One of the pastors at our church spoke these words this past Sunday as he addressed wives during part of his sermon.
Your husband is not your child.
Now, this is a simple statement with which most of us would probably agree. Of course our husbands are not our children. I think I even nodded my head in agreement when I first heard the words. But the more time I spent thinking about that statement, the more conviction I felt, and the more I realized my need for repentance in this area.
You’ve heard the jokes before, right? A bunch of women get together (oftentimes church-going women are the worst!) and we talk about our children, adding one more to the count so as to include our husband in the mix. It seems harmless enough. Granted, some of my husband’s needs are the same as my son’s needs – they both require food, for example (and I’m learning that, as males, they both need a lot of food!). But what usually accompanies those jokes is a bitter, complaining, self-seeking tone: “Well, I have to go take care of my two boys at home…you know, neither of them can do anything – it has to be all me.” When these words leave my mouth, not only am I begging for selfish attention and expressing discontent in my role as a wife and mother, I’m also demeaning my husband’s role to the equivalence of a 12 month old toddler.
Why is that so wrong? Ephesians 5:33 says, “…let the wife see that she respects her husband.” I don’t know about other men, but my husband doesn’t find it very respectful when I treat him like a child.
I can hear the rebuttal already (and I’ve wrongly used it myself in arguments with my husband): but my husband does act like a child! He won’t pick up after himself, I have to cook for him, clean for him, do his laundry, and he seldom notices. If anything is going to get done around the house, it’s got to be me. Just last night, for the four hundredth night in a row, he left his dirty clothes on the floor in our bedroom instead of placing them in the hamper that sits about eight feet away!
If you’re anything like me and have found yourself saying anything similar, chances are that there is at least a little exaggeration or untruth to the argument. But let’s say that it is all true. Let’s say that your husband completely and totally acts like another one of your children. Doesn’t that give us as wives the right to treat them like children, at least until they get their act together? Doesn’t it?
Although there have been times I would have liked to think so, and times I’ve tried to justify my own sin by instead pointing out my husband’s failures, the answer is still no. Why? That answer is simple.
But God showed his love for me in that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8). When all I knew to do was run from him, oppose him, and attempt to steal the worship and honor and glory that only he deserves, he loved me. He extended his grace when I didn’t deserve it and while I could never earn it, even in a lifetime’s worth of attempts. He absorbed the punishment and wrath that I deserved and instead turned it into God’s favor upon me. As the same pastor at my church said a few weeks ago, no one could ever do anything worse to me than what I’ve done to God. And yet he extended grace to me, forgave me, and continues loving me despite my daily shortcomings.
Remembering the gospel opposes the idea that I am allowed to treat my husband as I judge that he deserves, based on his actions or lack of meeting my expectations. Respecting my husband is not an action I can choose to ignore if I determine that he hasn’t appreciated me enough lately, fulfilled my requests of laundry placement or done all in his power to “make Momma happy.” Respecting him is not an option which I can disregard when I feel like cracking a few jokes with other women at the expense of my husband. Respecting my husband is a commandment. It’s what obedience looks like for me.
Remembering the gospel helps me recognize the myriad of ways my husband leads, shepherds, and loves me well. Instead of focusing on silly misplaced laundry, I’m grateful for the hard work my husband exerts to provide for our family. Instead of complaining about all of the cleaning I have to do, I’m grateful for the mess of toys in the living room caused by my husband playing with our son. A gospel-centered attitude replaces hateful, bossy, bitter words with kind, gentle and patient words spoken out of humility and concern for my husband’s well-being. Instead of attempting to change his behavior, I’m grateful for my husband’s companionship and am learning how God designed us to complement and sanctify each other.
And remembering the gospel reminds me that my attitude of respect towards my husband is about much more than just our marriage…it’s part of modeling the gospel to others. Ultimately, this gospel-informed attitude adorns and points others to my God.
It’s not an option, it’s a commandment. It’s obedience.
And I’ve found that when, by God’s grace, I am actually obedient, true joy accompanies that obedience.
Colossians 3:12-13: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
- He’s not your child, he’s your husband (mirthandmelancholy.com)
- Some Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected (peacefulwife.com)
- Do Unto Husbands (feminagirls.com)