When Doing the Right Thing Is Hard

I have about 20 draft posts right now, some with a bunch of words, some only a few, but none ready to publish. You might think I should go work on one of those and post about that. But something else has been weighing heavily on me this week. Integrity.

When I looked up the meaning of integrity, I most liked what Etymology Online says about the word’s origin:

“innocence, blamelessness; chastity, purity,” from Old French integrité or directly from Latin integritatem (nominative integritas) “soundness, wholeness, completeness,” figuratively “purity, correctness, blamelessness,” from integer “whole.”

https://www.etymonline.com/word/integrity

Integrity is about consistency and completeness of character. It’s a core principle I tried to teach my sons, explaining it to them as “doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”

Integrity Takes a Hit

The first half of 2019 was quite lovely and culminated with the marriage of my impressive son to a beautiful daughter-in-law, an event that was nearly perfect in every way. But then, as life does, there were quite a few disappointments in the second half of 2019 — instances in which people acted in ways that I didn’t expect.

From public politics to personal connections, I’ve witnessed rifts that make my chest ache. The details don’t matter, but suffice it to say that I could list a number of times when I’ve wondered about people’s integrity.

Why were people turning their back on principles they’d previously espoused as important? Did they ever believe what they’d proclaimed? Had they changed their minds? Lost their way?

Had I failed too? Did I need to guard better against losing my integrity?

Integrity in Marriage

How are we doing with integrity in our marriage? Are we consistent in doing what is right? What is loving? What we say we believe is important?

When no one is looking — or when at least your spouse isn’t looking — how do you treat your marriage and your sexuality?

Consider whether you could say any of the following:

  • “I know porn is wrong, but I still watch it in secret.”
  • “My spouse doesn’t know how much I masturbate on my own.”
  • “I believe that sex is important, but I haven’t made time for it.”
  • “I said I would initiate sex more, but I haven’t.”
  • “Given how I treat him/her, my spouse might not even say I’m much of a Christian.”
  • “I complain and/or blame my spouse on blogs and social media, knowing s/he won’t see it.”
  • “I had an affair, and my spouse doesn’t know.”
  • “I believe I should meet my spouse’s emotional needs, but I haven’t tried much.”
  • “I’ve been faking my orgasm.”
  • “I’ve lied to my spouse about ____________.”
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A long time ago, Spock and I had a bad marriage. During that time, I believed myself to be a good person, committed to fixing my marriage. But the way I behaved around him and out in the world were two different things.

On one hand, I touted my Christian faithfulness while treating my husband quite poorly at times. On the other hand, I spoke ill of my husband to others while not sharing my own contributions to our problems.

Once I got real and decided to put into practice what I claimed to believe, that’s when my marriage began to improve.

Once I got real and decided to put into practice what I claimed to believe, that's when my #marriage began to improve. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Doing the Right Thing Is Hard

It wasn’t easy changing my habits. It’s still not easy when I decide to ditch a bad habit and pick up a new one. Like right at this moment, I’m hungry because I had a salad for lunch instead of my usual sandwich, chips, and salsa — though my last cholesterol test tells me a salad is the right thing to do.

But a touch of a hunger is nothing compared to other personal pain we could invite by following through with integrity. We might encounter:

  • Relational conflict
  • Guilt or shame
  • Loss of respect from someone we care about
  • Criticism
  • Financial expense
  • Emotional discomfort
  • Reduced sexual intimacy

Some of those sacrifices may be temporary, and some may be long-term. We cannot always anticipate how our changes will impact others’ choices. And others have their own choices to make about integrity.

But we can control our own pursuit of integrity. Is it worth it?

God Calls Us to Integrity

  • “The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me” (Psalm 7:8).
  • “But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever” (Psalm 41:12).
  • “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).
  • “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3).
  • “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8).

Those are just a few of the verses that have the word integrity in them. There are more, and other scriptures highlight the principle of walking in integrity.

What does that look like? Well, what do you say you believe about marriage? About how one should treat others? Are you living up to that?

None of us will get this perfect. If we could, we wouldn’t need a savior! But we do need a savior, and we have one in Jesus Christ. What God calls us to is the ongoing pursuit of integrity — the commitment to do the right thing, even when no one’s looking, or when everyone’s looking and wanting something different, and when it’s just plain hard.

Where do you need to have greater integrity for your life, your marriage, and your sexual intimacy? Pursue that.

5 thoughts on “When Doing the Right Thing Is Hard

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I do not want to be here
    on the edge of the abyss,
    waiting as my death draws near
    with cancer’s fatal kiss.
    I do not want to keep on trying,
    but I know I must,
    for if I quit I am denying
    Him in whom I trust.
    The right path is still down the road,
    the right choice is to hold the line
    no matter how intense the load
    no matter how the hooks of time
    tear my skin and leave me bleeding,
    doing right for God is what I’m needing.

    Reply
  2. RK

    I just had a revolting thought. Up until now, sin was an individual thing and it was up to me to ask forgiveness for my sins of omission and commission. I alone was responsible for keeping short accounts with God.
    In marriage, with two becoming one flesh, isn’t the couple now culpable? ( no pun) I’ve been sexless for 14 years and this comes down to not keeping our wedding vows and not being obedient to His word on marriage. I am hurting and penitent and want God to be glorified in my marriage but what to do if my wife doesn’t do the same? I can’t confess for her, can I? It’s almost like the unforgivable sin. Feeling trapped!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Being one flesh does not mean that we are judged together by God. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Ezekiel 18:30 says it like this: “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins.” Moreover, Adam and Eve were husband and wife, but when Adam attempted to involve Eve in his sin (“It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it”), God wasn’t have any of it; Adam got punished too (see Genesis 3).

      One flesh means our lives are woven together, but our souls remain our own.

      Reply
  3. Jenny S.

    Good post! I have one line that didn’t sit well with me. “None of us will get this right”
    My first inclination is if we are doomed to failure why bother? I understand why you wrote it and we will likely slip up and we do need a saviour. But I want the Hope I can succeed and with Christ we can. We need the Lord to do it but I belive it is possible to live sinless a life from a point. We need Christ because we are all born into sin. We sin before we understand what it is because we live in a fallen world. But Christ is transforming and while we will all battle our selfish desires it is possible to choose right and choose Christ daily. We will never be sinless but we can acheive sinless lives with Jesus Christ.

    Reply

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