We were on our honeymoon when we fell into what Dr. Emerson Eggerichs calls the “Crazy Cycle” between a husband and wife. Jeff had worked hard to save, so we could indulge in special treats, but I was worried about spending what I thought might be our last two nickels. Before we knew it, he felt disrespected by his young bride, and I felt unloved by my tarnished Prince Charming. In Love and Respect Dr. Eggerichs says, “Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love.”
Perhaps our very nature prompts God to narrow down the key to sweet marriage with a single focus for each in 3 verses to wives and 9 verses to husbands. Husbands are to love their wives. Wives are to respect their husbands.
The “marriage chunk” (5:22-33) follows the segment Teri Lynne walked us through about how to put on love and the challenge in verse 21 to submit to each other “out of reverence for Christ.” Without the modern triple space before verse 22, it’s natural to apply submission to the way couples care for each other.
Instead of a power issue, submission is an expression of love for Christ, a willing yielding of ourselves into the “oneness” of marriage. Wives willingly place themselves under their husband’s headship, and husbands respond with loving care. Is it humanly possible?
The divine relationship of Christ and His bride is the pattern and standard for the give and take:
“the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body … as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (vv. 23-24)
The submission a wife offers her husband flows from her heart as a result of following Jesus. She accepts God’s ordained order, since the word for “head” indicates an authority structure. Some have misunderstood this as a reflection on a woman’s value or voice, but it is, instead, a beautiful offering of her willingness to step under her husband’s umbrella of leadership. This yielding is not to every man or any man, but to HER man. Yielding is part of a loving cycle.
In the love cycle, God calls a husband to love sacrificially, desiring his wife’s best, guarding her purity, and putting her needs above his own. God calls men to love with “agape” love that doesn’t hinge on the behavior or response of the one loved. Unconditional loving leadership is part of a loving cycle.
As God paints a picture of oneness, He includes a vital detail. Because of the goal of loving and respecting, it requires that a husband leave the headship of his parents’ home and, instead, stick to his wife like glue (v.31). Nothing comes between them, even their families of origin. You can’t “cleave” unless you “leave.” This gives a husband freedom to lead as the authority of his home, while it gives the wife the space to be loved foremost by her husband and to respect her man as her head. A husband and wife have to step away from their homes to make one of their own together.
If the image of each putting the other above themselves seems like a lofty goal, it is. In fact this is loving “just as Christ does the church” (v. 29). Knowing about God’s power
“at work within us” (v.20) to help us walk worthy or our calling, even when it comes to wives loving and husbands respecting, we have confidence that we have what we need to walk in love.
Wives are longing to be loved. Husbands are yearning to be respected. We have the potential to give our beloved what they need most and what our marriage waits for in order to burst into fullness of life. Just as the mystery of how Christ loves the church “is profound,” so is the mystery of yielding married selves to honor our Jesus with love and respect for each other.
Have there been times when you allowed your circumstances to stunt the respect you show?
How do you see your spouse respond with love when you give