A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage, Part 4: Mutuality of Marriage
All right, now it’s time for the next section of the liturgy: The Mutuality of Marriage.
D) Mutuality of Marriage
[BRIDE], [GROOM], I have one last charge to give you before we move on. [GROOM], your love, and [BRIDE], your respect and submission, are so closely tied together that they are indistinguishable. Why? Because a woman, in general, does not love that which she does not respect, and a man, in general, does not love that which he does not care for. A man cannot care for someone who does not respect him, and a woman cannot love someone she does not respect. Remember, love is action, and if you cannot act towards each other in love, then [BRIDE], you do not respect [GROOM], and [GROOM], you do not care for [BRIDE].
[GROOM], if you love [BRIDE], you will desire her respect. [BRIDE], if you desire [GROOM]’s love, you will respect him. You cannot have one without the other. The binding attribute is love. Make this the central focus of your marriage, and you will be able, by the grace of Almighty God, to face and defeat every challenge that comes your way, because you are mutually working out of love for each other.
As I state in the second sentence of this section, I attempt here to bring together the threads of thought I have created concerning marriage. Just as individual threads by themselves cannot make fabric, marriage is not marriage if the threads of male and female roles do not come together.
In the latter half of Ephesians 5:22-33, wives are commanded to respect their husbands. I thought about this verse for several days until it occurred to me that many women, while married, do not treat their husbands with respect, but with contempt. Examining these marriages (and talking to some of these women) led me to believe that these wives did not love their husbands. At the very least they could not act in a loving manner towards them. At the risk of sounding circular, in particular they could not love their husbands because they had no respect for them. In this discovery revealed a connection–love and respect are closely tied to each other.
Now, you might be saying “Duh, Steve!” But that’s not what was so revealing to me. What was revealing to me was that women, in general, will not love someone they do not respect. For a woman to love a person, she must have a deep respect for that person. As such, if a man wants a woman’s love, he must first gain her respect.
Women don’t want girlie-men. They want a man they can respect. How earth-shattering. Guys, it’s really this simple. You don’t have to look like a soap opera stud or be even more filthy rich than Bill Gates or smarter than Einstein; you simply need to be a man she can respect. Women do not love someone they do not respect.
Men, on the other hand, very simply (yes, I know you girls are tired of us being so simplistic) don’t love things they don’t care about. I don’t care for chick flicks, therefore I don’t love them. I don’t care for pro football, therefore I don’t love it. I never cared for Sega (back during the original Nintendo era), so I certainly did not love it! And as a man, I don’t care for women who are screaming harpies, banshees, or disrespectful to other men, so I certainly won’t be able to love them beyond the surface.
But to get closer to the real point, watch a man who has a classic car. He takes care of that car, doesn’t he? He does what is necessary to maintain the car, keep it running smoothly and looking good. This is the real point. He loves that car. If a man treats a woman in the same manner, it is obvious he loves that woman. If he is unwilling to care for a woman, he does not love that woman.
That’s a wonderful illustration of James 2:14-26–just as faith without works is dead, so love without works isn’t really love. I daresay any guy who claims to love a woman and doesn’t care for her is just paying lip service. He’s just trying to manipulate her heart so she’ll meet his needs. Else he just has a strong emotional and/or physical attraction and that’s it.
But notice I’ve tied a man’s love very closely to a woman’s respect. Remember I said I certainly don’t love a woman who doesn’t respect men? A man cannot or will not direct his love towards a woman who does not respect him. A woman cannot or will not respect a man who does not care for her. It is impossible to have one without the other and have a healthy relationship.
The linchpin in all this is love. If a man and woman cannot act in love towards each other, then the man truly does not care for his woman, and the woman truly does not respect her man. You see? You cannot have one without the other. Love must be the driving force behind every relationship, else it does not give God glory.
We, men and women both, must pray that God will give us a love for our sweethearts that allows us to respect and care for each other. We must also pray that God will develop in us a respect and caring for each other that strengthens that love. If we can exhibit these attitudes and behaviors in our relationships, then the gates of Hell will never prevail against us, and God will receive all the glory!
Next time we will indulge ourselves in the last section of the liturgy; namely the Pledges of Marriage.