First of all, let me apologize for my absence from this space for the past two weeks. I had many balls to juggle in the air. I cannot complain because it has been my prayer to be gainfully engaged but I did not anticipate the overwhelming volume of things that would daily demand my urgent attention. I learnt to commit my arm-long list of things-to-do to God each day in prayer and keep my focus on His agenda.
This blog refused to be written in a hurry. When I started the discussion three weeks ago, I did not expect the volume and seriousness of the response it would generate. I am very grateful to all those who responded both on the blog and by email. Thank you very much for your contributions. They were insightful.
There were many viewpoints provided and a number of issues highlighted. It appeared that this is an issue that many couples are struggling with. Also, I got some feedback that were personal and required some counselling. It was at this point that I decided to go back to the Lord in prayer. I needed His leading and guidance to address this issue and in particular to give the right counsel to those who presented personal situation.
Pooling together all the contributions I received, with a further study of the Word and vast literature available on the subject, I would like to address this issue from three premises:
1. God’s plan and desire for marriage.
2. What secrets, lies and withholding information does to the relationship.
3. Instances when discretion and sound judgment is required.
God’s plan and desire for marriage:
We can glean from Genesis 2: 24 – 25 that God desired for a man to be united to his wife and for the two to become one flesh. Then, we note that the two were both naked and they felt no shame: “they were not ashamed.” That is, not embarrassed in each other’s presence
We can conclude from these two verses and many others that referred to it in the New Testament, that God’s will is for husband and wife to be in spiritual and functional unity, walking in integrity and serving God together. “The biblical concept of marriage is an oneness between two individuals that pictures the oneness of Christ with His church. When this harmony, unity and oneness is operative, the entire society prospers under the hand of God” (1).
Both the husband and the wife are expected to supply what the other lack so that they can become truly one flesh in complete unity, complementing each other.
“Nakedness suggests that they were at ease with each other without any fear of exploitation”
– Bible Knowledge Commentary.
This is the degree of fellowship that God intended for marriage, where there is no fear of exploitation or a potential for evil to be done to one another, but a depth of trust which indicates that they will both act in the best interest of each other. Anything that will cause a couple not to be at ease and open to each other has the potential to destabilize the unity and harmony God intends for them to share.
True friends should not feel the need to hide what they are doing from each other. “And the Lord said, shall I hide from Abraham that which I do?” (Gen. 18:17). Abraham was a friend of God. True friends communicate freely with each other without fear. Husbands and wives should shared such an intimate relationship, which allows for free and open communication.
Openness is what God designed for marriage as they become one flesh. God’s desire is for husband and wife to have a marriage where secrets cannot have a foothold.
Secrets, lies and withholding information does and its effect on the relationship:
Surprises are great in a marriage once in a while but they are not likely to be a constant dynamics of the relationship.
“Where transparency and trust are the forefront of a marriage, surprises should never be a problem” – Kate Aldrich (www.onefleshmarriage.com)
Secrets are those things you do not INTEND to tell your spouse. Secrets will keep us from connecting at a deeper level. Keeping secrets imply a certain level of “shadiness” that will limit openness in a relationship. Withholding information and keeping secrets can be counter-productive to growing an open, honest and healthy relationship. Once it becomes easy to keep “little secrets” it will not be long before we begin to keep big secrets, which would be detrimental to our marriage.
Sharing information should be a constant practice in trust and honesty. Open and honest communication is not only the best way to build a healthy relationship, it is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Indeed, trust and honesty are the backbones of a good relationship.
Secrecy robs the relationship of intimacy. It creates a gulf between the couple. The more you hide from each other, the more you turn away from each other, and the wider the gulf becomes. Even when physical intimacy appears to be ok or even great, emotional and spiritual intimacy becomes limited and strained.
- How can you truly be one flesh with someone you cannot share your heart with, someone locked out of the some areas of your life?
- How can you pray in unity with someone you are lying to or not telling the truth when asked?
What is the motive for not sharing? The crux of the matter is still WHY we are withholding information from each other.
- Is it in the best interest of the other party?
- Does it require lying or sidestepping the truth?
There should not be any sphere of our lives as a couple that is not accessible to the person we are one flesh with in a healthy marriage. That does not how mean that we don’t occasionally need our space or time alone, which is by mutual consent.
Instances when discretion and sound judgment is required:
I would like to share two Biblical stories as case studies of when discretion and sound judgment were exercised in the Bible with regard to sharing information.
The Bible noted in 1Samuel 25 that she was an intelligent and beautiful woman with good understanding. She was married to Nabal. Her husband was described as churlish, mean, wicked and evil in his doing. No one can talk to him – does what he wants to do regardless of the consequences. He was an ungrateful man, who could not show even the required societal courtesy. His wickedness put his family at a great risk.
When Abigail was informed of her husband’s action and the evil that has been determined against her household. Her reaction was spontaneous – she wasted no time to initiate remedial action (1Samuel 28:18). Note verse 19: “…But she did not tell her husband Nabal” what she was going to do. Wisdom dictated that she took action without her husband’s knowledge.
She pleaded and interceded for her unthinking and unwise husband, and her entire household. She also prevented David from having on his conscience the burden of needless bloodshed. After she had succeeded in averting evil from her household, she went to her husband to tell him. Here again, she exercised discretion and wisdom by waiting for the right time, she told him nothing because he was drunk. She waited until morning when he had become sober, and she told him ALL that had happened.
She did not lie to her husband about the events that took place neither did she withhold the information from him. But knowing the kind of man her husband was, she managed the situation with discretion, good judgment and wisdom. At the appropriate time she told him everything.
There are still men and women who don’t listen to others and only do what they want to do even to the extent of putting their families at risk. If you are married to such a person how can you exercise discretion in managing sensitive situations in your relationship without telling lies and being dishonest with your spouse?
When crisis thrusts itself on us, we need to take a tight rein on ourselves and let the Holy Spirit guide. I believe we should not depend on our own reasoning to deal with such a situation but on God’s grace and help, and expect His grace to work on our behalf. We can also seek counsel from respected Christians.
Abraham (Genesis 22):
Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for Isaac, the child of promise, to be born. Then, God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son whom he loved on a mountain he was to be shown. The Bible recorded that early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey and took his servants and his son with him on the journey. His response was instant and of unquestioning obedience.
The question as raised by some of the contributors to this discussion was; did Abraham consult with Sarah overnight and told her about God’s instruction? Obviously the answer is a resounding NO! I don’t believe that Sarah or any woman for that matter would have willingly given up a child, she waited so long for without a strong argument.
But Abraham knew God as a covenant keeping God. He knew that in matters concerning God’s clear instructions, he could not consult with flesh and blood but simply to act in quiet submissive obedience.
I learnt from this story that there will be instances when we cannot consult with flesh and blood when God gives a clear instruction that requires our submissive obedience. I believe that under such circumstances God’s grace will also be available to the spouse to understand why such obedience is required and be supportive of it.
Some other highlights from the feedback:
- While transparency is important, a couple may need to exercise discretion in sharing something a third party had shared in confidence. When this is shared between the couple, it should be only for the purpose of praying and not for discussion with another person.
- God said that two is better than one. It is important that couples should make decisions about issues that concerns their lives together.
- Keeping secrets from our spouse erodes confidence and creates opportunities for suspicion and distrust.
God is a God of knowledge, by Him are actions weighed. He knows us inside out and He know the motive behind all we do. We will account to Him for all our actions. It is possible to take remedial actions when we have not acted right, but first seek God’s face and guidance, and possibly godly counsel.
Today’s post has been long and extensive in the bid to cover as much angle as possible on this subject. I pray that you will all experience the true oneness that God designed for your marriage and trust that it will enrich your relationship.