The Review and Herald

1575/1902

December 10, 1908

The Mutual Obligations of Husband and Wife

EGW

Concerning the obligations resting upon husbands and wives, and the attitude they should sustain to each other, the apostle Paul writes: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives.” RH December 10, 1908, par. 1

Like every other one of God's good gifts entrusted to the keeping of humanity, marriage has been perverted by sin: but it is the purpose of the gospel to restore its purity and beauty. In both the Old and the New Testament the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and his people, the redeemed ones whom he has purchased at the cost of Calvary. “Fear not,” he says; “thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel.” “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you.” RH December 10, 1908, par. 2

Paul, writing to the Ephesian Christians, declares that the Lord has constituted the husband the head of the wife, to be her protector, the house-band, binding the members of the family together, even as Christ is the head of the church, and the savior of the mystical body. Therefore he says: “As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church.” RH December 10, 1908, par. 3

The grace of Christ, and this alone, can make this institution what God designed it should be,—an agent for the blessing and uplifting of humanity. And thus the families of earth, in their unity and peace and love, may represent the family of heaven. The condition of society presents a sad comment upon heaven's ideal of this sacred relation. Yet even for those who have found bitterness and disappointment where they had hoped for companionship and joy, the gospel of Christ offers a solace. The patience and gentleness which his Spirit can impart, will sweeten the bitter lot. The heart in which Christ dwells will be so filled, so satisfied, with his love that it will not be consumed with longing to attract sympathy and attention to itself. And through the surrender of the soul to God, his wisdom can accomplish what human wisdom fails to do. Through the revelation of his grace, hearts that were once indifferent or estranged may be united in bonds that are firmer and more enduring than those of earth,—the golden bonds of a love that will bear the test of trial. RH December 10, 1908, par. 4

However carefully and wisely marriage may have been entered into, few couples are completely united when the marriage ceremony is performed. The real union of the two in wedlock is the work of the after-years. RH December 10, 1908, par. 5

As life, with its burden of perplexity and care, meets the newly wedded pair, the romance with which imagination so often invests marriage disappears. Husband and wife learn each other's character as it was impossible to learn it in their previous association. This is a most critical period in their experience. The happiness and usefulness of their whole future life depend upon their taking a right course now. Often they discover in each other unsuspected weaknesses and defects; but the hearts that love has united will discern excellences also heretofore unknown. Let all seek to discover the excellences rather than the defects. Often it is our own attitude, the atmosphere that surrounds ourselves, which determines what will be revealed to us in another. There are many who regard the expression of love as a weakness, and they maintain a reserve that repels others. This spirit checks the current of sympathy. As the social and generous impulses are repressed, they wither, and the heart becomes desolate and cold. We should beware of this error. Love can not long exist without expression. Let not the heart of one connected with you starve for the want of kindness and sympathy. RH December 10, 1908, par. 6

Though difficulties, perplexities, and discouragements may arise, let neither husband nor wife harbor the thought that their union is a mistake or a disappointment. Determine to be all that it is possible to be to each other. Continue the early attentions. In every way encourage each other in fighting the battles of life. Study to advance the happiness of each other. Let there be mutual love, mutual forbearance. Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true friendship, the love that binds heart to heart, is a foretaste of the joys of heaven. RH December 10, 1908, par. 7

Let each give love, rather than exact it. Cultivate that which is noblest in yourselves, and be quick to recognize the good qualities in each other. The consciousness of being appreciated is a wonderful stimulus and satisfaction. Sympathy and respect encourage the striving after excellence, and love itself increases as it stimulates to nobler aims. RH December 10, 1908, par. 8

Neither the husband nor the wife should merge his or her individuality in that of the other. Each has a personal relation to God. Of him each is to ask, “What is right?” “What is wrong?” “How may I best fulfil life's purpose?” Let the wealth of your affection flow forth to him who gave his life for you. Make Christ first and last and best in everything. As your love for him becomes deeper and stronger, your love for each other will be purified and strengthened. RH December 10, 1908, par. 9

The spirit that Christ manifests toward us is the spirit that husband and wife are to manifest toward each other. “As Christ also hath loved us,” “walk in love.” “As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” RH December 10, 1908, par. 10

Neither the husband nor the wife should attempt to exercise over the other an arbitrary control. Do not try to compel each other to yield to your wishes. You can not do this and retain each other's love. Be kind, patient and forbearing, considerate and courteous. By the grace of God you can succeed in making each other happy, as in your marriage vow you promised to do. RH December 10, 1908, par. 11

Forbearance and unselfishness mark the words and acts of all who live the new life in Christ. As you seek to live his life, striving to conquer self and selfishness, and to minister to the needs of others, you will gain victory after victory. Thus your influence will bless the world. RH December 10, 1908, par. 12

Men and women can reach God's ideal for them if they will take Christ as their helper. What human wisdom can not do, his grace will accomplish for those who give themselves to him in loving trust. His providence can unite hearts in bonds that are of heavenly origin. Love will not be a mere exchange of soft and flattering words. The loom of heaven weaves with warp and woof finer, yet more firm, than can be woven by the looms of earth. The result is not a tissue fabric, but a texture that will bear wear and test and trial. Heart will be bound to heart in the golden bonds of a love that is enduring. RH December 10, 1908, par. 13