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Is This Nonbiblical Issue Really the Hill You Want to Die On?

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Some of us demand that our spouse agree with us because if they don't, they will be sinning. If we say yes to something, we tell them that they, too, must say yes or risk grieving the heart of God.

Unless there is a clear violation of Scripture, morality, or the law, our spouse is not inherently wrong when varying with us. We would never say that the color pink is wrong for not being blue. What artist would go on television declaring that blue is innately wrong for not being pink? That's silly. 

In marriage, when we feel we are right, we have a tendency to judge our spouse as wrong. However, in the gray areas of marriage (i.e., where to send our kids to school, what type of worship service to attend, whose family to spend the holiday with), our personal position or opinion isn't black and white. It isn't an absolute. Instead, we can only make the claim that we feel our position is better. In other words, our spouse's position or opinion isn't bad or wrong per se, just "less better" than our position.

For instance, as a wife, she may feel her request to keep the toilet seat down after use is right, and thus her husband's position of keeping it up is wrong. But his position is not a violation of Scripture, morality, or the law. There is no declaration in the Bible, "Thus saith the Lord, keep the toilet seat down." There is no moral code about toilet lids. There is no legislative bill making it a misdemeanor to keep a toilet seat up. His position is not unbiblical, immoral, or illegal. Having said that, I can defend the wife's position as better than the husband's. For a variety of reasons, it makes the most sense to put the toilet seat and lid down after use. But a husband is not sinning for exiting the bathroom without putting the seat and cover down. He is not wrong, just different. Or maybe he’s just forgetful.

Now, if a wife shifts the conversation from the toilet to caring about her, and this is a sign to her that he does not care for her due to leaving up the seat and lid, she now escalates this to an issue of her husband's heart. She is going on record, claiming that her husband is unloving. When she does this, she moves into a moral judgment. She is now taking a pink and blue difference and making this a black and white matter for her. 

She needs to weigh carefully if this should be a symbol of her husband's love. For some wives, a raised toilet lid may be a hill on which she wishes to die, because it represents more to her than what attaches to the porcelain bowl. If for her, this is the battle that symbolizes her husband's love, then it becomes a black and white issue. But she needs to at least acknowledge that the toilet lid and seat is not a moral matter. What is black and white is her statement that he is unloving, which she believes the toilet seat and cover is further proof of. And, maybe he is unloving, but she needs to make sure the criteria she uses is biblical, not a cultural issue addressed in magazines as a sign the husband is narcissistic.

Consider when a child gets a severe ear infection. Pain-relieving medicine such as ibuprofen will help to temporarily relieve the pain, but it cannot kill the infection. To do that, the child must also take an antibiotic like amoxicillin. All the ibuprofen in the world won’t cure the ear infection but only help to ease the symptoms. The raised toilet seat and lid is the symptom but the core problem is that she feels unloved when he continues to leave the toilet seat up despite her countless reminders. That is the black and white issue to address, not the pink and blue difference of whether or not a toilet seat is left up.

For this reason, the two of them will need to consider her conscience and conviction about the toilet lid and seat. I do not say this sarcastically. Some little areas of life signify love and respect. Though minor in the scheme of world events, as funny as it sounds, a husband must not dismiss the toilet lid and seat as trivial. But every wife must step back and ask, "Is this a battle I want to fight and is this the hill on which I want to die?" 

This does not mean if the wife tells herself that this is no immoral or unbiblical matter that she stays quiet about the lid and seat. She may bring it up each time he leaves the lid and seat up. However, she doesn't escalate this to a "You don't love me" declaration. Instead, she stays light-hearted as she again says, "Please remember to put the lid and seat down. Thanks. I read yesterday that putting down the lid doesn't cause brain damage." To which her husband replies, "Well, I don't want to risk it."

I do not argue that the husband's neglect of the toilet lid and seat is fair to the wife. I am only saying that not all of life is fair, and each of us must determine what we want to overlook.

But unfairness goes both ways. I would remind the wife upset about the toilet lid that she can be unfair to her husband. She may neglect things important to him since she doesn't deem it all that important, like making sure all the doors are locked and windows closed before she goes to bed at night. His protective instinct is such that it can drive him nuts when he again learns she did not secure the back door or left a window open. He feels dismissed and disrespected. He knows that 1 percent of 1 percent of the men in the world are hardened criminals set on robbery or murder. He guards the family because of this. So, when she brushes off his concern about locking the doors and windows before she goes to bed as paranoia, she needs to give him grace when he brushes off her concern about the toilet lid and seat. Fair is fair in living with mutual unfairness!

For sure, when a wife surfaces her concern about the toilet lid and seat, she needs to consider if she presents her request in a respectful manner. She can appeal to him to do the loving thing for her but do so with contempt toward him. The contradiction here must not go unnoticed. How can she condemn him for violating Ephesians 5:33 while she violates God's Word in the same verse? She might be the worst of the two sinners and not see it. Though her husband is unloving, she is disrespectful. 

As well, a husband who yells and screams at his wife to lock the doors is most unloving. How hypocritical for him to be unloving when claiming he is loving and protecting the family. He subscribes to a double standard when unlovingly condemning her as disrespectful.

Bottom line, is the pink and blue difference that is not a violation of Scripture, morality, or the law going to really be the hill you’re ready to die on? If not, how can you still address it with the proper amount of love, respect, and grace? If so, how can you be sure to separate the pink and blue difference in the gray area from the black and white issue of feeling unloved or disrespected so that you’re treating the true area of infection, not just an annoying symptom?

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. Emerson said, “In marriage, when we feel we are right, we have a tendency to judge our spouse as wrong.” When your spouse disagrees with you in a gray area, do you have that tendency as well?
  2. Are there any gray areas of pink and blue differences that you have viewed as more black and white than they truly are? What are they? Why do you think you have made them more black and white?
  3. Has there ever been a pink and blue difference with a matter that was not unbiblical, immoral, or illegal that became a hill you went to battle on because it represented a bigger black and white issue for you? What was that?
  4. What is a pink and blue difference of your spouse’s that is really important to him or her? How can you be more loving and respectful in this matter?