One Husband’s need for Unconditional Respect

Respect

In almost a year and half of blogging the most popular post that I have written was my one about submission in marriage.  Here is a further post on the subject.

What the bible says about marriage is pretty simple.  It goes like this: wives, respect your husbands, husbands love your wives.  It is laid about by Paul in Ephesians 5:21-33.  Of course that one simple rule takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to put into practice.

In the Western world at present the part of that command that says, “wives respect your husband” is controversial.  But for those of us committed to living as Scripture tells us rather than how the world tells us we have to grasp with putting it into practice.  If you think that the bible shouldn’t say that wives must submit, obey and respect their husbands then your argument is with the bible authors, not me.  I’m just trying to do what is says (as is Catherine).

The problem that we come up against is that in our culture we believe that respect must be earned.  Not so with love, mind you.  Love should be unconditional.  But respect is only given when we see behaviour that we think warrants respect.  This cultural mindset makes it hard for Christians to have a biblical marriage.

What it means is that Christians, and Christian wives in particular, have to make a decision to not do what they would do naturally (which is give respect only when they think it warranted).  Instead they have to commit themselves to giving their husbands unconditional respect.

Just think about those 2 words sitting side by side for a moment – unconditional respect.  What a radical thought.

It’s radical because what happens in marriage is that we see the other person’s faults, weaknesses and sins far more closely than anyone else does.  If there is one person who knows your failings in the most detail it is your spouse.  As the saying goes, “behind every great man there’s a woman shaking her head”.  She’s shaking her head because she knows what he is really like at home.

Yet a Christian wife is called to respect her husband.  Not just when he is loving and Christlike, but all the time.  Men crave respect.  If you doubt this then try this experiment – tell your husband that you love him, and see what the reaction is.  The next day, in a similar context, tell him that you respect him, and see what the reaction is that time.  Men need respect from their wives more than they need love.

Now I don’t know about you, but for me there is plenty of times that Catherine has seen things in me that she could disrespect if she wanted to.  There has been no lack of selfishness and failure that she could point to if she wanted to keep a record of my shortcomings.  But she gets this, so she does her best to show unconditional respect, even when it is really hard to do it.  Thank you sweetheart!!

As for the male readers of this post, your challenge is quite simple – you are to show unconditional love to your wife, despite the fact that you may or may not receive unconditional respect from her.  People are sinful, men and women.  For all married people, God calls you to show grace and forgiveness when you are wronged.  If your spouse has failings, welcome to the club.  I’m sure your spouse is a member too.  All of us are called to show grace, mercy and forgiveness.  That is unconditional.

Unconditional love, unconditional respect.  These are the basis for Christian marriage.

John

2 Comments to “One Husband’s need for Unconditional Respect”

  1. The problem is in the words. Submit does not mean obey. It comes a lot closer to what you have described in your post – giving the daft guy support and respect privately and publicly even when you have to grind your teeth to do it! It’s easy to get that if you remember that husbands must love their wives as Christ loved the Church – even to death. A husband that belittles a wife to buddies has fallen into hate (let’s not mince words here). So I agree, a Biblical marriage is hard because the wife has to help the guy even when he thinks he doesn’t need it, and the husband has to love so much that he’ll do whatever it takes to show it to her – and the world. Coming up on 36 years of marriage to the same wife (and the only one!) gives me only this to say: Margaret and I survived by the grace of God and a commitment to the belief that marriage is lifelong, not convenient.
    Keep believing the Bible is for the practice of faith, not theological debate. I appreciate that about you.
    Peace

  2. Here is a comment Luke Grant put on facebook…

    “No one deserves unconditional respect. Respect must be earned and once earned it must be kept by continuing to do things worthy of that respect. Should a husband (myself included) wish to be respected by his wife he should not “expect” it. To expect anything for nothing is selfish.”

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