There’s a lie that has
spread like wildfire through western Christian culture. A lie that
breeds more lies. A lie that I believe is demonically orchestrated.
It’s simple, it’s powerful, and it’s widely accepted and taught
in our churches. The lie? A wife cannot be her husband’s
Where did this idea originate? Has it come from Scripture? Does this philosophy create oneness and unity between a husband and wife, or does it breed anxiety, doubts, and unconfessed sin within a marriage? First let us look to God’s Word.
Nehemiah 1:5-7And I said, "O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.
Psalm 32:1-6Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.”
Psalm 66:18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
Daniel 9:4-7I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you.
Romans 14:11-12For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Genesis 50:17-20'Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Ezra 9:5-6And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God, saying: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.”
Nehemiah 9:2-3And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God.
Proverbs 28:13Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Ezekiel 18:31-32Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."
Matthew 6:14-15For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 18:15"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
Luke 17:3-4Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."
John 20:23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."
Galatians 6:1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Ephesians 4:25Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
James 5:16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
We can clearly see throughout Scripture that we are to confess our sins to both God and each other. That repentance and confession is of utmost importance to the Lord. What we don’t see, is this philosophy that we are to only confess our sins to someone other than our spouse. This is where the lie comes in. We have been taught that a husband (or visa-versa) should not confess his sin to his wife because it’s too much for her to handle. It’s too painful. So therefore he should get a couple of men to be his “accountability partners” and he is to share his struggles and confess his sins to them. While I must emphasize that a man SHOULD have other men as accountability partners -- men that he trusts and can communicate his struggles and sin, who ask him the tough questions, who pray with him and share their life with him -- I also believe he should not deprive his wife of the truth. Who is more invested in a man’s life than his wife? Who benefits more from the freedom of confessed sin and the lifting of guilt in a man’s life than his wife? Who desires for a man to succeed in his quest for righteousness more than his wife? Who did God place in a more intimate role to help a man other than his wife? I would say no one. And the Word of God confirms that.
My role as a wife is to stand by my husband, to fervently pray for him, to encourage him and affirm him, to listen to him and respect him, to lift him up when he’s in a pit, to be what the Bible describes as his “ezer kenegdo”. In Genesis 2:18, God said it was not good for man to be alone, so He made for Adam, Eve… his ezer kenegdo. This term has often been mistranslated by many as helper or helpmate. However, the original Hebrew shows that the term ezer kenegdo is much more than that. It is used 21 times in the Old Testament to describe a counterpart of great strength, power, and majesty. Most Old Testament examples of these terms are actually describing God when we are in our most desperate need of Him. Without God, our ezer kenegdo, we have no hope. In the same way, God knew there would be no hope for man alone, so He created for him an ezer kenegdo. Someone of great strength and power, his counterpart, to help him in his most desperate time of need.
That said, how can a wife be ezer kenegdo for her husband if he is unwilling to share his struggles and confess his sin to her? He is not looking to her for strength, to be his counterpart, to help him in his most desperate time of need. In fact, in the name of protecting her, he denies her the God-given role she was created for. This is no way creates oneness in a marriage, but rather it constructs walls between a husband and wife. Certain struggles or sins are considered off-limits when it comes to complete honesty with each other. Those in the realm of sexual sin and struggles are typically hidden. It’s a sad reality that the one relationship God created to mirror Christ and the Church, is the one relationship that is most deprived of genuine honesty and intimacy.
Maybe the term “accountable” seems harsh, as we understand this as an obligation to answer to someone. And in the context of marriage, perhaps it’s not the right term to describe what a husband and wife should experience. Perchance a better term would be oneness, unity, harmony. Whatever you want to call it, Matthew 10:8 says that a husband and wife are to become one flesh (and contrary to popular belief, this is not referring exclusively to sex). To help us understand this concept, here’s an illustration…
Before marriage, a man and woman are separate, they are their own. But through marriage, they become one flesh. The two are welded together in a connection that is only achieved through the covenant of marriage. They share everything – their body, their emotions, their struggles, their joy, their victories, their sin – everything. But when unconfessed sin enters the relationship (whether by the husband or the wife) the marriage makes a dangerous shift. Though still married, they are no longer one. There is something hidden and destructive keeping them from complete harmony. It may seem harmless at first, it may even be so subtle that we don’t notice, but eventually the disconnection unconfessed sin brings can cause great damage, discord, and sadly, even divorce.
The Enemy has done an excellent job disguising this custom that has crept in and is destroying marriages. But I urge Christians to open their eyes and see it for what it is… a LIE. All that said, how can we achieve true oneness with our husbands? I have a few tips that will help us in our pursuit of unity:
1) You are not his mother. Accountability does not mean that you become your husband’s watchman. It is not your job to question him at every turn. That will only increase his desire to hide things from you and it will build resentment in his heart towards you. It is his choice to confess, you can’t make him repent.
2) Don’t use a list. Accountability groups and partners have lists of questions to ask each other, and this is a great tool for men to help other men. However, you are his wife! Your communication, especially in the realms of struggles and sin, should not be scripted or robotic. He will feel like you’re interrogating him and you will both end up frustrated.
3) Listen with tenderness. If you want your husband to be honest with you about his struggles and confess his sin, then you have to make a choice to listen to him with tenderness. The last thing he’ll ever want to do is come to you knowing that you are going to freak out on him. For me, if my husband is honest and opens up to me, I am much less apt to lose my cool. Keep that in perspective, he’s willing to talk to you. You need to be a safe place for him to confess and communicate what he’s struggling with.
4) Don’t go crazy over details. Women struggle with vagueness. We are so detail oriented and it’s hard for us when our husband uses two-words to describe an hour event! BUT… that’s how they’re brains are wired. They don’t typically remember the details; they remember the “gist of it.” So when your husband confesses a sin or struggle to you, don’t prod him for all the dirty details. It’s hard enough for him to admit something that may be embarrassing or that he’s afraid will hurt you. Just listen and respond appropriately. (Note: This does not mean to ignore the discerning spirit God has given you. If you feel your husband is in trouble and there’s more information that he is hiding from you, ask him or seek further counsel. Do not allow yourself to be plagued with questions, if you feel that you absolutely need to know something, just ask.)
5) Respond with love. This may seem simple or overstated, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. When your husband confesses a sin or a struggle to you, your first inclination might be towards anger (believe me, I know!) or animosity. But we are to respect our husband and respond to him with love. God defines love as:
“…patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1st Corinthians 13:4-8).
6) Pray. The best thing you can do for your husband is seek God on his behalf. No matter what he’s confessed or what he’s struggling with, the only person that can truly bring repentance and transformation in his life is Jesus Christ. And trust me (I’ve learned through personal experience) your husband will be overwhelmed with love for you if you respond to his confession with tenderness, love, and prayer.
So let’s seek God together in learning how to be a humble, repentant, and genuinely honest spouse. May it bring greater joy, intimacy, and oneness to our marriages.
Walking in Freedom,
Tags: accountability oneness marriage confession communication
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