Saturday, January 24, 2015

Husbands and Wives: We Both Have Issues

I want to take a look at a portion of Scripture that deals with the relationship between a husband and a wife in Ephesians 5:22-25 where it says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

These verses have caused more division than practically any other in the Bible since the beginning of the women’s liberation movement of the 60’s. Before that, the verses were pretty much accepted and rarely challenged because of prevailing culture. However, with the dawn of women’s liberation, in the United States especially, they have been resisted and scorned. The question is, “What exactly do they want to be liberated from?” Of course, the answer is the traditional definition of womanhood and all that came with it.

It is my contention that the beginning of the “women’s liberation” movement started at least twenty-five years before WWII with start of the suffrage movement, but certainly gained steam during the war and afterward. The stimulus to me is simple, the ladies went to work and the men went to war. Then the men came home and the women did not. In other words, Rosy the Riveter went to work and never came back home.

Looking past that, the real problem is our sinful natures. In a nutshell, women have a problem submitting and men have a problem loving. Throughout the Scriptures, women are constantly told to submit and men are constantly told to love. Why? – Because the Lord knows that we each struggle in these areas.

The ladies’ problem started as far as I can tell in the book of Genesis when she defied her husband and took of the fruit. I say that because there is no indication in Scripture that God ever told Eve face-to-face what he had already told Adam about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, that means that she was given her marching orders from her husband (Genesis 2:8-18), and when she rebelled, it was firstly against him and his authority, and secondly against God who had entrusted that authority to him.

What this means is that it was Adam’s responsibility to pass that information along to Eve. In other words, her discipleship was his responsibility. We also find that pattern throughout the Bible. Of course, that is a study for another day.

Of course, to do that, we as men need to know how our wives tick. I believe that is what Peter meant when he said, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). To me this is saying that we as men need to understand that subjection does not come easy to our wives. It goes against their very natures. Just like Eve, they have a tendency and propensity to rebel against our authority.

That is exactly what Genesis 3:16 is referring to when God said to the women, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." What he meant was that she will desire the position and authority of her husband, but he will rule over her. It speaks looking back at her initial rebellion to that authority that caused her to take the fruit in the first place. Thus, the ladies have issues as a result of the fall with submission.

As for the men, where could one possibly start? We have so many problems, but the one at issue here is the issue of unconditional love. Paul spoke to it Colossians 3:18-19 when he dealt with the same issue at hand in Ephesians, but with one caveat. He said, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” It pretty much means the same thing as what Peter said in regards to living with them in understanding, but Paul uses the word “embittered”. Why in the world would we as men be embittered toward our wives? - Because they don’t submit naturally and that can cause resentment in the relationship that can lead to bitterness.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, “Men can live without love, but they cannot live without respect.” When a woman rebels against the authority of her husband, she is disrespecting him and the marriage will ultimately fail or go on in to a lifelong commitment to misery.

However, we as men must understand the struggles that each of us has as a result of the curse, and should strive to love our wives unconditionally, knowing their weaknesses, and yet willing to love them as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). We are as men called upon to do no less.

In the end, I firmly believe that the more a man shows unconditional love toward his wife, and attempts to make her secure in that love, the easier it will be for her to submit to him.


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