Friday, January 3, 2014

What love is NOT.

It's come to my attention recently that in some circles men think it is their right to discipline their wives.

I'm talking about spanking.  A husband spanking a wife.

I'd likely spank right back.  I asked my husband what he thinks about this, and he also was flabbergasted. His response:  "Why would it enter anyone's mind?" 

 RC Sproul Jr wife spanking

I don't know how the advertisers got away with this sort of thing back in the 50's.  I do know that in my own home my father would never have considered beating my mother for any reason.  Even though my grandfathers were considered the heads of their respective homes, they always treated their wives with love and appreciation.  

What really boggles my mind is the fact that it is Christian husbands and wives who seem to be accepting this as normal practice for a marriage.  

We have come a long way from the wisdom of theologians like Matthew Henry, who wrote a commentary that many still refer to in 2014.  His comments include (from Ephesians 5):

The duty of wives is, submission to their husbands in the Lord, which includes honouring and obeying them, from a principle of love to them. The duty of husbands is to love their wives. The love of Christ to the church is an example, which is sincere, pure, and constant, notwithstanding her failures. Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify it in this world, and glorify it in the next, that he might bestow on all his members a principle of holiness, and deliver them from the guilt, the pollution, and the dominion of sin, by those influences of the Holy Spirit, of which baptismal water was the outward sign. The church and believers will not be without spot or wrinkle till they come to glory. But those only who are sanctified now, shall be glorified hereafter. The words of Adam, mentioned by the apostle, are spoken literally of marriage; but they have also a hidden sense in them, relating to the union between Christ and his church. It was a kind of type, as having resemblance. There will be failures and defects on both sides, in the present state of human nature, yet this does not alter the relation. All the duties of marriage are included in unity and love. And while we adore and rejoice in the condescending love of Christ, let husbands and wives learn hence their duties to each other. Thus the worst evils would be prevented, and many painful effects would be avoided.

We see that the love of a husband towards his wife ought to be like the love of Christ towards the church.  Many painful effects (such as humiliation of the wife and domination of the husband, for which he must repent) could be avoided, if married couples learn to love one another as Christ loves the church.

More from Matthew Henry, on 1 Peter 3:

Verses 1-7 The apostle having treated of the duties of subjects to their sovereigns, and of servants to their masters, proceeds to explain the duty of husbands and wives.I. Lest the Christian matrons should imagine that their conversion to Christ, and their interest in all Christian privileges, exempted them from subjection to their pagan or Jewish husbands, the apostle here tells them,1. In what the duty of wives consists.

(1.) In subjection, or an affectionate submission to the will, and obedience to the just authority, of their own husbands, which obliging conduct would be the most likely way to win those disobedient and unbelieving husbands who had rejected the word, or who attended to no other evidence of the truth of it than what they saw in the prudent, peaceable, and exemplary conversation of their wives. 

Matthew Henry explains that Christian wives ought to be cheerful and respectful towards their OWN husbands, even if the husband is not a Christian.  

(2.) In fear, or reverence to their husbands, Eph. 5:33 .
(3.) In a chaste conversation, which their unbelieving husbands would accurately observe and attend to. 
(4.) In preferring the ornaments of the mind to those of the body

Christians ought to understand that the inward man is far more important than the outward. A Christian woman ought to dress appropriately and modestly, but she ought to take care to adorn her soul rather than her body. Outward adornments fade away... clothes wear out, jewelry tarnishes, even the body ages. Yet a meek and quiet spirit cultivated by a godly Christian woman will become brighter and better as she matures in Christ. This is precious in the sight of God!

Matthew Henry explains that the Apostle Peter gives examples of holy women of old, who trusted in God.  Sarah obeyed Abram, and called him "Lord" (a sign of respect) even though she did not know where they were going.  God knows what is going on, and keeps an exact record of all of the actions of all men and women.  He knows our difficult circumstances, and is pleased when we accept our lot and trust God to work it out.  Even if we are married to a churlish husband, we can honour God by respecting him and serving him in love.  

Matthew Henry goes on: 

II. The husband’s duty to the wife comes next to be considered.
1. The particulars are,
 (1.)Cohabitation, which forbids unnecessary separation, and implies a mutual communication of goods and persons one to another, with delight and concord. 
(2.) Dwelling with the wife according to knowledge; not according to lust, as brutes; nor according to passion, as devils; but according to knowledge, as wise and sober men, who know the word of God and their own duty.
(3.) Giving honour to the wife 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 a due trust and confidence in her.
2. The reasons are, Because she is the weaker vessel by nature and constitution, and so ought to be defended: but then the wife is, in other and higher respects, equal to her husband; they are heirs together of the grace of life, of all the blessings of this life and another, and therefore should live peaceably and quietly one with another, and, if they do not, their prayers one with another and one for another will be hindered, so that often "you will not pray at all, or, if you do, you will pray with a discomposed ruffled mind, and so without success.’’ 

Learn, (1.) The weakness of the female sex is no just reason either for separation or contempt, but on the contrary it is a reason for honour and respect: Giving honour to the wife as unto the weaker vessel. 
(2.) There is an honour due to all who are heirs of the grace of life. 
(3.) All married people should take care to behave themselves so lovingly and peaceably one to another that they may not by their broils hinder the success of their prayers.

One of my teachers at Bible College explained that the "weaker vessel" is like a fine china teacup compared to a pewter mug.  The mug is stronger and won't break as easily if handled roughly.  The teacup is more delicate, and must be treated with care to be enjoyed.

Notice that the Scriptures (and Matthew Henry) teach that the wife is equal to her husband, and that they are heirs together.  Theirs is a relationship that pictures the love and sacrifice of Christ for His bride, the Church.  

That does not, in any way, include a spanking.

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