Monday, September 24, 2012

I'll Obey If He Obeys

This is the what I believed through most years of my marriage.  "If he loved me like he is commanded by God to love me, like Christ loved the church, then I would submit and obey him."  I often hear women tell me that their husbands are not worthy of respect.  These thoughts are what trips women up and causes much harm in marriage.

The following is from Elizabeth Elliot in her book
Discipline ~ The Glad Surrender

The submissiveness of a wife to her husband is the appropriate form of honor that she pays him.  She offers it just as she would offer it to Christ.  In respecting her husband, she respects Christ - that is, she respects who he is in Christ. 

It is frequently argued that she owes him nothing if he is not fulfilling the special command issued to husbands:  love your wives.  This attitude produces a permanent stand-off.  As long as she refuses to submit on the ground that he does not earn her respect, the husband, by the same logic, may refuse her his love, since she does not submit and therefore does not deserve it. 

Each has been given a particular command and a particular strength with which to meet the other more than halfway. In the case of the wife, her strength is what Peter calls an "...imperishable ornament, a gentle, quite spirit..."  There is no calculating the power of such submission. 

It is even possible that an unbelieving husband will be won over without a word said when he sees the "chaste and reverent behavior" of his wife. 

Is it possible to pay honor, like toll or taxes, to a cruel, abusive, unbelieving man?  {I would never recommend a woman staying with a physically abusive husband.}  If  everything in her recoils from her husband's injustice or hatred?  If she fears suffering or other frightening consequences? 

The grace of God has proved through the centuries to be sufficient for countless 'impossible' human circumstances.  She may, through that grace, pay honor and respect to him as to the Lord, certain as although it is unmerited by and apparently lost on her husband, it is not lost on Christ. 

And Christ may draw the husband to faith because of her reverent behavior.  Faith, not fear, should govern her.  Try God!  I would say. 

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands
so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word,
they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
I Peter 3:1,2