Here is a quote from Tullian Tchividjian “Real slavery is living your life trying to gain favor; Real freedom is living your life because you already have favor.”
With this gospel reminder, I was also reminded of some really helpful questions people asked me after the sermon on 1 Corinthians 8, that I wanted to address in a couple of blogs.
Question 1: Are you able to share your convictions with people without making it law for them or judging them for how they live?
The short answer is yes, but the two qualifications in the question are crucial. 1) We can’t be found judging other people’s convictions in areas of freedom and 2) we can’t make law what isn’t law. We must make a distinction between sharing wisdom and insisting that others believe like we do. When others ask you for advice, sharing your wisdom or how you came to your convictions is loving. However we must check our hearts that in so doing we are not trying to make a law for them. Making law where there is no law crushes the soul, and distorts the gospel.
Question 2: What if you and your spouse have different convictions?
A general answer is the wife should seek to respect and support her husband’s leadership as long as it is not leading her into sin. The husband should live with his wife in an understanding, showing honor to her through listening and leadership.
If the convictions that are creating tension really are areas of freedom, we must ask, “Why are we so upset that they are not taking on my convictions? Why do I want this so badly? Is it love for them or comfort or control for me?”
The Bible doesn’t say that people have to have the same convictions in order to be at peace. However if one spouse’s convictions are leading the other spouse to stumble, then, because of the closeness of the relationship, the husband should lead out in serving the spouse. That is, if he feels more freedom than she does then he should make sure she knows she is more important than his freedom to watch that game, or participate in a hobby. However in a marriage, part of the husband’s unique role is to lead his wife spiritually. Part of that is having discussions about his convictions- not in a defensive way but helping her understand how you really believe this is drawing you closer to the Lord and helping you love others. With great humility in both, one of two things will happen in this process. 1) you will find out as a husband that you have not been using your freedom as “unto the Lord” or 2) your wife will see that you are seeking Christ and love for others and that you are hearing her. Then her role is to trust God in him.
Finally if the tension persists, then we must remember that sanctification is a community project. We must involve others in the discussion so that others can point out blind spots, counsel, and help us through the decisions.
In my marriage, we had a similar situation. I like watching war movies and my wife can’t stand violence and cussing. For her cussing is like nudity or sexual content is for me- it sticks in my mind and comes into the brain at the most random times. She would have nightmares with cuss words flooding her mind while she slept. So what do I do? When we are together I carefully study the content and find everything I can about the cussing and violence and sexual content so that we are not given to stumble in our faith while we watch a movie. That really limits what movies we watch together. But it has been a great way to show my love for her and for us to enjoy a movie or TV show with a clean conscience.
However the story continues in that Dana struggled so much with war/action movies that she couldn’t understand how I could watch them and still be following God. After some heated discussions, I told her that these movies are not as important as she is and I stopped watching them for a season. However, when the iron was cool, a week or so later, I initiated a conversation about how I watch a war movie to the glory of God (some of these things will be in the next post). She had not fully thought about all of those things, and yet she still struggled to understand why I like them. I told her that I would seek accountability from other men who we trust, and I asked them to speak into my life to make sure I wasn’t being blinded. The compromise is that she now trusts me and with her knowledge, not in secrecy, I watch them periodically by myself or with friends. She and I learned to develop convictions and live with one another in an understanding way. We grew as friends and we grew in thinking about Christ in the everyday, even as we watch TV.