Skip to main content

Wives, 'Respect' Your Husbands.

 From time to time we hear of the responsibilities outlined in Ephesians 5 verses 22 - 33 concerning husbands and wives respectively. Often the language gets reduced to a catch phrase like, "women want to be loved and men need respect." It is as if this phrase defines all women and all men for all time. It is as if this phrase sums up all that is required by all women and all men. It is assumed that for men, love is not an issue, all that they require to be completed as men is respect. Equally, for women it is suggested that love, of the emotional, 'touchy feely' variety is all that women crave. While this may be true for some men and women it does not hold that it is true for all, as many writers would have us believe. Indeed most writers who claim such are of the opinion that men and women are designed this way and that all we need to  do is accept this and act out the roles to which we have been assigned by virtue of our gender. To reduce this profound passage to such popular psychology is to do it a terrible injustice.

Paul's instruction to wives here is not unusual at all in that women of that era would have been expected to be in a submissive position to their husbands as the patriarch and provider of the family. It would have been very rare indeed that a woman would have been in a professional position where she could contribute to the family income. There is a sense though in which liberated Christian women may have been tempted to overturn this established family structure to their detriment in that culture. Paul therefore encourages them to honor the culture and honor their husband's privileged role within that culture. The real rub comes in Paul's instruction to the men. They are to 'love' their wives, to the point of personal sacrifice. This was an unheard-of demand within that cultural setting. This is nothing short of radical, even revolutionary, in the thinking of the time.


Such nurturing, sacrificial love, as demanded of husbands here, would have been unheard of in that cultural setting where women were often treated as a mere possession and the bearer of heirs. Paul's instruction to the Christian husbands of Ephesus is  above and beyond anything they will have encountered prior to their being followers of Jesus. The sense of 'oneness' encouraged in verse 31 is equally profound given the expectations within the host culture. These requirements speak to me of a love expressed in terms of such gentleness and softness that would have been  entirely foreign to  the men to whom it is being addressed. It may have even aroused within these husbands the thought that they were being emasculated by such demands. It may even have shocked the Christian wives that such a radical approach to affirmations of her worth were demanded of her husband.


For me, such an insight into the radical nature of this Christian expectation of the husband/wife relationship as portrayed in this passage gives new meaning to Paul's closing statement in verse 33. "However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." The last part of that verse, the part directed to the wives, is what captures my complete attention, "... and the wife must respect her husband." In that culture this command to wives seems like a given in that wives will have been expected to respect their husband's unassailable position, authority and privilege within Ephesian society. But what if these men do as Paul suggests and love their wives in the radical way that Paul has proposed? Will it not be noticed and will not the other men of those times ridicule the softness and consideration that Christian men are showing toward their wives? Will other men accuse these Christian husbands of abandoning their masculinity? Further, is there a hint here that some of the Christian women may feel that their husbands have become less than real, testosterone filled, stereotypical men? Perhaps, just perhaps Paul's encouragement to the wives here is to 'respect' their husbands who are transitioning into the kind of men that are true followers of Jesus and who display the fruit of the Spirit.  


Is there a possibility that this could also speak to us in our own cultural setting where there is an expectation of men to fulfill a prescribed masculine role rather than pursue a godly character as defined in Scripture? Is there a possibility that within our own cultural setting some Christian women may feel that sensitive, emotional, communicative men are not real men and therefore do not deserve to be  respected?

For me these are the real issues behind this passage of Scripture and not the trite, 'women want love and men need respect' versions that I alluded to at the beginning of this post. What do you think?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Disappointment - AW Tozer

I was really excited when I got hold of one of the latest AW Tozer books that was compiled by James L. Snyder, "The Crucified Life". When I began pastoring some 40 years ago I had everything that Tozer had written and they were incredibly formative in my approach to ministry. So to come across fresh material of Tozer's reignited the passion and got me looking at some of the other classics, like "The Pursuit of God" and "Knowledge of the Holy." Not content with that I started hunting around for anything Tozer on the internet and discovered that there is a biography out written by Lyle Dorsett, titled, "A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer." Then I read some reviews, of which there were many, but I was struck by the recurring theme that Tozer was a loner who was not even close to his wife and 7 children. This spiritual giant of a man was as alone in his death as he was in life. One of his colleagues noted that one of the last…

50th ANNIVERSARY - Trevor's Story

On the occasion of our 50th wedding anniversary we both had the thought of writing a post about our journey from our own perspective. Liz has covered a good deal of that in her post and I had written a post too but before mine could be published the computer somehow confused the two and mine disappeared? Have had several goes at finding it but it looks as though I am going to have to revisit my thoughts and write the whole post again.

I think that the key thing to the longevity of our relationship has been its genesis. We had both decided before God that we would not enter into a relationship, on a dating basis, unless we were sure that God was in it, or had orchestrated it. For Liz this came about when she was in her mid teens, so she busied herself in work and church life waiting for God to bring someone of his choosing along. For me it was a little different. I was in the Royal Australian Navy and for a time was a typical sailor with a girl in every Port. My Christian life and convi…

NO MORE POSTS ...

We are sorry to have to say that we are not going to post any more blogs on this site. The last post has been deleted because we couldn't alter the text size and colour, no matter how often we edited it?

We understand that it is virtually impossible to remove a blogsite from blogger so the site will be dormant. Sorry if you have visited and found it disappointing. We may blog again at a future time.