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Date: 02 Aug 2006
Time: 15:05:55 -0400
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The Patriarchal Order Of Family Government
God's Order for the Family
"Patriarchal Order" is an order of authority and responsibility which is spelled out in the Scriptures: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:13) God has ordained the family according to the family lives under the authority of the "head" whom God has appointed.
The husband lives under the authority of Christ and is responsible to Christ as a patriarch for the leadership and care of the family. The wife lives under the authority of her husband, as the patriarch, and is responsible to him for the way she orders the household and cares for the children. The children live under the a authority of both parents. The authority over the children, however, remains essentially one. The dotted line indicates that the authority of the mother is derived authority. She exercises authority over the children on behalf of and in the place of her husband. This has great practical significance for the relationship between mother and children, which will be brought out later.
Thus God has structured the family along clear cut lines of authority and responsibility. It is import to recognize this structure at the outset, for it is little understood in our day, still less practiced. Yet God has made the well-being and happiness of the family absolutely dependent upon the observance of His divinely appointed order.
Any change from that which His will has ordered only brings forth a misshapen form, for which there is no cure except a return to God's original order.
God's Order for Mates
God's order for mates is nowhere more clearly and simply stated than in the Bible's very first commentary upon the man-woman relationship:
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
To "cleave to one's mate" takes in every aspect of the relationship between husband and wife. There is no problem which can arise between mates, the solution for which will not be found in a deeper grasp of what it means to cleave to one another, to become "one flesh" with one's mate.
God made us male and female as part of a basic creation. It is part the innermost expression of God Himself. When He created mankind in his own image, He didn't just create man. There was something missing. So God said:
...I will make a help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18)
Thus He created woman. Now He had the whole thing. Man and woman came together in marriage, manifesting God's ideal of completeness, even fulfilling the image of that which He Himself had, a God and Goddess in the form of our Heavenly Father and Mother. It is God's intention that a righteous man shall find a mate and that a woman shall have desire for the same, and to continue in this relationship for all eternity. The world at large has, however short-circuited the Lord's plan.
According to society, marriage is a contract between two individuals which is dissolved at death, or even can be dissolved if there is sufficient cause in this life. With such limited view of marriage, it's natural for society to find all kinds of excuses to dissolve the marriage relationship, and even to enter into marriage on trial basis to see how it will work out.
When the Pharisees came to Jesus to test Him on the question of divorce, Jesus answered them:
...Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Mathew 19:4-6)
The second chapter of Malachi tells us that God hates divorce. The Scriptures leave no doubt that marriage is for all eternity; separation and divorce are contrary to God's order.
We let that stand as a flat statement, even while we recognize the exception which Jesus cited, and also the one which Paul recognized. The marriages which are dissolved strictly on the basis of the exceptions permitted by Scripture are minimal, and for a very good reason: Where even one of the partners is determined to live according to Scripture, marriage will rarely come to such a pass. Quoting from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
God makes your marriage indissoluble. He protects it against every danger which threatens it from without or within; God Himself guarantees the indissolubility of the marriage. No temptation, no human weakness can dissolve what God Joins; indeed, whoever knows it may confidently say: What God had joined together, man cannot put asunder.
A question occasionally arises which is so natural that no one can be surprised at it: "If marriages are indissoluble, and if husband and wife are bound to one another for eternity, then an unhappy marriage is an evil of an inexpressible magnitude.' Yes, so it is: and so it ought to be. Let it not be said that such a punishment is too hard for the youthful levity which has determined the choice. That levity ought to undergo the hardest possible punishment, because it has made the most solemn and holy of all human relationships a matter of sport, of carelessness, and of sensual gratification.
If a truly innocent person has to bear the burden of an unhappy marriage, there is hope for him even in his sufferings; and even these for a man surrendered to God, the most wholesome school of purification, and of discipline in virtue: the years lost for earthly happiness become gained for eternity.
People who set up personal happiness as the chief goal and purpose of marriage will usually end up frustrated. For while God wants happiness and fulfillment for His children, He wants this to come about through His plan for us. Therefore, God does not shy away form asking His people to endure hardship, if this is the best way to achieve His purposes. It may well be that in order to preserve the stability of marriage as an institution of God, some people will have to endure an unhappy marriage. This is a lesser evil than the wholesale breakdown of marriage which we are witnessing in our own day. We may not be able to stem the tide of that they will live by God's laws, regardless of the prevailing standards in the world around them.
Nor should Bishops or other counselors soften God's law out of a presumed compassion and concern for those caught in an unhappy marital situation. There come times when a Saint must be told to endure hardship for the sake of Christ, and this is such a time. The evils of divorce are great enough for the individual himself. In California, where the divorce rate is twice the national average for the United states, statistics show that general illness, alcoholism, mental illness, maternal and child health, and suicide are markedly higher among divorced persons. In Utah, and with Church members in particular, divorce rates are quickly escalating to national averages and beyond, even amongst those marriages solemnized in the Temple.
The laws in favor of divorce in all probability are made with a view to humanitarian interest. But it is the spirit of our age, and not the spirit of love, which is behind them. Because marriage is the precious foundation and cornerstone of all society, the destructive spirit of our age manifests itself most strongly in our divorce laws. No folly is so great or so fatal as this, to imagine that it is possible to throw morality to the winds, and to preserve religion: to loosen the marriage tie and to draw more tightly the bond of government; to give over to destruction the divinely appointed foundation of all human welfare, if only the self-invented props of the state be provided: iron oppression, and crafty espionage.
But the greatest evil of all is that done to the authority and rule of Christ, for divorce flies in the teeth of His word: "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matthew 19:6).
Christ spoke that word out of a deep knowledge of the central place which marriage holds in God's eternal plans for mankind. The person who tampers with so solemn a word of Christ does so at great spiritual peril. The Apostles did not hesitate in urging their people to sacrifice temporal happiness for eternal gain, nor should we. Better a lifetime of loneliness or misery than an eternity of regret.
There has been but one possible reason the Lord has given for a divorce. He explained:
...That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. (Matthew 5:32).
It has been shown in an excellent article written when Joseph Smith was editor of the Times and Seasons that the Lord's reference to fornication was not as to sexual sin, but was to apostasy, primarily from her husband who is her head. Fornication is committed by those who are unmarried whereas adultery is referred to as sexual sin among those who are married. The Savior knew the difference as He referred to adultery in the same verse. This excellent article can be found at this link, The Peacemaker, and provides a more complete discussion of this very important fact.
Mutual esteem, and a correct appreciation of the place which God has assigned to each, are the primary conditions of happiness in marriage.
To esteem one's mate is to see the mate as more than an individual, as one set in a sacred position by God. We esteem the person who occupies a high public office, out of respect for his office. How much more should we esteem that person set next to us in marriage; for to be designated "husband" or "wife" by God is to enter upon a position of highest dignity and trust in His Kingdom.
Esteem is an essential element of love. If it is absent, love ceases to be love; a mere passion remains. Mutual esteem protects a marriage from becoming a victim of the inevitable ups and downs which it will encounter. If a husband's tenderness and care for his wife depends upon the way she looks or the way he may happen to feel on any given day--if the wife's respect for her husband fluctuates with her moods, or her judgment as to how well he is satisfying her standards and expectations--that marriage is on shaky ground. Love has become the pawn of passing moods and feelings. God means for love in marriage to be built upon a more stable foundation.
God never commands a love involving intimate affection between two people on the mere basis of their natural attraction to one another. He does not bring a man and a woman into proximity with one another and them say, "Now, love each other; and when I see that your love is strong enough, then I will bless it with marriage." Falling in love is a wonderful experience, and where it is accompanied by modesty and restraint, God sharse the joy of it and it grows to be of a Celestial nature to endure for eternity. It may well be the thing that leads two people to marriage, but God does not build a marriage upon the foundation of that mere natural attraction. In the wedding sermon which he wrote to his niece, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,
Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. As high as God is above, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains marriage, but from now on, the marriage sustains your love.
Romantic-love-as-the-only-viable-basis-for-marriage is one of the unexplained and therefore blindly followed axioms of our culture. We blithely assume that this is the only basis for marriage consistent with human freedom and dignity, and since "love" occurs in the formula it must also be more Christian.
In many cultures marriage are arranged by the families of the prospective bride and groom. Such a practice would be intolerable in our culture. It is inconceivable to us that a marriage contracted on such a basis could be a happy one. If it were, we would chalk it off to pure luck. Happy marriages, however, are not the invention of our culture. What is the invention of our own culture is the notion that romantic love is the only sound basis for a marriage. One might well ask whether our culture, following this notion, has produced fewer miserable marriages. The rate of divorce causes one at least to wonder.
In considering the structure of patriarchal marriage, the nature and place romantic love needs to be re-examined. We tend to give it a status of autonomous authority over a marriage. Love is something that just "is": Either you have it or you don't, and there's not to much you can do about it. The disillusioned young couple discovers that "we just don't love each other anymore" and tearfully concludes that there marriage has lost its essential basis for existence.
Now love is an essential ingredient of marriage. But the marriage does not depend upon love for its continued existence. Rather, the love depends upon marriage for its continued existence. Marriage gives to love a situation of stability and permanence, wherein it can grow toward maturity. Marriage rescues love from the tyranny of strong but immature feelings. It forces a person to live out times of difficulty, and win through to new depths of love and understanding.
Love should never be allowed to tyrannize a marriage and threaten its dissolution. Couples who come to the despairing conclusion that "we just don't love each other anymore" should be told quite simply, "Well, start learning!" When we have entered into marriage, God commands us to love one another. Love, from God's point-of view, is not the basis for marriage, but the issue or outcome of a successful marriage. It is far more subject to the will than we suppose. We help cultivate and develop love because we set our mind to do so. In marriage, we are not the helpless pawns of love rather, we train love to be the willing servant of our marriage.
This kind of love dose not grow in the sandy soil of our immediate feelings. It roots down into the rich subsoil of mutual esteem. The woman holds her mate in the high regard which God has conferred on him with the name "husband"; the man likewise cherishes the woman whom God has honored with the name "wife", with the promise of becoming kind and priest, queen and priestess, if we are but worthy. A reverence for the dignity and honor which God has bestowed upon one's mate establishes married love upon an enduring and eternal foundation. Upon this foundation can be built the kind of love which Paul describes:
Charity (love) suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1Corinthians 13:4-7)
The Scriptures look upon marriage not as a social contract between two individuals that may be dissolved at will; rather, it looks upon marriage as a mystery. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, says: 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. (Ephesians 5:31)
Then he goes on and says:
This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:32).
In other words, your marriage — every Saint's marriage is designed to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and His Church.
Thus, contrary to natural thinking much of the real joy in marriage comes from giving, not getting. For marriage is modeled on the relationship between Christ and His Church. In every Christian marriage the world should be able to see that mutual giving and self-giving which characterize the relationship between Christ and the Church.
What opportunities present themselves daily to the man to give—to express toward his mate the love of One who gave up his very life for His Bride! What opportunities present themselves daily to the woman to give—to express the faithfulness of the Church as it is described in Ephesians 5:24 and 27, "... so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. ... that it should he holy and without blemish." This is not merely an ideal but is the projected goal of the Holy Spirit with every Elect couple.
God's Order for Wives
"Ladies First" is a familiar quotation in regard to proper social order. The scriptures apply the same principle when they speak about God's order for the family, and it is probably no accident: In a family, the wife is the link between husband and children; when she lives according to Divine Order, it will tend to draw both husband and children into order. Therefore, in speaking about the Patriarchal Order in the family, Scripture addresses first the wife:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to there own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
The very thought of being subject to or "submissive to" one's husband will stir up negative feelings with many capable and intelligent women who think in terms of being an inactive, insignificant doormat:
Husband, husband, cease your strife,
No longer idly rave, sir;
Though I am your wedded wife,
Yet I am not your slave, sir! (Burns)
To God, however, submission means something else. To be submissive means to yield humble and intelligent obedience to an ordained power or authority. The example He gives is that of the Church being submissive to the rule of Christ. Far from being degrading, this is the Church's glory! God did not give the law of being submissive to their husbands because He had a grudge against women; on the contrary, He established this order for the protection of women and the harmony of the home. He means for a woman to be sheltered from many of the rough encounters of life. Scripture knows nothing of a 50-50 "democratic marriage." God's order is 100-100. The wife is 100% a wife, the husband is 100% a husband and sustained at the head in a true patriarchal rule.
God has given wives the opportunity to exercise free agency and choose the submissive route, even as Jesus chose to be submissive to the Father:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus;
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. (Philippians 2:5-9)
God honors not those who cling to their "rights," but those who choose freely to obey Him.
In A Man Called Peter, Catherine Marshall tells how her late husband tended to put woman on a pedestal. She quotes the following from one of his sermons:
Modem girls argue that they have to earn an income, in order to establish a home, which would be impossible on her husband's income. That is sometimes the case. but it must always viewed as a regrettable necessity, never as the normal or natural thing for a wife to have to do. The average woman, if she gives her full time to her home, her husband, her children...if she tries to understand her husband's work...to curb his egotism while, at the same time, building up his self-esteem, to kill his masculine conceit while encouraging all his hopes, to establish around the family a circle of true friends ...if she provides in the home a proper atmosphere of culture, of love of music, of beautiful furniture and of a garden ...If she can do all this she will be engaged in a life work that will demand every ounce of her strength, every bit of her patience every talent God has given her, the utmost sacrifice of her love. It will demand everything she has and more. And she will find that for which she was created. She will know that she is carrying out the plan of God. She will be a partner with the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.
Once again are "the gentiles wiser than the Children of the Light?" It can truly be further stated more strongly that for the most part no wife and mother should be in the workplace but that a couple should live at whatever level the husband's income can provide. Ezra Taft Benson has certainly counseled wives and mothers to remain in the home and fulfill the end of their creation. Is this not the "work and glory" of every righteous daughter in Zion? Yet Utah, for example, most nearly leads the country with over 50% of the women in the workplace. So much for heeding the words of the this past president of the church. Proverbs 31:10-31 presents the Bible's most complete and beautiful picture of what a good wife should be. She is capable, ambitious, a willing worker; she is kind, wise, trustworthy, cheerful, providing for her household and reaching beyond. She knows her worth. She uses to good purpose her intelligence, her physical strength, her God-fearing character. She makes life abundant for her husband, their children, and for poor and needy beyond their family circle. A remarkable woman!
And what triggers all this creative effort? A husband who holds a whip over her and keeps her submissive? On the contrary, it is a husband who expresses his unqualified appreciation for her; "Her husband praises her: 'Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Where a wife's submission becomes a harsh demand from the husband, God's Order has been thrown overboard, and a mere human authority remains. But where a husband fulfills also his role in God's Order - which is to "love his wife and not be bitter against her"(Colossians3:19) -then a wife's submission to him becomes a fountain of mutual love and devotion, a thing of surpassing moral and spiritual beauty.
A good wife who can find?
She is far mere precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her.
In the world a woman is subject to physical attack, and therefore needs her husband's protection. This is a basic, universal fact of existence and is written into the folkways of every age and culture. A woman's vulnerability, however, does not stop at the physical level. It includes also vulnerability at the emotional, psychological, and spiritual level. Here, too, she needs a husband's authority and protection, this is the blessing of tie priesthood in the home. An irate neighbor bangs on the front door. When the wife answers it, the neighbor lets loose a stream of complaints because some of the fence slats between your two yards have been knocked loose, and this most certainly by your children and therefore the repairs are your responsibility. "I'll speak to my husband about it," is the wife's reply. This is not an "out," but is the natural and proper response of a wife who is living under her husband's protection and patriarchal authority. She is meant to be largely free of the emotional burden which comes from representing the family outward to the community.
Less recognized, but even more important is a wife's need for protection from the emotional attacks of her own children. Another should not have to ask, much less battle, for respect from the children. This robs her of the poise which enables her to maintain a spirit of calm and dignity for the whole household. It is the husband's responsibility to protect his wife from any abuse which the children might mount against her. Should the father overhear the slightest hint of disrespect toward the mother, or the least lapse of obedience to her word, he should put a stop to it at once and firmly. The children should always know that behind the mother stands the authority of the father.
Sill vivid in my memory is a comic-serious incident from my own childhood. I had argued over something with my mother. As she left the room I shouted after her, "You're a big dummy! My father had come into the room a few moments earlier. His arm shot out caught me by the shirt front and lifted me right off the floor. "Who's a dummy?" he demanded. Scared stiff I blubbered, "I'm a dummy, I'm a dummy!" My older brother burst out laughing, and my father could scarcely suppress a smile. My desperate retreat into self-incrimination salted the situation with enough humor to save me from a spanking. But I never forgot the lesson of that day: If I abused my mother, I would incur the wrath of my father.
A husband who protects his wife from the discourtesies and abuses of the children instills in them a sense of respect for womanhood. This, together with his own example of courtesy and considerateness toward his wife, is part of the legacy which every father should pass on to his sons.
Finally, and most important of all, a woman is also subject to spiritual attack. A husband stands as a shield and protector to his wife against assault from the unseen world of "principalities and powers" (Ephesians 6:10).
Paul suggests this in 1 Corinthians 11:10: For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. We know that Paul uses the word "angel" (angelos) to refer both to the loyal spirits of God (2 Thessalonians 1:7) and to the rebellious cohorts of Satan (1 Corinthians 6:3, Romans 8:38). The context here may suggest that Paul has in mind the latter application of the word. It is not merely the propriety of the veil which concerns him. He recognizes that a woman who is unprotected by her husband's authority and priesthood is open to (evil) angelic influence.
Paul understood that women are vulnerable to spiritual attack, especially along the lines of deception, and that their protection is found in coming under a man's priesthood authority. This is the reason for his otherwise puzzling advice in 1 Timothy 2:12-14:
But l suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
Women can contribute much as teachers of children and of other women. They can prophesy and pray publicly (Joel 2:28,29; 1 Corinthians 11:5), but they are not to formulate doctrine or to set themselves up as leaders over men in the church.
How much evil has come upon home and church because women have lost the protective shield of a husband's priesthood authority! We have let Satan beguile us into believing that it is degrading for a wife to be submissive and obedient to her husband's authority. The whole teaching is dismissed as a foolish vaunting of the "male ego", a Neanderthal vestige which our enlightened age has happily outgrown. Isaiah saw our day:
As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. (Isaiah 3:12)
The Lord, however, has no desire to exalt any ego, male or female. The Patriarchal Order set forth for the family serves the elemental purpose of protection, spiritual protection. A husband's authority and priesthood, and a wife's submissiveness to that authority, is a shield of protection against Satan's devices. Satan knows this, and that is why he seeks to use every wife to undermine and break down God's pattern of Patriarchal Order for the family. Under God's Patriarchal Order of Family Government it has been ordained that the husband shall rule over the wife in righteousness and that she shall obey him as he obeys the Lord. As soon as Satan can convince that a wife has no need of that authority as an intermediary, then the breakdown of the core of the Kingdom of God—the family, is inevitable.
When a woman lives under her husband's authority, she can move with great freedom in spiritual things. Protected from many of the satanic devices which would come against her, she can move with power and effect in the life of prayer, and in the exercise of spiritual gifts.
God's intention is that a husband should stand between his wife and the world, absorbing many of the physical, emotional, and spiritual pressures which would come against her. It is the husband, not the wife, who is primarily responsible for what goes on in the home, the community, and the church. When he deserts this role, or when the wife usurps it, both the home and the community outside the home suffer for it.
The question naturally arises, "What about the single woman, or the widow? How does she receive protection?" The New Testament looked upon the church as the protector of "widows and orphans." (See Acts 6:1, James 1:27,1 Timothy 5:3-16.) When a woman had the protection neither of a father (or male relative), nor of a husband, she was to look upon the leaders of the church as her spiritual 'head". From them she would receive spiritual counsel and protection. Her material needs also become the concern of the local church.
It would be hard to conceive of a wiser arrangement for the woman who does not live under the direct authority of a father or husband. The church should have the requisite spiritual power and authority to be that shield and protector which a woman needs. And by committing this responsibility to a group (most likely the home teachers), the situation could be handled with due propriety.
This same principle could be put into practice if a husband were required by business, military service, or some other cause to be absent from his family for a period of time (See D&C 136:8). The spiritual care and protection of his family could be committed to the leaders of the church. A man going on a business trip, for instance, can simply mention this to one or more of the home teachers, and ask that special prayer and visitation be offered for his family during his absence. The family may also call upon the home teachers, if they need any special help which would normally fall to the head of the house. Thus individuals and families may call upon the larger family of the church, so that no one is without spiritual care and protection.
A wife is more than a mother, housekeeper, cook, counselor, and chauffeur. She will not find the deep places of her heart satisfied with bowling, bridge, PTA meetings, or even church work. On the other hand, if her sole source of happiness lies in her husband or her children, she is also doomed to disappointment. God did not intend us to find satisfaction apart from Himself. A wife who puts Christ first will be a joy both to her "lord" and to her Lord! (See 1 Peter 3:6.)
A radiant wife, who once sought escape in intellectual pursuits, recently disclosed her secret for finding fulfillment in life: "It's doing what the Savior wants me to do!" She went on to say that the Savior can change our altitudes; He can even change the routine tasks that were once a drudgery into a joy. "Be rooted in Christ not in your husband; then you are free to be a worthwhile person, a good wife. "The Savior gives you the invitation to take your anxieties to the cross, and to leave the reforming of your husband in God's hands. The wife who is trusting God is not nagging her husband."
Submission is much more than an outer form; it is an inner attitude. It is more than a veiled head; it is a heart veiled with honor and reverence for the husband. Beware of making pious public prayers for an inactive husband.
It is not uncommon that a wife's spiritual awareness and concern runs ahead of her husband's, but right here is where a wife comes into danger. She uses this as a pious excuse for becoming unsubmissive to her husband's authority. She feels that only by taking an active "spiritual lead" in the family can she assure the proper upbringing of the children and the eventual enlightenment of her husband. A great deal of unsanctified rebellion can masquerade behind this kind of pious spirituality. The heart is deceitful above all things,.... Jeremiah 17:9. Even more important it does not accomplish the desired end, but actually frustrates it. The husband is driven further away from an interest in spiritual things. Whereas in a continued attitude of submissiveness the wife has at her demand a spiritual power with God — guaranteed results.
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. (1 Peter 3:1 -2)
A woman once came to her bishop with the complaint that her husband was so unspiritual that she didn't know whether she should go on living with him. She had tried and tried to get him to come to church, to hold family home evening and prayer, to quit using profane language, etc.—all to no avail. He made sarcastic remarks about her spiritual activities, and it was beginning to rub off on the children. She even wondered if it was right to go on having marital relations with him because of his blasphemous ways.
The bishop reassured her that the marital relationship did not hinge on her husband being an active Church member. (See 1 Corinthians 7:13)
But he went further. He said, "Now I see something here. Twice this week your husband has offered to take you out to dinner - gave you a chance to get away from the kitchen and the kids and you turned him down."
"Why, yes, that's right" the woman admitted. "I was so busy - had things to do..."
The problem isn't with your husband, but with you. You're a rebellious wife. You resent your husband's authority over you. What you need to do is go home and apologize to your husband, ask his forgiveness for being an unsubmissive wife. Quit lecturing him on religion - leave that to God. Cook him his favorite meal. Settle down to the business of being a wife who is "subject to her husband in al things." (Ephesians 5:24)
The advice jolted her, but she accepted it and acted upon it. About a week later the woman's husband dropped in on the bishop.
"Say, you talked to my wife about a week ago," he began.
The man's face broke into a broad grin, "I like that!" he said.
The man began coming to meetings, and ended up becoming an Elder and taking his wife to the Temple. What the wife had failed to achieve by her own efforts, God brought about as she became submissive to her husband's authority.
Human wisdom would urge a woman to rise up and take matters into her own hands when she sees the family floundering, with no spiritual leadership coming from the husband. The Word of God counsels a better way: Remain submissive to her "head," and trust that her husband's own "Head" (Christ) will take charge of the matter, and act.
To be active, clever, and religious are noble qualities in a woman; but the energetic woman who holds down her husband in inactivity; the clever one who silences him and by the brilliancy of her conversation makes a show of his dull insignificance; and lastly, the religious one, who allows others to remark that her husband is less enlightened or awakened than herself, are three disgusting characters. Yet this last, especially when in combination with the second, the most disgusting of all.
As a woman may be superior to her husband in natural understanding, so also may be the case with her Gospel enlightenment. And indeed it is more common to find piety in women than in men. Their minds are more accessible to Gospel truth, as was seen to be the case everywhere at the first spread of Christianity. And with them the continuance of faith has often been found, in which even the first disciples of Christ were surpassed by the holy women in the Gospel. So too, it is more usual in a time of estrangement from the faith, that the women return to it before the men as they were the first to see and accept His resurrection. And it far more happens that a Christian-minded woman has to suffer from her husband, than the opposite.
Let us then imagine the case in which this incongruity is found in the most conspicuous and striking manner genuine and deep piety on the part of the wife: worldly-mindedness unbelief, and tyrannical harshness on the part of the husband. Yet the position of the wife, according to God's ordinance, is not the least altered thereby. Her duty toward her husband remains exactly the same: she is nonetheless bound to pay him reverence than if his character has been the gentlest and most enlightened. By her Gospel knowledge, this duty is not lightened, but impressed upon her the more. As certain as the marriage bond is indissoluble, so certainly the command of obedience in marriage stands irrevocably firm. The authority which he hath appointed, let no woman assail, especially under the pretext of an especial love to God.
Rather, let her continue to show modesty and reverence towards her husband; gentleness, silence, and submission in all things which are not sin in the proper sense of the world. In these virtues lies the true acknowledgement of Christ; in their violation, the denial of Him.
She must see Christ in her husband. She must by a continual act of faith hold fast to this, that in honoring him she honors Christ who has set him to be her head. Upon all who bear the dignity of ruler, judge and father, there is laid something of the dignity of Him who is the Ruler, Judge and Father. Thus does it rests also upon the husband as the head of the house.
Does she believe in God, and in a Divine guidance? Let her acknowledge His guidance even in the sufferings which her husband may cause her. Let her yield herself to them with the certainty that this is the school wherein she has to learn patience, the hardest of the virtues of godliness. In this school of obedience she will learn that suffering Christ—the only one which God will acknowledge — which stands not in word but in power.
Let her place her hope in God and know that her husband is placed to be a blessing to her, and there is to blessing for her to be found except as she humbly attaches herself to him. If this contradicts her low opinion of her husband, and her high opinion of herself, and appears utterly illogical to her, then let her take heed lest in despising him she despises God, and cut herself off from God's appointed source of blessing for her. Let her not suppose that those things which flatter her wishes and feelings will forward her progress in the kingdom of God. Rather, let her look for help in those very hardships which the Divine education decrees for her. Until she has done all this, let her not wonder that no change takes place in her husband. But when she has, she shall see the miracles of God.
Let her renounce the inclination to make known in words all her (spiritual) feelings and experiences, If she has attained to a beginning of Gospel knowledge, let her not be in a hurry to win her husband to it by eloquent testimony. Let her beg of him to go with her to hear the preaching of the Gospel, but let her not attempt to teach him herself. SUCH AN ATTEMPT WILL AND SHOULD FAIL. From one evil springs a second which is greater; her persuasions change into complaints and lecturings. Displeasure, coldness, and estrangement follow, and the foundation of a lasting mischief is laid.
Yet there is a way to his heart. It is toilsome but sure. It works upon the conscience. It is slow and quietly unpretending, but it has victorious power. It is the pure behavior of a patient, silent, hoping, loving wife.
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your 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.
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and wearing of gold, or of putting on apparel;
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
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Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well and are not afraid with any amazement. (1 Peter 3:1-6)
No better example is there than our mother Sara but even this testimony a man may for a time misunderstand. He can misinterpret the noblest conduct and thereby seek to erase the impression from his conscience. But there comes a 'day of visitation' sent by God, and not by man. The veil is taken from before his eyes, and he, like one initiated into the mysteries, looks with wonder upon the mystery of a deeply Christian personality till then hidden from him. At the right time, for his own blessing, will he acknowledge it and will thank God for the patience with which his suffering wife has endured.
A group of men were once studying the Bible together — a passage dealing with the marriage relationship. Each one wrote down the thoughts which came to him during a time of silent meditation. Then they shared with one another what they had written.
As one of the men studied the passage, he was moved to think about his own marriage. He put down his thoughts in the form of a prayer, and this is what he wrote:
Lord, I do thank you for my wife, Kristin. I praise your Divine plan and providence which led me to her. I thank you Lord for her patience and perseverance and prayers though twelve Christless years of marriage. I praise you, Lord, for your salvation which finally came even to me— though her patience, and perseverance and prayers.
Lord, set your guarded angels over her and protect her.
Thank you my dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is a beautiful tribute to a patient wife. But it is more than that It is also a testimony to tie power of God acting through His own appointed channels of Patriarchal Order. The wife lived out her role of quiet submission to her husband, trusting God to work in his life. God honored her faith. He saved her husband. But more than that The husband then moved in to assume the role which the wife had "kept open" for him, in faith. He became in fact her "head", her shield and protector. With true spiritual authority of the priesthood he calls down upon her the blessing of heaven, the protection of angels. This is the Patriarchal Order at work for the blessing of family, church, and nation.
Wives, rejoice in your husband's authority over you! Be subject to him in all things. It is your special privilege to move under the protection of his priesthood authority. It is within this pattern of the true Patriarchal Order of Family Government that the Lord will meet you and bless you — and make you a blessing to your husband, your children, your church, and your community.
God's Order for Husbands
Ask the average husband, "Do you love your wife?" and he will reply with a ready, "Certainly! Of course I do!"
In saying this, he means what he feels toward her; or perhaps what he does for her, by way of care and consideration. But the love which the Apostle Paul speaks about.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.
..husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 3:19)
This kind of love is measured not by what one feels nor even by what one directly does. Rather, it is measured by the sacrifice of one's self.
Husband, love your wife— SACRIFICE YOURSELF FOR HER
The original language of the New Testament was Greek. Three different and distinct words in Greek are all translated by the single English word, "love." Eros means love in the sense of passion, feeing, desire; our word "erotic" comes from this. This word never appears in the New Testament yet it is the primary meaning given to our word "love" in common usage! Phileo means love in the sense of human affection and concern; our word "Philanthropy" comes from this. This word is used sparingly in the New Testament. Agape means love which is measured by sacrifice. This is the word which is overwhelmingly used in the New Testament to describe the love of God and the love which He engenders in men. This is the "love" of John 3:16, Romans 5:5, and 1 Corinthians 13. It is this word agape which the Apostle Paul uses when he says, "Husbands, love your wives." And he clearly means a love-ready-to-sacrifice, for he continues, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25)
Here we touch on the spiritual tap root of God's order for the family. At first glance one sees the husband and father set as authority over his wife and children, and this seems like a fine perch for the man: "I'm the lord of my castle, the sovereign, the liege."...But one must took deeper. For the divine authority vested in a husband and father is modeled upon Christ. And Christ's authority was rooted in the sacrifice of Himself. Only when Gethsemene was behind Him did He come to His disciples and say, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:18.)
The authority of Christ and therefore the authority of a husband and father, is not a human, "fleshy" authority. It is not one person lording over the others. It is a divine and spiritual authority which is rooted in the sacrifice in one's self.
The basic and most obvious expression of this is seen in the husband's support of the family. A sign of the moral breakdown of our times is the ease with which husbands visit this responsibly upon their wives. "Working wives" and "working mothers" have become so much a part of our culture that we scarcely stop to consider what a departure this is from Divine Order, or the deliterious effect it has upon family life.
The burden of caring for the support of the family lies upon the man. The woman is glad to draw this burden to herself, for her character always tends toward watchfulness in material things. But the burden is too heavy for her. Stronger shoulders are given to the man; he has a greater natural strength of mind to enable him so stand up under the pressure of these cares. The heart of a woman is more easily discouraged and dejected. God made her that way. Therefore, also, he has spared her the responsibility for supporting the family.
Careful and faithful management of material goods benefits the woman; the great toil and care of acquiring these goods benefits the man alone. Economy, thrift and faithfulness in caring for material things are the domestic virtues of the woman; restless activity for the maintenance of the family's economic well - being is the task of the man. The burden of the children and the management of the household is a task laid upon the wife, and it is task enough. Let the husband fulfill his responsibility of providing for the family, so the wife shall have no excuse for taking upon herself more than is allotted to her.
Nowhere does our enslavement to materialistic goals show itself more brazenly than in the naive notion that the wife must work in order to maintain a decent standard of living for the family. That cases of genuine necessity exist no sensible person would deny. But it is also evident that in many, perhaps the great majority of cases, the income of the wife goes toward luxuries which a family could do without. A working wife also tends to employ fewer habits of thrift in her management of the household, thus narrowing the actual margin of economic advantage which her income provides. And no amount of income can counter-balance the loss to the family in having the wife and mother spend her energies outside the home.
If the husband enters into a calling for which he is fit and earns a modest income, it is no disgrace in the eyes of God to live simply, within that income. But it is a disgrace to let the lust for material things set aside the Divine Order which God has established for the well-being of the family. As the Church looks to Christ atonement for all her good and welfare, so should the wife and children receive their material needs through the faithful service of the husband. If the husband must give up a measure of ease or prestige in the eyes of his friends, in limiting his standard of living to that which he himself can provide for his family, that is no less than God calls him to. This is but one illustration of the role of a husband, which is to deny himself—that is, to express his love in yielding up his ego, his pride, his comfort, in order to serve his family.
A husband and father who takes seriously his role in God's order for the family must therefore bring to reality the word of Christ
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and come after me. (Matthew 16:24)
God says that the husband should love his wife. But this love is agape, which is even more than even the finest natural love of a man for a woman; the rare and divine flower which grows only where the self is denied, sacrificed, given up to death. Thus God's word to husbands - 'love your wives" - has imbedded within it a call to the radical fellowship of Christ's sufferings, the fellowship of the Atonement
Now this begins to look like a 'love" so rarefied and spiritual that it could hardly offer a woman the warmth and comfort and security and encouragement which she needs in the everyday encounters of life and marriage. But let us see how sound and realistic it actually is.
Husband love for your wife - care for her spiritual welfare
A husband who loves his wife, according to this word of Scripture, gives first priority to her spiritual need. His first concern is that she be rightly related to the Lord. He recognizes that any real happiness and fulfillment for her as a woman, wife and mother must be built upon the solid foundation of a relationship to Christ This is no mere pious nod to one's 'need for religion' or a 'spiritual outlook.' This is a practical thorough going recognition of the primary significance and absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ. If the Lord provides that a husband shall implement and enhance his wife's relationship to Christ is that not cause for them both to rejoice? How better could he show his love for her than by doing this?
The highest duty of the Priesthood holding husband is to care for the sanctification of his wife. His model is Christ who has sacrificed Himself for His Church, in order to sanctify it He ought not only to lead her in a Saintly life and walk, he ought also do everything in his power to make the full blessing of calling and election accessible to her. At home, by prayer and word and deed, he must sustain her in spirit strengthen her feeling for high and heavenly things, and further her in the knowledge of exaltation. No ecclesiastical leader has any right of spiritual counsel or authority over a woman against her husband's will. Even the ward bishop of the family - that one recognized by the head of the house - must be on his guard against taking upon himself that oversight and care for the spiritual health of the wife which belongs to the husband. If he intrudes into it the husband has the right to repel him. He should leave to the husband the share of responsibility which rests upon him for the spiritual health of all the members of the family. But let the husband feel the heavy burden of this responsibility. As the head of a ward or stake has to give an account for the condition of all those under his charge, so the head of a family has to give an account for the state of his household. Both men and God expect it of him. The praise or blame which falls upon his wife - her virtues or her faults - touch him directly.
It is neither possible nor right that anyone else upon earth should have a more decisive influence upon the spiritual health of a wife than does her own husband. Whether he thinks it or not the consequences of his behavior toward her are immeasurable, for good or for evil. The effect will be produced upon the inmost part of her being. A ecclesiastical leader who is a hypocrite might still be the cause of good for a time; but for the husband this is impossible. He cannot hide from his wife that which he in realty is. In a man's own house, hypocrisy cannot keep its ground. If in secret his conduct is unjust toward his wife, there is nothing in the world which can counterbalance this demoralizing influence. Let him not load himself with the guilt of causing her a secret even a life-long sorrow, which she can share with no one on earth. Let him not harden his heart against this tender being, this precious Daughter in Zion, who is so completely entrusted to him. Let him deny himself that he may be able to spare and cherish her.
The husband should care for the sanctification of his wife. He will rightly care for it if he believes her to be holy. She is so, for she is truly a precious and literal daughter of our Father in Heaven. She is entrusted to him as a holy pearl of great price. It is his duty and responsibility to do everything possible that she may not only be preserved holy, but grow to her full potential having her calling and election, which was foreordained, made sure and confirmed and perfected in holiness. No one can be such a hindrance to a woman in spiritual things as her husband. But also no one can so encourage, so multiply her advance in all that is good and godly as he can. He is sent of God to be to her a channel of blessings which come from above. From his mouth should she team what the Spirit has taught him in Church for their spiritual welfare (see 1 Cor. 14:35). Perhaps she is behind him in spiritual knowledge. There may yet be a resistance to the way of salvation. The husband has already trod upon these paths in his own experience. Let him not be discouraged, or disheartened, or suspicious towards his wife. With all the more firmness and gentleness, let him hold fast to that which is good. With his help, and even through him, God will touch her heart and help her to change her mind, and guide her rightly. Satan causes differences to arise between sons and daughters of God. Let the husband be on his guard that such differences do not bring any estrangement of heart from his wife. He must not regard her as standing at a great distance from him in the main issue of faith and goal of eternal life. He should acknowledge in the New and Everlasting Covenant a Divine bond of unity. Beside this, all that which might stand between them is of secondary importance. Let him look upon his wife with this sober yet happy thought: " I am appointed to bless her and to help sanctify her. Not only to make her happy here below but throughout eternity. I should sacrifice myself to her eternal welfare. I should love her, as Christ loved His Church."
Husband, love your wife - go the way of sacrifice before her
And how does the husband exercise his priesthood responsibility? By lecturing her on spiritual life and principles? No, he gives himself up her for her! That is, he goes the way of sacrifice before her. He shows by example what it means to die to self. And he does that not only for her sanctification, but on her behalf. This is truly the definition of being a 'savior on Mount Zion.' In short, he does not 'drive' her, nor does he even 'lead' her in the conventional sense. Rather he draws her unto Christ as he himself allows first the atonement and then the promise of foreordained blessings work in his own life.
How does this work out in practice? Consider an everyday example: When an argument flares up in a marriage, it is the husband's place to first humble himself and beg forgiveness for whatever was wrong in his behavior. This is death to the ego, as it should be. It may be that the wife's guilt is as great or greater. No matter. His call is to 'love his wife as Christ loved the Church,' Christ while sinless, humbled Himself under the guilt of our sin "while we were yet sinners" (Romans 5:8).
In this situation a husband does not judge his wife's sin, and above all does not calculate what effect his repentance might have upon her. He simply goes the way of sacrifice - denying self, giving up his own rights, because this is God's call to him as a husband. The gateway to all spiritual life and blessing is repentance. As the spiritual head of the family, the husband and father must be the first to repent.
It may be, in the example above, that a wife will take her husband's apology as a vindication of her own righteousness. At this point a husband would be tempted to rise and say, 'Now, I confessed my sin, and you ought to confess yours!" No, a husband cannot go the way of sacrifice with any ulterior motives. He goes the way of sacrifice - and goes that way first ahead of his family - because God has called him to it because the Holy Spirit has given him true remorse for his own sin and he knows that repentance and forgiveness is the only answer.
A husband who falls to lecturing his wife on her duty to be submissive to his authority has already yielded up the ground of his authority:
...the rights of the priesthood [husband] are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness. behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. (D&C 121:36-37)
His call is to fulfill his role in the family, not to harangue or exercise unrighteous dominion or compulsion regarding hers.
Moses was one of the greatest leaders of all time. God invested him with great authority. Yet he was, according to the Bible, "the meekest man on the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3). When the people of Israel rebelled against him, Moses would flee to the Tabernacle and plead with God about it. Then God would deal with the rebels (Num. 12:10,16:33). But when Moses sought to deal with the people in his own strength, venting his pique upon them, God dealt with Moses in utmost severity - even denying him the privilege of leading Israel into the Promised Land (Num. 20:2-12).
The authority which a husband exercises over his wife and children is not his own authority. It is an authority which God vests in him. The husband must exercise that authority both with firmness and wisdom, but it is God who establishes and maintains the authority.
If a husband finds his wife and children rebellious under his authority, his first recourse must be to God. And his mood must be one of repentance -
"Why are You not able to help me establish my authority in this family? What is it in me that makes me an unfit instrument for Your purposes?"
"The head of every man is Christ the head of a woman is her husband" (1 Cor. 11:3). If a wife is unsubmissive to her husband, it may well be that the man is secretly or openly rebellious against Christ. Only those who live under authority are fit to wield authority. A man with a rebellious household must look first to his own relationship with his authority - Christ. This may well be a humbling experience. Yet out of it can come a broken and contrite spirit repentance, a new gentleness and meekness toward his family and, amazingly, a new measure of authority - authority which he must no longer strive for, but which is yielded gladly, for he has 'died to self,' and therefore God has been able to establish his authority in the family.
Whether and when and how his 'death' will draw his family after him is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit. A husband's life and love is meant to be a daily 'burnt offering,' a sacrifice of the ego, which the Holy Spirit may use according to His own infinite wisdom. To so offer oneself for his family will mean inevitable suffering for a husband and father. But this is the will and call of God. And the overarching promise of the Lord is this:
Except a com of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth atone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit (John 12:24)
Thus when the Bible says "husbands love your wives," it is saying far more than that he should entertain fond and affectionate feelings toward her. It is saying that he should die for her, as Christ died for the Church. Out of such 'death,' the Holy Spirit will bring forth His fruit in the entire family love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22).
Husband, love your wife - exercise authority in humility
With the husband should the authority remain, which has been given to him. But he should feel it not as his right but as his duty and responsibility. He should never think of the power entrusted to him without remembering the responsibility which is thereby laid upon him. He should recognize the rule to be a burden, and bear the weight of it as a burden. Let whatever is done in his house be done according to his will, for the responsibility of it rests upon him. Let him not hide this responsibility from himself, or seek from weakness to put it away, for this is impossible. He may from a false good nature sacrifice that which he knows to be right and salutary. He is not thereby freed from the account which he must give of whatever, with his knowledge, is done in his family. If he bears with that which is foolish, injurious, and offensive in those that are his, there is no excuse for him. In vain will he plead that he allowed the helm to slip from his hands for love of peace; he dare not yield up his responsibility on the excuse that he is trying to avoid the evil of domestic discord. For this responsibility was not put into his hand by men, but by God. He must refrain from an annoying display of authority. Yet in all matters of importance, he must gently and wisely maintain his standing as head of the house, with firmness. Though he has authority and responsibility over all that takes place within the family, the husband must respect his wife's sphere of duty and competence. In this sphere it is his place to provide broad oversight leaving the immediate responsibility and authority in her hands. It is no diminution of his authority openly to refer certain questions to her for opinion or decision. It is simply common sense, since this is the area of her special competence:
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)
It would be foolish for a husband to not use she who was ordained to be a help meet. As in the parable of the talents, if he does not use that which has been given him, it will be taken away and given to another.
Everyone has an inclination to shine in that which is not within his border, and to show his wisdom where no charge has been committed to him. Into this error the woman falls, who is eager to put in her word with her husband in his higher duties. Into this error the man falls when he mixes himself up with all the little matters of housekeeping, and fancies that he understands them better than his wife.
The wife should look with respect upon the husband's sphere of action and authority. And let not the husband despise the unpretending activity of his wife. It is with great injustice that he fancies that what she has to do are mere trifles. Let him remember that he is not only bound to support his wife; he is also bound to cherish her, and to treat her feelings with delicacy. If he depredates her work and responsibility, he causes her great hurt, which is not easily mended.
In Proverbs 31:10 a good wife is described as "far more precious than jewels. Her husband... praises her 'Many woman have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
Husband, consider your wife a treasure given to you by a bountiful God. Love her. Honor her. Recognize her talents. Appreciate her efforts. Be considerate of her feelings. With tenderness and sincerity express your love for her in some way every day. This daily expression of love, the very moving force of the priesthood, will take a husband and wife that have become one, on to eternal life and exaltation.
Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Col 3:19)
In these words, Paul mentions one fault in husbands which outweighs all others - harshness. Harshness undermines the finest marriage, which seemed to stand firmly as a rock. The husband comes to trust too much to the fidelity which lies at the bottom of his heart. He does not watch over his manner of expression in the 'little things.' He allows himself to be careless where he ought to show the greatest tenderness and respect He behaves respectfully to every stranger. For them he puts on his Sunday clothes. But at home he is quite another man. It would be better to injure any other person in the world than this one person who has altogether given herself to him. It is his duty to gladden her heart daily, to continually bind her to himself by his tender attention and noble behavior. If he has grounds for dissatisfaction, let him speak out so as to hurt her feelings as little as possible, when they are alone together. All blame in the presence of her children, all complaint in front of outsiders, is a bitter pain to his wife. Moreover, to do so lowers his own dignity.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it even as the Lord the church. (Eph. 5:29-30)
Marriage is founded on mutual esteem. Courtesy is a support for this esteem. Of course this must spring from a deep inward source. It must not be a hollow ceremony. And yet the outward forms are helpful, and no one should despise good manners in the daily life of married people. They are not a manner of indifference, burdensome, or ridiculous. Carelessness in our dress, speech and appearance at home borders on disrespect. We know that there is a connection between cleanliness of body and purity of soul as we are all temples of the spirit. Likewise, a disregard of the outward forms of respect easily brings with it a contempt for personal dignity in oneself, and in others.
When Scripture demands that wives be treated tenderly, and honored as joint-heirs in exaltation, it adds the warning to the husband, "That your prayers be not hindered" (1 Peter 3:7). The feelings and dignity of a wife may carry a secret wound inflicted by the husband; perhaps she can share it with no person on earth. Yet a higher Judge looks upon her sorrows and takes up her cause. In times of holy meditation, and in the necessities of life, the husband looks upward in prayer. Then it is that God makes him feel how he has acted toward his wife. Has he ill-treated and injured her? Then his prayer cannot rise to heaven. He finds the heavens closed against him. His words fall back to him. and die upon his lips. Something has stepped in between him and God, which hinders his approach to the throne of blessing; it is his wife's sorrow, which he has caused. God closes His heart against him, because he has closed his own heart against his wife. He has been hard with her, now he has to leam that God is hard with him. He has, perhaps, grieved the Spirit of God in her, and now God in all justice makes him taste of heavy grief. As he was to her who was put under him, so will God be to him. He cannot reconcile himself to God until with gentleness and self-sacrifice he has reconciled himself with his injured wife.
Spiritual authority is rooted in a paradox. Christ said:
... If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. (Mark 9:35)
He Himself demonstrated this principle when He washed His disciples' feet. It is of surpassing significance that this act of Christ is prefaced with the words,
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands,...took a towel, and girded himself. (John 13:3-4.)
In full consciousness of his spiritual authority, Christ washes His disciples' feet This is the prototype of spiritual authority properly exercised. Not pride nor power nor self-assuredness, but humility is the well-being of spiritual authority. The authority of a husband over his wife and children is an authority ordained by God in the pre-mortal existence, a spiritual authority. Its principle of operation is therefore rooted in this same paradox which Christ exemplifies in the foot-washing, and eventually the crucifixion. 'He who would exercise spiritual authority must be the servant of all... must go even to the death on behalf of those for whom he is responsible.'
Husbands: love your wives! Give up your pride, your ego, your 'rights.' Follow your Lord Jesus Christ to the garden, and the transforming love of Gethsemene shall flower in your home!