Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Respect & Love

You may know, or have guessed, that Bessie and I, in our fifty-eight and one-half years of marriage, have been called upon to help in marriages that need it. I think in most, but not all, we were of some help.

Often there has been a lack of understanding of Ephesians 5:18-33.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Here are a few of many comments I have heard:

Wife: “I submit to my husband when he is right. He is never right.”
Husband: “I quoted verse 22 to her and she would not submit.”
Wife: “If I submit, I will be a doormat.”
Husband: “I will love her as Christ loves the Church when she starts submitting to me.”
Wife: “I will start submitting when he starts loving me.”

Wife: “If you loved me you would ____.”
Husband: “If you submitted to me you would ____.”
Wife: “Unless you do this ____, I am going to leave you.”

The conditional statements go on and on.

If you reread the text, the commands to husband and wife are not conditional. They are not dependent on the other person obeying God. They are to be obeyed separately.

They are really dependent on continually being filled with the Spirit as in verses 18-21. Verses 22-33 are a piece of cake if you apply verses 18-21.

God did not love the Church because the Church was lovely, but to make her lovely. We are to love our wives to make them lovely not because they are lovely. A woman needs loving more when she is unlovely than when she is lovely. The more she is loved, the lovelier she becomes. Love has to do with the lover, not the loved.

Respect has to do with the respecter, not the respected. The wife is to respect her husband because he is her husband, not because he is respectable. The less respectable, the more he needs respect. The more he is respected, the more respectable he becomes.

There are men who are strong men who cave under threats by the wife. The wife loses respect for the husband when he gives in to her conditions and threats.

There are two solutions for the husband.

1. He should love his wife as Christ loved, sacrificially.
2. He should not give in to her conditions and threats.

There are two solutions for the wife.

1. She should submit to her husband as the Church submits to Christ.
2. She should not submit to him when he requires her to disobey God.

“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” (I Peter 2:18-3:2)

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