January 16, 2011

respecting men

Men in this world have it hard. Women trample all over them. They mock men, use men, nag men, trounce men. Women complain: men are too rough or too sensitive, too controlling or inattentive, too lazy or work too many hours. According to women, men can never do anything right. When they are praised, it is for women's selfish gain, a sort of underhanded flattery. I watch the attitudes in the world—and unfortunately, the sinful attitudes of my own fallen heart—and I know this is true. True disaster. Human wisdom leaves us with a world full of dissatisfied, selfish women and men who jump only as high as the standard women have erected for them: low, very low.

God's wisdom, on the other hand, is the absolute opposite of human wisdom. Scripture's standards are high but so is the joy and satisfaction when one learns to live according to God's design. In my writings I generally only focus on the role of the woman, so here it is: "...let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:33).

What exactly does respect look like? Today I stumbled across a blog post which relates how the Amplified Bible seeks to expand the term respect from Ephesians 5:33. This helped me to see respect in a fresh way:
"...let the wife see that she
respects and reverences her husband
that she notices him,
regards him,
honors him,
prefers him,
venerates, and
esteems him; and
that she defers to him,
praises him, and
loves and admires him exceedingly.

What man would not want to receive such respect?

A godly woman does not respect a man only when he deserves it or because he is perfect. She reverences him because it is the commandment of God. But the beautiful surprise that sometimes (often?!) comes when a woman reverences a man is this: men thrive into "more respectable" men when they are esteemed and encouraged. The woman who waits to respect a man once he deserves it may never find her man respectable. When we live according to God's design, we begin to realize how well His plan for the genders works.

1 Peter 3 contains one of my favourite passages on Biblical womanhood; I can return to it and learn every time. 1 Peter 3:1-2 (NKJV) says "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear."

Again, here is the Amplified Bible's version of verse 2:
"When [your husbands] observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves,
together with your reverence
[for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes:
to respect, 
defer to,
revere him--
to honor,
esteem, 
appreciate, 
prize, and,
in the human sense, to adore him,
that is, to admire, 
praise, 
be devoted to, 
deeply love, and
enjoy your husband]."

Even as a single woman, I have seen how showing respect in the relationships I have with [saved or unsaved] men can encourage men to live out their roles, too. True, these passages specifically speak of respect within marriage. But I believe I have seen men in my life grow as I simply seek to apply simple principles of respect, along the lines of Romans 12:3,10: "For I say...to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly...Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another...."

The wise woman of God who overlooks offenses, humbles herself, and encourages and esteems men in ways appropriate given her relationship to those men. She reveres man out of reverence for Christ. It is a high calling, a difficult calling—but there is no greater joy than to live according to God's design!