07 August, 2009

Which Came First

Respect in marriage.

Eggerich says the woman must respect her husband. I like that idea in theory, but I've known some evil husbands. When it becomes clear that the man is placing his own convenience ahead of the needs of his wife, she'd have to be a pathological self-liar to respect him. That woman must not respect her husband.

In a marriage between two decent people, though, I'm willing give Eggerich his due - after all, he is quoting scripture.

Imagine, though, the situation where a basically decent guy does something that obviously demonstrates his own convenience is more important to him than his wife's real needs. That man creates a chasm across which no healthy woman can easily cross. Asking any God-fearing, self-disciplined, wise wife to respect that man is asking her to violate herself. And yet, respect is necessary for marriage to work. What's to be done? Who's to do it?

Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?

Does the "chicken" of the man repenting of his sin come first, or is it the "egg" of the wife's mustard seed of respect freely given to a man in need of grace? Does the responsibility lie with the woman who is directly commanded by God to respect her husband, or does the responsibility lie with the man since some call him the God-ordained leader in the home?

The theoretical implications of that paradoxical connundrum could unman the bravest theologian. Philosophical finaglings and findings of falacy fool the poor guy who thinks it can be figured out.

Fortunately, the Lord doesn't care what we figure out.

If you've got chickens, make eggs. And if you've got eggs, grow chickens. Upon whomever the Lord has given the grace for a given need, is the responsibility for giving that grace laid.

I'm an egalitarian who believes there really is something to the idea that men and women have different gifts and needs. Those different gifts complement each other, but either can initiate the flow of God's grace into a wounded relationship. Whoever can give first, must.


Lynne said...

I don't want to say too much, or I'll be in danger of revealing other people's secrets -- something I have no right to do. But I have wrestled personally with this question and my (very tentative, work-in-progress) conclusion, from the woman-side is that I can't respect someone who's being a jerk to me, certainly not in the starry-eyed, put-him-on-a-pedestal sense, but I can still respect him as a human being. I can respect him as an accountable creature, made in the image of God, and therefore, while I may vehemently disagree with him and resist what he's doing, I don't treat him with contempt, either. I may have to put all sorts of boundaries in place, but I will still offer an honest meeting place between our souls as long as he can meet me there without violation. Does that make any sense?

Lynne said...

I also want to add, I'm not sold on this "women want love, men want respect" thing. Speaking as a woman who's been on the receiving end of various types of abuse, the thing I was most desperate for was to be shown respect -- and receiving that has been the most validating thing that's happened to me.

Kansas Bob said...

Wow.. what great comments from Lynne.

Ann and I facilitated a Love and Respect video class in our home a few years ago. It was a good experience. Of course.. like many tools.. L&R is not a cure all.. especially when any form of abuse is involved.

The truth is many men are not attracted to a religion that speaks only about love.. like Eggerich says.. respect is a man's native tongue where love is the native language of a woman.

If you take this in a black and white manner you will miss the point that men are longing for a mate that respects them in the same way that women desire a man who unconditionally loves them.

And like any teaching there are exceptions to its applicability. In truth we should show love and respect to everyone.. not that many people deserve it.. but like Lynne said we can respect that image of God in all people.

Kevin Knox said...

Lynne, that's a beautiful stand, and I'm with you all the way. And Bob, I appreciate your balance. Thank you, both. (Even for just still keeping me on your bloglines when I post about once every 6 weeks.)

I plan next on posting about "pink" and "blue."

DugALug said...

A Paul Simon song comes to my mind (Mother Daughter Reunion).

To me, the mystery of life is not what comes first, but rather, it is how God can orchestrate complimentary behavior between two such asynchronous beings.

Whether one requires love or respect, the reality is that God has maintained the glorious unity between male and female. To this day, my wife baffles, bedazzles and amazes me. In every way we were made for each other, yet it seems to me to be supernatural.

When there is a marriage that is out of kilter, there is an amazing transformation that needs to take place and only God can author that. It may seem nearly impossible, but with God, all things are possible. I am not condoning abuse, asking women (or men) to put themselves in harm's way, nor am I saying that things always work out like fairy tales. I am saying that have missed the opportunity to allow God to do amazing things and settled for man's dismally inferior substitutions.

My wife could has a million reasons to leave me, yet she chooses to have faith in God... then faith in me. I thank God for that (and her).

God Bless

Milly said...

Lynne is right about respecting the abuser.
My ex could fix things and he has a strong work ethic. We never worried about our next meal or a roof over our heads. I can respect those things in him. Every day wasn’t a day of me living a lie.

karen said...

I think there is wisdom in Ephesians because it encourages a man to love his wife as much as himself (:-D) and a woman cannot love a man she doesn't respect. Very wise. I covet respect, though, as well. Paul is speaking culturally, of course, in a time where marriage was a sham...trying to bring true partnership into a time where it simply was unhinged.