Monday, June 15, 2015

Submission and Respect

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage. In generations past, the husband "ruled the roost”. Wives were expected to submit to their husbands with no questions asked. Maybe we are just living on the other end of the pendulum swing, but it appears that the opposite is now true. Now women demand that their husbands "toe the line". Neither extreme is God's plan for marriage. Both are destructive. Both extremes hurt the people in the relationship.

God's plan for marriage is beautiful and fulfills both man's and woman's deepest needs. 

Here it is from Ephesians 5:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, 23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body.

31 For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.[i]

32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.  

So why don't we follow God's plan?

I believe it all boils down to trust. 

Wives who do not trust their husbands to love them like Christ loved the church constantly put their husband's love to the test.  A wife can test her husband by constantly wanting him to provide "more"...bigger house, newer car, more clothes, nicer vacation, etc. A wife who mistakes gifts for love might constantly use holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and such as opportunities for her husband to “prove” how much he loves her. A wife might constantly make her husband choose between time with her and time doing other things. She might test his loyalty by constantly challenging him to choose something she wants to do over something he already has planned. Notice that I intentionally use the word constantly. These are things that characterize a relationship, not things that happen once in a while.

Husbands who do not trust their wives to respect them demand respect. Men are not normally as manipulative as women. They usually demand respect in obvious ways. A husband might constantly remind the wife of how smart, strong, productive, etc. he is...or he might constantly remind her of how stupid, weak, and lazy she is. A husband who constantly feels the need to proclaim his superiority has need for respect and can sometimes act very much like a bully on a playground.  

 So then, how shall we live?

Wouldn't it be nice to be in a relationship where you are safe and secure, knowing that your spouse appreciates and cherishes who you are, wants the best for you, and sees the best in you? Wouldn't it be nice to be in a relationship with someone who appreciates the unique way God created you, including your temperament, personality, and emotions? (Granted, we all have a sinful nature that continually needs to be dealt with, and I am not in any way insinuating that sinful behavior should be accepted or overlooked.) I believe that is how God designed marriage…men get what they need (respect) and women get what they need (nurturing and being cared for). God designed marriage so that men can be men and women can be women.

I've learned that things work a lot better in my marriage when I choose to follow God's design. When we both follow God's design, things are great. I have also seen that God fills in the gaps when we fail.
It's a process, a journey, a constant battle to not become a statistic, but God shows us the blueprint for a good marriage. Respect your husband. Love your wife. Trust God and follow HIM wholeheartedly. 
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