Pastor-teacher Don Hargrove
Faith Bible Church
MARRIAGE: THE As-Zs OF NEVERS:
C-CHANGE (Forcing Change on the Wife, part 2)
The two great mandates for the husband regarding his wife is to understand her (1 Pt 3:7) and to love her unconditionally! He is to spend his entire life understanding her and loving her. In the last DDR, I touched on the understanding part, now it is time to address the loving part.
Not only is the husband to become a real student of his wife (one cannot be a good leader of someone without understanding the person), he is to love her no matter what. Only through growth in doctrine can any husband ever hope to be able to really understand her as the responder she is or have any hope of loving her with the same kind of love Christ has for the church.
Not only is the husband commanded to love his wife (which in earthly terms may be quite easy), but he is commanded to love her as Christ loves the Church – with a sacrificial unconditional love,
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
As doctrinal believers we understand that this love is not about emotional feelings – which cannot be turned on at will. It would be ludicrous to think that all a man had to do was push the button and – bingo! He’s in love again. Love in the world’s view is some emotional things that happens to me, not something that can be willed or commanded.
But in the New Testament, love is more of a verb than a noun. It has more to do will the will and acting than feeling. The call to love is not so much a call to a certain state of feeling as it is to a quality of action.
What about the quality of the action of love? How are husbands to love their wives? The above passage says like Christ loves the Church. How much does Christ love the church? He gave Himself up for her. The kind of love Christ has for the Church is self-sacrificial love. Consider the substance of Christ’s sacrifice for the Church. He gave everything He had, including His life, for His bride. He withheld nothing. How much patience does He have with His Church? How often must He endure loss of affection and rebellion? Is there any problem that a man could possibly have with his wife that Christ hasn’t had with the Church? Yet he continues to love her. What if the wife refuses to be submissive? Must the husband still love his wife? Does Christ still love the Church? Again, if one partner refuses to obey his responsibilities and violates his role, that does not relieve the other person from responsibility. God does not say “Wives be submissive to your husbands when they are loving,” or “Husbands love your wives when they are submissive.” Two wrongs still don’t add up to a right. Retaliation brings no honor to Christ.
Back to Christ’s love for the church that is to be instantiated in the husband for his wife. Christ never regards the Church with a casual interest. It is all too easy for married men to view their wives with steadily diminishing importance once the wedding is over. Before that, the man expends an enormous among of energy seeking to woo and win his wife. He enters the courting relationship with the zeal and dedication of an olympic- bound athlete. He gives his girl undivided attention, making her the center of his devotion. When the marriage is achieved, our athlete turns his attention to other goals. Unless he is growing in doctrine and catches himself, he will default into devoting less and less time to his wife, treating her as less and less important. In the meantime the woman, being accustomed to the courting process, enters into the marriage relationship expecting that to continue. As the marriage progresses, she finds herself devoting more attention to her husband than ever before the marriage, while he is devoting less attention to her. Now she is washing his clothes, cooking his meals, making his bed, cleaning his house. At the same time, he is becoming less affectionate (though perhaps more erotic), taking her out less, and generally paying less attention to her.
This failure to love her as Christ loves the Church also leads to failure to understand her. He not only becomes more demanding and neglectful, when he is frustrated he often will tell her that she is too emotional to understand him. He flips it around and instead of him loving and understanding her (like God tells him), he becomes childish and tells her that her problem is that she just does not understand him. When a husband coerces, bullies, intimidates, his wife he is doing anything but really understanding or loving her. Instead of taking the time to understand and lover her, the calloused husband will focus on her understanding and agreeing with him.
The bottom line for husbands is that to be a husband as outlined in the Word of God, requires being a MAN. A man who is man enough to dedicate and sacrifice his whole life for his wife. This means loving her even if and when she is acting like a child or being rebellious and self-willed, or emotional and hysterical, or ugly and sloppy, or nagging…yes, even when she acting like a bitch. This is only possible by a thriving and advancing spiritual life. Apart from spiritual dynamics, we default into the mundane realm with all of its pettiness.
Back to change. No husband can change his wife. All he can do is provide a conducive environment of understanding and unconditional love and acceptance. The only person who can change the wife is God. Even God cannot change her unless she too chooses to take God and His Word seriously and move into a thriving and growing spiritual life which really is the only way out of pettiness that can sour any marriage.