It’s Friday! That means it’s time for the Reading Group. We are reading The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. We have reached Chapter 4, “A Wife’s Understanding of Relationships: God’s Pattern.” This is still only the first section (out of four) of the book, and Martha is still laying important groundwork for the nitty-gritty ahead.
One bit of housekeeping before I start the discussion. From time to time, to keep you all motivated and reading and writing about this book (because it’s long), and to insert a little more fun, I am going to give something away. All you have to do is write something (comment, email, or blog post) expressing your thoughts on the chapter. Hannah will help me draw a name from the helmet.
First giveaway? TODAY! The winner of the drawing will receive this book and our reading group bookmarklet. I’m going to have to limit winners to the contiguous 50 and Canada, though. I’ve heard overseas shipping is pricey. And Hubs isn’t made of money, so he tells me.
I know it takes time to read and write something, so I won’t close the participation until Thursday. I’ll announce the winner in next Friday’s post.
No thing exists outside God’s dominion. Not even your marriage. God designed and continues to set the standard for all relationships. The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit enjoy a perfect relationship. Three distinct persons existing in perfect oneness.
On his way to the cross, Jesus prayed, “that they may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:21-23, ESV). God’s children enjoy this positional unity for which Christ prayed.
God says that when husbands and wives consummate their relationship, they become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Peace writes, “The Hebrew word for “one” is echad which means “one, alike, altogether, or all at once.” The very same word is used in Deuteronomy 6:4 for “the Lord is one.” In other words, somehow God makes the husband and wife into “one” as the Trinity is one, compound unity.”
This kind of unity is only possible in Christ. Within the Trinity exists perfect unity, perfect submission, perfect intimacy, perfect harmony. God intends for our marriages to follow His pattern. This is possible as we follow Christ, striving to be more like Him every single day. One key to living Jesus’ way is to, as Paul wrote, “No longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15, ESV). Giving of ourselves, expecting nothing in return, but trusting God alone, is our duty.
The final paragraph is worth a direct quote:
In your relationship with your husband, God wants you to communicate in love and experience a righteous intimacy through sharing thoughts, present and future desires, aspirations, goals, struggles, and spiritual insights. He wants you to be open, honest, and transparent. Your words are to be edifying. Your tasks sacrificial. Your motive for the glory of God. Remember that your pattern for oneness is the Trinity. He wants you to be not only like the Lord Jesus, but He also wants you to help your husband become as much like Him as is possible. Your becoming more and more like Jesus is the process of progressive sanctification. You and your Christian husband helping each other become more like Jesus is the process of mutual sanctification.
This chapter had me wondering about the Trinity and how my marriage relationship is supposed to be like it. The kids and I have memorized a catechism question about God and the Trinity. Question: How many persons are there in the Godhead? Answer: There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory. They are one, they are the same in essence, and they are equal. Yet, they have special roles in creation and eternity. An order exists. Not hierarchy, but order. The Father wants to glorify His Son, Son submits to the will of the Father, the Son wants to glorify the Father, the Spirit wants to glorify the Son, the Spirit submits to the Father.
Likewise, in my marriage, Karl and I are the one in the Spirit, because we are in Christ, and one in flesh, because we are married. We are the same in essence, we are equals. Yet, we have very special roles in our marriage, in our family, and in creation. No hierarchy, but there is order: God rules over us both. As long as my husband isn’t asking me to violate God’s law, then I can joyfully submit to him for the glory of God.
We are not, however, perfect. Peace offers a chart on page 29 that lists our characteristics that result in a lack of harmony and intimacy. I’m not very good at pinpointing what I do well and what I don’t do well, so I asked Karl if I am guilty of doing any of those things listed. He said maybe #4, but no more than the average person. He thought #5 was a bit vague.
We both could recall times early in our marriage when we were guilty of all 9! And I more than he! I distinctly recall being angry at every little thing he did — breathing too loud, coughing too much during allergy season, you name it! — it made me furious. He couldn’t do anything right, in my opinion, and that made me very ugly toward him. By God’s grace, nowadays, there is not anyone else with whom I would rather spend my time. I also remember being self-protective to an extreme. God gave Karl a heaping of patience toward me, and I slowly came out of my shell. I am happy to report that Karl usually knows what is going on in my heart and mind whether he wants to or not. God has been doing His restoration work this last decade of our lives. He has done great things and we are filled with joy. (Does anyone else love Psalm 126?)
In light of this reminder that I am one with my husband, I am going to work on a new habit: asking myself the right questions!
Was it just me, or did that last page (32) feel like a punch in the gut to you, too? Ouch!
I mean, Wow! I am so motivated now to be an excellent wife!
I want to know how this chapter inspired you! Leave a comment, shoot off an email, or write for your blog. As usual, I will link to your post. By the way, I really enjoy reading your posts and all the comments! It’s so fun to see us encourage one another from around the globe.
Women who’ve written about chapter four on their blogs:
Keep reading! Click for Chapter 5.