We’re Embracing Holy Matrimony on Both the Good Days and Bad

Holy Matrimony

It’s easier to do the right thing when our spouse does the right thing.

We can usually respond correctly in those circumstances, can’t we? It’s not rocket science, it’s it’s just human nature. You be good to me and I’ll be good to you.

What about when your husband or wife isn’t being good to you . . . isn’t doing what is right?

Much, much tougher.

And, if we’re honest, we often cut ourselves a little slack when this happens, listening to the voice that says, “I’m justified in responding the way I did because of what he/she did.”

It is justice, of a kind . . . but not the biblical kind. It may feel right in the moment, to our flesh. Sin always initially feels right to our flesh. But . . .

God doesn’t draw such distinctions and make provisional allowances for our sin based on the difficult time we are having with our spouse. Instead, He says, “Be holy as I am holy.”

All the time, Lord?

Even when that person I’m married to does things that make me really angry?

Even when I am passed over?



When I feel uncared for and unloved?

Our flesh could never respond with a resolute “yes” to these questions. There’s just too much at stake, humanly speaking.

And what follows for wives from a prolonged experience in a loveless relationship?

A dry, lonely place.

But, even there, God wants your faithfulness.

And, it’s not just wives.

Many husbands write to me, telling of the empty, solitary life they lead with their sinful spouse. And, still, from them, too, God wants faithfulness when being faithful comes at a serious cost to the flesh.

In the quietness of the lonely hour, God’s message is unchanged, “Be holy as I am holy.”

It’s easy to love someone who is loving toward you. This is the point Jesus was making in The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:46 – even “publicans” (the worst sort of person in 1st Century Jewish society) do that.

God’s call to true believers (Christian couples!) is not for faithfulness only when things are going well but in the hard times every couple eventually faces. The mettle of our faith is revealed – is proven out – in the crucible of difficult relationships.

Someone else’s sin (your spouse’s, for instance) does not prevent you and me from walking in holiness before God.

What Holiness Doesn’t Mean

Being holy does not mean not becoming angry. The Word says, “Be angry but don’t sin.” Ephesians 4:26

Being holy does not mean looking the other way in the face of ongoing sin. If you have a spouse who is walking in sin, apply the steps outlined in Matthew 18.

Being holy does not mean denying who you are and stuffing your feelings until you’re ready to explode. Involve others – Godly, older mentors who can shine biblical light on the path before you.

Being holy does not mean continuing to live in physically abusive circumstances. Get out and away ASAP.

But, being holy does mean not responding in sin when you are sinned against. And, you can do it because the Spirit of God indwells you, has empowered you and because sin doesn’t have dominion over you. Galatians 5:16 says if you walk in the Spirit you won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Romans 6 says, . . .Consider your selves dead to sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof. . . . . For sin shall not have dominion over you . . . Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.

You are not a servant of sin. You are not under it’s dominion. You don’t have to do it’s bidding.

You are the servant of righteousness – even (especially) in life’s most challenging moments. God has given us the Spirit, the power, and the authority to say “no” to our impulse to respond in sin.

Will you embrace who you are in Christ and God’s call on your life to “Be holy as I am holy”— in this moment, during this day, in this pilgrimage He has not only called you to walk but is walking with you, right now?

Godliness in the face of being wronged in marriage is a powerful testimony – the testimony God desires for your life.

~ Matthew


Matt and LisaMatthew Jacobson has been in the book publishing industry for 22 years and is currently the president of Loyal Arts Literary Agency. For the last 10 years, he’s served as a teaching elder in his local Church. Matthew and his beautiful bride of 21 years, Lisa, raise their 8 children in the Pacific NW. You can join him at his blog by clicking here: MatthewLJacobson.com or find Matthew on facebook.


100 Ways to Love eBooks Tiny*Check out our books –  100 Ways To Love Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson.



  • Sarah Ann

    Absolutely love this article! Just to point of something real quick -You mention Ephesians 2:26 “Be angry, but don’tt sin” – Its actually Ephesians 4:26 🙂 Ephesians 2 only goes up to verse 22 🙂

  • Sharon Mavis

    And since we live in a fallen world, being passed over, disrespected, neglected, feeling uncared for or unloved, etc., and behaving in ways that can elicit those feelings from our spouses is …. uh,….. daily? weekly? pretty much ongoing? We are in a battle with the enemy for our relationship and we also all carry our brokenness and our junk into our relationship. As John Eldredge says, it’s a wonder that any marriage makes it! But our marriages and our spouses are worth fighting for at every level. As you have so well described it, the fight for our marriages and our spouses begins with a deliberate response of holiness when it is hard, not easy. A deliberate response of holiness honors God and sets us up for connection.

  • Stefanie @ Calledhis.com

    What an amazing post! It’s hard when my fiancee and I have our arguments and I feel like I’M trying and HE isn’t, that I need to remember to trust God and work on ME first. God brought me this man for a reason, and I love him more than anything,even though on some days I may feel helpless and small, we each struggle and each need to seek out the grace and love of Christ.

  • Traci

    I love this post. It really speaks to me since I am married to a man that really doesn’t believe in God and seems to think that he doesn’t have to answer to anyone but himself. I struggle every day to not have quick come backs when he makes jabs at me or puts me down. It’s only natural that we want to stand up for ourselves and get defensive but I have realized that isn’t the way to handle the situations at all. This article really put things in perspective for me and made me realize that I just need to focus more on what God WANTS me to do and what deep down inside I know I need to do. Thanks again for the wonderful post and God Bless all of You!

  • Melissa

    Thank you for a great reminder! All commandments can be a little harder to keep within marriage, because at times the worst comes out in us and our spouses get the brunt. But this is where we prove and grow our faith. Matt 11:30 says take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Because marriage is so important Christ will help us through. Turn your pain and burden over to him and he will strengthen you through the trial.

  • unknown

    This post speaks to what I am going through with the man I have been married to for 6+ years. The last six plus have been the hardest years of my life and I feel like throwing in the towel all the time. He dosnt act like a man who wants to be married, he does alot on his own and when he is home he sleeps or watches tv. We do somethings together but I have to ask first.. We have two small boys and thats two things holding me back from making a quick exit. I pray for this man everyday and ask God to direct my paths in such a way that glorifys him and not me. Any advise would be gladly accepted!

  • Chas

    What about the women who are emotionally and mentally abused? Ignored for months and years without any love filled kind words spoken? The women who would rather be alone than spend 15-20 more years in a situation where depression has taken over? Do those women have the same options as a woman who is physically abused? Mental emotional or physical abuse are all the same. It is abuse to your partner.

  • Cindy Preston

    What if you are married to a sick man but he is verbal abusing. We been married almost 30 yes. I can’t stand to even come back after work. He is on didablity he has no one to take him in. I work but we have to move were we rent he won’t give money for any bills I know I have yo trust God but it is hard yo live with him.

  • Trish

    This is a good reminder of the lifelong commitment that Godly marriage is. I had a first marriage that was hell. I understand that an article like this is going to trigger anger and fear from those in very painful marriages with unhealthy individuals. I used to be one of those.

    I remarried three months ago , after 15 years of Gods healing. I married a man , this time, who loves Jesus, and has an ongoing relationship with Him. It has made all the difference! Our life is not perfect, and we both have challenges, but the Holy Spirit helps us resolve issues with kindness, compassion and Grace for one another. We both are willing to take full responsibilty for ourselves, to admit when we are wrong …even though it might take a little while.

    Coming from an abusive marriage, I think it is so important that any article like this start by addressing those folks first that need to clearly understand what it abusive behaviour and address that. Not everyone is married to an average reasonable human being. I misunderstood for many years articles like this and would get furious inside and at the author.

    If you are married to someone who is constantly and intentionally huniliating your basic sense of dignity, that it not something to overlook and hope goes away. It is actually wrong of you to continually allow them to do that.

    To all the people in that situation, I pray that God leads them to a mature and safe Godly person to help support them in the steps they must take to address insainity within a marriage. It can only be the Holy spirit directing step by step the actions to take , when to take them. For behaviour outside of “reasonable stands” there must be caution taken.

    It is not uncommon for an spouse to use , intimidation and fear and threats to control. Those kinds of control mechanisms can be tricky to unravel. I joined a recovery group for co- dependants to help me learn what good boundaries were and that I had the right to say, ” No, that is not acceptable. ” while still being a loving person. I learned that Love does say no, at times, and should be a place to be free to be yourself.

    I love my marriage and my freedom to be myself with my husband. This is the second marriage for both of us and we both are very grateful for God’s healing and for the patience we both needed to learn what healthy behaviour is and to work through the issues of our pasts so we could have a Godly marriage. All the work was worth it.