If you feel you are guilty of any of this, ask her to forgive you for causing her to be tempted – even if she did not sin. Whether you have been guilty of this or not in the past, be on the lookout for it in the future.

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Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:

Note – with four weeks of blog posts to read, and still doing catch up after being out of town for a long time, I have not done all my reading yet. This is what jumped out from the first part of my reading list – more to come.

A Grown Up Marriage

Divergent Sexual Preferences: An interesting take on something I have touched on in the past.

Couple Things Blog Reminds me I need to do this still …
Fact or Story?: Great truth, great post.
When a Man Watches Barbie: You can learn some important things here.
Habits that Have to Go: Two must break habits if you want a better marriage.

Divorce Busting Blog

Ten Things You Need to Know About Affairs: If you ever have to deal with an affair, Michele is the one you want to guide you; and this article has a lot of great advice!

Engaged Marriage

15 Minute Marriage Makeover – In Paperback, Kindle, Nook and iBook Format (and on sale)!: I liked – and recommended – this book, but the price was on the high side. Now you can get it in a variety of formats at a much better price. (aff links)
5 Reasons You Need a Debt-Free Marriage: No arguments here!

Happily Married After

7 Links Challenge: I am very happy to see this blog come back to life, and this post is a great way to get to know the blog.
Letter to My Younger, Engaged Self: I have a similar post in my too do folder. Great exercise for any of us I think.
No Firestorms on The Porch: A great post on the danger of drift.
Cheerleaders vs Naysayers: Which are you?
Ghosts of Sex Lives Past in Marriage: This is a brilliant post you need to read if your bride was not the first woman you saw naked!
Why Your Wife Is Not A Freak in the Sheets: Brilliant follow up to the above.
How to Talk About Your Sexual Past: How to discuss your sexual pasts.


The Pop Quiz: How is your marital communication?
Cryptic Signs: “Change you, not her” applied to communication. I like it!

3 Comments on “Can we cause our spouse to sin?

  1. I think you have to be careful here. You may be heaping condemnation on folks who don’t deserve it. Or at the very least not for the right reasons.

    It’s one thing to tell your spouse that doing something is not a sin and being responsible for misleading them, as I believe the passage in Malachi refers. But it’s quite another when we read things such if a wife sins, it’s because her husband is or was doing something wrong.

    Besides, what good does it do to condemn the husband if the wife will not stop the sinful activity? Shouldn’t the first objective be to stop the sinful activity, then look at the events that lead up to the sinning?

    Sometimes I think we spend too much time trying to lay blame instead of solving the problem. If a man’s wife is out having an affair, blaming the man will not stop her affair. Even if he did things that made her believe her best option at “love” was to have an affair,until you stop the affair, blaming him will do exactly ZERO good.

    Further, even if he takes the blame, that still doesn’t address her sinful behavior.

    Frankly, I think we have enough blame of men. We don’t really need to go looking for even more reasons to blame men for the bad behavior of others. I think this is exactly the wrong direction to travel.

  2. @Tony – As always, we need to have balance.

    Yes, we need to deal with the sin, but if one spouse has sinned by tempting the other, then that is one of the two sins that needs to be dealt with. Not because it may or may not have contributed to the sin, but because the Bible rather clearly says we sin when we lead others into temptation.

    If the one who causes the temptation, be that person husband or wife, will confess their sin, it makes it easy for their spouse to do the same. For some it even is a big push to do the same.

  3. I’m not arguing against confession. But I don’t agree that confession by one makes it easy for the other.

    I’ve not found that to be the case in my personal experiences. Confession that I failed, didn’t understand, didn’t seek the right kind of help, only served to justify the sinful behavior.

    Again, not arguing that we shouldn’t confess our failings. However, confessing our failing may make it easier for the sinning spouse to justify the sin, rather than confess it and repent.

    So the big push can go either way, just as the easy for some may not be the Godly choice.

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