Monday, July 7, 2014

Love and Respect in Marriage

(A message at Nexon and Charibelle Laborte's wedding based on Ephesians 5:31-33)

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. ~ Ephesians 5:31-33

I like pictures. They help me understand and see better big and complicated things. Pictures especially help us focus on something it portrays. And marriage is like that. Marriage is a picture – a picture of a relationship. And that relationship is between Christ and the church – His body, His people whom He bought back from sin and death by His death. The church is the bride of Christ which He loves so much and for which He willingly gave himself up.

The church is composed of people whom Christ loves and owns as His. He gathers them from all nations of the world, provides for them and protects them. The apostle Paul says that Christ did all of this for His church “[t]hat he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish”(Ephesians 5:26-27).

And in response to that love and care that Christ shows to His church, the church as His bride is called to submit to Christ and to respect Christ. This really life is all about as Christians, as people belonging to the Lord Jesus.

And marriage is supposed to portray this relationship of Christ and the church. Marriage is to picture the unity and inseparability of Christ and the church. This kind of unity is so emphasized in the Scripture in such a way that whoever persecutes or hates the church is really persecuting Christ.

Before his conversion Paul thought that in persecuting the church he was doing God a favor. But when Christ confronted him on the road to Damascus, Christ told him that he was not just persecuting the church but the risen Christ who is the head and husband of the church (Acts 9:4-5).

What this all mean is that, our marriages, including Nexon’s and Charibelle’s, are pictures intended to show the unity, the oneness of Christ and the church. Nexon and Charibelle, this is very important.

Now not all pictures of course are the same. There are some pictures that portray the subjects very clearly, and they usually end up being posted in our Facebook account. And there are also pictures that are blurry and looking at them just gives us pain in our eyes.

It’s the same thing with marriage. There are some marriages that really portray and testify to the unity and harmony of Christ and the church. And of course there are marriages that are not so good in portraying the loveliness of Christ and His church.

I’d like to dwell on how to beautify our marriages in such a way that God, the author and sustainer of marriage, will be pleased and glorified. And I’d like to do that by looking at the essential responsibility of the husband and the wife in marriage.

In summarizing the responsibility of the husband as the head of the marriage relationship and as the Christ-figure in marriage, the apostle Paul says that husbands is to LOVE his wife as himself. Love is the overarching responsibility of the husband to his wife (v.33).

The wife’s basic responsibility to her husband, however, is RESPECT or reverence. So love and respect summarize the husband-wife responsibility in marriage. The husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church; the wife respects her husband as the church does to Christ.

From this we discern that wives need love from their husband, and husbands need respect from their wives. When husbands faithfully love their wives, they are doing their God-given responsibility and God is pleased. And when wives are respecting their husbands, they are doing their God-given duty and are glorifying God.

When wives are well loved, they usually respect their husband more and more. When husbands are well respected, they usually love their wives and care for their wives more and more. Lack of love and respect in marriage, of course, leads to disaster and many troubles.

So how does this ‘love and respect’ model portray Christ and the church in practical terms?

Let me suggest a few steps. I would like to begin by addressing Nexon, and all the husbands here. First, Nexon, to show your love to Charibelle, as Christ loves the church, you should aim to be close to her. She should feel close to you. You do this my holding her hand, hugging or kissing her, and being affectionate and loving to her without sexual intention.

Second, not only your closeness expresses your love to Charibelle, but also your openness. When you share your feelings to her and not being shy or afraid to tell her your concerns and problems, she will feel loved. Also if you talk to her without harshness or grunting she will really feel that you love her.

Third, let me suggest that when there’s some misunderstanding between the two of you, you be the first to go to her and settle the matter and make peace with her. Don’t be afraid to admit that you are wrong. Although it’s hard for us to do, yet that’s one of the ways wives are feel loved, when we husbands apologize and sincerely tell our wives, “I’m sorry.” Keep your relationship with Charibelle up to date. Try to resolve conflicts in a godly way and don’t forget to pray together after a hurtful time, after you resolved your conflict. Wives would love to see their husbands leading them in prayer.

Fourth, show your love to Charibelle by showing her and telling her that you are loyal to her. Guard your eyes and your mind. Don’t look at other women lustfully. Let her be the only person who satisfies your eyes and mind and heart. Also, try to speak only positive things about her before her family and friends. Keep your promise and vow to her today until death.

There are many other things I could share, but I’d like to turn to Charibelle now (and to all the wives here). How do you show respect to Nexon in a way that is pleasing to God?

First, don’t forget to appreciate his desire to work and to achieve. Husbands feel respected when their wives says thanks to them for going to work every day for their wife and family. When wives cheers their husbands successes, whether in their career or in business or sports, husbands are happy. Ask Nexon what’s his dream and see how you can support his dream.

Second, don’t forget to express your appreciation to Nexon his role as the leader of your marriage and family. Tell him that you are deeply touched by the thought that he’s willing to die for you, as Christ was willing to die, and has really died for His bride, the church. Husbands are happy when they are praised for their commitment to provide and protect for their wives and families.

Third, appreciate his perspectives and insights in life. Don’t try to oppose his point of view right away without trying to understand it. Husbands really feel respected when their wives thank them for the advice and knowledge they share with their wives. Husbands like to fix things in the house and when their wives applaud them of their work and the solution they provided, they feel respected. Husbands are solution-oriented. When you share them your problem, they are thinking right away for the solution. I know wives wanted to be listened to first, but keep your words to the minimum when you’re sharing to your husband. Reserve the longer version of your story to your girl friends. They can bear your long stories more than your husband.

Fourth and finally, husbands feel respect when you appreciate and meet their sexual passions and desire. Wives, if you really want to show your respect to your husband, try to initiate periodically and try to respond more often to your husband’s initiative. And please don’t put to shame your husband when he’s acknowledging to you his sexual temptation. Help him overcome them by praying for him and responding to him more often than you want to.

I know there are many other healthy and practical steps that we could talk about. But before I bore you or make you feel guilty with all these suggestions let me end with this challenge.

You and I know that this ideal in marriage is not easily achieved. Certainly the basic hindrance to the achievement of healthy and strong Christian marriages is our sinfulness, especially our selfishness.

So if you desire to build and experience a strong and healthy marriages and family, you need to ask the grace of God and always come to Jesus Christ. Not just now, but always. Christ alone breaks down barriers and hindrances. He alone reconciles you and me with God so that we become part of God’s people. He alone reconciles us with one another. He alone cleanses us from our sin. He alone gives us the Holy Spirit who produces in us the fruit of love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Christ alone gives you, Charibelle, the Holy Spirit, who enables you to respect Nexon. And He alone gives you, Nexon, the Holy Spirit, who enables you to truly love Charibelle just as Christ loves the Church.

When both husband and wife faithfully fulfill their responsibilities in marriage according to God’s Word, marriage may not be perfect, yet it would be more enjoyable. It would be more satisfying and God-glorifying! God bless you and your marriage, Nexon and Charibelle, and all the couples who are here today!

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