We have come to an interesting part in our bible study. Many of you may have read or heard of Dr Emerson Eggerich and his book "Love and Respect". If you haven't, check it out on the link below:
In Ephesians 5:21-33, we are shown how husbands and wives should treat each other. As one who has read 'Love and Respect', I've covered this somewhat. Let me share with you what I've learned.
In Ephesians 5:21-24 we are told that we, husband and wife, must "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ". We focus a lot on wifely submission, but what I get out of verse 21 is that we are supposed to compromise and respect each other. We are instructed that wives must submit themselves to their husbands as they do the Lord. The relationship between a husband and wife is compared with the relationship between Christ and the Church. We wives are to submit to our husbands as the church submits to Christ.
This isn't groundbreaking news for most of us, though I know that there may be people who will read this and think "Sub-what? This is the 21st century and women aren't chattels or doormats." Biblical submission isn't equal to some form of slavery. In fact, its the opposite...here are a few of my observations:
First of all, it isn't easy to live a life of submission...as I'm sure a lot of you know. Doing anything that's right and good isn't easy. Very often, its easier to do the wrong thing.
God had a particular balance in mind when he created man and woman. In Genesis 2:20 we are told that Adam gave names to all the creatures God had created "but for Adam there was not found a helpmeet for him." Many women take offence to the word helpmeet, but there it is in the bible! This is why God took Adam's rib and created Eve. Genesis 2:21-22. Clearly God's plan was for Adam to be the head and Eve to be his mate and helper.
There are clear instructions within Ephesians for creating that balance that God intended. It is not just about wifely submission, but also about how a husband should treat his wife.
Oh, some of us are blessed with husbands who live out the instructions of St Paul and as one of the members of GMG International said recently...its easy to submit to a husband who treats us the way we ought to be treated:
Ephesians 5:25-29 "Husbands love your wives 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 the same way husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. After all no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body*, just as Christ does the Church for we are members of his body."
*the NKJ version uses the words "nourishes and cherishes". I find that interesting...do you?
Let's examine this a little closer. If you read between the lines do you see what I see?
- Christ gave himself up for the church...that's sacrificial love.
- He regards the church as radiant, holy....that's pure love.
- He has promised to be with the church always, even until the end of the world (Matt 28:20)...that's faithful love.
- Christ (nourishes and cherishes us) feeds and cares for us...that's nurturing love.
So here are clear guidelines for how a husband ought to treat his wife. In here, I believe, is also a mandate for respect for the wife as well. Many of you might be feeling the same way that I felt when I first came to this knowledge. My husband doesn't treat me right! Look, its right there in the bible! My husband has never nurtured me or sacrificed for me. Love me with pure love? Hah! Love me as he loves himself? Never! Cherish me? I don't even think he knows the meaning of the word!
Let's check out this passage:
1 Peter 3:1-2 "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 behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."
See that line... "won over without words by the behavior of their wives". Ask yourself...does my behaviour encourage my husband to be the man that God wants him to be? Do I inspire him to treat me the way I should be treated by the way I conduct myself? Am I living a life of purity and reverence so that my life is an example to him? We are told in vs 3-4 that it is not our outward beauty or adornments that are important, but our inner selves and "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit".
Let's take a look at 1 Peter 3:5 "For this was the way of the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands." If I interpret these verses correctly...our gentleness and attitudes of humility and kindness will win over our husbands. As we treat them with the respect and honour that we are instructed to, they will treat us with the kind of love that Christ has exemplified.
This, my friends, is what winning him without words means! Dr Eggerich's concept of Love & Respect is based on this principle. In giving to our spouses what they need of us, they will give to us what we need of them. Isn't this also a biblical principle? Luke 6:38 "Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over..."
St Francis of Assisi wrote a beautiful prayer which you can find here. Here is one of the verses..."it is in giving that we receive..." Let us give freely to our spouses and embrace and live out our God-given roles knowing that we are blessed when we are obedient to Him...because that is what I believe it is all about. In obeying God's perfect plan for us, the husband and wife each giving what his/her part is, we create the whole.
Click on the link above to check out this book by a duo of wonderful women who are all about 'winning him without words' in spiritually unequal marriages. Lynn and Dineen are sure to bless you with their wit and grace. You can also find their blog here.