Literal Vs. Figurative

I’m a writer who loves to write about the world in my imagination. But when I write stories, I want people to understand that it is not an autobiography but a version of a reality that I know personally or a combination of real stories that I’ve put together.  It’s important to me that the reader understands where I’m coming from; otherwise, they will miss the important truth that I’m trying to illustrate with my words.

And I have a feeling, if we don’t look at the author’s intended meaning (whether literal or figurative) we are going to (as readers) misconstrue or overinterpret things found in scripture. (See my previous post on the Author’s Intended Meaning.)

Another main thing you must identify when reading through scripture is to ask yourself, “Is this to be taken literally or figuratively?” If you are reading through the Psalms and you are applying it as though it is literal- well, have fun with that. When you’re delving into the prayers of men, interlaced with poetry… you are in for a wild ride.

So, here’s the dealio. There’s a lot of weird stuff in scripture… (valley of dry bones, trees that clap their hands, Jesus is the light of the world… just to name a few.)  When we look at these weird things… the only thing we can do is ask ourselves- Is this for real? Or a metaphor for something? When reading through the Bible, you really need to understand grammar… or your head will be swimming.

Let’s look first at some examples of figurative language in the Bible.

Figurative

Most people, when reading the Bible, whether believers or not, usually can understand the Bible. It’s when the words point to something that they don’t agree with, or whether something seems far-fetched or confusing that brings any issues to the surface. There are ways to decipher the text’s original meaning, however. Take a look below.

Similes in Scripture

Most of us can spot a simile from a mile away. A simile is a phrase found within a sentence with the word, “like” or “as” in order to compare two obviously different things. For example, in Isaiah 53:6 we find it written, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” It’s pretty clear here that the author is comparing us to sheep who have wandered. We are acting like sheep… that wander…therefore, the author uses it to prove a point.

Metaphors in Scripture

When we look at metaphors found in scripture, it can be slightly harder to identify. According to the Merrier-Webster Dictionary, a metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase pointing to one object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness. John 14:6 is a perfect example of this, where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” By making this statement, Jesus was declaring that only through Him (and following His Way) would lead a person to the Father. He also declared that he was the Truth of God… living in the flesh. Finally, he declared that he was the holder of the key to Life… eternal life. Whoa. (Metaphors are the braver, bolder cousin to the simile.)

Other Figurative Language

While researching to write this post, I realized that by writing this, I had opened a can of worms.

There are not only our easily recognized metaphors or similes… but there are also figures of association, personification, illusion, understatement, completion, etc. (Here’s a super detailed article on the many areas of figurative in the Bible if you want to TOTALLY geek out: Click Here!).

And it wasn’t until I was knee-deep in a Psalms Project dissecting them for figures of speech that I realized the vastness within Scripture. If you’re really wanting to thoroughly understand all the nitty-gritty of metaphoric language, Ethelbert Williams Bullinger wrote an intense book for you called, “Figures of Speech Used in the Bible.” If you’re wanting a quicker version that just highlights a couple of examples from each, check out the notes from this class lecture. But here’s the point, Scripture is full of metaphorical language. You cannot just read something and always assume it is literal.

Moral of the story: Remember that the passage of Scripture you’re trying to figure out was written to a specific audience at a specific time by a specific author. Start with historical context and work from there. Check out other commentaries to determine if they believe it’s figurative or literal… but don’t always take their word for it.

Do your research!

What is the Gospel?

Let’s walk back in time for a second. Picture this: It’s 26 A.D in Nazareth (Israel). You’ve spent the week as a stonemason and your arms ache from the back-breaking work you do, day in and day out. This Sabbath morning, you’re sitting in the synagogue listening to...

Eat, Sleep and Breathe

Eat, Sleep and Breathe

I am not the biggest of football fans. I grew up in Nebraska; yes, amid cornfields and football. But throughout my first 21 years of life there, I never fully become a football fan. My father was a crop scientist and my mother a musician… so football games were never on our television at home. Instead, my family and I listened to music, watched musicals, spent a ton of time playing outdoors or followed our father in the cornfields while he gathered crop data.

But, if you live in Nebraska, football is unavoidable. Most everyone in our small town was of the philosophy that you would eat, sleep and breathe football. People could easily turn on you (and put you in your place) if you didn’t know a little about the sport. And so, my surroundings forced me to learn. 

 

No one ever sat me down and gave me a play by play. I learned by watching and listening to the conversations that happened around me ALL THE TIME. And years later, I was Co-Captain of the cheer squad and was leading our town’s high school football fans in chants and cheers. I even became a quarterback for our Powder Puff team. But, I still never quite understood the DRAW of being a football fan.

 

Now, I cheer for the Huskers (they’re my home state team… what can I say?) as well as for the Razorbacks. I realize that I never studied football… like ACTUALLY studied it. As I mentioned earlier, no one ever gave me a play by play or showed me a playbook. Which is probably why I’m not a die-hard football fan. I don’t eat, sleep or breathe football… ever. Occasionally, I will cheer loudly when the team is doing awesome and get frustrated when a referree makes a wrong call. But daily? Nope.

 

Now, back to the reason I’m actually writing this post. I started thinking about this tonight as I prepared to teach our church’s bible class called Thrive University. How can you worship something you don’t understand? I don’t think its possible. And here’s where I’m gonna lean in a little.

Joshua 1:8

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

We find over and over in Scripture how our God is seeking after us, desiring for us to know Him and love Him. But, we find every excuse to not open our Bibles or even talk about who our God is:

  • Work has been insane this week.
  • I need a night off.
  • We’re having a family night.
  • Our kids have a lot of homework/soccer games; I can’t make it.
  • I need to make dinner for my family.
  • I’m going through something terrible and just need space.

Here’s the deal- I’ve used these exact same excuses before… and here’s where God has convicted my own heart.

Psalm 1:2-3

But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Now, back to the reason I’m actually writing this post. I started thinking about this tonight as I prepared to teach our church’s bible class called Thrive University. How can you worship something you don’t understand? I don’t think its possible. And here’s where I’m gonna lean in a little.

Joshua 1:8

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

We find over and over in Scripture how our God is seeking after us, desiring for us to know Him and love Him. But, we find every excuse to not open our Bibles or even talk about who our God is:

  • Work has been insane this week.
  • I need a night off.
  • We’re having a family night.
  • Our kids have a lot of homework/soccer games; I can’t make it.
  • I need to make dinner for my family.
  • I’m going through something terrible and just need space.

Here’s the deal- I’ve used these exact same excuses before… and here’s where God has convicted my own heart.

Psalm 1:2-3

But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Here's the Deal...

I’ve used these exact same excuses before… and here’s where God has convicted my own heart.

Conviction is Funny

He’s whispered, “How can you worship a God you never study? How can you take communion when you’ve never looked up the words of Jesus and cried when you realize the amount of sacrifice he gave? How can you repeatedly not show up to bible study or small group… and yet make sure to show up to the church’s carnival night or Trunk or Treat? Because, let me tell you, Meg…

  • You cannot worship a God that you don’t open your Bible to learn about.
  • You cannot take communion when you have no idea what it’s about.
  • You cannot understand God when you choose surface-level fellowship versus digging into the Word with other Jesus followers.”

 

How to Become Sold-Out

Here’s what I’ve come away with: It’s only possible to become a sold-out fan when you study God’s Word. In knowing who He is, you won’t just cheer or worship when things are going well. You’ll have joy when there is sorrow… when no one else is in the stands with you… or when you don’t quite understand why God made a call the way He did. But in those times, you’ll know where to go to find the answers in the Bible.

So, choose to learn about Him today. Choose Him over your busyness, your tiredness, and your excuses.

Begin learning today. Stop choosing to miss out on opportunities to get to know Him. And maybe, soon, you’ll eat, sleep and breathe with the breath of God upon you.

The Kingdom of God: Here and Now… and Someday

We slipped and slid through the mud of the back alleys on the “small town” metropolis, where I had spent my summer teaching English in China. One of the school staff had promised to take us to a church service, and after waiting many weeks, we were packed into three vehicles and then dropped off in a muddy alley, right after a downpour. It was almost noon. Church supposedly started at 9:30. 

After dropping the twelve of us college students, with our team leader and translator, hiked up and through several alleys and back streets, winding our way to where the driver had pointed us to. It felt like miles.  As the sun began to beat through the clouds, our brows began to sweat.

We found ourselves walking through a doorway, into an enclosed patio area, where speakers hung on nearby houses that surrounded where we were. The senior minister and his family were still at the church- and they bowed and shook our hands, with tears in their eyes. Our translator told us repeatedly how privileged they were to have us visit them at their church and they were embarrassed that the service had already ended. We asked how many attended their service. They said something to the translator, who then told us, “300…. No wait- sorry. 3,000.” We stood flabbergasted as she translated from the minister’s son that people sat on the rooftops and in the streets surrounding the small church, listening to the message and hymns being piped out from the speakers. Unreal.

We, of course, felt terrible for arriving so late and so we found ourselves, two parties from opposite sides of the world, apologizing over and over to each other. They ushered us into the church, where benches were lined together each other, so tightly, we could barely slide in between to sit. The minister thanked us again, and his daughter began to play the one instrument in the room, a piano. Hymns began to ring out and soon, we all recognized one. One by one- we began to sing… and then the minister and his family began singing along with us in Mandarin. I closed my eyes, and at that moment, I felt the Kingdom. Even though I had never met these people, they were my brothers and sisters in Christ. We had a bond that transcended words or understanding. And as we left that place, with tears in our eyes and hugs all around, I knew I would never forget them and the taste of the Kingdom that they gave us.

 

So, what does the Kingdom

look like now? 

Well, we know (as I went over in the last post) that the Kingdom is expanding. How does it expand? We tell people about it. We share about who Jesus is. We tell stories of how Jesus has loved us… what He did upon the cross for us. It starts small when we share. But can you imagine if each of us just shared the Gospel with two people in our lifetimes? And they in turn, told two more? That small contribution creates a butterfly effect that can affect an entire nation in a matter of a year… decade… And before you know it… something resembling a tree appears in front of you.

Jesus, in Matthew 13, compares the Kingdom to yeast that grows 3 parts of flour (22 kilos worth! Enough to feed 300 people!) He also described it like a person finding a hidden treasure in a field. They immediately sold everything to buy the entire field, just to have the treasure. Sounds like, when you find the Kingdom, you’ll do anything to keep experiencing it!

 

Where is it?

Look for God’s Presence

In Scripture, we see moments of the Kingdom when Jesus heals… when his followers follow him… when the poor and meek are blessed… when the dead are raised… and when He sacrifices himself for the benefit of those who believe in Him.

In the Beginning

When Jesus talked about Kingdom life, he somehow seemed to bring Creation language into the mix. He was questioned about divorce (Mark 10:6-10) and Jesus replies,

But from the beginning, God created male and female. For this reason, a man will leave his parents and be wedded to his wife. And the husband and wife will be joined as one flesh, and after that, they no longer exist as two, but one flesh. So there you have it. What God has joined together, no one has the right to split apart.” 

Bring on the Kiddos

Later, Jesus chastises his disciples when they scolded people for bringing their children to him (Mark 10: 14B-16).

“Let all the little children come to me and never hinder them! Don’t you know that God’s kingdom realm exists for such as these?  Listen to the truth I speak: Whoever does not open their arms to receive God’s kingdom like a teachable child will never enter it.” Then he embraced each child, and laying his hands on them, he lovingly blessed each one.”

Leave the World Behind

Mark records a moment when a young, rich man asks Jesus what he needs to do to receive eternal life. Jesus responds for him to sell all his possessions, pick up his cross, and follow Him. The young man couldn’t walk away from his wealth. Jesus says to his disciples, “… it is next to impossible for those who trust in their riches to find their way into God’s kingdom realm.” This frightened the disciples… they began to wonder who could ever be saved! That’s when Jesus made the statement that has been etched upon peoples’ walls, bumper stickers, and thrown out as a verbal answer for everything. 

“With people it is impossible, but not with God—God makes all things possible!”

Mark 10:27

Picture of the Kingdom

Here’s what I see when I’m reading through Scripture. In Matthew 5-7, we have an account of the Sermon on the Mount, one of Jesus’ famous sermons.

 

  • He speaks of gentleness living inside you.
  • Craving righteousness.
  • Demonstrating mercy.
  • Purity in your heart.
  • Making peace with people.
  • Bearing wounds of persecution.
  • Obeying and teaching God’s commands to others.
  • Running from anger and apologizing to those you have offended.
  • Refraining from lust.
  • Keeping your vows to God.
  • Loving your enemies.
  • Giving with pure motives and without drawing attention to yourself.
  • Praying and fasting with a sincere heart.
  • Stockpiling heavenly treasures… not hoarding material wealth.
  • Don’t worry but remember that God will provide.
  • Don’t judge others.
  • Ask from God and you’ll receive, seek and you’ll find, knock and the door will be opened to you.
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Could this be what the Kingdom looks like? If everyone tried to aim for this… our world would look drastically different. And I’m sure you’ve experienced little pieces of the Kingdom throughout your life when you’ve seen a stranger pay for someone’s meal, a judge giving mercy, and people seeking forgiveness and peace.

So, if this is what the Kingdom looks like today, then keep your eyes peeled for these moments.

 

The Kingdom of God is where:

  • You see disciples making disciples.
  • Loving and serving others is the norm
  • People are using their spiritual gifts for the advancement of the Kingdom (not just hiding in the pews.)
  • It’s where you see people denying themselves to follow Jesus
  • Good overcomes bad
  • People are healed
  • Lives that were torn apart are put back together
  • People worship the Creator and the Savior without worshipping themselves
  • Children are taught about Jesus by their families, not just the church
  • People are listening to the Holy Spirit daily instead of only listening when it benefits themselves
  • God’s truth is preached in fullness- nothing is left out
  • People give generously so that there is no need in their churches

And if there’s a Kingdom… then who’s the King?

That’s coming up next!

The Kingdom of God (according to Jesus): Part Two

So, what did Jesus define the Kingdom as? 

We know that God has been wanting to in a sense return us to the Garden so that we can walk and talk with God daily. How does that relate to the Kingdom?

Here’s where it gets a little tricky- so I’m gonna try to slow things down a bit. Jesus tended to speak in metaphors and similes when it came to the Kingdom. Maybe, it’s because we wouldn’t even get an idea without them. We’ve built an idea in our heads that the Kingdom only comes when Jesus returns. But the problem is- he brought it with him when he walked on this earth back in the 1st Century. So- if we stop thinking of the Kingdom like heaven (puffy clouds, streets of gold…) and start thinking about it like it’s here now and expanding– then our perspective on the Kingdom can fully develop.

 

The Upside Down Kingdom

We first read in the book of Mark 1:14-15 (The Passion Translation):

Later on, after John the Baptizer was arrested, Jesus went back into the region of Galilee and preached the wonderful gospel of God’s kingdom realm. His message was this: “At last the fulfillment of the age has come! It is time for the realm of God’s kingdom to be experienced in its fullness! Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!”

Jesus began preaching to those around him that it was time to experience the Kingdom. Other versions use phrases like, “The time is at hand…” or the “The time is near.”

Coming with Power

Then later in Mark 9, the entire chapter morphs around the Kingdom of God theme. (Just an FYI, I’d always been confused by this sentence found in the very first verse of Mark 9.)

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here now who won’t experience death until they see God’s kingdom realm manifest with power!”

At first glance, I always assumed that Jesus was saying that some of the disciples wouldn’t die until Christ had returned. But here’s what we must remember- at this point, the disciples probably didn’t fully understand what Jesus had been telling them about what this kingdom would look like. They had no idea what an upside-down Kingdom it would turn out to be. (I mean, they probably asked themselves, “The Kingdom is here, now? They could experience it? How?”)

Here, in Mark 9:1, Jesus is talking about the power of the Kingdom of God that would begin to flow out from the disciples through them spreading the Good News. Through word of mouth, the Kingdom of God would advance on earth, through everyone that heard and accepted it. As Jesus said, in Mark 1, “Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!”

The advancement of the Kingdom wasn’t going to be a quick thing. Every time Jesus talked about the Kingdom, he talked in parables and similes about it. You’ll see what I mean…

The Kingdom Grows (Literally)

Mark 4:26-32

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 

 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

>>>>> Notice how all of this relates to growth? And what takes time? Growth.

The Invisible Kingdom

Luke 17:20-21

 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

>>>>> Wait- it can’t be observed? So this Kingdom that is growing- can’t even be seen? But it gets even more upside-down.

From Another Realm

John 18:36

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

>>>>> Wait- another place? Another realm? Another dimension? Jesus wasn’t talking about another country. He wasn’t talking about another earthly kingdom. 

Hmmmm. Take that in for a second.

Okay…So what can we learn from all of these different verses?

The Kingdom is growing (expanding).

The Kingdom cannot be observed… but it’s here.

The Kingdom is not of this world, but from another place.

All of these verses point to the Kingdom being a spiritual one… one that grows when followers of Jesus spread Christ’s love… serve one another as well as those who are in need… and it’s in a different realm… but also here. It sounds alot like the overlapping of the realms that happened “in the beginning.” Doesn’t it?

So…

What do we need to do about it? How can we help the spread and growth of the Kingdom? First, pray for the Kingdom to continue to expand. For the Good News to be delivered to those who have not heard it yet. 

Pray.

A great place to start is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. What’s interesting, is that most of us probably know this prayer and some can quote it. I didn’t actually fully understand the depth to this prayer until I fully understood the complete Good News and the Kingdom.

This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

    on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-10

 

 

Recognize the King

Here’s the deal… if there’s a kingdom- then there’s a King. And who else but Jesus? He actually inaugurated the Kingdom into our world. He was the one declaring God’s Rule was back in business here on Earth. And when we declare him to be our King and desire to follow Him- the Kingdom becomes present in our lives and in our churches.

What does this Kingdom look like for us today and in our churches? Stay tuned for The Kingdom of God: Part 3!

Honor: The Relationship Giver

Michael and I sat across from each other during a weirdly strange cool July morning, on the back deck off of our master bedroom. We had come a long way the past couple of weeks, as we had been fighting miscommunication, frustration, and dysfunction. (Yep- even pastors and their wives struggle occasionally.) 

As we sat squinting at Michael’s laptop, we listened as our long-time marriage counselor and friend, Matthew LaGrange, imparted some crazy, awesome wisdom that we wished we had known 17 years ago. (Just a heads up- I’ve taken liberty with Matthew’s quotes as I’m horrible at remembering things verbatim. Sorry Matthew!)

He said, “Here’s the deal. When discussing relationships, a lot of people talk about love and respect.”

(Yep- we’ve done that before in several marriage studies and in ministry marriage counseling sessions…)  

“The problem with respect…,” he continued, “is that it has to be earned. Well… what happens when respect is not earned?”

Huh.

Huh!

I felt like my brain was starting to combust. Why would we ask people to just be respectful to each other (even in regards to our own relationship) if they weren’t earning respect? Over the years, Michael and I have mentored couples to love and respect each other. But when one spouse was not acting respectful or worthy of respect, it left us a little conflicted. We usually just responded with, “Well… you just have to keep being respectful and pray that they’ll come around someday.” It left Michael and I feeling like we weren’t effective in our marriage mentorships. 

Matthew leaned in closer. “So… I started thinking about honor. Honor can never be earned. It is only given.”

 

Honor.

We’ve all heard the word. In fact, if you’re married, you might have used the word “honor” in your wedding vow to your spouse. But it seems that we’ve skipped over that short word. We hinge on “in sickness and in health… ‘til death do us part…” and forget that one small word that may seem insignificant.

But- it’s definitely not.

Honor is defined as high respect or esteem. But when honor is a verb (as in I “honor” you…), it becomes so much more. It means to regard someone with great respect and to fulfill an obligation or to keep an agreement. According to our U.S. Army, “Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do…”

As humans, we are imperfect. Far from good at times… and tend to border on selfishness- quite frequently. So, what happens when two imperfect people come together and experience conflict? What can happen to those butterfly feelings… that sense of overwhelming love that you had for the other person… and your heart racing in your chest every time they touch you?

It can vanish… just as suddenly as it started.

 

The World We Live In

We live in a pretty fickle world right now. There are slogans about “The Next Best Thing,” “Keep Up with the Jones’” and “The Grass is Greener” mentalities all around us. So- what happens when we are no longer feeling that overwhelming “love and affection” towards our spouse?

We can choose disrespect. Throw hand grenades of conflict triggers. Isolate and distance ourselves until our relationship grows chilly. Ignore the conflict and/or problems and pretend like nothing is wrong, while it builds and festers under your skin… just waiting for the right condition and irrational moment to arrive and EXPLODE into a nightmare of a life.

And then we wonder why we’re acting like roommates, don’t recognize our spouse any more, wander into emotional affairs, or teeter on the edge of a divorce.

Problem with Respect in Relationships

See, here’s the thing. Respect can only get you so far in a relationship. And here’s what I mean by far–

  • when both people are 100% generous and constantly loving to each other
  • when respect has been earned… all the time… every day…
  • when those people are robots and only treat each other with kindness
  • when a person has gone above and beyond (every single day) to build the other person up to where there’s no doubt that the world revolves around them

Welp. That’s kinda unattainable.

Whereas, honor is a choice. (Notice how the trend of this series of blog posts lands on our choice?) Honor is a gift to the other person whether they deserve it or not. It’s very similar to love… it’s unconditional. Honor and love must go hand in hand in order for a relationship to work effectively.

 

Honor in Scripture

I’m sure most of us have all heard the commandment, “Honor thy Father and Mother…” and Scripture points to honor between employer/employee relationships. The apostle Peter used the word, “honor” regularly in his books, as we see here when he was writing to the scattered Church in modern day Turkey:

1 Peter 2:17

 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

Here’s where translation is so important. Some translations (yes- even my favorite one) translates the word “honor” here into respect. And as I mentioned earlier- that doesn’t quite hit the mark. When we translate the word, honor, it deepens the meaning of that verse. Not only is Peter asking the Church to honor people- he’s asking us to honor ALL people.  Even the king. Even when they don’t deserve our honor.

But that’s not the Honor situation I’m going to focus on today. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5 about love and marriage, and here’s where I’m gonna narrow it down.

 

Honor in Marriage

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:25-33 (ESV)

Does it seem as though Paul is trying to hit men between the eyes here? I’m pretty sure it’s intentional. The apostle Peter (who was married when he began following Jesus) goes even further in regard to honor in marriage:

And now let me speak to the wives. Be devoted to your own husbands, so that even if some of them do not obey the Word of God, your kind conduct may win them over without you saying a thing. For when they observe your pure, godly life before God, it will impact them deeply…. (7) Husbands, you in turn must treat your wives with tenderness, viewing them as feminine partners who deserve to be honored, for they are co-heirs with you of the “divine grace of life,” so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

1 Peter 3:1-2,7

Peter is calling wives whose husbands don’t follow Christ, to stay devoted to them. Continue to honor them. He then calls husbands to honor their wives… noting that if they choose not to honor them, their prayers will be hindered.

Holy cow. That’s intense. Honoring our spouses and those we love is a game-changer.

If we choose to honor each other above all else… we can move into a healthier, grace-giving relationship where honor and love go hand in hand.