Respect--we're often concerned about getting it, but do we know how to give it? Today on the broadcast, author Gary Thomas, author of "Sacred Marriage," tells why and how you should respect your spouse.
Respect--we're often concerned about getting it, but do we know how to give it? Today on the broadcast, author Gary Thomas, author of "Sacred Marriage," tells why and how you should respect your spouse.
Gary: Paul was not naïve in his love for the Corinthians. He was addressing a church full of quarrelers, unlearned and simple people, worldly infants, arrogant people, and yet he still says in verse 4 of the first chapter, "I always thank God for you because of His grace given to you in Jesus Christ."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 5th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If you've been focusing on your spouse's flaws, maybe it's time to refocus on grace.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. We have been hearing from a lot of our listeners over the last couple of days. This week and next week, we're giving FamilyLife Today listeners an opportunity to register for one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. We're hosting these conferences in more than 60 cities all across the country this fall, and folks have been contacting us to register because FamilyLife Today listeners can save $60 per couple if they register this week or next week.
And in addition to the savings, we are also giving our listeners an opportunity to get a copy of your brand-new book, "Moments With You." This is the follow-up to the book, "Moments Together for Couples," that you and Barbara wrote a number of years ago. It's a daily devotional for husbands and wives, and it's not even off the presses yet, but we're making arrangements to get a copy of this book to couples when they register for an upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.
So, again, they save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee, and they get a copy of the new book, "Moments With You." But in order to take advantage of that special FamilyLife Today listener offer, folks need to either go online at FamilyLife.com to register, or call 1-800-FLTODAY and register over the phone.
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So, again, this offer is good now through next Sunday at midnight. We hope to hear from you. I hope you will plan to attend one of these upcoming Weekend to Remember conferences. Register online at FamilyLife.com or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, and you can register over the phone and then plan to enjoy a Weekend to Remember together this fall.
Now, considering the subject we want to talk about on today's program, I thought it might be appropriate if I began things by reciting a little poetry. Would this be okay?
Dennis: Well, it depends.
Bob: Well, actually – depends on what?
Dennis: On who you're …
Bob: Who the poet is?
Dennis: If it's you or …
Bob: It's not me, and I'm not even sure I can name who this poet is, but it's actually song lyrics that I'd like to recite.
Dennis: See, I knew it would find its way back to Elvis somehow.
Bob: No, Elvis had nothing to do with this. Here is the poetry I'd like to recite as we begin the program today.
"What you want, baby, I've got it
What you need, you know I've got it.
All I'm asking is for a little respect,
Just a little bit
Find out what it means to me.
Take care and TCB."
[Aretha Franklin sings R-E-S-P-E-C-T]
Bob: Thank you, thank you, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Do you hear the crowds cheering there for me?
Dennis: I think I can even hear it right now.
And, in a way, in a way, I hate even to begin this broadcast with that definition of respect, but we'll go ahead and allow it and joining us for a third day here on the broadcast talking about sacred marriage is our guest, Gary Thomas, and I want to ask you what you thought of that, Gary. Welcome back to the broadcast.
Gary: Well, the thing that's frightening me is I can't get those background singers out of my mind. Their voices are going through the whole time.
Dennis: Now, neither can some of our listeners.
Gary: That's right.
Dennis: But Gary Thomas is the author of a book we've been talking about all this week, "Sacred Marriage." It's a great book subtitled, "What if God Designed Marriage to Make us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?"
And today on the broadcast, I want to talk about the subject of respecting your spouse, and I want to …
Bob: Just a little bit when you get home.
Dennis: Just a little bit. I've got to have some rhythm to it as I say that, but to do that, to do that, I want to read a couple of statements you make from your book, Gary. The first one is few Christians think of giving respect as a spiritual discipline. Obsessed with being respected, we rarely consider our obligation to respect others.
And a second statement you make – if you can't respect this spouse because she has certain weaknesses, you will never be able to respect any spouse. Respect really is at the core of a great marriage, isn't it?
Gary: It is. What marriage does, is it takes two very different people and says, "Can you come together and learn to honor and respect each other in spite of your differences or even because of your differences?"
I think one of the biggest differences that my wife and I had when we first got married, undoubtedly had to do with our eating habits. I grew up as a consummate junk food junkie. I had Captain Crunch, Big Macs, pizza, and ice cream were my four food groups, basically, as I grew up.
And my wife grew up in a family where her mom would bake their own bread for their sandwiches, you know, not quite trusting Wonder and Hostess to get it right, and so she would have these eight-inch high sandwiches that she'd try to eat at lunchtime.
And so when we got married, it was amazing how these differences came to the fore. In fact, just a few days after we were married on our honeymoon, it was lunchtime, and I saw McDonald's, and I said, "Hey, Lisa, there's a McDonald's. Let's stop and get something to eat there."
Lisa was horrified and said, "But I'm hungry, too, and they don't have anything to eat there." Being a young husband, I didn't understand how these things went, and I pointed to the sign. I said, "Lisa, over 280 million have been served here. Somebody is finding something to eat in this restaurant."
But we learned to get through that as married couples do, but I think the moment of crisis came when we had kids, where it became even a greater issue, and one morning my son put down his spoon at breakfast and looked at Lisa and said, "Mommy, how come Daddy's cereals have toys, and ours don't?"
He figured that didn't quite seem like how it should be, and, again, those are side issue, like the difference between where we want to eat breakfast or where we want to eat lunch, but there are much greater differences that are involved in marriage as we learn how women act and think and feel differently than men. And rather than looking down on that, or women looking down on how men pray different – I especially see that with women sometimes that a man is going to have a different relationship with God, and because it's different from hers, often they think it's not as strong or it's not like I'd like it to be, or they have a different view of what spiritual leadership means. And so a lot of times it's these differences that create disdain and contempt.
Dennis: And instead of dealing with our spouse in a contemptuous manner because we're different, the Scriptures command us to show preference to one another, give respect to one another, honor one another. 1 Peter, chapter 2, verse 17 says "Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king." So we're to honor all men, but one of my favorites is over in Romans chapter 12, verse 10, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor."
And this idea of respect and honor is really a cornerstone of a great marriage and yet when we get married, these differences do come out, and they surprise us, and we begin to put one another down because we're different. We don't exalt the other person because they're created in the image of God, and they're a female, and they are different than a male. Instead, we make fun of it, and you hear these jokes begin to drift out about how women behave or how men are different than women.
And none of those things really bring honor to a marriage relationship. Can you give us a working definition of respect and honor and how it operates in a marriage relationship?
Gary: I think respect is holding the other person in high regard knowing their weaknesses, knowing their sins, knowing their faults. It's honoring them as being created in the image of God, and it's recognizing the evidences of God's grace in their life in spite of that.
And it's an active word. So often people think in a marriage, as long as I'm not being cruel, as long as I'm not hitting my spouse, as long as I'm not being actively mean, I'm doing all that I'm called to do. But the opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. And so respect isn't active. It's one thing to not dishonor my wife, it's another thing to honor her by regularly affirming her in front of others, by telling her how I cherish her, how much she means to me and telling others how much I cherish her and how much she means to me.
Dennis: I was recently walking by a guy who was on a telephone, and he was in an airport, and I could tell he was talking with his wife. His tone of the voice that he was using to speak to her was one of total disrespect. It was filled with contempt, with dishonor, chipping away at her as a woman. You could tell he was upset with her, and I just couldn't help – it almost stopped me dead in my tracks where I was, and I kept thinking, "What must that woman be feeling as she listens to her husband relate to her?"
This was in a public place. I was only left to wonder how he would relate to her privately and with the children listening in the next room. A man needs to realize that his attitude toward his wife is to be under the spirit of God's control just as much as his words, right?
Gary: Absolutely, and I think one of the key things that you mention there is the kids listening in the other room. Where I hear women getting really frustrated with their husbands and justly so is when they tell me, they said, "You know, it's one thing when my husband talks down to me" or this tone that you're talking about, just sort of filled with contempt. What really gets them frustrated is when the oldest son an hour later uses the exact same tone when he's talking to his mom. And when they have to hear their husband's contempt mirrored in the oldest son's voice, I tell you, that's when they get very frustrated with their husbands.
And I think, as men, we have to realize we are showing our sons how men are to treat their wives. It's not something we can just teach. They watch us every day, and it scares me how much I see my son watching me and how much I hear my own voice in his words in his own attitudes and at 11, you know, a lot of that is coming up.
And I think that's particularly important for us to cultivate that respect for our wives because it will have a generational effect on how our sons treat their wives.
Bob: It's not just husbands who are responsible to respect their wives, although that's a part, as you've mentioned, of what the Scriptures call us to but, specifically, in Ephesians, chapter 5, God calls wives to show respect for their husbands, and a husband may speak to his wife in a disrespectful tone of voice, but wives have some perhaps more subtle ways of showing their contempt and their disrespect for their husbands.
Dennis: That's right. I was talking with a man not too long ago who talked about every evening when it came time to go to bed, his wife would find a way to be reading a story to one of their children in another room of the house. And what she was actually doing was finding a way not to be in the bedroom when he was in the bedroom getting ready for bed, because she did not want to be with him sexually.
And you know what? He knew that. And the anger that was fueled within him by her lack of respect of him as a man was enormous. Now, I'm not saying he was justified in being angry, but when a woman doesn't respect her husband in a key area of his life, he will feel that, and he can, at that point, turn and bless her and respond in a godly fashion, or he can turn against her and explode in anger.
And I'm afraid in this situation, the man I was speaking to was doing that with his wife rather than responding in love and blessing her.
Bob: One of the reasons that we are challenged in this area of respecting one another is that while we admire the uniquenesses and differences of the other person, and while we admire the femininity of women or the masculinity of men, that admiration is sometimes an annoyance, too. The very thing that we like about that person gets on our nerves.
Gary: It's the whole process and weight of routine. Mark Twain told a story that illustrates this about how he loved the Mississippi River, and anybody who has read his writings know that he really did have a real love affair with that body of water. He knew it's twists, he knew its turns, he knew the bends, he knew the trees along the bank, and then one day, to his horror, he woke up and realized the mystery was gone. He knew everything about that river that there was to know. There was nothing new that he could see to discover or to explore, and he had literally loved his love out of that river.
And that can happen with a husband and wife. Those things, those little quirks that seemed cute and funny and endearing when you're dating someone and in the early years of marriage can become boring routine. So the husband knows exactly how his wife is going to sound when she picks up the phone, the wife knows exactly what the husband is going to do when he walks through the door. She could bet $1 million on it and double her money saying he's exactly going to do this, and he's exactly going to do that.
And, you know, we are people of routine, and so I think besides contempt, over-familiarity can work against respect.
Dennis: And those differences, those different approaches to the same task can really irritate us. Now, for some of our listeners, it's not a gnat like how the spoons go in the dishwasher, whether they're facing upwards or down in the little tray …
Bob: They go down, don't they?
Dennis: I think it's up.
Yeah, right. But for some of our listeners, it's alcoholism, it's a weakness of anger, of jealousy, a lack of discipline. Now, let's take the spiritual discipline of respect into that marriage for a moment. What would you say to the spouse who feels like they're married to a person who is dealing with a habit that may destroy their lives, who has got a weakness that makes them almost despicable? How do they respect their spouse?
Gary: I think the best way to do that is the same way that Paul showed respect for the Corinthians. It's an amazing letter, 1 Corinthians, when you look at what Paul knew. Paul was not naïve in his love for the people of that century. He loved them passionately, and yet he says in Corinthians that he was addressing a church full of quarrelers, unlearned and simple people, worldly infants, arrogant people, and yet he still says in verse 4 of the first chapter, "I always thank God for you because of His grace given to you in Jesus Christ."
Paul saw their weaknesses, he didn't pretend there weren't any weaknesses, but what he did is he said, "You know what? I'm going to focus on the evidences of God's grace in your life." And I was really turned on to this through the work of C.J. Mahaney, a pastor out in Maryland who I think has really explored this in some deep ways.
And I think the other thing besides that is learning to look on the evidences of God's grace in our spouse's life rather than the weaknesses is also to recognize all of us have weaknesses, they're just usually different weaknesses.
I remember talking to one woman who knew she had an issue with food. She had gained over 150 pounds since the day they had been married, and she became very frustrated when she found out her husband had been using pornography. And I could understand particularly in her situation how hurtful that would be, and if I were talking to her husband, I'd say, "Your wife is going to already feel vulnerable. Don't add this to her."
But what she couldn't see was how her husband was using magazines the way she was using food. She didn't see a connection. One seemed like a sin and one seemed like a personal struggle. And usually the unforgivable sin is always a sin that somebody else has – not our own. And I think it comes through learning to say, "This person has different strengths and different weaknesses and respecting those differences and weaknesses and trying to learn from those differences and weaknesses rather than judging them because they're different weaknesses."
Dennis: You know, I'm looking at the clock here, and there are several points about respect that I've got to get in here, and so I want to just rattle these off if I can.
Number one, one of the ways I believe we give our spouses respect is to remember that God created him or God created her. I believe we'll stand a greater chance of honoring them if we remember who the Giver is of the gift.
Secondly, I believe – and you point this out in your book, Gary – the way to give respect is to cultivate gratefulness, an attitude of thanksgiving. And just for the menial tasks like thanking her for the dinner, for folding clothes, for doing the tasks throughout the day that made your home pleasant when you walk in at the end of the day.
And then a third one here is look out for each other – just give preference to one another by looking out for one another's needs.
And then one that I want you to comment on before we finish here today on the broadcast, you talk about building contempt for contempt.
Dennis: What do you mean by that?
Gary: It comes from a book by Francis de Sales. He was a 17th century spiritual director, and he talked about have contempt for contempt. The one thing we should have contempt for is contempt, and what he's saying there is that respect is an obligation, contempt is a sin; that we are to honor this person as made in the image of God; we are to respect and honor them.
And I think even just as much as honoring them as being made in the image of God is recognizing that they are a child of God, and I don't ever want to dishonor one of God's children. If somebody is mean to one of my kids, I have an issue with them, and I'm married to one of God's kids, and if I mistreat her or have disrespect for her, God is going to have an issue with me.
Bob: I just want to make sure our listeners heard this – respect is an obligation, contempt is a sin. And so as we examine our relationships with one another, contempt is sinful behavior that must be confessed before God and repented of.
Dennis: Right, and replaced with respect.
Bob: Which is an obligation before God, and, really, the fundamental thing we're talking about here is what's at the heart of your book. Are you at the center of your marriage or is God and His reputation and honoring Him at the center of your marriage?
That's really the theme all the way through the book, "Sacred Marriage," and I want to encourage our listeners, if you've not read this book, get a copy of it. We have it in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com. You can order a copy from us online, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY. The title of the book again is "Sacred Marriage," by our guest, Gary Thomas, and you can order from our website at FamilyLife.com. You can also call 1-800-FLTODAY, and someone can make arrangements to have a copy of this book sent out to you.
And then don't forget to also register for one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. We are hosting more than 60 of these conferences this fall in cities all around the country. It's a great two-and-a-half day weekend getaway for couples where you can relax and laugh and enjoy the weekend together and learn a little bit about building a stronger marriage.
Right now, FamilyLife Today listeners have an opportunity to register for one of these upcoming conferences and save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee. In addition, we're going to make arrangements to get you a copy of the brand-new book by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, which is called "Moments With You." It's a daily devotional for husbands and wives. It's the follow-up to the bestselling book, "Moments Together for Couples," and it's not even off the press yet, but we'll make arrangements to get you a copy as soon as it's available, but in order to take advantage of that you need to register before Sunday, September 16th, and identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener.
If you're registering online, when you come to the keycode box on the registration form, just type in my name. Just type in "Bob," and they'll know you're a FamilyLife Today listener and make arrangements to take care of the reduced price and also get you a copy of the book, or call 1-800-FLTODAY.
You can register over the phone and, again, just mention that you listen to FamilyLife Today, and you want to take advantage of the special offer, and we'll take it from there, and we know you will have a great weekend, the two of you, as you head off to one of these Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. It will be a highlight of your fall. So go ahead and register today or get more information online at FamilyLife.com or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY.
You know, it just occurred to me that I didn't get a chance to finish the poetry recitation that I began at the beginning of the program.
Dennis: This is the guy who was quoting the Supremes at the beginning of …
Bob: Aretha Franklin, not the Supremes.
"I ain't going to do you wrong while you're gone.
I ain't going to do you wrong 'cause I don't wanna.
All I'm asking is for a little respect when you come home, baby,
When you get home, yeah.
I'm about to give you all my money,
And all I'm asking in return, honey,
Is to give me my profits when you get home.
Yeah, baby, when you get home, yeah.
Ooh, your kisses, sweeter than honey
And guess what?
So is my money.
All I want you to do for me
Is give it to me when you get home."
Dennis: What? The kisses or the money?
Bob: The money.
"R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me,
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take care TCB
Whoa, a little respect,
Whoa, a little respect.
Dennis: I've been singing that all these years and didn't know the words said all that.
Bob: That's right. Tune in tomorrow, and we'll select another hit from the '60s and have another poetry recitation here on FamilyLife Today.
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