Marriage is Give and Give

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1 Pet 3:5-7 NLT
This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

I believe marriage is one of the truest tests of a Christian’s faith. The demands and realities of marriage provide some of the most critical ingredients for bearing the fruits of the Spirit. Unfortunately, many Christians today see those demands as unrealistic, and idealistic goals that can’t be attained, and therefore should not be pursued. Consequently, Christians are too readily succumbing to the world’s advice, “if you can’t seem to make it work, walk”.

This sorry state of things was never God’s original intention. God designed marriage as an enriching relationship to help a man, and his wife fulfil their potential in God. This however depends on how willing the couple are in building their marriage on God’s principles.

Three verses in the 1st book of Peter provide us deep insight on God’s plan for building a thriving marriage relationship. Suffice to say, the devil as usual has deceived many into scoffing at these principles. As the bible says, “the preaching of the cross sounds like foolish ideas to those who are perishing”. (1 Cor 1:18)

If you have read this far however, I suspect you don’t consider God’s ideas to be foolishness even though the devil may have made you wonder whether they are modern. Well, rest assured that his Word is “alive and full of power” (Heb 4:12) i.e. subsisting in relevance and unwaning in potency.

What! Call him Master?
Imagine that Sarah lived in our days. Imagine that she posted a birthday greeting to Abraham on her Facebook page addressed “To my loving Master”. Imagine how many hashtags that would generate, and how many would denigrate her.

The world we live in disdains this sort of show of respect, and has convinced many believers that it is extreme, unnecessary,  unromantic, and primitive. To be factual, the emphasis of the portion is not necessarily that wives ought to call their husbands master. Such titles are in themselves meaningless. The object of that portion is to teach that wives accord respect to their husbands as though they were their masters.

That of course sounds odious to the ‘modern woman’, but we must remind ourselves that the Word of God is subsisting in relevance and unwaning in potency. The Devil will use his standard appeal to reasoning to raise doubts about what God really means in that verse. Just as he said to eve, “Did God really tell you not to eat of any tree in the garden”, knowing full well God didn’t say so, he also confuses the ‘modern woman’, with rhetorical questions that undermine her faith. He might ask red herring questions like, “did God really say I must call my husband master” in hope of deflecting from the real instruction.

“This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful” Peter writes.

“Call him master? You gat to be kidding me. He will take you for granted and trample over you.” The world retorts.

“They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands” Peter explains.

Indeed when you think about the huge risk of bringing yourself so low as to treat a man like he is your master, you have to find an ally in God. You have to put your trust in him to keep your heart from being destroyed even if it is broken.

For emphasis, Peter adds, “For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do”.

Why does he add this? He does because many people are willing to treat their husband with respect if only he meets them halfway. That’s a reasonable expectation when you think about it. But our calling is not to reasonableness. It is to ‘foolishness’. We are fools for Christ’s sake (1 Cor 4:10). And so Peter says, “you do what is right without fear for what your husbands might do”.

Is it really a Man’s world?
I hope that you haven’t by now concluded that the Apostle was a deluded misogynist. Well, many reach such conclusions because they simply focus on only one part of the instruction that Peter gave. How about we look at the other side of the coin and see if it brings some balance.

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

Turning to husbands Peter starts by saying “in the same way”. The natural question to follow this would be “In what way does he refer to?” I believe he means that husbands are to similarly fully abide by their own instructions irrespective of what their wives do or don’t do.
And what are these instructions?

“You husbands must honour your wives”.

I wish all Christian men knew what it meant to honour their wives and that they did. It is useful to call to mind that the word God uses to define how we should treat our parents is… You got it, ‘honour’. So we can say Peter is implying that husbands should treat their wives as they treat their parents. To give a more graphic example, here’s how someone in scripture described how to honour a person.

Est 6:6-9 GNT
So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “There is someone I wish very much to honor. What should I do for this man?” Haman thought to himself, “Now who could the king want to honor so much? Me, of course.”  So he answered the king, “Have royal robes brought for this man—robes that you yourself wear. Have a royal ornament put on your own horse. Then have one of your highest noblemen dress the man in these robes and lead him, mounted on the horse, through the city square. Have the nobleman announce as they go: ‘See how the king rewards someone he wishes to honor!’”

In simple terms, if you want to honour someone, you treat them as royalty. The Apostle is saying here that men (irrespective of what their wives do or don’t do) are required to treat their wives as royalty.

Critically, just as the injunction to honour parents is condition for long life, the injunction to honour wives is giving as condition for answered prayers.

By mentioning that the husband and wife are joint inheritors (heirs) of the grace of God, he implies that the man is unable to withdraw from this heavenly account of grace unless he treats his wife with honour. God essentially puts a lien on the account that can only be lifted by the radiant countenance of a wife treated with honour.

Finding Harmony
Marriage as God envisioned it should be an enchanting orchestra of two. It should be sweet melody, pure harmony. But anyone who has sang in a choir knows that you don’t get harmony by deciding to sing just as badly as the other parts are singing. Instead, you sing your best in hope that your example may inspire others to raise their game.

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