Monday, May 2, 2016
The Marriage Relationship
How is a man to treat his wife? Let me give some negatives first. He is not to abuse her. It is possible for a man to abuse his body, and many men do abuse their bodies — by eating too much, by drinking too much, and in various other ways. That is to abuse the body, to maltreat it, to be unkind to it. Now, says the Apostle, a man who does that is a fool, because if a man maltreats his body, and abuses it, he himself is going to suffer. You cannot detach yourself from your body; and if you think you can, and abuse your body, you will be the one to suffer. Your mind will suffer, your heart will suffer, the whole of your life will suffer. You may say, “I do not care about my body, I am living a life of the intellect”; but if you keep on doing that you will soon find that you no longer have the intellect that you once had, and you will not be able to think as you once did. If you abuse your body, you are the one who is going to suffer. Not only the body, but you yourself will suffer as well. It is exactly the same in the marriage relationship. If a man abuses his wife he will suffer as well as the wife. So, apart from the inherent wrongfulness, the man is a fool. If a man abuses his wife there is going to be a breakdown not only in the wife but also in the man, and in the relationship between the two. Surely this is what is happening so commonly in the world today. It should be unthinkable that a Christian man should abuse his wife.
But not only should the husband not abuse his wife, in the second place, he should not neglect her. Come back again to the analogy of the body. A man can neglect his body. It often happens, and again it always leads to trouble. To neglect the body is bad, it is foolish, it is wrong. Man has been so constituted that his is body, mind and spirit, and the three are in intimate relationship on with another. We are surely aware of this. . . . If you neglect the body you yourself will suffer for it. Many a man has done that, many a scholar has done that, and through neglect of the body his work has suffered. That is because of the essential unity between these parts of our personalities.
It is exactly the same in the married relationship, says the Apostle. How much trouble is caused in the realm of marriage simply because of neglect! . . . It is lamentable that a man should get married and then proceed to neglect his wife. In other words, here is a man who has married, but who in essential matters goes on living as if he were still a bachelor. He is still living his own detached life, he still spends his time with his men friends. . . . A married man must no longer act as if he were a single man; his wife should be involved in everything. . . . I venture to lay it down as a rule that a Christian man should not accept an invitation to a social occasion without his wife. There is irreparable damage done to many marriages because men meet alone in their clubs without their wives. That is wrong, because it is a denial of first principles. Man and wife should do things together. Of course, the man in his business has to be alone, and there are other occasions when he has to be alone; but if it is a social occasion, something into which a wife can enter, she should enter, and it is the business of the husband to see to it that she does enter. I suggest that all Christian husbands should automatically refuse every such invitation which comes to them alone and does not include their wives.