Confession: You’ve probably heard the phrase over and over again much like I have–husbands should LOVE their wives but wives should RESPECT their husbands. That phrase often frustrated me because why can’t I have both?! Or, why is it always mentioned in that way….
Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. (Colossians 3:19)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for her; (Ephesians 5:25)
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18)
But as the church is subject to Christ, thus also wives should be subject to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:24)
Could it be possible that our understanding of the words “respect” and “love” are what is at the heart of the problem? Could it be that we, in our current society of feminism and individualism, have come to confuse the original definitions of these two words? Or, that we misunderstood the original intent of these verses? Take a look at these definitions from Dictionary.Com and maybe you will begin to see what I mean…
Respect: esteem for or a sense of worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.
Love: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
In light of those definitions, ask yourself the following questions:
- If your husband could only display one of these actions to you which would you want him to choose?
- Which of these two actions do you find the hardest to display in your own life?
- Which of these two actions do you think is hardest for your husband to display in his life?
See, I don’t think it’s really about having one or the other at all. I think it’s because God knew us so well that He knew where we needed to be encouraged the most. For example, as a rule, most women are much more tender-hearted and passionate than their counterparts. And men usually find it much easier to give another respect for their accomplishments or abilities than to display their tender side.
So see, God knew where we needed the encouragement. He knew men would have a hard time loving their wives. Respect them? Sure. That goes with the territory, but love them with a passion and tender affection? That’s much more of a challenge.
And women? What would be our biggest challenge? Offering respect. Yes, God even knew that would be a challenge from the Garden of Eden. Why else would He have said: “And to your husband shall be your desire. And he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16). It is challenging for us to submit to someone else…especially our husbands.
So should we love our husbands? Definitely. And should we respect our husbands? Absolutely. It’s not a choice. It’s both. So the next question is…
How are you going to display both love AND respect to your husband today?
The life-change doesn’t stop here. I’d love to hear how you are going to get creative showing your husband love AND respect this week. And how it turns out! God loves you and He is encouraging you the whole way. And I’m encouraging you too–with God’s help, you can do it!