*The following transcript has been slightly edited from the original audio text for readability purposes. All speakers’ original intent has been maintained to the best of our ability.
Kathy, we want to talk today about a letter you received from Geri. Her husband was involved in sexual sin and she has just absolutely lost respect for him. What help do you have for Geri and others like her?
Well, it’s a very difficult thing to overcome. And I would say it was probably the thing that kept me in chains for some time regarding my relationship with [my husband], Steve. The lack of love wasn’t killing the marriage; it was the lack of respect. A woman has to be able to respect her husband. When we see our husbands doing degrading, perverse, or destructive things to themselves, you lose respect for them and it’s just a very hard thing. For a wife to lose respect for her husband creates all kinds of ugly dynamics in a marriage because he senses it. He knows because she’s probably saying and doing things that are emanating from her lack of respect for him; and he’s going to respond to that.It’s just not a good situation.
When she’s dealing with this, does a wife usually conclude in her own mind and heart that the answer to this is for her to fix her husband?
I think a lot of women try to do that, yes. They will try to badger their husbands into doing things the way they want them to do them. They try to fix them. That’s a very good way to put it. For different types of women, they respond differently. With me, I just left. I couldn’t handle it. I could not handle not being able to see Steve with eyes of respect. Even though he was a cop in LA and a ‘macho guy’, I just had zero respect for him. Other women [do] try to fix their husbands. There’s all kinds of ways that we deal with it. But the Bible talks to women about respecting their husbands. And that is the command to wives. We don’t have any loopholes with that: it’s wives, respect your husbands. So what I have told women over the years is that God is asking us to respect the position and not the person. And if we could get ourselves to see it that way, then it would become easier for us to treat the man with respect in the sense that we’re not degrading [him], we’re not putting him down, we’re not rubbing his nose in what he’s like; but we’re respecting the position that he holds in our life. Whether or not he’s doing everything exactly the way that we want it, we’re still commanded by the Lord to respect him. And I know that’s very hard for women. I am one. I understand what it’s like to esteem someone who is doing horrible things.
Someone who’s not worthy of the esteem that you’re giving them...
Yes, yes, it’s very, very difficult, and yet we’re commanded to do so.
Well, you mentioned feelings. Now you’ve said that the word of God says that you must respect your husband. But what do you do about those feelings?
Well they are just that. They are just feelings. If we live by our feelings we will do all kinds of stupid things. We should not live by our feelings. Even though the feelings are very legitimate, you can still treat that person with reverence. And that is the greek translation [for “respect”]. The Greek word translated is “reverence”. We can treat them with some amount of honor and with some amount of dignity. It’s an action. It’s something that we can do. It doesn’t require a feeling. And if we wait for our feelings, it’s never going to happen. It’s the same thing with love. Love is an action. It’s something you do to someone else. Love is what God has done to us. It was something he poured out on us. And the feelings [will] follow behavior. If you do the right thing, eventually the feelings are going to follow. Now, whether or not we ever actually have our feelings of respect restored - that will happen as the person repents. I don’t know that we can ever be expected to actually have feelings of respect for someone that stays in a habitual cycle of self-destruction. But we can treat them with respect and with honor. We don’t necessarily have to have those feelings.
We look at Jesus who said “love your enemies”
Yeah, and it’s the same principle. That’s impossible. Humanly speaking, it’s impossible for us to love our enemies. It’s divine. It has to come from heaven - the ability to love your enemy. I think it’s the same thing with respecting our husbands when they don’t deserve respect. It’s an act of the will. It’s just an obedient act before God. And that’s tough, but we do it. We do it by grace and we do it by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. As we obey, he gives us the grace to do it.
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