By Emmanuel Abimbola, Crosswalk.com
The foundation of marriage is built upon the principles of love and respect, as depicted in Ephesians 5:33: "Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and let the wife see that she reverences her husband."
In its purest form, genuine love mirrors Christ's love for the Church. It's sacrificial, unconditional, and selfless. Husbands are called to love their wives in this manner, cherishing and caring for them just as Christ cares for His Church. It means putting the needs and desires of your spouse above your own, supporting and nurturing their spiritual and emotional growth.
Respect, on the other hand, is a deep appreciation for the role and authority that God has placed within the husband. It's recognizing the leadership and decision-making responsibilities bestowed upon him. This respect isn't blind obedience but rather an acknowledgment of his position as the head of the household, akin to how we respect God's authority in our lives.
The intertwining of love and respect in marriage is essential. When a husband loves his wife with the same love Christ has for the Church, he fosters an environment of trust and security. The wife, in return, responds with respect, which further strengthens the marital bond. It creates a harmonious cycle where love begets respect, and respect reinforces love.
Genuine Mutual Love: The Cornerstone of a Godly Marriage
Love is undeniably the cornerstone of a godly marriage, and at its core lies the concept of agape love. This selfless, unconditional love is profoundly inspired by God's example, as beautifully depicted in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is patient; love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres."
For a marriage to flourish, both parties must have a genuine love for one another, and this love must be mutual, not one-sided. In this sense, love must be patient. It is the kind of love that perseveres through trials and tribulations, enduring the storms of life with unwavering faith.
In a marriage, patience means not giving up on your spouse, even when faced with challenges or disagreements. It's about understanding that growth and change take time, and genuine love remains steadfast through it all.
Genuine love is also kind. It makes you gentle and compassionate toward your spouse, always seeking their well-being. It goes beyond mere politeness; it's about actively showing kindness and consideration in both words and actions. Kindness in marriage fosters an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance where spouses feel valued and cherished.
Also, true love does not envy or boast, and it is not proud. It promotes humility and contentment within the marriage. Instead of comparing your relationship to others or seeking recognition, true love encourages couples to find joy and fulfillment in the unique bond they share. It's about appreciating what you have without arrogance or jealousy.
Crucially, genuine love is not self-seeking. It's a love that prioritizes the needs and desires of your spouse over your own. It's about selflessness and putting their well-being above all else. In a godly marriage, this type of love leads to sacrificial acts of service, where each partner strives to make life better for the other.
Genuine love keeps no record of wrongs. It’s about forgiving and letting go of past mistakes and grievances. This is essential for fostering a climate of forgiveness and reconciliation in marriages. It's about moving forward together, unburdened by the weight of past transgressions.
True love rejoices with the truth and always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. This is a kind of love that seeks honesty and transparency in communication, builds trust through reliability, remains hopeful in the face of challenges, and endures through the highs and lows of life.
Respect: Honoring the Divine Design
Respect is not merely a passive acknowledgment but an active appreciation and esteem for your spouse's God-given role and authority within the marriage.
For husbands, they must love their wives unconditionally, which means showing sacrificial love, care, and support. However, it also implies recognizing and valuing the unique qualities and contributions of your wives. Husbands are also called to honor their wives by acknowledging their worth, appreciating their strengths, and actively involving them in decisions that affect the family.
And for wives, they are required to "reverence" their husbands. This reverence is not about blind obedience but rather recognizing and respecting the leadership and responsibilities that God has placed upon husbands within the family. It's about valuing the husband's wisdom, guidance, and provision. This respect also involves uplifting their husbands with words of encouragement and affirmation.
In a practical sense, respect in marriage means listening attentively to your spouse's thoughts and opinions, even when you may have different viewpoints. It involves speaking to each other with kindness and consideration and avoiding hurtful or demeaning words. Respect also entails supporting and uplifting your spouse, both privately and publicly, rather than criticizing or undermining their efforts.
Furthermore, respect involves recognizing the importance of teamwork within the marriage. It's about working together, sharing responsibilities, and making decisions collaboratively while still honoring the roles and strengths that each spouse brings to the relationship. It's acknowledging that you are life partners, each with a unique contribution to make.
Respect in marriage is not a one-time gesture but an ongoing commitment. It's a daily practice of valuing and cherishing your spouse, even in the midst of challenges or disagreements. It's a reflection of the biblical principle found in Philippians 2:3, which says, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves." This mutual esteem and respect build the foundation of a strong and Christ-centered marriage.
The concept of mutual submission in marriage is a profound and often misunderstood aspect of relationships. It's important to clarify that mutual submission does not imply a one-sided or oppressive dynamic but a joint effort based on mutual respect and a desire to honor God in the marriage.
The foundation of mutual submission can be found in Ephesians 5:21, which states, "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." This verse sets the tone for the subsequent verses about the roles of husbands and wives in marriage. It emphasizes that both spouses are called to submit to one another out of reverence for God.
In practical terms, mutual submission means that both husband and wife willingly yield to each other's needs, desires, and viewpoints. It involves a balance between leadership and partnership in decision-making, recognizing the strengths and perspectives each spouse brings to the marriage.
Leadership within the context of mutual submission does not equate to domination or control. Instead, it means taking responsibility for the well-being of the family and providing guidance and direction, as Christ provides for the Church. Husbands are called to lead with humility, servant-heartedness, and a deep concern for their wives' spiritual and emotional growth.
Partnership, on the other hand, is about working collaboratively to make decisions that affect the family. It involves open and respectful communication, where both spouses actively listen to each other's viewpoints and seek consensus whenever possible. It also means recognizing and valuing each other's strengths and expertise in different areas.
One of the keys to successfully balancing leadership and partnership is communication. Spouses should openly discuss their expectations, desires, and concerns. This ensures that both husband and wife have a clear understanding of each other's needs and can work together effectively.
Mutual submission also means considering each other's well-being in decision-making. It involves asking questions like, "How will this decision affect my spouse?" and "Is this in the best interest of our family as a whole?" This mindset of mutual concern and care helps guide decision-making in a way that honors both individuals and the marriage itself.
Furthermore, it's important to remember that mutual submission is not a zero-sum game where one spouse's submission diminishes the other's authority. Instead, it's a model of mutual respect and love where both spouses willingly place each other's needs and interests above their own.
Synergy: Love and Respect in Harmony
The virtuous cycle of love and respect is a powerful dynamic within a Christ-centered marriage. It's a positive feedback loop where each partner's love inspires respect, and in turn, that respect fuels even greater love. Let's delve into how this cycle works.
In a Christian marriage, love is not just a feeling; it's a choice and an action. When one partner demonstrates love by showing care, understanding, and selflessness, it often triggers a response of respect from the other spouse. This respect is a recognition of the sacrificial love being shown and a genuine appreciation for the efforts being made to nurture the relationship.
For instance, when a husband consistently demonstrates love by actively listening to his wife's concerns, supporting her dreams, and valuing her opinions, she is more likely to respond with respect. She recognizes his commitment to her well-being and leadership within the marriage.
On the flip side, when a wife shows respect by acknowledging her husband's wisdom, supporting his decisions, and affirming his efforts, he feels honored and loved. This, in turn, motivates him to continue to love her sacrificially, creating a positive feedback loop.
The virtuous cycle of love and respect strengthens the emotional connection between spouses. It deepens the bond and creates an atmosphere of security and trust within the marriage. Both partners feel valued, cherished, and understood, which fosters a sense of unity and harmony.
In every moment, small or significant, let your love and respect shine as a beacon of God's love in your marriage. By doing so, you will not only achieve a successful and fulfilling marriage but also serve as a testament to the transformative power of love and respect in the journey of faith and love.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ Prostock-Studio
Emmanuel Abimbola is a creative freelance writer, blogger, and web designer. He is a devout Christian with an uncompromising faith who hails from Ondo State in Nigeria, West Africa. As a lover of kids, Emmanuel runs a small elementary school in Arigidi, Nigeria.
LISTEN: Overcoming Fear in Marriage
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.