Are you using your influence in marriage so that iron is sharpening iron?

We’re starting our January series on the blog, and I’m really excited about it! We’re talking about how marriage is supposed to help us grow to be better people, and I introduced this yesterday in my post on iron sharpening iron. But just as we can influence each other to be better people–we can also inadvertently influence each other in the opposite direction!

Here’s the podcast.


Main Segment: Iron Sharpens Iron

I started explaining two big principles:

  1. Change is hard. We tend to do things by habit, and we also tend to move in the direction of least resistance. So once we develop a habit (whether it’s good or bad), we’ll gravitate towards it and we’ll tend to keep it going. That’s why, if we enable selfishness, someone will tend to become more selfish.

  2. We’re made to live in community because we’re supposed to influence each other.

What does this mean for marriage?

If you want to have change, we have to stop making it easy for a spouse to the WRONG thing, and make it easier for a spouse to do the RIGHT thing.

Connor and Rebecca shared how they had to do this early in their marriage.

I also reiterated that some people will do the wrong thing regardless, because some people have bad character and are abusive. But in other cases, we can create dynamics in the marriage that either foster growth and good behaviour, or that foster immaturity and selfishness (and, to the extreme, could even culminate in abuse).

Posts mentioned in this segment:



Reader Question: You should tell women to have more faith in a miracle if they’re being abused, not tell them to get divorced

I spent the first bit of the podcast talking about how we can, and should, influence our spouse towards good behaviour (and they should influence us that way, too!). But I wanted to balance that message with this one: you can’t actually change someone’s behaviour, and if someone is being abusive, that is not on you.

A while ago I received quite a long email (that I condensed a lot in this podcast) that basically said this:

Sheila, I like your blog, but you are wrong in telling women in abusive marriages that they should divorce. Divorce is not permitted for abuse.

But, also, you forget that God can work miracles. You should tell the women to have faith instead! I was in an abusive marriage, and I prayed hard and sought godly, biblical counseling. We separated for a few weeks, and then God changed my husband’s heart, and he repented. God worked a miracle, and we are now reconciled. You are causing women to miss miracles. Tell them to have faith and to pray.

I replied in length to her question, but I think she is missing the mark on several things.

  • Scripture permits divorce for abuse
  • Abusive spouses must show they are repentant over time. We need to beware of the phenomenon of “love bombing”, where an abusive spouse will often say whatever they need to in order to get the spouse to reconcile
  • God does not force someone to change. He draws people, he softens hearts, He speaks to people, but ultimately we choose whether to listen or not.
  • Praying and having faith does not mean that your marriage will necessarily be saved. Praying and having faith means that you rely on God no matter what happens. Sometimes the miracle is what He does in your life and your children’s lives even if the marriage doesn’t survive. 

Some posts mentioned in this segment:

Why I’m Anti-Divorce but Pro-Remarriage

Later this month I’ll also be running a post on how Wayne Grudem has changed his mind and agrees now that divorce is permitted for abuse–but why he doesn’t go far enough, and why he needs to issue an apology.

What I want people to get from my iron sharpening iron series is this:

It’s okay to speak up when something’s bugging you. Marriage should make us better people! A great book to go along with this series and to read as you work through this series with me this month is 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. Plus–did you know that I have a FREE video Bible study to go along with it (either 6 weeks or 8 weeks)? Check out the Bible study here!


Are you GOOD or are you NICE?

Because the difference matters!

God calls us to be GOOD, yet too often we’re busy being nice. And sometimes, in marriage, that can actually cause problems to be even more entrenched.

What if there’s a better way?

Let me know in the comments–do you think that we can enable bad behaviour? What does that look like? How do we stop? Let’s talk!


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