Thursday, June 7, 2018

Husbands, Honor Your Wives

As a pastor I have the privilege of officiating at weddings.  When I do a wedding I almost always use the same vows.  And there’s one phrase that I use twice in the vows.  I have them make the same promise when they say “I do,” and during the ring ceremony.  This is the promise that I have couples make twice in their wedding:  To love, honor, and cherish. 

Today I want to take a close look at one of those words; the word “honor.”  The Navy and Marine Corp have three values, and honor is one of them:  Honor, Courage, and Commitment.  The Army has seven values, and honor is one of them:  Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.  In fact, the Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that may be awarded by the United States government.  Many companies have an honor code.  If you make all As and Bs on your report card you make the Honor Roll. 

It’s obvious that many people think that honor is pretty important.  But what is it?  And is it Biblical?  And how does it apply to marriage? 

First of all, honor is absolutely a biblical concept, and it’s not just a marital concept.  Romans 12:10 (CSB) says, “Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor.” 

But what exactly does honor mean, specifically in the context of marriage? 

1 Peter 3:7 says, "Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." 

Here’s Peter's big idea:  For marriage to work as God intended, husbands must show their wives honor. 

So what is honor?  The Greek word time is used 41 times in 13 different books in the New Testament, and it is translated in many different ways.  In Romans 9:21 it is translated “special”; in 1 Timothy 6:1 it is translated “respect”; in 2 Peter 2:7 it is translated “great value”; and in Revelation 21:26 it is translated “wealth.”  So to show someone honor means to treat them as special, to treat them with respect, to treat them as if they are very valuable or important. 
Here’s a definition of what honor means in marriage.  To honor your wife means to treat her with great respect.  What does that mean?  Treat her like she is very valuable; like she is very important; like she is very special. 

There are two ways that the Bible talks about honor.  First, you can honor someone because of their position.  And second, you can honor someone because of what they have done with their position.  Typically in our culture we reserve honor and great respect for someone who has earned it by their actions.  That’s not the kind of honor that Peter is talking about here.  Peter is not commanding husbands to show their wives great respect if they earn it.  He is saying show your wife great respect because of her position.  Because she is a priceless human being, created in the image of God, and because she is your wife, show her honor.  Treat her with great respect.  Just as you should show the President of the United States great respect because of his position, regardless of his politics, just as you show respect to your manager at work because of his position, you should show your wife great respect because of her position, regardless of her actions. 

In other words, this command is unconditional.  You are to show your wife honor and great respect regardless of how she behaves.  Honoring your wife is not about your relationship with your wife; it is about your relationship with God.  This is about God commanding you to show your wife honor, not your wife earning your honor.  Just as your wife is to be submissive whether or not you are a good husband, you are to show her great respect whether or not she is a good wife.

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