INSINCERITY IN MARRIAGE
Insincerity has dealt devastating blow to many marriages today. But I prefer beginning this topic with a story of an experience on the contrary. On one of the Easter festivities I was invited by a very old couple both of whom I guess were above eighty. When I arrived to hear their confessions, the husband was the first to perform his penitential duties. Having finished, he beckoned on his wife to meet with the priest. But he shouted at her though cheerfully, “Woman, come oo. I hope you will go for confessions, I know you do not sin”. Calmly I tried to put up a smile but he turned to me and said, “Father, my wife is simply a good woman. I doubt if she commits sin. She doesn’t tell me lies. In fact, she is known always for her sincerity”. I told Papa to allow Mama to take care of herself but his testimonial words continued to reecho in my head, “She is known for her sincerity”. What a way to bear witness to one’s partner.
How many couples in the modern society can look up and convincingly say of their spouse, “He/she is known for his/her sincerity”. How many men even believe their wives these days? The reason is that most couples have given each other occasions to disbelieve and doubt the authenticity of what they do and say.
Insincerity means saying what a person believes another wants to hear. It is a state of not being sincere, honest, genuine, truthful. Insincerity means being hypocritical, artificial, counterfeit, double-faced, pretentious, unctuous and fake. To say that someone is insincere implies that the person cannot be trusted. It means he cannot be relied upon. In human terms it implies that such a person cannot be believed. A man can be insincere so also a woman. When Christ reprimanded the Jews against their hypocrisy in the scriptures he said, “You are from your father, the devil, and you prefer to do what your father wants… he was never grounded in the truth; there is no truth in him at all. When he lies he is speaking true to his nature, because he is a liar, and the father of all lies” (John 8: 44-45). The implication of the above is that lies belong to the domain of the devil. Ordinarily, insincerity or lying is cheating and deceit.
In life, what leads to insincerity is when a person wants to satisfy his personal aggrandizement. For example, when Ananias connived with Sapphira to tell lies in the bible, their whole target was to please themselves and displease the community of the apostles (Cf. Acts 5: 1-11). They meant to cheat and to hoard part of the sales in order to enrich themselves. Every act of insincerity thus has a selfish motive. This is where one wonders why and how a spouse could allow himself/herself to be in the devilish act of telling lies to the partner. In the words of marriage consent the couples say, “I promise to be true to you, in good times and in bad, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health”. The couples in marriage are no longer two but one (Cf. Matt. 19:6). If they are one, the question becomes whether a person can tell lies to himself or whether one can deceive oneself. If a husband tells lies to the wife or the wife to the husband, who is at loss? Here there is a promise of truthfulness to each other at all times in marriage but oftentimes it is a promise that is barely kept by the couples. I know of a marriage that started having problems right from the reception hall immediately after the wedding. From the moment the newly wed stepped out from the church, every other thing was merely stage-managed. The presence of the guests was the antidote to the fight that would have ensued between the two. The man began to accuse the wife of insincerity. As soon as they got to the house, a heavy quarrel broke out and led to a fight. That marriage never lasted. Mutual suspicion and lies were the bedrock of their marital relationship. It was eventually discovered that one of the couples was a chronic liar always trying to play smart. Each time she said one thing, she meant another.
The next issue here is the place of love in certain marriages in today’s society. St. Paul was spot on when he wrote, “In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself” (Eph. 5: 28). Marriage in the strict sense should be the enthronement of love in its most genuine manner. And St. Paul eulogizes love thus, “Love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage… Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth” (1Cor. 13: 4-7). A marriage that is built on insincerity has a question mark. Such marriage relationship cannot claim to have love since love cannot be faked. Remember the person at the beginning of this series that defined marriage as the game of the smartest couple. This is the impression some couples have concerning marriage nowadays. They see it only as an opportunity. Some women say it’s to have “surname”. Having surname for them means being a man’s responsibility. Such women don’t necessarily understand what it means to be in marriage out of love. Their main concern is to be under the umbrella of a man whom they present as husband. They beget children, yes, but all those are mere fulfillment of the obligation and part of having their “surname” ambition actualized. This is one of the reasons why certain marriages today are characterized by lies and cheating.
Some husbands today are not sincere to their wives for some reasons either on their own part or caused by their wives. They are insincere about their business, friendships, income, relationships with their family members, commitments in the village and church, etc. The same applies to some wives who do not tell their husbands the truth about many aspects of their lives. They hide vital information from their marriage partner for certain reasons which we shall x ray under the causes of insincerity. Such couples live together but do not know each other. They live together but are extremely conscious of each other’s presence. They live together but are skeptical of one another. When you ask one a question regarding his/her partner, the available answer would be “Why not ask him/her? Do I know for him/her?
Unfortunately too, there is another group of couples who are groomed in the collective act of insincerity. Like Anannias and Sapphira, they know each other so well and can predict each other excellently. They are schooled in the game of telling lies to the extent that they become partners in the practice. When one tells lies, the other defends him/her. Even when both of them are confronted separately, they have mastered themselves so much that what they say at different points cohere. The effects of this will also be treated in the course of this discourse. I once met a family in this game of cover up who concocted a lie against another person and insisted on convincing others to believe in their manipulation. It was so disheartening watching the victim of their insincerity groan in helplessness. Every member of the community had almost believed them though not unaware of their commitment to a life of lies. Eventually God decided to expose them through the witness of their innocent five year old child who had not become familiar with the family’s practice of surviving under falsehood.
It is therefore an irony when a couple adopts insincerity as a mode of life. It is worrisome because of the real meaning of the bond of marriage. A man and his wife in marriage are bound to share everything in common. They enter into an unbreakable bond. They owe each other everything. They vow to be true to one another at all times. They have no reason to be false to one another since that would amount to self deceit. Sometimes though, it might be difficult to tell the truth about certain things that happen for reasons of their consequences but each couple should realize that it is preferable to suffer for truth and be respected as such than to hibernate in falsehood and suffer the excruciating bite of one’s conscience since Christ said, “…and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32)