**I do not own the rights to this photo.
Hello everyone! As promised, my final blog in this series! I will be posting them all together with links so no one misses anything.
Once again, I find myself at odds with the Church and its teaching on love and respect, particularly in marriage. However, you can apply what I am going to say to any relationship if you want it to last and not have a lopsided power dynamic where no one should be exercising any power over the other person at all. I want to begin this commentary, if you will, with some scripture I will come back to later on in the discussion:
John 13:34; NIV “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” - Jesus (note the mutuality here where love is concerned).
Ephesians 5:21,33 TPT; And out of your reverence for Christ be supportive of each other in love...So every married man should be gracious to his wife just as he is gracious to himself. And every wife should be tenderly devoted to her husband - the Apostle Paul (note the mutuality here where support is concerned, the lack of the term “submit”, and that the term “respect” is also not mentioned – rather Paul uses the words supportive, gracious, and devoted).
We hear a lot in the evangelical church these days about love and respect. I will grant you that love and respect are important to any relationship. However, if they are not practiced mutually, then they are of no value to those in the relationship because the relating part of said relationship will be ascue. What exactly do I mean? I simply mean; you can't have all the women respecting and all the men loving and that's it. Yet, that is where we seem to have landed and dug in. Men love and women respect, regardless of what is going on in the relationship. Love and respect are described from very lopsided viewpoints as if one person in the relationship is responsible for all of one and none of the other. I'm curious how those that came up with these ideas intend this to work. Are they saying, women respect your husbands (or husbands the wife) whether they are courteous, loving, helpful, and respectful or not? Do you respect an abuser (male or female)? Do you respect a cheater (male or female)? How do you respect a voracious porn addict who would rather have porn than his wife or who would rather have porn than her husband? I'm curious how this is supposed to work, particularly when you are dealing with grave evil such as in the case of abuse or the objectification of porn.
Now let's turn to love. Is a husband supposed to love a wife who is not loving to him at all? Is a wife supposed to love a husband who is no loving to her at all? Again what of abuse and porn – two things that kill love? Are spouses just supposed to keep on taking abuse in the name of love and respect? Are spouses just supposed to keep tolerating behavior that is evil or harmful in the name of love and respect? I would love for those who have written on this subject to address these questions openly and honestly. I say this because to date very few have - they keep repeating the same things, or they don't know what to say when confronted with hard truths that bring their philosophy into question (I tend to view this more as their personal philosophies than scriptural ones because it is how they are living out their marriages).
I can tell you from experience, you can't love and respect the abuse out of an abuser because there is no appeasing evil. Abusers do not traffic in love and respect. They traffic in hate and disrespect. Porn addicts do not traffic in love and respect. They traffic in objectification and disrespect on a whole other level.
Let me stop here and say that anyone can repent and change the trajectory of what they are doing and how they are handling their relationships. I am speaking more of those who choose not to repent yet call their spouse or others to love and respect them. They are basically calling their spouse and/or others to respect and love evil, which I simply cannot do. How is it that the Church can do this then, with the lopsided philosophies of a few on love and respect? What exactly is the Church condoning when it digs in on love and respect? Once again and before I go any further, I love the Church! If I didn't, I would not have written this blog series and addressed these very uncomfortable truths. The Church has some repenting and some letting go to do – the letting go of the philosophies of mankind and culture. It is my prayer that she will choose to do so because the King is on the move.
To close, I want to direct your attention back to the scripture at the beginning of this blog. What does it say of love, respect, and mutuality? It talks of love and support as mutual in a relationship. It speaks of of grace and devotion. If there is mutual love and support, there will be mutual grace and devotion. It does not mention the word “submission”, something typically that has been reserved for women. I believe a mistranslation is actually responsible for the word “submit” and that said translation was shaped by the cultural lens of 17th century England and King James I who ran the Church of England – a state sponsored church if you will. In other words, the verse was translated with cultural bias and the approval of a religious head of state. It was then passed down as truth from that point in time and lost to its real and factual translation. You didn't know you were going to get a Church history lesson did you?
Although respect is not explicitly mentioned in the scriptures above, I believe that mutual love and support builds mutual respect. I think Jesus and Paul knew this too. They understood and Jesus understands the beauty and necessity of mutuality. He understand the beauty of a two- way street and a door that swings both ways. Do you get what I'm trying to say? We ALL need both love AND support which builds mutual respect if our relationships are to survive and thrive. We have to lay aside ALL power dynamics. Yes Church, this includes the “men lead, women follow and submit” power dynamic. We live in a broken, fallen world that can't get this right. We have to look to Jesus as our center and lead in our relationships. We have to move away from gender specific responsibilities and assignments and help, support, and love one another! I know this will be hard Church because it is new and different. It is not the tradition we have been taught. Sometimes tradition does more to bind us up than set us free. Perhaps this tradition was designed to actually bind us up and keep us from freedom in our relationships to really love each other? Evil loves to masquerade as Light and it knows how to make something sound and look really good!
Love, respect, support, and devotion must be mutual in order for relationships to be healthy both inside and outside the church. It is only when the Church accepts this that the rest of the world will really see how we love one another and that we truly belong to the King.
Let the traditions and philosophies of men and cultural die. Let love and freedom rise!
With much love and hope,