Saturday, January 01, 2011

Hopeless Romantic: Love Bears All Things, Believes All Things, Hopes All Things, Endures All Things

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. ... (1 Corinthians 13:1-8. ESV.)

Truth be known, I am a hopeless romantic! I adore love stories---where a man and woman meet, get married, start a family (especially when the husband is the protector and the wife is nurturing and supportive...however old fashioned that might sound). It makes me want to melt. I like to watch as his face lights up each time his spouse enters his presence... how he is her knight in shining armor and she is his beloved... how he gently cares for her as the weaker (opposed to his body strength) vessel. It makes my heart hum with joy when he delights in becoming a father and takes great pride in being the head of his household. But why do I gravitate to such notions? Could it be because that is what our Father created for His precious children?

God's word does not overlook love, marriage, and parenting. I feel my King took great care in letting it be known what righteous love, a godly husband, and a wife who fears the Lord look like. They are explained in ways we can understand and imitate (because we desire to, not out of fear, obligation, peer pressure, etc.). Further, these things are beautiful to our sight and being. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image per His glorify Him.

Two Separate Lives or a Single Life Shared

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24. ESV.)

2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2. ESV.)

14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:14-16. ESV.)

[Submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33.)

In his sermon "Marriage: Pursuing Conformity to Christ in the Covenant", Pastor John Piper makes some excellent points and clears up some misconceptions. Please click here to read/listen to his message. A couple points are as follows:

Husbands Changing Wives

In Christ’s relationship to the church, he is clearly seeking the transformation of his bride into something morally and spiritually beautiful. And he is seeking it at the cost of his life. Let’s think for a moment about the implications of this passage on how a husband thinks and acts with a view to changing his wife. We will come to the wife’s desire to change her husband in a few minutes.

The first implication is that the husband, who loves like Christ, bears a unique responsibility for the moral and spiritual growth of his wife—which means that over time, God willing, there will be change.

Treading on Dangerous Ground

I realize that at this point—no matter how I come at this—I am treading on dangerous ground. I could be playing right into the hands of a selfish, small-minded, controlling husband who has no sense of the difference between enriching differences between him and his wife and moral and spiritual weaknesses or defects that should be changed. Such a man will likely distort what I am saying into a mandate to control every facet of his wife’s behavior, and the criterion of what he seeks to change will be his own selfish desires cloaked in spiritual language.

But an honest look at this text does not lead us there. It leads us to a very different attitude. Consider three observations:

1) The Husband Is Like Christ, Not Christ

The husband is like Christ, which means he is not Christ. Verse 23: “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.” The word as does not mean that the husband is like Christ in every way. The husband is finite in strength, not omnipotent like Christ. The husband is finite and fallible in wisdom, not all-wise like Christ. The husband is sinful, not perfect like Christ. Therefore, we husbands dare not assume we are infallible. We may err in what we would like to see changed in our wives. That’s the first observation.

2) Conformity to Christ, Not to the Husband

The aim of the godly husband’s desire for change in his wife is conformity to Christ, not conformity to himself. Notice the key words in verses 26 and 27. Verse 26: that he might “sanctify her.” Verse 27: that he might present the church to himself “in splendor.” Verse 27 again: that she might be “holy.” These words imply that our desires for our wives are measured by God’s standard of holiness, not our standard of mere personal preferences.

3) Dying for the Wife

The third observation is the most important: What Paul draws attention to most amazingly is that the way Christ pursues his bride’s transformation is by dying for her. Verse 25-26: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.” This is the most radical thing that has been or could ever be said to a husband about the way he leads his wife into conformity to Christ in the covenant of marriage. Husbands, are we pursuing her conformity to Christ by lording it over her, or by dying for her? When we lead her, or even, if necessary, confront her, are we self-exalting or self-denying? Is there contempt or compassion?

If a husband is loving and wise like Christ in all these ways, his desire for his wife’s change will feel, to a humble wife, like she is being served, not humiliated. Christ clearly desires for his bride to grow in holiness. But he died to bring it about. So, brothers, govern your desire for your wife’s change by the self-denying death of Christ. May God give us the humility and the courage to measure our methods by the sufferings of Christ. (See Titus 2:14; Revelation 19:7.)

Wives Changing Husbands

Now let’s turn to the wife’s desire for her husband’s change. This is not a message about what headship and submission are. But to make the points I am making I have to touch on what headship and submission are not. I have already said that a husband’s headship is not identical to Christ’s headship. It is like it. Similarly, therefore, the wife’s submission to the husband is not identical to her submission to Christ. It is like it. When verse 22 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord,” the word as does not mean that Christ and the husband are the same. Christ is supreme, the husband is not. Her allegiance is to Christ first, not first to her husband. The analogy only works if the woman submits to Christ absolutely, not to the husband absolutely. Then she will be in a position to submit to the husband without committing treason or idolatry.

One of the things this implies is that a wife will see the need for change in her husband. And she may and should seek the transformation of her husband, even while respecting him as her head—her leader, protector, and provider. There are several other reasons I say this.... (By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

God's word states:

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13. ESV.)

(Click here for photo.)
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