Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Christ-Centered Marriage: Biblical Marriage (Part 6)

We have considered what the Bible says about marriage in my previous posts. In today’s world, one doesn’t need to look far to see the need for healthy marriages and families. Regarding this important issue of having a biblical marriage, there are three key principles to keep in mind:
  1. Marriage is designed by God rather than by western culture;
  2. Christ is to be the center of your marriage;
  3. Partner together as a team in your marriage.
Designed by God
Marriage was and is God’s creation and we need to recognize Him as the marriage expert rather than looking to our culture’s perspectives. Human behavior is consistent regardless of the age or culture in which we live. The same destructive patterns of behavior operate today with destructive force just as in the days of Adam and Eve. Ancient peoples had the same tendencies of wrongdoing and the same inner desires and needs that we have. Since mankind has not essentially changed, biblical instructions are just as relevant today in our culture as when they were first given. God’s design for a man and a woman to become “one flesh” as found in Genesis 2 remains intact today. "It is God's intention that in every marriage the couple love each other with an absorbing, spiritual, emotional, and physical attraction that continues to grow throughout their lifetime together" (Ed Wheat in Love Life for Every Married Couple).

Christ as the Center
A Christ-centered marriage calls us away from selfishness and thinking mostly about our own needs. Our model for marriage is to love our wives as Christ loved the Church in a self-sacrificing way and to respect and follow the leadership of our husbands as the Church does Jesus. Jesus desires marriage to last and fulfill God’s purpose through this union. He said that what God has joined together, no man should separate (Matt. 19:6).

Together With Grace
Marriage was designed to bring happiness, not misery. All marriages have struggles. We need to join together to face the issues rather than face off against one another. Stop fighting each other. Let go of the hurt. Train yourself to love and forgive.

When a barrier develops in your marriage, actively take it down.
  1. Forgive. Wipe the slate clean and begin again.
  2. Change your behavior. Don't look to your spouse to do it first.
  3. Renew your mind through God's word. Allow Him to replace the negatives with good attitudes that will bless.
Marriage is a spiritual union by which a couple creates a life together sharing deep and meaningful goals. We need to set an atmosphere where we are open and non-judgmental so we can talk candidly and securely about how each person feels and why. When a couple shares meaning, calling and purpose, conflict is less intense and perpetual problems are not the determining factor in the quality of the marital relationship. The more a couple can share values, dreams and purpose together, the richer, easier, more fulfilling, and more meaningful your marriage will be.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Respecting Your Husband: Biblical Marriage (Part 5)

When discussing a biblical view on marriage, we need to consider what scripture says to wives.

“Let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
“Even if any of them [husbands] are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your… respectful behavior.” (1 Peter 3:1-2)

Wives need to know about a husband’s need for respect. Today, more than ever, we need to think biblically and not just culturally. Emerson Eggerich talks of this in his “Love and Respect” seminar and materials…

“In this culture, a love-dominated society, a woman tends to talk far more about her need for love than her husband talks about his need for respect. Biblically there are two sides to the marital coin: love AND respect…. Only the husband is commanded to agape-love his wife (Eph. 5:25,28,33). Both Peter and Paul reveal that the secret for a wife is to show unconditional respect (1 Peter 3:1-2; Ephesians 5:33). Unconditional respect is as powerful to a husband as unconditional love is to a wife. This truth needs to be put back on the marital radar screen.”

There are many ways a wife can tear down their home by not relating with her husband in a respectful manner:
  • Resist his physical affection
  • Refuse to do fun things with him
  • Take the leadership role
  • Stop attempting to be attractive for him
  • Neglect your home
  • Ridicule him
  • Remind him of past mistakes
  • Don’t understand his desire to apply himself to his career (He needs to conquer out there!)
  • Complain often (Criticism causes a person to become defensive, withdrawn and insecure.)

But what if a husband doesn’t “deserve” respect? Recall that God called the prophet Hosea to unconditionally love his undeserving, adulterous wife. Peter instructed wives to win over their disobedient husband through their respectful behavior (1 Pet. 3:1-2). Eggerich explains this more…

“A disobedient husband is not respectable and DOES NOT DESERVE respect. But such a husband, like all husbands, needs respect that only his wife can give. However, the culture teaches that respect must be earned whereas love is to be unconditional. Further, the culture has given a wife license to express, ‘I love him but don’t respect him.’ However, this is equal to a husband saying, ‘I respect her but do not love her.’”

Expressing the biblical marital value of unconditional love and unconditional respect will certainly strengthen a marriage. For a woman, this can begin by understanding God’s call to respect her husband. The husband needs to know that you trust his leadership.

How is this respect to be expressed? A simple first step is for the wife to ask her husband. A few suggestions might also include:
  • Be loyal to his leadership
  • Dress for him
  • Play with him
  • Express desire for him
  • Prayer to God on his behalf and with thanksgiving
  • Express admiration
Both wives and husbands need to realize that praise isn't praise until it's spoken. Affection isn't affection until it's shown. Express sincere words of praise and appreciation for these awaken tender feelings and a romantic love. It also promotes self-confidence, security and an atmosphere of safety where you can be more vulnerable with each other.

May you be encouraged to find some way every day to communicate genuine affection and appreciation toward your spouse.