April 14, 2014

Damned By Denial

Gary Thomas — 
photo by by Christian Bucad: Creative Commons

photo by by Christian Bucad: Creative Commons

What was the first thing that Adam and Eve did after they sinned?

They both denied it.

What did Cain do when confronted with his murder of Abel?

He denied it.

And what do we do, when marriage puts a spotlight on our sin?

All too often, we play the same game and deny it, too.

Men get caught in a pornographic web, their wives catch them, but instead of coming clean and confess it, they are too quick to make up a lie: “I don’t know how that got on there.”

A wife has a chronically negative attitude; her husband brings it to her attention. Instead of accepting that there may be a weakness in her life, she denies it through blame: “If I just had some more help I wouldn’t have to sound so negative.”

If we could see the blackness of our hearts—and I am talking about Christians here—how we are still pummeled with pride, resentment, selfishness, a lack of forgiveness, and the like, we would welcome the “sanitizing” moments of marriage, instead of denying our sin and profiting nothing. In fact, when we deny a true observation, we are corrupted by our denial. Repentance leads to healing; denial leads to addiction.

Look at it this way: let’s say you had an ache in your arm, you go into the doctor, he orders an x-ray, and then, after looking at it, tells you, “Your arm is broken.”

Would you respond, “No, it’s not. There’s nothing wrong with my arm. The x-ray is wrong. You’re an incompetent doctor. I bet your eyesight is bad, and where’d you get your degree? J.C. Penney’s?”

That sounds absurd, but when your husband comes to you and points something out, do you say, “That can’t be right, and who are you to diagnose me anyway? When’s the last time you picked up your Bible? And before you get all holier than thou on me, how about turning off the television before 11 o’clock and saying a prayer with the kids once in a while?”

You know what? Your husband may be negligent reading his Bible. He might be lazy at home. He probably should spend more time with your kids at bedtime. But does that mean your sin doesn’t matter? Does that give you a free pass to perfection? Your spouse’s sin doesn’t excuse your own.

All of us—every single one of us—have rough areas in our lives, points in our personality that still seem to resist God’s refining fire. Let the revelation of marriage call you to repentance, not denial. The only thing denial does is keep us looking like the devil, when God wants to use repentance to make us to shine like His Son. Are you cooperating with God and the revelation inherent in marriage, or fighting Him and denying His truth?

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4 responses to Damned By Denial

  1. Gary,
    After reading tonic your books I have been very challenged and saw how selfish I’ve been throughout my 15 years of marriage . God has been challenging me through you to learn to love my spouse more, better and allow God to fill my needs more instead of expecting it all from my husband.

    However , my husband has been also in a serious denial and I’m not sure how to handle it. He’s been an alcoholic for 20+ years which I didn’t know when we dated and were first married . The first 12-13 years were extremely difficult with long separations , unfaithfulness on his part , job loss. After a year of daily drinking he turned to binge drinking which ended up in serious destruction of our home and his health . He was in many inpatient treatments but refused to go to AA. He’s a loner snd has 1 friend at best so groups were never his cup of tea.

    In the past two years we have been trying to rebuild our marriage , even went though some marriage counseling… but his drinking is still a monthly occurrence and effects us greatly. The episodes lasts for a few days since I step in, stopping him. Today he told me – after another 1 day period – that it should be good enough for me that he only “slips ” once a month, 95% of the time he is not drinking. What a crazy thinking ! He says he doesn’t intend on drinking but when he’s very stressed he needs to ease his mind. So He drinks pretty much every month. For a day, a few days etc. And he would probably go down to a longer binge if not for me. But I can’t take the burden of trying to stop him anymore. It’s crazy, it’s tearing our marriage apart – what we build throughout the month gets torn down . When he drinks I get angry, then afraid because he is mean … Then once he stops he apologizes but no action is taken on his part to prevent it…When I suggested that the drinking is a coping thing and why not get to the bottom of things and learn some healthier coping mechanisms…He refuses counseling , says he tried it, it didn’t work. So pretty much he is saying : take it or leave it. He is not willing to do anything. Not even calling people when tempted or stressed.

    I don’t want to divorce ,separation did no good at all in the past . I love him but I’m praying : is this is what God wants me to do? Is this my cross I’m supposed to carry?Continue in this destructive marriage? For the next 40 years maybe? I read your blog about the Shell and marriage and it made me think : am I idolizing the institute of marriage,putting it above God?

    I would appreciate some word of wisdom on how does one deal with this type of addiction. I don’t want to run say from difficulties and want to take responsibility for my reactions and behavior but I wonder if there’s a way to stop this crazy cycle ….

  2. I had been meditation on this verse for the month of April:

    Proverbs 28:13
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

    These words are so true. I know that my father has shown me great mercy as I have presented my sins before him and close brothers. How sweet it is to be freed from the bonds of addiction.

  3. After studying Sacred Marriage…I began the process of bringing any sin I saw my husband struggling with directly to our Father in Heaven….God knows how to speak into my husband’s heart better than me…better than anyone! It is a very special experience to witness a true heartfelt change in my husband’s life after teaming up with the Lord through prayer, scripture, and acts of unconditional love!!

    • Skye,

      Thank you for the inspiration! I am separated AND a newlywed. We didn’t make it to our 1 year anniversary. My heart has been used like a yo-yo. I didn’t want the split -but my spouse did. I MUST show forth Christ to her. It HURTS SO MUCH!!!!!!!! I know I can’t look at the outside BUT I must Trust that God is working on the inside (of both of us).