Hey friends, so this article is not one of those, “5 steps to build a better marriage,” or, “10 creative ways to love your spouse better” posts…
Instead, I would describe this post as an unearthing of what it means to hold to a specific set of morals as an individual, within your marriage. This is something I am currently learning, and I wanted to share my humble thoughts and my perspective on how it pertains to marriage. As we have said from the beginning, join us on the journey as we learn and grow.
Today, I want to encourage you guys to uphold a standard of morals, and become men (and women) of integrity.
Integrity is the result of being honest about a set of morals you are upholding.
For example, you are a trustworthy person if you do what you say you will do – no matter what. Integrity works the same way. You are a person of integrity, if you uphold a certain set of morals – no matter what.
Contrary to integrity, being trustworthy is a measurable character trait. Your level of trustworthiness can be measured by another person, but integrity can only be measured by yourself. Integrity is easier to disguise, it is easier to fake.
If you say you will do something, but when it comes time to do it, you change your mind or bend the truth to get out of doing it….then alternatively, you are not truly trustworthy.
Similarly, if you face a situation where you have the choice to uphold your morals, but you justify compromising them… then likewise you have damaged your integrity.
Integrity is often not what people see, but it’s who we really are.
In order to build integrity, we need to abide by a standard of morals. I would argue that everybody has a set of morals, whether they know it or not.
In my marriage, I have come realize that I need to abide by a set of morals beyond my own cravings, desires, and impulses, in order for my marriage to thrive.
In this article, I want to talk about three things: Morality, Integrity, and Community. Put together, these three things should be critical in order for husbands and wives to remain focused on serving one another, not themselves.
As a Christian, I believe that we derive our standards to live by (our morals) from God. They are not simply human created conditions, but rather conditions created for the human, built and woven into the fabric of our DNA. They are a type of fuel for the human machine to run on, and when we choose a fuel that we were not designed to run on, we eventually break down. God built the human machine, and He designed us to operate in a certain way, on a specific fuel. His moral standard is that fuel. Just like a mechanic builds a motor to run on petrol, not diesel. If you were to put diesel in a petrol motor, it would break down. (This concept is beautifully explained in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.)
However, unlike a motor, we have the ability to make our own decisions. We get to choose which fuel we consume.
As husbands and wives, we have the freedom to choose our own morals, but Christ encourages us to choose His. Christian marriages must recognize that if we choose our own set of morals that don’t align with Christ’s, those morals may end up being destructive. I say may because sometimes you can go a long time before the destruction is realized or made apparent. To prevent this immediate or delayed destruction, we must always be willing to filter what we believe and how we live it out, through what the scriptures say. If morality is established on the basis of what we believe to be true, Christian marriages should be seeking a deeper understanding of the truth from the scriptures, not based on their circumstances, the news, and culture.
Unfortunately, many people today, Christians and myself included, are choosing our own standards at times. And most of the time, these standards are decent – or even good morals – but the reality is, we are trading good things, for the best thing… The best thing is operating in perfect harmony with our creator. We are the motor choosing which fuel to run on, machines choosing to disobey the operating instructions or not.
In marriage, this can be detrimental because it can take many years before bad integrity catches up with you… Hopefully, you haven’t experienced the damaging effects of long-term bad integrity in your own marriage, but it’s likely that you’ve watched this play out in someone else’s marriage.
As Christians, the Bible clearly outlines our moral code to live by (I want to be clear here, the Bible is way more than just a good moral code for how to live our lives… that is simply one of its purposes). The Bible is unchangeable and undeniable because it was given and influenced by the Creator himself, not the created.
Integrity is built or destroyed in the heart. Our heart feels something, then our mind thinks something, often resulting in our bodies doing something. And it all starts in the heart.
“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” – Matthew 15:18
Our minds and bodies react to what we love. Do we love the Lord? Do we love our spouse?
You might be thinking, “Yes! Of course I do!”
Well, integrity is the proof. What we do in private, reflects the condition of our heart. Do we talk bad, gossip, or vent about our spouses when having bro time with the dudes, do we glance at porn when home alone for the weekend, do we only read our Bibles at church, etc…
Integrity is the fleshing out of what we truly love.
For example, let’s say you feel strongly about littering. Integrity means picking up that piece of trash in the alleyway when you are 100 percent sure that nobody is watching, but you care enough to obey your acclaimed morals about littering, to follow them anyway. Your integrity determines if you truly care about littering.
Far too often, we hear story after story about Christians being “found out.” Their actions said one thing, while their integrity revealed another….
We saw this happen with the Ashley Madison data breach. Outwardly acclaimed Christians were found without integrity.
The Ashley Maddison case shined a light on the integrity of thousands of individuals… Yes, that is an extreme example, so let’s get less extreme and look inward because God is concerned with the heart. He does not define one sin as worse than another. We must not kid ourselves, being found out on Ashley Maddison, and sneaking a peak on the beach, is the same thing in the eyes of the Father. We often make choices that go against what should be our moral standard, and when we do this, we chose to run on fuel that we weren’t d designed to run on. And thus, we chose ourselves, not our creator. There will always be strife and conflict when we choose to disobey our operating instructions. The same is true with any machine mankind has built.
As husbands, if we entertain sexual thoughts about the body of another women, we are destroying our integrity, and maybe nobody will ever know… but God knows. At the end of my life, I would hate to find out that God had immensely more planned for my life, but my integrity proved that I couldn’t handle it (this relates to business, family, and all aspects of life).
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
If we don’t feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, or hear the whispers of the Father, then our integrity might be damaged.
Let’s not go our entire lives secretly obliging to ourselves (because that is what we truly love, ourselves), and miss out on the freedom and grand adventure we could have experienced if we chose integrity.
Being a husband of integrity means telling your wife everything. It means being fully open, true, and fair to her, so that she sees the type of person you are becoming, not just the type of person you want to be. There is a difference.
So how do we successfully build integrity? One very good way is with community.
A healthy community for adults, I would imagine, is like parenting for children. I’ve only known one side of the spectrum (being the child), but I have watched many of my friend’s discipline and correct their children when they step out of line. This isn’t to exercise power over their kids, to be right, or to control their children, but rather to love them well. A good community does the same thing for adults. Someday, I hope to raise a son that grows up to be the best version of himself. A good community wants the same thing for its members – all of them to become better versions of themselves.
I recently had the pastor of our house church confront me. He walked up to me after church and said, “Whats wrong, I sense something is not right with your heart.”
This bold action done by someone in my community who cares for my well being forced me to confront an area in my life and marriage where I was failing. An area that might have gone on for years unnoticed (if it were left up to me). An area of my integrity did not match my proclaimed words, and as a result, my spirit was in a civil war. He saw it, and he cared enough to confront me in loving correction. On our own, it’s easy to get lazy, cut corners, or not fully realize the reality of Truth. But having a community will keep you on track if you ever start choosing the wrong fuel to operate on.
Community, is also one of those things that only works well if you let it. There are 3 things that community requires in order to function at its potential:
- Common belief on what is truth – What we believe about life and death affects how we live in the here and now
- Vulnerability – Allowing access into your life and marriage
- Commitment – Being dedicated and devoted to the community; being a giver, not just a taker
A thriving community gives its members permission to speak into each others’ lives. When we don’t have a community, we often resemble a lost ship at sea, rather than a locomotive headed straight for the destination.
I do not know where our marriage would be at right now if it were not for the communities we have surrounded ourselves with so far. The mission of Beating50Percent was brought into existence largely due to support, wisdom, encouragement, and correction from our communities.
Audrey and I want to encourage you to intentionally seek out a community. Create one with good friends, your neighbors, or find one through your church. Community sharpens integrity like stone sharpens a knife. And integrity reveals the truth about who we really are. Who do you want to be? Would you community call you a man or woman of integrity?
Integrity is a result of successfully followed morals. Integrity requires an unrelenting determination to stand for truth and stick to your standards, even when it’s hard, hated, or a hassle.
When your wife is away, or you are with the guys, or Jesus doesn’t seem popular, remember that integrity proves your motives. Ask yourself, is your motive to serve yourself, or to serve your spouse – and ultimately the Lord.
Community helps keep us on track. Who is your community? Are they holding you accountable to operating on the right fuel?
The truth will always seep to the surface. Let’s be a people that love our spouses and Lord, more than we love ourselves. Let’s be known as men and women of integrity.
Under the Mercy,