It’s hard for me to be completely honest and transparent. I like to give people the partial picture and I care way too much about what others think about me. This leads to sin management; I’ll let you see parts of my sin struggles, but you can’t see the whole thing. Because if you saw the whole thing, then I’d either have to quit my seemingly life-giving sin, or you might think less of me because I struggle with sin.
For instance, one way this plays out in my life is in my battle with food. I struggle with food addiction and am often obsessed with food. One of the solutions to help me in my struggle is to track all the food I eat and control my caloric and nutrition intake. When I track my food with accuracy and integrity, it allows me to know how and what I’m eating and provides great accountability, when I share my food reports with others. The problem comes when I only track part of my food intake or intentionally don’t share with others.
I don’t think I’m alone in this sin management battle. All of us struggle in some ways with managing our sin. This plays out in our individual walks with Christ, in our community groups, and in our relationships and marriage. Largely out of fear of what others will think about us, we hide, spin the truth and manage our sin.
Maybe you’re struggling with pornography. It’s not often, and it’s not hardcore, so you justify and hide it.
Or, you have a secret shopping addiction. You share some of the details, but not all. You lie and hide about the cost of all of your new stuff.
Maybe you’re like me, and you hide your eating habits. You buy bags of candy and hide them from your spouse and kids. No one will know, and it only costs a few bucks. Your addiction could be so much worse, right?
Whatever your struggle is… there is no room for hiding your sin struggles from your spouse.
In Merge, we recently asked 400 leaders for the top characteristics of premarried couples who do really well in their relationships. The clear, number one answer by far, is openness and honesty. The couples who do best, on the premarried and married side, are those couples who are open/transparent/honest/authentic with God, with each other, and with others in their lives.
God designed marriage as a one-flesh relationship. This means complete transparency in marriage. No hiding. No cheating. No sin management. Oneness. What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine. This is what the writer of Genesis means when he says the man and woman were naked and felt no shame (Genesis 2:25).
Do you know it’s possible to be fully clothed and yet naked at the same time? Genesis 2:25 refers to both a physical nakedness and an emotional nakedness. God’s ideal in marriage is that we are completely open and honest with our spouse, yet we live without shame because marriage is designed as a lifelong, permanent, one-flesh relationship. This is one of the most beautiful parts of marriage: physical and emotional oneness with your spouse.
For the Premarried:
Choose wisely… Can you trust your significant other? Is he/she open with the Lord, with you and with others? Ask them if they feel free to open up to you. And ask the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5). The couples who tend to do best, are the ones who are truly open with each other, the good and the bad.
What do I do from here?
If you’re completely honest and open with your spouse, then praise God, and excel still more.
If you struggle with complete honesty and transparency:
- Confess your sin, first and foremost to the Lord. Psalm 51:4 says, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” In this verse, David agrees with God that his sin is first and foremost against the Lord.
- Believe the fact that God forgives us when we confess. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
- Confess to others, starting with your spouse and your community group. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, 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.”
- Confess… and find mercy. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
God loves you. Trust Him with His design for relationships. It may be (really) tough along the way, but trust the One who designed marriage for your good and His glory.
Why is it so hard for you to be open with God? Your Spouse? Your community?
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