In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 (NASB unless otherwise state)
This verse, as a principle, might be a root cause of the difficulties I am seeing of unhappiness in marriages and of failures. The husband/wife conflicts—even among Christians—can happen when there is no longer a
'King' (God) in their relationship and when one or both begin to act in accord with what they choose to be right in their own eyes. When two people choose their own preference of 'right' conflict and division are the natural outcome—to Satan's delight.
The book of Judges is worth a re-read, in one sitting, to get a strong and lasting image of the repeating hardship we too face if we do not determine to obey God.
We are commanded in the Old and the New Testament, to love God with all our hearts, minds, and strength. As a principle, ‘all our hearts, minds, and strength’ is tantamount to saying that we are to love/obey God even if it kills me.
I’m convinced, if we are honest with ourselves, that everything we do can be boiled down to an attempt to find lasting joy. The things we buy, the relationships we enter into, our careers, the foods we choose, etc., all are an effort to bring joy. Unfortunately, these things eventually find themselves on the curb as refuse. There is no lasting joy in these.
Where is that joy?
Jesus gives us the answer.
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:11
To what things was He referring? The preceding verse has the answer:
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:10
As to marriage, what commandments would apply?
Aside from the many general commandments such as loving your neighbor as yourself, the other cheek, the extra mile, doing things as if we were doing them to or for the Lord, etc. which would benefit any relationship when we do them, there are four more specific to marriage.
These four are divided into two and two, two the husband and two for the wife.
It is my contention that the things that God asks of us serve the purpose if triggering our fallen gender weaknesses. At Paul points out in Galatians:
What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; Romans 7:7
God’s commandments act like a doctor who pokes an area of our body to provoke pain to identify the location needing healing.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? …Jesus…! Romans 7:21-25
This is not about equality or gender, but about sanctification and the route to His joy in us!
test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Malachi 3:10
1. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her Ephesians 5:25
Husbands do not naturally love. When he tries, he faces an inability stemming from his fallen nature. When aware of it, he can ask and cooperate with Father to bring about change.
2. You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7
The ‘someone weaker’ doesn’t cut it as a translation. I like the concept of someone more delicate, like a precious vessel or a fine crystal glass that is to be handled with care. You are to recognize her ‘in the new life of God's grace, your equal.’ 1 Peter 3:7 (MSG)
1. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife Ephesians 5:22-23
This command comes as a result of Eve's act in the garden:
You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” Genesis 3:16 (NET)
The intent here is that the wife surrender herself, like enlisting in the military and then giving herself to taking orders. This doesn’t read, ‘husbands subjugate your wife.’ In the case of marriage, taking orders from a man who loves her and sees her as his equal in God’s Kingdom and doesn’t want to give orders.
2. the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33
The word translated 'respects' is the Greek word, phobeo, meaning:
“to fear,” is used in the passive voice in the NT; in Ephesians 5:33 of reverential fear on the part of a wife for a husband, KJV, “reverence” (RV, “fear”). (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary)
The directive to ‘fear’ comes from the fact that God has declared the husband to be the head of the house. God has shown himself very protective toward those He has placed in positions of authority whether in a household or within the body of Christ, in scripture – Exodus 16, Numbers 12, 2 Kings 2:23ff, Acts 5, Roman 13:1ff, and other places.
Were we to determine to love God by doing what he asks of us we would soon find ourselves overtaken by His blessings in every area of our lives—as made abundantly clear in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Conversely, if we can’t be bothered, verses 15 and following would be our reward.
Throw away the programming we’ve received from the world, make God the King of your life, and choose to do His truth. Stop doing what seems right to you.
©2022, Dr Steven Bydeley, a man.
All publishing rights reserved. Permission is herewith granted to reprint this article for personal use and to link or refer to it; however, no commercial re-publishing of the material in this article is permitted without prior written consent.
Steven is the author of Fathered by God and with his wife Dianne, co-author of Dream Dreams and Dreams the Heal and Counsel. He has been a guest on the Miracle Channel, Trinity Television, and Crossroads Communication, and have taught internationally on various topics.
Without Prejudice. © 2023, Steven., house of bij de Leij., of man.