Issues of Life

The Marriage ABCs – R for Respect is Reciprocal!


THE MARRIAGE ABCS

Copyright © Ufuomaee

respect-is-reciprocal

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

Do you know what the verse above is saying?  Do you know what it is not saying???  Many use this and other verses to imply that a wife owes her husband respect, reverence and submission, while she shouldn’t expect such from him.  Except, of course, his love.

However, have you ever seen someone love without submission?  Even Jesus submitted Himself to His followers.  He washed their feet (John 13:4-5).  He told them He came to serve and not to be served (Matt 20:28).  He died for them!!!  And Paul tells us that husbands should love their wives in a like manner (Eph 5:25).

Okay, so we have to admit that for one to love another, they must submit to the other.  If we consider the preceeding verse before this section on marriage, “..submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Eph 5:21), we can see that we are all called to loving submission.  Certainly, by Paul telling the husbands to love their wives as themselves, he wasn’t suggesting that the wives shouldn’t love their husbands as they do themselves…so why should we conclude that respect in marriage is a one-way street?

What Paul was doing was laying EMPHASIS, based on the tendencies of both sexes, and the unique needs of the sexes.  Women are naturally more emotional, and in need of some pampering.  Men often need to be reminded to be sensitive, and so it is right for Paul to admonish them to love their wives as themselves.  They may, otherwise, take their wives emotional needs for granted.  We have already talked about the importance of romance, and the husband’s duty to keep this alive in marriage.

Likewise, men have a great need for respect and honour, and as the leaders in marriage, they need to be held in special honour.  Wives, who appreciate their equal standing in Christ and in life, may not fully realise their need to always show respect and reverence to their husband, who is ultimately the leader.  So Paul was right to lay emphasis on this duty of married women.

So, while wives must love their husbands, as they do themselves, they must not forget to hold them in honour and reverence too.  And while husbands must respect their wives as equals and bearers of the Spirit of God, they must not forget to give them due love and affection too.  Simples!

Respect, like love, must be reciprocal!  We cannot demand respect, when we don’t give respect.  Do you know that even GOD respects humans..?  As poor, depraved and inconsequential as we are, He respects us!  Wasn’t it God who made clothes for Adam and Eve, when they found out that they were naked in the Garden of Eden?  He respected their shame, and He covered them up.  God respects us so much that He gave us free will!  So, who is the ‘king’ that will reign in his house, and deny his own wife respect…because of what???

Even though respect is commanded, it is also a right of every human being.  There is no special status you must gain before you receive respect.  As long as you are human, respect is your basic right.

However, it is easier to respect someone who behaves in a respectable and respectful way, just as it is easier to love someone who is loving and loveable!  We can all do more to earn respect from our spouse, even if it is also our right, and even if they are commanded to show it!  It shouldn’t be hard for them to love us, and we shouldn’t make it hard for them to respect us either.

Now, it would seem that because of this emphasis laid on wives to respect their husbands, that husbands should show respect in response to the respect their wives show them…  WRONG!  We really shouldn’t be doing this tit for tat.  We really should come 100%, ready to even outdo our spouse in love and respect.  But if there is someone to set the pace…someone to set the standard…someone to lead the way, it would be – you guessed it – the HUSBAND!  He is afterall the leader…

Just as Christ didn’t wait for us to show Him love before He bestowed us with His amazing love and grace…  Just as Christ submitted Himself to the Cross, even before we proved our worth, so likewise, husbands must go first…  They must lead by example.  They must model respect and submission and love, so that their wives will IMITATE their humility, just as followers of Jesus imitate His humility.  And like Jesus said, who ever seeks to be the greatest or the master, they must be the least and the servant (Matt 20:26-27).

A Christian man, a follower of Jesus Christ, cannot miss this message.  This is a truth that they should know, if they have the Lord’s Spirit.  So any man using Scripture to put his wife in her place doesn’t know God!  But a man who knows God and is walking with God will be humble, loving, submissive and WORTHY of all respect.  His wife will not need to be told to respect him…  In fact, she will be in AWE of him and will sing his praises everywhere!  So if you are constantly fighting with your wife for respect and authourity in your house, consider the example you have given for humble, loving submission.  Check yourself, follow Jesus and she will follow you.

Now that that is cleared up…  Ladies, respect your husbands!  In case you are struggling to understand the emphasis laid on you, here are FIVE reasons you ought to respect him:

  1. He is a human being too.  Must I say more?  The respect you give to others is the respect you demand for yourself!  Do not hold back…  Do unto others, as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31).
  2. He is a Servant of God.  If indeed, he is a Christian, he is a Man of God, and worthy of special honour for this alone.  You owe all your Christian brothers and sisters special honour for being in the Family of God, and your husband is not exempt at all (Gal 6:10).
  3. He is the man you love.  Well, I am guessing you love him, because you pledged your life to him, to be his wife.  I’m also guessing there was something uniquely fabulous about him that got him the privelege of your companionship for the rest of his life…  And the fact that he was smart enough to pick you as his life partner, girl…you gotta respect him!
  4. He is the head of your home.  If you could stack respect, the kind of respect you should have for your husband now should be level 3!  Now, not only is he a human being, child of God and the love of your life, he also happens to be given the special duty of heading your home – by God!  That’s a whole lot of responsibility and, as such, it deserves its own respect!  So, we’re at level 4.  Remember the Scripture, “give honour to whom honour is due” (Rom 13:7)!  Honouring your husband as the head of your home is your obedience to Christ.  It is your Christianity.
  5. He is the father of your children.  As if you need more reason to respect your husband…  As the father or your children, even if he is not the biological father of your children, the fact that he is raising your children, he is worthy of respect!  Respect him, because his role needs and demands it, but also because your children are watching you, and learning from you about what is good and right and loving.  Respect him for the ways he provides for you and your family, and protects and cares for you all, fulfilling his duty of love.

I think we all know what respect looks like.  Sometimes though, the word can be scary depending on the context in which it is used, and who is wielding it!  Respect can be as simple as giving due regard to another human being, or showing deep admiration to someone for their achievements and exercise of duty, or even as reverence and awe for their power and authourity…like the respect we have for God!  Give all men and women their due respect, and not the reverence due only to God.

Respect and submission has been abused in many homes and cultures.  I hope to liberate my Christian sisters with the truth about what godly respect and submission requires.  This is what respect for your husband looks like:

  1. Allowing them to take the lead.  Learn to follow their lead, even if you think you know better.  This is what it means to be humble and submissive.  If you never think you know better and can do it better, it would be no trouble at all to always follow your husband’s lead.  So being humble and submissive is a recognition of the fact that you are not a stupid dummy, but you are simply forsaking your opinion or way, for the sake of your unity.
  2. Showing admiration and appreciation of them.  We all know women love to be showered with admiration and praise.  Sometimes, we forget that men do too.  They want to be recognised for their strengths, and the effort they put in loving you and caring for you.  Respect them by acknowledging the big or small things they do, saying “thank you” often, praising them in private and in public.  Knowing that you admire and appreciate them is a validation that they are doing okay (or even great) as husbands.
  3. Giving them veto power.  As the head of your home, they should have the last say.  Why?  Because they will give account to God as the leader, just as the President of any country will give account to God for the people he presided over, and the decisions he allowed or denied.  So you respect your husband by running things by him, by obeying him when he says not to do certain things or he says to do certain things.  If you are having a disagreement, be the one to recind or forsake your opinion, trusting that they are following God too.  Always give their opinion due regard, and make sure that you don’t do anything in DISAGREEMENT with them.  If they say “no”, appeal to God, and if they are following God, God will counsel them on the way to go.
  4. Serve them in honour.  Jesus commanded his followers not to rule like the kings of the world, but to be servants (Matt 20:25-28).  Your Christian husband will not lord his position over you.  But as he humbles himself before you and God, God will use YOU to exalt him, by serving him…  So, even if he doesn’t particularly ask for it, or demand certain privileges…give them to him, without him having to ask.  Treat him like he is a king, because he is actually a king, just a humble one.  Speak with him kindly.  Serve his meals with extra care and attention.  Wait on him…  Pamper him…  If you do these things, he will not take it as reason to lord himself over you, rather, it will fuel his love, desire and respect for you, as a woman of honour!
  5. Showing them unconditional positive regard.  Okay, we know that not all men will be easy to respect, even if they are Christian.  There are many different personalities out there.  And not all men are good husbands or good leaders or good fathers.  They may not be good providers.  They may not be good lovers.  They may not even be good listeners.  But respect them by always showing them acceptance, support and grace!  Recognise their strengths and weaknesses, and build on their strengths, while granting grace on their weaknesses.  You can use their point of weakness to make up for their lack, and take more responsibility there.  You are after all their ‘helper’.  So assist them in their responsibility over your family.  Never talk down to them, never talk badly about them, and never give up on them.  You are the one God has chosen to use to build them up into the LEGEND they are going to be.  You can’t tear them down because you don’t see the vision…  In your long-suffering, call on God, and He will show you how He intends to use you to bless your husband and, by extension, your family, and grant you more grace to persevere.

love-and-respect

So, I hope the message is clear here that respect is a two-way street, and women are not exempted from receiving respect from their husbands, but rather, the husband ought to take the lead in showing humility and respect.  However, a wife is burdened to show greater honour to her husband as the head of her home, just as the President is esteemed above all other men.  Respect for someone else should never mean disrespect for yourself!  Being a humble and submissive wife doesn’t mean you have become the house slave…  But, just as Christ submitted Himself freely and beautifully, without losing any of His regality, you can give love and respect to your spouse, without losing sight of who you are in Christ!

Photo credit: http://www.danielpassini.org, http://www.fiercemarriage.com

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