A BALANCED CHRISTIAN HOME: I WILL LOVE AND YOU WILL OBEY – PART I
Part of the introduction to the book of HOSEA in Good News Bible reads:
The prophet Hosea preached in the Northern kingdom of Israel… during the troubled times before the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C… Hosea boldly pictured the faithfulness in terms of his own disastrous marriage to an unfaithful woman. Just as his wife Gomer turned out to be unfaithful to him, so God’s people had deserted the Lord …Yet in the end God’s constant LOVE for His people will prevail and He would win the nation back to Himself and restore the relationship. This love is expressed in chapter 11:8, ‘How can I give up Israel? How can I abandon you…My heart will not let me do it! My love for you is strong.
The word love has lost its meaning in the modern world. Biblically, it is represented in two ways: ‘agape’ love and ‘Erotic’ love. It is necessary to define the topic in the light of what the Bible expects of God’s children.
Love is expected from both members of the Christian marriage. In fact, Christ’s last commandment in John 13: 34, 35 declares: “A new commandment give I unto you that you love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples. It is crystal clear that the Lord expects all Christians to love one another ‘as Christ loved the Church.’ It is however true that the greater responsibility is given to the man when it comes to the issue of marriage. This is real love or ‘Agape ‘ love.
Erotic love describes physical love or sexual relationship. It must be stressed that there is no biblical ground or moral ground with which anybody can justify sex outside marriage. God’s word calls it SIN and 1 Corinthians 6: 9, 10 names it as one of the sins that will prevent anybody (caught in it) from going to heaven.
Obedience: The idea of the obedience from the wife to the husband is described by Paul in Ephesians 5:22 ‘Wife submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord.’ I propose that this will include both husband and wife. The idea of obedience rather than just a direct obedience to one’s husband should be seen as obedience unto the Lord. The idea of Women liberation is both foreign to the Christian as well as the Scriptures. I don’t believe any Christian woman has either been in bondage or social prison to warrant liberation. John 8:36: ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ Every Christian, husband or wife is abundantly FREE in the Lord.
OBEDIENCE in the Home: ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice’ declares the Scriptures. Most Christian wives will easily find that this is true when the Lord governs the home. It will be a matter of obeying the husband or submitting to him as the church is subject unto Christ. Let us take a simple example within the Church. The idea of sexual sin or fornication or adultery has become common sin in the community from the beginning of the age. Both are attractive to the flesh and anybody outside Christ will find it unreasonable to legislate against sex outside marriage. But a child of God sees it as a command from God and through God’s grace he or she has to obey.
A Christian wife is expected to obey her husband in all things but because of love that exists between them she should be free to express disapproval on some issues but be prepared to carry out the orders. In most cases the problem is created simply because she does not see the issue in the same light as the husband sees it. Psychologists have claimed that in some cases women act under the influence of ‘intuition’ while the man has a mind that critically analyses the issues. On few occasions such basic differences in reasoning lead to disagreement. Just as a student may not agree with school rules and regulations or a citizen with the laws that bind him, yet it is profitable for both the student and the citizen to obey these rules. Such actions pay good dividends when the rules are obeyed. It is always real joy for the Christian wife when she sincerely obeys her husband.
The issue of obedience by the wife brings about greater responsibility from the husband. Outside the Christian faith, such obedience may lead to servitude, but within Christ’s family, sincere obedience from the wife brings about greater trust and this leads to deeper love. I believe, just as a father will always show greater love and interest towards an obedient son, so also will a normal husband show greater love and trust for the wife.
Obedience in all things can be a problem but it is necessary to clarify one important area of obedience within marriage. It is in relationship with sexual relationships. Paul did not miss words in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. [It clearly teaches that both husband and wife should not deny one another the joy of sexual relationship except when they have both agreed to pray and fast.] The reason given is that they should not expose themselves to the temptation of immorality. It is given as the second reason why marriage was ordained in the Anglican order of marriage service: “Secondly it was ordained for a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continence might marry and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.” Paul ends up with the same reason. Disagreement on sexual desires from either member of the marriage can lead to trouble. It is usual that because of some physiological changes in the wife, there are periods in the month when her desire for sex is almost nil. It is necessary for the wife to thoroughly discuss this with her husband and both should agree on what to do on such occasions. There may be other occasions when some other reasons may prevent sexual relationships; for example a wife has an injury or boil that will make sexual relationship impossible. It is important that she discusses such with her husband early and should not wait to give the excuse when the husband makes advances. Obedience from the wife in social issues like regular meals, at the right time , in the right way or the way he wants the sitting room or bedroom to look like as well as other ‘rules’ within the home should be pursued vigorously with prayers and confidence in God. The obvious wages of obedience is LOVE from the husband.