Tuesday, 02 September 2014 18:24

What Are Godís Instructions for Marriage?

Written by  Nancy W. Thomas, M.A., N.C.C., C.C.M.H.C., L.P.C.
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Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is known for his work with helping couples find happiness in marriage through Paul’s simple instructions. He shares how frustrated he had become counseling couples until he was struck by two words found in Ephesians 5: love and respect.  Suddenly, the words in this familiar Bible verse transformed his marriage counseling ministry.  Since then, he has found that by embracing these Biblical instructions, marriages are changed from chaotic to calm or from feeling shaky to stable.  What exactly does Ephesians 5:33 say?   “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  Is it really that simple?


Christ wants us to relate with unconditional love and respect.  However, in Eggerichs’ research, he found that during times of conflict in marriage, 83% of men said that they feel disrespected and 72% of women feel unloved. Eggerichs states, “Unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her.” 


Is your behavior respectable and lovable?  Are you sacrificial in your marriage?  Although your spouse may be difficult, we are responsible for our reactions toward them. Even though we may be hurt, disappointed, angry, or frustrated, we always have a choice to respond honorably with love and respect rather than toxic contempt.


Paul’s instructions for Christian households in Ephesians 5 explain that spouses should have a conciliatory attitude toward their beloved in Christian marriages.  Mutual submission is reciprocal, associated with the filling of the Spirit, and part of Christian love. 


Ephesians 5: 21-25, 28, 33:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself…. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (NIV)



Much like Christ’s sacrificial love for the Church, husbands are called to devote themselves to the welfare of their wives, even above their own.  The act of total sacrifice by husbands for their beloved is an extreme and courageous expression of devotion and actually more than wives are called upon to make.  Sacrificial love and respect are the lifeblood of marriage.  Women are called to respect their husbands as they respect Christ, but when they are sacrificially and unconditionally loved as Christ loved the Church, they honor and respect their husbands more readily. 


In the Ephesians translation in The Message, Paul calls us to be “courteously reverent to one another.”  Paul asks wives to “understand and support your husbands” and for husbands to provide leadership “not by domineering but by cherishing” in “a love marked by giving, not getting.”


Paul wrote about the expectations of Christians in Colossians Chapter 3 and instructs husbands and wives immediately after discussing Christian behavior as a whole.  The NIV translation instructs husbands to “love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”


Peter writes in 1 Peter 3, that married Christians should be considerate, respecting and honoring one another and treating each other as equals.  In reference to the term “lack some of your advantages,” Peter is most likely referring to women as having less physical strength rather than lacking strength of character, moral stamina or mental capacity as sometimes misinterpreted.  Salvation is offered equally to women. Other translations use the term “weaker partner” or the “weaker sex.” Peter commands Christians, without exception, to be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble without retaliation or sarcasm.  Married spouses should do no less.



1 Peter 3:7-12: 7 The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground. 8-12 Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. (MSG)



Therefore, honoring Christ by sacrificially loving and respecting one another will enrich your marriage, your spouse will be blessed and you in turn will be blessed.  In the marriages where I have seen these Biblical principles practiced, marriages and families have been restored and sustained.  Perhaps praying for the ability to sacrificially love and respect your spouse would enrich your marriage.




Last modified on Sunday, 14 September 2014 18:27
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