The Mailbag: Potpourri (Confessing past sin… Too much Calvinism?… “Fake it til you make it”)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.

I confessed and repented of a certain sin after I got saved, but my husband doesn’t know about it. Do I need to confess that sin to my husband in order to receive God’s blessings or be considered a Proverbs 31 wife? And should he also confess his past sins to me? By the way, my husband is a pastor.

What a beautiful heart you have – wanting to be clean before the Lord and wanting to please Him!

There might be a few very specific scenarios in which it would not be wise to bring up a past sin to your husband, but, generally speaking, in a Christian marriage yes, you should be able to talk to your husband about your past sins (and he should also be able to discuss his past sins with you). But not to get God’s blessings or to be a Proverbs 31 wife.

Marriage is about trust. In the same way that Christian husbands and wives should trust each other enough to feel comfortable being physically naked around one another, we should also trust each other enough to feel comfortable “baring it all” when it comes to our past sins.

It sounds like this is a sin you simply haven’t told him about, but it should go without saying that you should not be lying to him about it or trying to cover it up. Those are direct sins against him, and if you’re doing that, you definitely need to confess and repent to him.

All of that being said, there can be more helpful / wise ways and times to talk to your husband about your past sin and less helpful / wise ways and times to talk to him about it, and you may want to get some help figuring that out from someone who can be more objective about it than you can.

Normally, I would suggest setting up an appointment with your pastor to get some pastoral counsel about it, but since your husband is your pastor, I would suggest locating an ACBC certified Biblical Counselor (not the same thing as a “Christian counselor/therapist”) who is not a member of your church (you don’t want your husband to be embarrassed or make it difficult for the counselor to sit under her pastor’s leadership) and set up an appointment.

Some denominations offer counseling services to pastors and their families, so you may want to contact your denominational leadership to find out about that. (I’m not sure what to tell you about other denominations, but if you’re Southern Baptist, contact your local SBC association or state convention.)

Hello! I found your website while trying to see if a Christian singer was a false teacher. I started reading over your beliefs to make sure that you weren’t a false teacher (I don’t mean that in a rude way, it’s just that I have to be really careful especially since I am only a teenager). I agree with everything except Calvinism. I was just wondering if our beliefs would still align enough to where your positions on whether or not people are false teachers would align with my beliefs. I can always ask my parents afterwards, but I just wanted to know basically if you talk about or reference Calvinist beliefs a lot. Thank you!

Wow. Just, WOW. Honey, your parents must be so proud of you. I know I would be if you were my daughter. I am thrilled – hear me: THRILLED – that you checked me out to make sure I’m not a false teacher before reading my stuff. Do you know how many adults don’t do that before following people? Most of them. I wish I had been as discerning as you are when I was your age.

Calvinism is not a factor when I sit down to evaluate whether or not someone is a false teacher, so that isn’t something you would need to worry about. In fact, there are some people on both my Popular False Teachers page and on my Recommended Bible Teachers page about whom I have no idea whether or not they’re Calvinists. There are even Calvinists I recommend against (such as Matt Chandler), or decline to proactively recommend (such as John Piper). I will say this, though – and, understand, this is a very general statement – having studied dozens of teachers, I find that those who adhere to Calvinism / Reformed theology are less likely, on the whole, to be false teachers than non-Calvinists.

I guess it depends on what you mean by talking about or referencing Calvinism “a lot”. From my perspective, I hardly ever mention it directly, but I’m sure it does come across indirectly in some of the terminology I use and the way I handle Scripture.

This is kind of humorous, but, probably about once a month or so, I get a message or an email from somebody saying, “Why don’t you talk about the false teaching of Calvinism?” or “I see you recommend John MacArthur. Don’t you know he’s one of those [gasp!] Calvinists?”. So I guess I’m not exactly beating people over the head with it if they didn’t know and I have to tell them straight out, “Yeah, I’m a Calvinist, too.”

I don’t know, I’m probably not the most objective person to answer this question. Let’s turn it over to my regular readers and you can see what they have to say in the comments section.

Readers – do you think I talk about
Calvinism “a lot” on the blog?

Answer in the comments, and help out this charming and discerning young lady.

Could you tell me where Scripture teaches “fake it till you make it” ?

“fake it ’til you make it”. A phrase easier said than done. But where stands it written? I would say this is not true. Michelle I trust your wisdom and knowledge, but this phrase…not so much. I asked sarcastically where I could find it in Scripture knowing it’s not written. I was hoping to have a response to my previous email, but no reply as yet. God’s word is based on truth not feelings. Trusting feelings when it comes to “fake it ’til you make it” I find is not sound wisdom. Allowing the Holy Spirit to change me is trusting in Him not myself…whether it’s fear or feelings.

These two comments (from the same commenter) were left on my article Fear Not: 9 Biblical Ways to Trade Worry for Trust regarding the phrase “fake it til you make it” in this paragraph:

Those worries may start creeping in, but you don’t have to set the table and turn down the bed for them. Push them right out of your mind, slam the door behind them, and say (out loud is helpful), “No. I’m not going to worry. I’m going to trust the Lord.” You’ll still feel worried at first, but “fake it ’til you make it.” Your feelings will eventually follow.

I’d like to address two issues regarding these comments, first the commenter’s attitude, then the content.

Attitude: First, I did not receive an email from you about this, so I can only assume “email” in your second comment actually refers to your first comment. However, if you had sent me an email, you would have to have obtained my email address here, where I clearly state (in bold type, no less):

I regret I am unable to answer most e-mails
unrelated to speaking engagements…”

So if you had emailed me, you shouldn’t have expected a reply at all, much less on your timetable.

Since you commented, you should have read – in large font directly above the comment box:

“Before commenting please see the ‘Welcome’ tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. Comments are handled manually, so there will be a delay before approved comments are posted.”

So, a) you should have expected some sort of delay, and b) if you had clicked on the Welcome tab as instructed, you would have seen this:

The “Please click here…” hyperlink goes to an article further explaining my email and comments policy and why emails and many comments usually go unanswered. I have bent over backwards to make it clear to my readers that I can’t answer most correspondence and why, even though I really wish I could.

Furthermore, you sent your first comment three weeks ago and your second comment a week later. To give you a little perspective, the first question I answered in this article was sent in almost a year ago. The second one, a month ago. Some people don’t get their questions answered for months. Others never get their questions answered, because I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to get to everyone’s questions. I hate that, but that’s just the way it has to be.

Not realizing your initial question was sarcastic, I had saved it in order to answer it in a Mailbag article, but I’ll be honest, when I got your second comment, my gut level reaction was to just delete both of them. Being impatient, demanding, and snarky when you’re asking someone else to do something for you (i.e. answer your question) is neither becoming of a Christian nor very effective.

But since I had already decided to address the content of your question, I decided to go ahead and do that and also add the part about your attitude as a teaching moment for you and anyone else to whom it might apply.

Content: I thought most people in my audience would be familiar with the phrase “fake it til you make it” (and, indeed, in the four times this article has run on my blog, you’re the only one who has commented objecting to it), but I can see where it might not be the clearest wording in the world, especially for people who aren’t familiar with the common usage of the phrase.

No one who has read the entire article could surmise that I was saying that “God’s word is based on feelings,” or that I was saying people should “[Trust] feelings when it comes to ‘fake it ’til you make it’”. (I’m not really even sure what that means since the theme of that paragraph, that section, and the entire article is that we should not trust or be controlled by our feelings.)

“You’ll still feel worried at first, but ‘fake it ’til you make it.’ Your feelings will eventually follow,” simply means that we should obey Scripture (in this case the Scriptures that tell us to trust God) regardless of how we feel about it and trust God to eventually line our feelings up with His Word. I thought that was clear from the context, but if it was not, I sincerely apologize. I have added a footnote to the article with this explanation in case it’s unclear to any other readers.

UPDATE (9/8/21)

I received what I thought was a very gracious response from this reader. With her permission, I share it here:

Dear Michelle,

“fake it ‘til you make it”…here…

I ask your forgiveness. I had no intention of appearing impatient, nor demanding, nor snarky. Thank you for your very frank response and clarifying your answer to my question.

I am grateful for the knowledge and wisdom God has given you. My question was sincere as were my comments. And again I’m sorry if you took them as you did, as I had no intention to raise your ire in responding. I did indeed read the “welcome”, and again didn’t expect a response from your busy schedule and many emails you receive.

My heart was to speak as one sister to another. I have been told this phrase before. Words have consequences, and quite honestly for me, as I filter words and phrases through God’s Word, I am reminded to speak truth in love, not snarky, or demanding. We can all learn to be effective in our walk with the Lord by not jumping to conclusions that are incorrect, being teachable and gracious.

Blessings on you and your ministry.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.