If you have any experience as a husband, perhaps you’ll understand what I am about to say.
I can recall a number of times in my marriage of twenty-five years when I have made the perfect point in a conversation or debate with my bride. Okay, it may have just been me thinking I made the perfect point, but it was brilliant. I nailed the logic, the facts, the insight was profound, and what I said was entirely grounded in my genuine well-intentioned desires for things to be, well, right. Okay, it may have just been “right” in my own eyes, but I can’t see through anyone else’s, can I? She needed to know what I understood!
I crushed her spirit. I very much, though unintentionally, stepped on her. I didn’t understand her, but only what I wanted from, for, or in contrast to her.
As I reflect on those times with my wife — daughter of the King of Kings, co-bearer of the image of God with me, co-heir of salvation, the Spirit, and the grace of eternal life — I am ashamed at how my rightness turned so wrong. It’s not that I abused her verbally or physically, nothing like that which is beyond the pale. No, I crushed her spirit. I very much, though unintentionally, stepped on her. I didn’t understand her, but only what I wanted from, for, or in contrast to her.
Once the elation over my “victory” ended and I came back down to earth, I saw the deflation. I felt the breath get sucked out of our evening together. I felt the yuck in the gut that is caused by relational nausea. And, I felt what it did to my own faith, my own discipleship, my own walk with Jesus. It was like a great distance emerged in a tragically short time.
Please tell me some other bloke can relate!?
In 1 Peter 3:7 the old apostle writes,
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are coheirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
What a loaded sentence for any man!
What is the “likewise” of which Peter writes? Well, back in 1 Peter 2:21 he had written, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” To wives, then, he had said, “Likewise…be submissive to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives…” (3:1). Like Jesus who suffered for us while we were far from God, so wives are to live in marriage as vessels through whom God was wooing his lost sons.
Once the elation over my “victory” ended and I came back down to earth, I saw the deflation. I felt the breath get sucked out of our evening together. I felt the yuck in the gut that is caused by relational nausea.
Now, to husbands, he says “likewise” as well. Just as Jesus suffered for the good us whom he loved, likewise we who are married ought to honour the uniqueness, beauty, and wonder of woman above ourselves and treat them not as those below us, but as those beside us, as co-heirs with Jesus sees us as children in our Heavenly Father’s home. And, we are to do this declares Peter, so that our prayers may not be hindered.
It all reminds me of Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan. The lawyer asked Jesus who his neighbour is; who does he really need to love. Jesus responded by showing how the Good Samaritan loved the weak one. “You go and do likewise,” commanded Jesus (Luke 10:37).
This is the neighbourly “likewise” of God that upends the world. Many guys will go and do this kind of “likewise” for a buddy or even an acquaintance. I wonder if it’s time for more of us to go and do “likewise” for our wives?