When Emerson started talking about unconditional respect in the Love and Respect Live Marriage Conference DVDs I found myself saying “that’s not a thing”. I’m a guy, and I baulked at it, so I totally get why women say “no way”.
Thing is, the Bible tells women to do this very thing:
“…let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” [Eph 5:33 ESV]
We are fine with the idea of a man loving a wife who has done nothing to deserve love, but we reject the idea of a wife respecting a man who “has not earned respect”. Why the double standard? How can we agree with one and reject the other?
Unconditional respect is an alien idea in our Western culture, but the writers of the New Testament saw things differently. Consider for example:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” [Rom 13:1-5 ESV]
This was written to people who lived under the thumb of the Roman Empire. The Romans conquered people and imposed their will. We would call them evil – but Jesus and the writers of the New Testament called for people to obey and respect the Roman government. The idea of unconditional respect based on position was the norm for early Christians. Unless asked to violate God’s Word, they obeyed.
Honestly, I cannot get my head around that. I do my best to do what the Bible says in this, but I do not understand it. I do not understand it with regard to government, and I do not understand it in marriage. However, while I do not understand it, I do see it can do amazing things. Give a man the respect the Bible says he should have, and he changes. Treat him as respectful, and he likely becomes more respectable. Like much of God’s way of doing things it seem backwards to us. And, like much of God’s way, it works.
Men need respect, and most men today are starved for any hint of it. If you give him what he is dying for, you become important. He will want to be around you, and he will want to build a better relationship with you.
To hear about this from a woman, try Living Ephesians 5: Wives, Respect your Husband by Nancy C. Anderson. Anderson wrote Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage, and contributed a guest article to The Marriage Bed.
~ Paul – I’m XY, and being respected really floats my boat!
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