To love and to cherish
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Eph. 5:22, 25).
Undeniably, marriage is an institution ordained by God (Gen. 2:18, 21:24). He intended it to be an exclusive union between man and woman. So, at creation, He created all things and at the end, He formed man from the dust. So, woman was not from the dust, but came from the side (rib) of the man. In every sense, man and woman was made special by God.
Therefore, during marriage services, we hear ministers among others say to a couple and they repeat after him: “To Love and To Cherish until we are parted by death…!” To me, this is not a simple statement, but should be taken seriously by both the man and the woman, as they enter into a new life under God. We must admit that a marriage is an exciting experience not minding that its road may be littered with ups and downs. However, as couples put their faith in God, their marriages will not crash, but succeed in Jesus name! Amen.
Notice, Paul writing to the Ephesian Church brought a novel idea about marriage. It was expected that husbands were to love their wives and in turn their wives were to respect and submit to them. The submission of wives to their husbands should be willingly done, as they accept the leadership of their husbands and the husbands in turn put aside their own interest in order to care for their wives. As the leader in the home, he is reminded that in the Church, too, Christ is the head and so everyone submits to Him.
Understandably, in Paul’s day, wives, children and slaves submit to the head of the family. The pattern of submission ran thus: slaves – until they are free; children – until they grow up and wives – all their lives. Necessarily, submission was to be by choice. This, believers should accept and live together. In Roman context, it wasn’t easy maybe for wives to submit to their husbands or husbands to love their wives. However, this, Paul taught believers to enable them live in peace and harmony. Repeatedly, he says: “husbands, love your wives and wives submit and respect your husbands.” In this way, both will “love and cherish” each other. When a woman is truly loved, submission and respect is very easy. But where she is not loved, submission and respect may not be forthcoming.
Unfortunately in the world today, even in the Church, we still have people with African mentality, in the sense that they don’t show enough love to their wives, simply because they look at their wives as article of trade and so can easily dispose of them anyhow. Some have divorced their wives, not minding that God the author of marriage insisted: “I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife,” (Malachi 2:16).
However, in the Christian community as we are taught of exclusive relationship, these may truly enable us to love and cherish each other: Having pet names for each other, Celebrating birthdays and wedding anniversaries together, Giving a helping hand to each other (kitchen, spouse’s job), Assisting each other’s family financially, Making time for each other, Communicating regularly (phone, text message or email), Appreciating one another, Intimate relationship, Going to functions together or Church services, Praying for each other.
Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.