Do you understand that heart-led faith puts us far, far outside the mainstream?
Mainstream wisdom may well overlap at times, but heart-led truth is a wholly different approach to life. While in some contexts our reticence is appropriate, keeping almost everything inside, we naturally expect that in any context we will eventually show the world that what we have is radically different.
Nowhere is this more important for us to assert this difference than at home. While my book, A Christian Guide to the Sexual Marketplace aims at building a good marriage, a great many men need to learn how to heal one that is already broken. If you embrace our heart-led faith covenant, there’s nothing to guarantee your wife will jump on it at the same time. Indeed, she may never cross over. For as long as she is not walking in the same moral realm as you, it requires learning a lore of manhood behavior that comes awfully close to what the mainstream considers manipulative. There’s no avoiding that taint; you are shepherding someone who belongs to the Kingdom of Darkness to some degree and she will not respond in heart-led faith.
Internally, remain humble. You are still learning, and without the power of the Holy Spirit, you have no advantage at all. It’s heartbreaking for you because she belongs to a foreign realm, but the New Testament grants her the right to stay with you in that state if she wants to. You can never tell when the Lord will break through and win her over. Even if she is quite faithful in church, without the heart-led consciousness, her otherwise sincere Christian religion will not put her on the same page as you. The closer she is without crossing into the heart-led realm, the harder it can be, because she will likely be quite certain that you aren’t any different, and that you are obliged to treat her as an equal on her terms.
A primary principle: Equality has no meaning. Or rather, it carries false connotations in our society. Equality does not mean “interchangeable” as our social mythology declares. Since we cannot peel that word away from the lie, we simply deny that people are equal, particularly men versus women.
Now, you may be surprised to find her willing to play along, because that’s how women are wired. But most of the time she will have suffered significant damage from social conditioning that even most churches will promote. It’s not that you are morally superior, but the Bible states flatly in no uncertain terms that men are the moral guardians in His domain (1 Timothy 2:14). Women have a different role. It’s not a matter of obeying your manly whims (another lie of Western culture), but most women will take it that way, whether they play along or not. We have an awful long way to go to restore a biblical view of these things.
While you have a wife on hand, she is your greatest treasure on this earth. She needs to know that, but there may be a lot of barriers to cross until she is in the place where she can hear it. If you forge ahead on the path of covenant manhood, she will be forced to decide whether she can bear to stay. It is your duty to place her in that position, because it was always rightly her decision in the first place.
What you need to focus on is forging ahead and trusting God to handle her response. Not cruelly ignoring her cries; it may be she’s just a little slow to catch on. But your heart will show you the balance point. Sometimes you may have to be quite unfeeling, putting in place a strong emotional barrier to keep you from hearing unjustified whining. A true shepherd will learn to sense what she really needs and deliver it.
The next lesson will cover some tactics.