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The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe (Proverbs 29:25).
Biff has had a lifetime struggle with the fear of man. He calls it a paralyzing sin. It has been so debilitating that there was a time in his marriage when he took the passive approach to leading his wife, Mable, which was not leading her at all. His reasoning was straightforward; he said,
I felt like a hypocrite. How could I lead Mable when I sin against her? I am not worthy of leading her.
According to his flawed theological thinking, his inability to live a perfect life was a deterrent to his view of a leadership model in marriage. He could not reconcile the fact that God called him to lead his wife while, at the same time, he occasionally sinned against her. He felt embarrassed to lead her. Naturally, this worldview created a significant problem since Biff is not an entirely sanctified believer.
Biff had a high view of himself.
When he sinned, it was as though he was looking down from his lofty perch at that poor, pitiful sinner—who happened to be himself, thinking how he had to requalify himself so he could lead again. This self-imposed approval process could take minutes, hours, or days; it was an arbitrary legalistic system that Biff would determine.
Of course, it also had to do with the weight of his sin and the effect on Mable. Once he felt he had done enough to merit approval, he would begin leading again. Biff’s rigorous religious process opened the door to passivity rather than the cyclic pressure of approval, disapproval, and approval.
There was the added element of Mable’s approval. If she disapproved of his penance process, deeming them insufficient, he would have to wait until her opinion changed so he could start leading again.
Imagine the burden Biff’s twisted theology would place on anyone. It went like this:
Pornography is primarily about the “theater of the mind,” a drama a guy constructs, where fictional “cyber ladies” approve and affirm him. It’s a “perfect” world where Biff could find acceptance and satisfaction without concern for failing or disappointing someone.
It’s a risk-free, failure-free, always accepted world.
Though he could not control the ups and downs of his marriage, he could manage his craving for acceptance in cyberspace. He tells his fictional characters what to think, what to say, and how to feel about him.
This study about the complexity of corruption is where the sword has a double edge. A wife is never guilty of a husband’s sin, just as a husband is never guilty of hers. However, she must decide if she will be part of God’s restoration team (Galatians 6:1-2) or if she will complicate the problems he has created by piling on with reactionary sinfulness.
One of the hardest things for a wife in a situation like this to realize is the actual condition of their marriage and her role as a one-flesh, covenantal partner. Though it is a cold and harsh reality, she must adjust to the truth about what is happening with them—not just him.
As Mable begins to accept the reality of their marriage, she will have to guard her heart against anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentfulness. She will also have to protect against retaliating toward Biff.
Rejecting the realities of our lives will hinder us from getting to where we need to be in our journey with God and others. In Mable’s case, she will hinder her heart’s desire: a marriage that reflects Christ and His church.
The question then becomes, how do you proceed. I have several hours of training that I recommend for a couple in a situation like this to give them clarity and practical help. Several dozen free one-hour webinars on our site provide critical information to help this couple.
After each question, I have the recommended training to work through this case, seven hours of training altogether.
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Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).