This weekend my wife and I attended a marriage conference sponsored in part by our friends at Exodus Church in Belmont NC. We don’t go to church with those folks but we often listen in on sermons and have, on many occasions, worked in the community with people who worship there. They’re awesome people who serve God with enthusiasm so you’d have a hard time not liking them… or, at least, I do.

The conference promised to “
bring biblical insight and encouragement to you and your marriage” which it did in a stellar way. The conference is heavy on Q&A and I heard a few folks ask for practical recommendations but didn’t really hear any offered.

The problem, I think, was that Pastor Ortlund and his wife were trying to teach something hard and many folks were looking for a “quick win”. They were looking for “send flowers to your wife two days before her birthday” and got something much more scriptural. The scriptural answer that the conference provided was the correct one and one that leads to practical application if you actually hear the message.

The core of the conference was around just a few verses from Ephesians chapter 5:
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she respect her husband.

I won’t deal with the biblical meaning of submission in marriage. If you want to hear an awesome discussion of what that means in the biblical sense (hint: it ain’t what you expect) and how to apply it then I highly recommend listening to Brian Lowe’s sermon “
Modern Family – Modern Wives”. He addresses the topic in a gentle, clear way. You can listen to the entire “Modern Family” series (Feb 5 2012 through March 3 2012) on the Exodus Media Page which, again, I highly recommend. The session on Sexuality is particularly… umm… inspiring.

With all of that said… practical tips… Many practical ideas for staying happily married can be found in our “
Letters to Friends” post but here’s the key takeaway that I got from the conference this weekend. It is that Ephesians Chapter 5, verse 33 is written backwards:

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she respect her husband.”

What does that mean in a “practical” sense? It means that in order to infuse romance into your marriage
you need to be capable of receiving romance. Or, to be more direct, in this verse men are commanded to love their wives and wives are commanded to respect their husbands. The reason that this verse is applied backwards from the way it is written is this. In order for romance to exist women must be capable of being loved by their husbands and men must be capable of being respected by their wives.

In the following paragraphs I’m going to make this about men but the same thing applies in a big way for women. In short, if you show respect for your mans leadership you are much easier for him to love.  My wife respects me.  She is open and loud about it.  That makes it easy for me to love her which is abundantly clear in my other posts about her.  That’s not all that goes into it of course… there are two whole lives built on this framework but it is the core of who we are.  There is, to a large degree, mutual love and respect.  It’s just that at the core of it all we value things differently.

To repeat,
and the wife see that she respect her husband
means that as the husband, the man, you have to earn her respect.  You have to give her the opportunity and reason to obey this command.

That means that you should live life inside the four walls of your house in exactly the same way that you (in most cases) profess to live outside them. If you wouldn’t lie to your brothers in the fellowship hall at church you shouldn’t dare to let her see you lie in your home. Ever. This means that you can’t call in sick when you’re not. It means that you can’t lie to the insurance adjuster to get a few more bucks out of him. It means that if you profess a belief in any part of your life you’d better be living that belief in every other part of your life. It means that if you say that you like helping those in need then you need get off of your ass and pick up a hammer. It means that if you go into the world telling people how awesome your wife is that you’d better be telling her the EXACT same thing at home. It means that when you stand up for yourself she respects what you have to say because she knows that you are intentional in everything that you do. It means that, as my Grandfather was fond of saying, you should “be right or be quiet”.  This is what God commands of her and, as her spiritual leader, of you.

But, again, how is this practical? The answer is simple, really… it’s not.

Practical romance; practical marriage, comes from and is driven by following God’s commands. That means that in a truly correct married relationship there’s no need to be told when you need to send flowers because you don’t need to send flowers. You will, of course, but you’ll do it because you want to show her your love and not because you have to do it to keep her from getting angry. You won’t have a choice about whether to buy her chocolates on February 14th; you’ll just do it. You won’t have to be reminded to buy her a present every Easter because you “can’t not” buy them. That’s practical romance.

Give her something to respect and she will respect you. Give her good advice and guidance and she will follow your leadership. When those things happen, love happens. A lot of love happens…. so much that it spills over onto those around you.  Not because she’s following your lead but because she has pride in your leadership.

If you wake up of a morning and realize that you’re not sure that you love your wife anymore it might indeed be the case that you don’t. That happens sometimes and buying her more roses will do exactly nothing to correct it. What will correct it, however, is looking at yourself and understanding why she doesn’t respect you the way she should. Does she see you lie? Does she see you steal? Does she see you break any of the other 8 commandments? Are you giving her enough to respect? For that matter, are you giving her
anything at all to respect?  Try living up to the commitment that you made to God and to her on the day that you got married and see if, maybe, that helps your love for her.

Practically Married

2 thoughts on “Practically Married

  • March 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Well written explanation. Amen!

    • March 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you. I really want to write the other half of this but the submission piece is really hard.


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