A Knowledgeable Marriage

April 20, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | Leave a comment
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In a previous post I discussed I Corinthians 7:1-10, and explained that, if you are married, God wants your marriage to be F.I.N.E., meaning that He wants the physical intimacy between you and your spouse to be frequent, inviting, natural, and exciting. He also wants you to know the real reason for your marriage.

But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

I Corinthians 7:11

Marriage was designed by God to be permanent.

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

I Corinthians 7:12

This is something which the Lord Jesus did not say in person during His earthly ministry, but it is just as authoritative since it is being said by the Holy Spirit through Paul. Believers should only marry other believers, but the failure to do so is not a ground for divorce, nor is the salvation of one spouse after the wedding, even when the other spouse refuses to get saved. Furthermore, the hostility of the unbelieving spouse toward the believing spouse because of his/her conversion is not a ground for divorce.

And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

I Corinthians 7:13-14

This does not mean that the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the sense of salvation, but that he is set apart as part of a household with a Holy Spirit influence, and possibly the recipient of special blessings due to one-half of the one-flesh relationship being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Also, a nullification of the marriage would make the children illegitimate in a sense, and would damage the blessing of their exposure to strong Christian influence.

But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

I Corinthians 7:15

This does not authorize divorce for abandonment, as many suppose. It simply prohibits hostile and forceful attempts to prevent physical separation.

For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

I Corinthians 7:16

This is an obvious figure of speech, meaning that a Christ-like testimony in the face of opposition and even persecution within the household can often be instrumental in winning an unbelieving spouse to Christ. Remember, your marriage is not primarily for your happiness, for you, or even for your spouse. It is for God to use as a means to illustrate and preach the Gospel in an unbelieving world, and for means of our sanctification.

The Know-Nots view marriage as an institution of convenience or a societal contract. The Knows know that marriage is a holy covenant relationship ordained by God, and that the love between a husband and wife is supposed to be a picture of the love between Christ and His bride, the Church.

Here’s a Quarter, Thanks to the God Who Cares

December 20, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Tomorrow (Deo volente) my beautiful, intelligent, loving wife and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Well, I’ll be celebrating, anyway. Due to financial constraints it may not be all that much of a celebration for her, but we’ll see. 25 years is one of those “big” anniversary markers, but I’m not really sure why. I suppose it’s because of the association of the number 25 with the idea that 25 is a quarter of a century. This makes sense in a larger historical perspective, but has anyone since the days of Noah and Moses lived long enough to be married for 100 years? Not likely. The truth is, my wife deserves to be honored, cherished, and celebrated for every single year she has had to put up with me, and, realistically, for every single day that made up those years. I could not, in my most focused and vivid analytical planning or my wildest dreams, have come up with a wife so wonderful. Only God could have created her.

I am always thankful when God answers my prayers, but He did not answer my prayers concerning what kind of a wife or marriage I thought I would like to have. No, He has done way better than that. Whether we are talking about her faithfulness, her godliness, her dedication, her kindness, her sense of humor, her beauty, her intelligence, or her skills and talents as a mother, what I asked God for fell way short of what He has done. In a striking paradox, not only is she reassuringly consistent, but she manages to surprise me each and every day.

I praise the Lord for the wonderful gift of my wife, my marriage, and the myriad and untold ways in which He has blessed it by His grace. May we, as spouses, friends, parents, and covenant-partners, draw closer to Him and glorify Him with our marriage, in the name of, and for the sake of, Jesus Christ.

Here are a couple of previous anniversary notes which still apply:
Marriage: The Long and the Short of It
One Crazy, Wonderful Day

One Crazy, Wonderful Day

December 21, 2015 at 10:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Today my wife and I celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. Since there are 24 hours in a day, I suppose we might think of our marriage so far as one long day, with each year representing an hour. If so, this has been one crazy day!

From the rush and panic of getting ready for a busy day, to the quick interlude of a lunch-hour break, to a long grueling afternoon of hard work, to the relief of a “happy hour,” to the excitement of a romantic evening on the town (or in the home!), to late-night discussions, arguments, tickle-fights, cuddling, and laughter, to the darkest, most frightening midnight hours of learning to trust and lean on each other for support and comfort, to a morning of new hope and joy, it has been a “day” given to us and arranged by God for our good and His glory.

I am thankful beyond expression for my wife. When I woke up this morning, by her side, I realized she is just as stunningly beautiful today as when we first met. She is my sister in Christ, my friend, my counselor, my partner, my helper, my passion, and the love of my life. When God (the same God Who had already given me eternal life and salvation in His Son, Jesus!) wanted to do something else really, really special and wonderful for me, He gave me Laura Hampton to be my wife. I thank Him and praise Him for her, and I ask Him, by His grace, mercy, and love, to bless us and keep us together all the days of our lives.

Biblical Marriage

January 5, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 2 Comments
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Several years ago my family and I belonged to a church which had a high incidence of marriage problems and divorce among the members. The Lord helped us to see a need and He provided the opportunity for us to start hosting married-couples Bible studies in our home on alternate Friday nights. This turned out to be a great blessing for us, and for a few other couples and families, and we kept it up (albeit less frequently) for a number of years. When we moved to a different church, I was given the opportunity to teach a “young married” Sunday School class, which I still enjoy doing to this day.

On January 3, 2009, the first post on The Deep End went public. It’s not strictly a marriage blog, but, since the word “anniversary” always reminds me of marriage, and since the Lord has blessed me with an awesome wife and an awesome marriage, I wanted to take the occasion of the completion of six years blogging to provide links for the posts under the category called “Biblical Marriage.”

1. The Husband of One Wife – Part 1
2. The Husband of One Wife – Part 2
3. The Blessings of an Unhappy Marriage Part 1
4. The Blessings of an Unhappy Marriage Part 2
5. God Is Real, God Is Good, and God is REALLY GOOD!
6. Mysteriously Meaningful Marriage Part 1
7. Mysteriously Meaningful Marriage Part 2
8. Reverence in Marriage (Part 1)
9. Reverence in Marriage (Part 2)
10. Marrying and Burying
11. I’m Just Sayin’ 8 (Genesis 2:18)
12. The Marriage Curse *
13. Desire in Marriage
14. A Designer Marriage
15. A Marriage of Flesh and Bones
16. Whose Idea WAS this Marriage?
17. The POV of Marriage
18. Marriage: The Long and the Short of It
19. Regaining What Was Lost in Marriage
20. The Problem of Shame in Marriage
21. The Solution to the Problem of Shame in Marriage
22. Suffering in Marriage
23. LONGsuffering in Marriage
24. Be Kind to Your Spouse
25. Objections to Being Kind to Your Spouse
26. Jump-Starting Your Marriage
27. Performing a Biopsy on Your Marriage
28. Getting the Puffiness Out of Your Marriage
29. More Testing for Puffiness in Your Marriage
30. A C.A.L.M. and Courteous Marriage
31. A C.A.L.M. and Accommodating Marriage
32. A C.A.L.M. and Longsuffering Marriage
33. A C.A.L.M. and Merciful Marriage
34. The Right Kind of Rejoicing in Marriage
35. Fooling Around with Celibacy in Marriage
36. Having a F.I.N.E. Marriage
37. Getting Busy in Marriage
38. Smart Phones and Marriage
39. Marital Espionage
40. A Concupiscible Marriage
41. How Whack-A-Mole Can Help Your Marriage
42. Imagination in Marriage
43. Guarding the Top of the Wall in Marriage
44. An Irascible Marriage
45. A Courageous Marriage
46. A Confident Marriage
47. The Lord’s Love Song
48. A Not-So-Amazing Marriage
49. Inhabiting and Investigating Your Marriage
50. Influence, Intercession, and Inheritance in Marriage
51. Seven Marriage Resolutions
52. Be a Friend to Your S.P.O.U.S.E.
53. Going Beyond Fairy Tale Marriage
54. An Illustrative Marriage
55. Why Is Marriage So Honorable?
56. John Piper: S.W.I.M. to be Married 
57. One Crazy, Wonderful Day
58. Here’s a Quarter, Thanks to the God Who Cares
59. A Knowledgeable Marriage (I Corinthians 7:11-16)

* most-read post in category

Why Is Marriage So Honorable?

July 16, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; [and] them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage [is] honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Hebrews 13:1-8

Marriage is honorable in all, but Hebrews 13:4 seems seems like a strange place for a principle about marriage. The surrounding passage is dealing with the difference between how Christians are supposed to live, and the way the ungodly, by default, live unloving lives. The word translated as “honorable” is usually translated as “precious,” and it reminds us that our marriages are very valuable things. They are to be cherished and cared for and never taken for granted – analogous to the effort that some people put into protecting a family heirloom or some great treasure that has come into their possession.

Sadly, most married Christians know more about the gadgets on their phones than about the intricacies of how our marriages are supposed to work and look. Marriage is supposed to be reflective of the love between Jesus and His Church. Therefore, adultery and whoremongering are things that are certainly antithetical to this relationship and image.

Marriage is supposed to be conducive to contentment, which is also reflective of Jesus and the Church. Therefore, covetousness would not accurately reflect that relationship.

Marriage is supposed to remind us to rely on God, not on our own faculties.

Marriage is where we learn headship and submission, authority and obedience. In the crucible of marriage we kill our selfishness and learn the joy of serving.

Finally, marriage is a good reminder that no one makes a good Jesus except for Jesus Himself.

An Illustrative Marriage

October 23, 2013 at 9:41 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 2 Comments
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Marriage is supposed to illustrate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:31-32

Obviously God made a good choice when he chose to make marriage Gospel-illustrative, because it is a very pliable analogy. In the Bible it is used at least three different ways to illustrate the relationship between Christians and Christ.

First, it illustrates Christ’s relationship with the capital C “Church” – the “universal” church.

And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.

Hosea 2:19

God – from the time of Abraham – has been calling out a “bride” for His Son. He has been “saving” a bride: making her righteous and cleaning her up so that she will be beautiful for His Son. If we are to illustrate that accurately in our marriages, we need to be holy and different in a world which is devaluing marriage every day.

Second, marriage illustrates Christ and His relationship to local churches.

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.

II Corinthians 11:2

As married couples we need to have “Godly” jealousy, which is a desire that your spouse’s affections are set on you in a way they are set on no one else. This is justifiable if you are a trustworthy recipient of those affections. We also need to be involved in ministry in our local church, holding up the Christian ideal of marriage in a church which calls itself Christian. Stand up for the marriages of your fellow church members, and stand up for Jesus when problems arise.

Third, marriage illustrates Christ and His relationship with individual believers.

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, [even] to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Romans 7:4

We are part of a universal body, and we should minister in a local body, but we must nourish and cherish our individual and personal relationships with Christ as well. Spouses “leave” their old lives as sons and daughters and brothers and sisters, to commit to a higher allegiance to each other. So too do Christians leave our old protections, homes, hopes, tasks, and masters, to be joined unto Christ, Who provides better protection, hope, tasks, and is a better Master.

Be a Friend to Your S.P.O.U.S.E.

September 13, 2013 at 9:58 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Biblical Marriage | 3 Comments
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The very first human friendship in the history of the world also happens to have been the very first marriage.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

We tend to think of “friendship” and “love” as being in two different, although overlapping, spheres, but friendship is one of the most important ingredients in “love.”

Listen to how the wife in Song of Solomon talks about her husband:

My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.

Song of Solomon 5:10

She says, “My husband is awesome – I would not want anybody else.”

His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.

Song of Solomon 5:11

My wife has a slight variation on this when she talks about me: “He is very handsome – his bald spot shines like a diamond.”

His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.

Song of Solomon 5:12

“He doesn’t have beady eyes.” (Always a plus!)

His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.

Song of Solomon 5:13

“I like his aftershave and even his breath smells good!”

His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.

Song of Solomon 5:14

“He has strong hands and six-pack abs.”

His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.

Song of Solomon 5:15

“He has nice legs and his profile is stunning.”

His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Song of Solomon 5:16

She is really carried away with this dude’s looks, and she’s telling this to the other women, but she is referring to him as her beloved and her friend.

I have devised an acrostic from the word S.P.O.U.S.E. to remind us of the importance of friendship between husbands and wives.

S.olace

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17

Be a friend to your spouse by loving her or him at all times – especially in adversity. That’s what solace is: comfort in times of distress.

P.roximity

Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.

Proverbs 27:10

Friendship means staying close by – being there to help when a need arises. The relationship of marriage is less meaningful without the proximity of friendship.

O.penness

Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.

Proverbs 27:9

Be a friend to your spouse by communicating openly, honestly, and frankly. Your spouse needs to be the friend you confide in – and the one whose confidences you keep.

U.sefulness

Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

Proverbs 19:6

Friends give each other gifts. It might just be time and attention or it might be material gifts, but being at your spouse’s disposal is the gift of usefulness. There are few things more discouraging than having a useless spouse.

S.upport and S.anctification

He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.

Proverbs 22:11

Kind words are supportive and helpful words are the marks of true friendship, but true love is always love in truth.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Proverbs 27:17

Friends sometimes fight, but they fight to the glory of God, and they fight with a purpose. They fight in love, and God puts them together to make each other stronger – like iron.

E.ncouragment and E.xhortation

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Proverbs 27:6

A good spouse has to batter the other spouse occasionally (figuratively, not literally!), but then we have a duty to bandage the wound in love.

Seven Marriage Resolutions

August 8, 2013 at 10:35 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 2 Comments
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The great “love chapter” of the Bible (I Corinthians 13) is not, strictly speaking, about marriage, but marriage is certainly supposed to be nourished by real love, and real love never stops pursuing.

Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

II Corinthians 12:14

The Apostle Paul gives more evidence of his love for the Corinthian church in II Corinthians when he says he is ready to come see the Corinthian believers for the third time. In marriage we must have a desire to pursue our spouses over and over again. Real love is content with the person, but it can never be content with the depth of the intimacy.

Paul did not want to be burdensome to the church in Corinth, and your pursuit of your spouse should not be burdensome to him or her. This is romance, not stalking. Real love respects boundaries while seeking permission to be let inside the boundaries. Marriage is not about what you can get from your spouse. It is about getting to your spouse.

Well-meaning but misguided parents turn their children into idols, and, if you are not careful, you will do the same to your spouse: depending upon your spouse to meet needs which can only be met by Jesus. As Jonathan Edwards taught, what you idolize, you will eventually demonize when that idol (as it must) lets you down.

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

II Corinthians 12:15

Notice that Paul was “very glad” to sacrifice himself, and to allow the church members to sacrifice him. His love for them was not dependent upon their behavior. It was based upon their relationship in Christ, and his relationship to Christ.

Lists of resolutions became somewhat fashionable in evangelical Christianity around the time of the movie Courageous and the literature that supported it, so I don’t want to seem like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon here, but I did write a list of resolutions that I made to my wife pursuant to this lesson. May the Lord help me to keep them.

1. I will love you against all odds and will never stop loving you
2. I will do my best to be a blessing, not a burden, to you.
3. I want you for you – not what you have or what you can do for me.
4. I am willing to give everything I have for you.
5. I will take responsibility for your welfare.
6. I will never be satisfied with the love I have for you – I will always seek to love you more.
7. I will not use you or exploit you or treat you as thing. I will treat you as God’s daughter.

Influence, Intercession, and Inheritance in Marriage

July 10, 2013 at 10:02 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 4 Comments
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In the last lesson we looked at two of the duties of Christian spouses:

I. Duty to Inhabit
II. Duty to Investigate

Now we will see the:

III. Duty to Influence

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands…

I Peter 3:1

“Be in subjection” means to be voluntarily submissive – to recognize and honor the husband’s God-ordained headship, to be a loving follower and supporter.

“Likewise” refers back to the previous chapter:

For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

I Peter 2:25

It would be foolish for sheep to rebel against their shepherd, just as it is foolish when Christians rebel against Christ. The shepherd is responsible for the care and protection of the sheep.

Husbands also have a duty here:

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel,

I Peter 3:7

A precious vase is not despised for its weakness. Rather, it is treasured and cherished both for its value (wives are practical and important “helpers”) and for its preciousness (your God-chosen wife is a singular rarity). Husbands are supposed to protect their wives, and to realize their worth before God and to themselves. Husbands must also remember that their wives are “vessels:” containers that Jesus purchased with His blood and filled with His Spirit.

IV. Duty to Intercede

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)

There is an obvious duty for husbands to pray for their wives, and for wives to pray for their husbands, but there are at least three possible meanings to that part of the verse. It could be envisioning a scenario where the husband is not fulfilling his duties to inhabit the marriage relationship, or to investigate and influence his wife, so that his own prayers are being hindered. It could also mean that the husband is not honoring his wife and treating her right, and that, therefore, “their” (both of them) prayers for each other and their marriage are hindered. Finally, it might mean that there is bitterness between the spouses because of the husband’s behavior, and therefore it is too uncomfortable for them to pray together. In other words, the prayer time itself is hindered. I think application can be made for all three. The Greek word translated as “hindered” means to cut off or hew down – the way you would hack down a tree that is producing bad fruit and throw it in the burn pile. The word translated “prayers” is pretty generic, but we know that in marriage the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the Church. When Christ prays for the Church He “intercedes.” He goes on our behalf and pleads our cause and presents Himself as not only our Advocate but our Substitute. Therefore, as husbands and wives pray with each other, they should also pray for each other, making intercession before the throne of God as representatives of the relationship which God joined together.

V. Duty to Inherit

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)

God grants a special grace to married people to enjoy life together. It is an “extra inheritance,” and because marriage is a lifelong commitment and union, the grace is for all of life: memories, children, conversations, physical intimacy, shared secrets, trust, appreciation, peace and joy in the household. But we have a duty to accept the inheritance. We must cultivate it, and not waste it in “far countries” like the prodigal son. Spouses are joint heirs – no more “yours, mine, and ours.” In marriage it’s all “ours:” from money to moments to ministry – if you are married these things bring great joy when shared and cause complications when hoarded away from each other.

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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