Simeon and Macey

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Our God is a God of abundance, and we need to be clear about this. This is not something that He has, but rather something that He is. He did not create the world, or us as a people to inhabit the world, because He was lonely. He was not in any way filling up a deficit within Himself. The creation of all things was a glorious overflow. He, out of a sheer infinite goodness, gave us the privilege of partaking in the reality of an abundance that naturally and organically springs from Him.

As Christians, we are given the privilege of imitating Him, seeking to become more and more like Him. This means that we are to receive from Him, and we receive from Him in order to be able to give in the same way that He does. And so we learn how to give, hoping to receive more, in order that we might be privileged to give even more. In short, we give to get in order to be able to give again.

Now one of the very best places for learning how to do this is within marriage. The husband is called to give to his wife, and the wife is summoned by the Scriptures to give to her husband. But this requires wisdom, and is not as simple as it looks.

The Golden Rule really is a golden rule for life in general. Do as you would be done by is a rule to live by when it comes to respecting the dignity of others, or being solicitous for their health when they are sick, or in other predictable situations. There are certain things that are common to all people, and in those areas the Golden Rule most certainly applies. But the Golden Rule is not the rule to follow when you are shopping for Christmas presents. You must not buy for everyone else what you would like to receive. Your tastes might not be the same, and within the context of marriage . . . they most certainly are not.

Men and women think differently. They give gifts differently. They receive gifts differently. They evaluate what they have been given differently. They shop for others differently. Consequently, once this stark reality dawns on each of them, it might make them wonder how on earth they are going to figure it all out. How do you shop from a catalog that is written in a language that you don’t understand? Is our cause therefore hopeless?

Not at all. Your spouse may not speak your language, and you may not speak your spouse’s language. But God speaks all languages, and He has given us His Word. We are called to give to our wife, or to our husband, what God says should be given to them. In other words, we should not give in accordance with our own lights, which are pretty dim. Neither should we give in accordance with what we think the other person is requesting, or requiring, or demanding, or whatever. Husband should give their wives what God says husbands should give, and wives should give to their husbands what God says they should give. This part is pretty straightforward.

And not to keep you in suspense, God calls husbands to love their wives, and God summons wives to respect their husbands. The relationship between husband and wife is mutual in the sense that both of them are to give their all. But all what? All different, that’s what.

There are two things to learn from this. First, God commands to our respective weaknesses, and His requirements line up with our spouses’ respective needs. God tells men to love because men are generally no good at it. And God tells men to love their wives because this is something that wives need in order to thrive. When Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep, we may infer that sheep need food. We can also conclude that shepherds need to be reminded to undertake that feeding.

And God tells women to respect their men because women are generally not very good at that—and husbands need respect in order to thrive.

Men naturally handle the coins of respect, but they need to be reminded to fulfill their obligations to their wives in the coinage of love. And women naturally handle the coins of love, but they need to be reminded to fulfill their obligations to their husbands in the coinage of respect. Remember to use the currency exchange. Women are fully capable of loving a man to pieces while at the same time believing him to be a world class bozo. A man is capable of respecting a woman by keeping his distance because he believes that when she said that he should keep his distance that she meant it. But we are not to give what we have come to believe the other one wants or thinks they need. We are to give what we were told to give.

Simeon, this is what you will constantly need to keep in front of you. The scriptural definition of love that is set before you is two-fold—the self-sacrificial love of Christ for the church, and the natural self-love that you have for your own body. Paul sets this out quite plainly in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. These are the two measuring rods you are to use as you give yourself away to your bride. Speaking scripturally, this love is present, it is sacrificial, it is focused, and it is to the death. I am speaking in a dark parable, but you are the death, and she is the resurrection. And neither one makes any sense apart from the other one.   

Macey, the charge for you is to respect your husband. Respect focuses on abilities and achievements. Respect is what enables you to expect your man to do his duty, and to be fully confident that he is capable of it. God’s word calls him to provide for you, and to protect you. This is your due, and in one sense you should simply assume it. And still, once he has come through yet again, your responsibility is to respect him for being the kind of man who keeps his obligations. And as the obligations are high obligations, so also should your gratitude be a high gratitude, and your respect be a high respect.

All of this is grace—what he renders to you, and what you render to him. Absolutely all of it is all of grace.  

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.