July 28, 2014

Hatred Can Save Your Marriage

Gary Thomas — 

Holy Hatred

A good marriage requires lots of love but it also, surprisingly enough, requires a certain amount of hatred.  Your willingness to hate and to give yourself over to a holy hatred will serve your marriage.

How the Bible puts it:

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” (Proverbs 8:13)

Those who have a proper reverence for God hate evil to the extent that if we don’t hate evil, our marriages will be threatened.

This begins, of course, with hating the evil in our own hearts.  We should hate any form of prejudice, racism, sexism, selfish ambition, sexual immorality, fits of rage, a divisive spirit, gossip, or anything mentioned as “deeds of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19, that Paul says are counter to a life of the Spirit.

If I truly hate evil in my heart then when my marriage or spouse points it out, I will be grateful rather than resentful—sort of like thanking a doctor who sets a broken bone or who removes a painful sliver.  If my marriage reveals misogyny—a prejudice toward women—I hope I will hate the misogyny more than I hate being found less than perfect and will reject the sin rather than the exposure.  If my wife catches me giving in to a divisive spirit—undercutting leadership, turning anyone against anyone—or gossiping about someone, if I truly hate what is evil I will welcome her correction as an offering of love.

Sometimes we love ourselves more than we hate evil, so we resent being challenged more than we appreciate being sanctified.  That’s a dangerous road to travel on.  It leads to a place we could call “monstrous  personality.”

The calling of love: Holy Hatred

Saying “marriage is about holiness even more than happiness,” shouldn’t be just a slogan but a policy, a commitment, a way of life, and a true matter of preference.  It requires hating evil—or “holy hatred.” When we understand how evil evil is, it’s easy to hate it.

I hate how gossip tears apart true friends.  I hate how selfishness makes everyone—even the selfish person—miserable.  I hate how lust trades long seasons of intimacy for short moments of diversion.  I hate how a lack of self-control can create such fear in other family members.  I hate how a disposition toward indulgence can put a family’s stability and person’s health in serious jeopardy. I hate how downgrading, abusive, and manipulative language can turn a happy bride into a fearful, self-doubting mess.

Some of you, of course, may have spouses who encourage you toward evil rather than fight it. The Bible is clear, here.  If we hate evil, we can’t give in to it.  We can’t pretend it doesn’t matter.  The bond of marriage does not supersede the bond of faith; marriage should express our faith, not counteract it.

This is true even (perhaps especially) in the bedroom.  Yes, 1 Corinthians 7 says my body belongs to my wife, but 1 Corinthians 6 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own, you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”  It’s never an act of love to agree to engage in an act of hate toward God by disregarding His will.

Though it sounds shocking, when the Bible tells us to hate evil, it makes many decisions supremely clear.  It is very helpful to know what we are to hate if we truly want to live a life of love.

When you subscribe to Gary’s blog, you will receive blog posts directly to your e-mail inbox. You will be one of the first to learn about the latest in Gary’s writing.

15 responses to Hatred Can Save Your Marriage

  1. Gary,
    Thank you for this. It was when I really came to HATE sin; to hate what it was doing to my X, to hate sin and take it very seriously, that I was able to leave him. And even then it took several months to make a plan to leave safely. Prior to that I believed that his cruelty must be endured for Christ’s sake. I believed that enduring him, placating him, managing his environment so that he would always have things like he prefers, would draw him to Christ. The day that he said “Don’t ever bring this up again” regarding his porn use was a turning point in my thinking. I saw him as trapped and demanding that I let him stay that way while pretending to everyone else that he was some amazing husband and father and we were lucky to be in his presence. Hatred did not save my marriage. But hating sin did save my life, my sanity, and perhaps, hopefully, eventually, X’s soul. Nothing would bring me more joy than to see the day that he hates and forsakes sin because it displeases God. http://music.songsforsaplings.com/track/what-does-it-mean-to-repent

  2. Gary,

    Thanks for the response. Do you have any resources or examples of questions that might help one discern if two people are on, “opposite ends of the spectrum?”. For instance, if two people communicate and process information differently yet both desire deep meaningful conversation, would you consider that “opposite ends of the spectrum” versus a couple that communicate and process information similarly yet have different relational desires? All in all, is relational compatibility more rooted in intent or similarity in communication? Thanks.

    • I think intent matters more. This is only somewhat related, but it’s fine for an introvert to marry an extrovert, as long as the introvert likes and respects what an extrovert does. As long as you don’t mind relating to your partner’s style of communication, it doesn’t matter as much what that style is–just that it draws the two of you together. Prepare and Enrich is a good survey to help you get an objective look at relating styles.

  3. Gary,

    I recently read your book The Sacred Search and greatly appreciated your insight. One question I have, however, concerns compatibility. Specifically, I understand physical compatibility, recreational compatibility, and environmental compatibility, however, the relational compatibility section leaves me in the land of personal ambiguity. In general, I feel like women and men communicate radically different from one another, especially if they grew up in a Christian context. For instance, Christian women have likely spent their entire lives forming deep and meaningful relationships with women. In contrast, Christian men have likely grown very close and acquainted with how deep meaningful relationships develop and mature with men. Due to the inherent differences in experiences and conversations types between the two genders, is there not some expectation that generally men and woman might not be on the same page in terms of communication/personality with one another in a dating context? Can one even go as far to say that initially, their might always be a measure of relational incompatibility in the beginning of the dating relationship? Given this context, what would be considered relational compatibility red-flags that go beyond perhaps the differences in gender communication/personality styles? Thanks so much for your Godly work in this area!

    • Very thoughtful question, James. In general, I have found stereotypes when it comes to communication aren’t that helpful. I’ve met many men who long for more soulful discussions while their wives are more silent, process emotions more slowly, and are afraid to go deep. What I think matters most–at least, what I work on with couples that I’m doing premarital counseling with–is that the person is comfortable with the relational style of the person they are marrying. If a woman wants a very deep relational style with lots of conversation, she CAN find a guy who enjoys that, and she should. Two other people may not need such intense conversation–they’re happy to laugh, do things together, attend church, etc. That’s fine, too. If a woman wants a little more conversation than average and marries a guy who’s just about average, that will usually lead to a little disappointment but can often be made up with other friendships. But if she’s on one end of the spectrum and he’s on the other, there are going to be serious challenges. All this to say, I look at each couple individually. No one, as you state, can be perfectly matched, but are they close enough that the other can be relatively satisfied with the incompatibility? (Of course, once the marriage is set, all this talk goes out the window and it’s all about learning to live together)

  4. Thank you so much for today’s blog! I can honestly say that I hate “evil” but until today I hadn’t put myself into the equation!! Wow… 🙁 You spoke the truth and I’m so thankful that the Holy Spirit convicted me and made me take a look at myself!! I also want to say how thankful I am for your blog. I use to be on facebook but found that it was,( for me) a time robber and was having a negative impact on our marriage. I gave it up two years ago, which was freeing but I miss the spiritual encouragement that it use to offer. Your blog is a great alternative. Please keep writing what He puts on your heart. You are making such a difference in so many lives!!!

  5. Your articles, and book Sacred Marriage, would be way better and useful for couples if, when you gave examples of what the Bible says, that you would give the perspective of what a man feels as well when he catches his wife with a divisive spirit or who uses downgrading, abusive and manipulative language. 1 Corinthians 7 also points out that a woman’s body is not her own and that to deprive the husband can, and often times does, bring in or allows Satan to flourish. There’s plenty of male bashing feminist view points out there that are destroying marriage and the culture. As a godly man and having established a platform to teach what is right and wrong for both spouses, one would think you would do that instead of fueling the fire that males are to blame for all and only they need to pick up the slack in the rope that feminist and secular teachings are pulling us under with.

    • Troy, I understand what you’re saying, and to some extent agree with much of it. But please, re-read this blog post. There is only ONE sentence that specifically addresses men sinning against women. Every other one is gender neutral, applying to both. I do my best to challenge both men and women, but any one blog post might stress one over the other (I’ve written an entire book addressing women entitled Sacred Influence).

      • Thanks, Gary. I read your blog regularly, have for over a year and find it worthwhile.

        My wife and I were having issues; which marriage doesn’t? While I was at work recently, she and her family rented a Uhaul and moved her out. Prior, and over the course of 3-4 years, we went to a handful of counselors, pastors, and at her request, we attended Dr. Stosny’s Marriage Boot Camp last fall as well as “The Art of Marriage” class at the church we attend. I found it interesting via the Boot Camp how and why the genders act and react the ways we do; however, unlike Biblical teachings, it isn’t a road map of life. Marriage in this particular case. I got tired of being beat up with Ephesians 5:25. It is a convenient cherry pick for secular wisdom and unfortunate as well as out of context with the rest of it (19-33) for a Christian counselor or mentor.

        Parenting using Love and Logic principles are easy and incredibly effective for me. Our daughter responds just like one would dream of when reading the book…unless mom is around. There was little relationship between us, husband and wife, with a 5 yr old daughter running the house from when to eat, what to eat, snacks readily available all hours complements of mom, trials at bathroom time (bath and teeth), and bedtime routine was a whining crying child who wouldn’t fall asleep without her mom lying on the floor or on her bed until she was asleep enough not to know the wife had left the room. Often times, if she awoke during the night, she’d need her mom to do it all over again. Now, if I wouldn’t have our daughter alone because of numerous reasons like my wife working out of town on occasion or me going to see my parents, I wouldn’t know any better. However, I got (and still do get) plenty of time alone and achieve vastly different, night and day, results without raising a finger or the voice. So after asking and pleading for some compromising for years with video to back up how easy it is, there was still no compromise. And sadly, there wasn’t any backing me up in my parenting so the daughter was also starting to not listen to my simple requests. The result was I would get angry at my wife. All my wife had to say in any counseling session was how her husband had an anger problem which left me doing nothing but damage control explaining how difficult it is to provide for a household (all bills were mine besides my wife’s cell phone and vehicle as she used them for her business/occupation) and receive little to no respect. To top it off, no place to rest (two bedrooms as well as two living rooms which included 3 couches and several recliners and some coffee tables…not a corner to even set a glass on) as it was covered in mostly toys or laundry.

        From early on in the marriage and due to my wife becoming pregnant shortly after, I did most of the grocery shopping, cooking, a good portion of the cleaning as well as the chores inside (did all my own laundry and most of the daughter’s as well as common things like bath and kitchen towels) and all of them outside (4 season climate). Needless to say, golfing, barbershop chorus, biking, and theater became non-existent. Again, I felt little if any respect and suggested counseling. Much to my surprise, as eluded to earlier, I was told to be more like Christ and love like He loved the church. Her…she was told to pick up her room by one counselor. That was the last session we went to him.

        Sorry for the long story as I’m sure you’ve unfortunately heard similar ones before. Having looked for numerous resources for life’s questions and Christian wisdom for years from church, counselors, focusonthefamily.com, familylifetoday.com, Dr. James Dobson’s site to blogs like yours, picking on men, only holding them accountable, is an all too common occurrence. Talking with other men at small groups or Bible study, same stories. It’s hard to pass on literature to someone that cherry picks or points out, “they’re only saying it about men.” Oddly, when she was traveling a few years back, she bought Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book on love and respect. Great book. Sadly, I was the only one that read it and suggested that she should because it would explain how I am feeling disrespected.

        Two Bible verses that help me out are Psalm 34:19 and Philippians 4:4-8. We live in a broken sinful human world. But we have a redemptive loving eternal God. If one thing I have learned from you, Mr. Thomas, it’s that, particularly in my marriage, it definitely made me holier and not happy. It made me study the Bible more. It made me long for the next Sunday to learn some more. It made me read more Christian authors/books and do numerous devotions.

        My wife had divorce papers drawn up and ready for me when I got home that Thursday after work just over a month ago. I don’t believe God is done with either of us or the marriage. It’s certainly a trial that He will take each of us through. What the end result will be depends on Him.

        Best of and God bless.

        • Rose Wild Woods July 30, 2014 at 9:41 am

          The wisest man ever to live showed the way, He got up on the cross and died for us while we were sinners, if we truly belong to Him then we must follow Him to the cross, once on it we can not be offended, we will have died, and a dead person can not be offended.
          I lived the life you are describing, it is brutal, only on the cross did I find peace.

  6. Jennifer Gonzalez July 29, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Absolutely needed this today. Thank you for the beautiful message. ♡