"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…"
Marriage is a wonderful institution created by Almighty God. When a husband and wife love and respect each other, there is tremendous fulfillment for each of them.
As our loyal readers know, Dee and I are deeply troubled by what appears to be the marginalization of women, particularly wives, in conservative corners of Christendom. We both have daughters who are not yet married, and we are concerned by this growing trend. We are grateful that Wade Burleson, who has been a pastor for a quarter of a century, is willing to weigh in with some godly advice for wives and mothers.
What follows is a post that recently appeared on Wade's blog. We pray it will be a blessing.
Yesterday I spoke to a group of young mothers at a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting. I began with the statement: "Your husband is attracted to you when you don't need him, but you love him." I knew that what I was saying to them was completely opposite of what they usually hear, but I expressed a desire to prove to them that Scripture supported my statement. The typical marriage conference speaker will tell wives that they should have their basic needs–needs like love, security, and significance–met by their husbands. Wives will then leave those marriage conferences having huge expectations that their husbands should meet their needs, particularly if they do their part and meet their husbands sexual, psychological and emotional needs as well. I explained to the MOPS ladies that God never designed for Christian marriages to work this way.
Psychologists tell us, and the Scriptures affirm, that the basic needs of any human being (man or woman) include the need to connect with another person or persons (i.e. love or sociality), the need for respect (i.e. significance) and the need to protect and be free from fear of personal harm ( i.e. security). God never designed a woman to have her basic needs met by her husband, nor vice-versa. A human being's basic needs are to be met by Christ alone. I then pointed the ladies to three Scripture passages:
(1). "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory" (Philippians 4:19). Not "your husband" shall supply all your needs. The gospels reveal that Jesus gave much practical comfort to His disciples, both men and women (see Luke 8:1-3). Christ explicitly said that those who receive Him as Savior and Lord are not to worry about their future. He, their King, has everything under His control. He, not your husband, will provide for all your needs. See Matthew 6:25-34 as an example of Christ's teaching on this subject. Any wife who looks to her husband as the provider of her basic needs is substituting her husband for Christ.
(2). "At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage" (Matthew 22:30). These are the words of Jesus. The resurrection is that time when God raises believers in Christ from the dead to live forever on the earth where the curse has been reversed. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "The meek will inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). When the redeemed earth is given to us as an inheritance, the city that Christ has been preparing for His people (see John 14:1-4, Hebrews 11:10, and Revelation 20) will descend from heaven and unite with this redeemed earth. This is the day that "all of creation is groaning for" (Romans 8:22). The point of all this is: For eternity, contrary to what Muslims, Mormons and other radical patriarchs advocate, no woman will ever have her identity associated with marriage to any man.
Any religion on this earth that refuses to assist women to find their basic needs met in Jesus Christ, any religion that refrains from pointing women to the King of Kings and encourages them to revel in the riches of being "wed to Christ," and any religion that somehow makes a woman think she needs her husband (spiritually, emotionally, or materially) is a religion that is not based on the infallible Scriptures or the truth of God's Kingdom. On the other hand, those Christian women who have been set free from the bondage of believing that they need their husbands to meet their basic needs, and then simply love their husbands from the overflow of experientially resting in the love and provisions of Christ, will find a slice of heaven in their homes.
(3). "What causes quarrels and fightings among you? Don't they come from a battle over desires within you? You want something but don't get it. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God" (James 4:1-2). Angry quarrels, scornful fights, and other efforts to control and manipulate your spouse arise from a desire to have your basic needs met by your mate rather than by your God. God never designed your husband to take His place in your life. Christ alone is your Source of real and lasting love, personal and abiding significance, and unqualified daily security.
"Seek first the Kingdom of God," Jesus said. The Kingdom of God is best defined as God's reign in your life through Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is within you (Luke 17:21). One day His Kingdom will be all around you, but until then, His reign is within. For this reason, you don't need your husband to be a certain way. You may want certain things from your husband, and of course, there is nothing wrong with asking; but you don't need him to be a certain way. Why? Because every need you have is designed to be met by God.
Questions Asked Me by the Mothers
"Why does the Bible speak of a man and a woman becoming 'one flesh' in marriage if marriage is not designed to be permanent and marriage is not the place that a woman is to receive her identity?"
Answer: Marriage is a picture of the union that a man and a woman individually have with Christ. One should never replace the reality with the picture. When you embrace and kiss the picture to the exclusion of what the picture represents, you become an unhealthy Christian. For example, if I pick my wife up from the airport after a long absence, run toward her to greet her, and then suddenly stop, ignore my wife, pull out a picture of her and then kiss the picture, I am an unhealthy person. I have made an idol of the picture and missed the reality of what the picture represents. Pictures break. They rip, burn, fade, and are often destroyed. So, too, marriages break and fall apart, but they are only pictures of the reality of one's union with Christ. If the picture is destroyed, IT NEVER MEANS THAT THE REALITY CONVEYED BY THE PICTURE IS GONE. A woman is to get her significance, security, and love from her union with Jesus Christ, and never a union with any man.
"What happens when my husband breaks his vow of sexual fidelity to me, or becomes emotional or physically abusive to me?"
To say that a husband's infidelity does not hurt a wife would be false. To say the wife does not need her husband to be faithful would be true. To say that a husband's emotional and physical abuse does not hurt a wife would be false. To say that a wife does not need her husband to be kind, loving and gracious would be true. A married woman does not need to be married. She wants to remain married, but she doesn't need to remain married.
Therefore, if your husband is unfaithful or abusive, confront your husband in love and draw a boundary. Tell your husband that you cannot control his actions, nor is it your desire to control him. Let him know that if he desires another woman, or if he feels the need to abuse you, then you will let him go. You can and will end the marriage because you do not need him. End it, however, not in spite, or anger, or manipulation or control. End it because you refuse to enable your husband in his sin, or be a wife that remains in abuse because you can't live without your man. You can. And, when the marriage is over, treat your former husband with dignity, respect and kindness–the same way you would treat any man who is not your husband, for that is the kind of person a woman who has her needs met in Christ is.
In many marriages, wives will unintentionally enable their husbands to continue in their addictions or sin because they unintentionally substitute their husbands for Christ. When a wife cannot picture a future without her husband, she has made the picture (marriage) her idol, and lost perspective on the reality that her marriage is intended to represent (her union with Christ).
"Be specific on why my husband is attracted to me when I don't need him, but I love him?"
Christ's love for us is magnetic. "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). Christ does not need us. He doesn't need us to be happy. He doesn't need us to be fulfilled. He doesn't need us to be a certain way for Him to feel significant. When He loves us, it is a selfless love. His love is unconditional, and wells within Him like an artesian spring. We don't pull it out of Him; He loves because He is love. When we begin to understand and experience this unconditional and personal love, we are drawn toward Him.
In the same manner, when a fulfilled, self-sufficient woman marries a man, she doesn't need her man. The Kingdom of God is God's total answer for her total need. What she needs is Christ, and she has Him. She's wed to Him, and she desires to be in her marriage all that Christ has made her to be in life. However, her God is not her husband. Her God is Christ. So, she loves her husband, but she doesn't need her husband. That kind of love is magnetic and draws a husband toward his wife. Granted, your husband may not understand selfless love either, mainly because His needs are not being met by Christ. For this reason, he may become unfaithful by searching for his fulfillment in other women. A Christian woman must set boundaries in her marriage, but the enforcement of those boundaries should always be done with dignity, respect and love for the unfaithful spouse–and for his good. Only healthy Christians, those who see their basic needs are always met by Christ, can draw boundaries and enforce them with the love of Christ.
There is always something very attractive about being loved by a person who doesn't need you.
The MOPS ladies at Emmanuel Enid started their fall session with this study yesterday. Though it is contrary to much of what they will hear in the religious world, I am convinced that the principles I gave to them are from Christ. His words convey life. His truth sets people free. My prayer is that His words will provide some guidance and comfort to ladies who might read this over the Internet as well.
A final note: If your husband is a controlling, manipulative and patriarchal Christian, when you begin to live like you don't need him, he will panic. He will think he is losing you. He will think that you "are different." Give it time. Soon, Christ will either heal him of his need to have you under his control, or he will leave you. Either way, you can't continue in a marriage where your husband has taken the place of Christ–it is unhealthy for both you and him.
Lydia's Corner: Exodus 21:22-23:13 Matthew 24:1-28 Psalm 29:1-11 Proverbs 7:6-23