(I dedicate this post to my husband who inspires my love)
Since it is still the month of Valentine’s Day, I am going to continue writing about the subject of love. Maybe some of my readers are thinking “enough already” but I don’t think that we can ever over – do the topic of love. In fact, I think that it is one topic that is seriously “under-done”. Oh – there’s an abundance of stuff out there about physical love and even emotional love, but we’re not taught a lot about what it means to share “true love” as God means it.
I have already written about my “Cinderella syndrome” which led to unwise choices and a difficult and unfulfilling marriage. I found that my difficulties were compounded by the fact that I was a Christian. As I am a “Type A” personality (psycho speak for uptight perfectionist people pleaser) I wanted to make sure that I was the best Christian wife that I could be. To that end, I tried VERY hard to live by that particular scripture, which I am sure has been quoted to every wife (Christian or not) since time began – you know, the one that says:
Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
I confess that I had almost as much difficulty with this command as I did with all the other ones combined! You must understand that I came from a home where my father seemed to want my mother to look after everything while he pursued his own interests. And when I was a young teen, my father left us, which left my mother as sole provider as well as sole parent and homemaker. My mother, not wanting her daughters to be helplessly dependent upon often undependable husbands, wanted instead, that we become strong, independent people in our own right. (Oh how I wished I had followed her advice)
So there I was, a young woman in a new age being told, by the church, to “submit” to my husband. This was not made any easier by the fact that many of the articles that I was reading on the subject, often showed women in dresses, wearing heels and pearls while vacuuming and cooking!! A June Cleaver I am not! In fact, I was more comfortable in jeans and work boots clomping through the bush than I was being a Susie Homemaker. But like all good Type A’s, I took the proverbial “bull by the horns” and worked hard at “submitting” to my husband. (By the way, I have learned that submitting with your teeth and fists clenched, stomach in knots and head pounding is not really submitting – it is being passive- aggressive which is more psycho speak for frustrated, angry wimp)
After 26 years of trying my best to be a “good” and “submissive” Christian wife (and I did have my failings) all I ended up with was a failed marriage, heart break, frustration, serious health problems and an almost complete loss of who I was as the unique person that God created me to be.
Unfortunately, the church has greatly missed the mark as far as teaching married couples what it truly means to be husband and wife. Oh yes, the church is very good at preaching “wives submit to your husband”. In fact, that is all I knew about the subject of marriage (other than don’t commit adultery) in regards to being a Christian wife. Historically, the church has handed husbands and wives a one-sided coin when it comes to marriage. It is a coin that has been tossed into wives’ faces for so long that we don’t realize that there is another side to that coin!
Allow me to show you the “two sides of the same coin” of marriage as God would have us see it, know it, believe it and live it.
The first side is the one we are most familiar with (or at least aspects of it):
Eph 5:22 Wives, be under the authority of your husbands, as of the Lord.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body.
Eph 5:24 And as the church is under Christ’s authority, so let wives be under the rule of their husbands in all things.(BBE)
That side of the coin is obviously meant just for wives. Or is it? Here is a coin within a coin: Notice how vs. 23 states that the husband is supposed to be the head of the wife (and the family and household). Guys – God is telling you that you are NOT to shirk your responsibility – you are to be the head of the house! Big BUT – that does not mean you are supposed to be an autocratic, tyrannical, macho dictator! The other side of that “coin within a coin” is that husbands are supposed to be “head honchos” of their earthly family in the same way that Christ is the “head honcho” of the church family. Husbands are to conduct themselves as Christ does, and to govern their families with the same love that Christ has for us.
How convenient it has been for men in the church to keep the women ignorant of the fact that there is another side to that coin! But I am now going to flip that coin over and show you the other side:
Eph 5:25 Husbands, have love for your wives, even as Christ had love for the church, and gave himself for it;
I can just hear husbands saying, “but I do have love for my wife”. Ah – but here’s the catch – husbands are not told to simply love their wives, husbands are commanded (not suggested) to love their wives in a very special way -” even as Christ had love for the church, and gave himself for it;”
How much did Christ love the church (church being all who have accepted him as their personal saviour)? Jesus Christ loved the church (us) so much, that he, who was sinless, was willing to pay the horrible price for our sins. He loved us so much that he was willing to take the shame, the humiliation, the scorn, the beatings, the torture and the death that was to be our punishment. Christ held nothing back for himself, but rather, he gave his all for those he loved.
WOW! What kind of freaky love is that?? It is the kind of love that is completely selfless ( not selfish). It is the kind of love that is more concerned about the other person’s wants and needs than of it’s own. It is the kind of love that is willing to do whatever is necessary to guarantee another person’s well-being. It is the kind of love that is willing to sacrifice itself for another. It is the kind of love that does not change, regardless of circumstances. It is a love that never fails.
That is the kind of love that a husband is supposed to have towards his wife. In fact, I would dare to say that it is, or should be, the first side of the coin rather than the flip side. A husband who walks in the love described above makes it very easy for a wife to be willingly submissive to him because she knows that he truly loves her and she can trust him to take care of her, do what is best for her, and make the best decisions for her, their marriage and their family.
A coin with only one side is not a coin at all. Just as a marriage with only one side and/or one partner doing their part is not a marriage. When two separate sides come together equally, you get one solid unit bonded together to make a whole. That is what a loving marriage is:
Eph_5:31 “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh.”
BTW: I have now been blessed with a wonderful husband who does his very best to love me in the same incredibly selfless way that Christ loved (loves) the church. I know and trust that my hubby is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that I am happy, healthy and feeling loved. And this has given me the freedom and peace that I need in order to be willingly submissive to him. (although he may argue that last point! lol)
Mat_19:6 Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.