Love always protects. 1 Cor 13:7 NIV
Our small group of newly-marrieds recently had its first meeting. As we were talking about applying Christian principles to marriage, two young men remarked about the atmosphere in their workplace. Almost every male coworker, they said, regularly complained about his wife and his marriage. What had started with high hopes had turned sour and they wanted all their buddies at work to know.
Christians can fall into this same behavior. Whether at work, to our friends, or just in our hearts, we can grumble about our wives. And while complaining certainly is a temptation of wives also, I want to take just a minute to remind us of our calling as men.
Love Protects and Honors
God calls a husband to provide, pastor, and protect. One way a man protects his wife is by protecting her reputation. We know that a marriage involving two sinners is going to have difficulty. In those moments, how will we respond? As Christians, we are responsible for our actions and our reactions.
When a husband complains about his wife, he is merely revealing his foolishness. In that moment, he is not protecting her. He is not loving her as a sister in Christ. Nor is he showing her honor as as co-heir of grace (1 Peter 3:7). Honor displays itself in expressions of respect or esteem. When we complain, we are rejecting God’s good gift to us. Shouldn’t we be able to say, “She’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me?” Rather than complaining, the NT tells us that thanksgiving is a mark of a Christian. Grumbling and complaining besmirch our reputation more than hers. (And ladies, this call to honor certainly applies to you as well.)
But in the mix of this sin, I wonder if some of the reason the men complain is because they don’t know how to work through the normal difficulties of marriage. Perhaps it is also because they don’t have a community to teach or help them. There seems to be a cultural assumption that each marriage will “live happily ever after” by itself. And that brings us to the opposite corrective.
Protection, Not Secrecy
While love protects and honors, it does not conceal secrets. The call to honor the privacy of the home is not an absolute one. We are called to protect but we are not called to secrecy. In fact, Jesus in Matthew 18 commands just the opposite. We can and should include others in our marriage and in our marriage problems. We are to be part of a like-minded fellowship that can help each other through hard times.
Problems that may cause non-Christian men to give in to cynicism and despair should drive Christian men to seek out advice or counsel. We can involve a few others in a way that is honest with the disagreement while still wanting to love the other. On at least three occasions, Sharon and I had reached such a point of impasse on a topic that we sat down with another couple so that they could hear us out and give us their input. In all three cases, we each believed the issue was important and we were in the right. We sought out older friends who were trustworthy and would give biblical counsel. The outside perspective of more mature Christian friends helped break through the logjam of self-deception.
In my Christian circles, the temptation to silence seems much more common. A couple can’t agree on an important issue. They are at an impasse. But because of the code of silence, neither party ever thinks to involve others. Men, God has given us other brothers and sisters for just this moment. Marriage is not meant to stand on its own. Don’t let pride stand in the way. Humble yourself and invite others in.
Love the One You’re With
God calls us to love one another. This call includes the person closest to me – my spouse. And one way that love expresses itself is by protecting and honoring her with others. I do that as I cover a multitude of sins, speaking of the best in the other. And….love also expresses itself by refusing to conceal sin or accept a permanent impasse.
God calls us to protection, not secrecy.