Today I spent the afternoon making our yard look nice. It was mostly rewarding watching the change from shaggy to neat as my mostly dull blade hacked away. One time I read about how creation and nature point to God. We can go through life feeling like we have never seen, felt or heard Him, yet all along we are immersed in His photograph.
The vibration of the small Honda engine and the repetitive Claude VonStroke thump (listen below) in my earbuds kept my brain shifting with thoughts. So here I am trying to make my little piece of creation look better and I thought about my motivation. Melanie, my wife, likes nice grass — my motivation. We been married for almost 16 years and I’m in a (hopefully permanent) phase of trying to do things that are important to her.
In marriage, especially if its lasted longer than a few years, you sometimes end up in a place where you are waiting for the other one to step up and do what you like. Once they do, you tell yourself, then you will be who they need you to be.
A couple months ago, I did a larger wedding where I read the all-so-common and mostly-misunderstood-passage in the letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians almost two-thousand years ago. This passage is one that most pastors use in weddings because it addresses marriage directly — but they also secretly dread saying the words,
wives, submit yourselves to your husband for he is the head of the wife…
That sounds so archaic. It sounds so chauvinistic and old. But wait, maybe there is more to it. I mean either there’s more to it OR I’m a sap for taking care of the grass just because she cares about it. Maybe I need to read this verse to her and tell her I don’t have time for this lawn care nonsense.
The marriage stalemate
Take some time to read the whole passage. If you look carefully you might be surprised. First I noticed it opened up telling both mates to submit to each other. That’s not dominance, that’s co-submission. After Paul shows his misogynistic tendencies to the wives he tells the husbands their part in this mutual equation.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…
Here we have something interesting but it’s not so plain to see. He compares our loving to Jesus loving the church. I immediately ADD-scattered over to the story of a man named Hosea. This man was married to a woman that regularly wandered away. That’s a nice way of saying she left regularly to have sex with other men. The crazy thing in this story is that Hosea went over and over again looking for her because God told him to. This is from that story,
Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods…
That’s when it clicked. Paul is not showing misogyny, he’s actually telling men to love their wives unconditionally. In other words, when we are in a stalemate, its the man’s job to up his love quotient. And he can’t base his choices on her actions or reactions. (note: I am not saying men should stay in a relationship if abuse of any kind is involved when the spouse is not interested in getting help or changing. I don’t believe marriage is always automatically permanent. I believe decisions should be made carefully and over time – but there are reasons that a decision of separation should be made.) If you are overly bothered by this side note please see this page.
So I’m good
We all have our part to play. Women, you need to work on the respect issue. Ya, we aren’t always that deserving of respect. But its not always about what we each deserve in a relationship. Sometimes its about doing what’s right. When we do what’s right, it may take some time, but it will pay off. Men, we have to show unconditional love. We have to do things that we don’t care about — we do them because she cares about them.
Peace and wholeness to each and every one of you on your journey,