“Assign [wives] honor […], in order for your prayers not to be hindered.”
~1 Peter 3:7
What does the word honor convey in this passage? How can wives expect to be treated by their Christian husbands?
A similar form of the Greek word “timé” (honor, precious) is used to denote the appreciation we should have towards our faith in Christ. (1 Pet. 2:7)
It is also used to describe the praise Jesus received from his heavenly father. (2 Pet. 1:17)
We can understand, then, that Peter’s advice to husbands is to proactively cherish their wives in private and in public.
God’s Word encourages us to take the lead in showing honor towards others. (Rom. 12:10) Therefore, if a wife has to ask her husband for respect, consideration or praise, the honor has already lost part of its value.
Moreover, depending on upbringing and cultural expectations, she may need courage to make her opinions known to him.
A man who honors his wife values her opinions and consults with her about daily activities and more serious decisions. (Prov. 15:22)
It is an honor that is due to her because of her role as wife, and is not granted as a favor to her.
A man who thus elevates his wife finds favor in Jehovah’s eyes. (Eph. 5:28-33)
“But no human can tame the tongue. It is unruly and injurious, full of deadly poison.”
If speech were the only way I could show my spouse that I love him, what would the quality of my speech be like?
The power to communicate can be used to stab or to heal. (Prov. 12:18)
But I am imperfect, and I inevitably say things I regret. (Jas. 3:2)
It can be especially difficult to establish new, positive communication patterns for those whose parents argued critically on a regular basis. (Eph. 4:31; 1 Pet. 2:1)
If I give free rein to my tongue, I can quickly make a delicate situation irreparably worse. (Jas. 1:26; 3:5)
Sometimes it makes more sense to step away for a little while, until tensions cool. (Prov. 17:14; Eccl. 3:7)
Eventually, it is important to discuss matters and not neglect their resolution. (Prov. 15:22) The silent treatment can lead to harboring resentment.
In order to communicate lovingly, I will need to keep a positive attitude with the goal of building my mate up, not bringing him down in the process. (Eph. 4:29)
“Your supplication has been favorably heard […].”
Who knows how many years into his old age Zechariah had continued to pray to Jehovah for a child.
Despite having strong faith, even he was surprised when his prayers were finally answered (Luke 1:6, 18)
He could have left his wife Elizabeth for a healthier woman, but they opted to remain loyal to each other and to their God.
That loyalty did not go unnoticed by Jehovah, who blessed them with “joy and great gladness.” (Luke 1:14)
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if ever a woman after divorcing her husband marries another, she commits adultery.”
Jesus added the exception that a divorce can be legitimate before God if the betrayed spouse files “on the grounds of sexual immorality.” (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)
In Jesus’ day, Jewish culture did not allow women to file for divorce.
If a man cheated on his wife, he was not considered an adulterer.
A woman who cheated on her husband was an adulteress, and the man whom she sinned with would be committing adultery against her husband.
But they did not consider it possible for a man to commit adultery against his wife. (Watchtower July 15, 1995, pp. 18-19, parr. 12-13. “Christian Women Deserve Honor and Respect.”)
With his statement on God’s view of marriage, Jesus pressed his followers to rid themselves of the double standard.
By using the example of a woman who “divorces her husband,” he was dignifying women, giving them that freedom of choice.
Many traditional cultures today still urge female victims of adultery to overlook their husband’s infidelity.
Sometimes their friends and family will excuse the male’s behavior by saying that it is typical in all men, arguing they did not really hurt anyone.
When a social circle does that to a victim, they are isolating her and taking away her will power to do what is right in her heart.
They may go so far as to shame her instead of the culprit, blaming her for his moral fallout.
As true Christians, we must learn to react to others’ suffering the way Christ did: with sensibility and respect, putting their needs before our own expectations.
“Now make confession to Jehovah the God of your forefathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from these foreign wives.”
Does the Jews sending their wives away violate the Bible viewpoint of marriage?
After all, this action directly contradicts Jesus’ words: “What God has yoked together, let no man put apart,” (Matt. 19:6).
But we need to keep in mind that Mosaic Law, written well over a thousand years before Jesus was even born, allowed for divorce, providing anything “indecent” be found in the wife (Deut. 24:1).
In Jewish culture, the husband who wished to divorce his wife had to provide a divorce certificate that legally freed her up to marry again.
Man and wife were originally united as “one flesh.”
That principle was instituted “from the beginning,” (Matt. 19:3-5).
But Jesus himself explains that the divorce provision was due to the hard-heartedness characteristic of men in his own culture.
Therefore, we cannot judge the actions of the pre-Christian men, who were tasked with reestablishing their religious customs, by modern day Christian standards.
The Jews had the express mission of reinstating pure worship so that the Messiah could be born to them, as had been promised to Abraham, Jacob, and King David (Gen. 22:18; 28:14; Isa. 9:7).
That was, in part, why the Mede and Persian rulers had supported their efforts to rebuild Jerusalem (Ez. 6:3,12; 7:21).
Their associations in the surrounding pagan nations distracted them.
They were in danger of adopting their foreign wives’ idolatrous practices and once again garnering God’s disaproval.
It was under these circumstances and three months of litigating on a case by case basis that the foreign wives were eventually sent away with full custody of the children they had borne (Ez. 10:16,17,44).
Christians, on the other hand, were to be composed of all nations, not just of Israeli descent, and are not to divorce unless one is the innocent victim of a marital affair (Matt. 19:9; 28:19; 1 Pet. 3:1,7).
So while it was imperative to the survival of the Jewish religion to send away the pagan wives, Christians cannot use their stand as a precedent to excuse themselves from their marriage dues.
Solomon also brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the City of David to the house that he had built for her, for he said: “Although she is my wife, she should not dwell in the house of King David of Israel, for the places to which the Ark of Jehovah has come are holy.”
~2 Chronicles 8:11
At the beginning of his reign, King Solomon had a clear view of how to keep true worship uncontaminated from false religion.
He understood that his wife’s traditions were not just incompatible with Mosaic Law, but they diametrically opposed it.
At the risk of offending her, he removed her from within the Holy City and built her a separate house next to his own.
We should also hold true worship in high esteem and avoid contaminating it with antibiblical traditions, even when this may stress close relationships (Matt. 10:36,37; 2 Co. 6:14).
Then David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, saying: “Give me my wife Michal […] So Ishbosheth sent to take her from her husband, Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband kept walking with her, weeping as he followed her as far as Bahurim. Then Abʹner said to him: “Go, return!” At that he returned.
~2 Samuel 3:14-16
Never mind that David already had sons from six different women at the time of this event (2 Sam 3:2-5).
After several years of being on the run, David wanted his first wife back- the original one- the princess for whom he risked his life in battle for (1 Sam. 18:27).
It is touching that Michal’s new husband, Paltiel, followed her and wept at her departure.
I find it noteworthy that God’s word should include this emotive detail amidst so many stories of conquest and bloodshed.
The princess Michal was moved from one man to another as if she were an asset, and it did not matter if she originally had been very much in love with David or if Paltiel was now in love with her (1 Sam. 18:20).
What we learn here is that marriage is marriage and David had the legal right over Michal because he married her first.
It was his decision not to divorce her despite the distance between them.
Although modern marriages also undergo certain psychological trauma, we live in a mostly monogamous society in which fidelity is expected both ways and infidelity is conducive to the dissolution of the marriage (Matt. 19:9).
While it is easy for us as readers to follow David’s train of thought, we should also observe that God took note of Paltiel’s reaction.
Jehovah is not a cold-hearted God nor is he indifferent to the feelings of those who are not even serving him.