Search This Blog

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Giving Honor to Your Wife

As we’ve talked about developing intimacy within our marriage, we’ve talked about 1st Peter 3:7. Part of that verses tells us, “Giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel.” What does honor mean? It means to elevate her, to put her on a pedestal, to admire her, love her, and respect her. Intimacy can only occur in an atmosphere or an environment where the wife is honored.

Why should the husband honor his wife? Because she is the “weaker vessel.” Weaker in what way? People don’t seem to know or understand. Is she morally weaker? Spiritually weaker? Intellectually weaker? No! Of course not! She is physically weaker. Her body is not built with as much strength. Nearly any husband can whip his wife in an arm wrestling contest and pump more iron. Men are generally bigger and bulkier. This doesn’t mean that a man’s wife isn’t physically strong in some ways. There probably isn’t a man alive who could endure the pain of childbirth, but women can. That’s great strength. But men are generally physically stronger than their wives, so that lends itself to assuming some roles for the husband. This is why Scripture assigns the roles of provider and protector to the husband.

By calling the wife a “vessel,” Peter used a Greek word for a vase, or “vahse” if it is really expensive. A vase is a lovely receptacle to keep precious things in – like a bouquet of beautiful roses. When you move, you pack your vases carefully and mark them “Fragile – handle with care,” because they are breakable. A fine china vase isn’t as strong as a sledge hammer, but it is usually a lot more valuable.

The Greek word for vessel also gives us the word, “vest.” A vest is an outer garment covering the body, hence the word speaks of our bodies. Peter is calling on us men to give honor to our wives because they have weaker bodies. To give her honor means to assign her honor. It means to grant it to her because she is not as strong as we are and can’t demand it. We willingly treat her like a precious treasure.

This involves chivalry. What ever happened to chivalry nowadays – a chivalry that was once so common? Men used to open doors for women, and give up their seats for them. And chivalry involves treating her with respect. If any of you men ever make derogatory remarks about your wife in public, calling her “the old ball and chain,” or “the old lady,” somebody ought to hit you up alongside the head with a baseball bat to knock some sense in you. I wouldn’t do it, but that’s what you would deserve. We are called on by God to honor our wives, not belittle them.

But not only does honor involve chivalry, it also involves care and support. The husband is to be the protector and provider. But isn’t that why we are called husbands? The word, “husband,” in the verb form means to keep carefully. A husbandman would tend the crops. John 15:1 quotes Jesus as saying, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman.” The husbandman nurtured and cared for the precious vines so they could thrive. The husband must do that for his bride. He must care for and tend to her needs.

Ray Ortland wrote:

“’To husband’ means to watch her as you would a flowering plant. It means to stake that plant so she is supported and can thrive beautifully. That’s what being a husband means.”
The husband is to honor his wife in this way.

Matthew Henry wrote this concerning our wives,

“Giving due respect to her, and maintaining her authority, protecting her person, supporting her credit, delighting in her conversation, affording her a handsome maintenance, and placing due trust and confidence in her.”
The wife is to be granted an honored position. The husband must elevate her to that position by figuratively putting her on a pedestal where he can admire and respect her. When she abandons that place of honor, she doesn’t go up, but down. Intimacy within a marriage depends upon this kind of honor bestowed upon the wife.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Intimacy in the Bed Room

We ended last time talking about 1st Peter 3:7, which says, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding.” It is our wives we are to dwell with. And we talked about making a study of our wives.

But the King James Version brings out another connotation. The King James translates this as dwell with them “according to knowledge.” This makes us think sexual. Genesis 4:1 stated, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived.” When this verse says “Adam knew Eve,” it didn’t mean he knew her name or her shoe size. That’s not the way babies are conceived. Intimacy in marriage also involves sexual intimacy.

Aha, some of you are getting ideas. Victoria Secrets lingerie, soft music, candlelight and roses. Get the manuals that instruct you the various positions that take an acrobat or yoga instructor to get into. Well, that isn’t the way it works in most homes.

Most married couples, after a few years, have acquired a kid or two. They have put on the pounds, and suffer from varicose veins. By the time the kids are in bed, both are too tired to perform at the pinnacle of excitement. Romance maybe happens on Valentine’s Day or your anniversary, but it’s not part of the regular routine. Yet, normal married couples actually have a more satisfying sex life than those trying to emulate the movies. Why? It is because intimacy comes from knowledge, not mystery.

Proverbs 5, set in the midst of many warnings not to play with fire by dabbling in sex outside of marriage, tells us to be satisfied with our wives. Writing of the wife, Proverbs 5:18-19 say:

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breast satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.”
Even an older woman (still the “wife of your youth”), can compete quite successfully on those terms. As the New International Version says, he is “captivated by her love.” Wives don’t need to dress like prostitutes or act like actresses in X-rated movies. They only need to respond to one another in love, freely giving themselves to one another.

Only within the bounds of true marital love can two people relax and be comfortable with one another, to be un-inhibited in their love-making as Adam and Eve were in Genesis 2:25, which says, “And they were both naked. . . and were not ashamed.” That kind of total intimacy is possible, proper, and God’s intention within a marriage; but it can only grow out of love.

But it takes love PLUS time. Are you taking the time to understand your wife?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Time and Consideration - Key Ingredients to Intimacy

Do you know what the key ingredient is to an intimate marriage? That key ingredient is time. Unfortunately, that is the one thing we are least willing to invest. A recent survey revealed that the average husband and wife spend an average of thirty seven minutes per week in actual communication, meaning real conversation. That wouldn’t sound like much for a single day, let alone a week. For a man, a grunt from behind a newspaper takes less than a second. That doesn’t add up very fast, nor does it do much to increase intimacy. Nor does time spent in front of the TV mesmerized by the flashing lights count as quality time.

Is it any wonder so many marriages fall apart when the kids leave home? The couple find themselves married to a total stranger. They wake up alone one morning in a quiet and an empty house as a couple of old people, and they look across the bed at the other, and they want to ask, “Who are you? I don’t know you.” It is amazing that two people can live together for years, decades even, without ever really knowing each other. Yet it is probably the most common scenario – two people sharing a name and a home, but little else. What a shame.

Warren Wiersbe says,

“In my marital counselling, I often gave the couple a pad of paper and asked them to write down the three things each one thinks the other enjoys doing the most. Usually the wife made her list immediately. The man would sit and ponder. And usually the wife was right, and the husband was wrong.”

Those husbands totally missed the idea of 1st Peter 3:7, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding.”

Quoting Chuck Swindall:

“Many a wife is lonely for her husband to sense and minister to her inner spirit. To give her his attention and personal presence. She waits to be noticed, to be appreciated, to be given time to share, and in return hear her husband respond with the newspaper laid aside, with the television off, with the whole evening available. Men, maybe it will help to motivate you if you face the fact that a continually absent husband is a major cause for illicit affairs among wives. And often with men who will simply give them time and attention. Wake up, husbands!”

Let me repeat his last words, WAKE UP, HUSBANDS! Your wives need you. Give them the time.

James Henry Jowett, in defining the phrase, “dwell according to knowledge,” writes this:

“We may grasp its content by proclaiming its opposite. ‘Dwell with your wives according to ignorance. Just walk in blindness. Don’t look beyond your own desires. Let your vision be entirely introspective and microscopic. Never exercise your eyes in clear and comprehensive outlook. Dwell in ignorance.’”
Does that describe your marriage? How sad. That attitude has killed too many marriages.

Another slant to that phrase is given by the New International Version. It translates the phrase, “Be considerate as you live with your wives.” In other words, be sensitive to her deepest physical and emotional needs. Isn’t that good advice? Consideration, courtesy – these are the oils to lubricate a relationship. But why is it so hard to do at home?

In an old “Life Magazine” article, it reported:

“The business man gives service with a smile: he is deferential to his boss, his customers and usually even to his underlings. Women are polite to their neighbors and to door-to-door salesmen. Hardly a voice is raised in anger except behind the closed doors of the home. As the outside world becomes more and more constrained, more and more people seem to feel the home is the last remaining place where they can quit kidding and be their own ornery selves. The bride and the groom who have been standing so patiently in the reception line, smiling sweetly at people they hardly know (and some people they know and don’t like), can seem ornery indeed to each other when they get home and let their hair down.”

This is backwards. Of course we need to be kind and considerate out in the workforce and marketplaces of life. Consideration is necessary in every social encounter. But isn’t the home the most important place to exercise consideration? We must learn to be considerate at home if we want to develop intimacy within our homes.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Intimacy in Marriage - Dwelling Together With Understanding

If we are expected to have an intimate relationship with our spouse, does Scripture give us help? Of course! And to answer that, I want to look at just one verse – 1st Peter 3:7 – which states:
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them (our wives) with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Wait a minute! Why is this addressed to just husbands? Isn’t marriage a joint venture? Yes! Is it solely the husband’s responsibility? No! But wives just seem to do this intimacy stuff more naturally than us guys. God wired them that way, while something must have short-circuited in us guys. But more than that, it is primarily the husband’s responsibility since God left us on charge.

As in so many areas in the home, the husband must be the thermostat setting the emotional and spiritual temperature. The wife is the thermometer letting the husbands know what the temperature is. Men, have you ever noticed things getting a little chilly in your relationship with your wife? That’s your wife acting as the thermometer letting you know the intimacy has cooled down. It’s time to turn up the heat. So both the thermostat and thermometer are necessary.

What are the husbands to do? From 1st Peter 3:7, they are to “dwell with them with understanding.” Dwell with them? Doesn’t that mean” Live with them? That’s easy. We already do. We get our mail in the same mail box, and we eat at the same table. We even share the same bedroom. How’s that for intimacy?

Ah, but the term means more – oh, so much more. In its Greek usage, it means to be completely at home. In other words, home is priority number one.

What is most important to you, husbands? Is it your career? Is it your bank account? Some of you who are Christians will say that God is your highest priority, but then what? If it is not your wife and your family, you have the wrong priority.

How many Christians are there, Mission Boards even, that get it wrong. They so often think families are expendable. Send the kids away to boarding school so they don’t interfere with your work. That’s wrong!

Howard Hendricks used to do something in his classes at Dallas Seminary. He would say, “Gentlemen, your family is not vital to your ministry.” Then he would pause for a few moments before he ended, “Your family is your ministry.”

That is illustrated in the qualifications for elders/pastors in 1st Timothy 3:4-5, when it declares an elder is:

“one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?).”

Rule? I like the New International Version translation better, which substitutes the word “manage.” To “rule” the home in Scripture means to lead it. Men are to lead their homes, not to Lord it over their families. We are not to be despots. But it does show where the responsibility lies – it lies with the husband.

But this is intimately related to the next phrase from 1st Peter 3:7, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them (our wives) with understanding.” Or, as the King James Version puts it, “according to knowledge.” Men, this is the truth – the success of your dwelling with your wife will be in direct proportion to your knowledge (your understanding) of your wife. And I don’t mean to be insulting, but let’s face it, most of us men are blockheads when it comes to understanding our wives.

Do you know your wife? Do you know her fears, cares, dreams, and expectations? Can you read her moods? Do you know her inside and out? Are you a student of your wife? Do you study her to know her better? That’s what we men must do, we must make a study of our wives in order to live with them with understanding.

Men, marriage is too rewarding to let it be static. You will eventually fail if you simply float down stream. Marriages must grow. And yours can, yours will, if you do the hard work. The first years might seem wonderful, but as a decade goes by, love only grows, until as elderly people married for fifty years, it only keeps getting better. You can be closer, more intimate, and more in love on your fiftieth anniversary than you were on your first. That is, if you continually work at it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Intimacy of Marriage

Sometimes along with all the advantages of preaching verse by verse, there is a problem. People can look ahead and see where you are going, and they ask all kinds of questions. And sometimes they make suggestions. So, when I get to a verse like Genesis 2:25, which says, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed;” I get this suggestion, “You don’t really need to preach on that one, do you?” Of course I’m going to, even though some people think it’s too hot to handle in church. But no topic addressed by Scripture should be too hot to handle.

I was also asked the question, “Are you going to tell us what this verse really means?” The answer is: Yes, I am. I did a lot of deep study – I checked the dictionaries of Hebrew words – and I can tell you conclusively what this verse means when it says, “And they were both naked.” It means they didn’t have any clothes on. Nope, not even a fig leaf. The rumors are true.

I suppose that means Eve had it easy. She didn’t have to do laundry, and it meant no ironing. But then she didn’t have to dust either, since she didn’t have a house. But they say Eve did worry. Every night when Adam came home from naming the animals, she counted his ribs.

Seriously, though, what is the lesson here? The word, naked, in Hebrew means to be laid bare. That means totally and completely naked. But it also says they weren’t ashamed. The idea is this: there were no hidden areas between them – no hang ups, no embarrassment, no fears. And they were naked together. The meaning is that they were totally transparent with each other in their marriage. They had unrestrained freedom and the complete absence of self-consciousness.

Does that sound strange in your marriage? Does it sound like something foreign? It’s because we live in a different world – one marred by sin. In Genesis chapter three at the fall, self-consciousness came into being, and shame entered at our nakedness. Then Adam and Eve will resort to using fig leaves to cover up. Later, God will clothe them with animal skins.

But since the fall, sin has marred that original transparent intimacy. We are crippled by sin when it comes to relating freely and openly even in our marriages. We have too much we prefer to keep covered, even from the eyes of our spouses. Nowadays, marriages are more often characterized by selfishness, competition, resentment, embarrassment, and masks, than by intimacy. To our shame!

But, guess what? God still wants our marriages to be intimate. Remember what it said in Ephesians 5:32? We’ve covered it several times already. Our marriages represent an earthly picture of Christ’s relationship to His bride, the church. And the church is to experience intimacy with her Savior, right? Hebrews 4:16 even gives us the gracious invitation “to come boldly to the throne of grace.” We are invited into God’s presence where we can receive grace and help in our time of need. “Boldly” doesn’t mean brashly or flippantly. It has the idea of freedom of speech. We can come before God at any time and tell Him anything. You can lay your heart bare before Him. Plus, God knows us intimately. Psalm 94:11 says, “The Lord knows the thoughts of man.” You can’t even hide what you are thinking from Him, so you might as well share it.

But to be a good symbol of Christ and the church, our marriages also must be intimate. Oh, but how? That is one of the greatest challenges of the ages. It requires work. Yes, sin hinders that work, but the reward of an intimate marriage makes it oh so worth-while. If you work at it, you will win. If not, you will lose big time. But when you win, you really win. The joy of a great marriage is beyond comparison. And if you lose, the scars are never superficial. They leave no flesh wounds, but cleave the heart.

Since we are sinful and prone to hide from each other, we need help in developing intimacy. That help comes from the pages of Scripture. What sin destroyed, following God’s commands can restore. In the next article we will begin examining the Scriptural remedy for our non-intimate marriages.