MARRIAGE: WHEN THE WRONG AUDIENCE IS LISTENING
by David Sisler
It had been a knock-down, drag-out week.
The woman said, "My husband wants to take me to the best restaurant in town tonight. As an apology, I guess."
Her friend said, "Say, ‘Yes.' Go!"
She said, "I'd be more pleased if, when I get home tonight, he will have cleaned the house and finished the laundry."
They went to dinner.
Colleges offer remedial courses for students who need to polish their mathematics or English skills before enrolling in the "real classes." It sounds to me as if that husband needs remedial marriage counseling (and after 32 years of marriage, I am still, at times, remanded to an 099 course or two).
The most exacting set of instructions on living a successful marriage was written by a bachelor who advised celibacy. But when actually lived by a man and a woman, Paul's instructions to the church at Ephesus produce marriage-changing results. The trouble is, when we hear it, most of us listen to the wrong parts.
Dennis the Menace, Hank Ketchum's perpetual five-year-old, was having cake and milk at the Wilson's. Mrs. Wilson was washing the dishes. Mr. Wilson was reading the newspaper.
Dennis asked, "Mr. Wilson, why don't you ever go to work?"
Mr. Wilson replied, "I am retired."
"Retired! Is that why you loaf all the time?" Dennis asked.
Mr. Wilson said, "Since I worked hard for so many years I have earned the right to loaf."
"Why doesn't Mrs. Wilson retire?" Dennis wondered.
Mr. Wilson said, "She can't retire because she never worked."
"But Mrs. Wilson is always cooking or washing or sewing," Dennis replied.
"That's different," Mr. Wilson explained. "She's a housewife! If she retired who'd do the housework?"
Dennis asked, "Couldn't you help?"
"Dennis! Are you trying to make trouble?" Mr. Wilson shouted.
Dennis walked home and his mother asked what the Wilson's were arguing about. Dennis said, "I don't know. I came home ‘cause I didn't want to get involved!"
Mr. Wilson needed to be introduced to the marriage instructions which direct the wife to "submit" and the husband is directed to "love." The Apostle Paul said more than that, of course, but that is usually all we hear. And as David Hoke, team chaplain for the Philadelphia Eagles, says, "All too often, the wrong audience is listening."
Marriage harmony would improve dramatically if husbands were never allowed to read the words, "Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." Equally, wives should never be allowed to read the words, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." The instructions beginning with the word "wives" is for the wives. The instructions beginning with the word "husbands" is for the husbands. Simple enough, right? Evidently not.
Hoke says, "God is calling us husbands to do more than utter a few ‘I love you's' or to give a few boxes of candy or bouquets of flowers. He is calling us to give our very lives for our wives." That was the plea of the wife who said, "I'd rather a freshly cleaned house, and washed and folded laundry, than dinner at a swanky restaurant."
Husbands are commissioned to go all out in love for their wives, just like Jesus did for the church. His love was one that gave, not one that gathered. His love made the church complete. Everything he did enhanced the church's beauty and brought out the best in her. Eugene Peterson says, "That is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor."
Christ died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault. He humbled himself and in that humility, willingly died.
At another house, it had also been a knock-down, drag-out week. At church the following Sunday morning the man said, "I am angry. Should I take Communion? I don't feel worthy."
His friend said, "You weren't worthy when you were not angry. Your worthiness is only because of Jesus Christ. Take Communion."
There is something about the way male DNA is structured which seems to require self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and self-indulgence. We think a few bucks on an expensive dinner will do, when she wants time not money. We think we have to be perfect before we can be accepted. In this business of loving and giving and submitting, why don't we husbands try something really hard – such as taking the lead, such as going first?
Published in The Augusta Chronicle 10/7/2000
Copyright 2000 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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