Double standards and the weaker spouse
Below is how I read Romans 14 with regards to marriage:
One spouse believes s/he may eat anything, while the weak spouse eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats. Let us not pass judgement on our spouse any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of them. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your spouse is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your spouse to stumble. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgement on them self for what they approve. Whoever has doubts is condemned if s/he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. [My abbreviated paraphrase of the ESV version of Ro 14]
Let’s take alcohol as an example. I am convinced there is no biblical command against drinking, only against being drunk. I could back that up very well, but I know others who are just as convinced it is sin to drink any alcohol at any time. While I will explore the scriptures with such folks, I would not drink in front of such a person. However, this is far more difficult if that person is your spouse. It’s not about something being right or wrong – Paul is very clear in Romans 14, and elsewhere, that eating meat and drinking wine are not wrong. The point is that doing something someone thinks is sin in front of him or her is harmful even though the act is not sin.
How does this play out in marriage? I think it means limiting ourselves in any area where our spouse thinks something might be sin. This could be drinking alcohol, engaging in certain sex acts, watching R rated movies, and so on.
Am I really saying your bride can limit you this way? She suddenly decides something is wrong, and you should stop doing it? As hard as it sounds, I find it impossible to not see that as what Paul expects of us. Yes, this could be difficult, and yes, it could be a significant sacrifice, but sometimes love requires that.
What if your bride was fine with many things when you got married, but has since become hyper-religious and has a longer list of sins? I don’t have an easy answer for this. At some point, I think one would be encouraging legalism, and I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a cork screw than encourage legalism! My thought would be to deal with the legalism rather than the individual things she has declared to be sin. Study grace with her. Try to understand why she has become legalistic, What fear(s) she may be soothing with legalism? What does legalism do for her, what gain is there in it? Deal with the root, and the other issues will go away. Fight the individual issues, and the legalism will only become more entrenched. In the meantime, sacrifice for her, and to be right with God.
Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week: Note – I had two weeks’ worth, and was short on time, so I have no doubt missed a few great articles.
Between The Sheets
Wow! What a Check List for Healthy Marriage: You could use this as a check list to find areas you should work on.
Between The Sheets
Wow! What a Check List for Healthy Marriage: You could use this a a check list to find areas you should work on.
Black and Married with Kids
5 Character Defects That Ruin Marriage: Check this list – if you see yourself, you need to take action.
Five Signs Your Spouse Is Your Roommate: Another good check list.
How To Get And Give The Appropriate Space In Your Marriage: How well do you share your shared space?
Certain Risks Are Necessary For Marriage Growth : No risk, no growth.
Couple Things Blog
Sexy and Fun Date Ideas Made Easy (plus a giveaway!): Introduction to an interesting resource I not aware of.
Happily Married After
This Blog Will Not Save Your Marriage: David is right – the best a blog can do it point you in the right direction. If you just read, you are wasting your time!
Intimacy in Marriage
3 Reasons I Like Public Display of Affection: This could be a great discussion starter with your bride.
Journey to Surrender
V-Day Anxiety Cure #1 – The Numbers Game: A great list if ideas.
Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage
“You Say You Want a Revolution?” – the Beatles: Some will be hatin’, but I’m rollin’ with Mark on this.
Avoid these 5 regrets by living and loving to the fullest: Change now to avoid regret later.
One Flesh Marriage
Romantic Act of the Day
The Romantic Vineyard
Hold On: When life is busy and crazy … hold on.
Safe at home
The Power of a Great Response in Marriage: This is a skill we all need to develop.
Emotions Are Not Overrated, Even for Men: A crash course in sharing emotions.
When Those You Love Push Your Buttons: You can change how you react.
How to commit to the end : If you both commit to it, your marriage can be great.
3 Things You Can Do Right Now To Love Your Spouse: Stu is wise beyond his years!
Taking Offense: The Problems It Causes, and How To Get Over It : See above!
3 Phrases to help reconcile with your spouse: Memorise these, then use them
Stupendous Marriage Show 028: Apologies and Married Couple Friendships
Happiness in Marriage, When do we have a baby?
…to Love Honor and Vacuum
Is Using Pornography the Same as Cheating?: A woman’s thoughts on a tough question.
Romance Novels: Dangerous, Harmless, or Just Fun?: A great follow-up to the above.
Women and children first?: “The Costa Concordia, which ran aground last week off the coast of Tuscany, was, in part, a feminist tragedy.” I so agree with Sheila!