Inhabiting and Investigating Your Marriage

June 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 9 Comments
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In marriage – especially Christian marriage – there are certain duties owed by husbands to wives, and vice versa. Even more so, there are duties owed by both spouses to Christ, Who is supposed to be the Center of our marriages.

I. Duty to Inhabit

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

I Peter 3:1-2

Conversation” in the Bible means more than just how you talk. It refers to your daily habits – your “lifestyle.” Wives are supposed to live out their lives before their husbands in such a way that their “ways” can be observed. The Bible does not assume that a typical marriage is one where the husband is right with the Lord. Rather, it seems to envision a typical marriage as one where the wife is walking with Jesus, but the husband needs to be changed. Sadly, this has proven prophetic in our day and age, as many wives, by default, have been the spiritual leaders – or at least the main influencers – in the home. Clearly, I Peter 3:1-2 envisions a scenario where the husband not only is failing to obey the Word, but has not been “won” by the Word. Therefore, the exhortation to wives is to advertise a Godly lifestyle. This would prohibit nagging and the administration of a verbal “beat-down” or a sanctimonious manipulation to try to get the husband to change his ways and start committing to follow the Lord and attend church. The idea is that wives are supposed to be authentic in their expressions of love for Jesus and their husbands, and to depend upon the Holy Spirit to do the convicting and the changing. If you are reading this and you are a wife, does your husband see you praying, reading your Bible, going to church? He might see the results of these disciplines, but he will not see them being acted out unless they are done openly in his presence. And you can’t do those things in front of him if you are not inhabiting the same space as him.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them…

I Peter 3:7

Husbands should not live apart from their wives. We must inhabit the same household, and spend much time together.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:3

God “inhabits” the praises of His people. He “dwells” there – He is in the midst of His people when they praise Him. We need to praise our spouses, and not just around others, but face to face, in the presence of each other on a daily basis. Praise and habitation must go hand in hand if a right spirit is to be present, honoring Christ in our homes.

II. Duty to Investigate

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

I Peter 3:1-2 (emphasis added)

The Greek word translated as “behold” in I Peter 3:2 means more than just “to look at” or to “take notice of” which is what “behold” sometimes means. Here it means “to look intently at” or “to observe closely for a long period of time.” It describes the way an “overseer” of a project investigates the progress of the project that his men are working on every day to see how it’s going.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

In other words, one of our duties as husbands is to make a study of our wives. You need to know your wife’s likes and dislikes, her pet peeves and the delights of her heart. You need to know what she thinks about different topics and people. You need to try to learn how she’s going to behave in different circumstances. Find out what’s on her mind. Obviously, this involves the dreaded “talks about her feelings” that often get parodied when observers point out the differences in the approach of men (“How can I fix this?”) and women (“I need you to empathize with me and listen to me.”) in how they communicate about problems, conflict, and interests. But the Scriptural exhortation is way more than that. It involves making observations, noting them, remembering them, and even meditating on them. The worldly cliché is that women just can’t be figured out by men, so there’s no point in trying. Thankfully, God has not commanded us men to figure out women in general, but neither has He given us a pass on understanding our wives. This is a serious duty, and not one to be brushed aside with a chuckle and a shrug of the shoulders. Just as an aerospace engineer had better be familiar and extremely conversant with math and physics, so a Christian husband had better be an expert on one woman in this world: his wife.

The duty for wives in this area is likewise crucial: Your duty here is to make sure you are a chaste study subject. Remember the command to wives? “While they behold your chaste conversation…” When the investigation begins, you want your husband to be glad about what he finds, not worried. You want him to be investigating a life of holiness, not a crime scene. Your life should be more like a treasure hunt than an episode of C.S.I. “Coupled with fear.” I know the common sitcom trope about the wife who asks her husband how her dress looks, and then bursts into tears when he says something a little too honest, but in real life wives need to disregard the potential for comedy that comes from acting like you and your spouse are from different planets, so that the husband is left scratching his head like a buffoon. Wives: revere your husbands enough not to be hard to “figure out” on purpose.

Next time, we will discover the duties to influence and intercede.

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