MARRIAGE MISDIAGNOSIS: Is Evangelicalism Solving the Wrong Marriage Problem?

by | Sep 7, 2022 | Resolving Conflict, Theology of Marriage and Sex | 32 comments

Why Commitment Wont Solve Marriage Problems Evangelicalism

What if the reason that our evangelical marriage advice often doesn’t work is because we’re aiming for the wrong thing?

And because we’re aiming for the wrong thing–we’ve got the wrong solutions?

Welcome to our Marriage Misdiagnosis series!

This month we’re going to look through why evangelicalism often has a set series of typical pieces of advice for marriage–and why that advice often leads to quite unhappy outcomes.

And we’re going to look everyday at the RIGHT questions to ask instead, and how to get back on track!

I began yesterday sharing some thoughts I had five years ago, about how often the questions that we ask paint us into a box. If our aim is to keep marriages together, then we can’t really address problems that may rock the boat. If our aim is to practice marriage headship, then can we really address issues that a husband may have in marriage?

I want to continue this today and look at some examples of this–and see how this can go wrong.

Let me use an example of something that is typical of a certain strain of evangelical marriage advice:

How do you know if you’re married to the right person? Short answer: look at the name on your marriage certificate.

John Piper

Did I Marry the Right Person?, Desiring God

So the answer given when people are desperate or in pain is to tell them: just commit more.

It reminds me very much of what Keith and I used to teach at marriage conferences fifteen years ago.

We were speakers with FamilyLife Canada (they’ve changed their curriculum since) and we used the U.S. curriculum back then. Three of the twelve talks for the weekend retreat focused on commitment, and how you needed to realize that marriage wasn’t about marrying the right person; it was about becoming the right person.

And how the right person for you is the one you married.

We spent three talks going into details about the importance of commitment, and how people take commitment too lightly. And how you just have to decide to commit. Make the decision. Shut that back door closed on divorce! Because once you decide to commit, then we can do the real work of improving the marriage.

keith Sheila Speaking Marriage Conference

There was just one problem–and commitment wasn’t it.

For most people having marriage problems, the issue is usually not lack of commitment. Now, for some people it definitely is–the people who have affairs; the people who flirt with others. But they’re not likely to be listening to advice about marriage right now anyway!

For most people who want marriage advice, the issue is that marriage hasn’t brought the closeness, intimacy, and benefits they dreamed of. They don’t feel intimate. They don’t feel like partners. Marriage has been draining.

What they want is for marriage to be something that invigorates them!

They don’t need to be lectured about how much commitment means. What they really, really need are tools for how to get that relationship that is actually life-giving, rather than mediocre at best, or soul-crushing at worst.

So why do we lecture about commitment? Because people in really dire straits in their marriage need to be convinced that they don’t  have a choice about leaving. And the only way to do that is to lecture them on commitment.

I was never comfortable giving those talks, but I gave them anyway.

I’m terribly sorry about that. We had outlines that we had to follow, and certain points we had to make, and then we’d add our own stories to beef up the talks. But I remember talking about how God made Eve for Adam, and how they were supposed to be together, and how we need to look at our spouse with the same intensity that Adam looked at Eve and declared, “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!”

Again, I’m sorry about that.

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I opened up the most popular secular marriage book to look at the difference in emphasis.

John Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is focused on the work the Gottmans have done in their Marriage Lab, where they watch couples and then follow their trajectory afterwards, and they’ve been able to predict with over 90% accuracy the chance of divorce. And from that they’ve discovered seven principles that keep marriages together.

And guess what? Not one of the seven principles is commitment. Couples stay together when the marriage enhances their lives, not detracts from it. So the key is to make sure that the marriage enhances your life! And that often means learning coping strategies and reworking your relational maps and your defence mechanisms so that you grow connection rather than inhibit connection.

In their second chapter, “What Does Make Marriage Work?”, they say this:

At the heart of the Seven Principles approach is the simple truth that happy marriages are based on a deep friendship. By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company. These couples tend to know each other intimately—they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams. They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in the big ways but through small gestures day in and day out.

John Gottman

Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

Their approach is really one of: let’s uncover what is holding us back from intimacy and address it so that we can create the marriage you always dreamed of.

Christian books and advice often do the opposite, saying, “let’s uncover what’s holding us back from committing wholeheartedly to this marriage, and figure out how we can commit no matter what.”

In the evangelical approach to marriage, it’s not about transforming the marriage; but rather how to muscle through and endure it, and change our perspective.

That last part is especially important. The focus in so much of our marriage advice is not on changing our experience but changing our perspective. Instead of addressing real problems, we’re told that WE are the real problem. We’re expecting too much. We think life should be easy instead of remembering that marriage is hard. We’re forgetting that God made marriage to show us our own flaws and our own selfishness so we could work on these things.

With everything, there is a grain of truth. But the emphasis is all wrong, and here’s why:

You can’t have intimacy without honesty.

And you can’t have real honesty if our goal must be to never, ever rock the boat. When we focus on commitment rather than on relational health, we don’t actually deal with root issues. In fact, dealing with root issues becomes dangerous, because it might endanger the commitment.

So instead we focus on outward signalling that everything is okay–we focus on the marriage staying together and looking happy.

Because we’re focused on outward behaviour rather than inner truth, we often focus on surface-deep solutions.

Instead of aiming for sobriety, we accept “bouncing your eyes” away from temptation.

Instead of doing the hard work of inner healing from betrayal and trauma, we’re told to forgive and move on. We end up numbing our feelings instead of dealing with them.

Instead of aiming for a sex life which reflects mutuality, intimacy, and pleasure, we measure it solely in terms of frequency.

Instead of aiming for a marriage where we feel like we have a genuine partner, we practice gratitude for anything our spouse does, even if we’re still exhausted and carrying too much of the load.

Instead of aiming for a marriage where we feel intimately known, and where we each contribute to the relationship, we’re told that marriage is hard and the solution is to lower our expectations.

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I think we can do better with marriage advice, and I want to look at how this month.

I think we can focus on achieving real intimacy, which will in turn lead to an enhanced commitment, but it can only come when we take the risk of being honest.

So that’s my challenge this month: Can we be honest with each other, address our problems, and grow intimacy?

And to do that, I want to give you two posts that can help you start! Consider these your kindergarten and grade one exercises. It’s not about addressing anything huge, but just giving yourself a chance to really talk again! Practice opening up to each other, and then you’ll find you have a better foundation for addressing big things.

Let’s Talk–and Get to Deeper Levels of Communication!

We’re focusing on building communication that leads to honesty and intimacy.

Here are two posts that can help!

  • 50 Conversation Starters. Super easy. Nothing too wacky. Just pick a couple and ask each other these questions tonight! Start talking about things that maybe you haven’t explored before.
  • The 5 Levels of Communication. Often couples never get past level 3! See where you usually fall.
Evangelical Marriage Advice: Commitment isn't the Problem

The Marriage Misdiagnosis Series

 

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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32 Comments

  1. Phil

    This is one of the many reasons I hang around Sheila. When somebody admits their faults or recognizes they have a different view of something it is a huge signal of personal growth. Personal growth does not take place when our motives are incorrect. People who morph into what God wants us to look like are people I like to hang around with. If we hang around those types of people and we are listening, that is where you find God’s principles and most likely the law of the spirit and most of all Jesus!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Phil! I’m glad you hang around here, too! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Christina

    I believe that excessive commitment might be why evangelical marriages are in such dire straits.

    In his book Passionate Marriage, Dr. Schnarch says that marriage is a crucible. Most couples do anything to avoid the pain of the crucible, where you are forced to recognize your own selfishness. In order to enter the crucible and grow as a member of a couple, one party has to be willing to say enough is enough, this marriage can’t continue on in the current pattern and be willing to set consequences and even leave/get divorced. Both parties in a marriage have to identify where they are emotionally immature and address those issues in order to grow and exit the crucible as a much stronger couple.

    This is what “Christian counseling” is missing. Currently, women are infantalized and viewed as incapable of logical thought. “Men” or over-age male toddlers must be coddled by their mothers and wives and should have their every whim catered to by all females in their lives and never face any difficulty beyond crashing into the brick wall of “evangelizing” liberals by attacking their politics and physical appearances/beauty standards.

    Iron isn’t sharpening iron in the evangelical marriage advice world.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I have a whole series on Iron Sharpening Iron. It’s really important, but so many teachings teach women we’re not allowed to be iron.

      Reply
  3. Jen

    Pushing commitment is a super big Evangelical thing. We need commitment, of course, but commitment means very little when one partner refuses to heal. In fact, that very commitment becomes bondage for the other person who is begging for problems to be addressed. If you’ve been told to commit no matter what, how do you put up boundaries? We have to be able to protect ourselves and our children from dysfunctional, destructive behavior, and you can’t do that if you’re told you can’t leave, if necessary.

    Now, leaving should be an extreme measure, but isn’t that exactly why God sets marriage up as a covenant? It is a commitment, but it’s acknowledged that the commitment can be broken and that there are consequences for breaking it (ie, the loss of the relationship). Also, doesn’t a super emphasis on commitment really just empower the destructive spouse? They have no motivation to change if they can’t lose the marriage itself.

    I’m so glad you guys are discussing this topic this month! Super excited to read your thoughts!!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree with everything you said! Yes, it’s very, very hard to draw appropriate boundaries if commitment is there no matter what.

      Reply
  4. Laura

    “Instead of doing the hard work of inner healing from betrayal and trauma, we’re told to forgive and move on. We end up numbing our feelings instead of dealing with them.”

    So often, “well-meaning” (if you saw me talking, I’d be using air quotes) Christians tell victims of any type of abuse to “forgive and move on.” This is so harmful. Not long after I divorced a sexually abusive man, I was constantly reminded by Christians about the importance of forgiveness. Hello, I had LOTS of inner healing I needed to work through, which I feel like I’ve been doing for so so many years. It took several years after the trauma before I fully forgave my ex. Over two years ago, I was almost in a relationship with a narcissist and I’m still trying to recover from that one. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the abusive marriage and for the most part, I forgave him. However, I have learned that forgiving someone does not mean they can stay in my life. I’ve had to avoid places where he might be because I just do not want him to try to suck me back into his life.

    It still puzzles me how long after I got divorced and talked about it in a women’s Bible study, the pastor’s wife told me that if my ex and I had received the right kind of godly counseling, we could have stayed married. Did this woman NOT understand the abuse that happened in this marriage? This is the problem I have with marriage ministries and women’s Bible studies: the leaders are not licensed counselors, yet they think they are the experts on giving advice which tends to be one-size-fits-all and we all know there is no such thing. Yes, those who cheat and/or have roving eyes need to understand how to commit, but the women who are seeking marriage advice are the ones who are already committed to their husbands. In spite of the abuse I went through, I was willing to stick it out because I thought that if I didn’t God would be upset with me. All thanks to that one verse (it’s often taken out of context) in Malachi about “God hates divorce.”

    This is pretty much why I prefer to remain single for the time being.

    Reply
    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Nowadays, I respond to people like that pastor’s wife, “Yes, if we could have found the right kind of counselor to convince him he was an abuser and that he should stop, and help him over a period of 5-10 years to stop abusing and become a good man, then a good husband, we could have stayed together. But since, statistcally only 1-2% of abusers ever take and complete that journey, and even fewer counselors know how to do that, we just couldn’t stay together. He didn’t want to leave his abusive ways. Because it got him what he wanted.” *pointed stare*

      People need to know that they are wrong about this and that their ignorance is hurting people.

      Reply
  5. Mara R

    Sheila: “In fact, dealing with root issues becomes dangerous, because it might endanger the commitment.”

    Regulars here already know this. And it is already understood on this blog that the above applies to two relatively healthy, non-abusive people.

    But in highly dysfunctional and abusive situations, dealing with the root issue doesn’t just become dangerous to the commitment, it can become dangerous to people. In abusive situations, you don’t address the elephant in the room. When you point out a problem, you become the problem and the target for further abuse.

    But, yes, dealing with the root of the issues is what is needed in all situations. Even if the root of the issue is that your partner is controlling, abusive and refuses to change. Then dealing with the root of the problem no longer involves talking to them, but escaping them. Which can be dangerous.

    Probably didn’t need to be said. But I appreciate the room that is given for these little add-ons that some of us feel compelled to give due to beating our heads against patrinarc walls listening to well-meaning advice from loving but misguided Christians.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, very good point! And all the more reason why commitment can’t be our measure.

      If dealing with the root issue is a danger to you, then the MARRIAGE is dangerous. And that needs to be understood and dealt with, and you need help. So sad.

      Reply
      • SavedByGrace

        Thank you for mentioning this. I can’t even bring up a small issue without him getting defensive and throwing around dirt from months or years ago. There’s always an excuse or reason why his bad behavior is or was mine or someone elses fault. I’ve stopped trying to talk to him because it makes things worse. We can’t even talk about little things let alone root issues.

        Reply
  6. EOF

    It’s really disheartening how far off the mark (which is the actual definition of sin) Evangelical teachings are from what’s right and good — and that we have to go to secular sources for the healthy and life-giving truths.

    Your point about honesty really hits home. The marriage advice I got from church (granted, it’s been *years* since I’ve sought marriage advice from the church) was always about dishonesty — not that it was labeled as such:

    -The church called me to pretend to be interested in my husband’s hobbies (while he was given no directive to take any interest in mine).

    -I was told never to tell him that I disliked anything he did (even if it harmed me), or I’d hurt his ego. He was allowed to criticize me nonstop.

    -The church instructed me to praise him for what I wanted him to be rather than call out the sinful behaviors that harmed me.

    -I was told that obeying my husband was the same as obeying God, even if he told me to sin. Although it felt wrong to me, it was a great mystery and I was learning the great value of submission.

    -Plus more. I really could go on, but you get the point.

    Essentially, I was being erased and gaslit, and the Bible was the weapon used against me. It’s no wonder I’m still working through untold emotional and spiritual trauma.

    Reply
    • Laura

      -I was told never to tell him that I disliked anything he did (even if it harmed me), or I’d hurt his ego. He was allowed to criticize me nonstop.

      In L & R, Eggerichs implies this same thing. A wife was never allowed to confront her husband on his porn use or drinking, but if she put on some weight, it was acceptable for the husband to point this out. According to Eggerichs, the husband can comment on his wife putting on weight because he only cares about her health. Bull, Eggerichs said this because of the belief that men are visual creatures and when women let themselves go, that gives men license to cheat or look at porn (just saying the quiet part out loud).

      My ex could tell me everything I did wrong, but if I confronted him about any of his bad behaviors, he told me it was all my fault.

      Yep, this Christian marriage advice has been toxic or just cliched answers that may apply to healthy, non-abusive people.

      Reply
  7. John Doe

    Commitment is important to laying the foundation for honest communication.

    Think about it, if you are afraid to be honest with someone because you do not want to potentially lose the relationship and the fallout that would occur, it would be reasonable to not feel comfortable being honest.

    If there is not a level of commitment, why would you even bother. Isn’t that what marriage is? A commitment to each other. This either/or dynamic is not healthy. Both parties need to be willing to put in the work for marriage to last and be life giving instead of life sucking.

    And it is important to note that the husband and the wife can be guilty of this. A lot of the advice out there is a few decades out of date in regards to the power dynamics in relationships.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, commitment is certainly important for true vulnerability–in a healthy marriage.

      But in an unhealthy marriage, commitment (as in absolute refusal to ever contemplate divorce) can actually have the opposite effect.

      So, yes, for most people, in order to be vulnerable, you need to know the person cares for you and is sticking around. Absolutely.

      But then there are the marriages where you yearn to emotionally connect, where you’re desperate for the other person to open up, to act like they care about you, to show you a modicum of interest in what you’re feeling. And in those marriages, commitment can do the opposite. If they know you can’t go anywhere, then you can’t set any boundaries, and they do not have to change or care about you in the least.

      And, yes, this works for either men or women!

      Reply
      • CMT

        There’s another problem with the obsession with commitment, though. The way I’ve come to look at it, healthy commitment is a floor, but a lot of teaching out there makes it the ceiling. So there are a lot of marriages like my parents or mine, where no one is getting abused and no one is leaving, but there’s a lack of connection. You feel it, but can’t put a finger on it. The traditional marriage teachings don’t have much to say about that. After all, if you did everything “right” and you’re committed to each other, how can you be lonely? Your expectations must be too high. Etc, etc. It took me way too long to figure out that I wasn’t asking for too much to want a deep emotional connection. We’re beginning to work towards that, but it’s been hard. A relationship that is committed can still be painful and lonely, and that matters.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes! Exactly. That does matter. I like the idea of a ceiling vs. a floor. That’s a good analogy.

          Reply
  8. Angharad

    I wonder if quotes like the one about knowing you married the right one by looking at the name on your marriage certificate came as a reaction to some poor teaching. When I was young, it was common to hear preachers talking about finding ‘The One’ that God had prepared for you to marry I know a number of Christians who divorced because they decided that their spouse was not ‘the one’ and that the new person they’d fallen in love with was the one they should have married!!! In this context, I agree with the quote that ‘the right person is the one you married’, and that’s how I heard it used in the past. Where it becomes dangerous is when it is used to keep people in dangerous or harmful situations.

    Reply
    • Joanna

      I agree, this is the context I’ve heard it used too, and it does have a place there. Also in the context of “whoever you decide to marry will become the right person”, with a few strong caveats about choosing wisely of course.

      Reply
  9. exwifeofasexaddict

    Another issue with hammering commitment so hard is that those speakers often spend a significant amount of time shaking their heads and bemoaning the “fact” that so many people take “the easy way out” and divorce “these days”. And they talk about culture and “the world” and how we have to be different and stay married and not take the easy way out.

    I’m here to say, as a subject matter expert, that divorce is NOT EASY. It’s really hard. I spent 6 months and $9000 getting divorced. And my divorce was comparatively easy. Some people who divorce narcissists, abusers and addicts spend years and tens of thousands of dollars trying to get separate and get safe from abusers. Divorce is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I know it could have been a dozen times harder. I also have gotten to deal with how my marriage and divorce affected my children. They have distanced themselves from their father, so I’m usually handling that alone. Custody was our big sticking point in our settlement. I’m lucky that my ex has not tried to use the courts destroy me and he does pay his fair share.

    Sometimes, marriages just need to end. Some people are not good spouses and will not change. We should not be coercing people into staying in marriages with bad people. It is NOT what God wants. And ending those marriages is anything but easy. It is made exponentially MORE difficult by the false guilt placed on us by people like Piper and Dobson.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! Absolutely.

      Reply
  10. Nathan

    Much of this is based on three beliefs, none of which is biblical…

    1. Men are holier than women and closer to God than women, so any problem in a marriage MUST be the wife’s fault.
    2. Men cannot be criticized by women because their egos are very fragile, but the other direction is fine.
    3. God cares more about the stability and outer appearance of a marriage (even one that has a toxic heart) than the well being of the people in the marriage.

    I’m grateful that I’ve never read any of these “Christian” marriage books, although some of them are for sale at our church gift shop.

    Reply
    • SW

      Your summary is spot on!

      Reply
  11. Sara A.

    I grew up with the “ divorce is not an option” phrase in church, so I naturally had that mindset when I married at 22. Of course, I also thought that meant both parties did whatever they could to work on the marriage as well. After 6 months of marriage, I told my husband I felt like something was really wrong and I wanted us to go to counseling. He just shrugged and said, “Nah, I don’t feel like it’s that bad yet.” I was stunned! He wasn’t abusive, but his lack of caring about how I was feeling was shocking and totally different from when we were dating/ engaged. He decided it was “bad enough” when i said I wanted a divorce 2 years later, but honestly, I had already moved on in my heart. Counseling wasn’t going to change me at that point. I will never tell my children divorce is not an option. I don’t believe God ever intended me to serve a life long sentence of never being heard or valued. That is not a marriage, and to say it is solely based on a lack of divorce papers is absurd.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      There was a really great article out a while back called something like “A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce.” Like, unless you have divorce on the table, you don’t really respect what marriage should be.

      I’m sorry for the heartache you went through.

      Reply
      • Sara A

        Thank you. The good news is that I have remarried a wonderful man. The thing that makes him wonderful is that when I say something isn’t working, we go to counseling. He doesn’t see it as a last ditch effort, but as a way to work on problems before they become too big. To feel that valued is wonderful. I don’t need a perfect man or a perfect marriage, I just need someone who doesn’t believe that “life- long commitment” means “lack of consequences.”

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          So good!

          Reply
  12. Tom Brooks

    Rebecca said a couple weeks ago that Shaunti Feldhahn “posts an outright lie about Joanna’s research and her abilities as a researcher”. What is this lie?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You can read the statement that we linked. By lying about our methodology and how we did our research, she is disparaging Joanna’s abilities. Also, she has gone behind the scenes to tell other organizations things about our research that are not true, but that is not public.

      Reply
  13. Anonymous

    I *love* this article so much and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!!!

    One tiny quibble (I am thinking of many-years marriages that I’ve known that have been in crisis). I’m not sure if it’s good to say in a blanket way that “people who have affairs” are not committed. As in, I’ve known some evangelical marriages where the man had an affair after many, many years of a lonely, trouble-filled marriage. And it seems that the affair happened not because he was not committed, but precisely because the typical evangelical advice says “you must stay married no matter what; even if you are desperately lonely” while simultaneously not giving men permission to be vulnerable and communicate their feelings to get at root issues. Of course, this also happens in the context of evangelicalism channeling men’s emotional needs into sex/physical connection and telling wives it’s their duty to let their body be used for that purpose. It’s simply a recipe for disaster and desperation as time goes on and kids grow up — even within very committed relationships.

    This is NOT to minimize the betrayal trauma that the wife has experienced. Just to say that I think there are *good* men out there who have been committed, but have made a grievous mistake after having followed terrible marriage advice their whole lives — advice that results in significant emotional distance and loneliness in the marriage. Without any apparent way to fix it.

    On the opposite side, I have known an evangelical woman who got married to a good man who loves her and wants to please her, but she hadn’t fully committed in her heart (literally saying “I wonder if I made a mistake”) — it was like she wanted to be married, but didn’t fully love and accept him. This has manifested in being very verbally un-kind and constantly critical of tiny things he does (the way he laughs, the way he does the dishes, his appearance/outfits). She’s not flirting with other guys (to my knowledge) or having an affair, but it’s like she still has one foot out the door.

    You have hit the nail on the head though that lack of commitment, for most evangelical marriages, is NOT AT ALL the issue that needs to be harped on!

    Reply
  14. Sarah

    ‘Instead of addressing real problems, we’re told that WE are the real problem.’

    I feel like this is such a big problem in many strains of Christianity, in many ways. It’s the ‘sinners in the hands of an angry God’ kind of argument— humans are disgusting little bugs whom God is well within his rights to torture eternally/squish, but he saves us for … reasons, I guess? If we’re so horrible, how come God cared enough to save us? Realising that God loves you, and you’re not the problem but sin is the problem, really makes John 3:16, Romans 5:8 and indeed the whole Bible come to life. And you’re free to have a relationship with God that does not include beating up on yourself constantly, but enjoying his love.

    Justin Khoe on Instagram recently made a cogent point that Christians are not sinners. Hear him out … he’s saying that our identity is now not that of a sinner. Our identity is in Christ. Nowhere does the Bible imply that those who have put their faith in Christ are still identified as sinners; in fact, that means ignoring countless Scriptures where it’s clear that that is not our identity, e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:11 “and such were some of you. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Julie Roys also recently had a podcast where the guest (Rebecca Davis, author of Untwisting the Scriptures) talked about the Paul ‘chief of sinners’ text and why that’s not actually meant to describe all Christians, for all time, but believing that it does leads to sin-levelling, which as we’ve seen leads to whitewashing abuse in the church and is also, frankly, insane. It makes us sound insane to the world when we claim that lying to your boss about why you were late puts you on the same level as Hitler and Himmler. The podcast makes the point that Jesus himself taught that not all sins are equal, and so to Justin’s point — we are in Christ, clothed in his power, and sin has no claim on us.

    Reply

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