One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is how a wife should respond to her husband’s sin. Whether it is an addiction like drugs or porn, or if it is simply rude, thoughtless, or obnoxious behavior, in any believer’s life, sin is not something we should ignore or turn a blind eye to, not if we love that person.
Sadly, some women confuse the role of a “submissive wife” with the idea that a wife has no recourse if her husband sins against her. That’s not true or biblical. That kind of warped interpretation will lead to enabling a husband in sin rather than being a true helpmeet who aids him in spiritual growth.
In Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior, I include these guidelines in the Appendix. I hope you’ll consider these steps if you need to confront your husband, friend, or even a family member. If you have a friend who is struggling with how to respond to her husband’s sin, please pass this blog post on to her today.
Guidelines When Confrontation Is Necessary
- Seek the Lord first. Spend time in prayer and the Word seeking direction and timing before holding this conversation (James 1:19–20).
- Be sure your desire to confront stems from right motives—spiritual restoration for your husband and love for him as your brother in Christ—not in order to “fix things” more to your liking (1 Thessalonians 5:14–15; Hebrews 12:14–15).
- Search your own heart first—is there anything in your own life that needs to be confessed to God or your husband (Matthew 7:5)? If you have unresolved issues you need to deal with those before confronting anyone.
- We can’t come to our husbands with a pious, holier-than-thou attitude and expect to be heard. God opposes that kind of heart (1 Peter 5:5). It will be difficult, but your approach must be filled with grace, forgiveness, humility and love (Ephesians 3:17; 4:31–32).
- Consider writing out your concerns in a letter. Most men don’t respond well to emotional pleas. Putting things in written form may prevent that type of confrontation.
- Before confronting, release unrealistic expectations. Depend on the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, not your words. Resolve in your heart that this work is the Lord’s.
- Share your heart and express your needs in an honest but gracious manner—not accusing or placing blame. Let him know you’re giving him time to consider what you’ve shared, but if he’s practicing a sinful lifestyle and unwilling to repent, you’ll appeal to your church leadership for help.
- Absolutely do not remain in a situation where you or your children are in danger. Please share your situation with friends or your church family and bring in necessary authorities to provide help and protection.
- Diligently, specifically, and regularly, intercede in prayer for God to work as you wait. Pray from a hopeful and confident position—but not one that is demanding. Give your husband time and space.
- If your husband remains unrepentant in sin and that sin reaches a level that requires the intervention of spiritual leadership, you will need to follow the process of confrontation as outlined in Matthew 18:15–18.
Allow your husband to reap the consequences of his own sin. He is responsible before God for his actions. No matter how difficult it is for you to watch—don’t bail him out. God can use this time of humility and brokenness to bring him to a needed place of repentance.
© 2012• Kimberly Wagner • Fierce Women • Moody Publishers