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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Biblical Reflections for Today (conclusion)

     Let’s first cover the verse that will be shared with the umbrella found in Ephesians 5:21:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

     Relationships with the opposite gender are not a competition as to who is most important or who has the most power over the other. Clearly, each is expected to submit to the other as to Jesus; this is important to keep in mind at all times.
     Paul goes on to detail the basics of each side of the relationship. The intention is to promote peace and love within the family unit.

Ephesians 5: 25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Colossians 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”
(If your potential mate has any children, you might want to consider verse 21, too:  “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”)

     But, it is not just Paul who writes about husbands. Check out

I. Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

     I know some women who think this is a verse that puts a woman in second place to a man because she is considered the “weaker vessel” but, let’s be honest here. If you look at the muscle mass of most men, as compared with the muscle mass of most women… women are built to be the weaker vessel. My Swiss colleague is a lovely, tall, strong lady but her deltoid muscle (the triangle at the top of your shoulder that hooks on to your arm and allows it to be lifted straight up away from your side) is about two-inches at the widest point! Compared to a man’s in the same physical condition she is, well, hers is just plain puny. It is a matter of physical fact, women are the weaker vessel so let’s enjoy it and let the men change that flat tire and lift the heavy stuff, eh?
     Peter deals with the “why”, which to me seems like a no-brainer but let’s spell out the flip side if the man just is going to be resistant to his role… his prayers will be hindered if he is not treating his lady right! Now, that is incentive, I say.

     And the lady? These verses are so often used to beat a wife into doing what her husband wants her to do, regardless if it hurts her or not. The husband who follows the instructions of the Lord is a joy to submit to in everything. He has her best in mind at all times and would not dream of hurting her or preferring himself to her needs. Okay, it is the goal, not the reality, but the same is true for the women. We have targets to shoot for and God does expect us to work on them with all diligence. I will quickly draw your attention to just one point before we read the verses: When speaking of wives, the word used is to submit, not obey. It is the children who are told to obey in the Scriptures. Here is what was said for the woman, in case it is new for you. Again, I begin with:

Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” 

It is a partnership; the wife is not the husband’s slave.

     Continuing in Ephesians 5:22-23:

 “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church…”

      Then drop down to the very last phrase of Chapter Five:

 “Wives must respect their husbands.”

(Ladies, note that it doesn’t say he has to earn your respect; the Lord wants you to choose to respect him.)
    
Colossians 3: 18 “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

 (Ladies if you are in a dating relationship with a guy and just don’t see how you would ever respect him for any reason or that he would not likely try to take care of you the way Jesus is taking care of the Church, think again about committing yourself to him for the rest of your life. God will expect you to obey Him here by submitting and respecting your husband.)

     Peter also deals with the issue of the Believer who comes to the Lord after already being married. While he is speaking of the wife here, as this is the more common thing, the same is true for the husband who converts to Christ after marriage and has an unbelieving wife. If you treat her as Christ expects you to treat a wife, she may just find salvation through your witness of Christ to her.

I. Peter 3:1-2: Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”    

     Most of the time women strive to look good for their guy so Peter tries to give a bit of advice regarding what is most important. 

Verses 3-4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

     I don’t for a moment think that Peter is saying that women cannot wear jewelry or fine clothing, though this has sometimes been interpreted in this way. I think that Peter was just saying, the most important issue is not the outward appearance. This gives some hope for those of us not as wealthy as to be able to wear gold and fine clothing, eh? All of us can have purity in our hearts and a gentle spirit!
     So the bottom line is this: 1. Husbands and wives submit to one another as to Christ; 2. Husbands love your wives and 3. Wives respect your husbands. Kids obey your parents and fathers don’t provoke the kids!
     Please, parents of young boys and girls, prepare them, now, for their future roles so that your own little Sojourner and Ronny may learn early how to treat each other.

****Peer Relationships: Opposite Gender, Social Reflections for Today… Coming Monday


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