I was 7 years old when I heard some people talk about a local preacher. They had been over to his house, and apparently he decided to tell some stories. Now, these weren’t just any stories. These were stories that made his wife look ignorant. And he laughed and laughed, even though no one else did.
And I’ll never forget what they said next in this conversation: She looked like she wanted to crawl under the table and hide.
Of course, when I was 7, I was trying to figure out why she’d want to play hide and seek during dinner. But as I got older, those words stuck with me, and I came to understand that she was embarrassed by the stories, ashamed by her husband’s behavior, and hurt that he could laugh while tearing her down.
My friends, that is not a God-honoring marriage.
Last week, we examined some requirements for a God-honoring marriage.
- You have to leave your mommy and daddy and be joined to your spouse.
- You have to be committed—100% to your spouse and your marriage.
- You have to be faithful—and not just physically. Be faithful with your eyes and your thoughts.
When you do these things, divorce should never come up in the conversation.
This week, we’re continuing the same theme. In order to have a great marriage, and a marriage that is pleasing to God, this ingredient must be present.
Respect for your spouse.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people bad-mouthing their husband or wife. It’s nothing but complain, complain, complain to everyone. It’s like they can’t do anything right. All you hear is about how awful their spouse is ALL THE TIME! He’s a lazy jerk. She’s a horrible cook. She doesn’t clean. He won’t help with the kids. And what’s worse is when they say those things in public while their spouse is right there.
That is not showing respect to your spouse AT ALL. And let me assure you, the Bible commands that you show respect to your spouse.
Husbands, give honor to your wife (I Peter 3:7).
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
That word honor means to value them. It means to show deference to them. To reverence them. To esteem them. To treat them with dignity. In short, it means to RESPECT them.
Husbands, show respect to your wife! Treat them like the weaker vessel. Fine china is precious, expensive, and you have to be careful with it or it will break. In the same way, your wife is precious, valuable, and you must treat her with the kindness and respect that she deserves, otherwise she can break.
Her self-esteem can be broken by a husband who doesn’t treat her with respect. Her will to work can be broken when she’s treated like she’s nothing special. Her desire to try to make the marriage better can break when the husband lets her know he doesn’t respect her.
Husbands, treat your wife kindly. Treat her with respect!
That means that you don’t treat her like she’s stupid—especially in front of other people! That means you don’t mock her or ridicule her. It means that you treat her like the gift from God to you that she is.
You should show her respect because she is also an heir of the grace of life.
What does that mean? It means that she has been given the gift of life by God, just like you have. She’s made in God’s image. She is someone for whom Christ died. And if you treat her like she’s unimportant, then you’re saying that you’re also unimportant–you can’t have it both ways. Ultimately, if you treat God’s creation disrespectfully, you can expect the same treatment from Him.
You should treat her with respect because if you don’t, you can’t get forgiveness of sins.
This goes hand-in-hand with what we just finished saying. If you don’t treat her with respect, God will not hear your prayers. If God won’t hear your prayers, then you cannot have your sins forgiven. If you can’t have your sins forgiven, you’re going to hell. DO I HAVE TO MAKE IT ANY CLEARER?
Treat your wife with respect or you go to hell. Period. No exceptions. You have no hope—AT ALL.
Wives, reverence your husband (Ephesians 5:33).
Let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and that the wife see that she reverences her husband.
The word reverence means to show them honor. It means to show deference to them. The Greek word (phobos) actually means to fear them—as in show them respect. In fact, the NKJV, NIV, NAS, ESV all translate this word as respect.
This means that the wife isn’t going to go around bad-mouthing her husband. She won’t be complaining about everything he does. Even if there are things that her husband needs to work on, she’s not going to make that public knowledge. She’s not going to berate him for his mistakes. She will show him respect.
Thayer defines the word here as showing reverential obedience.
You should respect your husband because he is the God-ordained head of the household (Ephesians 5:23). God has given him the responsibility of leading the family. Of providing for the family. Of caring for the family’s spiritual and physical needs. These are heavy responsibilities, and he deserves your respect for taking them on.
You should respect your husband because God said so. Regardless of how you may feel towards your husband, this is a command of God. And if you refuse to obey it, you have just forfeited your soul. Intentional disobedience is an automatic ticket to hell (Hebrews 10:26-31).
Whether you are the husband or the wife, RESPECT YOUR SPOUSE! It may be hard, but if you want a happy marriage, you’ll do it. If you want a marriage that helps you grow as a person and as a Christian, you’ll do it. If you want to go to heaven, you’ll do it.
Trust me, it’s worth it.
But, if you want a mediocre marriage filled with yelling and screaming and constant complaining–one that makes you feel stifled and trapped–then go ahead. Don’t respect your spouse. If you want to go to hell, feel free to ignore God’s commands.