Married Life Series
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your had to do so.”-Proverbs 3:27
When it comes to any relationship, especially our marriages, we must become conscientious of developing a dealer mentality. We are not talking about individuals involved in trafficking narcotics. The spouses I am referring to are more like hostage takers. Hostage takers are individuals who will withhold something from their spouse in order to manipulate a situation to their benefit.
Withholding is typically motivated by two goals: to inflict punishment the other person or to gain the upper hand in a difficult situation or discussion. It is nothing less than strategic manipulation that can manifest in several ways.
One thing that a spouse can withhold in a marriage is communication. Many of us refer to this as the silent treatment. The silent treatment is the act or behavior of withholding communication from our spouse. This method of hostage taking is employed to communicate dissatisfaction with or to punish the individual being ignored. It is a controlling behavior, placing the person doing the withholding, in control over all aspects of the relationship. The relationship will only move forward at their pace following their terms.
Withholding affection is also another way a spouse can take a relationship hostage. Sex can and is often used as a weapon or a bargaining chip in order to obtain a desired outcome. The Apostle Paul warned against this in 1 Corinthians 7:4-5:
“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive on another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Again, when done with malice, this behavior can be destructive to both husband and wife and leave the other vulnerable to temptation.
Another way that spouses attempt to exercise control in their relationship involves cutting off finances. There is a famous quote that reads: “He who holds the purse strings, rules the house, the nation, the world.” This may be well known, but it certainly isn’t biblical. By withholding resources from our spouse we are demonstrating an absolute lack of faith in God:
“But if anyone doe snot provide for his own, and especially for those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”-1 Timothy 5:8
Finally, one of the most devastating things that a spouse can withhold from the other is forgiveness! To withhold forgiveness is to hold a debt against another person. This is contrary to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:14-15:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
How can we withhold forgiveness from others, when we ourselves have been forgiven so much?
In every one of these scenarios, there is the potential for manipulation. Because of this we must stay vigilant. When we bargain and deal with other’s emotions, resources, and affections in order to get something we want we are dangerously close to committing spiritual prostitution!
Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church