Do you talk about theology with your spouse?

Jay Dee

Do you talk about theology with your spouse?

Nov 01, 2016

I’ve been very blessed to have a spouse who believes the same things I do about God.  We even changed denominations together a decade ago.  We both felt convicted that the church we grew up in wasn’t teaching doctrine that was in keeping with

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Talking about theology leads to spiritual intimacy in marriageI’ve been very blessed to have a spouse who believes the same things I do about God.  We even changed denominations together a decade ago.  We both felt convicted that the church we grew up in wasn’t teaching doctrine that was in keeping with the Bible.

I think a large part of why we stay in sync is because we discuss our beliefs about God with each other.  Not just what are typically named “salvation issues”.  Side note: I hate the term “salvation issue”.  I think everything is a salvation issue.  I’ll try to write a post in that tomorrow. We discuss minor things we feel convicted about as well.  Here’s a recent example from our life.

Our Halloween history

I grew up going out for Halloween.  My mother often made costumes for me and my siblings. My wife grew up with the same traditions.

Naturally, when we had kids, we started doing Halloween with them.  However, over the last few years, I’ve been growing uncomfortable with the idea.  It started just as a niggling feeling.  Then it started to bother me.

My wife and I would discuss it, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was bothering me about it. We started taking the kids to church events on Halloween instead of trick-or-treating.  Partially to try and scratch this itch, and partially because it was just easier.  Really, they were still Halloween parties, just held in a church.  The kids still dressed up and everything.

It still didn’t feel right to me, but I still didn’t know how to express it, or what to change.

Then my theology caught up with God’s prompting

This Saturday, I heard a sermon and the pastor read two verses that made everything fit into place for me.

When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord . And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this.

Deuteronomy 18:9‭-‬14 ESV

And

Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

1 Corinthians 10:18‭-‬22 ESV

I’m not posting them to convince you.  I just figured someone might ask.  I think alone they might not be enough.  But, paired with the conviction that had been growing for the last few years, these hit me like a truck.

Discussing theology with your spouse

So after church, we were in our living room talking.  I said “I want to have a conversation about Halloween.”  My wife was up for it, my daughter didn’t want to.  I think she knew what was coming. My wife had been teaching in the Sabbath School program for the kids during the service, so she missed the sermon.  My daughter was in the program, so she also missed it.  I told them about the verses and shared my feelings of being convicted we should change.  Christina, my wife, has known of my feelings about it because we’ve talked about them before.  But this time I had something more than a feeling. We discussed it for awhile and then I asked my wife what she thought.

Now, Christina is very wise, though she doesn’t know it.  Her response was this:

I’m torn between not wanting to disappoint the kids and following what I know is right.

Doesn’t that just sum up a lot if our struggles in following God?  We don’t want to disappoint someone (even ourselves), so we disappoint God. After all, He’ll forgive us.

My ten-year-old was also in the room.  She’s not so wise yet, as one would expect from a ten-year-old.  Her response was simply “If we don’t go to the party, I’m going to scream until we do”.  Not wise, but she communicates her frustration clearly at least.  You never have to wonder how she’s feeling.

What if your theology conflicts with your life?

Here’s what my wife said to our daughter:

What if you were playing a game with your friends, and you just realized you had misunderstood the rules they were playing by.  You had been cheating by accident the whole time.  Do you continue cheating, or do you change how you play?

That, I think, is a pretty brilliant analogy to convey to a 10-year-old.

My not-so-wise, but oh-so-smart, ten-year-old responded with “I’d slowly adjust my playing over time to get used to the new rules”.  In other words “Let’s do Halloween this year and phase it out next year.”

But that’s not how we do things.  My wife was right, when we know better, we can’t just continue to cheat.  Even if it makes the game harder, or disappoints our teammates, or even if it means we lose the game.

So, we went to a different Halloween alternative night this year. One where the only focus on Halloween was teaching the actual origins and why we don’t participate.  The kids made crafts, did activities, ate pizza and made pumpkin parfaits.

My ten-year-old sulked for half the party and then started having fun.  By snack time, she was pretty happy (though she wouldn’t admit it).  The middle three children threw minor tantrums earlier in the day when they found out but adjusted faster.  The youngest is only 20 months old, so he was thrilled just to have a balloon to play with all night.

And that itch has finally gone away.  Plus, it gave us a chance to develop some more spiritual intimacy, which discussing theology in a productive manner always does.

My point is, talk to your spouse about your walk with God.  It might be awkward, and yeah, there’s the potential for an argument.  But great things can come out of it as well.

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18 thoughts on “Do you talk about theology with your spouse?”

  1. Mike says:

    My wife and I can talk about everything except the current US presidential election. Fortunately, we met in church and had the same pastor and teaching while growing up. My wife loves to discuss theological questions like Calvinism vs Arminianism, Catholicism vs Protestantism or what women or men should or should not wear in church, etc. We do still have some questions about sex and the Bible that we need to work out. Your example of Halloween is great. We had some of the same discussions. Our daughter wanted to wear a witches costume one year and we had to talk her out of it. My wife and I were on the same page here and it did bring us together.

  2. Art says:

    Excellent post.

    November 1 is All Saints day. So Halloween is actually the evening before all the hallowed saints – day. Kinda like Christmas eve.

    Also, on October 31st is when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door at Wittenburg. So, it was also the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

    Trivia.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, it’s embarrassing that the church adopted Samhain and turned it into All Saints Day. We have that habit, of taking pagan holidays and turning them into Christian ones…

      Samhain becomes “All Saints Day”, The rebirth of Tammuz, the Sun god, becomes Christmas. The birthday of Ishtar, goddess of fertility, becomes Easter.
      I’m not sure we have any Christian holidays. Just ones we pretend are. Because we adopt the practices as well as the day.

      From Samhain, we get trick or treating. Christmas comes with Christmas trees, which were sympathetic magic to bring back the sun. For Easter, we have eggs and rabbits as symbols of fertility. Then go we around telling our children they’re Christian traditions.

      I’ll get off my soapbox now…

      It is true that October 31st is reformation day. Arguably one of the only days we could actually celebrate as Christians … and no one does.

      1. K says:

        Wow! I never knew these holidays (the ones where we celebrate Jesus’ birth – Christmas and His resurrection – Easter) were not really, or ever about JESUS.
        So, what do we say and do? I grew up with the same teachings on holidays and that Christmas and Easter were a holiday because it was the day we all celebrate Christ in His birth or resurrection. I don’t do Santa or Easter bunny. But I do celebrate His resurrection and His birthday. What does your family do and practice on those specific dates?

      2. TC says:

        There’s always Thanksgiving Day. It’s the only holiday my wife and I really enjoy celebrating.

      3. Lindsay Harold says:

        “We have that habit, of taking pagan holidays and turning them into Christian ones…”

        Just like we have a habit of turning sinners into saints. It’s called redemption. Why not reclaim a day God made by celebrating something good instead of something evil?

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Well, we don’t turn sinners into saints. God does. I don’t recall God ever re-purposing a day. Not sure that fits.
          But, if it does, when sinners go through sanctification, it’s a dying of the old practices and taking on new ones. We don’t seem to do that with holidays. We keep the old practices and then call them “Christian”. That would be like a murderer coming to Christ and saying he’s committing “holy murder” now. Keeping his old practices and just calling them Christian. Maybe he does it in church to make it acceptable to God. Or prays for the victim while he’s doing it. Slapping a “Jesus” sticker on something doesn’t make it “Christian”.

          That’s how I see it anyways.

          1. Lindsay Harold says:

            Murder is inherently evil. Bunnies and decorated trees aren’t. That’s a big difference. Changing a tradition that isn’t inherently evil into a Christian one isn’t wrong.

            It’s a lot like the Wesleys used common tunes from bars and other non-Christian songs and wrote hymns to them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the tune, and they redeemed it by turning it from a celebration of something secular or even wrong into a celebration of God.

            Similar things have been done by Christians all along. As they went into new cultures, they didn’t tell them to give up every tradition or cultural preference they had. They opposed the ones that were inherently evil, of course, but traditions that aren’t inherently evil can be repurposed for God. Paul used the pagan memorial to “an unknown god” to declare Jesus to the Greeks. St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Irish about the Trinity.

            Why not tell people who think of eggs as a symbol of fertility that they’re really created by God and turn worship of a fertility goddess into worship of the one true God who alone opens and closes the womb and brings the harvest in its season?

            In the end, it’s what is in the heart that matters. If I am worshiping and celebrating Jesus, then what other people a long time ago did on that particular day of the year is irrelevant.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              I would argue that bunnies and decorated trees in this case are idols. They were used to worship other gods.

              Just because we’ve been doing it “all along” doesn’t mean its a good idea. As for Paul, he didn’t continue to worship the statue though, and St. Patrick didn’t turn the shamrock into a holy symbol (as far as I know, it’s not something I’m well versed on).

              So, what’s the problem? That we adopt things without thinking about them, not just traditions and symbols, but entire doctrines. Some of the traditions directly violate the Bible, and many of the doctrines do too. I think there’s harm in that.

            2. Lindsay Harold says:

              “As for Paul, he didn’t continue to worship the statue though,”

              I agree. And if we were still worshiping trees and eggs, that would indeed be a serious problem. Hiding eggs for children to find isn’t worshiping eggs. Having a decorated tree in your home isn’t worshiping a tree.

              Romans 14: 6a,14 “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. … I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”

              If your conscience does not allow you to celebrate holidays, then by all means do not violate your conscience. However, you might consider whether this is necessary or whether you are assigning uncleanness to something that God has made clean.

              1. Jay Dee says:

                Romans 14 is regarding fasting during specific days the Jews were already keeping. Not quite the same thing.

                Look at it from a relationship standpoint.
                Let’s say someone had a company, and it had a dedicated customer-base. In fact, they were so dedicated that the customers got together and created a conference. Every year, they’d gather and talk about how good the products were. They printed signs with the company logo on it and give out t-shirts with the company name and slogan.

                Then you start a company. You take over the customers. But, they really don’t want to buy all new stuff, so this year they hold the conference and talk about your products. But, they keep giving out the same t-shirts as last year. They use the same signs, the same logos as the other company. When you ask about them, they say “Oh, well, you know, the sign doesn’t really matter, what matters is that we’re your customers, right?”

                That’s how I see it. We’re using Ishtar and Tammuz’s logos to celebrate God. It’s not about it being a sin or not. Nor it being clean or unclean. It’s a respect thing.

          2. Lindsay Harold says:

            Also, there is precedent for God repurposing a day. In the book of Esther, a day was set aside to murder the Jews. God turned it into a wonderful celebration of his protection.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              Nice find! Not sure I’d qualify it for this, but well done.

  3. Jeremy McCombs says:

    JD,

    Here is a interesting article on Halloween from Ken Ham’s people. My wife and I decided before we had children we would have nothing to do with Halloween. We belong to a Bible following, conservative fellowship and we are alarmed at the number of our peers that are dressing their kids up and participating in this pagan day. May the God of all creation bless you in your efforts! https://answersingenesis.org/holidays/halloween-history-and-the-bible/

    J McCombs

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thanks Jeremy 🙂

  4. Karen says:

    Just curious, from a lot of your posts like this and one ( on theology, I’m not sure which where you state your church won’t marry a couple if one is outside your denomination ) what ‘ denomination ‘ you belong. No condemnation, just thinking ultimately there will be no ‘ denominations’ in heaven. We are Christians believing in the same God and grace through the death and resurrection of Christ. Not sure where to ask this question and this seemed as good a place as any.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      My denomination is called “Seventh Day Adventist”. I agree, there will be no denominations in heaven, and I think there will be people from many different “denominations” in heaven.
      I also agree that we believe in the same God and grace through death and resurrection of Christ. However how we live out that belief differs radically.

      Our practice of not marrying people from other denominations has come out of a history of heartbreak when people in our denomination marry those in another. The differences are too different to reconcile. As some point in their marriage, they are faced with a choice: What they believe God says and what their spouse says. So, we force the choice earlier in the relationship. Want to get married? Reconcile your doctrine differences now.

      To understand this, you have to understand how we view the law and God’s word. It’s not that we believe the law is what damns us or saves us. I don’t believe it ever did that. I believe it was always relationship based. We take a relationship based approach to salvation, throughout history. We don’t eat pork out of respect for our God who said “pigs are not fit for consumption”. In fact, a large number of us are vegetarian, because we believe God gave Adam and Eve only plants to eat in the garden of Eden. He must have thought that was best, so we try to honour that. Like if your car manufacturer tells you what oil to put in your car. You do it, because it runs best on that oil. Same goes for keeping Sabbath and tithing. Not that those things will get you into heaven, or make you a “better” person. We’re all wicked and terrible. It changes nothing in terms of our worthiness.

      The problem comes into play when you ask “what is sin”. Most Christian denominations (or non-denominations) take a legalistic approach to sin. That is: if the Bible specifically lists it, then it’s a sin. We’re less legalistic. We believe that if God wants us to do it, then not doing it is a sin. Likewise is God doesn’t want us to do something, then doing it is a sin. That said, God “winks” at our ignorance. So, if we don’t know better, that isn’t counted against us. But, to counter that, it’s possible we can damage the relationship out of ignorance. Like all relationships, it’s complicated.

      So, we worry less about what this sin will do, and more about trying to follow God the best we can. Not in a permissive way, but in a dedicated way. If God believed that being vegetarian is best, then we’ll do our best to be vegetarian. Some aren’t ready for it, but we all agree it’s healthier (in our denomination). So, then if being vegetarian is being a better steward, then not being a vegetarian is a sin. To use the oft-quoted Greek metaphor: it “misses the mark”.

      However, we also understand grace and know that you can’t root out every sin in your life all at once. We all sin. I know I have sins I need to work on. So, yeah, I sin constantly. I know it. God knows it. That’s not what gets us into heaven or not. What matters is that I desire to have a relationship with God, and I’m working on these sins.

      So, when I say “not tithing is a sin”, that’s what I mean. That if God says to tithe, then anything short of that is sinful. 5% is better than 0%, because you gain a benefit from learning to trust God. It improves the relationship. It’s better…but not less of a sin. Because sin is binary. It’s either perfect, or not. There’s no gradient of that.

      And when we look at all the verses in the Bible together with that perspective, we (in my denomination) find that the Bible is consistent, without needing to wipe the slate clean at Christ’s death and resurrection. God becomes unchanging again, rather than taking a radical left turn when Christ “shows up” (like He wasn’t always there).

      Does that help?

  5. Karen says:

    Yes and I respect your response. Thank you. I had guessed correctly as to your denomination from reading a lot of these posts.

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